Featured profiles of the students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends who make up VCU Music. Sign up for our mailing list to get the latest department news and information on upcoming events from VCU Music.
You might not think that one teacher’s reach from an elementary music classroom at Rural Point Elementary in Hanover County, Virginia would extend very far. But Paul Bakeman has touched a lot of lives — in Virginia and around the world.
Bakeman earned his Bachelor’s degree from VCU in 1994 and as a trombonist and self-declared marching band kid, he planned to become a high school band director until a decisive summer job opportunity turned his heart to elementary music education.
Senior Vocal Performance major Stephanie Auld hasn’t had the most direct path through her degree program at VCU, but the journey has been full of life lessons and opportunities.
Stephanie transferred to VCU after one semester at George Washington University in the spring of 2007 and began as a part-time student with a full schedule of music and general education classes. She began full-time study the next fall and immersed herself in classes, ensembles, and additional singing and teaching opportunities in Richmond.
Three semesters later, she lost her in-state residency status due to her parents’ move to North Carolina. “The best thing I ever did was to take a break from school, become financially independent, and grow up,” Stephanie said. “It made me take school much more seriously.”
For the past 24 years, Linda Johnston has served VCU Music tirelessly–always ready with an answer, a smile, and an encouraging word. Her official title is Administrative Director and her responsibilities primarily include handling the department’s finances and human resources, but she is so much more.
In the late 1980s, while sitting in Convocation in the Performing Arts Center at VCU, Darren Otero never dreamed that one day he would be living in Los Angeles, working on film after film for the Walt Disney Studios and other studios around Hollywood. His credits to date include the 2012 Oscars
telecast, Up, Cars 2, all the Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformer movies, the entire runs of LOST and Desperate Housewives, and many more.
Darren works in the small, but critical field of music preparation. “We’re the people who put the dots on the page for the orchestra — the composer will send us a score and we generate the individual instrument parts for a soundtrack that will be recorded in post-production,” Darren explained.
He describes it as part-copyist, part-proofreader, and part-librarian. But to hear Darren speak of his work, it becomes obvious that it requires much more than just incredible musical chops.
Bass-baritone Matthew Burns graduated from VCU Music with his Bachelor of Music degree in 1997 and since then he has steadily climbed the ladder of the opera world – performing with regional opera companies across the country, performing regularly with New York City Opera, and joining the roster of the Metropolitan Opera. At the time of this writing, he was in Albuquerque, NM preparing to perform the title role in Gianni Schicchi with Opera Southwest.
But he didn’t start out at VCU with his sights set on being an opera star.