The Blair String Quartet (Christian Teal, Joseph Joachim Professor of Violin; Connie Heard, Valere Blair Potter Professor of Violin; John Kochanowski, associate professor of viola; and Felix Wang, associate professor of cello) performed and presented master classes in Winchester, Mass., in November, followed by a four-day residency at Dartmouth College and a concert in Newburgh, N.Y. They also performed in Madisonville, Ky.
Gregory Barz, associate professor of musicology (ethnomusicology), was elected to the board of directors of the Society for Ethnomusicology and will serve a two-year term as treasurer. In addition, he has accepted a five-year research fellowship at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, where he will conduct summer research in neighboring Lesotho on issues related to music and HIV/AIDS. Last fall he co-produced the CD Kampala Flow: East African Hip Hop from Uganda on Nashville’s Lime Pulp Records.
Joy H. Calico, associate professor of musicology, presented a paper entitled “Epic Gesamtkunstwerk” at the national meeting of the German Studies Association in Oakland, Calif., in October and a paper entitled “Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw in Warsaw (1958)” at the national meeting of the American Musicological Society in Indianapolis, Ind., in November.
Matt Combs, adjunct instructor in fiddling and member of the John Hartford String Band, garnered a Grammy nomination. The John Hartford String Band CD titled Memories of John on Red Clay/Compass Records was nominated in the category of Best Traditional Folk Album. One of the guest artists who played on the CD is Alison Brown, adjunct artist teacher of banjo.
Elizabeth Eckert, adjunct artist teacher of piano, toured supporting her album Bloomington with stops in Chicago, Bloomington, Ind., Washington D.C., Atlanta and Louisville. In November, she performed for Indiana University’s Colloquium for Women. Eckert was joined by other prestigious presenters including Meryl Streep, Jane Pauley and Noble Prize winner Dr. Elinor Ostrom.
Jen Gunderman, senior lecturer in music history and literature, played at the Americana Music Association and Goose On The Lake festivals; pro bono concerts at the Tennessee Prison for Women and Park Center: Recovery From Mental Illness; and a concert at the Station Inn with bluegrass legend Mike Auldridge. Recent recording session highlights include tracking with Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin and others for a Tom T. Hall tribute album; recording with Kris Kristofferson, Radney Foster, Willie Nelson and others for a Guy Clark tribute album; recording with Todd Snider and Don Was; and recording with Heidi Newfield. She also welcomed Los Angeles punk pioneer Exene Cervenka to her History of Rock class and played a show with her later that night.
Jared Hauser, assistant professor of oboe, had a recent American Record Guide review of his latest solo CD, Operatic Oboe, which raves that Hauser plays “with passion, lyricism and an operatic sensibility.” Operatic Oboe was released late last year by Blue Griffin Records.
Connie Heard, Valere Blair Potter Professor of Violin, taught and performed at the Aspen Music Festival and School during the summer and gave violin and chamber music master classes in Winchester, Mass., in November and in Irvine, Calif., in January.
Michael Holland, senior lecturer in percussion, traveled to Wichita, Kan., in December and January for developmental work on a collaborative project between Blair Percussion VORTEX, musician/computer engineer John Harrison, Hack.Art.Lab, composer Mary Ellen Childs and Jerry Scholl with the Wichita State University Percussion Ensemble, the results of which will be on display at the April VORTEX concert. In February he traveled to Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va., to provide master classes in the live accompaniment of film, performance practices in the presentation of illustrated popular song of the early 20th century, and performance practices in the music of Eric Stokes, the late Minneapolis composer, with whom he performed at the Walker Art Center and at numerous colleges and universities.
Carolyn Huebl, assistant professor of violin, spent her summer performing chamber music and teaching at the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, N.C. Her recording of the complete sonatas for violin and piano by Alfred Schnittke with Dean Mark Wait was released online in June. It will be released on CD in June 2011 on the Naxos label.
John Kochanowski, associate professor of violin, taught last summer at Charles Castleman’s quartet program at SUNY-Fredonia in New York.
Karen Ann Krieger, associate professor of piano and piano pedagogy, is a contributor to the fourth edition of Creative Piano Teaching, a highly respected pedagogy textbook by James Lyke. The book will be released in March. Krieger, who serves as collegiate piano chair, is co-author of Technical Development for Young Pianists—A Foundation for Musical Progress.
Michael Kurek, associate professor of composition, had his new Trio for Violin, Viola, and Violoncello: Savannah Shadows given its world premiere in early November by the Atlantic Ensemble (Wei Tsun Chang, Seanad Chang and Kirsten Cassel Greer, click here for more) in Paris, France, at three venues: the American Cathedral of Paris, the Fondation Danoise and L’Eglise St. Merri (next to the Pompidou Centre) and Cassandra Lee, associate professor of clarinet, to play a concert at Michigan State University, was also presented at Tennessee Tech. In addition, she performed for the quarterly meeting of the Atlanta chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, a national music fraternity.
Maureen May, adjunct instructor in piano, had her solo “Slapstick” selected as one of the required piano solos by the Federation of Music Clubs at the Moderately Difficult II level. This solo, along with other published solos and duets by Maureen May, are available through FJH Music Co.
Jennifer McGuire, senior lecturer in collaborative piano, performed a recital with soprano Melissa Shippen Burrows in Clarksville in September. She then travelled with the Atlantic Ensemble (Click here for more) and Cassandra Lee, associate professor of clarinet, to play a concert at Michigan State University, was also presented at Tennessee Tech. In addition, she performed for the quarterly meeting of the Atlanta chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, a national music fraternity.
Carol Nies, adjunct senior artist teacher of conducting, served as guest conductor for the Rome Festival Opera and Orchestra last summer. She conducted Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore and eight additional Rome Festival Orchestra and Opera concerts in June and July. She has been invited to return as guest conductor of the Rome Festival Orchestra and Opera (including a performance of Verdi’s Falstaff) for the 2011 season and to serve as conductor of the New York 2011 All-State String Orchestra.
Marianne Ploger, senior artist teacher of musicianship, was in residence last January at Hamilton College, New York, where she presented lecture demonstrations for the brass ensemble and orchestra and served as one of three clinicians at the conducting workshop presented by the Academy for Advanced Conducting. In July, she was in residence at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point to provide a special musicianship intensive for its music theory/composition faculty. In July, she served as clinician at the national Art of Wind Band Teaching Symposium at the University of Minnesota, where she gave seven lectures in which she demonstrated and taught her theories of aural perception and cognition to 70 music educators from around the world. In September, David Arcus at Duke University premiered Ploger’s Toccata and Fugue in G Minor, commissioned by the Duke University Divinity School as part of the dedicatory concert for the newly installed Richards, Fowkes & Co. organ. Also in September, she and Keith Hill presented their paper “The Craft of Musical Communication” at the national College Music Society conference in Minneapolis, Minn.
Crystal Plohman, senior artist teacher of fiddling, returned last summer for her ninth year as fiddling instructor at the Chicago Suzuki Institute. Earlier in the year, she traveled to Houston to perform as guest artist and give fiddling workshops at the Fort Bend Day for Strings. She also served as the fiddling workshop instructor in Nashville at the Fine Arts Summer Academy, the Blair School Spring Suzuki Workshop and at the Middle Tennessee Suzuki Association workshop in September.
Jonathan Retzlaff, associate professor of voice, returned to Graz, Austria, for his fourth summer of teaching on the faculty of the American Institute of Music.
Michael Alec Rose, associate professor of composition, had his piece Five Bucolics: A Cycle of Songs on Poems of Maurice Manning (composed for Tony Boutté, tenor) premiered at the University of Miami in late November. He has just completed a piano quartet entitled Burlesques before the Ark.
Helena Simonett, adjunct assistant professor of music literature and history, was invited by the Music Library Association to address the conference participants at the plenary session in San Diego last March on “Mexican Traditional Musics Pushing the Border(s).” She presented a paper entitled “Of Real and Wannabe Narcos: Doing Fieldwork in the Mexican Underworld” at the Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society in Nashville and another on “Cantos de venado—Deer Songs: New Insights into Mexican Indigenous Performance and Composition Practices” at the International Congress of Musicology in Mexico City. The Journal of Popular Music Studies invited her to contribute an article, “A View from the South: Academic Discourse across Borders,” about canonizing popular music studies. She spent the month of May doing fieldwork among indigenous people in northwestern Mexico. While in Mexico, she gave a lecture at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa in Mazatlán on narco-music and another at the Casa Pérez Meza on the grupero movement. The latter was attended by students and faculty of the two major music schools in Mazatlán.
Michael Slayton, associate professor of music, had his piece Le Soir Tombe receive its New York premiere in June at Symphony Space. The book, Women of Influence in Contemporary Music: Nine American Composers, for which he wrote two chapters and served as editor, was released by Scarecrow Press in December.
Celeste Halbrook Tuten, senior artist teacher of Suzuki violin, in May assisted the Hull-Jackson Montessori String Ensemble with their spring concert. In July she accompanied the group when they performed at the graduation of Montessori teachers at Belmont University.
Thomas Verrier, associate professor and director of wind studies, returned to Asia in November to conduct the Hong Kong Wind Ensemble, a group for whom he has served as artistic adviser for the past four years. The program was presented in the historic Tsuen Wan Town Hall and included a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s silent film The Adventurer presented with a live performance of the orchestra score and a double concerto with soloists Chris Moyse and trombonist Ben Pelletier.
Felix Wang, associate professor of cello, taught at the Brevard Music Center this summer, where he also performed with fellow faculty member Craig Nies, associate professor of piano. In the fall, they played recitals at the Blair School and the University of Iowa, where Wang was the guest cellist for the Iowa Cello Festival. In addition to his duties in the Blair Quartet and Blakemore Trio, Felix also appeared as principal cellist of the IRIS Orchestra’s opening concert in Memphis with Yo-Yo Ma.
Debra Creasman, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., August 12, 2010. For 16 years, Debra served as director of public relations at Blair. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, she was treated at the Vanderbilt Breast Center. Impressed with the nurses and the loving care that she received there, she earned her L.P.N. at Volunteer State Community College, graduating second in her class at age 50. She went on to complete her R.N. at Columbia State Community College. Her last year was spent at the Vanderbilt Breast Center working with patients like herself.
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