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School of Music welcomes two new faculty

The School of Music welcomes two new faculty members to start the 2014-2015 school year. Daniel Shirley joins the School as teaching instructor in the Voice Department and assistant professor Dr. Raychl Smith is the newest member of the School’s Music Education faculty.

Of his 2013 Carnegie Hall debut, the New York Concert Review noted, “Daniel Shirley’s voice soared over the large forces with strength and clarity.” The tenor continues to earn critical praise for his appearances in concert, opera, and musical theater. During the 2014-15 season he looks forward to debuting Candide and Anthony Hope (Sweeney Todd) with Madison Opera, and to more concert appearances including Carmina burana with the Alabama Symphony.
Recent seasons have brought debuts with Michigan Opera Theater, Opera Memphis, New York City Opera, Boston Baroque, Sugar Creek Symphony & Song, Madison Opera, and Intermountain Opera Bozeman. In concert, he has appeared at Carnegie Hall with Distinguished Concerts International New York, and with the Pacific Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Music of the Baroque, Indianapolis Symphony and Evansville Philharmonic.
Shirley trained in some of America’s most notable apprentice programs: Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Central City Opera and Chautauqua Opera. He is working towards the completion of the Doctor of Music from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he earned a Master of Music. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music. His teachers have included Patricia Stiles, Jason Ferrante, Jonathan Retzlaff, and Gayle Shay.
Shirley is a native of Jackson, Mississippi, and performs often with his wife, soprano Caitlin Shirley.

Raychl Smith comes to the School’s Music Education faculty from Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Smith holds the Ph.D. and M.M. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a B.M. from Appalachian State University. She was previously the program coordinator and assistant professor of music education at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
While completing graduate work at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Smith served as an instructor of music education at Elon University.
Prior to teaching at the collegiate level, Smith taught in the public schools of North Carolina as an elementary general music teacher, choral director and middle school band director. She was selected as teacher of the year at Weddington Hills Elementary School while teaching in Cabarrus County
Smith’s research interests include Creative Motion pedagogy, innovative approaches to facilitating free improvisation, community music making, and music education and social justice.Her most recent article, published in the Journal of Creative Motion, explores the differences between external movement and internal motion within Creative Motion pedagogy.
Smith serves as the Second Vice President of the Creative Motion Alliance, a national organization that certifies teachers in Creative Motion pedagogy.
She teaches on the summer faculty of the Windswept Music Conference, which has previously been held on the campuses of William Jewel College and Ouachita Baptist University.

Student competition success
Mary Catherine Cox, junior violin performance major studying with Ara Gregorian, won both the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra and the Durham Symphony Orchestra concerto competitions in January 2014.  Also, she recently won the 2013-14 ECU Concerto Competition Ron and Patty Allison Prize, and the opportunity to perform as soloist with the ECU Symphony Orchestra. She has been awarded All-State Honors Orchestra and has attended the Music Teacher’s National Association state auditions and international music festivals in France, England, and Italy. Last summer Cox was awarded a fellowship to study at the Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival in Wisconsin. 

Cox will perform with the Raleigh Symphony February 23 and the Durham Symphony April 6.

ECU School of Music students placed well at the North Carolina Music Teachers Association competitions held at UNCW on Friday, October 8.  ECU student cellist CJ Collins won first place and student cellist Hillary Flowers took third place and honorable mention, both in Young Artists Division. Collins and Flowers are students of Emmauel Gruber. Caroline Cox, student of Keiko Sekino, was named alternate in the Young Artist/College piano division. ECU's Dr. Kerry Carlin is chair of the state competitions.

Brooks named 2014 Distinguished Alum   

Joli Brooks has been named the 2014 School of Music Distinguished Alumna.

Brooks began playing the violin as a sixth grader in the public schools of Sanford, NC. Brooks performed in the orchestra at Lee Senior High School and studied violin at the Duke String School with Dorothy Kitchen.  As a student at ECU, she studied with Dr. Rodney Schmidt and earned her degree in Music Education in 1983.  In 2003 she also earned a Master of School Administration from East Carolina.

She has taught orchestra in Lee, Harnett, and Onslow County school systems and has served as a clinician and adjudicator in North Carolina and Virginia.  She has been host and chair of various state, regional and local activities for school orchestras.  She is the former concertmaster of both the Lee County Community Orchestra and the Crystal Coast Community Orchestra, and continues to perform professionally with the Crystal Strings Quartet.  Brooks is National Board Certified in the area of Early Adolescent through Young Adulthood Music, and from 2004-2008 worked part-time for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as an evaluator.

Her school orchestras consistently earn high ratings at state orchestra and small ensemble festivals, and many of her students each year earn music awards and scholarships.  Today, Brooks is the Director of Orchestras at Jacksonville High School, where she also teaches Advanced Placement Music Theory and International Baccalaureate Music, and serves as the director of the school's Creative and Performing Arts Academy.

In 2012, she was selected by her peers as the NCMEA Eastern Regional Director of the Year and in 2013, she was awarded the Jackson Parkhurst Award for Special Achievement by the NC Symphony.  She is currently a student at Boston University, where she is pursuing a doctoral degree in music education.

Organ students achieve   

Krista Melcher, senior, has been named "E. Power Biggs Fellow" by the Organ Historical Society. She will represent ECU at the national convention summer 2014 in Syracuse, New York.

Jordan Prescott, sophomore, won the Richard van Scriber scholarship in organ and church music from Metropolitan Music Ministries in Charlotte, NC.

Sharon Veitch, grad student first year, and Prescott both earned the Service Playing Certificate from the American Guild of Organists.

They are students of Andrew Scanlon.
McCaslin nominated for recording award

ECU tuba professor Tom McCaslin has been nominated for the International Tuba Euphonium Association Roger Bobo Award in the Solo Tuba category for his CD "One More Dance" released on the Potenza label in March, 2012.

The Roger Bobo, Harvey G. Phillips, Clifford Bevan Awards, and Jim and Jamie Self Creative Award were established by ITEA to foster, encourage, and recognize excellence in the fields of recording, composition, and research. These awards recognize the very best artists, composers, and researchers who have produced work of the highest distinction and are indeed given to those whose work illustrates the highest level of artistry and scholarship, regardless of popularity or other factors.

"One More Dance" is available at iTunes: or Amazon:

ECU flute students win performance auditions 

Willie Santiago has been awarded a Fellowship in Flute as a performer for the National Music Festival for summer 2014.  NMF Fellowships are awarded through a competitive process.

Jackie Traish has been accepted by competitive audition as a performer to The Panoramic Flutist Workshop in Boulder, Colorado. Distinguished faculty include Christina Jennings, Lisa Garner Santa and Carol Wincenc.

They are students of Dr. Christine Gustafson.
ECU guitar students place in competition

ECU guitar students distinguished themselves at the Appalachian Guitar Festival's International Solo Competition in April, 2014. Justin Lindley and Aaron Beck were chosen as two of the six semifinalists. Aaron was selected as a finalist and won the second prize. 

They are students of Dr. Elliot Frank.
Sarah Cox wins ECU Research and Creative Achievement Week competition

Congratulations to School of Music sophomore Sarah Cox for winning first place for her presentation in the undergraduate Humanities category of the 2014 ECU Research and Creative Achievement Week competition, held April 2, 2014. The title of her presentation was: "The Multi-Faceted Cultural Attainments of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance."
Her faculty mentor was Dr. Kevin Moll.
ECU Music Therapy Club wins Spirit Award

The ECU Music Therapy Club was awarded the Spirit Award for the Southeastern Region (11 states) of the American Music Therapy Association in March 2014. This is the highest award students can receive in the association.  Nine music therapy students accepted the award at the luncheon in Mobile, Alabama at the regional conference.  

The award is based on the most service projects in the community, the number of members in AMTA, attendance at conferences and the level of visibility in the community.

President: Gina Gerrard 
Vice President: Randi Lee
Treasurer: Brianna Henderson
Secretary: Anna Margaret Brown
Historian: Becca Dideum
Parliamentarian: Katie Nolan 
Voice students compete at Orpheus

Five ECU voice majors were invited to compete in this year’s Orpheus Voice Competition in Tennessee on March 8 and 9, 2014. Sopranos Kimberly Watson and Caroline Vaughan, mezzo-sopranos Martha Hensler and Olivia Johnson, and tenor Ashton Humphrey advanced to the semi-final round from an initial pool of over 200 singers. Kimberly Watson advanced to the final round in the student category — one of only nine finalists in an initial group of over forty semi-finalists. She was awarded fourth place, including the “Donizetti Prize” which included a handsome cash prize.

Kim, Martha, and Olivia are students of Dr. Jami Rhodes. Caroline and Ashton are students of John Kramar.

Music grad wins ECU thesis award

Joanna Pepple (MM '12, Theory-Composition) was selected as 2014 winner of the ECU Humanities & Fine Arts Master’s Thesis Award. The award includes a cash prize of $500 and a certificate of achievement.

Her thesis advisor was Dr. Amy Carr-Richardson.

Each ECU college was invited to nominate a thesis in the Humanities and Fine Arts category for consideration. Her thesis was selected by a committee of faculty and administrators based on its (1) impact in the chosen field of study; (2) the compelling case it makes for new approach to a problem of significance; (3) the quality of writing and clarity of its message; and (4) the originality of the work. 

ECU voice students win North Carolina NATS awards

ECU's participants in the North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Auditions were very successful in February! Congratulations to the following winners:

First Place — Freshmen Women
Rebekah Shamberger

First Place — Junior Women
Michelle Lerch

Second Place — Junior Women
Caroline Vaughan

Second Place — Senior Women
Olivia Johnson

Third Place — Junior Women
Arlie Honeycutt

Third Place — Senior Women
Kimberly Watson

All of the prize winners above qualified to advance to the Regional Auditions in April.

Singers who also qualify to advance to the Regional Auditions in April:
Rachel Skora
Ashton Humphrey
Julia Becker
Casey Daniel
Sara McBrayer
Rachel Webb

The competing students from ECU are students of Jami Rhodes, Rachel Copeland (Meghan Dewald), and John Kramar. 

Kramar releases voice CD

sized JohnKramar1Print copyJohn Kramar (Chair, Department of Vocal Studies; Director, ECU Opera Theater) has had a new compact disc recording released on the Albany Label. “The Collected Songs of Alva Henderson” is a 2-CD set featuring 26 songs by the award-winning California based composer Alva Henderson. Kramar has been associated with Mr. Henderson for the past 20 years. Henderson first engaged him to sing a New York recital featuring premier performances of four songs written to texts by the former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Dana Gioia.  The collaboration has been a fruitful one, with Kramar continuing to champion Henderson’s works in numerous recitals around the country, including several workshop performances of Henderson and Gioia’s opera, Nosferatu, where he sang the title character. The current recording was made during August of 2012 on the campus of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Kramar is partnered with soprano Melanie Emilio, and pianist Louise Lofquist – both of whom are members of the music faculty at Pepperdine. For further information about the recording, go to www.albanyrecords

Kim releases violin CD

smaller kim 2 copy 2Assistant Professor of Violin Hye-Jin Kim has released a debut CD with pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute on the Concert Artists Guild label entitled “From the Homeland.” Kim takes an emotional and personal journey through four works, exploring Sibelius’ thought that “Music begins where the possibilities of language end.” The album includes violin sonatas by Debussy and Janacek and rarely heard works by Sibelius and Smetana. The CD can be downloaded at

Ulffers named School of Music Director

The East Carolina University School of Music welcomed Christopher Ulffers as director beginning January 2, 2014. 
Ulffers replaces Christopher Buddo, who was named Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication in June 2013. The School of Music is one of the four schools that comprise the college.

Ulffers came to the School of Music in 1992 and has served continuously since, both as associate director and professor of bassoon. Ulffers’ duties as associate director included undergraduate admissions and scholarship administration, the assignment of faculty loads, course scheduling and assets management for the Fletcher Music Center.

“I am thrilled that Chris will be leading our school,” said Buddo. “His years of service as associate director have prepared him well to take on the challenges of directing the School of Music—he has worked with all levels of university administration and is uniquely qualified to advocate for our outstanding school, and he possesses the vision to carry the school to new levels of excellence.

“Thank you to Scott Carter for his strong and dedicated leadership during the interim period. His service as interim director kept the School of Music functioning at the highest level and has positioned us well for moving forward.” 
In addition to teaching bassoon, Ulffers taught a variety of courses in music history, music literature and music appreciation prior to his administrative appointment. In 1997 he was the recipient of the Robert and Lina Mays Award for Teaching Excellence awarded by the ECU Alumni Association.

“It is with great humility and honor that I become the next director of the School of Music,” said Ulffers. “ECU has been and will continue to be a beacon of musical excellence in the region, and I am well aware of the tradition we have to uphold.” 

Ulffers has been published in The Opera Journal and he presented papers at the ECU Conference on Renaissance Studies and the Conference on Renaissance Studies at Universitá degli Studi di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

He has participated in the Aspen Music Festival, was a bassoonist and staff librarian with the National Repertory Orchestra for five summers and was on the artist/faculty of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, NC. He is currently the principal bassoonist of the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle and has appeared several times as concerto soloist. He has also appeared as concerto soloist with the ECU’s wind ensemble, symphony orchestra and chamber singers. Ulffers’ appearance with the Chamber Singers at the 2009 New Music@ECU Festival featured the American premiere of the Bassoon Concerto by Norwegian composer Egil Hovland. This performance led to the first commercial recording release of this work in 2010 on the Gothic recording label, distributed by Naxos. He was contrabassoonist with the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Opera from 1993-2003, appearing with the orchestra at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall and on several recordings. He is frequently called upon as an extra musician by orchestras throughout the region and he performs regularly with the North Carolina Symphony in educational, pops and classical series concerts. 

He received a Bachelor of Music from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1989 and continued his studies as a graduate student at Indiana University where he received a Master of Music degree in 1991.

He resides in Greenville with his wife Beth and their three children.
Scanlon releases organ CD

ScanlonCDcoverAndrew Scanlon, ECU's professor of organ has released a new compact disc recording, "Solemn and Celebratory," on the Raven label. The album, recorded on The Perkins and Wells Memorial Organ at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Greenville, features a wide variety of organ literature designed to showcase the versatility of the Fisk pipe organ.  School of Music faculty member, Travis Garrison, was the recording engineer.  The C.B. Fisk organ is the primary teaching and performing instrument for ECU's organ and sacred music students. Details about the instrument may be obtained here.

The CD is available at or

Tomlinson's "Audible Desserts" chosen for Electronic Music Midwest Festival

ECU composition graduate student Joshua Tomlinson has had his composition “Audible Desserts” selected by the Electronic Music Midwest Festival for performance in October. It was chosen previously by PARMA recordings for the SCI Region 1 Conference/PARMA Music Festival in August.

Cain, Cooper receive Distingiushed Alum awards

Organist Frances Cain (BM "59), the first woman to receive a BM at ECU, and vocalist Bridgette Cooper (BM '90) were awarded the 2013 ECU School of Music Distinguished Alumni Awards April 30, 2013 in a ceremony at Peace Presbyterian Church in Greenville, NC. The awards presentation was followed by a performance by the ECU Chamber Singers.

ECU voice students win North Carolina NATS awards

ECU's participants in the North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Auditions were
very successful this weekend! Congratulations to the following winners:

Cera Finney -- 1st place, Senior Women
Caroline Vaughan -- 1st place, Sophomore Women
Emily Tucker -- 2nd place, Senior Women
Michelle Lerch -- 2nd place, Sophomore Women
Allison Gross -- 3rd place, Junior Women
Ashton Humphrey -- 3rd place, Junior Men
Jerenae Raeford -- 3rd place, Freshmen Women

In addition to the six prize winners, the following students earned scores that were high enough to enable them to participate in the Regional Auditions in April at the College of Charleston:
Julia Becker (Sophomore Women)
Scott Willis (Graduate Men)
Cain, Cooper receive Distingiushed Alum awards

Organist Frances Cain (BM "59), the first woman to receive a BM at ECU, and vocalist Bridgette Cooper (BM '90) were awarded the 2013 ECU School of Music Distinguished Alumni Awards April 30, 2013 in a ceremony at Peace Presbyterian Church in Greenville, NC. The awards presentation was followed by a performance by the ECU Chamber Singers.

2013 Orpheus National Voice Competition

ECU students and alums placed well in the 2013 Orpheus National Voice Competition. 
Cera Finney won third place and the Orpheus Da Capo cash prize in the final round of the student category, Todd Barnhill won a cash encouragement award from the judges in the student category and Elizabeth Thompson (MM '11) took fifth place and the Mozart cash prize in the final round of the young artist category. Semi-finalists from ECU included Emily Tucker, Jordan Winslow, Brenton O'Hara, and Scott Willis, as well as recent graduates Josh Allen (BM '12) and John Charles Clark (MM '12.) There were over 200 original applicants, narrowed down to 43 students, and 26 young artists in the semi-final round. The final round had eight students and eight young artists hailing from ECU, CCM, Eastman, University of Kentucky, Boston University, Indiana University, Vanderbilt, and several other fine schools.
Finney and Tucker study with Jami Rhodes. Thompson, now a DMA student at University of Illinois, studied with John Kramar. Barnhill, O'Hara, Winslow, and Willis study with Kramar. Allen studied with Perry Smith. Clark graduated in 2012, is currently an adjunct faculty member in the voice department, and studied with Kramar. 
ECU students win MTNA awards

ECU School of Music students won prestigious awards at the North Carolina Music Teachers National Association competition held in Chapel Hill in November. 

Aaron Robinson, 1st year masters of music student in tuba performance, won the senior brass division. Robinson is a student of Tom McCaslin

Andrew Kropp was the winner of the woodwind young artist division. He is a senior saxophone student of Dr. Jeff Bair. Junior flute performance major Jackie Traish, a student of Dr. Christine Gustafson, won honorable mention.

The ECU string area swept the awards in the string young artist division at MTNA. 
Winner - CJ Collins, a senior cello student of Emanuel Gruber
Alternate - Micaela Fruend, a viola student of Ara Gregorian and Melissa Reardon
Honorable Mention - Logan Dailey, a junior cello student of Emanuel Gruber

Kyle Walker, senior piano student of Benjamin Hochman, won honorable mention in young artist piano.
Music Therapy/Education welcome guests


Tony DeBlois, pianist for the Banquet of Eastern Carolina Vocational Center, joined the music therapy program for an impromptu jam session on Thursday, October 14. 

DeBlois, 36, was born prematurely with blindness, autism and Savant Syndrome. His genius is music. He has a repertoire of 7000 to 8000 songs, perfect pitch and plays 13 instruments.

Dr. Clifford K. Madsen, Coordinator of Music Education/Music Therapy/Contemporary Media at Florida State University, presented the Leadership in Music Education and Music Therapy Seminar to more than 80 students, faculty and guests at ECU on Wednesday, October 20th & Thursday, October 21st. Topics included Current Trends and Practices in Music Therapy, Developing Leadership Skills in the Music Environment and Education Advocacy: Developing Leaders for the Music Education Profession.

Chamber Singers release Eternal Light

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The award-winning ECU Chamber Singers have released “Eternal Light,” their second professional compact disc recording.  Recorded in the sumptuous acoustic of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, and internationally distributed on the Gothic recording label, the recording features mostly twentieth-century sacred works for unaccompanied choir. In addition, three selections are “world premiere” recordings of works for choir with single instrument obbligato featuring instrumental faculty members Christopher Grymes, clarinet; Christine Gustafson, flute.  The major premiere is a 25 minute four-movement setting of the Angus Dei by Norwegian composer Egil Hovland and featuring Christopher Ulffers, bassoon.

In an interview with distribution partner Naxos, Roger Sherman, production engineer and manager of Gothic Records, called the CD “truly one of the most beautiful recordings we have ever made.”

Recordings can be purchased through most online classical music recording distributors, including the Gothic Records website (, or at the ECU School of Music office.

Nelson releases the CD “Ma Guiterre je te chante - 16th century guitar solos and chansons.”


East Carolina University School of Music professor and early-music musician Jocelyn Nelson and New York-based soprano Amy Bartram have released the CD “Ma Guiterre je te chante - 16th century guitar solos and chansons.” “Ma Guiterre je te chante” includes selections from the French renaissance guitar repertoire performed on the four-course renaissance guitar, and features intricate guitar solos and rarely-heard 16th-century arrangements of French love songs for soprano and guitar based on dances from the period. Many of the voice and guitar arrangements are by the French composer and music printer Adrian Le Roy, and were considered the pop songs of their day. This is the first recording dedicated to the French renaissance solo guitar repertoire to include songs for solo voice and guitar performed in the original arrangements. Nelson teaches music history, lute and guitar literature, Baroque guitar and music appreciation at East Carolina University's School of Music. “Ma Guiterre je te chante” is available for purchase at cdbaby, The site also features CD excerpts.

Benjamin Keaton receives National Opera Trustee Recognition Award

OPERA America recognized ECU alum Benjamin Keaton (BS ‘57  MA ’61) of Long LeafBenjamin - Tux copy Opera (North Carolina) as a recipient of the 2010 National Opera Trustee Recognition Award. In its third year, this award honors trustees of U.S. opera companies for exemplary leadership, generosity and audience-building efforts on behalf of their respective opera companies.

OPERA America is committed to recognizing strong trustee leaders, acknowledging the pivotal role they play in the success of opera companies and the vitality of the communities they serve.

The honorees represent a significant range of accomplishments, generosity and a deep commitment to promoting opera in their communities.

Twelve years ago, conductor and composer Benjamin Keaton co-founded Long Leaf Opera with Randolph Umberger as an alternative company with two missions: to present exclusively operas written originally in English and to develop a multicultural company of artists at all levels. Concerned with the lack of opportunities for young American composers, Mr. Keaton set out to recruit the finest regional and national composing talents available and to follow a colorblind casting policy on stage, in the pit and in the board room. Since then, Mr. Keaton has overseen the production of 33 operas, including seven world premieres. In 2007, Keaton established an international competition for new operatic works, and to date over 100 compositions have been received from countries including Germany, Australia and the U.K.

OPERA America will pay tribute to the 2010 honorees and celebrate their remarkable achievements at a February weekend in New York City, including three nights at the Park Lane Hotel, two dinners, a reception, a performance of La filled du regiment at the Metropolitan Opera, an awards banquet, and a free full page ad for their company in Opera America magazine.

McCaslin releases tuba CD


Tuba and euphonium professor Tom McCaslin has released his debut CD, “Inside Out” through Crystal Records.  The recording includes an world-premiere interpretation of a transcription of the improvised guitar solos of Frank Zappa, given to McCaslin by legendary tubist Roger Bobo. Zappa’s widow, Gail Zappa, said, “This is definitely not for the faint of heart. This rocks my world.”
The CD includes a variety of works for tuba. The CD was supported by a College of Fine Arts and Communication Research and Creative Activity Grant.

The CD is available at

Earl Taylor 2010 Distinguished Alumnus

The School of Music Alumni Professional Society has chosen Earl Taylor as the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus.Mr Taylor 6-9-09

Mr. Taylor holds two degrees from the School of Music: A Bachelor of Music Education ('74) and a Master of Music in Music Education ('90).

Most recently he has served as Supervisor of Arts Education for Onslow County. He has held positions as Band Director at White Oak High School/Tabernacle Middle School, Interim Principal for Parkwood Elementary and Thompson Elementary, Director of Middle Schools and Arts Education, Director of Community Affairs and Arts Education, President of the ECU School of Music Alumni Professional Society, President of the North Carolina Bandmaster Association (Eastern District), Chair of the Arts Coordinators Section of NCMEA, and President of NCMEA.

On January 8, 2010, White Oak High School dedicated its new fine arts center, which includes a 740-seat auditorium and two art rooms.  In recognition of his achievements as band director at White Oak and serving as the Arts Education Director for the Onslow County Schools, the faculty and staff at White Oak High chose to name the new facility the ‘Earl Taylor Performing Arts Center.’ 

Join us in congratulating Mr. Taylor on this latest honor. Mark you calendar for the Distinguished Alumni Award Ceremony and Reception to be held in conjunction with the New Music Festival Concert on February 27, 2010.
Michelle J. Hairston receives music therapy award
Michelle J. Hairston, professor and chair and of ECU’s Music Education & Music Therapymichellehairston Department, was honored at the 2010 American Music Therapy Association conference with the Award of Service to the profession of music therapy.


Chamber Singers sing at South ACDA, premiere

The East Carolina University Chamber Singers have been selected to perform at the American Choral Directors Association’s (ACDA) Southern Division Convention in Memphis March 11 as part of the their spring tour. The chamber singers, conducted by ECU director of choral activities Daniel Bara, are ECU’s premiere choral ensemble.

The choir has been chosen for the southern division premiere performance of this year’s Raymond W. Brock Choral Commission. The Raymond W. Brock Choral Commission is the ACDA’s annual commission of a nationally-recognized composer to write a choral composition to perpetuate quality choral repertoire. This year’s commission is entitled All the Works of Love,”written by American composer Joan Szymko. The singers will perform before an audience of more than 900 choral conductors and choral musicians from the nine-state Southern region.

Additional tour stops include Charlotte and Nashville. The Charlotte performance is March 8at7:30 p.m. at Providence United Methodist Church, and is co-hosted by The Charlotte Children’s Chorus, who will also perform.

The chamber singers will perform at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville on Tuesday, March 9at 7:30 p.m. The concert is hosted by Michael Velting, director of music at Christ Church, and his assistant organist and choirmaster Jon Johnson (ECU BM ’99, MM ’07).

Repertoire on the tour program includes works of Frank Martin, Elliott Carter, William Harris, Charles Wood, Samuel Barber, Richard Rodney Bennett, and others, in addition to several folk song and spiritual arrangements.

The Chamber Singers’ first professional recording, “Greater Love,” is available on iTunes. Their second recording, “Eternal Light,” is scheduled for release in the spring of 2010.

All concerts are free and open to the public. For more information about the ECU Chamber Singers, contact Daniel Bara at

Information about past Raymond Brock commissions, performances, composers, and choirs is listed on this webpage.

Jazz Studies ensemble at the Lincoln Center
East Carolina University jazz studies ensemble A performed at the Lincoln Center in New York on February 28. The performance featured a premiere performance of the composition “Aha” composed by ECU Distinguished Professor of Music Bob Mintzer, funded by ECU Jazz Friends Mr. and Mrs. Victor Chapp. In addition, Billy Taylor, namesake of Greenville’s Billy Taylor Jazz festival, performed a solo intro to his composition, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” with the ensemble.

On the trip the ensemble performed at Francis Hammond Middle School in Alexandria to 200 children (Vaughn Ambrose, SofM Alum is Director of Instrumental Music at Hammond), and at Bowie State University for student body and music students. The Bowie State performance was filmed for the Prince Georges County cable TV network and ABC World Wide Web.  

ECU school of music and jazz studies alums Vaughn Ambrose, director of instrumental music at Francis Hammond Middle School, and Dorsey Mitch Butler, director of jazz studies at Claflin University were featured as guest conductors and special guest soloists.

Lenora Helm, UNC-Central jazz vocal studies professor and ECU jazz studies graduate teaching assistant, performed with the ensemble.
Four Seasons, New Music Festivals celebrate 10th anniversaries

Ara GregorianThe Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival and artistic director Ara Gregorian bring internationally renowned musicians to eastern North Carolina and beyond for concerts, master classes, and interactive community outreach. In residence at the East Carolina University School of Music, the festival is celebrating its 10th Anniversary Season. Highlights of past seasons include more than 60 public concerts, 200 master classes, two performances at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and a six-concert tour of Israel.
The 2009-2010 season is highlighted by four residencies.  Each residency includes back-to-back nights of concerts, master classes, open rehearsals, children’s concerts, world-renowned guest artists, and the greatest literature in the chamber music repertoire, all in ECU’s A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall.
In addition, the festival will present Children’s Residency III and debut the Master Teachers Next Generation Concerts, the newest component of the Master Teachers Program.  These concerts will feature current and former East Carolina University students performing alongside Four Seasons guest artists and ECU faculty.
This year will also be marked by two specials events: the annual Donor Appreciation Event and the 10th Anniversary Celebration. Each event will feature special guest artists and programs in celebration of the festival and in appreciation of all those who have made its existence possible throughout the years.
ECU’s New Music Festival presents its 10th anniversary concert series February 24–28, 2010, celebrating the music of our time.

Highlights include evenings with ECU percussionist Chris Nappi; clarinetist Nathan Williams (ECU professor Christopher Grymes’ teacher and predecessor at ECU, as well as an instigating force behind the festival’s creation 10 years ago); Nathaniel /Users/harleydartt/Desktop/nathaniel-bartlett1Bartlett’s (left) “Immersive Music”; a guest composer appearance by Steven Dembski of the University of Wisconsin, and others.

The ECU symphony orchestra will perform at the festival again this year, featuring the winner of the fifth annual Orchestra Composition Competition; the premiere of a new work by Edward Jacobs, New Music Festival founder and director; and Mark Glick’s “The Wife of Bath” for Soprano and Orchestra, with guest soloist Karen Hall (orchestral version première).

The festival week will begin with a concert of student compositions—the Premiere Performances Concert.

For additional information about the festival, or to become a festival sponsor, contact: East Carolina University School of Music, 252-328-6851, or Edward Jacobs, NewMusic@ECU Festival Director, NewMusic@ECU.EDU, 252-328-4280.

Greater Love on iTunes
Greater Love album cover

ECU Chamber Singers CD Greater Love is now available for purchase on iTunes. Search by Dan Bara or by East Carolina University.

The American Record Guide said of the CD:

“The choral tone is extraordinarily fine: warm, solid, well blended, and superbly disciplined...I am inclined to think that the freshness and purity of sound we hear on this recording can only be obtained from well-trained young voices...There are many fine recordings of the Howells Requiem and Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, but I believe this one can stand with the best of them."

Music Therapy brings gamelon to ECU

The ECU Music Therapy Program hosted the Music Therapy Association of North Carolina spring meeting April 24, at the ECU School of Music. In attendance were professional and student music therapists from across the state and music educators and world music students from Pitt County and ECU.

A five-hour continuing education workshop was conducted by ECU alumnus Dr. Michael Rohrbacher, director of
music therapy at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va.  He brought a large gamelan "orchestra" from Bali, and participants learned to play and understand the role of the gamelan in Balinese society, as well as make applications to therapeutic and educational environments.

A gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Bali or Java, featuring a variety of
instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. A gamelan is a set of instruments as a distinct entity, built and tuned to stay together.
Dr. Barbara Memory, director of music therapy at ECU, coordinated the meeting and workshop.

Jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon to headline
Billy Taylor Jazz Festival in Greenville
Again this year, the East Carolina University School of Music Jazz Studies Program brings a world-class jazz performer to Greenville for the Billy Taylor Jazz Festival on April 16-17.

Award-winning and multiple Grammy-nominated North Carolina vocalist Nnenna Freelon headlines this year’s event. Freelon has been awarded the Eubie Blake Award from the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and the Billie Holiday Award from the Academie du Jazz. Freelon performed a film soundtrack for “The Visit,” starring Billy Dee Williams, remaking Frank Sinatra's classic "Fly Me to the Moon.”
She also had a cameo as a nightclub singer in the 2001 blockbuster Mel Gibson romantic comedy “What Women Want,” performing her trademark song "If I Had You.” In addition, she has been nominated twice for the “Soul Train” Lady of Soul award. On February 21, 2001, Freelon earned a rousing standing ovation for her stunning live performance at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards telecast in Los Angeles, performing “Straighten Up And Fly Right.”

Dr. Billy Taylor—house pianist at Birdland, arts correspondent for CBS News “Sunday Morning,” artistic advisor for jazz to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, recipient of two Peabody Awards, an Emmy, a Grammy, and 23 honorary doctoral degrees—is a national treasure, Greenville’s native son and the festival’s namesake.

Schedule here.
The ECU music therapists will be hosting the Music Therapy Association

The ECU music therapists will be hosting the Music Therapy Association of North Carolina on April 24, 2009.  Dr. Michael Rohrbacher from Shenandoah University will be the guest clinician on "The Art of Playing Gamelons."

Dr. Michelle J. Hairston, MT-BC
Prof. & Chair, Music Education & Music Therapy Dept.
East Carolina University
Past President, American Music Therapy Association
Greenville, NC 27858