Alumni Notes


Timothy McAllisterCarol JantschJared HauserMichael FabianoStacy BakerDaniel Bernard Roumain

From top: Timothy McAllister, Carol Jantsch, Jared Hauser, Michael Fabiano, Stacy Baker with Gail Robertson, Daniel Bernard Roumain

Glenn Seven Allen, BFA ’00 (musical theatre), is establishing himself in the world of opera. Engagements for 2010 included his first Duke in Rigoletto for New York Lyric Opera, Alfredo in La Traviata for Long Island Opera, and the role of Alexis in The Chocolate Soldier at Bard SummerScape. In 2009, he sang the role of Rodolpho in William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge with Vertical Player Repertory Opera. Other engagements included Girl Crazy at City Center Encores! and Romeo in Romeo et Juliette with New York Lyric Opera. Mr. Allen was a finalist in the 2009-2010 Merola Program Competition.

Nick Blaemire, BFA ’06 (musical theatre), had his work celebrated as part of the Songbook Series presented by Arts and Artists at St. Paul’s at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Manhattan. Blaemire is currently working on a new musical called Finding Robert Hutchens, commissioned by Broadway Across America.

Cynthia Brundage, MM ’09 (voice), made the finals of the Grand Concours de Chant Competition, held each year at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas. She has been offered the role of Orphée this summer at the Franco-American Vocal Academy program in France. She will also sing the alto solo role in Elijah on the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp tour of Europe this summer.

Michael Djupstrom, BM ’02, MA ‘05 (composition), was awarded a 2010 Charles Ives Fellowship by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Michael’s The Seahorse and the Crab, a newly commissioned work for narrator and chamber ensemble, was premiered at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music in March and the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr in April.

Michael Fabiano, BM ’05 (voice), made his debut with the English National Opera in September, playing the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto, a role made famous by Luciano Pavarotti.  His performance was hailed as “winning … full-voiced, thrilling, and, most importantly, always musical.” He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Verdi’s Stiffelio, in the role originally sung by Placido Domingo, who this time was in the pit as conductor. The New York Times said, “there was real Italianate ardor in his appealing voice.”

Emily Watkins Freudigman, MM ‘01 (viola), is featured on the new chamber music CD Salon Buenos Aires: Music by Miguel del Aguila. Recorded by her chamber ensemble, Camerata San Antonio, which she founded in 2003 with her husband, cellist Kenneth Freudigman, the CD features del Aguila's works for strings with piano and/or winds, including Salon Buenos Aires, Clocks, Life Is a Dream, Charango Capriccioso, and Presto II. Emily is in her eighth season as assistant principal viola of the San Antonio Symphony.

David Gordon, BM ’00 (voice), co-starred in the docu-musical Kalamazoo, River: US that premiered in Kalamazoo in October. Hailed as, “Entertaining, provocative, and slyly humorous,” the film explores one of the most heavily polluted rivers in America and the city that shares its name.

Lori Celeste Hicks, DMA ’07 (voice), was one of the winners at the MET auditions last November in South Carolina. She went on to compete at the next stage in Atlanta in January and continues to teach.

Scott M Hyslop, DMA ’07 (performance), has been appointed to the board of directors for Lutheran Music Program (LSM), home of the Lutheran Summer Music Academy. Now in its 29th year, Minneapolis-based LSM brings together 150 talented young instrumentalists and singers, grades 8-12, from throughout the U.S. The program features an outstanding faculty of artists, teachers, and a chaplain who guide the gifted students through a month of intensive musical study and performance.

Carol Jantsch, BM ’06 (tuba), now principal tuba with the Philadelphia Orchestra, promoted her first solo release, Cascades, with a clever video, made with fellow alum and videographer Steven Peterson (BM ’04, trombone). Jantsch wrote and starred in her own genre-spoofing self-promotional rap. Described as a “witty, energetic jam with a sick tuba baseline and an appearance by the Philadelphia Orchestra’s trombone section,” (, the video can be viewed on The Peterson Project Web site.

Chelsea Krombach, BFA ’05 (musical theatre), is in the revival of Promises, Promises, with Sean Hays and Kristin Chenoweth.

James Lee III, BM ’99 (piano), MM ’01, DMA ’05 (composition), was awarded the Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond Award for 2010 by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, given to a promising composer in mid career. Lee, who serves on the faculty of Morgan State University in Baltimore, has had his work performed by Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, among others.

Sabrina Ma, BM ’07 (percussion), took first place at the 2010 Classic Marimba League International Competition, which comes with a cash prize, an invitation to perform at the 2010 Marimba International Festival and Conference, and a live recording of the recital. Now living in Berlin, Ma’s “immense interest in everything percussive” takes her into classical, jazz, and pop realms.

Sheila McClear, BFA ’04 (theatre & drama costume design), has worked backstage in wardrobe at many New York City theaters, including the Classical Theater of Harlem. A freelance writer, she has been published in the New York Observer, New York Post, and on Her first book, Last of the Live Nude Girls, will be published in early 2011.

Courtney Miller, BM '09 (voice), won the district Metropolitan Opera Auditions in Boston, advancing to the regional competition in Boston. Courtney is attending Boston Conservatory of Music as a first-year master’s student in voice.

Peter Opie, DMA ’08 (cello), a member of the American Piano Trio, has toured with them to Russia, Korea, the UK, and Belarus, with future tours to Mexico and Russia. He’ll appear on a recording of works by Bernstein, Arthur Foote, David Ashley White, and Jennifer Higdon to be released on the Beneficence label.

Amanda Opuszynski, BM ’08 (voice), won the 2010 Metropolitan Opera district competition in Washington D.C., going on to win the Encouragement Award at the regionals. She has been selected to join the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program next year.

Sean Panikkar, BM '03, MM '04 (voice), appeared at the Morgan Library and Museum in February with soprano June Anderson, as part of the George London Foundation Series, designed to pair world-class veteran singers with up-and-coming artists.

Jessica Petrus, BM ’08 (voice), has been accepted at both the Longy School and Yale's Sacred Music program for her master’s work. The program at Yale accepts only four students yearly.

Nicholas Phan, BM ’01 (voice), spent last summer singing with the San Francisco and the Atlanta symphonies and at the Edinburgh International Festival, the Rheingau Musik Festival, and the Marlboro Music Festival. Last fall, he toured England with Glyndebourne Opera and in January made his debut with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in L’Italiana in Algieri, followed by a tour with the Musicians from Marlboro for concerts at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In March, he returned to Chicago’s Music of the Baroque for an all-Handel program and in May will perform with Portland Opera.

Amita Prakash, MM ’08 (voice), who will graduate from the College Conservatory of Music in June, was offered a spot in the Seattle Opera's Studio Artist Program for the 2010-2011 year, where she will sing Zerlina in Don Giovanni, the Prima Donna in Viva la Mamma, and the Forest Bird in Siegfried. She recently sang Ilia in CCM's Idomeneo.

Scott Prescott, MM ’00 (music education), was named the 2009 Middle Level Educator of the Year by the Minnesota Middle School Association. He currently teaches 6th through 8th grade band and classroom music at Pioneer Ridge Middle School in Chaska, MN. In February, he presented a session with a colleague at the Minnesota Music Educators Association Mid-Winter Conference, “Implementing a School-Wide Composer-of-the-Month Program.” His music team recently received a $5,000 Best Buy Teach Award and a $5,000 NEA Foundation Grant that supports solo instrumental music performance.

Joel Puckett, MM ’01, DMA ’04 (composition), was just named composer-in-residence by the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. Puckett will compose a major work for the CYSO’s Concert Orchestra, a more advanced ensemble, for their 2010-2011 season, and will work with young composers in creating new works during the three-year residency.

Jordan Risdon, BFA ’08 (dance), was profiled in After graduating with honors, Risdon moved to New York and is currently a company member at Jessica Gaynor Dance. She is also a collaborator with alexanDance Performance and performs with the Sarah Council Dance Projects and the Ilana Weber Dance. Of life in New York, Risdon said, “I love it here. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

A.J. Shively, BFA ’08 (musical theatre), is playing Jean-Michel in the Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles, starring Kelsey Grammar, the same role played by Gavin Creel, BFA ’98, in the 2004 revival.

Clinton Smith, MM ’06 (orchestral conducting), who has been assistant conductor at the Minnesota Opera since 2008, was just renewed through the 2011 season, serving as cover conductor for every production, chorus master, and coach. In March 2010, he conducted a concert version of Madama Butterfly at Hamline University and will spend summer 2010 working for Glimmerglass Opera as a coach in the Young American Artists Program. For two summers, he served as the music director/conductor for Opéra du Périgord and the Franco-American Vocal Academy. He will conduct a production of La Belle Hélène in Le Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

Cary Tedder, BFA ’09 (musical theatre), and Sydney Morton, BFA ’08 (musical theatre), are appearing in the new hit Memphis, playing at the historic Shubert Theatre, with casting done by another graduate Rachel Hoffman (BFA ’99).

Sachal Vasandani, BM ’00 (jazz & improvisation studies), recently released his second CD, We Move, which includes a number of original songs that witness, as critic Nat Chinen says, “jazz and pop commingling in unassuming ways.” Vasandani lives in New York and released his debut album, Eyes Wide Open, in 2007.

Kirsten Volness, MM ’04, DMA ’08 (composition), is the recipient of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts' most prestigious award in the field of music composition, the 2010 RISCA Composition Fellowship Award. The review panel described her work as "sophisticated and interesting” and felt that Volness creates compelling and innovative compositions that display a range of musical exploration. She currently resides and teaches in Providence, RI.



Steven Aho, BM '99 (percussion performance), has been a part of the Los Angeles music scene for the past five years. He appeared with Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Reba McEntire, Natalie Cole, and Katherine Jenkins on PBS’s Great Performances. He was also appeared with Bocelli, Foster, and the Muppets on the Jay Leno Show. Steve has toured as music director and drummer for recording artist William Joseph, opening for Josh Groban and Il Divo, and performing on the Dr. Phil Show, This Morning, and Canada AM. Most recently he began touring with the Canadian opera and pop group Destino.

Stacy Baker, MM ‘93, BM ‘91 (tuba), along with performing partner Gail Robertson, euphonium, recently released their first compact disc, Symbiosisduo. The name comes from the duet written for them by composer, Chris Sharp. In the program notes for the work, he writes, “Symbiosis is defined as ‘a relationship of mutual benefit or dependence.’ The technical and range requirements for each instrument are comparable, suggesting a separate but equal relationship.” This eclectic collection includes original works, opera and popular vocal favorites, and ‘alternative’ classical, with a world beat and elements of jazz and rhythm and blues.

In the past two years, Jeffrey M. Bender, BFA ’98 (theatre & drama), has performed at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), the Seattle Repertory Theatre in The Three Musketeers, and three shows at The Old Globe in San Diego: Opus, The Mystery of Irma Vep, and Lost in Yonkers.

Ross Benoliel, BM ’99 (voice), recently sang the role of the President in the U.S. premiere of Cesar Cui’s opera A Feast in the Time of Plague with the Little Opera Theatre of New York.

Gavin Creel, BFA ’98 (musical theatre), will join the cast of Hair in London this spring, at the Gielgud Theatre. He has been a stand-out in the current revival on Broadway. Creel, along with the cast of Hair, recently performed at the 21st GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Awards, presented in New York in March.

Sam Davis, BM ’98 (composition), had a new work, The Scottish Musical, included in the Penn State New Musical Theatre Festival, a “Monty Pythonesque” tale as told by a cast of the greatest writers in history.

Linda Dzuris, BM '92, MM '93, DMA '98 (organ), was elected to the Guild of Carillonneurs board of directors during the June congress in Kennett Square, PA. In October, she was appointed an Honorary Texas Carillonneur at the Texas Regional Carillonneur’s conference in San Antonio, in recognition of her contributions to the art of carillon playing in North America.

Hunter Foster, BFA ’92 (musical theatre), is playing legendary record producer Sam Phillips in the new musical Million Dollar Quartet, which opened in April.

Xiang Gao, BM ’96 and MM ’97 (violin), is the ZiJiang Professor of Music at the East China Normal University in Shanghai and the youngest professor of music at the University of Delaware. He spent the past year participating in performances across the world, including a concert in Washington, D.C. to welcome the vice president of China and a U-M alumni event in Hong Kong. Gao is also featured in solo violin music on the soundtrack to the film Ashes of Time, released last summer by Sony Music Entertainment China.

Gregory Hamilton, MA ’90 (musicology) and DMA ’01 (composition), announces the release of his new CD Illuminations, containing chamber music for a variety of instruments, including Visions of the Cross for violin and piano, Hymn of Peace for cello and piano, and excerpts from The Breath of the Spirit, for flute and organ.

Jared Hauser, BM ’94 (oboe), joined the faculty of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University in 2008. Vanderbilt performance highlights from last season include the televised premiere of Peter Schickele’s woodwind quintet, A Year in the Catskills, and an appearance as soloist with the Vanderbilt Wind Symphony, performing Rimksy-Korsakov’s Variations on a Theme of Glinka. Meanwhile, he released his second solo CD, Operatic Oboe, featuring works by Pasculli, Vogt, Verroust, and Kalliwoda. His first solo recording, Temporal Fantasies of Britten and Hindemith, was described as “beautifully played” (the Gramophone) and “meditative and thoughtful” (American Record Guide).

Timothy Jones, MM ’91 and DMA ’95 (voice), recently delivered performances of Mozart’s Requiem with the Baltimore Symphony, Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem with the Akron Symphony, and Schubert’s Mass No. 2 in G Major with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Singled out for his performance with the Utah Symphony as “a marvelous singing actor,” Jones looks forward to a number of performances, including Porgy and Bess with the Arkansas Symphony and La Damnation de Faust with the New Mexico Symphony, among others.

Timothy McAllister, BM ’95, MM ’97 (saxophone & conducting), DMA ’02 (saxophone performance), was chosen by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and creative chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, John Adams, and the rest of LA Phil artistic planning team to perform throughout the orchestra's 2009–2010 season as saxophonist for Adams' major new orchestral work, City Noir. The work was commissioned by the LA Phil for the inaugural concert of newly appointed music director Gustavo Dudamel. It received its world premiere in October 2009 in the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall, and was broadcast on PBS “Great Performances” worldwide, and released on DVD by Deutsche Grammophone.

Robert Mirshak, MM ’92 and DMA ’95 (voice), is president and founder of Mirshak Artists Management in New York. Prior to forming his own management agency, he was employed by Columbia Artists Management and was a member of the voice faculty at Southwest Missouri State University, Albion College, and Central Michigan University.

Daniel Bernard Roumain, MM ’95, DMA ’00 (composition), just released a new CD, Woodbox Beats and Balladry. The official CD release concert will be held this summer at the Central Park Summer Stage concert series. DBR plays a custom 6-strong amplified violin which, because of the extra strings for bass lines, makes his violin a “vital sonic and compositional force.” He says the CD “is an amalgam of what contemporary composers are doing and where contemporary classical music might be going.”

Samantha Shelton, MFA ‘94, (dance), was elected to the SMTD Alumni Board and to the Michigan Dance Council. She was invited by Shawn Bible (MFA ’05) to Grand Valley State University to choreograph a ballet on the GVSU dance company. She teamed up with the Detroit Dance Loft and the Detroit Opera House to present holiday classes and workshops for students and professionals home on break and taught for Ballet Hispanico during their run at the Detroit Opera House. This summer she will participate in the American Ballet Theatre curriculum-training program and teach and choreograph for the ABT Summer Intensive.

Arlene Sierra, DMA ’99 (composition), received a commission by the New York Philharmonic; her piece, Game of Attrition, was premiered in December as part of the orchestra’s New Music Series. It was also performed several days later at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jennifer Laura Thompson, BFA ’91 (musical theatre), is co-starring with Anthony LaPaglia and Tony Shalhoub in the revival of Ken Ludwig’s Lend me a Tenor, directed by Stanley Tucci.



Robert Breault, MM ’87 and DMA ’92 (voice), recently joined the Florentine Opera as Jupiter in Handel’s Semele. Also in the past season, Breault sang Pulcinella with the New York City Opera at Alice Tully Hall and Verdi’s Requiem with the Santa Fe Symphony. In December, he was the tenor soloist for the San Diego Symphony’s performance of Beethoven’s soaring Ninth Symphony.

Rachel Kramer, MM ’88 (piano pedagogy), was named 2009 Ohio Independent Music Teacher of the Year by the Ohio Music Teachers Association. The award recognizes an individual teacher who has made a difference in students’ lives and contributed to the advancement of music in their community. Kramer is president of Music Learning Center, Inc., in Cincinnati, with 250 students ages 6 months to 16 years.

William Neil, DMA ’86 (composition), had his Other Echoes Inhabit the Garden for clarinet, bass clarinet, erhu, and pipa premiered by the innovative multi-cultural quartet Birds and Phoenix. His year as the McKnight Foundation Visiting Composer for the city of Winona, MN culminated in the Celebration of Words, Images and Music Concert, a multi-media event featuring the premiere of Trompe de l'oeil, Certain Miracles and Mea Maxima Culpa. All three works incorporate digital acoustics integrating the poets’ voices into Neil's setting of their works. Two new CD's, At the Edge of the Body's Night and This Music, will be released this year.

Perry Ojeda, BFA ’89 (musical theatre), has been cast in a new production of Michael John LaChiusa’s See What I Wanna See, which opened at the Blank Theatre in Hollywood in April. The musical premiered Off-Broadway at the Public Theater in 2005 under the direction of Tony Award-winner Ted Sperling.



Mary Z. Maher, DMA ’73 (theatre), is the author of Actors Talk About Shakespeare, a collection of interviews that gathers behind-the-scenes information on how today’s most renowned actors interpret and perform the works of Shakespeare. Just published in December, Maher’s work analyzes the theatrical processes of actors including Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, and Derek Jacobi. Maher is professor emerita at the University of Arizona drama department and is also the author of Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies and Actor Nicholas Pennell:  Risking Enchantment.



Charles Atkinson, MM '65 (music education) was recently named Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of Music at The Ohio State University. The conferring of the award coincided with the completion of his term of office as thirty-sixth president of the American Musicological Society, which took place in Philadelphia last November at the 75th Annual Meeting of the Society.

Richard C. Burke, Ph.D. ’63 (theatre & drama), appeared recently in The Sound of Music with the Cardinal Stage Company, a new professional company in Bloomington, IN. In May 2009, he served as the verse coach for a co- production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a collaboration between Indiana U’s Department of Theatre & Drama and the Department of Drama Studies at the University of Kwa Zulu, Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Although officially retired, he continues to teach the course “Ideas and Experience” for the Hutton Honors College at Indiana University.

Donald Parrish, BM ’60 (music education), MM ’69 (music literature), just retired as founding director of the Dexter Community Orchestra.



William Doppmann, BM ’56 and MM ’58 (piano), will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Chopin with the release of his CD, Celebrating Chopin and Scriabin, in 2010.  Doppmann is currently the artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Port Townsend, WA, and is collaborating with his wife on an opera, The Apprentice: A Magic Comedy.