Student News

Jonathan Hutlting-CohenTim MichlingAshley ParkBeverly ShangkuanChristopher Douglas SmithRoger Zare


From top: Jonathan Hulting-Cohen; Tim Michling; Ashley Park; Beverly Shankuan; Christopher Douglas Smith; Roger Zare


Organ students in the studio of James Kibbie are engaged in a year-long project to honor the centennial of the French composer Jehan Alain (1911-1940). Alain was an organ student at the Paris Conservatory who was killed in battle in World War II in heroic circumstances at the age of 29. He died in the battle of Saumur and was posthumously awarded the Croix de guerre by the French government.

Professor Kibbie's students created a special Jehan Alain centennial web page on the SMTD website, which offers free downloads of sixteen Alain works. Each work is performed by a different student and all were recorded on organs at U-M.

A live music element of the centennial was featured on October 3 when nine students performed an Alain recital at Hill Auditorium as part of the 51st Annual Conference on Organ Music. Included was a performance of Alain’s “Vocalise,” adapted to the text of “Ave Maria,” which featured soprano Sara Mikat. In addition, on October 24, students Joseph Balistreri, Richard Newman, and Benjamin Woolsey joined Professor Kibbie to present a workshop on Alain for the Detroit Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.


Starting a band might seem like a right of passage for young musicians. But when your instruments range from violin to clarinet – with nary a guitar in sight – the possibility of cliché is stopped dead in its tracks. That’s what a group of SMTD music students have discovered with their newly formed ensemble, Latitude 49. Comprised of Jani Parsons (piano), Timothy Steeves (violin), Andy Hall (saxophone), Jeremy Crosmer (cello), Nonna Aroutiounian (clarinet), and Kyle Ancuncius (percussion), Latitude 49 is focused on contemporary new music and is taking full advantage of the rich creative environment found at U-M.

“As a student-organized mixed-music ensemble, Latitude 49 has flexibility in its instrumental make-up and sound, creating a cohesive aesthetic while still emphasizing the individuals,” said the band’s spokesperson, Nonna Aroutiounian. “We want to bridge the gap between composers, performers, and the audience in an effort to support our generation of music making.”

The group takes its name from the 49th parallel that forms the Western part of the Canada-United States border, with band members hailing from both countries. But it is their location in Michigan that is giving the band its jump-start, thanks to the diverse, curious and artistically inclined audiences in Ann Arbor. The musicians are also excited by the music being created in the SMTD’s composition department, seeing great possibilities for collaboration, and they recognize the unique opportunities that exist in a unique setting.

“Without the backing of SMTD professors and organizations such as UMMA that provide a stage and space for practice and performance, it would be difficult for groups such as Latitude 49 to make much impact on the community,” said Aroutiounian. “We want to contribute to this community and make every performance a captivating experience.”


Ryan Chen, a junior dual degree student in euphonium performance and engineering, won the Student Division of the Leonard Falcone International Solo Euphonium Competition in August. The competition took place at the International Euphonium and Tuba Festival at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, MI.

Amanda Mae Cohen, a junior BFA performance student with a concentration on directing, earned college credit through the International Education for Students (IES) program last summer, which took her to London for two months. Through IES she studied Shakespeare (including visits to the Globe Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company's newly refurbished theatre in Stratford) and a took a course titled “UK Live Theatre” which included visits to numerous theatres, backstage tours and attendance at multiple performances in and around London.

Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, who will complete his BM in saxophone performance and BA in organizational studies this year, performed Luciano Berio's Chemins IV and Roger Boutry's Divertimento with the Philadelphia Classical Symphony in October. Also featured on the program were Daniel Matsukawa, principal bassoonist, and Ricardo Morales, principal clarinetist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as the premiere of a work by composer Jan Kryzwicki. Maestro Karl Middleman conducted the orchestra of mostly Philadelphia Orchestra musicians.

Faith Loewe, fourth year piano performance and music education student, recently traveled to Rancheria, Nicaragua, through MOST (Mission Opportunities Short Term) Ministries. The primary goal of the trip was to install water filtration systems and teach health/hygiene classes, but she also had the privilege of sharing music with the community, which has virtually no musical instruments. In addition to teaching songs and rhythmic accompaniment to children, she gave many villagers their first experience of hearing a “piano” thanks to a small portable keyboard that was brought from the U.S. After playing a Bach prelude and fugue, Loewe said the children “looked at me like I was a magician.”

A junior theatre student with a concentration on directing, Emily Lyon was Assistant Director and Production Assistant for Shakespeare in the Arb last summer, which presented The Winter's Tale for three weekends in June. In July she attended a four-week study program at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. Created in conjunction with Washington University in St. Louis, the intensive program provided master classes, a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, and scene performances on the Globe stage.

In September, music masters student Tim Michling began his position as oboe instructor at Oakland University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate level music majors, as well as non-music majors wishing to study oboe. He also coaches a student chamber group and performed as a member of the Oakland Chamber Players (a group consisting of OU faculty and affiliated Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians). Michling is now in his second season as principal oboist of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and this year has performed with the Michigan Opera Theater Orchestra and the Flint Symphony Orchestra, as well.

Musical theatre junior Ashley Park won First Prize in the Musical Theatre Competition of the Mid-Michigan chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters (NSAL), which took place at the Walgreen Drama Center on North Campus in October. Park will go on to represent the Michigan chapter in the National Finals in El Paso, TX, in May, competing against 19 other chapters for a $10,000 grand prize. In addition to Park, other U-M winners in the competition were: Daniel Berryman
 (Second Prize), Samantha Massell (Third Prize), Robert Ariza
(Honorable Mention), and Alexandra Fragaso
(Honorable Mention). The NSAL is committed to supporting and encouraging young artists and writers through competitions, scholarships and other career opportunities.

Christopher Douglas Smith, in his second year of the Master of Music in Improvisation program, assembled a small band of U-M music students with whom he performed traditional New Orleans-style jazz for a Tanner Lecture Series dinner in June. The event took place on the field at Michigan Stadium where President Mary Sue Coleman hosted the presidents of a number of other universities. In October, Smith also acted as music director for a donor gala at the new C.S. Mott Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Center. There, at the close of the dinner, guests enjoyed a surprise musical number that Smith arranged for a group of twenty-five SMTD students, including a sixteen-person choir conducted by fellow student, GSI George Case IV.

Beverly Shangkuan, a second year DMA student in choral conducting, has been awarded the Rackham Barbour Fellowship, established at U-M in 1914 for women born in the area formerly known as the Orient, to study disciplines and professions critical to the development of their native lands. Shangkuan, a native of the Philippines, plans to return to her homeland after receiving her DMA to serve underserved communities through outreach, education and collaboration. Her goals include training conductors and choirs in remote areas; forming a choir for underprivileged children; providing educational experiences through artistic collaborations; developing the graduate program in Choral Conducting at the University of the Philippines (from which she is on leave); and forming a symphonic choir to perform with the country’s major orchestras.

Roger Zare, a DMA candidate in composition, won second place in the James and Paula Nelson Young Composers Competition, part of the Belvedere Chamber Music Festival held each June in Memphis, TN. The international contest is open to student composers under the age of thirty and receives approximately forty entries from around the world. Zare’s award was for his work “Geometries,” composed for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano, and was performed at the Festival by the Luna Nova Ensemble. He has previously won the ASCAP Nissim Prize, two BMI Student Composer Awards, the 2008 American Composers Orchestra Underwood Commission, and many other regional and national honors.