A Note from Director Kent McWilliams

Greetings to the entire KSU Music community from the new director of the Glauser School of Music! I feel honored to have the chance to serve in this role, and after only two months on the job, I have already witnessed an extremely high level of engagement by our students, educators, alumni, and donors. Our programs are bursting at the seams with enthusiastic musicians eager to share their talents, and I have been invigorated by the positive energy I have observed all around the school. This is a special community, and I have appreciated the warm welcome that everyone has extended to me so far. 

As I begin my time here, I would first like to acknowledge the strong tradition of excellence that has been a constant part of the School of Music through several generations. As we now reflect on how to best move forward, this seems like an opportune time to begin a process that will point out both challenges and opportunities. To that end, I am happy to report that we will be undertaking an extensive planning project over the coming months and years. I encourage you to continue reading as I outline a few of the initial thoughts that have arisen as we consider how to assure a healthy future for the Glauser School. 

I am happy to report that we are in the initial stages of an extensive planning project that will examine how best to support student learning here at the School of Music. Over the coming months, we will be exploring ways to foster a high-level creative environment at the Glauser School while continuing to build upon the strong foundations set by generations of KSU music-makers. Following the opening discussions of this topic, a clear consensus has already emerged that a primary focus should be to align the physical facilities with the excellence of the program. When I write in the first paragraph that we are “bursting at the seams,” I admit that the use of that metaphor expresses the reality of our facilities quite accurately. 

When I arrived on the campus, I was pleased to read in the 2018 Kent Campus Master Plan that an update to the School of Music was included in the listing of buildings to be addressed. Accordingly, I am eager to move forward in developing a plan that will accommodate the needs of our growing program, even though the particular time frame for this project has yet to be finalized. As we move forward, please look for updates on this front. If you would like to become involved in the planning phase of this project, please reach out to us in the School of Music with your thoughts and suggestions. 

There will be other items on the agenda as we develop our long-range plan for the music program, always to assure a strong future for the Glauser School. The educators and students feel energized and ready to tackle this process as we look at forging new opportunities for the students in terms of curricular options, off-campus study choices, internships, wellness initiatives, and experiential learning. With a large group of engaged students on both the Kent and Stark Campuses, the Glauser School is well-positioned to move ahead with a renewed sense of direction. 

As I arrived at Kent State, I was thrilled to hear about several important achievements and I'm happy to share them with you below.

  • The Percussion Ensemble (directed by Matt Holm) and the Nova Jazz Singers (directed by Chris Venesile) have both been chosen as featured groups at the Ohio Music Education Association 2020 conference. Following highly competitive auditions, our groups have been recognized as some of the top in the state. Congratulations! 
  • Several recent alumni have assumed faculty positions this fall, including at Texas Women's University, the University of Alabama and Texas A&M University at Corpus Cristi. 
  • Faculty Promotions - In academe, faculty have very few chances to earn promotions, so the celebration of these critical milestones becomes even very important. Over the past year, four faculty members have been promoted: Danna Sundet has earned the rank of full Professor; David Mitchell, Bobby Selvaggio, and Chris Venesile have all earned the rank of Associate Professor. 
  • Two of our jazz professors have significant accomplishments. Bobby Selvaggio will release his 11th album as leader on October 4, 2019. Titled "Re:invented," it was recorded live at Cleveland's Bop Stop earlier this year. Chris Coles won a prestigious Knight Arts Award grant to put together the “Nine Lives Suite.” The premiere took place on Saturday, August 24 during the Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival. 
  • A new partnership with Tuesday Musical Association of Akron will bring five guest artists from their concert series to give masterclasses on campus. The guests include violinist Adam Barnett-Hart, composer Gregg Kallor, pianist Fei Fei, the Escher String Quartet and the Junction Piano Trio. 

Open House 

Please encourage any future music majors in your life to join us on Tuesday, November 5 to experience a day in the life of a KSU music student. Potential students, parents, educators, and music lovers are invited to join us for this free event as we give you a glimpse into the rehearsals, classes, lessons, practice sessions that make this such a lively place. More information and registration can be found here.

2019-2020 Concert Season 

This year’s lineup of stellar music events once again features a long list of excellent and diverse offerings. I would like to encourage you to take advantage of these wonderful performances. Come and let these talented young musicians make your spirits soar. Although the full list of excellent concerts is full of breadth and depth, some highlights include faculty members Jung-Min Amy Lee, Amitai Vardi, and Donna Lee joining the KSU Orchestra as soloists. The May 4 Commemorative events include several world premieres of works by Emeritus faculty member Frank Wiley and current faculty member Adam Roberts. The Kent Keyboard Series will feature our faculty artists as well as guests Paul Wyse and Yoonie Han. 

The Performing Box Office opens Monday, Sept. 9! Visit our concert calendar for a complete schedule and to buy tickets. 

Many thanks for taking the time to read about this great place. I look forward to meeting you in person and would like to extend a personal invitation to you to come in and say hello.

Kent McWilliams

POSTED: Friday, August 30, 2019 - 8:05pm
UPDATED: Thursday, September 5, 2019 - 3:06pm