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Tutti: News About Faculty

Posted by on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 in Articles, Spring 2009.

The Blair String Quartet traveled to Highlands, N.C., in August to perform an unusual concert at the Highlands/ Cashiers Chamber Music Festival. The quartet shared the program with acoustic group Punch Brothers, featuring mandolinist Chris Thile (formerly of Nickel Creek) performing works by Beethoven and Ives. Blair violinist Chris Teal and Thile each played solo Bach on their respective instruments. The quartet collaborated with banjoist Noam Pikelney on the finale of a quintet written some time ago for the quartet by Edgar Meyer and Bela Fleck. The artistic director of the festival is Emory professor and Blair precollege alumnus William Ransom.

Other quartet concerts this fall included return engagements to Music Mountain in Connecticut, Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., University of Georgia in Athens and Southwestern Georgia University in Americus. The quartet also appeared at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., performing with former Blair faculty member Ron Shinn and presenting master classes. 

The Blakemore Trio’s busy fall schedule included a concert on the prestigious “Artist Series” in Tallahassee, Fla. The trio also performed at the University of North Florida and Western Kentucky University, as well as on chamber music series in Memphis and Huntsville. 

Mat Britain, adjunct instructor of music, was invited to teach steel drums at the Taipei International Percussion Summer Camp at the National Taipei University School of the Arts in July. The camp, sponsored by the Ju Percussion Foundation, featured a concert presented by the students at the end of the camp. Britain was also percussionist for country music star Louise Mandrell’s “Joy To The World” Christmas Dinner and Show at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in December.

Joy Calico, associate professor of musicology, presented papers at the national meeting of the German Studies Association and at a symposium on German culture at Iowa State University in October. In November she gave invited colloquia in the musicology departments at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Stanford University.

David Childs, associate professor of choral studies, served as conductor/clinician for the Texas All-Region XX Honor Choir in Dallas, the Tennessee All Mid-State Women’s Choir, the Mississippi All-State SATB Honor Choir, and the Lake Charles SATB Honor Choir. He tutored and lectured at the International Summer School of Choral Conducting in Hamilton, New Zealand, and saw world premieres of newly commissioned works in Eugene, Ore., and in Oklahoma City by the National SATB Honor Choir at the National American Choral Directors Association Conference. He published the article “Weep No More” in GIA Music Series Teaching Music through Performance, Volume III.

Amy Dorfman, associate professor of piano, teamed up with violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley in September to present a benefit recital for the Asheville Symphony at the Diana Wortham Theater.

Elizabeth Eckert, adjunct artist teacher of piano, performed in Washington, D.C.‘s Hall of Nations at the Levine School of Music’s gala event. She also attended the Music Mind Games Unit 2 Teacher Training Class in Kensington, Md., last summer.  

Connie Heard, professor of violin, returned to the artist faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School last summer where she taught, coached chamber music, and performed on the faculty chamber music series. She performed on German violinist Julia Fischer’s recital, along with David Halen, concertmaster of the St. Louis Symphony; Alan Gilbert, violist and conductor of the New York Philharmonic; and Eric Kim, principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony.

Carolyn Huebl, assistant professor of violin, taught at the Intermountain Suzuki Institute in Utah in June and then spent the summer at the Brevard Music Center, where she served as principal second violin, taught a full class of collegiate and precollegiate students and performed chamber music. This fall she presented a recital at Blair with Dean Mark Wait. In October, she presented a master class at University of North Florida while on tour with the Blakemore Trio.

Amy Jarman, senior lecturer in voice, presented recitals of American music in Sofia, Bulgaria, as a part of the AmBul 2008 Festival of American and Bulgarian music, and in Bristol, England, as a featured performer on the Bristol Cathedral recital series. In addition, she gave lecture/recitals and taught master classes in American art song at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England.

John Johns, associate professor of guitar, recently performed a solo recital for the Tennessee Guitar Festival at Middle Tennessee State University. In the fall he presented “John Johns and His Lady Friends, Part Deux,” with “lady friends” Carolyn Huebl, violin, Jane Kirchner, flute, and Kathryn Plummer, viola, at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, Tenn., for its Fall Chamber Music Series; on The Blair School Signature Series; and at Richland Place. In November, Johns gave six concerts with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra on the Young People’s Concerts series, performing works by Vivaldi and Rodrigo at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and at Austin Peay State University. He also performed solo recitals on “Live in Studio C” on WPLN-FM celebrating its 10th anniversary and at Park Manor.

Karen Ann Krieger, associate professor of piano and piano pedagogy, gave a presentation, “Teaching Technique and Musicality,” to the Southern Indiana Area Music Teachers in Evansville in October. She also judged the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music’s Concerto Competition.

Michael Kurek, associate professor of composition, had his Concertino for Celesta and Orchestra performed in January by the Orchestra of the Theater Lüneburg near Hamburg, Germany. His Sonata for Viola and Piano was performed in January by the distinguished soloist Sylvia Ahramjian and pianist Carl Cranmer in Philadelphia. Concurrent with the Philadelphia performance, Kurek was guest composer at West Chester University. 

Virginia Lamothe, adjunct professor of dance history and music history, recently published an article in the journal Early Music on dance and performance practice issues in Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo.

Joe Rea Phillips, senior artist teacher of guitar, taught tai chi in The Commons last summer for six weeks as part of the Vanderbilt Summer Academy, a program that attracts gifted and talented middle and high school students from many states. 

Kathryn Plummer, professor of viola, taught at the Viola Workout Camp in Crested Butte, Colo., in June. Also in June, she and Michael Alec Rose presented a lecture/recital at the International Viola Congress in Tempe, Ariz. She performed at the Festival der Zukunft in Ernen, Switzerland, in August and performed and taught at the Second Annual Viola Celebration in Knoxville in September. She was recently elected to serve on the National Board of the American Viola Society.

Jonathan Retzlaff, associate professor of voice, taught on the faculty of AIMS Festival in Graz, Austria, in July and August. He appeared with the AIMS Festival Orchestra singing selections from Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music at the Schlossenberg in Graz and in Weiz, Austria. Last April Retzlaff was soloist in Johannes Brahms’ Requiem with conductor Jamie Kirsch and the Blair choirs in a benefit concert for The Shade Tree Family Clinic in Nashville and the Lawala Community Clinic in Kenya.

Melissa Rose, associate professor of piano, gave a workshop on “Playing Orchestral Reductions:  A Guide for the Perplexed Pianist” for the state convention of the Tennessee Music Teachers Association. In June, she was also the pianist for the Sherrill Milnes and Dawn Upshaw master classes at the national conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. In July, she served as an official pianist for ClarinetFest 2008, the annual conference of the International Clarinet Association, performing seven recitals with professional clarinetists from the world’s leading orchestras and universities. Following the conference in Kansas City, she remained for her 15th season as pianist for the Summerfest Chamber Music Series. In October she performed with Nashville’s Alias Chamber Ensemble.

Michael Alec Rose, associate professor of composition, was guest speaker for the music library’s “faculty tune-up” series in November, speaking on the sources and collaborative process leading to his Pastoral Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. This composition is dedicated to Peter Sheppard Skaerved, who served as violin soloist for the premiere of the work with the Vanderbilt Orchestra in November.

Helena Simonett, assistant professor of Latin American studies and adjunct assistant professor of music history and literature, presented papers on her current research on indigenous ceremonial music at the Annual Conference on Rituals, Holidays, Festivals at Bowling Green State University and at the Society for Ethnomusicology Conference at Wesleyan University. Her essay “Quest for the Local: Building Musical Ties between Mexico and the United States” was published in Postnational Musical Identities: Cultural Production, Distribution and Consumption in a Globalized Scenario. She is currently editing a book on accordion traditions in the Americas.

Carol Smith, senior artist teacher of violin, was a clinician and teacher trainer at Suzuki Music, Columbus Summer Institute, held at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, in June, and a clinician at Ithaca College Suzuki Institute, Ithaca, N.Y., in July. 

Celeste Halbrook Tuten, artist teacher of Suzuki violin, served as accompanist for the Middle Tennessee Suzuki Association at its annual fall workshop at St. Cecilia Academy.

Agnes Wan, adjunct artist teacher of piano, gave a solo recital at the American  Cathedral in Paris in December. In April, she will give a solo recital at the Sherwood Conservatory in Chicago to be broadcast live on WFMT (98.7 FM). She has solo recitals scheduled in Chattanooga and Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Lexington, Ky.; and Cincinnati, Ohio. Her book, Physical and Mental Issues in Piano Performance: The Interrelationships between Physical Tension, Performance Anxiety, and Memorization Strategies, was recently published by VDM-Verlag. She served as adjudicator for the Blount County Keyboard Competition in November and will also adjudicate for the Knoxville Music Club’s auditions in March.

Felix Wang, associate professor of cello, performed and taught in several places in addition to his duties in the Blair String Quartet and Blakemore Trio. He had solo appearances in East Lansing, Mich., and at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville and gave a master class at Florida State University. He spent the summer on the faculty of the Brevard Music Center, where he taught, performed chamber music, and played in the festival orchestra. 


The Blair School has reassigned two staff members at the Anne Potter Wilson Music Library. Michael Jones is circulation coordinator and responsible for all circulation services including course reserves. Sara Manus is now education and outreach librarian. In March, Jacob Schaub joined these colleagues as the new cataloguer at the Wilson Music Library. Schaub received his Master’s in Library and Information Science in August 2008 from Kent State University and is currently working on his master’s degree in music from Ohio University, which he hopes to complete in May of this year. Most recently, he catalogued sound recordings and music scores at Kent State University Libraries and Media Services.

Adam Michael has joined the Blair Development Office as assistant director. Most recently, Adam was associate director of the Homework Hotline. Prior to that, he served as a public defender in the 18th Judicial District and as a teacher of American history at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville. He is a 2000 graduate of Duke University and a 2004 graduate of Vanderbilt Law School.


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