In October 2019, Associate Professor of Music Theory Eric Drott presented the keynote address, “Infinite Loops: Cybernetic Research in Historical Perspective”, at the international Recursions conference held at the University of Edinburgh. A month later, in November 2019, he gave four talks as the featured speaker at the Université de Montréal’s annual lecture series, Conférences de Prestige. Capping off his year, Professor Drott was named the 2020 recipient of the Dent Medal, an annual award bestowed by the Royal Musical Association in association with the International Musicological Society, to honor a scholar’s outstanding contributions to musicology. The citation for the award commended Professor Drott for having produced “an impressive body of scholarship that spans from post-war modernism to present-day streaming cultures and deftly traverses music theory, musicology, and music sociology.” He is currently working to complete the manuscript for his forthcoming book on streaming platforms, provisionally titled Streaming Music, Streaming Capital.
Jonathan Gunn began fall 2019 with a recital at the Butler School in collaboration with Patti Wolf, as well as a concert at the newly formed Evanston Chamber Music Society with his wife Jennifer Gunn performing on flute. He participated as principal clarinetist in the International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico, which was a unique opportunity to play orchestral and chamber music repertoire throughout Puerto Rico as well as engage in numerous educational outreach events. Additionally, his DMA student Yu-Rou Li was able to join him in the orchestra, playing second clarinet. This year also saw the release of his first solo recording alongside his wonderful friend and colleague from the Butler School, Anton Nel. Definitely a labor of love, it is a collection of much of his favorite French repertoire for the clarinet. As happened for everyone else, all of Gunn’s summer performances were unfortunately cancelled or postponed, but the Aria International Summer Academy was able to switch formats to online, and he was able to work one-on-one with their wonderful students in addition to presenting a master class and other sessions.
Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, Delaine Leonard was scheduled to perform the final concerts of the 2019-20 season with the Austin Symphony and Valley Symphony orchestras and to conduct Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) teacher training and master classes in Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. She was also scheduled to present at the 2020 International Biennial SAA Conference in Minneapolis, adjudicate for the 2020 Texas State Solo & Ensemble Contest and attend the 2020 World Harp Congress in Cardiff, Wales. In June, Leonard led a virtual Suzuki Harp weekend workshop that was attended by students in seven US states and taught continuing education Suzuki online seminars in June and July. She also pursued online teacher training with SAA violin teacher trainer and psychotherapist Edmund Sprunger on the topics “Analyzing Resistance” and “Ownership.” During the months of March through May, she adopted a senior rescue cat and volunteered for St. Matthew’s Zoom services, performing original arrangements of hymns for prelude and postlude. During the last half of the semester, the Butler Harp Studio rallied around member Vincent Pierce as he performed his DMA 1 recital via Facebook livestream in March 2020. Her studio also met virtually twice weekly to perform for each other and discuss topics from the Bulletproof Musician blog and Rob Knopper’s Practice Bootcamp.
Professor of Violin Brian Lewis continues to teach and perform in Austin and around the world. In addition to annual engagements in Costa Rica and Saint Barthélemy as well as the International Heifetz Institute of Music, he was a featured guest artist at Da Camera in Houston, the University of Houston, and the Austin Suzuki Music School. He returned to west Texas for a performance of Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Midland-Odessa Symphony Orchestra. As artistic director of the Starling Distinguished Violinist Series at UT, Lewis was pleased to present three world class artists this past fall: Philippe Quint, Chee-Yun and Robert Chen, whose master classes and solo recitals dazzled audiences. Lewis is proud of his former student, Rachell Ellen Wong (B.M. | 2009), the first Baroque artist to receive an Avery Fisher Career Grant this past March. Closer to home, Lewis and his daughter grieved the passing of Lewis’ mother in February, the great violin pedagogue Alice Joy Lewis. Mrs. Lewis, a pioneer in teaching the Suzuki Method, trained thousands of students and teachers, helping to shape and establish the Suzuki Method as we know it in the United States. Her legacy will carry on in the many lives she touched and most especially through her son, Brian.
John Mills served as musical director on a variety of projects this year, including a preview of Mr. Texas, a musical with songs by Marcia Ball and book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright. A new recording, The Ruthie Foster Big Band Live, a live concert from 2019 for which he served as the musical director, was released in May 2020 and immediately reached #1 on the Billboard Blues chart. Dr. Mills was also the horn section leader and arranger for the Texas Heritage Songwriters Concert at the Paramount Theater in February, performing with blues icons Jimmie Vaughan, Johnny Nicholas, Duke Robillard and Ruthie Foster. John Mills Times Ten returned to perform a concert of all original compositions in New Orleans at the 2020 Conference of the Jazz Education Network. The John Mills Quartet was featured at the Jazz at St. James Jazz Festival in November, where they performed his original compositions and also backed world-renowned vocalist Carmen Bradford of the Count Basie Orchestra. John was honored with the A.D. Manion Award at the event. He acted as musical director and arranger in Christmas and Valentine’s Day shows for vocalist Andrew Heller at Parker Jazz Club. In May, Mills arranged and conducted new string arrangements for singing drummer “Captain” Kirk Covington, and one of Mills’ songs for Covington’s latest recording, Suspicious Circumstances, has been selected for steady rotation on a chain of jazz radio stations. The Texas Horns continued with a steady calendar of studio recording sessions, including a release for San Diego vocalist Whitney Shay on Ruf Records (Germany), which reached #1 on blues charts, as well as productions for Dallas guitar legend Anson Funderburgh. Some of Mills’ other noteworthy performances included Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker at the Parker Jazz Club, New Year’s Eve pops concerts with the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the annual Eddie Durham Tribute Big Band all-star concert at Texas State University San Marcos, and a reprise of Graham Reynolds’ Marfa Triptych in coordination with the CD release of that music. Summer festival concerts in Switzerland, Canada and Brazil were of course cancelled, but most are rescheduled for 2021.
Robin D. Moore visited the University of Oregon during the past year as a Robert M. Trotter Visiting Distinguished Professor and spent a week there in residency. He was asked to join the editorial board of the journal Cuban Studies, and received the Butler School of Music Teaching Excellence Award in 2019. The award-winning book he co-authored with Alejandro Madrid entitled Danzón: Circum-Caribbean Dialogues in Music and Dance was published in in Spanish translation by the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Monterrey, Mexico. Additionally, Dr. Moore published new essays in The Cambridge Companion to Caribbean Music; Afro-Latin American Studies: A Reader; and the book Beyond the Field: New Challenges and Opportunities in Ethnomusicology. He presented many academic papers as invited speaker at conferences and on university campuses including the CUNY Graduate Center, the University of California Riverside, Harvard University, and the annual conferences of the American Musicological Society and Society for Ethnomusicology. He continues to serve as editor of the journal Latin American Music Review.
In the past year Luisa Nardini finished a new monograph Chants, Hypertexts, and Prosulas: The Proper of the Mass in Beneventan Manuscripts, forthcoming with Oxford University Press. The book will have a companion website (chanthypertexts.org) providing a fully searchable database, complete musical examples, manuscript facsimiles, and audio recordings. The website, based on the notion that new technologies can enhance our understanding of medieval art, was the subject of multiple conference presentations in Texas. She has also presented about medieval women and music at four international conferences. However, several commitments lined up for the spring and summer, including the Medieval Academy of America in Berkeley, the international Cantus Planus study group in Telč, Czech Republic and the Scuola Internazionale di Canto Gregoriano in Arco, Italy have been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis. She also made substantial progress on the publication of the facsimile edition of one of the earliest music documents from medieval Naples and has completed multiple essays on Digital Humanities and medieval studies for the journal Unbound, Amsterdam University Press, and Brill. She is co-editor of the proceedings of the international conference Laus musicae held in Benevento, Italy in 2019 on the music, science, and liturgy of medieval southern Italy.
Anton Nel, who holds the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Piano, had an enjoyable season performing concertos, recitals, and chamber music as well as teaching master classes at leading institutions. Concerto highlights include the MacDowell 2nd (Richmond, IN), Liszt 2nd (Ann Arbor), Mozart 18th (Eugene), Bach F Minor (Seattle), Beethoven 4th (Central Texas Philharmonic), and Beethoven 5th (Jackson, MS). In September, he was a jury member of the Canadian Chopin Competition in Toronto and co-hosted a piano intensive with colleague Anne-Marie McDermott at the new Tippet Rise Arts Center in Montana. He also traveled to teach and perform in Beijing for the first time, visiting the Central Conservatory, Renmin University, and the Western Academy of Beijing. Other recital highlights include performances in New York, Seattle, Eugene, Toronto, and an all-Beethoven program in Bates Recital Hall. Professor Nel performed both as pianist and harpsichordist in his annual series of concerts with members of the San Francisco Symphony and for the Seattle Chamber Music Society, and continued his regular masterclasses at the Manhattan School of Music and the Glenn Gould School in Toronto. Following the onset of COVID-19, Professor Nel maintained an online presence with piano and fortepiano performances on his YouTube channel and on Facebook. Some of Nel’s regular summer festivals held online versions: he taught Zoom lessons and masterclasses for the Orford Music Academy in Quebec, and gave a lecture on the Mozart Piano Quartets for the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival. Last October, Anton Nel was inducted into the Steinway and Sons Teacher Hall of Fame in New York.
Guido Olivieri was recently elected president of the Society for Eighteenth-Century Music. He published the first modern edition of two previously unknown cello sonatas by the celebrated 18th-century composer, Giovanni Bononcini, with the Società Editrice di Musicologia. He continues his collaboration with ensembles that specialize in early music performance, and served as musicology advisor for the first modern recording of Michele Mascitti’s Violin Sonatas, Op. 9, which appeared in Spring 2020. In October 2019 Olivieri presented at the annual meeting of the Italian Musicological Society, held in Matera (Italy). His paper, which examines new manuscript sources on the early history of the cello in 17th-century Naples, has been expanded into an article that is now under review for publication. In March 2020, he contributed a chapter on the history of instrumental music in Naples in a two-volume collection of essays on 17th-century Neapolitan music. He is currently working on the critical edition of Domenico Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto, to be published by Bärenreiter. Together with the co-editor, Federico Gon, Olivieri presented the results of this editorial work in November 2019 at the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society and was invited to give a lecture at the Catholic University of America.
Mike Sailors, Lecturer in Jazz Trumpet, enjoyed a busy year of performing, composing and educating. Sailors appeared at the Ravinia Music Festival with the Grammy nominated Multiverse Big Band, led by Bobby Sanabria. This concert featured music from the band’s latest Grammy nominated recording, West Side Story Reimagined. He performed in two of Lincoln Center's festival concert series, "Midsummer Night’s Swing" and "Music in The Atrium." Sailors was hired as music director, composer and arranger for the 2019 Ralph Lauren fall fashion show in New York City, in which he composed and arranged music for a jazz orchestra at the request of Ralph Lauren himself, and also appeared with fashion icon Janelle Monáe's band in a surprise performance at an A-list celebrity event. Sailors was hired to compose music for Lady Gaga's Las Vegas show "Jazz & Piano," which featured jazz and string orchestra support and enjoyed eight sold-out performances. In early 2019, Sailors was an artist in residence at Lethbridge University in Lethbridge, Canada, where he presented clinics on improvisation, composition, and music business practices and appeared in concert with the Lethbridge Jazz Ensemble, who performed his original compositions and arrangements. Sailors was invited by Jazz at Lincoln Center to appear as guest soloist and clinician with the Flint Institute of the Arts where he presented clinics on improvisation, and also performed in concert with the Detroit Jazz Collective.
Laurie Scott organized the 2019 UT String Project Eclectic Styles Festival, during which the nearly 300 String Project students and teachers celebrated the music of Native Americans. This concert was held in partnership with musicians and dancers from the non-profit organization Great Promise for American Indians. Additionally, Scott collaborated with associate professor Roxanne Schroeder-Arce to include in the festival excerpts from Yana Wana’s Legend of the Bluebonnet, by Maria F. Rocha and Roxanne Schroeder-Arce. In January, Dr. Scott was the featured clinician for the Southeast Honors String Festival held at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, where he presented five lectures and clinics for attendees during the three-day workshop. The Musical Lives string program at UT Elementary, initiated by Dr. Scott in 2009, expanded this fall to add Butler School alumna Courtney Castañeda as a full-time music instructor. The program is inspired by the methodology of Shinichi Suzuki, and now includes general music instruction for pre-k to 5th grade in addition to strings for 2nd through 5th grade students. The program was highlighted this year in a short documentary shared by Dr. Scott during a presentation at February’s Arts and Education for Social Justice conference at the University of Georgia. In March, Dr. Scott presented a session with associate professor and Butler School colleague Joel Braun at the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) national conference held in Orlando. At this conference, Dr. Scott was the featured clinician for the ASTA-sponsored National Orchestra Festival and presented clinics for participating orchestras from around the country. Eight UT String Project teachers attended the conference and participated in the National String Project Consortium celebration, during which they were able to perform alongside a video of students playing from all over the world, which included students from the UT Austin String Project. This spring, UT alumni magazine Alcalde named Dr. Scott as one of the Texas Ten, a list of UT Austin professors recognized for their inspiring teaching and lasting impact on their students’ lives.
Sonia Tamar Seeman received a research grant from National Endowment for the Humanities at the American Research Institute in Turkey for a seven-month ethnographic fieldwork trip to complete the research for her second book. Due to COVID-19 concerns, she has delayed her trip until June 2021. During fall 2019 she was a fellow at the University of Texas Humanities Institute seminar. She lectured on her research at Southwestern University, conducted classes and presented her work at Ohio State University, and facilitated a panel on academic labor at the National Society for Ethnomusicology annual conference. During 2019-20 she also facilitated visits by several musical guests, including Syrian-American hip hop artist Omar Offendum, Jewish researcher and singer Edwin Seroussi, Palestinian oudist Sari Andoni, and Persian tar virtuoso Osta Sahba Motallebi. Her Middle Eastern Ensemble’s workshop with local Persian singer Mohammad Firoozi took place over Zoom and constituted a “final exam” for the ensemble class. Seeman is also the proud mother of firefighter Alexander Padden, who finished his paramedic training just in time for the outbreak, and also married his beloved Traci Deutsch Padden in March before the quarantine.