Category Archives: Music

ECU cellist Levine wins MTNA 2017 NC prize

East Carolina University sophomore cellist Scott Alex Levine won first place in the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artist North Carolina strings competition on October 28 in Raleigh, NC. He advances to the MTNA Southern Division competition in Lynchburg, VA, on Jan. 12-15.

The MTNA National Student Competitions are the most successful and prestigious student competitions in the country. Each year, thousands of students compete for top prizes and national recognition.

Levine is a student of Emanuel Gruber.

ECU performing arts series to help celebrate N.C. Arts Council’s 50th anniversary

East Carolina University’s S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series is one of 170 organizations across North Carolina to participate in a statewide arts celebration of the 50th anniversary of the North Carolina Arts Council.

Arts and cultural organizations in all 100 North Carolina counties will celebrate the anniversary in October with music, dance, exhibitions and fall festivals.

ECU’s S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series has dedicated the upcoming performance of the Vienna Boys Choir to the statewide celebration.

The Vienna Boys Choir. (contributed photo)

The Vienna Boys Choir. (contributed photo)

The Vienna Boys Choir will perform on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. in ECU’s Wright Auditorium. The 500-year-old choir is world renowned for its quality performances. At ECU, they’ll perform a program titled “Bella Italia,” featuring works by Italian composers Vivaldi, Rossini, Verdi and Mascagni, along with popular favorites such as “Santa Lucia,” “O sole bio,” “Volare” and more.

“The Alexander series has enjoyed the longtime support of the North Carolina Arts Council, and we are pleased to join in their anniversary celebration,” said Michael Crane, producing artistic director of the series. “We are proud of the impact the N.C. Arts Council has had across the state and in our own community.”

Tickets to the Vienna Boys Choir are available at $45, $35, $25 and $10, online at or by calling 252-328-4788. Parking is $5 per car in advance.

About 200 arts and cultural events are slated now through late November across the state in recognition of the anniversary of the N.C. Arts Council.

“The ideal that founded the North Carolina Arts Council in 1967 was “arts for all citizens,” said Wayne Martin, executive director, North Carolina Arts Council. “Since that time, we’ve worked to create an expansive network of nonprofit arts organizations so that citizens can participate in the arts and artists can contribute to our state’s growth and development.”

The concentration of events will occur during October to coincide with Arts and Humanities Month, a celebration of arts and humanities across the U.S.

“The celebration in October is a tribute to our collective achievements the last 50 years,” Martin said.

Events are listed on a comprehensive calendar at Information on ECU’s Alexander series can also be found at

Follow the N.C. Arts Council’s 50th anniversary celebration at #NCArts50 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


Contact: Michael Crane, 252-328-5386

ECU music education major selected for national achievement award

East Carolina University senior music education major Lauren Lewis has been selected as one of this year’s recipients of the Shannon Kelly Kane Scholarship and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Collegiate Professional Achievement Award. These recognitions are given to college members who have served their NAfME collegiate chapter in an exemplary manner with dedication to NAfME and music education.

Each year two graduating music education students are selected from a national pool for the Kane Scholarship. Lewis is ECU NAfME chapter president.

ECU music education student Lauren Lewis (center) accepts the 2017 Kane Scholarship and Collegiate Professional Achievement Award. Pictured with NC Music Educators Association officers. (contributed photo)

ECU music education student Lauren Lewis (center) accepts the 2017 Kane Scholarship and Collegiate Professional Achievement Award. Pictured with NC Music Educators Association officers. (contributed photo)

In addition, Lewis and fellow ECU music education major Jordan Harris were among 97 college students and more than 200 professional music educators who participated in the NAfME Hill Day Collegiate Advocacy Summit event beginning June 29 in Washington, DC, where Lewis accepted the Kane Scholarship and the professional achievement award. Annually the single largest gathering of music education advocates on Capitol Hill, NAfME Hill Day is imperative to ensuring the continued preservation of school-based music programs across America.

“It was such an honor to be awarded the Shannon Kelly Kane Scholarship at this year’s Hill Day Advocacy Summit—Mrs. Kane was such a wonderful inspiration to music educators and to be given an award in her memory was very touching,” Lewis said. “I am so thankful for all of the support given at East Carolina University that allowed me to participate in such an amazing organization such as NAfME and attend Hill Day 2017.”

The Collegiate Advocacy Summit informs prospective young music educators about the most pressing music education policy issues of our time and helps them to engage with music education advocacy.  Hill Day music advocates conduct more than 200 meetings with members of Congress and their staffs each year during the three-day event.

“Hill Day was such a wonderful opportunity for professional development, meeting new people and advocating for music education,” Lewis said. “The sense of community and support gave me the confidence and inspiration to continue working in my own local chapter and advocating in my own state.

“The opportunity to meet future colleagues from across the country, learn from wonderful educators and make a difference in legislature concerning music education was an amazing experience that has made me more excited than ever to become a music educator.”



-by Harley Dartt, University Communications

Alum Marshall awarded Yale graduate Presser award

Florrie Marshall, East Carolina University alum (BM, Performance, ’15; Certificate of Advanced Performance Study, viola performance, ’16) and Yale University first-year graduate student in viola performance, has been awarded the Yale Presser Foundation Graduate Award.

Left to right: Yale professor Melvin Chen, Marshall, Yale School of Music Dean Robert Blocker. (contributed photo)

Left to right: Yale professor Melvin Chen, Marshall, Yale School of Music Dean Robert Blocker. (contributed photo)

The $10,000 Presser Foundation Award is awarded to an outstanding returning Yale student to advance his or her music education. The Graduate Award at the Presser Foundation is only given to one student at each of 12 exclusively invited schools of music.

To read more about Florrie Marshall’s time as a student at ECU click here.



-by Harley Dartt, University Communication

School of Music alumnus wins another Grammy

School of Music alumnus Chris Bullock (BM Performance, Jazz Studies, 2003) won his third Grammy with the multi-genre band Snarky Puppy on February 12, 2017.

This year’s win was for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, which the band also won in 2016. They won for Best R&B Performance in 2014. A multi-instrumentalist, Bullock performs on saxophone, clarinet, flutes and synths, and has interests in hip-hop and electronic music including deejaying, beat making and production.

ECU Music Library responds to patrons’ needs

East Carolina University’s Music Library, a department of Joyner Library located on the first floor of the A.J. Fletcher Music Center, offers newly renovated spaces and resources based on the changing needs of its patrons.

First established in 1974, the library contains the largest music collection east of Raleigh. It now serves the needs of music lovers, performers and educators from all parts of eastern North Carolina while continuing its primary focus on the needs of ECU students, faculty and staff, particularly the School of Music and the School of Theatre and Dance.

(starting with the closest) Freshmen, TayAndra Allen, Paige Yanik, and Jacob Abolos work together in close proximity to new electrical outlets for easy charging. (Photo by Kelly Rogers Dilda)

Freshmen TayAndra Allen, Paige Yanik and Jacob Abolos work together near the new electrical outlets for easy charging. (Photos by Kelly Rogers Dilda)

Music Library collections include music scores, books, journals, microforms and computer software dealing with every musical style and genre from classical to rock to reggae. The library provides both Mac and PC computers, a quiet study room, a group listening/viewing/study room, audio and video dubbing service, and music reference assistance. It also houses Joyner Library’s entire recording collection as well as the music-related portion of its video recording collection.

More than 100,000 items, many of which have come from in-kind donations, are offered to an average of 70,000 patrons who visit the library each year.

The need for renovating the space and its resources was first discovered after ECU anthropology professor Dr. Christine Avenarius and David Hursh, head music librarian, conducted an ethnographic study to determine how patrons were using the space. “Ethnographic studies are time-intensive, but the accuracy of the results is worth the extra effort,” said Hursh. “People often say they do one thing, but do another. Observing people’s actions is the best way to determine what is really happening,”

Study results determined that the design of the library space was exactly the opposite of what worked best for its users. Outcomes revealed ECU music students overwhelmingly preferred to study individually rather than collaboratively. Before the remodel, students spent long periods of study time in six cramped study carrels located near the busiest and loudest part of the library, the circulation desk. Students also spent shorter periods of time in the Technology Lab, the quietest part of the library.

The two spaces were switched, with the lab now serving as a quiet study room. This space now offers 12 study carrels custom-designed to meet the needs of music students who often use oversized materials or multiple print materials simultaneously. Computers at standing stations just inside the library’s doors allow patrons to quickly check email and print assignments between classes without bothering those who are doing long-term study.

Results also showed that patrons like to multi-task with electronic equipment. Because previous arrangements offered little access to electrical outlets all new furniture purchases included units with power.

Sophomore, Sophia Odiorne, studies in the new quiet study room. (Photo by Kelly Rogers Dilda)

Sophomore Sophia Odiorne studies in the new quiet study room.

The remodel also brought the addition of a new group listening/viewing/study room, a staple in most other music libraries that was previously missing from this one. The addition of this room has been a goal of Hursh’s ever since he came to ECU nearly 20 years ago. This room allows students to study for music history listening tests and other exam and class preparation together, sharing style characteristics that distinguish one piece from another while they listen. It also offers the complete range of audiovisual (AV) playback equipment, a large monitor for group viewing, two whiteboards (one with music staves), seating and portable work surfaces for eight.

Faculty needs were also considered since they sometimes need space for small seminar classes and tutoring activities. Available to anyone by reservation, this room may encourage more collaboration in the library.

“I am pleased to see these contrasting study spaces are already being heavily used by the students,” Hursh said. “A recent renovation follow-up survey we conducted in late January indicated the quiet study and AV rooms are the most-liked features of the remodeled facility.”

The remodeled facility was also fitted with a technology alcove complete with printing and scanning services, as well as the tools necessary for preparing musical score copies for performance purposes. The open wall spaces provided by the renovation and a new display case will be used to showcase student art, a form of outreach to student body members who might otherwise not know there is a music library on their campus.

A Jan. 20 open house celebration was held to reveal the revitalized space and recognize those who contributed to the project.

Janice S. Lewis, director of academic library services, noted that “the maxim ‘Listen, Observe, Think & Then Take Action’ successfully served as a guide to the Music Library renovation.” The renovation is the second major project undertaken by the Joyner Library Advancement Council.

Current council chair Shelby Strother recounted her experiences as a student in the School of Music, preparing for listening exams in a hallway with classmates. She marveled, “how far we have come in supporting School of Music students.”

The Music Library is located on the first floor of the Fletcher Music Center. For more information please visit or call 252-328-6250.


-by Kelly Rogers Dilda, Joyner Library

ECU pianist to perform at Smithsonian dedication

East Carolina University faculty pianist John O’Brien will be performing with University of North Carolina soprano Louise Toppin at President Obama’s Freedom Sounds dedication of the Smithsonian’s new African American History Museum on September 24 in Washington.



Conceived and presented in festival fashion, Freedom Sounds programming will include musical performances, spoken word, oral history activities and evening concerts. The three-day music festival presents artists who represent the numerous cultural threads encompassing African diasporic histories and traditions.

O’Brien and Toppin were invited to present a program entitled “Songs of protest: then and now” to celebrate the musical contributions of African American composers.

Visit for more information.

–Harley Dartt

ECU School of Art and Design hosts NC National Art Honor Society high school students

East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design hosted the North Carolina chapter of the National Art Honor Society’s annual retreat on April 8.

ECU welcomed approximately 200 exceptional high school art students from 11 schools throughout the state to participate in art workshops conducted by ECU School of Art and Design faculty. Students chose to participate in two workshops, selecting from classroom as canvas, screenprinting, shoot a short, eye tracking, enameling, collage, book arts, make a TV show, non-traditional drawing and painting, and shooting a video interview.

Regional high schools with art students participating included South Central High SchoolJH Rose High School and Pasquotank County High School.

The retreat was coordinated by ECU alumnus Jody Stouffer, high school art teacher from Lee County High School and director of the North Carolina chapter of the National Art Honor Society.


“Our faculty were excited about the opportunity to showcase their concentrations,” said Robert Quinn, ECU professor of art education. “We developed some really engaging workshops that gave high school students a taste of what life is like as an art student at ECU.”

Participating ECU art faculty included Quinn, Scott Eagle, Ken Wyatt, Lisa Beth Robinson, Alice Arnold, Mi-Sook Hur, Cynthia Bickley-Green, Erick Green, Michael Dermody and Christine Zoller.

The NAHS traveling exhibition, featuring artwork submitted by National Art Honor Society high school chapters in North Carolina, was on exhibit in ECU’s Burroughs Welcome Gallery in Jenkins Fine Art Center during the workshop.

In addition to the workshops, students were introduced to ECU’s art facilities and toured the ECU campus.

ECU has the largest studio art program in North Carolina, which is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Curriculum areas include animation, art foundations, ceramics, cinema, drawing, graphic design, illustration, interactive media, metals, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, textile design and video.

–Harley Dartt

ECU quartet to perform at national convention

The Stranded Silver Flute Quartet has been invited to perform at the 2016 National Flute Association Convention in San Diego, California, on August 13.

Founded in August 2013 as an East Carolina University student initiated ensemble, the Stranded Silver Flute Quartet is Mary Mary Gheen (MM, flute performance, ‘13), Willie Santiago (MM, flute performance, ‘14), Benjamin Sledge (BM, flute performance/theory-composition, ‘16) and Jackie Traish (BM, flute performance, ‘15).

Contributed photo.

Contributed photo.

Stranded Silver was chosen as a semi-finalist for the Savvy Musician in Action Chamber Music Competition, a competition dedicated to innovative and collaborative performances, and in January 2016, was invited to perform at the New Music Gathering conference at The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Stranded Silver has performed in numerous local schools and assisted living facilities as a part of their community outreach program.

The convention performance will include Robert Randazzo’s RadiatorSatoshi Yagisawa’s Capricious Winds and Tim Sutton’s Grace, Mov. V.

Learn more at

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