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SMTD Welcomes New Faculty


The 2014-15 academic year brings a celebrated group of artists and pedagogues to the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance as the School's newest faculty members. SMTD is delighted to welcome Danielle Belen (violin), Jason DeBord (musical theatre), Joseph Gascho (harpsichord), Benny Green (jazz piano), Timothy McAllister (saxophone), Kola Owolabi (organ), and Courtney Snyder (conducting). Short biographies and links to their SMTD web pages are below. We wish them all great success in their U-M careers!

Danielle Belen joins the Department of Strings as associate professor and full-time violin faculty. A seasoned pedagogue, Belen has made a name for herself with a strong studio of young artists. As part of the violin faculty at the Colburn School, her students have won national and international competitions including the Stulberg and Klein competitions, as well as being accepted into major conservatoires and universities across the country. The winner of the 2008 Sphinx Competition, Belen has appeared as a soloist with major symphonies across the United States including the Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Nashville, and San Francisco Symphonies; the Boston Pops; and the Florida and Cleveland Orchestras. She has taught master classes and led community engagements across the country in conjunction with her professional performance appearances.

Jason DeBord joins the Department of Musical Theatre as an assistant professor. A highly sought-after audition pianist and clinician, DeBord was the music director, arranger and orchestrator of the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway musical Fat Camp. Other Broadway productions he has participated in as a conductor and keyboardist include Shrek-The Musical, Rock of Ages, Legally Blonde, All Shook Up, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Rent. DeBord has made numerous appearances at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops accompanying Marin Mazzie, Jason Daniely, Emily Skinner, and Christine Baranski among others. He has also been on the road with the national tours of A Chorus Line, Rent, and Urinetown-the Musical.

Conductor and harpsichordist, Joseph Gascho joins the Department of Organ & Harpsichord as assistant professor of harpsichord. Gascho has built a multifaceted musical career performing as a soloist and collaborative artist; conducting opera, orchestra, and choir; editing and arranging scores; teaching and lecturing; and most recently as a producer and editor. He has won numerous grants and prizes, including first prize in the Jurow International Harpsichord Competition. In 2012, Gascho released his debut solo CD, a recording of his own harpsichord transcriptions. Along with recorder player Justin Godoy, he directs the chamber group Harmonious Blacksmith. Other performing highlights include concerts with the National Symphony at Carnegie Hall; the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra; the Tallis Scholars and the Folger Consort; the Washington Bach Consort; and at Intersections: A New America Arts Festival. Gascho has conducted numerous operas, and studied with Jim Ross in the conducting seminar at the University of Maryland. He is the co-director and conductor, with Richard Scerbo, of the National Institutes of Health Community Orchestra. After studying at the Peabody Institute and the University of Maryland, Gascho taught at George Washington University, American University, and Oberlin Conservatory's Baroque Performance Institute.

Jazz pianist Benny Green joins the Department of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation as assistant professor. Over the last 20 years, Green has been invited to lead innumerable lectures, residencies, workshops, and classes where he has fulfilled a personal and professional objective: to share his expansive knowledge and experience with students around the world. Among the many notable institutions where  he regularly lectures are the Juilliard School, the Berkeley College of Music, the Brubeck Institute, Snow College, Stanford University, and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Green has been hailed as the most exciting hard-swinging, hard-bop pianist to ever emerge from Art Blakely's Jazz Messengers. He has released 13 albums as a leader or co-leader during his prolific career, with his most recent release being Magic Beans (2013).

Tim McAllister joins the Department of Winds & Percussion as associate professor of saxophone. Soprano chair of the renowned PRISM Quartet and internationally acclaimed soloist, McAllister's career has taken him throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, China, Mexico, France, Slovenia, Switzerland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria, garnering prizes at many prestigious national and international competitions. McAllister received a doctor of musical arts and degrees in music education, conducting, and performance from U-M where he studied saxophone with his mentor and predecessor Donald Sinta, and conducting with H. Robert Reynolds. He is the only saxophonist to ever receive SMTD's most distinguished performance award, the Albert A. Stanley Medal.

Kola Owolabi joins the Department of Organ & Harpsichord as associate professor of organ. A native of Toronto, Canada, Owolabi was previously the university organist and assistant professor of music at Syracuse University, where he taught courses in organ, improvisation, continuo playing, and music theory, and played for weekly chapel services and special events. He is also currently the sub dean for the Syracuse Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Owolabi holds degrees in organ performance and choral conducting from McGill University, Montreal, Yale University, and Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.  As a recitalist, he has performed across Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Jamaica, appearing most recently at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City, Methuen Memorial Music Hall in Massachusetts, Spelman College in Atlanta, and Cornell University.

Courtney Snyder joins the Department of Conducting as assistant professor. As assistant director of bands at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Snyder oversaw all aspects of University Athletic Bands, including directing the "Marching Mavs" Marching Band. She also directed the University Band, was the associate conductor for the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, taught conducting and music education courses, and provided individual conducting instruction to both undergraduate and graduate students. Snyder holds a master's degree in conducting from Baylor University, a bachelor's degree in music education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she studied with Jack Stamp, and a doctorate in conducting at U-M where she studied with Michael Haithcock. She is published in Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, Vol. 3, has attended numerous conducting workshops, and is a member of College Band Directors National Association and World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles. 

past news

November 2015
October 2014

Anisha Nandi, from The Michigan Daily, sat down with professor Michael Gould to talk about his "Remember Me" show. The video can be seen on the Michigan Daily website.   10/01/2014

July 2014

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Dance, Peter Sparling is a recipient of a Distinguished University Professorship. Effective September 1, Sparling will be a Rudolf Arnheim Distinguished University Professor. This appointment is one of the highest honors the University can bestow upon a faculty member.   07/18/2014

Professor Patricia Hall will be presenting her paper, "Alban Berg's 'Guilt' by Association to the Music, Censorship and Meaning in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union conference at the Colburn School in Los Angeles this August.   07/12/2014

April 2014

Prof. Ed Sarath Receives U-M's "Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award" 04/21/2014

Professor Kuster Wins Prestigious OPERA America Grant 04/04/2014

Professor Mukherji to Speak in London this July 04/04/2014

Áine Heneghan, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, will present her research on Schoenberg's Formenlehre at the following conferences, all in 2014: Music Theory Midwest (Appleton, WI), the Eighteenth Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music (Toronto, Canada), EuroMAC (Leuven, Belgium), and the annual meeting of the Society for Music Theory (Milwaukee).   04/01/2014

March 2014

U-M UpstART Festival Begins 03/31/2014

A Multimedia Installation on Climate Change 03/28/2014

Wayne Petty, Associate Professor of Music Theory, will read his paper, "Some Multimovement Designs in C. P. E. Bach's Late Keyboard Sonatas" at the Seventh EuroMac conference, which will gather scholars from all music theory societies in Europe in Leuven, Belgium, from 17 to 21 September, 2014.  An adaptation of the paper will be presented to the Society for Music Theory in Milwaukee in the Fall of 2014.   03/26/2014

Walter Everett, Professor of Music Theory, announces the publication of Los Beatles como músicos: De Revolver de la Antología (Buenos Aires: Eterna Cadencia, 2013), the Spanish translation of his The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology (Oxford University Press, 1999).   03/21/2014

Celebration of Professor George Shirley's 80th Birthday 03/19/2014

Prof. Korsyn presents keynote in The Hague, serves in scholarly appointments 03/14/2014

December 2013

In January 2014 Professor Wayne Petty will read the paper, "Wilhelm Fischer and the Fortspinnung-type Sonata Exposition," at the Seventh International Conference on Music Theory in Tallin and Pärnu, Estonia.  The conference theme is "Musical Form: Mapping the Territories."   12/17/2013

AmeriGrove II, edited by Professor Charles Garrett, is published 12/13/2013

November 2013

Gosman Presents Beethoven Research 11/16/2013

Department of Music Theory Announces Visiting Speakers of 2014 11/16/2013

Everett Launches Beatles Observances 11/16/2013

Interarts professor Holly Hughes presents The Dog and Pony Show (Bring Your Own Pony) in a webcast performance at the Chicago Humanities Festival on Mon., Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Her newest performance work, the piece offers a poetic and comic meditation on midlife crises in the key of canine.   11/01/2013

September 2013

SMTD Welcomes New Faculty 09/27/2013

Ramon Satyendra, associate professor of music theory, has published his essay, "Morphisms of Generalized Interval Systems and PR-Groups" (co-authored with Thomas Fiore and Thomas Noll), in Journal of Mathematics and Music 7/1.   09/20/2013

Alan Gosman Co-authors New Beethoven Book 09/06/2013

July 2013

Professor Ashley Lucas and three Theatre & Drama students are engaged in an intensive exchange program with UniRio in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this summer, where they are blogging about their experiences in UniRio's prison arts program and more.   07/12/2013

June 2013

SMTD Mourns Professor Emeritus Erling Bengtsson 06/10/2013

Holly Hughes, professor of interarts performance in the Department of Theatre & Drama, was profiled in Hyperallergic, an online magazine about art and culture, which included a Q&A with Hughes about her role as one of the "NEA Four."   06/06/2013

Music theory professor Walter Everett's role as an expert on the music of the Beatles was the subject of an article in      06/06/2013

Hall presents in Copenhagen 06/03/2013

May 2013

Robert Hurst, associate professor of jazz and contemporary improvisation, was featured in a Q&A article in on the occasion of the release of his new CD, BOB: a palindrome.   05/01/2013

November 2012
November 2011
February 2010
Current Faculty News
Prof. Ellen Rowe honored as Arthur F. Thurnau Professormore
Theatre professor's play inspired by deadly incident on Mexican bordermore

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Peter Smith

David Smith

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Tom Bower