Alumni Kudos | Gamelan and Bang on a Can

Hannah Standiford was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to further study keroncong music in Indonesia. She spent the 2014-15 school year studying gamelan and keroncong under the Darmasiswa scholarship after first participating in Gamelan Raga Kusuma, a community Balinese gamelan group based in Richmond. After returning to Richmond from Indonesia, Hannah founded Rumput, a folk group that mixes keroncong and Appalachian music. Learn more by watching her TEDxRVAWomen talk:

Natalie Quick, also a member of Rumput and Gamelan Raga Kusama, was awarded the Darmasiswa scholarship to study gamelan in Indonesia for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Michael Hearst was invited to give the keynote address at VCUarts commencement, and was profiled in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Richmond Magazine. Read his commencement speech transcript here.

Robert Andrew Scott was selected to participate in the 16th annual Bang on a Can Summer Festival at at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass. The selection process is extremely rigorous with fewer than ten composers awarded acceptance.

Chris Johnston has been working in the film industry as a music consultant. He hires musicians, writes/records music, trains actors to play instruments and researches period music and instruments for scenes. Some of his recent credits include HBO’s “John Adams” miniseries, Spielberg’s “Lincoln” (Look for Dr. West in the beginning of the movie!) and AMC’s “TURN: Washington’s Spies.” Johnston is also director of orchestras at Thomas Dale High School Center for the Arts.

Brianna Sklute earned a Master of Music in Conducting from University of Louisville and was named band director of Clover Hill High School.

Denver Walker earned a Master of Music from Shenandoah Conservatory of Music.

Jacob Devol was recognized by Patrick Henry High School as Beginning Teacher of the Year.

Kevin Estes became the new Personnel Manager of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. He had most recently served as the Program Coordinator for the Performing Arts at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, coordinating and expanding the live music and performing arts offerings within the hospital facilities.

Don’t see your name here? Need us to make a correction? Drop us a line at music@vcu.edu

Faculty Kudos | Promotions and publications

Dr. Yin Zheng

Yin Zheng has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure.

Erin Freeman has been appointed to the tenure-eligible position of Director of Choral Activities at VCU and Director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus at RSO.

John Patykula was published in Classical Guitar Magazine. His article, “A Night to Remember: A look at the 1956 premiere of Villa-Lobos’ immortal Concerto for Guitar performed by Andrés Segovia,” appears in the Summer 2017 issue. Click here to see the article.

Tabatha Easley and Justin Alexander, who perform together as AarK Duo, released a new album, Hair / Cloth / Thread. Click here to listen to the album on Soundcloud.

Susanna Klein was awarded a Presidential Research Quest Fund award (PeRQ), the highest research award at the university. Susanna’s project aims to design and develop a mobile app allowing players to self-regulate their practice habits. She is working in collaboration with Sandy Goldie and Molly Sharp, and with partner company Shockoe Mobile Solutions.

Rebecca Tyree was awarded a Service-Learning Faculty Fellowship by the Division of Community Engagement for her continuing work with the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community’s LIVE ART program.

Dr. Terry Austin conducts the President’s Own Marine Band

Terry Austin will guest conduct the band at Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo, Japan this fall. This is Terry’s second invitation to Musashino. Terry also recently served as guest conductor for the President’s Own Marine Band at the American Bandmaster’s Association Convention in Lexington, Ky.

Colleen Potter Thorburn and Susanna Klein organized the first-ever VCU Harp Day in collaboration with the Virginia Harp Center. Harp Day was successful and well-attended, and included masterclasses, workshops, performances, and a concert from harp-voice duo Addi&Jacq.

Magdalena Adamek‘s research on Polish composer Feliks Nowowiejski appears in the newly published collaborative book, “Interpretation-Reception: New Research On the Music by Feliks Nowowiejski” edited by Krzysztof Szatrawski. Her chapter is titled “Feliks’s Nowowiejski’s masterful stylization of the Polish folk dance: Polish Dance No.2 in D minor.” She performed Nowowiejski’s works in recital at the Kosciuszko Foundation House in Washington, and was invited to perform in Poland this summer.

Steven Cunningham earned a Doctor of Musical Arts from University of Maryland, College Park.

Antonio García is the recipient of a Dean’s Research Reassignment Award and will be on leave in Fall 2017 to pursue various research projects including a book publication.

Patrick Smith was recognized by his alma mater, the University of Florida’s School of Music, as an Outstanding Young Alumni.

Alice Hammel was interviewed by the National Association for Music Education about the Endrew v. Douglas County School District case, and how the ruling may affect music education for students with special needs.

Michelle Huang was awarded a School of the Arts Adjunct Research Grant for her proposal to create musical works in collaboration with painters.

Student Kudos | Winners and masters

Alexandra Mattson and Brian Harold

Horn player Alexandra Mattson won the 23rd annual Sigma Alpha Iota Scholarship Competition. Mattson was awarded a $350 prize and a performance opportunity for the Sigma Alpha Iota Alumnae Chapter of Richmond Alpha.

Euphoniumist Brian Harold won the Symphonic Wind Ensemble concerto competition and performed with the ensemble in April as a featured soloist.

Kirsten Ferguson and Zack Forbes were featured in VCU’s Community Engagement News for their teaching assistant work with School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community ’s LIVE ART program.

Bass-baritone Shyheim Hinnant is singing Zuniga in Bizet’s “Carmen” and the Second Commissioner in Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” this summer at Georgia State University’s Harrower Summer Opera Workshop. Hinnant was also a semi-finalist in the Classical Singer International Vocal Competition in Chicago, and will participate in the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and Academy.  Watch his performance of “Vecchia zimarra, senti” from Puccini’s “La Bohème” at convocation in April:

Vecchia zimarra, senti

Vecchia zimarra, senti Colline's aria from the Italian opera La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini(VCU Music Convocation 4/18/16)

Posted by Shy Hinnant on Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Clarinetist Emory Freeman was selected to participate in the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival in New York this summer.

Violist Jasmine Harris was selected to participate in the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, N.C. and Hot Springs Music Festival in Hot Springs, Ark. this summer.

Violist Caleb Paxton was selected to participate in the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Soprano Emily Nesbitt was accepted to the prestigious La Musica Lirica in Italy for their 5-week festival as the youngest singer in the Young Artist program. She will perform the role of Maestra delle Novizie in Puccini’s “Suor Angelica” and will cover the lead role of Mimi in “La Bohème.”

Soprano Victoria Jackson qualified for NATS National Student Auditions to be held in Boulder, Colo. this July.

Double-bassist Andrew Brunson and clarinetist Nathan Frost will pursue master’s degrees at Eastman School of Music.

Percussionist Gilson Fearnow was awarded a graduate assistantship at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and will be attending UNCG for a master’s degree in percussion performance.

Pianist Jordyn Burton will pursue a Master of Music at North Carolina School for the Arts.

Seth Taft was accepted into the music education doctoral program at University of Colorado – Boulder with full graduate assistantship.

Ryne Siesky will pursue a Master of Music in music composition at Ohio University and was awarded a graduate assistantship.

Don’t see your name here? Need us to make a correction? Drop us a line at music@vcu.edu ! 

Congratulations, Class of 2017!

Congratulations, VCU Music Class of 2017!

We wish you all the best in your future endeavors, and hope you will stay in touch with us and keep us posted on your accomplishments!

Congratulations to our award winners:

Outstanding Achievement in Performance
Tess Ottinger

Outstanding Achievement in Music Education
Jacob Bennett

Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship
Michael Dickinson

Outstanding Service
Jordyn Burton

Award of Excellence in Music
Nathaniel Frost

Outstanding Graduate in Master of Music Education
Jacob R. Walker and Josephine A. Nader

From left: Dr. Darryl Harper, Jordyn Burton, Michael Dickinson, Jacob Bennett, Tess Ottinger

Dean’s List – Spring 2017

The dean’s list is a recognition of superior academic performance. A student is automatically placed on the dean’s list for each semester in which a semester GPA of at least 3.5 is attained, based on a minimum of 12 semester credits, with no grade below C. The following students have made Dean’s List for Spring 2017:

Adams, Daniel R.
Baldwin, Micah
Barbarji, Haidar M.
Bennett, Jacob R.
Bessicks, Cameron W.
Bourhill, Lida A.
Bradley, Michael J.
Bullard, Carrie A.
Christman, Colleen M.
Coblentz, Claire E.
Dacosta, Taylor D.
Dickinson, Michael S.
Dobson, Sarah R.
Dodd, Colton T.
Douthwaite, Sarah E.
Duong, Minh Vy
Eaton, David G.
Fearnow, Gilson L.
Ferguson, Kirsten K.
Forbes, Jonathan R.
Fotis, Noah K.
Freeman, Emory S.
Frost, Nathaniel A.
Gibbons, Danielle
Graham, Abigail A.
Harold, Brian C.
Harris, Jasmine
Hazelwood, Cathern M.
Heiter, Evan P.
Hilbert, Christine
Hoster, Samantha M.
Jackson, Victoria A.
Jeffrey, Ian P.
John, Samantha E.
Johnson, Elliot W.
Jones, Richard C.
Kelly, Benjamin B.
Kincy, Jason P.
Larson, Brian
Learnard, Theodore P.
Lincoln, Kelleen R.
Liverman, Eric C.
Mahloy, Patrick M.
Malone, Matthew L.
Mattson, Alexandra
Mekhail, Mark S.
Melton, Paige C.
Melzer, Kristen H.
Mikell, Terralynn J.
Mitchell, Robert S.
Pauley, Charles W.
Paxton, Caleb
Rhodes, Nathaniel T.
Roche, Samuel J.
Santiago Crespo, Alfred L.
Siesky, Ryne J.
Snyder, Jennifer R.
Taylor, Olivia N.
Tekamp, Austin R.
Tilghman, Kayla M.
Villanueva, Abigail L.
Wakefield, Melissa A.
Wallace, Jenna B.
Wilkins, Ashley D.
Williamson, Robert E.
Wilson, Hayleigh E.

Alumni Kudos | A new EP, on TV, and in AZ

Julia Lougheed is attending Arizona State university for a Master’s degree in clarinet performance. She recently commissioned and premiered a new work for clarinet and trombone.

For Spacebomb Records, Matthew E. White produced a new EP Black History featuring the Richmond-based ensemble Resound.

Alden Bean was recognized by her principal for exemplary teaching at Randolph Elementary School.

Trey Sorrells was recently named a D’Addario Woodwinds artist.

In January four alumni were featured on Conan O’Brien’s show with the group Foxygen: Trey Pollard, Cameron Ralston, Pinson Chanselle, Rob Quallich, and Reggie Chapman.

Faculty Kudos | Something new, Something borrowed, Something blue

Tony Garcia’s latest book Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading was published this past fall. Garcia is interviewed by VCU News.

Darryl Harper has been named the Joseph E. and Grace W. Valentine Visiting Professor at Amherst College and will spend the 2017-18 school year in residence there.

Susanna Klein released the new CD “Mosaic” with Trio 826.

Doug Richards’ 2016 CD “It’s All in the Game” was recognized as one of the top 10 recordings of the year by noted author and critic Royal Stokes.

Charles West was featured in the PBS program Charlottesville Inside Out for his work with the Charlottesville Youth Symphony.

Student Kudos | Law School, the Czech Republic, and NATS

Junior Rachel Lustig won a Dean’s International Study Grant to travel to the Czech Republic and study the music of contemporary Czech composers.

Senior Danielle Gibbons has been accepted by the law schools of the College of William and Mary and University of Virginia.

The following students won placements at the Virginia chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition in February: Calvin Bremer, Jaylin Brown, Evan Coldiron, Taylor DaCosta, Samantha Garcia, Shyheim Hinant, and Tess Ottinger. The following students won honors at VA-NATS: Micah Baldwin, Colleen Christman, Alexis Gruber, Victoria Jackson, and Emily Nesbitt. Shyheim Hinant also won the superlative award for “Best College Male – Classical.”

Live from New York, it’s VCU Commonwealth Singers!

Commonwealth Singers onstage at Carnegie Hall with Distinguished Concerts Singers International


How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice…and sing in the VCU Commonwealth Singers! Led by Dr. Erin Freeman, the Commonwealth Singers successfully made their debut at Carnegie Hall this February with Distinguished Concerts International New York for “The Glory of Freedom: A Concert to Honor Our Veterans.”

Commonwealth Singers outside of Carnegie Hall

VCU Commonwealth Singers performed Francis Poulenc’s choral work, Gloria, at Carnegie Hall in New York on Sunday, February 19. They were joined by singers from the Richmond Symphony Chorus, the Virginia Symphony Chorus, Atlanta’s Collegium Vocale, and choirs from Florida, Massachusetts and Wales. The combined chorus is known as the Distinguished Concerts Singers International. They performed alongside the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra.


Commonwealth Singers and Dr. Erin Freeman at Baltimore School for the Arts

The performance at Carnegie Hall was the final stop on a “mini tour” that included performances at Mountain View High School in Stafford, Va., Baltimore School for the Arts in Baltimore, Md. and Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.