Displaying items by tag: Music

It is our great pleasure to present the 2020 Outstanding Seniors from the University of Utah College of Fine Arts. Each year,  our five academic units nominate an outstanding senior for their academic achievements, artistic and scholarly accomplishments, and ongoing commitment to their craft. These graduating students continue the CFA's tradition of sending strong creative leaders out into the art world. Congratulations, and our hats off to you! 

A Message from Liz Leckie, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs

Pisti Gamvroulas AAH

 Name: Pisti Gamvroulas
Majors and minors: Art with Graphic Design Emphasis, Minor in Arts & Technology
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Three words that describe you: Loyal, Hard-working, and Compassionate
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Xi Zhang’s Drawing 1 Course. Xi is an exceptionally kind and genuine human who cares for each and every one of his students. He is consistently pushing them to do their best work, and experiment in their process. His instruction allowed me to explore my strengths and to understand my weaknesses and how I could improve myself. 
Most memorable moment at CFA: Learning about and working in the wood shop during my Foundations year and somehow leaving with all my limbs attached. 
One thing you learned at CFA: Community matters. It’s important to connect with others that can understand and support you through the challenges you face in a creative industry, and that can cheer you on through the successes you accomplish. Being connected with others helps you grow as a creative and find spectacular humans that you can form relationships with for years to come. 
What inspires you: Humanistic Design/Art/Research/Places that motivate people to connect with one another and/or share human experiences. Designers like Timothy Goodman, who’s work expresses his emotions and tells stories that everyone can relate to, is very inspiring. Spaces like the National Museum of American History that focus on visitor interaction offer multiple forms of insight into how we can create spaces that bring people together. Podcasts like “The Happiness Lab”, that offer scientific insight into how we can live more content lives and connect with others. 
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: During my time at the University of Utah, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with campus programs such as the Office of Student Success & Empowerment, The Muse Project, Bennion Center, and Intramural Sports. I created my own student organization called “U Got Game?” based on bringing students together to learn a variety of sports, and am the VP of the UofU AIGA, helping create a community amongst all design practices at the U. In the summer of 2019 I was fortunate enough to intern with the exhibition design team at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in Washington D.C. I will be interning with an interdisciplinary architectural company, Sasaki, in Massachusetts this upcoming summer. 
One sentence that describes your work: Human centered design/art that uses humor, color, and/or bright subjects to create positive solutions for a variety of people. 


"Pisti’s participation in class, enthusiasm and diligent work habits set a wonderful example for her fellow classmates. She consistently goes above and beyond what is expected of her, both academically and beyond. It is not very often that we have the opportunity to engage with such a committed student. This same commitment to learn is also demonstrated in her pursuit in a career in graphic design. This led to landing a coveted, nationally competitive design internship at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. This demonstrates her high degree of self-motivation and professionalism. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Pisti is a pleasure to work with. She engages with her teachers and fellow students with a smile on her face. Even in  the midst of tackling a difficult design problem, Pisti enthusiastically takes on the challenge. Upon solicitation of faculty members for nominations for this award; we received multiple glowing reviews of Pisti. Her love for design is obvious and her positivity is contagious. In addition to her success in the Graphic Design Program and fulfilling the Interdisciplinary Capstone Project in Arts and Technology, she is highly involved in campus life. She is a MUSE scholar, serves as the AIGA (professional organization for design) student body president, and was the lead ambassador for the U of U’s  Undergraduate Studies Student Success and Empowerment Program. This are just a few of the many contributions she has made to the campus community." 

- Carol Sogard
Professor, Department of Art & Art History 

“Pisti is a kind, intelligent, passionate, and brave artist and designer. Pisti’s highly artistic achievements reflects these qualities. I do not doubt she will be a celebrated star in the design community.”
- Xi Zhang
Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Art History 


Cameron Mertz SoD

Name: Cameron Mertz
Majors and minors: Modern Dance major with a minor in Psychology
Hometown: Walnut Creek, CA
Three words that describe you: Compassionate, hard-working, resilient
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Junior year improv with Stephen Koester 
Most memorable moment at CFA: Performing “The Middle Way” choreographed by Molly Heller in the 2018 School of Dance Gala at Kingsbury Hall.
One thing you learned at CFA: I learned the importance of allowing myself to be vulnerable in my artmaking even when it’s uncomfortable and scary because, ultimately, that has led me to create work that is personally meaningful and memorable to me.
What inspires you: I’m inspired by things that I experience in my daily life, specifically interactions with people around me, whether intentional or not. I think it’s more fun to be inspired by the mundane than grandeur.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: 

  • 2017-2018 Before She Sleeps in the Sand Choreography by Pamela Gaber-Handman, Performed as part of Legacy Assembly/ Performed as part of American College Dance Association Northwest Conference, selected for Gala Performance/ Performed as part of Breaking Ground Dance & Film Festival/ Performed as part of Performing Dance Company
  • 2017-2018- Awarded the Departmental Scholarship from the Modern Program of the School of Dance at the University of Utah
  • 2018- The Middle Way Choreography by Molly Heller, Performed as part of School of Dance Gala Concert
  • 2018- The Wallflowers Choreography by Brooklyn Draper, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert/ Performed as part of 12 Minutes Max/ Performed as part of Mudson
  • 2019- A Collective Resilience Choreography by Daniel Do, Performed as part of Repertory Dance Theater’s Emerge
  • 2019- Surge Choreography by Anouk Van Dijk, Performed as part of The School of Dance Gala/ Performed as part of Salt Spring Concert2019- Gaga Summer Intensive (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • 2019- Parachute Princess Choreography by E’lise Jumes, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert2019- Becoming Choreography by Joanna Lees, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert
  • 2020- Grey Raven Choreography by Eric Handman, Performed as part of the School of Dance Gala

One sentence that describes your work: For me, I find it important that my work remains honest, explorative and evolving.  


“'WHO IS SHE?!' I remember asking when I first saw Cameron perform on stage at the MCD—she was a newly arrived freshman dancing in a piece by LA hiphop artist Jackie Lopez. Even then, a month into college, her maturity, clarity, fierceness, and stage presence was palpable. She shone on stage. And this star quality has grown exponentially while at the School of Dance. Cameron is a consummate dance artist--- a creative contributor who posseses an absolutely compelling stage presence, a deep thinker, and someone who shows grace and humanity in everything she does." 
- Satu Hummasti
Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor, School of Dance

"Cameron’s committed, vibrant energy draws people to her. She is incredibly hard working and a curious, questioning artist at heart. Cameron is an exceptionally invested artist, one with great integrity, who seeks new research opportunities and mentorship to broaden her dancing life. She not only inspires others with her expansiveness as a performer, but she also exudes humility and perseverance. Inside the classroom, onstage, and within a creative process, she has earned the deep respect of her peers and faculty."

"Faculty feel that Cameron has been, '…an integral part of my choreographic research, influencing the direction, intensity, and depth of the research itself,' and, 'She raises everyone’s game. Inspiring, indefatigable, tirelessly creative and physically powerful.' Her peers feel that she, '…is truly a poetic movement artist. She is incredibly insightful, filled with creative guttural decision-making abilities. Cameron has the ability to always include her unique voice, physical quirks, textures and tonalities in anything that she does. It is a superpower of hers, to always include herself in anything she does; transcending ideas beyond movement, making dance seem otherworldly at times.'" 
-Michael Wall
Modern Dance Program Head & Associate Professor, School of Dance


Katie Phillips FMAD

Name: Katie Rose Phillips
Majors and minors: Film and Media Arts Major, Production Emphasis
Hometown: Midland, Michigan
Three words that describe you: Creative, Confident, Candid
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Sonia and Miriam Albert-Sobrino
Most memorable moment at CFA: When I was studying abroad in Italy one of the students, Brady Brown, had a scene in his film where he had to jump through a fence and every student on the trip came and helped film that one shot. It was hysterical.
One thing you learned at CFA: Always double check that the camera plate is secure on the tripod.
What inspires you: Telling stories that are important to me and having people connect with those stories.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: Film, Seeing Eye Guy, featured at the Block Festival. Film, Grieving A Broad, showcased in Italy and the United States. Forward for the Utah Howl Women’s Ice Hockey team.
One sentence that describes your work: Rediscovering yourself is the first step to overcoming loneliness.

“During her time in the Department of Film & Media Arts, Katie has proven to be a very valuable member of this community. In class, she is always engaged and her willingness to learn is contagious; her films have a maturity level that is unseen in filmmakers of her age; and she’s always advocating for female empowering stories that reflect the different facets of the female experience. She is a strong talented young filmmaker who uses cinema to provoke positive change.”
- Sonia and Miriam Albert-Sobrino 
Assistant Professors, Department of Film & Media Arts

"Our Department is committed to empowering students to tell stories that matter to them. Katie has done just that. Her creativity, ambition, and perseverance have earned her the respect of her peers and instructors. We expect great things of her in the years ahead." 
- Andrew Patrick Nelson 
Chair, Department of Film & Media Arts 


Tony Elison SoM

Name: Tony Elison
Majors and minors: Honors BMus in Jazz Composition, minor in Computer Science
Hometown: American Fork, UT
Three words that describe you: open-minded, reflective, curious
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Jazz Composition and Arranging
Most memorable moment at CFA: premiering original works at senior recital
One thing you learned at CFA: how to network
What inspires you: real, sincere, hard-working people who love what they do
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus:

  • Learned how to learn
  • Developed a love for reading
  • Sharpened writing skills
  • Widened my musical palette
  • Established a reputation for professionalism in the SLC music community

One sentence that describes your work: It’s my hope that my work reflects authentic, musical expression, capable of moving and elevating the listener.

"I’ve known Tony as a work-study student who works at the front desk in the Music Office, and a scholarship recipient as a member of the Michie Jazz Quintet, which plays at many events on campus, including the Presidents Office. I’ve always been very impressed with his jazz piano playing and arranging. He's very unassuming, and I didn't know until recently of his impressive performance credits (including Carnegie Hall and Dizzy’s Club at Lincoln Center in New York!) or his minor in computer science. He is an Honors student with a GPA at the very top of his graduating class. Behind his unassuming manner there is a tremendously talented and intelligent jazz musician who has already reached some impressive milestones. He has a bright future ahead of him!" 
- Miguel Chuaqui
Director, School of Music 

"What makes Tony Elison a special student to me is his ability for synthesis. He can take inspiration from musical ideas, syntax, and traditions while filtering them through his own distinctive voice. I have been honored to help him achieve his goals and continue to expand his artistic horizons for the future."
- John Petrucelli
Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies, School of Music 

"Tony has the ideal demeanor for a working colleague--he is an amazing musician, always prepared, and a positive person to be around. He is already playing professionally in and around Utah."
- Donn Schaefer
Brass and Jazz Area Head & Professor of Trombone, School of Music 


Matthew Rudolph DoT

Name: Matthew Rudolph 
Majors and minors: Musical Theatre
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Three words that describe you: Loyal, Passionate, Hard-working
Favorite CFA class or teacher: David Schmidt
Most memorable moment at CFA: Getting to perform with the cast of Bring it On! and represent the department of theatre at the opening of the Eccles theatre downtown.
One thing you learned at CFA: How incredible it is to be an artist. As artists, we have the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level and create change within them and in the world. We have the chance to entertain those around us and make people feel something.
What inspires you: Seeing the passion other CFA students put into their craft everyday and getting to work on something that I am so passionate about fuels me with excitement to work hard and give my everything.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: SAC Representative- President, Vice-President, class representative, FAF Grant Representative, Emerging Leadership intern, cast in 7 department of theatre musicals, member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
One sentence that describes your work: I am an artist and collaborator who is passionate about creating change and allowing people the opportunity to escape reality and be entertained.

"Matthew has proved to be an outstanding student and leader within the Department of Theatre. He serves as President for the department's Student Advisory Committee (SAC). He also serves as the student representative at the College Council meetings. Besides being an excellent representative for his fellow students and the department, he is a talented performer. He has been cast in a number of department productions including, Chess, Company, Dracula and Floyd Collins. On behalf of the department and myself, we wish him the best of luck." 
- Harris Smith
Chair, Department of Theatre

"Freshman Matt Rudolph peaked his head into a rehearsal of "BRING IT ON" in August of 2016 when I had just lost the entire Cheerleading squad who had agreed to do the show….I said, “Howdy, can you tumble?” He said “sure”  …..and that is the way it has been for the last 4 years….. Matt is forever willing to give anything asked of him his best shot. Always with a smile, Matt is one of a very few students who have been cast in just about every departmental show of his college career. BRAVO MATT!" 
-Denny Berry
Musical Theatre Program Head, Department of Theatre

"I am so happy that Matthew was chosen as the outstanding student for the Department of Theatre. I have had the privilege of being involved with Mathew from the time of his audition for the department until now at his graduation. I have been his Private Applied Voice teacher for the 4 years. Matthew has an incredible work ethic, a passion for his art and the talent to make it all work. He is also a generous leader amongst his peers. I am sure he will have a brilliant future. Break legs Matthew!!" 
-David Schmidt
Associate Professor, Department of Theatre


*Look out for our feature of Alicia Ross, Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher!  And please join us tomorrow when we will hear from our two student convocation speakers, Jacob Weitlauf and Sydney May, right here on the blog.* 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Seven students from the College of Fine Arts were recently selected as Spring 2020 scholars in the University of Utah's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

UROP gives undergraduate students and faculty mentors the opportunity to work together on research or creative projects. The program provides a stipend and educational programming for students who assist with a faculty member’s research or creative project or who carry out a project of their own under the supervision of a faculty member. Students may apply for UROP any semester and may be eligible for a one-semester renewal. UROP awardees are hired as temporary, part-time UROP Participants by the Office of Undergraduate Research and are paid $1,200 for 120 hours of research or creative work during the semester.

Here are CFA's Spring 2020 UROP scholars and a glimpse at what each of them are working on:

Bethany Dahlstrom, Department of Art & Art History 
Faculty mentor: Carol Sogard

Bethany is researching notable alumni that have graduated from the Graphic Design program at the University of Utah. She is in the process of designing a promotional Graphic Design Alumni book that teaches students in the program, future students and community members about the history and legacy of the Graphic Design Program, while also recognizing these notable alumni and the impacts they have made on the profession. She is also researching innovative ways to utilize Instagram as a design tool to share the content developed in the book.

Ethan Edwards, Department of Art & Art History 
Faculty mentor: Laurel Caryn

The title of Ethan’s UROP proposal is “Art’s Role in a Contemporary, Saturated Market, and a Question into the Validity of Societies Value of the Market”.  Ethan will be  questioning the validity of the gallery space as a place for art, by finding alternative spaces, trying not only to define art itself, but define its purpose and final destination.

Kaitlyn Redd, Department of Art & Art History
Faculty mentor: Justin Diggle

Katie is utilising Laser Engraver and CNC machines to explore new approaches to printmaking. She will initially be creating test images to explore the technical possibilities of the machinery before creating specific images. With the laser engraver for example, she will first screenprint multiple layers of alternating colour before engraving back into the print with particular imagery. The engraving of the image will reveal layers of colour.

Nicole Kallsen, School of Dance 

Faculty mentor: Kate Mattingly

Nicole's project is called "Seeking Common Ground: A case study of ballet's cultural values in Salt Lake City." She is researching perceptions of ballet in Salt Lake City by analyzing three organizations: Ballet West, Ballet West Academy, and the University of Utah Ballet Program. For each organization, Nicole will assess their social and financial support with special attention to the demographics of people who participate in the production and presentation of performances.

Jacob Young, School of Music

Faculty mentor: Jared Rawlings

Jacob is exploring peer group effects of relational victimization and empowerment among high school instrumental music students. He utilized social network analysis and found that participation in a school-based marching band significantly impacts feelings of empowerment reducing self-reported relational victimization, even after controlling for gender, caring behaviors, and positive attitudes toward bullying.

Kimberly Brown, Department of Theatre
Faculty mentor: Rob Scott Smith

In Kimberly's own words: "I am on a quest to create a piece of theatre that examines and exposes our society's relationship with mental health, more specifically to personal identities in our youth in relation to the older generations and the world around us. I want to study mental health, gender, and social issues through the lenses of famous literary figures from Shakespeare’s works. This play will use iconic characters and humorous circumstances to expose and explore deeper issues that some might not be able to do with research papers, classes, and studies."

Courtney Cohen, Department of Theatre
Faculty mentor: Andra Harbold  

Courtney is conducting interviews and pursuing qualitative research into three thematic threads of "Spitfire Grill:" towns with economies whose primary livelihoods are failing, Vietnam veterans returning home after the war, and sexual assault survivors.

Click here for more information on upcoming UROP applications! The next deadline is Friday, March 20th for students interested in working during Summer 2020. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By guest blogger Robert Baldwin.

I was fortunate to make my second trip to China recently. For this trip, I had been invited to conduct a New Year’s Concert at Wuhan University where recent University of Utah School of Music graduate DMA graduate, Bo Wu has just started a new position as Director of Orchestras. Wuhan University is a major University in China, academically quite similar to the University of Utah. It’s a beautiful campus and a top ten university in China, set on a mountainside between the East Lake and the Yangtze River. It is also in the middle of a bustling metropolis of 10.6 million people.

Other than the fact that I don’t speak Mandarin, much of the trip seemed like my normal days at the U; 2-rehearsal-days with-2-different-orchestras. In addition to the orchestra at Wuhan University, I was also invited to conduct the Wuhan Conservatory Orchestra in rehearsal. The Conservatory is one of the top music schools in China, yet at orchestra rehearsals you find students and faculty sitting side-by-side, preparing music together. This makes for a unique learning situation, with faculty modelling directly for the students. We had a great time exploring Strauss’s Die Fledermaus Overture, Smetana’s The Moldau and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Suite. The orchestra was comparable to our excellent Utah Philharmonia orchestra.

By contrast, the Wuhan University Orchestra was quite a bit like our University of Utah Campus Symphony, made up of mostly non-music majors. Wuhan University does not have a music major, per se, but students either play as specialists (those on scholarship), or as “hobby students.” We had a wide range of music to prepare in just 4 rehearsals: Tchaikovsky, Bizet, Verdi, Strauss, Jr. and Sr., and a Chinese song with soloist, chorus and orchestra that I sight read at the first rehearsal. That last one was certainly a new experience. But like the warm taro root tea I also experienced for the first time that day, it was unexpectedly fulfilling. I’m not sure I’ve ever before experienced a piece where there was a cultural connection to every single musician sitting in the orchestra.

Besides the music, which kept me very busy, I enjoyed a variety of other cultural experiences. Most memorably, I was fortunate to spent 3 hours with a traditional Chinese tea master. He prepared some very rare teas to sample, and was very interested in my opinion and reflections. I was honored that said he learned a new way to describe a tea from his home province due to my description. We talked about tea, history, life, philosophy and spirituality. We understood a common language without the need to understand many of each other’s words. Travel increases appreciation of not only another’s culture – history, customs, food, and arts – but also hammers home the idea that we are all essentially the same, with the same needs and desires despite our cultural constraints and customs.

China also provided many opportunities for resetting my “reality button.” At the dress rehearsal, we discovered that the piano has no wheels. I watched as the orchestra members muscled the instrument into place, then set up their own chairs and stands. All this in a space where it was 35 degrees (Fahrenheit) onstage. Yet no one is complained. It was their reality. Parkas were worn, warm tea was served and we persevered to play an excellent rehearsal. Still the cold inspired me to write a short haiku (wrong culture, I know, but humor me):

China in winter,
Rooms heated only while used.
Cold reality.

The concert on December 31st was a just tad warmer, maybe 45 degrees. But despite the chill, it proved a most memorable night. All 1200 people stayed to ring in the New Year with music. Included in the audience was the entire the upper administrators of the university. Amusingly, the photo session afterwards lasted about 30 minutes. I think I appeared on the Chinese version of Facebook about 1000 times if the request for pictures after the concert was any indication. It was quite different end of a concert in the USA where everybody just goes home. Every member of the orchestra wanted a picture, as did the official “Party rep” (if you catch my drift).

On my last day in Wuhan I was pleased to receive a 3-year honorary appointment to Wuhan University. (Translate “adjunct” as “guest professor”). This means I will be returning to Wuhan in the future for concerts and lectures. More importantly, this was a trip about new possibilities. I also met with the Dean other administrators and faculty of the Arts Education Center at Wuhan University to discuss visits between Wuhan U and the University of Utah, both for students and faculty. I also have an invitation to return for a concert at the Wuhan Conservatory of Music.

I found the basic rule of thumb in China is figuring out how to navigate edges of the system while remaining within the boundaries. That’s how things got done. I saw much of that from driving in the city to adjusting concert programming. American things are valued greatly, from electronics to pop culture to fast food. Regarding politics, it is not discussed much, but when it is, there indeed is a glance around the room for a surveillance camera. Our current president gets barely a mention except an occasional laugh about his “golden towers.” I actually enjoyed the brief respite from the 24-7 onslaught of U.S. news coverage The people I met love America and want to travel there. They love Disneyland, Marvel movies, KFC, and think you can drive from Los Angeles to Chicago in an afternoon. I loved their enthusiasm for the USA. I am well aware that my biases and questions must have been as obviously surprising to them as theirs were sometimes to me

My work at the University of Utah affords me some great travel opportunities. But make no mistake, I spent most of this trip working. Good work can and does occur anywhere and everywhere (and now, in any temperature for me). This trip, my second to China, and third to Asia in the last 2 years), was equal parts satisfying, challenging, engaging, overwhelming, fun, stimulating, and exhausting. All travel changes us. I am fortunate to be traveling at a relatively easy time in history, and to be able to share both the experience with you while I shared the music with new friends, students and colleagues.

Published in Finer Points Blog

 The University of Utah School of Music was ranked #15 out of 370 institutions in the U.S. for veteran friendliness in College Factual’s 2019 national and state rankings. This places the U in the top 5% best music schools for veterans in the nation and is the second year in the row the U has ranked as the best school of music for veterans in Utah.

According to PayScale survey, a U music graduate makes an average of $37,436 in their early career to $59,299 in their mid-career — these amounts are above national average earnings for music graduates.

The U also ranked #1 overall for best university for veterans. Determining factors pertaining to veterans include: affordability, population, polices, resources, satisfaction, and overall college quality. 

The U’s Veterans Support Center aims to “enhance the individual and academic success of veterans, service members, and their family members,” to find out about more about their resources and support, visit: veteranscenter.utah.edu and to learn about the College Factual’s ranking methodology, visit their website here.

Published in Finer Points Blog

Come experience a unique concert of traditional middle eastern arrangements. The Utah Philharmonia, in partnership with the Middle East Center presents The Sands of Time: Journey through the Middle East, with special guests Monika Jalili and ensemble.

Jalili and her ensemble have been performing since 2005 with the goal of sharing the history of Persian culture through its music and poetry. Her ensemble includes: Shane Shanahan, percussion; Megan Gould, violin; and Zeb Gould, guitar.

In a rehearsal, Jalili explained to the orchestra, this concert is not only about sharing the beautiful music of Iran, but also to show the connection music has all around the world. The songs she will be singing are rich in Persian culture, but also have universal themes such as love, loss, and friendship.

"I am so excited for this concert. All of this music is very special and I think that the audience will really be inspired by these pieces especially getting to hear music from Iran," said Nava Payandeh, a junior at the University of Utah and a member of the orchestra.

Also on the program is Shalan Alhamwy's Two Images from Aleppo. Alhamwy is a Syrian refugee who wrote the piece to encapsulate the problems people have gone through in Syria. He hopes his piece will give the audience a glimpse of the chaos people endured trying to escape the Syrian War. Following this sobering work is one of hope. Mohammed Fairouz's Pax Universalis, which translates into world peace, is full of vibrant rhythms and melodies.

The concert will be directed by Robert Baldwin. "We are truly fortunate to be able to learn and share this music from around the world,” said Baldwin. “If we also promote better understanding and goodwill that would be a welcome bonus to what promises to be a fantastic evening of music."

Date and time: 12/6 at 7:30P
Libby Gardner Concert Hall
Ticket information: General Admission: $12.50, Arts Pass event: Free for U of U students with UCard, Non-U of U Students: $6.50, Faculty, Staff, Seniors: $6.50


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Published in Finer Points Blog

The School of Music will honor icons of the Salt Lake jazz community at its 18th Annual Camerata Awards Concert Gala on 11/9. Founders of the JazzSLC concert series, Gordon and Connie Hanks, and former U Director of Jazz Studies Henry Wolking will receive their awards at a private dinner and public post-dinner concert in Libby Gardner Concert Hall.

Gordon Hanks fell in love with jazz in a music appreciation class as a sophomore at Granite High. After meeting Connie as an undergraduate at the U, she became a convert as well. According to Gordon Hanks, “The spirit of jazz is one of openness. Jazz is not exclusive, but inclusive. It is America’s classical music.”

In 1994, while working 60 hours a week as a pharmacist and owner of Holladay Pharmacy, Gordon and a friend founded the GAM Foundation to bring nationally renowned jazz artists to Salt Lake City. Almost 25 years and 200 concerts later, JazzSLC has exposed tens of thousands of new fans to jazz music, including legendary performers such as Wynton Marsalis and Ahmad Jamal.

Through the GAM Foundation, the Hanks have given over $1 million to support jazz education from middle school through college. Their generosity has provided discount tickets, program support and scholarships to advance the awareness of and appreciation for jazz.

“A scholarship is the most rewarding gift you can give to a university. It may change a student’s life goals forever,” says Gordon Hanks.

After 40 years as the Director of Jazz Studies, Salt Lake City recognized Henry Wolking as the face of jazz at the U. He came at age 24 fresh from graduate school and started building a nascent jazz program.

During his tenure, the number of jazz faculty tripled, with an instructor specializing in each instrument area. He oversaw the addition of a Master of Music in Jazz Studies. He mentored generations of musicians, music teachers, and composers.

“Henry treated me like an equal, which made me want to work really hard and impress him. He served as a mentor for an entire generation of top jazz players,” explains jazz alumnus (’96) and U faculty colleague Geoffrey Miller.

In addition to his renown as a performer and professor, Wolking made his mark as a prolific and highly diverse composer. Wolking has published over close to 100 works for jazz ensemble, symphony and band. His unique compositional style blends classical music and jazz elements that often depict the landscapes of Utah and surrounding areas.

“As soon as I started playing, there was no question from that point on what I’d do with my life, not ever,” explains Wolking.

The concert features student soloists and ensembles from across the School, including the Michie Jazz Quintet, the University Chamber Choir, and the Wind Ensemble. It includes works by composer Henry Wolking.


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Published in Finer Points Blog

Unparalleled in energy, emotion, and excitement, David Maslanka's compositions are amongst the most popular for wind ensemble. Having written over 150 works ranging from wind symphonies to wind quintets, Maslanka's music has had an enormous impact on the wind ensemble repertoire. Championing the music of Maslanka is the The University of Utah Wind Ensemble who, under the direction of Scott Hagen, recorded and released an album featuring Maslanka's final composition, Symphony No. 10: The River of Time. 

In 2017, Maslanka was commissioned by a consortium that included the University of Utah to write Symphony No. 10. Unfortunately, he passed away before being able to complete the work. He left the unfinished project to his son Matthew Maslanka. Left with an unfinished score and some notes from his father, Matthew set out to complete the project. "He left me an astonishing gift and challenge with this symphony," stated Matthew, "working with his music granted me a direct way of processing my grief. It invited me to enter his dream-space and see through his eyes. It required me to engage my sorrow and loss head on, to look at my love for him and allow the truth of the music to emerge." After only a few short months, the symphony was completed. The result was a magnificent and deeply emotional piece expressing the musical voices of both father and son. 

The University of Utah Wind Ensemble had the great privilege of performing the world premiere of Symphony No. 10 on April 3, 2018. The ensemble then worked to produce the first recording of the new piece. In addition to the symphony, the recording includes two other David Maslanka compositions, The Seeker and First Light. The Seeker is inspired by the Buddhist tradition and their belief in seekers of enlightenment. The music guides the audience through the ideas of self-understanding, compassion, and caring. First Light has two characters “unforgettable wounds - darkness,” and “perseverance - first light.” The music is a journey from a time of darkness into "the light" through human resilience. Combined, these three pieces are an excellent representation of Maslanka's genius and diversity as a composer.

Celebrating the release of the new CD, the Wind Ensemble will perform a concert featuring the music of Maslanka as well as the music of his composition students. The performance will take place on 9/20 at 7:30P in Libby Gardner Concert Hall with a pre-concert lecture at 6:30P.

Published in Finer Points Blog

The Women’s Chorus at The University of Utah is an ensemble for singers of all abilities to rehearse and perform an array of treble choral repertoire. Despite its name, all gender identities are welcome! The choir will perform two concerts this semester on October 19th and December 7th at 7:30P in the Libby Gardener Concert Hall. In addition, students may choose to engage in small group performance opportunities in the community.

The director, Emily Mercado, Ph.D., begins her appointment as Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education at the University of Utah this fall. Mercado taught choir for nine years in Corvallis Oregon and held the post of Associate Conductor for the Corvallis Repertory Singers. Mercado is a dynamic and energetic conductor with a student-centered approach. For example, ensemble members are encouraged to provide input on repertoire selection, musical expression, and rehearsal pedagogy. Her rehearsals are a safe and inclusive space for all students to make and experience quality choral music. Please email her at if you have any questions.

The last day to add classes is Friday August 24th. If you are interested, please add MUSC 4410/MUSC 6410 to your schedule. No audition required!

Photo credit Gavin Whitner.


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Fe4Bbe81600A40063594E597E00Eb05B Xlby Noelle Sharp

For this episode of MAGNIFYING we spoke with Associate Professor (Lecturer), Music Technology and Composition at the School of Music, Dr. Mike Cottle. Our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts is diverse and wide spread. With the goal of gaining a deeper knowledge and awareness of the people within our community, we bring you MAGNIFYING, a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff.

Tell us about yourself: Name, where you are from, what you do and how you got into in your field of work
I grew up on a ranch in northern Utah. I began performing on violin and guitar, emphasis in jazz. But my experimental nature and curiosity for technology led me to degrees in composition with emphasis in electronic music and now computer assisted composition.

What has surprised you the most in your life?
How rich, abstract, and complex such a simple notion of music is. For example, no one can agree on how to tune a piano. In our digital audio work stations, under the tuning preferences there are at least 100 different tunings. Most people are accustomed to the equal tempered scale, but many are not, and certainly musicians from Bach's era would cringe at our current tuning system. And other countries use systems that aren't even close to either our current system or that used in Bach's time. Recently this discussion led to a simple question: how many scales and tuning systems are there? A site named Scala is attempting to document this phenomenon and they have collected close to 45000, some with 45 to 70 notes per octave (where our keyboards have only 12). Even now, after three degrees, three books, and 20 years of teaching advanced composition techniques, I stumble onto something and think, you've got to be kidding.

What do you wish you had known/been told?
20 years ago, in a curriculum meeting, a colleague asked us all a question that made me a little ill: What can we teach students now that we know will still be useful in 20 years? I now ask myself, what did I learn during my degrees that is still useful? The answers are 1) creativity, problem solving, and how to learn and adapt, and 2) the fundamentals; those classes you hate, but have to take. These two are so critical when navigating the recent advances in technology. I still use my ears. I still use my mind. I still use basic theory. I still deal with frequency, intervals, scales, chords, consonance, dissonance, repetition, and variation.


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By Adam Griffiths. 

Addison Marlor, second-year U graduate student in vocal performance, had the opportunity to participate as a performer with the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco over the summer. Merola is known for jump-starting careers for young singers, coaches, and directors, by giving them unique performance opportunities and exposure. The Merola program kept Addison quite busy as he and his colleagues participated in almost daily coachings and lessons, multiple performances with the orchestra, a variety of classes, masterclasses, and mock-auditions. This is in addition to putting on fully staged large operas. “This year I had the pleasure of singing the role of Satyavan in Gustav Holst’s ‘Savitri’ for the triple-bill, a night of three one-act operas,” Addison said. “I also was delighted to sing on the main stage of the San Francisco opera for the Merola Grand Finale, which is the last performance of the summer and features all of the Merola participants, or ‘Merolini’, as they are lovingly called.”

The Merola Opera Program understands the financial burden placed on young musicians, and graciously allows young artists to participate free of charge, with housing and a living stipend provided. This is made possible by generous donors of the program. This is a rare occurrence, as most summer young artist programs charge a hefty fee to even participate. Addison said, “I was delighted to find out very soon into my time in San Francisco that there are many avid supporters of opera who become invested in you and your career as they welcome you into the family that Merola has created over the years.” Addison’s voice teachers in his undergraduate and graduate studies, Dr. Tyler Nelson and Dr. Robert Breault respectively, both participated in the Merola Program in years past, and Addison felt privileged to be able to follow in their footsteps.

Addison was one of many current U of U voice majors who performed in programs around the world. Adam Griffiths and Cody Carlson, along with recent graduates Ivana Martinic, Garrett Medlock, and Hilary Koolhoven, participated in the 11 and ½ week program Ohio Light Opera, where they produced seven fully staged operettas and older musical theater works, and sang in over 45 performances each. Jared Lesa attended the intensive three-week Institute for Young Dramatic Voices in Nevada, run by Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick, where he received training through lessons, coachings, acting direction, and body movement instruction. Keanu Aiono-Netzler participated in the SOARS program (Scenes, Opera, Art Song, Recording Session) at the Bay View Music Festival in Michigan. Dana Wirth travelled to Northern Italy to be a part of the Music Academy International, as part of the Trentino Musical Festival, where she performed in two fully-staged operas. Becca Clarke travelled to Bavaria, Germany to participate in the International Performing Arts Institute, where they held masterclasses, dance and acting classes, and produced a Lieder and Opera Scenes concert. David Sauer and recent graduate Genevieve Gannon both played leading roles (Rodolfo in La Bohéme and Zerlina in Don Giovanni) at La Musica Lirica in Italy, directed by the U’s Dr. Robert Breault. Young artist programs are very competitive and it is impressive that there were so many U of U singers that were selected. Programs like these are crucial training experience and exposure to aid singers in starting their professional performing careers. The singers were also happy to represent the University of Utah and know that their experiences will help bring attention and prestige to the U’s vocal program.

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