David Adams

David Adams (B.M. 2014 | Composition) has continued to write and teach remotely and is working on multiple forthcoming pandemic-inspired works. He and his wife, Zarina, now have an infant daughter who has made their lockdown for the most part quite pleasant.  David has  accepted an offer to be graduate assistant in music theory while pursuing a M.M. in composition at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, even though COVID-19 makes the logistics of moving even more complicated than the infant does. Nonetheless, he and his family are looking forward to writing this new chapter together.

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Lee Appleman

Lee Appleman (M.M. 1982 | Music Performance, Percussion) concluded his long career as a touring Broadway show drummer in 2010. Since then, he has played regional Equity theatre productions in Jupiter and Vero Beach, FL. He has also played for several productions in the theater department of Penn State University. COVID-19 has caused the cancellation of his work at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre for this season. A long-standing job at the Newport Italian Fest in Cincinnati, where he had collaborated with the bandleader, a former Army Band colleague, has also been canceled. Appleman and his wife, Mary Lou, divide their time between homes in Jupiter, FL and Altoona, PA.

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Lori Bade

Lori Bade (D.M.A. 1994 | Music Performance, Voice) was awarded the Louisiana State University Distinguished Faculty Award for 2020, one of five campus-wide awards.  This award recognizes faculty members who have a sustained record of excellence in teaching, research, service or any combination of the three.  In addition, she holds the Nell S. & Boyd H. McMullan Distinguished Professorship in Music and, since January 1993, has been an active member of the voice faculty at LSU’s College of Music & Dramatic Arts.  Dr. Bade continues to actively perform and assist students in achieving their career goals.  

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Susan Mast Bell

Susan Mast Bell (B.M. 1987 | Composition) has been a private piano instructor for over 30 years, teaching internationally while accompanying her husband, Stephen Bell (M.S.E. Construction Management | 1991) on his 29-year career in the US Navy. Since settling in the San Antonio area, her studio has grown to 30 students. In March, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she moved all her students to an online format and continues to pursue composition remotely. She publishes with Sheet Music Plus.

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Olivia Bennett

Olivia Bennett (B.M. 2017 | Music Business) is now based in Los Angeles, after accepting a travel grant from the Fine Arts Professional Development organization at the University of Texas. Her main source of income has been playing guitar, bass, and keyboard with various artists including Faye Webster, Cherry Glazerr and Jerry Paper. She also fronts her band, Mamalarky, and has secured a record deal.  With COVID-19 preventing live performance for the foreseeable future, she has rerouted her efforts toward her music public relations company, Telly PR, until touring becomes a viable option again. Fire Talk, her record label, is set to release a song on May 6th that she recorded during the quarantine.

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Johan Botes

Johan Botes (D.M.A. 2012 | Music Performance, Piano) was recently awarded tenure at Marshall University in Huntington, WV. He is also the president elect of the West Virginia Music Teachers Association and, with help from the WVMTA as well as the Music Teachers National Association, looks forward to helping local music teachers reach their full potential.  Johan is using quarantine time to learn new technology for teaching online as well as all the repertoire he never had time for. He has also developed new hobbies making fresh, homemade pasta, bread, and cheese.

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David Box

David Box (M.M. 2003 | Music Performance, Saxophone) leads two non-profits: He is president of Flatlands Dance Theatre, a progressive modern dance company, and executive director of Frontier Arts Society, which organizes the Frontier Big Band and collaborative arts projects in Lubbock, TX. Many spring and summer events were postponed due to the pandemic, though FDT organized an online summer dance workshop and seminars to replace their annual summer camp, and FAS created a new summer concert series at a local outdoor venue for their jazz orchestra performances.

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David Caffey

David Caffey (B.M. 1972, M.M. 1974 | Theory) retired from the University of Northern Colorado School of Music in August 2018. He is now a professor emeritus of music at UNC, where he served as director of the School of Music from 2005 to 2013 and professor of jazz composition from 2013 to 2018. His work as a university music professor and arts administrator spanned 44 years at six universities, and he was awarded tenure at four of them. He currently lives near Los Angeles, where he continues to work as a composer. His website is davidcaffeymusic.com.

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Hermes Camacho

Hermes Camacho (D.M.A. 2011 | Composition) is beginning his ninth year with Austin Soundwaves, an El Sistema-inspired music education non-profit, where he serves as a teaching artist, conductor, and program manager. He was recently appointed as program director for the organization, where he will be responsible for the teaching staff across eleven partner schools, general programming including the Draylen Mason Fellows Program, and leading efforts to accommodate distance learning due to COVID-19. Camacho also concluded his seventh and final year as an adjunct lecturer in theory and composition at the University of the Incarnate Word.

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Debra Cantu

Debra Cantú (B.M. 1992, M.M. 2001, D.M.A. 2013 | Music Education) is an assistant professor of practice in the College of Education at UT and proudly serves as co-director of the Texas Principal Leadership Academy.  She is an executive board member for the Hispanic Faculty Staff Association and co-chair of UT's COVID-19 task force for the professional schools’ Master of Arts programs committee. She is a first-generation college student and enjoys teaching social justice leadership in partnership with school districts. She is the proud mother of her US Coast Guardsman son, James Stephen Hester.

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Joseph Coburn (B.M. 1997 | Music Studies) was recently named superintendent of schools for the Decatur Independent School District.  This summer, he took part in a panel discussion of school administrators across Texas about how music ensembles can remain strong in schools amid COVID-19.  A key part of this conversation is the role of music in the social and emotional development of students.


Margaret Coltman

Margaret Coltman (B.M. 1989 | Music Performance, Cello) attended grad school at Indiana University, lived in London for several years, and has now settled back in Austin where she freelances, performs with the Austin Symphony and teaches private music lessons while raising her family.  Several years ago, she fulfilled a longtime goal of entering the real estate business and is now a realtor with Keller Williams, which has been a welcome outlet during the COVID-19 pandemic.  While online teaching presents unique challenges, her music studio continues to flourish via Zoom and FaceTime, and she is grateful to be serving families with musical and housing needs.

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Elizabeth Comninelli

Elizabeth Comninellis (D.M.A. 2017 | Composition) was commissioned to write a piece for the NESAQ choral festival in Beirut, Lebanon; however, the festival was cancelled due to rioting in Lebanon and moved to Kuwait, and then cancelled again due to the COVID-19 crisis. Comninellis was also accepted to the Tallgrass Artist Residency in August but is unsure whether the residency will still take place. Thus far she has composed two pieces for piano four hands called Quarantinas.  She is now working on a third Quarantina to perform alongside other four-hand repertoire in collaboration with her neighbor and colleague in a YouTube live concert in June. 

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Olivia Davis

Olivia Davis (M.M. 2016 | Composition) is a D.M.A. candidate in composition at the University of Michigan.  She was recently awarded as Young Composer-in-Residence with Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings for their 2019–2020 season and also as Arnold and Babette Salamon Composer Fellow for the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, in which Matthew Worth (baritone) and Molly Morkoski (piano) premiered her works in Berkeley, CA in 2019.  In 2018 she saw the premiere of a violin version of her work Night Nihilism in the Castello Brancaleoni in Piobbico, Italy.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all her teaching moved online, and her greatest challenges during quarantine are the uncertainty of performances and partial assurance of livelihood.

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Ian Dicke

Ian Dicke (D.M.A. 2012 | Composition) is associate professor and graduate advisor at the University of California, Riverside.  He was recently commissioned by the Austin-based percussion trio Line Upon Line to create a short work that could be performed asynchronously due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dicke instructed the group to send videos improvising for two minutes in any manner they desired, and the resulting re-sequenced video clips became the composition Comforting & Familiar. The work integrates a virtual "fourth band member" by including clips of Bill Clinton's famous 1992 Arsenio Hall saxophone performance. The playful inclusion makes a statement on today's political leadership.

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Tamara Dworetz

Tamara Dworetz (M.M. 2018 | Conducting) served as assistant conductor to Bramwell Tovey at the 2019 London Proms, won second prize in The Boston Pops' Bernstein-inspired conducting competition and was selected to participate in a two-week residency for the Dallas Opera's prestigious Hart Institute for Women Conductors. She was a conducting fellow for the 2019 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, for which she received the Bruno Walter Conducting Fellowship, and was also hired to guest-conduct the Longy Conservatory Orchestra at Bard College in Cambridge, MA. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tamara created a video series called "Martinis with Maestros" (martiniswithmaestros.com), which features Butler School faculty Marianne Gedigian, Yevgeniy Sharlat and Laurie Scott.

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Sue Eun (M.M. 2007 | Music Performance) temporarily closed her piano business due to COVID-19 and hopes to reopen soon.


Michelle Folta

Michelle (Herring) Folta (B.M. 2004 | Music Performance, Voice) is associate professor of choral and general music education at Columbus State University and the artistic director for the Voices of the Valley Children’s Chorus.  She was awarded promotion and tenure in January 2020.  The Voices of the Valley Children’s Chorus completed their first international choir tour in Norwich, England in 2018 and had the honor of performing at the Georgia Music Educators Association conference in January 2019.  Dr. Folta utilizes her children’s chorus as a vessel for enriching the coursework of future music educators.

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Anthony Gatto

Anthony Gatto (M.M. 1991 | Composition) has seen the publication and recordings of his works The Making of Americans, an opera based on the novel by Gertrude Stein, and Wise Blood, an opera based on the novel by Flannery O'Connor, for which he is composer and librettist. Both operas were commissioned by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and both albums will be released on New Focus Recordings in July 2020.  They can be found streaming on Gatto's Bandcamp site and professional website.

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Jacob Gray (B.M. 2017 | Music Performance, Percussion) teaches music at the newly modernized TA Brown Elementary in the Austin Independent School District.  Sadly, teachers were only in the building for nine weeks before transitioning to distance learning.  This upheaval fostered a renewed focus on the importance of social and emotional learning.  In addition to increasing music literacy from a distance, Gray works to create content that helps his students use music to identify with their emotions, connect with others, relate music to their culture and discuss how music affects feelings.  These musical connections help cultivate community during these isolated times.   


Matt Hightower

Matt Hightower (D.M.A. 2014 | Music Performance, Tuba) is assistant professor of tuba and euphonium at the University of Kentucky.  Since the outbreak of COVID-19, he has taught lessons via video and has worked on arrangements and recordings using the Acapella app, uploading his work to social media.  His arrangement of "My Old Kentucky Home" was used as accompaniment to a video concerning Kentucky’s handling of the pandemic, which included a message from Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and was broadcast on local news channel WDRB.  His greatest challenges are being unable to work in person with his students and not performing with colleagues.

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Garrett Keast

Garrett Keast (B.M. 1995 | Music Studies) was mentored by Christoph Eschenbach at the Houston Symphony Orchestra after graduating from the Butler School of Music. Highlights of his 2019/2020 season include debuts with the Royal Swedish Opera, the Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Next season he will conduct the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, the Finnish National Opera, Opera de Toulouse and the Borusan Philharmonic in Istanbul.

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Nathan Kelly

Nathan Kelly (B.M. 2003 | Theory) worked as a pianist in Broadway orchestras in New York City before moving to Los Angeles to study film scoring. There he worked on David Foster's music team and created several arrangements for various artists including Rod Stewart, Andrea Bocelli and Jennifer Lopez, and recently completed work on Steven Spielberg's new musical re-make of West Side Story.  He also finished his Ph.D. in Music Composition.

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Kellen King

Kellen King (D.M.A. 2018 | Music Performance, Percussion) accepted a faculty position as assistant professor of music and director of percussion studies at Western Oregon University (WOU) in the fall of 2019. He directs the WOU percussion ensemble, co-directs the Latin jazz ensemble, teaches applied lessons and lectures a variety of music courses. Prior to this appointment, King became a concert artist with Black Swamp Percussion and an educational artist with Innovative Percussion and Zildjian Cymbals in the spring of 2019.
 

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Grace Lee

Grace (Rhee) Lee (B.M. 1997 | Music Performance, Piano) received a Master of Music degree in Music Education from Columbia University in 2001 and has been a music educator for over 20 years.  A career pivot led her to dive deeper into developing her music app, Note Quest, an iOS flashcard app designed to improve note and interval reading. An exciting expansion into sight reading, Note Quest will include a library of hundreds of music excerpts for daily music fitness while expanding to reach more instruments. She is on the lookout for content collaborators. This new app feature is estimated to release in June. Her goal is to help produce well-rounded musicians for life.

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Amanda Lester

Amanda Lester (B.M., B.A. 2014 | Music Performance, Trombone) works in audience development and insights for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She manages programs for students, young professionals and subscribers, and conducts wide-ranging research projects. As the 2020 Hollywood Bowl season was canceled, she has been working with her colleagues to recreate online some of the Bowl's magic and sense of community while continuing to plan for next season at Walt Disney Concert Hall. One of her favorite projects, still ongoing, is gathering feedback to understand how the LA Phil can best serve its audiences during this time and what will help them feel safe when in-person concerts resume.

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Sam Lipman

Sam Lipman (M.M. 2016 | Composition, Piano) has recently scored several films, composing music for Richard Linklater's Where'd You Go Bernadette, Terrence Malick's Last Planet, and Ramona S. Díaz’s A Thousand Cuts, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his concert commissions were largely affected, with two festival premieres indefinitely postponed. His teaching at UT's Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologies was strongly affected and shifted online for the spring semester. This presented major obstacles as his homebound students struggled without access to university resources, but his class firmly overcame these challenges. The show must go on!

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Valerie Little

Valerie Little (M.M. 2006 | Music Performance, Viola) recently completed an album with the Mill City String Quartet (MCSQ) featuring four quartets by female composers, scheduled for release this fall. Lately, MCSQ held residencies with the Schubert Club, Minnesota Public Radio and the Britt Festival. During COVID-19, MCSQ has continued their online outreach for the Schubert Club and have also recorded new works for local composers. Little has given several pre-concert lectures for the Minnesota Orchestra, where she serves as assistant principal librarian. She also had over a dozen of her poems published in various journals and will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall to study creative writing.

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Berry McWhorter (M.M. 2017 | Music and Human Learning) is currently a band director in the San Antonio Independent School District.


Michael Mikulka (D.M.A. 2015 | Composition) has seen his music performed in 19 US states and 10 countries abroad, including a performance of his Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble[KJ1]  in the Musikverein, with Thomas Gansch of Mnozil Brass as soloist. In February, Mikulka led a group of 40 current and former UT musicians in the premiere of four of his new band pieces. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he has taught theory and ear training courses online, as well as private horn and composition lessons.


Elizabeth Momand

Elizabeth Blanton Momand (D.M.A. 2001 | Music Performance, Voice) completed her seventeenth year of teaching at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith (UAFS), where she is a professor of voice. In April, she was named the 2020 recipient of the Lucille Speakman Master Teacher Award, which is the highest teaching honor awarded to faculty at UAFS. In addition to teaching voice and voice-related subjects, Momand directs the Opera & Musical Theatre workshop at UAFS. Professionally, she serves as district governor for the Arkansas chapter of the National Association of Singing, and has presented research at regional, national and international conventions.

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Mary Jo North (B.M. 1967 | Music Education, Flute) is using the stay-at-home time to make masks for her family and friends, and is happy to be useful and productive.


Kelly Nussbaum

Kelsey Nussbaum (B.M. 2013 | Music Education, Double Bass) is finishing up her second year of doctoral studies at the University of North Texas, pursuing a Ph.D. in music education. Since the start of the pandemic, she has continued teaching private bass lessons by switching to Zoom and also completed her final semester of coursework. It has been particularly difficult for her to engage in academic work during this time, as the momentum of developing her identity as a researcher has slowed without regular face-to-face interactions with peers and professors. Nussbaum will be working on her dissertation and teaching online at UNT in the fall.

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Alda Oliveira (D.M.A. 1986 | Music Education, Piano) has been working and studying from home and is currently preparing an online course titled Foundations and Practical Ideas for a Sustainable Music Education for the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, which will be open to Brazilian professionals using the Zoom platform.  He is currently writing his memoir, inspired by the new world that has been created by the pandemic.  His greatest challenge is staying at home.


Susan Meyer Patterson

Susan Meyer Patterson (B.M. 1990 | Music Education, Trombone) retired from McCullough Junior High in the Conroe Independent School District after 30 years of teaching.  The McCullough Junior High Band was recently named Exemplary Junior High Band 2020 by the Texas Bandmasters Association.  When distance learning began, the McCullough Wind Ensemble continued rehearsing and created a virtual performance of Vaughan Williams’ Rhosymedre, transcribed by Merlin Patterson, a work that she was first introduced to at UT by professor Paula A. Crider. 

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Franklin Poland

Franklin Piland (B.M. 2016 | Composition) is currently the director of bands at Floydada Independent School District in Floydada, TX. He is an active composer and arranger, primarily writing for high school band. His work Maǧážu, commissioned by Lauren Cook, recently received a beautiful premiere in Washington state. His upcoming work for the Sonoma State University Symphony Orchestra will feature the Native American jazz group DDAT (featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts). He is also writing an original composition for the two groups. With the arrival of COVID-19, Piland continues to teach full-time, but from home.

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Alice Ping

Alice Ping (B.M. 2016 | Music Performance, Viola) is based in Los Angeles, and her work has been catastrophically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She has taken this forced break as an opportunity to create new works and explore new genres and instruments. This global health crisis has inspired her to create two new arrangements thus far, one a lighthearted spoof of a classic hit song, the other a deeply personal and moving reflection on faith during this uncertain time.

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Christopher Prosser

Christopher Prosser (D.M.A. 2017 | Composition) recently accepted a three-year teaching appointment at the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where he serves as distinguished professor of music composition. The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed his arrival in Beijing until the 2020 Fall semester. In the meantime, he has been studying Mandarin and remotely teaching students at the Conservatory via Zoom, and has been commissioned to compose a new work for piano in memory of a friend who lost his battle with the Coronavirus.

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Luis Rodriguez

Luis Rodriguez (B.M. 2010 | Music Performance, Voice) is cover conductor for Plano Symphony and Irving Symphony, and has been named orchestra librarian for both.  In May 2018 he founded and began serving as music director of The Philharmonic Orchestra of Texas, a non-profit organization that bridges the gap between school and professional orchestras and engages young artists on their path to becoming professionals.

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Elyse (Segal) Rosenberg (B.M. 1978 | Music Education, Viola) hopes to resume singing in her synagogue’s choir once religious institutions open back up.


Cindy Saddler

Cindy Sadler (B.M. 1991 | Music Performance, Voice) is currently pursuing a M.A. in Arts Administration at Goucher College. She appeared as Madame Armfeldt in Austin Shakespeare's critically acclaimed cabaret version of A Little Night Music. She also directed Susannah for Texas Concert Opera Collaborative and was slated to appear in Le nozze di Figaro at Shreveport Opera before COVID-19 forced cancellation.  In response to the global loss of performances and artists' income, Sadler created a five-week online academy for singers who lost opportunities, enlisting an international faculty including Christine Goerke & René Barbera. Her program, Spotlight on Opera, has also moved online.

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Susanna Silvestro

Susanna Silvestro (B.M. 2003 | Music Performance, Piano) is now an online music teacher at the Regent's School of Austin. She participated in the Balanced Breakfast online music industry gathering that was scheduled for the South by Southwest festival. She will participate in the 11:59 Songwriting livestream broadcast that was scheduled at the Cactus café and plans to contribute to the Songs of Comfort project led by Yo-Yo Ma. Nursing homes are also giving her paid opportunities to send in live videos for residents. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Silvestro's greatest challenge is not being able to advance as quickly in the Austin's live music scene.

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Justin Stolark

Justin R. Stolarik (M.M. 2005 | Music Performance, Percussion; D.M.A. 2008 | Music Performance, Percussion) serves as director of athletic bands at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he oversees all aspects of the NCAA D1 FCS Athletic Bands Program. He is also an active freelance musician and conductor in New York City. During the pandemic, the Spirit of Stony Brook Marching & Pep Band creatively delivered their spring show as a virtual experience across multiple social media platforms over the course of fifteen days, engaging both the students and the campus community. Drum major auditions and the annual band banquet were also held virtually, in nearly their full forms. Stolarik resides in New York City.

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Su Hang

Hang Su (D.M.A. 2017 | Music Education) completed a Ph.D. in Music Education at Ohio State University in 2020, and now works as a post-doctorate fellow in Music Cognitive Development at Yale University, where his research interest is early childhood music development. He is a double-certified Kodály and Orff teacher in the Organization of American Kodály Educators as well as the American Orff-Schulwerk Association.  He also teaches college-level music pedagogy in China.

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Kiyoshi Tamagawa (D.M.A. 1988 | Music Performance, Piano) published Echoes from the East: The Javanese Gamelan and Its Influence on the Music of Claude Debussy in 2019 with Lexington Books. An expanded version of his doctoral treatise, his book recounts Debussy’s encounter with the gamelan, the traditional musical ensemble of Indonesia, at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle and traces its echoes through his compositional career. It also adds commentary on the modern-day issue of cultural appropriation and a survey of Debussy’s contemporaries and successors who also attempted to merge the sounds of the gamelan with their own musical styles.


Peir Shiuan Tang

Peir-Shiuan Tang (D.M.A. 2019 | Music Performance, Piano) recently won second prize in both the Golden Classical Music Awards International Competition and the American Protégé International Piano Competition. She currently serves as an adjunct assistant professor at Austin Community College. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been working with students through online platforms and enjoying continuous music-making at home.

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Karin Peterson Tripp (B.M. 1964 | Music Studies) is based in Austria and is grateful for her time there.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has seen many closures and difficulties for musicians and actors, but looks forward to the re-opening of the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in June.


Matthew Thomas

Matthew Thomas (B.M. 2019 | Composition) attended the Screen Scoring program at the University of Southern California, graduating in May 2020. Last year he worked with director Terrence Malick on the film A Hidden Life, writing additional music to composer James Newton Howard's score for the film, which was released last December 2019. COVID-19 has greatly affected Thomas’ work. Productions and scoring stages in Los Angeles and across the country have been shut down for the time being, making the recording of scores very difficult. He has adapted by implementing new methods of remote recording into his scoring process.

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Mike Vernusky

Mike Vernusky (M.M. 2005 | Composition) was an invited composer at the inaugural Music & Sciences Symposium at İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi, which featured a lecture recital of his work The Holy Sea. He also presented at Visiones Sonoras XV in Morelia, Mexico, where he gave a talk on The Holy Sea and performed his collaborative video work Episode 21: The Hidden, originally commissioned by Music at the Anthology in New York City.

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Julee Walker

Julee Walker (B.M. 2003 | Music Performance, Flute) is associate professor of flute at Texas A&M University-Commerce and is a recipient of the 2020 Paul W. Barrus Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching.  Since switching to online teaching and learning, she and her students have been more motivated than ever. She took the time every week to check in on their emotional and mental well-being as part of their weekly lessons and mentorship. This small step has been crucial in the students’ transition into online applied flute lessons, and positive messages and words of encouragement have certainly gone a long way.

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Benjamin Delp Watts (M.M. 2001 | Music Performance, Voice) was awarded a Ph.D. in Philosophy in Leadership from Alvernia University in Reading, PA in May 2020.  Dr. Watts currently services as vice chair in programs on the board of trustees of the Reading Musical Foundation, the board of directors of Co-County Wellness Services and the board of directors of Yocum Institute of Arts Education.  His dissertation, A Phenomenological Case Study of Orchestral Leadership - A Pilot Study, explored the leadership of a single unionized symphony orchestra.  Dr. Watts serves his community through the advocacy of arts and music education for children.


Catrin Watts

Catrin Watts (D.M.A. 2018 | Theory) is the community engagement specialist for the King County Library System Foundation in Washington State. During COVID-19, they have been adjusting to working at home while also providing structure and continued learning for their teenager. Watts is grateful that their doctorate prepared them for independent working and creative problem solving, which has been key to fundraising when every spring and summer event has been cancelled.

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William Whitener (B.M. 1967, M.M. 1970 | Music Education, Bassoon) is still living the good (retired) life in Brenham, Texas.


Calvin Wong

Calvin Wong (Artist Diploma 2018 | Music Performance, Saxophone) has returned to his hometown of Hong Kong and is currently the artistic director of the Hong Kong Youth Saxophone Choir and a member of the Opus a la Carte Collective and Hong Kong Wind Philharmonia. During the pandemic he has been able to reflect on his vision and mission as an artist, and how he can contribute to the community. He has been making hand-drip coffee as well as exploring the hidden, but gorgeous, hiking trails in town.

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Rachel Ellen Wong

Rachell Ellen Wong (B.M. 2013 | Music Performance, Violin) is the first baroque recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, which was awarded to her in 2020. She is using part of the grant to record the entire J. S. Bach solo sonatas and partitas.  All of her engagements this year have been cancelled. She has been frequently performing over Facebook Live and Zoom and has also started a new YouTube series, Home with Rachell (#homewithrachell), to help people cope by listening to music.  Her greatest challenge has been making enough money to continue paying rent in New York City, which led to an equally challenging decision to not renew her lease and move back home to Seattle, WA.

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Thomas Yee

Thomas Yee (M.M. 2017 | Composition; D.M.A. 2020 | Composition) is now lecturer in music theory at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  The premiere of his Holocaust remembrance opera, Eva and the Angel of Death, was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  During the pandemic, his greatest challenges are dealing with the uncertain timetable for the rescheduling of his opera performances and maintaining the capacity for intensive creative work, which is now hindered by preoccupation with the pandemic crisis situation.  He continues intensive research for his monograph on the semiotics of video game music and is currently working on an extended song cycle, Ten Poems of Li-Young Lee, which explores Chinese-American identity in response to the increase in anti-Asian-American violence.