Student Kudos | A scholar and a delegate

Christine Hilbert was awarded the Richmond Music Teachers Association (RMTA) Collegiate Scholarship for the 2017-2018 school year. As part of the award, Hilbert has been invited to perform in recital at this year’s Playathon.

Robert Williamson III was named a delegate for the Australasian Trumpet Academy.

Antonio García to serve on Brubeck Institute Advisory Board

Director of Jazz Studies Antonio García has been appointed to serve a three-year term on the advisory board at the University of the Pacific Brubeck Institute.

The mission of the Brubeck Institute is to build on Dave and Iola’s Brubeck’s legacy and their lifelong dedication to music, creativity, education, and the advancement of social issues including civil rights, environmental concerns, international relations, and social justice. Through performance, education, and outreach, the Institute continues Dave and Iola’s belief in our shared humanity and the power of music to connect audiences from all walks of life.

In García’s letter of appointment, University of the Pacific President Dr. Pamela Eibeck highlighted García’s international reputation as a performer, breadth of teaching and scholarship, and passion for using music to address social change.

The Brubeck Institute Advisory Board (BIAB) advises in the development of the institute’s goals, policies, programs, and activities. García joins current board members Darius Brubeck, Chris Brubeck, Donald DeRosa – Pacific President Emeritus, Richard Jeweler – Brubeck family attorney, Pacific Conservatory of Music Dean Peter Witte, and Dr. Mary Somerville, Pacific University Librarian.

Clarinet professor Charles West retires after 30 years at VCU

After 30 extraordinary years, beloved clarinet professor Charles “Chuck” West is retiring from VCU.

The tenured professor served as the VCU Department of Music’s coordinator of winds and percussion for 28 years. West headed the clarinet studio, and has taught more than 17 music courses at VCU. He has been an active recruiter, consistently retaining a strong studio of 15 to 16 clarinet majors. In 2011 West received the VCU School of the Arts Award of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed on a faculty member by the school.

VCU’s Festival of Winds, Brass and Percussion, which marked its 30th year in January, has thrived under his leadership. West has nourished the growth and success of the VCU Music Department over the years and influenced the lives of students and faculty in an enormous way.

“His impact on VCU Music and all of our lives has been immeasurable,” said Sandy Goldie, assistant professor of music education. “No one could ever take his place in our hearts and minds.”

To celebrate West’s retirement, students, alumni and faculty surprised him with a special recital on May 6. The recital featured soloists as well as a clarinet choir spanning several generations. Many traveled from across the country to perform that day. The recital was organized in secret by Antoine T. Clark, Rebecca Anderson and West’s wife Mary Jo.

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Commonwealth Brass performs in Colombia

What do you get when you combine eleven brass players, one professor, a trip to another continent, a music education nonprofit and an international music festival? One unforgettable experience.

Dr. Ross Walter, VCU Music’s associate professor of trombone, euphonium and tuba, has been taking VCU brass players to perform in Cartagena, Colombia for six years. This year he traveled with his largest group yet, Commonwealth Brass, which consists of eleven VCU student and alumni brass players. This annual trip not only provides an invaluable performing and cultural experience for the VCU musicians, but it also brings something very special to the community of Cartagena.

“You always hear people say that music is a universal language, but you don’t really understand it until you experience it first hand, “said VCU trumpet player, Hamed Barbarji. “I didn’t know any Spanish so I had to learn to teach and explain things through music.”

“The overall performing experience was great because not only are you getting more practice as a performer, but you are doing different things than you would do in the States,” Barbarji said. “You have to put yourself out of your comfort zone to make the audience happy and entertained.”

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Dr. Magdalena Adamek brings Polish heritage to VCU

Dr. Adamek, left, with Kosciuszko Foundation House director Barbara Bernhardt

When many people think of Polish music, their minds might not go much further than Frédéric Chopin. Dr. Magdalena Adamek, Assistant Professor of Collaborative Piano, hopes to expand people’s ideas about Polish music by sharing her extensive knowledge – with special attention to her favorite composer, Feliks Nowowiejski (1877-1946).

As a native of Poland, Adamek has an incredible passion for the music of her country and has devoted herself to sharing Polish music with the rest of the world. Nowowiejski has been a great inspiration to Adamek, and she has spent much of her life extensively researching his works.

“I want to stay as diverse as possible. I want to show and let people know that I do have my own interests and area of expertise that I more than desire to share, especially when it’s my passion for music from my own country… I take personal pride in introducing his solo piano works to the western audience,” Adamek said.

Feliks Nowowiejski (1877-1946)

Adamek’s journey with Feliks Nowowiejski started in Poland in 2001, while she was working with the independent Polish label, Acte Prèalable. The owner of the label introduced Adamek to Nowowiejski’s youngest son and daughter in-law, Jan and Janina Nowowiejski, who worked very hard to preserve the composer’s legacy and compositions.

Adamek was then given an incredible amount of the composer’s unpublished, handwritten manuscripts.
While Nowowiejski’s organ concerti, organ symphonies, choir works, oratorios, and opera, The Legend of The Baltic Sea, have enjoyed certain amount of popularity, his solo piano works have not been popularized. Only six out of the available 28 piano pieces have been published. Adamek hopes to establish his international profile as a composer of worthwhile piano music.

“My dream and my actual desire is that at least some of his piano works, especially the last ones, get published finally. It makes me a little bit sad that not enough performances, even from my own country, include his piano works. I see his songs being recorded, or orchestras performing his overtures, but not much has been done about his piano works,” she said.

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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.