Alumni Notes

Alex KippDaniel Knaggs

Lorraine Duso Kitts

Gregg WhitmoreLembit Beecher

Anita Werling

David Herman


From top: Alex Kipp, Daniel Knaggs, Lorraine Duso Kitts, Gregg Whitmore, Lembit Beecher, Anita Werling, David Herman



A play written by Alex Kip, BFA ’10 (musical theatre), will have its world premiere in Ann Arbor, August 15–September 1 at the Arthur Miller Theatre on North Campus. It is based on Kip’s harrowing experience of being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in his senior year at SMTD; he was given a 15–30 percent chance of survival, and subsequently lost his voice, which was intrinsically tied to his identity as a performer. Titled My Other Voice, the play was written with the goal of providing inspiration and hope to other cancer patients, particularly young adults, who have unique needs and whose survival rate for cancer has not improved at the same rate as other age groups. Kip, who is also a graduate of the London Dramatic Academy, is now in complete remission and is actively raising funds for the world premiere, all donations for which are tax-deductible. Directed by Ari Laura Kreith, the show has previously received several readings with industry professionals in New York City and had a staged reading in Columbus, OH. The Ann Arbor production will feature U-M faculty, students, and industry professionals both on stage and behind the scenes. In March, Kip produced and appeared in a benefit concert at Kerrytown Concert Hall to raise funds for the play. Titled Songs for Survivors, the show featured SMTD students, alumni, faculty, and local Ann Arbor artists celebrating cancer survivorship through music. For more information on Kip and My Other Voice, visit



The original cast recording of Fancy Nancy the Musical, with music and lyrics by Danny Abosch, BM ’11 (music education), and book and lyrics by Susan DiLallo, was released on Ghostlight Records. The recording features the entire original cast of the acclaimed off-Broadway production, which is currently running in New York City and on tour. The album is available on iTunes and in stores. For more information, visit  at


The Akropolis Reed Quintet—comprising Matthew Landry, BA ’10 (music education), Tim Gocklin, BM ’12 (oboe), Andrew Koeppe, BM ’10 (clarinet), and current SMTD graduate students Kari Dion, BM ’11 (clarinet), and Ryan Reynolds, BM ’12 (bassoon)—has released High Speed Reed, its groundbreaking debut album, the first ever of completely original reed quintet music. Available on CD Baby and iTunes, among others, it showcases three U-M composers (Asaf Peres, David Heetderks, and Garrett Schumann) and three additional reed quintet works. Artwork for the album was designed by former SMTD student Emily Breeding, and recording was completed in the Duderstadt audio studio with SMTD faculty acting as producers. The culmination of Akropolis' first four years together, the album is a testament to the vibrant and supportive U-M community to which Akropolis owes its success. 


Rikki Gimelstob, BTA ’10 (theatre arts), is a casting associate at Donna Grossman Casting in New York City where she casts television commercials and print advertisements. Other casting credits include pilot season at NBC/ Universal, several graduate thesis films for Columbia University, and multiple web series. She also teaches acting and audition technique classes throughout Manhattan.


Deborah Selig, BM '02, (voice) made her debut with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) last year in Michael Tippett's A Midsummer Marriage. Her 2013 performances include the Kentucky Opera in Don Giovanni; the Boston Lyric Opera in The Magic Flute; the Dayton Philharmonic for Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem; the Rhode Island Philharmonic for Handel's Messiah; the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra for their annual New Year’s Day Gala; Nashoba Valley Chorale for both Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Mozart’s Requiem; and the Ravinia Festival's Steans Institute for their 25th Anniversary Spring Tour (Earl Kim’s Three Poems in French for Soprano and String Quartet). 



Daniel Albert, MM '05 (music education), conducted the 2013 Vermont Music Educators Association (VMEA) District VI Middle School Concert Band, an auditioned ensemble that includes students from towns in southeastern Vermont. Albert was also a featured clinician with the Northeastern University Concert Band.


Lembit Beecher, DMA '09 (composition), was named composer-in-residence with the Opera Company of Philadelphia (in collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group of New York City) in 2011. Last fall he received a Copland House Residency Award, which provides for a five-week residency at Aaron Copland’s former home in Cortlandt Manor, NY. In December, the Del Sol String Quartet premiered These Memories May Be True, a work commissioned in honor of their 20th anniversaryBeecher's new opera, I Have No Stories To Tell You, will be premiered by Gotham Chamber Opera at the Met Museum in 2014.


Amy K. Bormet, BFA ’06 (jazz studies), presented and performed at her third annual Washington Women in Jazz Festival in Washington, DC in March. The festival has previously featured U-M professor Ellen Rowe, artist-in-residence Ingrid Jensen, and fellow alumna Melissa Gardiner ('07, jazz studies). The 2013 festival finale was a solo piano set by U-M Professor Geri Allen.


Nicole Esposito, MM ’02 (flute), was promoted to associate professor with tenure at the University of Iowa.


Kevin Hildebrand, MM '00 (organ and church music), is serving as editor of the Hymn Prelude Library, a 12-volume set of organ chorale preludes published by Concordia Publishing House.  This five-year project will include 600 new compositions, from a pool of over 90 composers, based on each tune in the hymnal Lutheran Service Book. The first volume is now in print; subsequent volumes are forthcoming. Hildebrand is Cantor at Concordia Theological Seminary and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, IN. A new recording of Hildebrand’s original works, Blessed Are They Forever, featuring choral, instrumental, and congregational hymn settings, is being released by Concordia Theological Seminary’s Good Shepherd Institute.


Carol Jantsch, BM ’06 (tuba), recently premiered a new tuba concerto by SMTD composition professor Michael Daugherty. The work, titled Reflections on the Mississippi, was commissioned by Temple University, where Jantsch is on the faculty, and was performed with the Temple University Orchestra (TUO) in March at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia. A second performance took place at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City in April. The TUO and Jantsch will be recording the work for release this summer.


Daniel Knaggs, BMA ’07 (voice), was awarded first prize in the first International David Maria Turoldo Composition Competition (Italy) and the Shinik Hahm Prize from Rice University (2012). He was commissioned by the music teachers’ associations of Michigan (2011) and Illinois (2012) and his Hic est discipulus ille opened a concert of Penderecki’s choral music (with Penderecki present) in Poland last July. Additionally, his Flujo y Reflujo was included on the 2013 Audiograft Festival (Oxford, UK). Knaggs’ Delusions of Charles the Bold will be premiered by the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra on June 1, 2013. 


Zach Shemon, BM ’07, MM ’09 (saxophone), won first prize in the International Saxophone Symposium and Competition (ISSAC) held in October at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA. He competed against 71 other contestants to win $3,000 cash; a new P. Mauriat saxophone; the opportunity to appear as featured soloist on the world premiere CD recording of James M. David's L'oiseau dans l'espace for alto saxophone and percussion ensemble; a $500 Woodwind & Brasswind gift certificate; and a 5-disc set of The Tuning C.D. He recently accepted a faculty position at the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance.


Eric Shieh, BM '04 (music education) recently returned from Venezuela on a Fund for Teachers fellowship researching the education response to youth violence in Caracas, including work with El Sistema. He continues to teach and lead curriculum development at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, "A School for a Sustainable City," in New York City, which he helped found and which opened a new high school this year. Publications include articles and chapters in The Oxford Handbook of Music Education, Listen Out: International Perspectives in Music Education, and the Social Justice Issue of the Music Educators Journal.


Clinton Smith, MM ’06, DMA '09 (orchestral conducting) continues as artistic director and principal conductor of the St. Cloud Symphony. Additionally this season, he will work as cover conductor/coach at Santa Fe Opera, Juilliard Opera, Portland Opera, Kentucky Opera, and Ash Lawn Opera, guest conduct Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber singers and Skylark Opera, as well as prepare Minnesota Opera's commission of Douglas J. Cuomo's Doubt in workshop. Recently he led a workshop of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night; conducted main stage performances of La Traviata and Madama Butterfly at the Minnesota Opera; taught master classes at Western Ontario University and St. Cloud State University; and coached at the National University of Taiwan.


Justin Walter, BFA ’07 (jazz studies, trumpet) sees the release of two recordings of original work this year that explore the unique and beautiful sounds of the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument). The first, Dark Matter (Life Like), is an album of improvised and composed music for EVI, trumpet, guitar, bass, and piano. “Dark Matter is kind of like laying in middle of a giant field and watching the starry night sky go by,” says Walter. This May he releases Lullabies & Nightmares, his debut for the Chicago-based label, Kranky. “Lullabies & Nightmares is more like walking through a jungle full of wild beasts and realizing it’s wonderful.” 


Gregory X. Whitmore, BM ’01(instrumental music education) and director of bands at Cathedral City (CA) High School, recently completed a commissioning project with composer J. Eric Schmidt (University Of Southern California). Whitmore conducted the Cathedral City High School Symphony Band in a premiere of Schmidt’s new work for band entitled Exuberance. He also conducted the Cathedral City High School Band in concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall (home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic). Additionally, he conducted the CCHS Symphony Band in concert at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington D.C.) in April. Whitmore recently completed his master’s degree in wind conducting at Cal State-Fullerton under the baton of Mitchell Fennell. 











Apple recently selected Interactive Listening by Pete Carney, BM '97 (composition and saxophone), and Brian Felix, as the number one new iBook in all categories of books. Interactive Listening traces the history and science of music from cavemen to Beethoven and Dubstep. The book uses 3D models, visual patterns, and built-in sound to connect music history to the modern world through the iPad.  Interactive Listening is the first music textbook ever to be featured by Apple on the iTunes homepage.


William Charles Crowley, MFA '96 (dance), presented Beyond the Labyrinth: The Dance Legacy of Martha Graham, a lecture/demonstration, at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL in December. In January, his company Next Step Dance launched Nexus: Educational Programming Series, offering master classes, intensives, guest artist residencies, and lecture/demonstrations focusing on contemporary dance within the context and tradition of Graham Technique. In July, Crowley will be the artist-in-residence at the Chipping Campden Contemporary Dance Festival in the Cotswolds, U.K. In August he will teach a month-long Graham Technique Intensive at the Centre de Danse du Marais in Paris, France. This is his company's 10th anniversary season.


Lorraine Duso Kitts, DMA ’98 (oboe), is a featured soloist and principal oboist of the Pine Bluff Symphony in Pine Bluff, AR. She performed Lille Bror Soderlundh’s Concertino for Oboe and Strings in March with the Pine Bluff Symphony. She recently received tenure as associate professor of double reeds at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Kitts also plays second oboe in the Arkansas Symphony in Little Rock and spends her summers teaching oboe at the New England Music Camp in Sidney, Maine. Now 50, she married for the first time last June.


Aaron Siegel, BA '99 (jazz studies) performed with the Anthony Braxton 12+1tet in October at the Venice Biennale. In January he toured Europe with collaborative trio Memorize the Sky (Matt Bauder, BA '98 (jazz studies), and Zach Wallace). A co-founder of Experiments in Opera, Siegel produced an evening of opera shorts in February including his own, The Collector. Manager of secondary school programs at Carnegie Hall since 2007, Siegel recently produced a performance of Osvaldo Golijov's La Pasión según San Marcos with 120 high school singers. This June, Los Angeles-based opera company The Industry will present excerpts from Siegel’s opera Brother Brother.



Damon Gupton, BM '94 (music education), was a cast member in the Tony Award-winning “Best Play” Clybourne Park on Broadway, for which he was also nominated for a Tony. He was a featured guest star on Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom on HBO, and filmed the lead role in a new Tony Goldwyn/Dan LaGravenese lawyer pilot from AMC. Gupton continues musical pursuits conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the San Diego Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, and the Brass Band of Battle Creek. He will also serve as conductor for the world premiere of Yotam Haber's A More Convenient Season in September with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. The piece will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham.


Violinist Albert Wang, MM ’81 (violin), was a featured soloist at the 2012

Jakarta International Music Festival.  This year Wang will perform

Vivaldi's Four Seasons with the North Shore Chamber Arts Ensemble and will present masterclasses and recitals at UCSI University in Kuala Lumpur and St. Scholastica's College in Manila, the Philippines. He will also perform in recital with pianist Sister Mary Placid Abejo (MM ’71, PhD ‘75) and as a soloist with the Manila Symphony Orchestra. Wang is a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra.



Derek Bermel, MM ’93 (clarinet) and DMA '97 (composition), recently released a new CD, Canzonas Americanas (Cantaloupe) to excellent reviews. “Like the best American composers, Bermel has a trickster’s impulse, an irrepressible will to scramble that makes his music such rich traveling,” said The album features the celebrated 20-member band Alarm Will Sound performing Bermel’s works for large ensemble. Bermel is currently serving as artist-in-residence at the Institute for Advanced Study and creative adviser to the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.


Christine Dakin, class of ’72 (dance), artistic director laureate of the Martha Graham Dance Company, has written and directed her first film, La Voz del Cuerpo / The Body Speaksthe personal poetics of a Martha Graham dancer, with musicians and dancers from the U.S. and Mexico. Scheduled to premiere this spring,  was developed while she was a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study (07–08). A guest artist in Mexico and Italy, Dakin recently performed in New York City during the 20th anniversary season of Buglisi Dance Theatre at the Joyce Theater and teaches at the Ailey School and the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. Dakin was a 2001 SMTD Alumni Society Citation of Merit recipient.


Joseph Galema, MM ’78 (organ performance) and DMA ’82 (organ performance), played an organ recital in September at the United States Air Force Academy Protestant Cadet Chapel, CO, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the installation of the Cadet Chapel organs and in thanksgiving for Galema’s 30th anniversary at USAFA, where he is currently music director and academy organist. He directs the Cadet Chorale and The Academy Singers, and also plays the organ for hundreds of services and tours annually in the Cadet Chapel. Since September 2008, he has also been organ instructor at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver. Galema was the recipient of the Palmer Christian Award at U-M.


Music of Stephen Michael Gryc, BM ’71 (music education), MM ’78 (music theory), MM ’78 (composition), and DMA ’83 (composition), was featured in gala concerts last October at the University of Hartford in celebration of the composer’s retirement after 32 years of teaching at the university's Hartt School. Virtually every student instrumentalist in the school participated in performing six of Gryc’s works. Guest soloists included Philip Smith, principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic; Leonid Sigal, concertmaster of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra; and Carrie Koffman, saxophone professor at the Hartt School. The program included Gryc’s violin concerto Harmonia Mundi, conducted by Edward Cumming, and the Concerto for Winds and Percussion, which received its premiere performance under the direction of Glen Adsit.


Nancy L. Murphy, BM ’70 (voice), is currently president of the Ann Arbor Alumni Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon International Professional Music Fraternity. The chapter observed its 100th anniversary with their Sixth Annual Concert “Mu Phi Epsilon and Friends” in April. Accompanied by associate professor emerita (piano) Janice A. Clark, Murphy premiered Riding Past Grief, a setting of three poems for mezzo-soprano by Henry Flurry. The poems were authored by Deborah Rebeck Ash, MM ’77, DMA ’99 (flute). Murphy is a cantor and soloist at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Ann Arbor, MI.


Anita Kalousdian Pinson, MM ’74, BM ’71 (choral education and voice), has published a children’s book, Voices Across the Lakes: Great Lakes Stories and Songs (2013), a work of historical fiction, which accompanies each of 10 authentic songs from the region and explains the context of their origins. Her students recorded the audio tracks. The book shares some of Pinson’s accumulated knowledge of Michigan history and song to continue to reach students and teach the immeasurable value of music. It follows a career of public school and college teaching (Northville, Grosse Pointe, Bloomfield Hills, Rochester, and Madonna College in Michigan, as well as Minneapolis, MN) and work as a church choir director, soloist, piano, and voice teacher, and artistic director of Chante, a professional singing group.


Michael Roth, AB ’75 (music/theatre), composed the scores for Christopher Plummer's one-man show, A Word or Two (Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Canada, soon to be seen elsewhere), and for Stratford's Henry V. While there, Roth had a great reunion (the first in almost 20 years) with William Bolcom (his Michigan teacher) and Joan Morris. Upcoming projects include Fats November, Roth's new piano sonata, and his chamber music/theatre treatment of Samuel Beckett's Imagination Dead Imagine for string quartet and recorded voices, both to be premiered in Los Angeles in the fall. Upcoming theatre projects include music/sound for The Whale (SCR), Arcadia (ACT, San Francisco), Sideways (La Jolla), and a new music/theatre piece with Caridad Svich. For more information visit Roth's website.


Anita Eggert Werling, DMA ’72 (organ performance), retired in 2012 after 40 years at Western Illinois University, where she taught organ and music history. She has performed throughout the U.S. as well as in Canada and Europe. Her numerous faculty recitals included a 1985 Bach series and a series featuring music of women composers. She received critical acclaim for her recording of 19th and 20th century French music on the historic Möller organ at Central Congregational Church in Galesburg, IL. Her American Guild of Organists activities include serving as chapter dean, Illinois Convener, teacher at Pipe Organ Encounters, competition judge, and workshop presenter.




Charles M. Atkinson, MM ’65 (music education), was named an Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society at the Society’s annual meeting in November. The award citation states: “The [AMS] Board and Council wish to honor you for your significant body of scholarly writings. Your dazzling work spans the whole of medieval music, from the earliest Agnus Dei melodies, to the Greek Mass, to theorists of the 9th to the 13th centuries. Your essay on mode in the Handwörterbuch and your summa, The Critical Nexus, are classic explanations of the modal system of the Carolingian era and beyond.” 


Sydney Hodkinson, DMA ’68 (composition), served as the artist-in-residence for the University of Louisville's annual New Music Festival held in Louisville, KY last November. Twelve of his compositions were performed in a wide array of venues throughout the city, including solo and chamber pieces, two works for choral ensembles, and large compositions for the University's Wind Band and Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he gave a convocation address, led composition seminars and master  classes, and coached many rehearsals. Hodkinson currently holds the Almand Chair of Composition at Stetson University in Deland, FL, one of only two endowed chairs awarded by their School of Music.


David Herman, MM, ’68 (organ) recently retired from the University of Delaware as professor of music and University Organist Emeritus. He taught at UD for 25 years, including 14 years as department chair. Previously he was professor of music and associate dean of Arts and Sciences at Drake University. He was recently awarded a D.Mus honoris causa by Nashotah House Theological Seminary, in recognition of his contributions to church music. Herman recently released a new recording of music by his teacher, the late Jan Bender, and by Bender's teacher, Hugo Distler. For more information, contact Herman at  





Earl Groner, BM ’57 (music education), has loaned his historic 1935 Kruspe bass trombone to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to complete their collection of Kruspe trombones. Groner, who was originally given the instrument in 1960 by the bass trombonist of the Berlin Philharmonic, was contacted by CSO principal trombonist Jay Friedman, who wanted to expand the trombone section’s sound to “a more classic type of German sound for appropriate repertoire.” The instrument, which will be used exclusively by CSO bass trombonist Charles Vernon, was presented to the CSO on the stage of Carnegie Hall during a recent tour. The Kruspe will eventually become part of the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments at U-M.






What’s New with You?

Please send your latest news to (please note), keeping submissions to 100 words (longer entries will be edited for length) and submitting them in paragraph form—please, no CV’s, resumes, lists, or press releases. Deadline for the Fall 2012 Muse is September 15, 2012.

Email to or type on separate sheet and mail to Marilou Carlin, Editor, Michigan Muse, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, 2005 Baits Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2075. Photos welcomed either as jpeg attachments to emails (must be high resolution, at least 300 dpi) or sent as prints to be scanned and returned. Let us know if photo credits are required.

The vehicle for address updates may be found at Click on “alumni/donors,” then, at the top of the new screen, select “alumni record update.”

Any questions, call Marilou Carlin at 734-763-1478