ONCE Festival founders Robert Ashley and Gordon Mumma
Wayne S. BrownNicholas PhanJuliana AthaydeSean PanikkarNicholas Blaemire

Alumni Society

Dear Alumni,


Reunion 2011 was a truly memorable weekend and I want to extend my thanks to all School of Music, Theatre & Dance alumni who attended. It was especially meaningful to welcome back so many members of the 1961 Symphony Band, who performed throughout Russia and the Middle East, for the 50th anniversary of that historic tour.


I encourage you to join us for the 2012 Reunion and Homecoming Weekend, scheduled for October 11–14, 2012. We will honor outstanding alumni (see below) with Alumni Society Awards for their professional accomplishments, and will also celebrate the life and legacy of legendary music professor Eugene Bossart (1928–2011) with a memorial concert at Stamps Auditorium.


Please visit the school’s website at www.music.umich.edu for further details on all reunion activities. We look forward to welcoming you back to campus this fall for Reunion and Homecoming Weekend.


David Eisler (BM ’72, DMA ’78, winds)

Chair, Alumni Society Board of Governors






ONCE Festival Founders

Robert Ashley, BM ’52 (music theory), George Cacioppo, MM, BM ’52 (composition), Gordon Mumma, Roger Reynolds, MM ’61 (composition), BM ’60 (music literature), and Donald Scavarda, MM ’53, BM ’51 (composition) are the visionary composers who founded the Ann Arbor ONCE Festival, a celebration and collaboration of avant-garde performance and composition. Over four successive weekends in the spring of 1961, performances ranging from guest artist recitals to host composer recitals were presented to welcoming Ann Arbor audiences. Following its success, five more ONCE festivals were presented through 1965, each growing in attendance and leading to national acclaim. Performances featured innovative use of materials, methods and aesthetics. The ONCE founders embraced a “collaboration among creators, supporters and an engaged audience” that found perfect resonance in the vibrant community of Ann Arbor. Roger Reynolds summarized the ultimate message of ONCE: “If you don’t like the way things are, do something to change the situation . . . common interests have uncommon power.”


Robert Cogan

Robert Cogan, BM ’51, MM ’52 (composition), has pursued a triple career as composer, music theorist and teacher, and is noted as an explorer of challenging new domains of composition and music theory. For more than three decades he has been chair of Graduate Theoretical Studies and professor of composition at New England Conservatory. He has also been a visiting professor at the Berkshire Music Center; the State University of New York, Purchase; the Central Conservatory, Beijing and Shanghai Conservatory; and at IBM Research. His books include Sonic Design: The Nature of Sound and Music (Prentice-Hall) and Sonic Design: Practice and Problems (Publication Contact International), both with Pozzi Escot, and New Images of Musical Sound (Harvard University Press). The latter won the Society for Music Theory's Distinguished Publication Award in 1987. He has published in numerous journals and his music has been performed and recorded by orchestras, pianists, instrumentalists and singers around the world.



Wayne S. Brown

Wayne S. Brown, BM ’73 (voice), is the director of music and opera for the National Endowment for the Arts, a post he has held since 1997. In this capacity, he oversees grant programs for the agency and manages both the NEA Jazz Masters Initiative and the NEA Opera Honors in recognition of outstanding individual achievement in the fields of jazz and opera. Previously, he produced music programs for the Cultural Olympiad in association with the 1996 Olympic Games. Brown is a former executive director of the Louisville Orchestra (1986–96) and the Springfield (MA) Orchestra Association (1979–86), following his association with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as an assistant manager. Brown previously served as a vice chairman for the League of American Orchestras and has served in advisory roles for the John S. and James L. Knight, Mellon and Ford Foundations. He is married to pianist Brenda E. Kee, DMA ’77.





American tenor Nicholas Phan, BM ’01 (voice), has appeared with many of the leading orchestras of the United States and England and performed in recital at Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and the University of Chicago. He regularly collaborates with top pianists to perform vocal chamber music. Recent opera performances have included debuts with the Glyndebourne and Seattle operas, and appearances with the New York City Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Opéra de Lille and Oper Frankfurt. His growing discography includes a Grammy-nominated recording of Stravinsky's Pulcinella with Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and his debut solo album, Winter Words, which many reviewers included on their lists of “Best Recordings of 2011.” He is the artistic director of Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, which promotes the teaching, performance and development of vocal chamber music repertoire.





Juliana Athayde, BM ’02 (violin), has been concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra since 2005. Previously she was concertmaster for the Canton and Plymouth symphonies in Michigan and has appeared as guest concertmaster with the Houston Symphony and the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa. In 2002, she led the New York String Seminar Orchestra at Carnegie Hall under Jaime Laredo. A fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, she received the prestigious Dorothy DeLay fellowship in 2004. She has collaborated with acclaimed artists such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Joseph Silverstein, William Preucil and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. A native of the San Francisco area, she made her solo debut at age 16 with the San Francisco Symphony. Athayde is an associate professor at the Eastman School of Music and spends summers performing alongside her husband, RPO principal oboist Erik Behr, at the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in Idaho. 



Sean Panikkar, BM ’03, MM ’04 (voice), is an American tenor of Sri Lankan heritage who made his Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2007–08 season under the baton of James Levine as Edmondo in Manon Lescaut. He made his European operatic debut as Gomatz in Mozart’s Zaïde at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in a production directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by Louis Langrée. The 2011–12 season includes debuts with Opera Boston in the title role of Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, the San Diego Opera as Narraboth in Salome, and his upcoming debut at the Glimmerglass Festival as The Leader in Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars. In return engagements this season, Pannikar sang Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles for Pittsburgh Opera, Ismaele in Nabucco with Washington National Opera under Music Director Philippe Auguin, as well as Narraboth for the New Orleans Opera.



Nicholas Blaemire, BFA ’06 (musical theatre), is currently writing the book, music and lyrics to two original musicals: After Robert Hutchens, a commission for Broadway Across America, and When the World Ends, which received its first reading at Ars Nova last spring. His first musical, Glory Days (book by James Gardiner), received its world premiere at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, and transferred to Circle in the Square on Broadway. Blaemire’s performing screen credits include The Big C, Law & Order: CI and Guiding Light on television, and the upcoming films Damsels in Distress and Gods Behaving Badly. His theatre credits include Cry-Baby on Broadway, the first national tour of Altar Boyz, The Black Suits at The Public Theatre’s Summer Play Festival, and regional productions of Bring It On, Lil's 90th and The Last Goodbye. He is currently appearing in the Broadway revival of Godspell, and regularly performs with his band, The Hustle.