Student News

John Beresford

Siyi FangJani Parsons and Shin HwangBen Smolen

From top: John Beresford, Siyi Fang, Jani Parsons and Shin Hwang, Ben Smolen

Dance Students Invited to Visit Paul Taylor Dance Company

Restaging Paul Taylor’s landmark 1980 Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal), under the direction of Taylor restager and former dancer Ruth Andrien, for the 2010 Power Center performance, was both a challenge and a thrill for our dance students. That profound experience was further reinforced in March, when fourteen lucky students went to New York City for three days with the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Managing director John Tomlinson gave students a tour of City Center, where the company performs. While in New York, they had a chance to observe a dress rehearsal and attend four of the PTDC season’s performances. They were invited to take part in two maser classes at Taylor’s new studio on Grand Street, one taught by Andrien, who will also, by the way, the this summer’s artistic director for U-M Paul Taylor intensive, June 19-July 1.

Other thrills and chills included a chance to chat with dance critic Deborah Jowitt (Village Voice, New York Times) and attend a Taylor alumni reception, attended by several of the original Sacre cast members. This fall, October 7-9 and as part of an ongoing celebration of Taylor’s 80th birthday, University Musical Society will present the Paul Taylor Dance Company in its 2010-2011 season. Plans are also in the works for the students to reprise their Sacre performance while the company is in town.

"I’ve spent almost a year now researching Paul Taylor and his company,” says undergraduate dance student Daniela Carmen Blechner, “but to actually see the company perform, meet the past and present dancers, and be part of Taylor's 80th Birthday celebration is incredible. The amount that I gained from this one experience surpasses anything I could have gotten from books or videos."

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Danny Abosch, undergraduate student in choral music education, was one of twelve participants selected to study musical theatre writing with Broadway composers Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) and Craig Carnelia (Working, Sweet Smell of Success) as part of a week-long Johnny Mercer Songwriter's Project at Northwestern University last June. Danny was also invited to present a master class, "Writing for Musical Theatre," at the 2010 Illinois High School Theatre Festival at Illinois State University in January.

Ron Amchin, freshman composition student working with Evan Chambers, won an honorable mention award from the New York Art Ensemble Young Composer Competition for his Three Pieces for Unaccompanied Clarinet.

Musicology doctoral student Abby Anderton, who is writing her dissertation on the American postwar de-Nazification of classical music in Berlin, was offered two fellowships to spend next year in Germany, one from the German DAAD and a Fulbright. She has accepted the Fulbright.

Freshman cellist Matthew Armbruster recently won the concerto competition of the Tennessee Cello Workshop, and performed the Haydn D Major Cello Concerto with the University of Tennessee Symphony Orchestra. He also won second prize at the recent cello festival at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Last summer, John Beresford, a senior in organ performance and church music, returned for the third time to Bamako, Mali where he spent two weeks teaching music to young Christian adults. Over the past four years, the project has been able to provide over 200 donated instruments to Hope School, providing the foundation for a music school and music in local churches. On his first two trips, Beresford taught a keyboard class; this past summer he was asked to direct the choir. He hopes to return in the summer of 2011 to continue support of this growing program.

Laura Goben, a freshman in oboe performance, has been dedicating her time to the Ypsilanti Youth Orchestra, founded when the Ypsilanti Public School District cut funding for music in the schools. Goben and several other students, in both performance and education, became involved in the program as an Arts Enterprise class with musicology faculty member Mark Clague. “Being a part of this group has opened my eyes to the impact music has on young kids,” Goben says, “especially when it is not readily available in the schools.”

Art Joslin, DMA student in voice, was selected by the National Association of Teachers of Singing to receive an Independent Teacher Fellowship that will take him to the national conference in Salt Lake City in July for master classes and sessions on all aspects of singing and the teaching of singing. The program requires that fellows develop a program based on what they learned at the conference.

Senior dance students Sarah Konner and Austin Selden, who performed a duet, Dirty up to the Knuckles, were recognized at the regional American College Dance Festival’s juried competition, held at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The two will represent the central region at the national gala at Kennedy Center in late May.

Amy Petrongelli, a master’s student in voice, won the 2010 Friends of Opera Competition. Monica Sciaky, also a master’s candidate in voice, will be in the New Jersey Opera Young Artist Program this summer; master’s student Joseph Roberts will tour Europe as baritone soloist in Elijah with Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

Ben Smolen, working on his specialist degree in flute, will be one of 42 flutists from 22 countries in the world under the age of 30 to compete in the 4th Carl Nielsen International Flute Competition in Odense, Denmark. He was chosen from 175 entries from 45 countries. His recent recording of the first movement of the Mozart G major Concerto, the Nielsen Concerto, and an Andersen etude won him entry. This competition is only held every four years; Smolen will perform in Denmark May 30-June 9, 2010.

Composition students from the SMTD are participating in Positive Space, a new program from the U-M Museum of Art that fosters personal relationships among composers, performers, and audiences, culminating in performances and discussions throughout the museum’s newly renovated spaces. In March, Positive Space featured six new percussion concerti composed by SMTD students David Biedenbender, Paul Dooley, Recep Gul, Asaf Peres, William Stanton, and Roger Zare. Percussionists were joined by a variety of chamber ensembles.

Three voice students of Stephen Lusmann won competitions at the district level of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in January. Claire DiVizio, a senior, and Kyle Knapp, a master’s candidate, won in Detroit. Edward Hanlon, specialist, won in Salt Lake City. All three will advance to the regional auditions.

Concerto Competition Winners!

This year’s winners, in the undergraduate division, were Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, saxophone, who performed the Symphonic Rhapsody for alto saxophone and Orchestra by John Anthony Lennon, and SiYi Fang, piano, who played Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. In the graduate division, Brian Hsu, piano, played the Bartok Concerto for Piano and Orchestra 2, and Kyle Knapp, tenor, who sang Les Illuminations de Rimbaud, Op 18, by Benjamin Britten. Congratulations to all!

Trios Abound!

Trio La Vita, comprised of Maria Bessmeltseva, violin, Carrie Pierce, cello, and Misuzu Tanaka, piano, and coached by violin faculty member Yehonatan Berick, took several awards at the Joan and Daniel Rutenberg Chamber Music Competition and Festival, held last fall at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The trio, working together only since August of 2009, took second prize overall, in addition to the John Ireland Prize for an Outstanding Performance of a John Ireland Piano Trio, the Jeremy Rutenberg Prize for an Outstanding Performance of a Classical Trio, and the Melpomone Prize for the Piano Trio with the Most Potential. The trio coached extensively with Christopher Harding, piano and chamber music, Anthony Elliott, cello, and Alicia Doudna, violin.

The Sweetwater Trio—David Ormai, violin, Eric Moore, cello, and Julia Siciliano, piano—traveled to the same competition and came away with honorable mention for an Outstanding Performance of a Beethoven Piano Trio and honorable mention for a Performance of a John Ireland Piano Trio. The Sweetwater Trio coached with Gabe Bolkosky, associated faculty in violin and member of the resident Phoenix Quartet, and Christopher Harding.

The Sicilian Trio, Samantha Biniker, piano, Jean Hee Lee, violin, and Andrew Hayhurst, cello, won the East Central Division Competition of the Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Chamber Music Competition in January, performing trios by Mendelssohn and faculty composer Paul Schoenfield. They represented Michigan at the National competition in Albuquerque in March. The trio was coached by Alicia Doudna, adjunct faculty and member of the Phoenix String Quartet, Christopher Harding, and Paul Schoenfield, composition.

From the flute studio of Amy Porter:

DMA student Seth Morris is a finalist in the Myrna Brown Competition in Denton Texas in May. Junior Katie Leung is the winner of the Austrian American Society of Delaware Scholarship to the Mozarteum Summer Academy in Austria for 2010. Master’s student Mira Magrill and sophomore Kelly Zimba were two of five finalists in the Pittsburgh Flute Association Competition in April. Senior Kenzie Slottow, junior Rachel Blumenthal, sophomore Kat Standefer, freshmen Amanda Galick and Michael Avitabile, who is also a Shipman Scholar, placed as one of five finalists in the Ervin Monroe Young Artists Competition for the Southeast Michigan Flute Association in April. Avitabile was also one of five finalists in the Byron Hester Flute Competition in Houston and a finalist in the Lansing Musicale's Richardson Scholarship for Woodwinds.

The Ann Arbor Society of Musical Arts held its annual Young Artists Competition in Britton Recital Hall in February, this year for pianists. Alumnae of Mu Phi Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Iota sponsor the competition. This year, first prize: went to Stijn de Cock, a student of Logan Skelton; second prize to Shin Hwang, student of Arthur Greene; third prize to Jani Parsons, student of Arthur Greene. John Bogdan, a student of Christopher Harding, won honorable mention.