Four Award Winners, l-r: Jeremy Kittel, Nancy Ambrose King, Dean Kendall, Esther Chae, and Michael Spencer Phillips
Alumni Sing, Jerry Blackstone conductingDean Kendall and board chair Michael MarksAlumni Reunion 2010OyamO presenting award to Esther Chae

Alumni Society

Reunion 2010

We are thrilled to report that the 2010 Reunion was a huge success, and brought back many members of the Class of 1960, along with alumni from the ‘50s through the ‘00s.

Homecoming weekend reunion activities included an Alumni Open Choral Sing on Friday, October 15. The Sing was open to all U-M alumni celebrating their 50th Reunion and all SMTD alums. Alumni from SMTD and across the University sang Fauré’s Requiem in Stamps Auditorium. The Sing was led by conducting chair Jerry Blackstone and was once again a joy for all involved.

Immediately following the Sing, Music, Theatre & Dance alums, along with faculty students and staff, gathered in the Towsley Musical Theatre Studio at the Walgreen Drama Center to celebrate the 2010 Alumni Award Winners and the Class of 1960. The afternoon wine & cheese reception included remarks by Dean Christopher Kendall and Michael Mark, Alumni Society Chair, along with alumni award winners and nominating faculty.

We are already looking forward to the 2011 Reunion, which will pay special tribute to the U-M Symphony Band’s 1961 tour of Russia and the Middle East. Look to the spring issue of Michigan Muse for information on the 2011 Reunion, scheduled for October 27-30, 2011


Hall of Fame 2010 Award Winners

Nancy Ambrose King, BM ’84 (oboe), was recognized her senior year with the School’s highest accolade, the Stanley Medal. She received her DMA, master’s, and performer’s certificate from the Eastman School. King has appeared as soloist throughout the U.S. and abroad and has taught and performed at festivals around the country. She has recorded seven CDs of her own and will be featured on a recording with the U-M Symphony Band performing the Jennifer Higdon Oboe Concerto and the works of Dutilleux for winds. American Record Guide described her playing as, “Marvelously evocative, full of character, sultry and seductive, with a soft-spoken, utterly supple tone, and as musically descriptive as any I have heard.”

Larry Rachleff, MM ’79 (band conducting) and MM ’79 (percussion), who is now celebrating his fourteenth season as music director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, also serves as director of orchestras at Rice University’s Shepherd School. Known for rapport with orchestra musicians, he is in constant demand as a guest conductor and was chosen as one of four American conductors to lead the Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall under the mentorship of Pierre Boulez. An enthusiastic advocate of public school music education, Rachleff has conducted all-state orchestras and festivals in virtually every state as well as throughout Europe and Canada. He has collaborated with leading composers including Samuel Adler, Luciano Berio, George Crumb, Michael Daugherty, and John Harbison.

Paul Boylan Award 2010

Scott Piper, MM ’95 (voice), is known for his rich, resonate tenor and charismatic stage presence, both of which have established him as a sought-after interpreter of opera’s romantic leading men: the Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Don José in Bizet’s Carmen, Rodolfo in La bohème, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor. After Piper’s performance in L’elisir d’amore, “there was a stillness, as if the audience did not want to break the magical spell woven by the honey-toned tenor, so exquisitely nuanced in text and music. Then a frenzy of applause erupted” (Opera News). Piper had his Italian debut at the Teatro di Verdi in Busseto, Italy, and appears as Alfredo in the new DVD of Franco Zeffirelli’s production of La traviata, conducted by Placido Domingo.

Emerging Artists 2010

Jeremy Kittel, BFA ’04 (jazz & improvisation studies, Emerging Artist in Music, won multiple U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Championships before taking up jazz as a student at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. He has toured widely with his own band and as a soloist at venues as divergent as Carnegie Hall, the Milwaukee Irish Fest, the Detroit International Jazz Festival, and A Prairie Home Companion. Kittel has produced four CDs of his own, his most recent Chasing Sparks. Now a full-time member of the Turtle Island Quartet, he just finished recording their new CD Have You Ever Been?, an album in tribute to Jimi Hendrix. He recently performed at Disney Hall in Los Angeles with Bela Fleck, opening for Steve Martin.

Esther K. Chae, MA ’95 (theatre), Emerging Artist in Theatre, is an award-winning actor and writer. Her credits as a performer include noted television shows like Law & Order: Criminal Intent and West Wing. Her theatrical work has been seen on stages around the country, most recently a solo theatrical performance, So the Arrow Flies, about a North Korean spy and the Korean-American FBI agent who pursues her, lauded as “fascinatingly gripping.” The work, which has been featured at festivals and on theatrical stages here and in Korea, is being adapted into a feature film script. Chae, a certified stage combatant, trained in Korean drum and mask dance, was the subject of a Korean Broadcasting Station documentary on her life in Hollywood.

Michael Spencer Phillips, BFA ’99 (dance), Emerging Artist in Dance, was off to the Merce Cunningham School immediately after graduation, on scholarship, soon joining the company as a member. In 2002, he found his artistic home with RIOULT, a contemporary dance company under the artistic direction of Pascal Rioult. With them, Phillips has toured the U.S., Mexico, Europe, and Africa. As a teaching artist, he restages Rioult’s ballets. He has taught master classes in Poland and Russia, as well as at universities, conservatories, and private studios. Other performance credits include Battleworks Dance Company, New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, DRA’s Fire Island Dance Festival, and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. In 2009, Mr. Phillips co-founded the Rioult Circle, the company’s board of young patrons, for which he acts as co-chair.