Student News

Akilah BryantJohn BoggsHailey ClarkSean Michael CollinsPaul DooleyAriel HaltMadeline HuberthJoanna MillerJoseph Prestamo


From top: Akilah Bryant, John Boggs, Sean Michael Collins, Hailey Clark, Paul Dooley, Ariel Halt, Madeline Huberth, Joanna Miller, Joseph Prestamo,


Thanks to the launch of Michigan Performance Outreach Workshop (MPOW), hundreds of Detroit Public School (DPS) children enjoyed a day of immersion in the performing arts on U-M's campus this year. The entirely student-run initiative was founded by junior Ashley Park and senior Laura Reed (who graduated in December 2011), both musical theatre majors. Their goal was to share the positive powers of the performing arts with the urban youth of Detroit whose arts programs have been eliminated due to budget cuts.


The dream was realized, with the help of dozens of student volunteers from all parts of the U-M campus, when two all-day events were held at the Michigan League in November and March. The DPS students were entertained and motivated by SMTD student performances, which were followed by workshops in dance, theatre, music and film.


For Park and Reed, the endeavor was a labor of love, driven solely by their passion. But it was also a crash course in running a non-profit organization and producing a major event. Through trial by fire, they and their team learned how to liaise with DPS; secure volunteers, donors and sponsors; negotiate contracts and licensing fees; arrange for transportation and insurance; create marketing and publicity plans; and delegate responsibility.


Both events were enormously successful and Park and Reed received a Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Spirit Award, an honor bestowed on North Campus students who have “served their community in a positive way through artistic and/or educational mediums.” MPOW will continue in 2012–13 when Park will share leadership responsibilities with co-president and musical theatre junior Erika Henningsen.




Two music students from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance have won the Gates Cambridge Scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. The scholarship recipients are Madeline Huberth, a double major in cello and physics, and Sean Collins, a double major in piano and chemistry. The Gates Cambridge Scholarships, established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are highly competitive full-cost scholarships awarded to outstanding applicants from outside the U.K. to pursue a full-time graduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. Only 40 U.S. citizens are awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship each year




Bringing together past and present Wolverines united by a common passion for entertainment, the first ever UMEC-LA Networking Night was launched in March. Created by April Moreau, a senior BFA theatre performance major, and Amy Fleischman, a senior communications major and global media studies minor, the event provided students from across campus with the opportunity to network with their peers and with successful alumni currently working in the entertainment industry. It was coordinated through the Los Angeles branch of the U-M Entertainment Coalition.


Aimed at students, like Moreau and Fleischman, who are moving to L.A. after graduation, the event brought together seniors majoring in theatre, screen arts & culture, communications and other disciplines, with L.A. entertainment industry alumni including Marc Kamler (Agency for the Performing Arts), Daniel Pipski (Working Title Television), Amanda Adelson (Dickhouse Productions), Aaron Saidman (Studio Lambert) and screenwriter Yoni Brenner. The highly successful event is expected to become an annual tradition.




The Music Teacher’s National Association (MTNA) has named the collegiate chapter of the University of Michigan as the 2012 MTNA-Benjamin Whitten Collegiate Chapter of the Year. This honor recognizes the U-M Collegiate Chapter’s commitment to the music teaching profession and MTNA. The U-M collegiate chapter was recognized at the MTNA National Conference in New York City at the annual business meeting of the association in March.


The U-M collegiate chapter’s activities cover recruitment and exposure, community and teacher service, research and presentations, collaboration and networking, and fundraising. Among the chapter’s major initiatives this year was the creation of the first-ever Piano Pedagogy Symposium, presented in coordination with the Piano Pedagogy Laboratory Program, which featured two days of extensive lectures, panel discussions, roundtables and other events for future music professionals. 




For the eighth consecutive year, students from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance performed at the Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project in Washington, D.C., showcasing the best young musical artists in classical, jazz, musical theatre, opera and more from our nation's leading undergraduate and graduate conservatories, colleges and universities. The March concert included performances by baritone Jean Bernard Cerin, a DMA candidate; pianist John Elam, a first year MM student in collaborative piano; Ashley Martin, a senior studying violin performance; Stacie Mickens, a DMA candidate in French horn; and oboist Nermis Mieses, also a DMA candidate. They were featured in a variety of pairings (with Elam participating in each work), performing works by Andrea Clearfield, Arvo Pärt, Amilcare Ponchielli and Claude Debussy.




Once again, music students at SMTD were featured in stellar performances this past winter during the annual concerto competition, vying for the opportunity to solo with a large ensemble. This year’s winners in the undergraduate level were Timothy Krippner, a senior piano performance major (Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 1) and Ariel Halt, a soprano and senior voice performance major (Honey and Rue for Soprano, Orchestra and Rhythm Section by André Previn). The graduate-level winners were Edward Goodman, a first-year master’s student in saxophone performance (Concert Suite for E-flat Saxophone and Band by William Bolcom) and Siyuan Li, a first-year master’s student in piano solo performance and chamber music (Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2).




At the inaugural 4x4 Prizes for Composition and Conducting, jointly sponsored by the Oklahoma University Symphony Orchestra, its music director Jonathan Shames and the OU School of Music Composition Department, two SMTD music doctoral students won the top prizes.  Warren Puffer Jones took first prize for "the most artistic conducting of new orchestral music" and Michael Thomas Foumai won first prize for "most successful orchestral composition." Foumai's composition was conducted by Jones in a concert with the University of Oklahoma Symphony in February, and will subsequently be published on iTunes University (




Peter Shin (BM '14, composition) was the winner of a photo competition organized by the Living Arts Program Board to celebrate North Campus, home of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Three outside judges evaluated 125 photographs on the basis of aesthetics and how well they represented North Campus. The photographs were displayed in the Duderstadt Center and Shin won a cash prize.






Ron Amchin, a dual degree junior in composition and economics, was one of five “Honorable Mention” recipients in the Tribeca New Music Young Composer Competition (for composers under the age of 21) for his work Bells of the Angelus for solo piano. The piece was inspired by the painting The Angelus by Jean-François Millet. 


Joseph Baldwin, a graduating master’s student in choral conducting, will be joining the faculty of Smith College in Northampton, MA, this coming fall as the Iva Dee Hiatt Distinguished Assistant Director of Choral Activities and lecturer in music.


David Biedenbender, a second-year DMA student in composition, won an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award in March. Additionally, he has been accepted into a master class with composers Steven Stucky and Anders Hillborg at the Collegium for Advanced Study in Uppsala, Sweden, and will write a new work for the Stenhammar String Quartet. He has also been accepted into the Composition Program at the Aspen Music Festival and School and will be writing a brass quintet for the festival. Biedenbender is the recipient of the 2012 Presser Music Award from SMTD, which will help fund these studies as well as his dissertation performance.


John Boggs, a first-year master's student pursuing an MM in composition, has been named the 2012 winner of the annual Brehm Prize in Choral Composition, now in its second year. The competition, open to SMTD students only, is for a work composed for a 40-voice choir. The award brings a cash prize of $2,000. William (BS ’50, MS ’52) and Delores Brehm established the award to encourage the composition of choral works by SMTD students. Bogg’s piece, titled Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, is for choir a capella. It uses the religious texts of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, with the former set in Latin and the latter in English. The U-M Chamber Choir will perform the piece in the 2012–13 season.


Akilah Bryant, a second-year master’s student in flute, won first place in the Josie Etta Daley Scholarship Competition, hosted annually at U-M by the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church of Detroit. She performed in services at the church in January. Bryant also won the $1,000 first prize at the 23rd annual Talent Showcase sponsored by the Sigma Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., which promotes multiculturalism through the arts. The fraternity donates the proceeds from ticket sales to St. Jude's Children Hospital.


Soprano Hailey Clark, a senior MM student in vocal performance, makes her professional debut with Fort Worth Opera in Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata in May, and her debut as an Apprentice Artist with Opera Saratoga this summer as Merry in The Mighty Casey. This spring she performed as Anne Trulove in the U-M production of The Rake’s Progress and was the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana, which was conducted by Kenneth Kiesler with the University Symphony Orchestra. She is the winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (MI District), and the Heafner-Willams and Charlotte Opera Guild competitions.


Trish Cornett, a doctoral student in wind conducting, was invited to participate in the West Point Conducting Workshop held April 23–25. Participants will receive coaching from Lt. Col. Jim Keene, commander/conductor of the West Point Band, and guest clinician Professor Michael Haithcock, director of bands at the University of Michigan. The workshop culminates with participants conducting their assigned repertoire with the West Point Concert Band at a gala concert held at the Association of Concert Bands National Convention in Poughkeepsie, NY.


Thomas Crespo, a first-year master’s student in bassoon, won first place at the Bowling Green State University Double Reed Day Solo Competition. He was also accepted with a partial scholarship to the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he will study and perform this summer.


Mezzo-soprano Sarah Davis, a graduating master’s student in voice performance, will attend the Caramoor International Music Festival in New York this summer. She will perform the part of Romeo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Davis will also be participating in the Staunton Music Festival in Staunton, VA, in August.


Musicology graduate student Alison DeSimone has been awarded both a Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship and an Institute of the Humanities Graduate Fellowship from U-M for the 2012–13 academic year. Additionally, she recently won grants from the Institute of Research for Women and Gender at U-M and the Handel Institute of the United Kingdom that will fund her archival research in London. She was also the winner of the 2011 Walter L. Arnstein Prize, given by the Midwest Society on British Studies for the best graduate student paper given at the annual conference. 


Paul Dooley, a doctoral candidate in composition, recently had his composition Point Blank (2011) performed by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra and the Charlotte Symphony. A band version of Point Blank has been commissioned by a consortium of 13 bands organized by Gary Green and the Frost Wind Ensemble at the University of Miami. In 2011–12, Dooley was composer-in-residence with the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings. His Salt of the Earth (2012) for brass ensemble and percussion, inspired by the great Detroit Salt Mine, was premiered in February 2012, conducted by H. Robert Reynolds, with a follow-up performance at the College Band Directors National Association conference at Central Michigan University.


Chris Dupont, a senior performing arts technology major with a composition emphasis, is releasing an album this summer with his band, comprised of SMTD students. A singer/songwriter who essentially plays modern folk strongly influenced by ambient music, Dupont’s new album uses on-location recordings captured in beautiful and unusual acoustic spaces around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, such as theatres and cathedrals. Dupont and his band will be performing at numerous Ann Arbor venues during the spring and summer. For more details on the album release, and upcoming performance dates, visit, or


Shin Hwang, a master’s student pursuing a dual degree in piano performance and fortepiano, placed third in the Westfield International Fortepiano Competition held at Cornell University. The jury comprised internationally acclaimed musicians such as Christopher Hogwood and Robert Levin. He was also invited to perform at the Library of Congress AMS lecture recital series by fortepianist Malcolm Bilson, where he performed Beethoven’s Op. 109 Piano Sonata at the Library's Coolidge Auditorium. Most recently, as part of the competition prize, he performed a program of Mozart and Beethoven at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor.

Sean Krissman, a senior in clarinet performance, was selected as one of four clarinet fellows for the 2012 National Repertory Orchestra and will perform as rotating principal.


Kevin Maloney, a first-year DMA student in trumpet, won a national audition for a position with the United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" Ceremonial Band, based in Washington, D.C. This elite ensemble provides musical support for leadership of the United States in all branches of government, as well as a wide spectrum of national and international events in support of soldiers and their families, public diplomacy, community and international relations, recruiting initiatives and music education programs. He will commence performances with the band after completing 10 weeks of basic training this summer.


Joanna Miller, a sophomore theatre arts major with a concentration in performing arts management, interned last summer at Class Acts Arts, an arts outreach and presenting organization based in Silver Spring, MD. After spending six weeks helping manage their roster of more than 30 artists, she also stage managed an experimental, movement-based adaptation of Moby Dick. Moby Dick: The Play was produced as part of the Washington, D.C. Capital Fringe Festival, which is the only major unjuried, self-producing, open-access festival in the Washington, D.C., area.


Joseph Prestamo, a graduating MM composition student, was named a winner of the National Federation of Music Clubs' Student/Collegiate Composition Competition in May 2011 for his work titled Sketches, for solo piano. In September 2011, the same piece was awarded first prize in Music+Culture's International Competition for Composers and will be recorded by Brian Hanke later in 2012. Prestamo was also selected as one of two composers to receive premieres as part of Siena Summer Music's 2011 concert series in Tuscany, Italy.


Cody Takács, a double bass performance senior, won First Prize and Best Performance in the 2011 American Protégé International Music Talent Competition, resulting in his Carnegie Hall solo debut in the winners’ recital last December. This April, Takács performed the world premiere of Digital Assistant, a work for solo bassist/actor/electronics, by international award-winning composer Benjamin D. Taylor. Last summer, Takács made his solo debut at the 2011 International Society of Bassists convention, where he appeared in concert with his professor, Diana Gannett, and also spent a month studying with internationally renowned double bass soloist Gary Karr.


Last summer, Meryl Waldo, a senior studying theatre design and production with a concentration in costume design, worked as assistant costume supervisor and designer on the United Kingdom's National Theatre production of the Jacobean domestic tragedy A Woman Killed with Kindness. The National Theatre in London is on the forefront of the English theatre scene and is considered the most prominent theatre company in the U.K. Waldo’s internship was supported in part by an Amy Rose Silverman Fellowship from the University of Michigan Center for International and Comparative Studies (CICS). 


Drawing from a nationwide pool of applicants, T. J. Wolfgram, a senior in music education, was selected to attend the 2012 Technology Institute for Music Education (TI:ME) Leadership Academy in Louisville, KY. Under the direction of Rick Dammers (Rowan University), Dave William (Illinois State University Emeritus) and V. J. Manzo (Montclair State University), academy participants engaged in a three-day intensive experience that included analysis of research regarding school music participation, dissection of existing music technology class models and construction of new lesson plans and curricula utilizing technological resources.


Roger Zare, DMA '12, is the winner of the 2012 Symphony in C Young Composers Competition and the 2012 Michigan Music Teachers Association Commissioned Composer competition. He was recently mentioned in Sports Illustrated for a piece he wrote for piano and ping pong balls, and is the current composer-in-residence for the Salt Bay Chamber Music Festival in Maine. His clarinet concerto, Bennu's Fire, was premiered at ClarinetFest 2011 in Los Angeles by Alexander Fiterstein and has received a 2012 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould award. Zare is attending the 2012 Aspen Music Festival composition individual instruction program on scholarship.