Displaying items by tag: Music

by Adam Griffiths

Brian Manternach, Assistant Professor (Clinical) in the U of U Department of Theatre, is a man of many hats. Like most voice teachers, he has an extensive performance career, but what makes him stand out are his numerous achievements in vocal science and pedagogy research. Brian is the chapter head of the local division of NATS (National Association for Teachers of Singing), an organization which meets regularly to discuss how to improve vocal pedagogy in the voice studio. Additionally he serves as Associate Editor, and regularly authors and co-authors articles in the NATS periodical The Journal of Singing. He also writes regularly in a book review column, “The Singer’s Library,” for the Classical Singer magazine.

Brian uses his love of vocal science to directly affect those he teaches. Last year he gave a talk at TEDxSaltLakeCity about why singing is an activity people should all be able to benefit from and enjoy. In that talk, he cited studies that indicate how singing can lead to increased physical and psychological well being. By the end of the talk, he had the entire audience singing “You Are My Sunshine” with him.

He says, “What draws me to singing the most is the opportunity to collaborate with others and to build relationships through the shared human experience of singing together. In the same way, the research projects in which I’m most interested do not involve one person hidden away in a lab somewhere. For me, it’s all about like-minded people who are enthusiastic about a topic sharing what they have to contribute in order to hopefully learn something new. And when we do find something new, it’s exciting to be able to share that through presentations, publications, and in our teaching.”

Coming from the performance and teaching world, Brian says that he doesn’t have the research background to do a lot of work on his own. He states, “I rely on others who have a much greater understanding of research methods and acoustic analysis techniques to help carry out the studies we do. I’m particularly indebted to the U’s National Center for Voice and Speech and their associate director, Dr. Lynn Maxfield — a brilliant voice scientist who is truly committed to bringing vocal science and art together.” This past June, Brian and Dr. Maxfield presented research in Philadelphia at the Voice Foundation’s Annual Symposium: Care of the Professional Voice. “For that study we played audio clips of professional and student singers for professional casting directors to see how the casting directors would evaluate their sound.” That research has recently been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Voice, which is “widely regarded as the world’s premiere journal for voice and medicine and [voice] research.”

This month Brian presented at the Pan American Vocology Association (PAVA) Symposium in Toronto, in collaboration with Dr. Maxfield and Dr. Jeremy Manternach (his brother), an Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Iowa. He will also present at the NATS Conference in Las Vegas next summer. Regardless of how busy he gets, he will always prioritize his work as a teacher. “I have had wonderful, inspiring, patient teachers throughout my life and I’m really passionate about doing my best to fill that role for others.”

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Adam Griffiths

15 members of the Utah Symphony, including University of Utah faculty members, spent their Spring Break educating aspiring musicians in Haiti. This project was the joint effort of the Utah Symphony and Building Leaders Using Music Education (BLUME). John Eckstein, cello professor at the School of Music and Utah Symphony member, coordinated this effort with his long-time friend Janet Anthony, President of BLUME. The result of this collaboration was 104 talented Haitian musicians gathering from 19 schools throughout the country receiving private and group instruction, culminating to a concert where they performed prominent works such as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, and selections from Bizet’s Carmen.

What makes this project so unique? Eckstein explains, “Individuals or small groups do go [to Haiti] to teach, usually in the summer, but never anything like this. For 15 members from a top 15 American orchestra along with their Music Director to go to Haiti is entirely new. We are building on the great work of others, but sort of turbo charging it a couple of times over. It's a testament to the generosity in the Symphony, the University community, and the state.” Furthermore, Eckstein noted, “In Haiti there isn’t a violinist down the street with a Juilliard diploma on the wall. In many cases, these students are also teachers at their own schools.”

Although the program participants don’t receive consistent music education throughout the year, Eckstein noted that there was incredible talent inherent in these musicians. As part of an exercise, the instructors had the students sing their melodic phrases. “Perhaps a national strength, their singing was not only lovely and in tune, but also insightfully phrased. Notes of significance were treated as such, and resolutions were unmistakable.” For further evidence of natural talent, Eckstein noted that “one of the violinists play[ed] tenor sax and then trumpet with remarkable panache at the post-concert party. None of the professional symphony musicians could do that.”

All music educators who participated volunteered their time and had to pay their own airfare. Eckstein said, “Due to the financial realities there, we needed to make the institute entirely free to all of the participants. This included round-trip transportation to Jacmel and room and board for the 75 students from outside the area, as well as lunch and transportation within Jamel for the 30 local participants. We raised almost $30,000 and needed every penny to make it work.”

Steve Proser, horn professor at the School of Music, spoke of some of the challenges of music education in Haiti vs. the United States. “My Haitian students don’t have access to the same quality and quantity of lessons than my U students have had. Also, their instruments are in rather poor condition. There are no expert brass repairmen there. . . Nonetheless, my Haitian students were very talented, intelligent and receptive to ideas. There is an innocence and excitement to them that is sometimes missing here at home.” Proser’s favorite memory from his experience was his teaching studio. He said, “There was no indoor space, so I did my teaching on the beach by the wharf in Jacmel, Haiti. Stunningly beautiful.”

This experience was life-changing for all who participated. Eckstein said, “Being in Haiti tends to make one appreciate the remarkable opportunities and comforts we take for granted in this country. We are really blessed here and it’s good to recognize that. There are a lot of reasons to be happy and thankful here.”

Published in Finer Points Blog
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By Emerging Leaders Ambassador and Guest Writer, Rachel Luebbert

The notes of the saxophone flood the air, quivering like a butterfly’s wings. Then, the piano paints the space in a melodic portrait. The percussion pulses the room with rhythmic vibrations. The music is soft and tender, but at the same time driving and powerful. It demands all of your attention, all of your presence. Suddenly, the trumpet calls out, dancing with new, spontaneous notes and the other instruments follow this line of improvisation as they embark on a new journey. This is jazz music.

On Thursday 2/16 at 7:30PM this jazz music will flood the walls of Libby Gardner Hall during the Jazz Spotlight Concert. Denson Angulo will conduct three different groups; the Jazz Ensemble, a large band of 17 musicians, the Red Hot Jazz Quintet, and the Jazz Repertory with 10 musicians. Each of these students auditioned to be a part of these bands at the beginning of the school year.

John Kim, a fourth year student studying Jazz Bass Performance will be performing with the Jazz Repertory Band on Thursday. Kim explained that this is his first year performing with a larger group, “A big band is a very different experience and my role as a bass player is to be rock solid in time and feel.” The Repertory Band will be performing arrangements created by Kris Johnson, which are standard selections with an added twist of metric modulation and his own flair. The show will also feature exciting sections of improvisation. The Repertory Band, for instance, will transition between order and spontaneity where the improvised sections will be predetermined in length and instrument, yet there will still be a freeness and a sense of play as the musicians create new strands of notes in the moment.

Jazz music runs deep through the veins of the United States. Christopher Kaukali a senior studying Jazz Guitar Performance describes jazz as “the Great American art form”. This music was not adopted from another country but was born on our very soil. John Kim explains a common misconception, “Often people group jazz and classical music into one lump of ‘historical music’. However, jazz music is the music of our past as Americans. It is a never-ending protest. More than ever, it is important to not forget what this music is saying.” So come to the Jazz Spotlight Concert, to play an active role in keeping Jazz alive and continuing the never-ending protest for social justice and individual expression.

Date: 2/16 at 7:30PM
Location: Libby Gardner Hall
Tickets: UofU Students tickers are free with ArtsPass (Ucard), Other Students are $3, General Admission is $9, UofU Faculty, Staff, and Seniors are $3.

Published in Finer Points Blog

Fifteen College of Fine Arts students are among the U’s most articulate ambassadors, without ever saying a word. School of Music students in the Red Hots! program perform for events all over campus, sharing their talents and love of music and transforming the ordinary into something special. Their appearance ensures that the arts have a presence at the University’s most important events.

As Jacqueline Voland of the School of Medicine explains, they are “the hidden gem on campus.” In its fourth year, the School established the Red Hots! to provide freelance experience for its students, while exposing the campus community to its exceptional musical talent. With a string quartet, jazz ensemble, pianists, harpists and classical guitarist, plenty of options exist for those wanting to create just the right ambience for their event.

The University President’s Office is a frequent requestor of Red Hot! Performers. “They bring high caliber talent, class and elegance to any event and leave a wonderful first and lasting impression,” explains President David and Dr. Sandi Pershing.

The student Red Hots! gain professional experience and strengthen their resumes by serving as University ambassadors to alumni, donors and the community. They also receive payment for every performance, providing support similar to a fellowship.

“The Red Hots! offers me opportunities to perform for varied audiences and to move people by my music,” said pianist and Red Hot! Shanmo Guan. The School of Music’s Advisory Board funds the Red Hots! program through its annual Camerata Awards Gala. Events that qualify pay no charge for Red Hot! Performers.

For more information please visit Red Hots!.

Published in Finer Points Blog


Spring 2025 Convocation
May 2, 2025
Kingsbury Hall

We look forward to celebrating this momentous occasion with you and are so proud of all the hard work, creativity, and risk-taking you do in the University of Utah College of Fine Arts. We compile information about convocation here, so keep checking back for updates!

Please check your uMail regularly for other information/news from the University, the College, and your Unit.


Congratulations to the College of Fine Arts Class of 2024!

We were so happy to help celebrate your big day with you and your loved ones!   

Did someone special to you miss the Convocation ceremony?  Have them watch it now below.




Here is a slideshow of the big day to help remind you of the celebration:

University of Utah College of Fine Arts

Convocation Slideshow


Digital Clickable Image Graduate in front of a block U


College of Fine Arts Class of 2025!

Stay tuned to this website for more information about Commencement and Convocation in May 2025.  This site will be updated as information becomes available.  In the meantime, please see below for important information from the 2024 exercises that may help you tentatively plan for 2025.

College of Fine Arts Convocation Countdown



Kingsbury Hall has very recently updated their security protocols effective immediately.  Please see their sign below:

Prohibited Items


*Please note that we were also told that flowers in vases and other items that may cause an obstruction in an emergency will not be allowed in the building.  All that enter Kingsbury Hall are subject to a screening before entering the venue.

The College of Fine Arts Convocation Ceremony will take place on May 3 at 12pm.  The ceremony will take place in Kingsbury Hall in President's Circle.  Students that graduated in Summer or Fall 2023, or are planning to graduate in any semester in 2024 may participate. (Please note that this differs slightly from the University Commencement participation cutoffs)

Graduates should start to arrive at 11:15am in their regalia at their unit meeting places.  These will be outdoors on the sidewalk between Kingsbury Hall and David Gardner Hall.  Please follow signs and volunteer instructions.

Guests will be allowed to enter Kingsbury Hall at 11:30am.  Please be seated no later than 11:55am.  Those not seated by that time may have to wait until after the graduate processional to be seated.

  • The CFA Convocation is a ticketed event.  The number of tickets given is controlled by the venue and will determine the number of tickets offered to each graduate participating in the ceremony.  Ticket RSVP for the 2024 Convocation has closed.  Everyone that RSVP'd should have received an email to their uMail from the Dean's Office on April 3, 2024 with an update.  Tickets will be distributed by your unit's Convocation Representative. (list below in Important Information)
    • If you missed RSVPing and need tickets, or if you need extra tickets past the ones you RSVP'd for, please contact your unit's Convocation Representative and make them aware of your need. 


Get to Know Your Convocation Speaker--Michael Palmer

Get to Know Your 2024 CFA Outstanding Seniors


Important Information

Published in Current Undergraduates
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