VCU Music’s Fabulous Faculty – Yin Zheng

Coordinator for Keyboard Studies Dr. Yin Zheng talks about her work, including her research on all the sonatas for violin and piano by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to the RVArts Passport class. The students in the Passport course attend events throughout the School of the Arts and around the City of Richmond and engage with arts leaders.

Langston Hughes Project Residency

The Langston Hughes Project (LHP)  returns to VCU for a residency February 20-21, 2017. LHP is a multimedia concert performance of Hughes’s kaleidoscopic jazz poem suite. Ask Your Mama is Hughes’s homage in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s. It is a twelve-part epic poem which Hughes scored with musical cues drawn from blues and Dixieland, gospel songs, boogie woogie, bebop and progressive jazz, Latin “cha cha” and Afro-Cuban mambo music, German lieder, Jewish liturgy, West Indian calypso, and African drumming — a masterwork left unperformed at his death. The performance will feature spoken-word and music by The Ron McCurdy Quartet. Recreating Hughes’ vision of the global struggle for freedom and equality in the early 1960’s has linked words and music to a kaleidoscopic of images. By way of videography, this concert performance links the words and music of Hughes’ poetry to topical images of Ask Your Mama‘s people, places, and events, and to the works of the visual artists Langston Hughes admired or collaborated with most closely over the course of his career. Together the words, sounds, and images recreate a magical moment in America’s cultural history, which bridges the Harlem Renaissance, the post World War II Beat writers’ coffeehouse jazz poetry world, and the looming Black Arts performance explosion of the 1960s.

The residency is led by VCU Music Professor Rex Richardson.It is funded by an “Inclusion Infusion” grant from the VCU School of the Arts with support from the VCU Department of English.

Rex Richardson wins top university grant to produce new music

New opportunities arise in different ways. For Virginia Commonwealth University professor Rex Richardson, a $50,000 grant from the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund gave him the opportunity to produce four new major works for solo trumpet and large ensemble —such as wind ensemble and brass band — created with composers Anthony Plog, David Sampson, Andy Scott and Allen Vizzutti. Read the full story in the VCU News article by Paul Krueger.

The Value of a VCU Music Degree

“Our graduates know how to frame problems, how to develop strategies to solve them, how to collaborate with others, how to teach themselves things they don’t know. These are the skills you learn at VCU Music. Our graduates are great adaptors; they are determined; they are optimistic; they are highly skilled; and they love their work.”

–Darryl Harper, VCU Music Department Chair

See this video from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP):

Dean’s List – Fall 2016

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 Fall 2016:

Adams, Daniel R.
Adams, Jake K.
Baldwin, Micah
Barbarji, Haidar M.
Bennett, Jacob R.
Bessicks, Cameron W.
Bourhill, Lida A.
Bradley, Michael J.
Brunson, Andrew C.
Christman, Colleen M.
Cole, Richard K.
Coleman, Tyler J.
Connolly, Bryan K.
Cotter, Georgia R.
Culver, Benjamin J.
Dacosta, Taylor D.
Dickinson, Michael S.
Dodd, Colton T.
Douthwaite, Sarah E.
Duong, Minh Vy
Eichenberger, Kevin A.
Fearnow, Gilson L.
Ferguson, Kirsten K.
Forbes, Jonathan R.
Freeman, Emory S.
Frierson, Chet C.
Frost, Nathaniel A.
Gault, Desean W.
Gibbons, Danielle
Graham, Abigail A.
Harold, Brian C.
Harris, Jasmine
Hazelwood, Cathern M.
Heiter, Evan P.
Hilbert, Christine
Hoster, Samantha M.
Jackson, Victoria A.
James, Mark P.
Jeffrey, Ian P.
Johnson, Elliot W.
Joyner, James
Kelly, Benjamin B.
Kincy, Jason P.
Kreck, Marie L.
Lincoln, Kelleen R.
Liverman, Eric C.
Mattson, Alexandra
Mekhail, Mark S.
Mitchell, Robert S.
Newlon, Lydia
Ossi, Thomas C.
Ottinger, Tess N.
Pauley, Charles W.
Resmini, Marissa R.
Roberts, David A.
Roche, Samuel J.
Santiago Crespo, Alfred L.
Schuhle, Charlotte G.
Siesky, Ryne J.
Skelly, Connor J.
Taylor, Olivia N.
Tekamp, Austin R.
Terrell, Connor A.
Tilghman, Kayla M.
Villanueva, Abigail L.
Vincenti, Peter D.
Whittenburg, Savannah A.
Wilkins, Ashley D.
Wu, Zhiqian

“All-Steinway School” Campaign

As part of the Make It Real Campaign for VCU, VCU Music aims to raise $2.5 million to replace its aging piano inventory with new Steinway & Sons models — and achieve the distinction of becoming an “All-Steinway School.”

“We want to offer our students the best tools possible to help them hone their talents,” says Music Department Chairman Darryl Harper, adding that the pianos will help the Music Department to continue to attract top students and faculty.

“To be designated an All-Steinway School recognizes our commitment to provide music students with the best possible keyboard instruments to support their musical training while at VCU,” says VCUarts Interim Dean James Frazier. “The reputation of VCUarts continues to grow, and we are working to recruit the most talented and passionate young musicians. We owe it to these students to provide them with world-class instruments. It is on these instruments that they will study their craft as they prepare for their professional lives as musicians and teachers, and as VCU alumni, go on to enlighten and enrich our world.”


Student earns internship in Colombia

The Cartagena-based Fundación Tocando Puertas: para abrir futuros has initiated a student internship and has selected VCU Music student Alexandra Mattson as its first intern. Alexandra will be working on organizational, developmental, and public relations projects for the foundation, with its president Evelia Gonzalez Porto and her board of directors, until her graduation in May 2018. One of the projects that the foundation aims to support through her internship is the development of a deeper relationship between VCU and its global partners in Cartagena, specifically Comfenalco School, Nuevo Bosque School, Universidad de Bellas Artes, and the University of Cartagena. Congratulations, Alexandra!

Second Round of Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project a Success!

VCU Music’s second round of the Lullaby Project celebrated 4 new lullabies. Many thanks to our partners: Carnegie Hall, VCUarts Research, VCU Centering Pregnancy, VCU Institute for Women’s Health, and In Your Ear Studio.

Participants Julia and Joe Rakestraw (couple to the right) created “Always It Is Well” with teaching artist Regan Sprenkle (to their left).

Read more »

Jazz and Computer Science?

In 2007, after working at three universities over the span of 20 years, Tony Garcia realized if he added up every all-nighter he pulled scheduling student ensemble sessions, it would total more than two months…To replace the paper-based system of student schedule grids and contact information, Garcia drew up a flowchart of a proposed computer program to handle the tasks. Garcia had no success finding a computer science expert to create the program, until he met Krzysztof “Krys” Cios, Ph.D. Cios, a jazz fan himself and professor and chair of the VCU Department of Computer Science, thought he and his senior design class could help Garcia.Garcia had no success finding a computer science expert to create the program, until he met Krzysztof “Krys” Cios, Ph.D. Cios, a jazz fan himself and professor and chair of the VCU Department of Computer Science, thought he and his senior design class could help Garcia. Read the full article at VCU News…

John Bullard

Alumni Kudos

John Bullard released a new CD to critical acclaim, Classical Banjo: The Perfect Southern Art. A feature article about Bullard recently appeared in  Virginia Living magazine.

Steven Cunningham passed his comprehensive exams at University of Maryland and is now plunging into his dissertation.

Victor Haskins is Instructor of Jazz Trumpet at William & Mary.

Marcus Grant finished his Masters degree in Trumpet Performance at Indiana University this past May and has been appointed adjunct Applied Brass Teacher at Virginia Union University.

Since leaving the public school system, Maureen Mallory is the Assistant Program Director for The Salvation Army Kroc Center in Norfolk and is experiencing great success with their after school program. She writes to one of her former teachers here, “I am very proud to be a Ram and tell others about the wonderful experiences I had there. I appreciate all of the work and dedication you provided to me and the many other students whose lives you impact.”

Having recently earned her Master’s degree in Voice Performance from Arizona State university, Vanessa Naghdi began her first year of full-time singing which included roles in Arizona Opera’s Education Outreach program and in their production of Madama Butterfly.

Eleven VCU Music alumni sang in Henrico Theatre’s recent production of Noli me tangere and were recognized for their professionalism and strong preparation: Michele (Orr) Baez, Alan Chavez, Liz Carlton Dowdy, Chloe Fortin, Forrest Glass, Vicky Kinney, Fred Newhouse, Catherine Pelletier, Chase Peak, Emma Claire Polich, Nicole Savage.