Category Archives: Music

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 http://www.ecu.edu/cs-lib/music.cfm 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.

O'Brien

O’Brien

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 https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/faq 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.

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“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 www.strandedsilver.com.

ECU freshman wins best woman vocalist at NC NATS auditions

A first prize for best overall undergraduate woman performer highlighted a strong showing for East Carolina University vocalists at the 2016 North Carolina National Association of Teachers of Singing auditions. The auditions were held on Feb. 19-20 at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro School of Music.

Freshman vocal studies student Alexandra Fee earned the overall award following a first place finish in the category for freshmen women vocalists. A native of East Moriches, New York, she attended Westhampton Beach High School before coming to ECU to study with instructor Dr. Jami Rhodes. Fee performed three pieces from composers Giuseppe Verdi, Aaron Copland, and Clara Shumann.

AlexandraFee

Contributed photo by Alan Kaid Photography

“I went in knowing that I just wanted to give my best performance and I didn’t even think of the possible outcome,” Fee said. “I was listening to them announce the two awards and then they called out my name. I was so in shock that my jaw just dropped.”

“As a freshman singer, Alexandra was competing against upperclassmen winners of all of the other NATS divisions,” said John Kramar, chair of ECU’s Department of Vocal Studies. “The fact that she won the best overall female singer as a freshman is very impressive. She has a great voice, and she sings with much sophistication.”

ECU’s male vocalists also walked away with first place finishes in two categories. Timothy Messina won first place in the upper advanced college men category, and freshman William Edwards took first in the freshmen men category. Overall, East Carolina singers collected 13 awards at the auditions.

“I was very proud of every ECU student who participated in this year’s NATS auditions,” said Kramar. “They all sang beautifully — regardless of whether or not they were given an award.”

The NC NATS auditions draw competition from universities and colleges throughout the state. ECU vocalists competed against students from the North Carolina School of the Arts, Campbell University, High Point University, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and other rivals. The auditions provide an opportunity for the colleges and universities to show off their programs, and for students to get feedback from voice teachers working at other institutions.

“Our students behaved like young, gracious professional artists in a competitive environment,” Kramar said. “They are friendly, kind people who are happy for the success of others and enthusiastic about supporting the art form and tradition of beautiful singing.”

“From this experience, I learned that success isn’t just about doing well for yourself; it’s really about giving a good performance for others,” Fee said. “Performing is my passion but my end goal with singing is to bring others joy.”

List of award winners

First Place, Overall Best Undergraduate Woman, 2016 NC NATS — Alexandra Fee
First Place — Freshmen Women — Alexandra Fee
First Place — Freshmen Men — William Edwards
Second Place — Freshmen Women — Chloe Agostino
Honorable Mention — Freshmen Men — Christopher Short
Honorable Mention — Freshmen Men — Cory Whaley
Third Place — Sophomore Men — Eli Cole
Second Place — Junior Women — Rebekah Shamberger
Honorable Mention — Junior Men — Nolawi Araya
Third Place — Senior Women — Elizabeth Stovall
Second Place — Lower Advanced College Men — James Taylor
First Place — Upper Advanced College Men — Timothy Messina
Second Place — Hal Johnson Spiritual Prize — Johnathon Spell

ECU cellist and pianist release CD

East Carolina University faculty members Emanuel Gruber, cello, and Keiko Sekino, piano, have released a CD of Robert Schumann’s music titled “Fantasy and Romance” on the Delos label.

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Schumann wrote little original music for the cello–only his cello concerto and the Five Pieces in Folk-style, Op. 102, which is on this CD. Cellists, eager to play his chamber compositions originally written for other instruments, have made successful transcriptions of those compositions, and six of those are offered on this CD.

This is Gruber’s second CD on the Delos label, and his first recording collaboration with Sekino. His first CD with Delos, “Mendelssohn: Complete Music for Cello and Piano,” with pianist Arnon Erez, was called “…in a word, beautiful…” by Allmusic.

The new CD is available on Amazon.com.

Alum wins 2015 American Prize in Composition

East Carolina University School of Music alum Travis Alford (BM, ’05) is the winner of The American Prize in Composition 2015, choral music professional division, for his composition O Fragile Human, Speak…

Travis Alford (BM, '05) is the winner of The American Prize in Composition 2015.

Travis Alford (BM, ’05) is the winner of The American Prize in Composition 2015.

The American Prize is a series of non-profit national competitions in the performing arts providing cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels. Administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Danbury, Connecticut, The American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually.

Alford teaches at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, NC, and has held positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brandeis University and Gordon College. He holds degrees in theory and composition from Brandeis (PhD, ’14), the New England Conservatory (MM, ’08) and ECU. His primary teachers at ECU included Edward Jacobs, Mark Richardson and Britton Theurer.

Travis wrote Loose Strands on commission from ECU’s North Carolina NewMusic Initiative, a work premiered in 2013 by Scott Carter and members of the ECU Wind Ensemble; Carter and ECU students, alumni and faculty recorded Loose Strands in May, 2015.

— Harley Dartt

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