From top: Alex Kipp, Daniel Knaggs, Lorraine Duso Kitts, Gregg Whitmore, Lembit Beecher, Anita Werling, David Herman
BRINGING HOPE TO CANCER PATIENTS THROUGH THEATRE
A play written by Alex Kip, BFA ’10 (musical theatre), will have its world premiere in Ann Arbor, August 15–September 1 at the Arthur Miller Theatre on North Campus. It is based on Kip’s harrowing experience of being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in his senior year at SMTD; he was given a 15–30 percent chance of survival, and subsequently lost his voice, which was intrinsically tied to his identity as a performer. Titled My Other Voice, the play was written with the goal of providing inspiration and hope to other cancer patients, particularly young adults, who have unique needs and whose survival rate for cancer has not improved at the same rate as other age groups. Kip, who is also a graduate of the London Dramatic Academy, is now in complete remission and is actively raising funds for the world premiere, all donations for which are tax-deductible. Directed by Ari Laura Kreith, the show has previously received several readings with industry professionals in New York City and had a staged reading in Columbus, OH. The Ann Arbor production will feature U-M faculty, students, and industry professionals both on stage and behind the scenes. In March, Kip produced and appeared in a benefit concert at Kerrytown Concert Hall to raise funds for the play. Titled Songs for Survivors, the show featured SMTD students, alumni, faculty, and local Ann Arbor artists celebrating cancer survivorship through music. For more information on Kip and My Other Voice, visit www.akipprod.com.
The original cast recording of Fancy Nancy the Musical, with music and lyrics by Danny Abosch, BM ’11 (music education), and book and lyrics by Susan DiLallo, was released on Ghostlight Records. The recording features the entire original cast of the acclaimed off-Broadway production, which is currently running in New York City and on tour. The album is available on iTunes and in stores. For more information, visit at www.dannyabosch.com
The Akropolis Reed Quintet—comprising Matthew Landry, BA ’10 (music education), Tim Gocklin, BM ’12 (oboe), Andrew Koeppe, BM ’10 (clarinet), and current SMTD graduate students Kari Dion, BM ’11 (clarinet), and Ryan Reynolds, BM ’12 (bassoon)—has released High Speed Reed, its groundbreaking debut album, the first ever of completely original reed quintet music. Available on CD Baby and iTunes, among others, it showcases three U-M composers (Asaf Peres, David Heetderks, and Garrett Schumann) and three additional reed quintet works. Artwork for the album was designed by former SMTD student Emily Breeding, and recording was completed in the Duderstadt audio studio with SMTD faculty acting as producers. The culmination of Akropolis' first four years together, the album is a testament to the vibrant and supportive U-M community to which Akropolis owes its success.
Rikki Gimelstob, BTA ’10 (theatre arts), is a casting associate at Donna Grossman Casting in New York City where she casts television commercials and print advertisements. Other casting credits include pilot season at NBC/ Universal, several graduate thesis films for Columbia University, and multiple web series. She also teaches acting and audition technique classes throughout Manhattan.
Deborah Selig, BM '02, (voice) made her debut with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) last year in Michael Tippett's A Midsummer Marriage. Her 2013 performances include the Kentucky Opera in Don Giovanni; the Boston Lyric Opera in The Magic Flute; the Dayton Philharmonic for Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem; the Rhode Island Philharmonic for Handel's Messiah; the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra for their annual New Year’s Day Gala; Nashoba Valley Chorale for both Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Mozart’s Requiem; and the Ravinia Festival's Steans Institute for their 25th Anniversary Spring Tour (Earl Kim’s Three Poems in French for Soprano and String Quartet).
Daniel Albert, MM '05 (music education), conducted the 2013 Vermont Music Educators Association (VMEA) District VI Middle School Concert Band, an auditioned ensemble that includes students from towns in southeastern Vermont. Albert was also a featured clinician with the Northeastern University Concert Band.
Lembit Beecher, DMA '09 (composition), was named composer-in-residence with the Opera Company of Philadelphia (in collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group of New York City) in 2011. Last fall he received a Copland House Residency Award, which provides for a five-week residency at Aaron Copland’s former home in Cortlandt Manor, NY. In December, the Del Sol String Quartet premiered These Memories May Be True, a work commissioned in honor of their 20th anniversary. Beecher's new opera, I Have No Stories To Tell You, will be premiered by Gotham Chamber Opera at the Met Museum in 2014.
Amy K. Bormet, BFA ’06 (jazz studies), presented and performed at her third annual Washington Women in Jazz Festival in Washington, DC in March. The festival has previously featured U-M professor Ellen Rowe, artist-in-residence Ingrid Jensen, and fellow alumna Melissa Gardiner ('07, jazz studies). The 2013 festival finale was a solo piano set by U-M Professor Geri Allen.
Nicole Esposito, MM ’02 (flute), was promoted to associate professor with tenure at the University of Iowa.
Kevin Hildebrand, MM '00 (organ and church music), is serving as editor of the Hymn Prelude Library, a 12-volume set of organ chorale preludes published by Concordia Publishing House. This five-year project will include 600 new compositions, from a pool of over 90 composers, based on each tune in the hymnal Lutheran Service Book. The first volume is now in print; subsequent volumes are forthcoming. Hildebrand is Cantor at Concordia Theological Seminary and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, IN. A new recording of Hildebrand’s original works, Blessed Are They Forever, featuring choral, instrumental, and congregational hymn settings, is being released by Concordia Theological Seminary’s Good Shepherd Institute.
Carol Jantsch, BM ’06 (tuba), recently premiered a new tuba concerto by SMTD composition professor Michael Daugherty. The work, titled Reflections on the Mississippi, was commissioned by Temple University, where Jantsch is on the faculty, and was performed with the Temple University Orchestra (TUO) in March at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia. A second performance took place at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City in April. The TUO and Jantsch will be recording the work for release this summer.
Daniel Knaggs, BMA ’07 (voice), was awarded first prize in the first International David Maria Turoldo Composition Competition (Italy) and the Shinik Hahm Prize from Rice University (2012). He was commissioned by the music teachers’ associations of Michigan (2011) and Illinois (2012) and his Hic est discipulus ille opened a concert of Penderecki’s choral music (with Penderecki present) in Poland last July. Additionally, his Flujo y Reflujo was included on the 2013 Audiograft Festival (Oxford, UK). Knaggs’ Delusions of Charles the Bold will be premiered by the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra on June 1, 2013.
Zach Shemon, BM ’07, MM ’09 (saxophone), won first prize in the International Saxophone Symposium and Competition (ISSAC) held in October at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA. He competed against 71 other contestants to win $3,000 cash; a new P. Mauriat saxophone; the opportunity to appear as featured soloist on the world premiere CD recording of James M. David's L'oiseau dans l'espace for alto saxophone and percussion ensemble; a $500 Woodwind & Brasswind gift certificate; and a 5-disc set of The Tuning C.D. He recently accepted a faculty position at the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance.
Eric Shieh, BM '04 (music education) recently returned from Venezuela on a Fund for Teachers fellowship researching the education response to youth violence in Caracas, including work with El Sistema. He continues to teach and lead curriculum development at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, "A School for a Sustainable City," in New York City, which he helped found and which opened a new high school this year. Publications include articles and chapters in The Oxford Handbook of Music Education, Listen Out: International Perspectives in Music Education, and the Social Justice Issue of the Music Educators Journal.
Clinton Smith, MM ’06, DMA '09 (orchestral conducting) continues as artistic director and principal conductor of the St. Cloud Symphony. Additionally this season, he will work as cover conductor/coach at Santa Fe Opera, Juilliard Opera, Portland Opera, Kentucky Opera, and Ash Lawn Opera, guest conduct Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber singers and Skylark Opera, as well as prepare Minnesota Opera's commission of Douglas J. Cuomo's Doubt in workshop. Recently he led a workshop of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night; conducted main stage performances of La Traviata and Madama Butterfly at the Minnesota Opera; taught master classes at Western Ontario University and St. Cloud State University; and coached at the National University of Taiwan.
Justin Walter, BFA ’07 (jazz studies, trumpet) sees the release of two recordings of original work this year that explore the unique and beautiful sounds of the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument). The first, Dark Matter (Life Like), is an album of improvised and composed music for EVI, trumpet, guitar, bass, and piano. “Dark Matter is kind of like laying in middle of a giant field and watching the starry night sky go by,” says Walter. This May he releases Lullabies & Nightmares, his debut for the Chicago-based label, Kranky. “Lullabies & Nightmares is more like walking through a jungle full of wild beasts and realizing it’s wonderful.”
Gregory X. Whitmore, BM ’01(instrumental music education) and director of bands at Cathedral City (CA) High School, recently completed a commissioning project with composer J. Eric Schmidt (University Of Southern California). Whitmore conducted the Cathedral City High School Symphony Band in a premiere of Schmidt’s new work for band entitled Exuberance. He also conducted the Cathedral City High School Band in concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall (home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic). Additionally, he conducted the CCHS Symphony Band in concert at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington D.C.) in April. Whitmore recently completed his master’s degree in wind conducting at Cal State-Fullerton under the baton of Mitchell Fennell.