Student, Faculty and Alumni News | Feb. 2019

Read the latest updates from the School of Music!


Current Student News


Baritone Charles Austin Piper, a student of Timothy Culver (Voice), has been accepted as a Young Artist for the 2019 The Ohio Light Opera Summer Festival. He will perform in supporting roles and as a member of the chorus in all seven productions of the 2019 season. The festival takes place on the campus of The College of Wooster (OH) June 15-Aug. 10 and is considered one of America’s premier summer opera festivals.


Read more about the festival here.


Graduate students violinist Paula Castaneda, a student of Cathy Meng Robinson, and violist Cristian Diaz, a student of Joanna Patterson Zakany, were selected to participate in the 2018 Mahler Chamber Orchestra Academy. They traveled to Dortmund, Germany, November 16th- 26th to complete the program. Founded in 2009, the Academy provides high-quality orchestral training and an innovative mentorship program that prepares participants for the rigorous demands of being a 21st-century musician.


More information about the Academy here.


Kent State graduate conducting student Sarah Kois and Fashion School third-year design major Christelle Tucker have been awarded a 2019 College of the Arts Flash Grant for their project “Wear What Makes You Comfortable, But Looks Professional.” Together, they are collaborating on the creation of a professional performance jacket for female conductors. Dr. Janine Tiffe (Ethnomusicology) is their faculty sponsor.


Read a recent KentWired article detailing the project here.


Faculty News


Theodore Albrecht (Musicology) presented a paper, "Good Things Come in Four: Beethoven's Jewish Visitors in Summer, 1825," at the annual meeting of the Midwest Jewish Studies Association in Chicago on October 21, 2018. He also presented a paper, "Thumbing Mendelssohn's Nose at the Nazis: Hans Pfitzner's Symphony in C, Op. 46 (1940)," at the 31st Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium on Jewish Civilization in Omaha on October 29. Each year, this fully endowed conference brings a dozen scholars prominent in Jewish Studies from all over the world to Jesuit Creighton University and Omaha's Jewish Community Center for presentations that will then be published in a volume of proceedings by Purdue University Press. This marks the third time that Albrecht has been honored to participate.


Soprano Marla Berg (Voice, Director of Kent State Opera) will be working as the Assistant Director for the esteemed Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center for the Summer 2019 season. She will work on all three productions of the summer season, collaborating with company director Dean Anthony on Strauss II’s “Die Fledermaus” and Floyd’s “Susannah” and with guest director Dorothy Danner on Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliette.” 


Learn more about Brevard’s 2019 opera season here.


Saxophonist Chris Coles (Jazz Studies) received a $10,000 matching grant from the Minority Arts and Education Fund of the Cleveland Foundation in support of his Knight Arts Challenge project, “Nine Lives.” The project was inspired by the victims of the Charleston church shooting of 2015.


On Saturday, October 27, Timothy Culver (Voice) facilitated the annual Student Auditions of the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing at Cedarville University. Tim is the organizations Vice President and Auditions Coordinator. The event involved over 230 students and 60 voice teachers from the state of Ohio. Two Kent State students placed in their respective categories:


  • Charles Austin Piper, Advanced College Men, first place (student of Timothy Culver)
  • Jordy Betancourt-Vargas, Fourth/Fifth Year College Men, third place (student of Lara Troyer)


Richard Devore (Theory) has been nominated for the 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award. The award is presented to outstanding professors who have comprehensive knowledge of their fields, effectively and resourcefully organize and present material, and stimulate student thinking and understanding. Recipients of the award will be announced in early May.  


The Kent State Women’s Chorus, directed by Dr. Deborah Devore (Music Education), was featured in a recent edition of Kent State’s online publication “eInside.” Since taking the reins of the choir three years ago, she has helped it grow from 28 members to over 70 through an emphasis on community building and embracing all forms of diversity.  


Read the full article here.


Dr. Noa Even’s saxophone duo, Ogni Suono, released their second album, “SaxoVoce,” for New Focus Recordings on September 7, 2018. The album’s description reads, "This ambitious debut release by Cleveland based saxophone duo Ogni Suono (Noa Even and Phil Pierick) explores new works, all written for the group, that extend the range of their instruments to include singing, speaking, and a beguiling vocabulary of breathing and vocal sounds. Working closely with an elite group of contemporary composers, Ogni Suono, joins many other virtuoso wind instrumentalists and ensembles at the vanguard of instrumental and extended technique."


Learn more about Ogni Suono here.


The KSU Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Matt Holm (Percussion), participated for the second successive year in the Percussive Arts Society International Conference Competition. They traveled to compete in Indianapolis, IN November 14-17 and were one of sixteen ensembles chosen through highly competitive preliminary auditions.


Dr. Jesse Leyva (Director of Bands) and Dr. Wendy Matthews (Music Education) have been selected to present "Evaluating Orpheus: Do conductorless ensembles really benefit students?" at the College Band Directors National Association Conference. The conference will take place in Tempe (AZ) at Arizona State University, February 20-23, 2019.


Dr. Wendy Matthews (Music Education) is a recipient of a 2019 Kent State University Summer Research and Creative Activity Appointment. She will be continuing her research of the first cadre of professional American women brass musicians to have solo careers or hold a professional position in major symphony orchestras or military bands. Dr. Matthews will interview women brass players and collect artifacts of their personal lives, musical careers, teaching philosophies, and social beliefs. Her research will likely result in the creation of several multi-media presentations and journal articles.


The Kent State Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Bobby Selvaggio (Director of Jazz Studies), and the Nova Jazz Singers, under the direction of Dr. Chris Venesile (Music Education), will return to compete at the highly regarded Elmhurst College Jazz Festival, Elmhurst (IL), February 21-24, 2019.


Read more about the festival here.


Dr. Andrew Shahriari (Ethnomusicology) is the recipient of an NTT Professional Development Excellence Pool award for 2018-2019.


Dr. Janine Tiffe (Ethnomusicology) presented a paper titled “New Horizons - Florida Style: A Case Study of Adult Community Steel Band in the Southeastern United States” at the 21st Annual Eastern Caribbean Islands Cultures Conference. The conference was held in Oranjestad, Aruba, November 15-17, 2018.


Dr. Jay White (Voice) recently began his tenure as the new Artistic Director of Quire Cleveland. In October, he was interviewed by Cleveland Classical’s Dan Hathaway to preview the 2018-19 season. He also spoke with Mark Satola of Cleveland’s classical music station, WCLV 104.7. They discussed his new role, the resurgence of the countertenor, and more.


Read the article here.


Listen to the WCLV interview here.


Alumni News


Kent State alumnus, tenor Spencer Boyd (MM, ‘18), has been cast in the lead role of Nemorino in Indiana University’s production of Donizetti's comic opera, “L'elisir d'amore.” The production runs Feb. 22-23 and March 1-2. Currently, Spencer is a DMA candidate in the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University studying with prominent American soprano Carol Vaness. He was a student of Timothy Culver during his studies at Kent State.


Read more about the production here.


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POSTED: Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 4:27pm
UPDATED: Friday, February 15, 2019 - 11:51am