Alumni Notes

Janai Brugger

Michael Fabiano

Arthur GottschalkLeslie Henstock

Jill Lagerberg

Wes MasonRebecca Nathanson

Mark Powell

Raphael Price

Anna Skalova

Lynn Swanson


From top: Janai Brugger, Michael Fabiano, Arthur Gottschalk, Leslie Henstock, Jill Lagerberg, Wes Mason, Rebecca

Nathanson, Mark

Powell, Raphael

Price, Anna Skalova, Lynn Swanson


Thanks to the recent appointments of two new members, the Omaha Symphony now has five musicians who received their master's degree from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre  & Dance. They are (l. to r. above): Craig Bircher, associate principal trumpet (MM ‘81, trumpet); Tim Strang, cello (MM ’10, cello); Juliet Yoshida, violin (MM ’11, violin); Bill Ritchie, assistant principal bass (MM ’77, stringed instruments/double bass); and Ernest Richardson (not pictured), resident conductor (MM ’84, viola).




Robert Boardman, DMA ’10 (orchestral conducting), was named semi-finalist for The American Prize in Conducting for the world premiere performance of fellow alum Lembit Beecher's multi-media oratorio, And Then I Remember, a work documenting Beecher's grandmother's dramatic escape from Estonia during WWII. Boardman has also been named music director and conductor of both the Rensselaer Symphony Orchestra in Troy, NY, and the South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestras in South Bend, IN. Last summer he twice guest-conducted the Lake Placid Sinfonietta in Lake Placid, NY. 


Patrick Carter, BM ’10 (oboe) was appointed special events coordinator for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.


Charlotte Raines, BFA '11 (theatre performance), is teaching in the jazz division of the School at Steps in New York City. The internationally recognized school offers dance training for students ages 2 to 18 in ballet, modern, tap, jazz, theater dance, hip hop and Pilates. She also recently appeared Off-Broadway in the sketch-comedy/improv show Something Outrageous.


Anicka Skalova, BM ’11 (violin), was victorious over 163 other candidates to win a coveted position as violinist with the San Diego Symphony (SDS). Skalova, 22, won SMTD’s 2011 Albert A. Stanley Medal, an award given each year to a graduating senior. She also won first prize in the school’s annual concerto competition and was concertmaster of U-M’s University Symphony Orchestra for three years. After graduating from U-M, she studied for her performer diploma at Indiana University with Jaime Laredo, taking up her post with the SDS upon the program’s completion in April.



Janai Brugger, MM ’09 (voice), was named one of five winners of the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, considered North America’s most prestigious opera competition. The winners were selected from nine finalists (1,500 singers participated) who performed arias with the Met Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Davis. Each winner receives a cash prize of $15,000, as well as invaluable career exposure. Brugger is currently in her second year as a member of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program with the Los Angeles Opera where she has appeared in Le Nozze di Figaro under the baton of Placido Domingo, Rigoletto with James Conlon and La Bohème with Patrick Summers. She also made her debut as Juliette in Romeo et Juliette at Palm Beach Opera in February 2012.


Kallie England-Rodriquez, BM and BA ’04 (oboe and psychology), accepted a new position as director of marketing and communications for Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor.


This season, Michael Fabiano, BM ’05 (vocal performance), made his debuts with the San Francisco Opera in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia; with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the world premiere of the “Prologue” to Shostakovich’s opera Orango under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen; and with the Florida Grand Opera in Rigoletto. In addition, he performed in a staged performance of the Verdi Requiem at Oper Köln, and will make his debuts at the Teatro Real in Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac, and in Vienna singing Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the Wiener Symphoniker. He makes his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Festival in an evening of arias and duets with soprano Angela Meade in August.


Katherine FitzGibbon, MM ’02 (choral conducting), is assistant professor of music and director of choral activities at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. This spring, she was awarded a DAAD fellowship to allow her to conduct three months of research in Berlin, examining documentation related to reactionary German requiems commissioned by the Reich Music Chamber. She is the head of faculty for the summertime Berkshire Choral Festival, where she made her festival conducting debut in 2011. She also conducts Resonance Ensemble, a professional vocal ensemble that was recently cited in the Wall Street Journal for its innovative interdisciplinary collaborations as part of the alt-classical music scene in Portland.


Jocelyn Frank, BM and BA ’03 (oboe and LSA), was promoted to producer for BBC Americana radio. She also performs oboe in an eclectic band, The Torches, with several tours throughout the Eastern U.S. each year.


Leslie Henstock, BFA '02 (musical theatre), recently completed the tour of the new musical A Christmas Story, written by fellow SMTD grads Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The tour boasted many SMTD alumni, both onstage and backstage, and the show is aiming for Broadway in the near future. Henstock was in the ensemble and covered the Mother role. Last fall, she appeared in an episode of HBO's acclaimed series Boardwalk Empire. In 2011 she co-founded a cabaret group, People You May Know, featuring both new composers and the works that have inspired them.


Aaron Hill, BM ’04 (oboe), won the English horn position in the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. He continues to perform as principal oboe in the Charlottesville Symphony and teach oboe at the University of Virginia.


Charles Huang, MM ’02 (oboe) is now instructor of woodwind chamber music and adjunct instructor of oboe at the Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, CT.


Dr. Scott Hyslop, DMA ’07 (organ performance), has edited a new performing edition of two organ masses published by Pierre Attaingnant in 1531. The edition will be published by Wayne Leupold Editions in 2012 and will include extensive notes on the music, the organs of the period and issues of performance practice. Dr. Hyslop was joined by students of Prof. James Kibbie's Organ Literature class in presenting lecture-recitals on the Attaingnant masses in Frankenmuth, MI, on October 28 and in Blanche Anderson Moore Hall on November 7.


Carol Jantsch, BM ’06 (tuba) will join the Yale School of Music faculty in fall 2012 as lecturer in tuba. Jantsch has been the principal tuba of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2006. She won the position while still a senior at the University of Michigan, becoming the first female tuba player in a major symphony orchestra. She is also on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music, Temple University Boyer College of Music and Manhattan School of Music.


Marc Kamler, BTA ’01 (theatre arts) was promoted to vice president, alternative and international television, at APA Talent and Literary Agency. Since joining APA in 2007, he has played a pivotal role in the growth of its alternative television department. Kamler and his team have sold and packaged more than 200 projects, including 10 series that premiered in January 2012 such as NBC's Off Their Rockers w/ Betty White; Lifetime's Dance Moms; MTV's Caged; Animal Planet's Gator Boys, My Cat from Hell and Finding Bigfoot; and HGTV's Selling Spelling Manor w/ Candy Spelling. Previously, as an agent at ICM, he packaged FOX’s hit franchise Don’t Forget The Lyrics.  


Kristin Linn, BM '08 (euphonium performance), received her master's degree in statistics from North Carolina State University. She is continuing on in the program as a Ph.D. candidate.


In May, Wes Mason, BM ’09 (voice), competed as a grand finalist in the prestigious Lorin Zachary Competition in Los Angeles with full orchestra. This September/October, he will perform the leading role of Reinaldo Arenas in the East Coast premiere of Jorge Martin's Before Night Falls with Orchestra Miami. (Mason originated the role in the Fort Worth Opera world premiere in 2010). In spring of 2013, he will return to the Fort Worth Opera to perform the role of Marcello in La Bohème, the same role that was his first lead at U-M.


Christine Massey, BM ’08 (oboe), has accepted a position as oboe instructor at Fullerton College, Fullerton, CA. She also performs frequently with the San Diego Symphony.


Rebecca Nathanson, BM ’09 (voice), was handpicked by Placido Domingo and James Conlon for the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program (YAP) at the Los Angeles Opera next season. She won one of only 12 spots in the program. YPA is a two- to three-year paid residency for singers and pianists of exceptional talent who are currently in transition from academic training to a professional career in opera. The program is designed to support the future of opera by discovering and developing the talents of exceptionally gifted young artists so that they can become performers of potentially international stature.


Amanda Opuszynski, BM ‘08 (voice) spent the summer as an apprentice singer with the Santa Fe Opera, covering the role of Kitty in Menotti's The Last Savage and scenes from Flight and Summer and Smoke. Most recently, she made her Seattle Opera debut as Frasquita in Carmen. She has also recently completed her second season with the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program where she performed as Sophie in Werther and Norina in Don Pasquale.


Raphael L. Price, BM ’01 (violin performance/music education), has produced music for his Los Angeles-based studio orchestra, Groove Philharmonic, since 2004. His work in L.A. earned him the American Federation of Musicians President’s Youth Diversity Semi-Finalist Award (’07). He is also an alumnus of California State University, L.A. (MM Afro-Latin Music, ’07), and the Henry Mancini Jazz Institute (‘97 & ’06). A versatile multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, arranger and educator, Price has recently published a book, A Musician’s Guide For Los Angeles: Serious Advice For Serious Musicians ( 


Eric Saylor, Ph.D. '03 (historical musicology), now in his ninth year on the faculty of Drake University, is a contributor to and co-editor of Blackness in Opera, a collection of essays published by the University of Illinois Press, co-edited with Naomi André and Karen M. Bryan. His essay is entitled "Race, ‘Realism,’ and Fate in Frederick Delius's Koanga." He has also recently written the annotated bibliography on Ralph Vaughan Williams for Oxford Bibliographies Online, and has reviews and research forthcoming in Music and Letters and The Musical Times.


Clinton Smith, DMA ‘09, MM ’06 (conducting), returns to Minnesota Opera to conduct performances of Lucia di Lammermoor and Madama Butterfly after his triumphant main stage debut last season conducting La traviata. He continues his post as cover conductor and chorus master for all productions, frequently conducts educational outreach concerts, and recently conducted a workshop of a commissioned premiere entitled Silent Night with Minnesota Opera's New Works Initiative. This season he will guest conduct the St. Cloud Symphony and Skylark Opera. Clinton spent last summer as assistant conductor/chorus master of San Francisco Opera's Merola Program and conducted the scenes program at Western Ontario University's Canadian Operatic Arts Academy.


New Music USA (formerly Meet-the-Composer and American Music Center) has awarded D. J. Sparr, MM ’99 and DMA ’03 (composition), a CAP Recording Award for a CD of his chamber music that will be released on Centaur Records with New Music Raleigh, Hexnut Ensemble, Karen Galvin and the composer performing.


Austin Stewart, BM ’09 (voice), was invited to sing in Germany and Italy in the JSB Ensemble of the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart, under Helmuth Rilling, in performances of Bach's B minor Mass. In March, he presented his paper "Echoes of the Underworld: Cosmopolitan Sounds of Pluto’s Depths in Telemann’s Orpheus" at the Yale Graduate Music Symposium. In December he received his master of music in opera conducting from the University of Texas at Austin.


Kelly Sulick, BM ’04 (flute), has just been appointed flute instructor at the University of Virginia and principal flute in the Charlottesville Symphony. She is leaving her job as instructor of flute at the University of Evansville and principal flute of the Evansville Symphony. This opportunity reunites her with one of her best buddies from college, U-M alum oboist Aaron Hill, who is teaching at the University of Virginia.


Aryn Sweeney, DMA ’06 (oboe), was awarded the assistant professor of oboe position at Ball State University.


Elliott Tackitt, BM ’06 (trombone performance with education certificate), has held the title of associate director of bands at Northern Arizona University (NAU) since the spring of 2009. At NAU, he directs the NAU Lumberjacks Marching Band and NAU Symphonic Band, and he teaches undergraduate conducting. Additionally, he serves as the camp director for the Curry Summer Music Camp at NAU, which welcomes more than 450 students each year. Prior to his appointment at NAU, he served as one of the assistant band directors at Flower Mound High School in Flower Mound, TX. Tackitt received his master’s degree in wind conducting with Steven D. Davis at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2008.


Toni Trucks, BFA ’03 (musical theatre), recently completed filming the final installment of Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 directed by Bill Condon. She will appear as Mary, an American nomadic vampire introduced into the Cullen family circle. In addition, Trucks performed a guest-starring role on the hit television series House with Hugh Laurie. You can next see Truck in the Fox Searchlight film He Loves Me, the newest project from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine). Both Breaking Dawn: Part 2 and He Loves Me are set for release in 2012. 


Jessica Warner (BM ’04, oboe) was chosen for the assistant professor of oboe position at East Tennessee State University.


Dr. Alexandra Zacharella, MM ’01 (trombone performance), who is director of bands and assistant professor of low brass at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (UAFS), presented a clinic at the 65th Annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, IL. Last summer, Zacharella presented at the International College Music Society Conference in Seoul, South Korea, and, while there, she also gave a trombone master class at the University of Ulsan in Ulsan, South Korea, a sister university to both UAFS and U-M.












William Charles Crowley, MFA '96 (dance), has just launched the ninth season of his Next Step Dance company, based in Hollywood, FL. He is also planning a celebratory tenth season for 2012–13, during which the company will bring back Next Step Dance alums, present mixed programs of its most popular works and perform in a newly renovated state-of-the-art theater at the Broward Center in Hollywood. Next Step Dance continues to be committed to presenting contemporary dance, drawing inspiration from the rich traditions found in music, art and literature and reflecting the diverse cultures in both our local and global communities.


Composer and percussionist Payton MacDonald, BFA ’97 (jazz and contemporary media), recently released two new recordings: Solo Marimba Commissions, Vol. 1 and Solo Improvisations for Marimba, Vol. 1. MacDonald continues to tour the U.S. and Europe with the award-winning new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, of which he is a founding member. As a composer, he recently received a joint commission from the Newman Center for Performing Arts in Denver, the acclaimed JACK string quartet and Young Voices of Colorado for a new percussion work titled Lifeboat No. 6, celebrating the life of Molly Brown. MacDonald has also recently composed another work for the JACK Quartet, as well as works for guitar virtuoso Mak Grgic and for the NYU Steel Band.


Jody Madaras, BFA '93 (musical theatre), recently created, co-produced and starred in sold-out productions of his hit musical revue All Hands On Deck!, a new 1940s musical show at Surflight Theatre in New Jersey and the Artisan Center Theatre in Dallas, TX. The 1942-era, “USO road show and radio broadcast” was also recently licensed by Miracle Or 2 Productions and is represented by the Gershwin Organization as well as Geodesic Management. This winter, Madaras played the role of Marcellus in The Music Man at Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, FL. 


Mark Powell, BM ’92 (winds), has joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music’s Institute for Music Leadership. He continues as the artistic advisor for Project Divisi and the Ad Hoc chamber ensemble, and will assume the music directorship at Da Camera of New York in 2013. His recent conducting activities have included the Rochester Philharmonic and Houston Symphony Principals, as well as performances for the Lassetter Fund for New Music.


After 15 years on the faculty at California State University, Stanislaus, Stephen Thomas, ’97 DMA (piano performance), accepted a position on the piano faculty at Brigham Young University-Idaho, starting fall semester 2011. Thomas made his third trip to China in August 2011, this time presenting a joint concert with his daughter, cellist Anne Thomas, and master classes in Yangzhou and Changzhou. He also traveled to Linyi University, where he represented CSU Stanislaus at a signing ceremony for an agreement between the two universities’ music programs. In December, Thomas’s chapter on Brahms will appear in The Pianist's Craft: Mastering the Works of Great Composers, edited by Richard Paul Anderson and published by Scarecrow Press. 



Jill Allen Lagerberg, MM '83, DMA '86 (voice performance), is completing her third season as director of Knoxville Christian Arts Ministries (Knoxville, TN), a performing arts outreach ministry integrating music, drama and dance in a style resembling musical theatre, to tell original, contemporary stories of God's love and provision. The group includes 90 singers, instrumentalists, actors and dancers from 30 area churches. Its mission is to take the gospel into the community and its primary ministry focus is prisons and the inner city. In July, she will serve as music director for Ragtime, to be produced by the Word Players, a Knoxville-area Christian theater company.


Michael S. Zelenak, BM ’80 (music history/musicology), completed his Ph.D. in music education at the University of South Florida last August. He recently presented his dissertation “Self-Efficacy in Music Performance: Measuring the Sources Among Secondary School Students” at the Florida Music Educators Conference in Tampa, FL. Results of the pilot study for the dissertation were presented last June at the National Association for Music Education’s Summer Research Symposium in Washington, D.C. He has had related articles published in the journals Research Perspectives in Music Education and Music Education Research International.  




Roberta Alexander, MM ’71 (voice), performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam as part of the Vrouwenmuziekmarathon (Women’s Music Marathon), singing works by, and introducing Dutch audiences to, black American women composers. Alexander, who has been a long-time champion of songs by American composers, performed pieces by Undine Smith Moore, Julia Perry and Florence Price, and selections from a cycle by Margaret Bonds based on the poetry of Langston Hughes. According to Time Out Amsterdam, the concert was “a logical extension of Alexander’s boundary-shattering career . . . inspired by a fearless commitment to upholding the highest musical and dramatic standards.”


Stephanie Bennett, BM ’76 (harp), was asked to speak on “the business of music” at the July 2011 World Harp Congress in Vancouver, Canada. She gave a talk entitled “Copyright: How to get permission to publish or record arrangements.” (Bennett has published sheet music of several harp arrangements of popular and classical music, as well as her own compositions.) In addition, Bennett played harp on the best-selling album of 2011, 21 by Adele, which also won “Best Album” at the Grammy Awards in February 2012.


Arthur Gottschalk, DMA ’78 (composition), is finishing his 35th year as a faculty member of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. In 2011, he was elected to the College Music Society as the National Board Member for Composition. He was a guest composer for the Virginia College Band Directors Symposium; the University of California at Santa Barbara; the International Double Reed Society’s convention, where his piece American Nights was performed as a BCMCC prizewinner; and at the International Clarinet Association’s conference, where his piece The Kaleidoscopic Pocket Hockets Boogaloo was premiered. His work At the Space Age Vinyl Music Box Lounge, commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the Foundation for Modern Music, was premiered at a concert where he was presented with a Proclamation from the City of Houston, by Mayor Annise Parker, naming October 16 "Arthur Gottschalk Day." Gottschalk has had five CDs released this year, and was awarded Italy’s prestigious Bogliasco Fellowship.


Stephen Michael Gryc, BM ’71 (music education), MM ’78 (music theory), MM ’78 (composition), DMA ’83 (composition), received four premiere performances of his violin concerto titled Harmonia Mundi, by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (HSO) last May. It was commissioned for the HSO by concertmaster Leonid Sigal. The Hartford Courant praised the work as “a noteworthy accomplishment by a composer who writes with orchestral eloquence and who has developed a fascinating sonic personality.” In August, Gryc’s work for solo oboe, Three Excursions, was performed by Ling-Fei Kang in Bangkok, Thailand, at the inaugural conference of the Asian Double Reed Association. Gryc is professor of composition at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School, where he has taught since 1980.


Saxophonist Lynn Klock, MM ’75, BM ’74 (saxophone with education certificate), was a guest soloist with the Tri-County Symphonic Band of Massachusetts, performing in a concert conducted by music director Philip Sanborn, BM ’79 (euphonium), at Tabor Academy's Fireman Performing Arts Center in Marion, MA. Klock performed "Woodland Serenade and Rondo" by Catherine McMichael, MM ’81, BM ’76 (piano performance), which was written for Klock in 2008 and had its premiere by The Woodlands (TX) High School Band with Klock as alto saxophone soloist.  


Gwen Laster, BM ’79 (music education), MM ’82 (violin), was invited to the Eastman School of Music to present her two-day workshop for string players, “Creative Strings,” in which she lectured on the history and philosophy of music education; taught improvisation to undergrad and graduate students through jazz/global ensemble music; presented a workshop outreach at the local elementary school; and spoke about her personal music education experience in the public schools of Detroit and SMTD. She also recently published her first method book for violin, Music for the Creative String Player, which includes technical studies, songs and beginning improvisation studies. Her next recording of original music, Gameboard, will be released in September 2012.


Ann McCutchan, MM '76 (clarinet), announced the release of her fourth book, River Music: An Atchafalaya Story, published by Texas A&M University Press. Her fall 2011 tour with River Music took her to 15 bookstores, museums and universities in four states. McCutchan teaches creative writing at the University of North Texas.


Stewart Scharch, MM ‘79 (church music), recently performed an organ recital at Washington National Cathedral on the 1938 E. M. Skinner organ, which contains 10,647 pipes. He resides in Oakland, CA, and is organist at Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. 


Dennis Schmidt, MM '76 (organ performance) and DMA '78 (organ performance), has been named minister of music at Grace Lutheran Church in Needham, MA, where he will play the organ for all services and direct a vocal choir and a handbell choir. He has previously served at churches in Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Delaware and Pennsylvania, and was executive director of the Bach Festival of Philadelphia. He is the author of An Organist's Guide to Resources for the Hymnal 1982 and his recording of the complete organ works of J. S. Bach can still be heard free of charge through the website of the Global Bach Community ( Schmidt was the recipient of the Palmer Christian Award at U-M.


Lynn Swanson, BFA ’76 (dance), has written a novel titled Summer Dance for readers ages 10 to 14. It is loosely based on the Interlochen summer dance program, where she danced in the 1970s and assisted in the dance department in the 1990s while a graduate student in creative writing at Michigan State University. Swanson also teaches poetry, fiction and playwriting through the Independent Study program at the Tai Sophia Institute in Maryland.


Victoria Vorreiter, BM ‘76 (violin), MM ‘77 (strings), has spent a life in music that has manifested in diverse ways. She began as a specialist in the Suzuki Method in Ann Arbor while playing with the Toledo Symphony. Further teaching posts led her to London; Marseille, France; and DePaul University in Chicago. A frequent writer on music’s cultural importance, Vorreiter is an active speaker at conferences in Asia, the Pan Pacific, Europe, the Caribbean and the U.S. She has now shifted from teaching classical music to documenting world music. After completing her first film, The Music of Morocco and the Cycles of Life, she moved to Thailand to create The Songs of Memory archive ( comprising films, photos, recordings, a book and a museum exhibit on tribal culture. First launched at the Jim Thompson Museum in Bangkok, The Songs of Memory exhibit moved to the East-West Center in Hawaii in May 2012.



James Gibson, BM ’69 (music literature) recently gave his 2,000th performance as part of his international career as pianist, composer, actor and stage director. A CD devoted to his solo piano works will be released early next year by World Oceans Music. Dr. Gibson has completed a book of travel memoirs and essays entitled Places. His play Café Playa Moon has received two New York productions and is now being seen around the U.S. He is active in scholarship fundraising for several chapters of the U-M Alumni Association.


Dr. Warren Jaworski, BM ’61 and MM ’64 (music education), was selected by the 

provost of the University of South Florida, where he is professor of voice, for the 2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in the School of Music in the College of the Arts. Dr. Jaworski, who received his DMA from Indiana University, has taught many outstanding singers who appear in regional opera companies and musical theatre.




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