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Alumni News

  • 1970 graduate of UTK, William J. Cowart, 63, died March 26, 2011 of complications related to cancer. A graduate of Beardon High School, Bill studied horn with William Bommelje at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, from 1966 through 1970, and played along side his teacher in the Knoxville Symphony. After four years with the U.S. Marine Band in Washington, DC, Bill joined the horn section of the Milwaukee Symphony in 1976 and continued to play with the MSO for 25 years. Obituary : http://www.jsonline.com/news/obituaries/119100094.html
  • Soprano Jessica Cates (MM Vocal performance, 2010) completed a highly successful run as Yum‐Yum in the Fort Worth Opera production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado in June 2011. Ms. Cates was cited in one review as the "find of the evening" for her up‐beat portrayal of the central love interest in this classic tale. The highly unusual production was the vision of director John de los Santos and featured wild costuming and wigs, contemporary dancing and characters Gilbert and Sullivan would never have imagined but probably would have enjoyed. Also joining Jessica in the cast was baritone, Joel Herold (MM Vocal performance, 2008). Both were students of Andrew Wentzel.
  • Jesse Ayers (BM 1974 and MM 1980 from UTK, DMA from U Kentucky) has won the 2011 American Prize for Orchestral Composition. (More information...) Jesse studied composition with Van Vactor, Guy Bachman, John Lennon, Allen Johnson while at UT. Jesse is a professor of music at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. In Fall 2010, he was awarded a MacDowell Fellowship. During the fellowship he worked in the same studio - and maybe at the same piano - where Bernstein composed his MASS in 1970. Jesse’s biography can be found at: http://jesseayers.com/bio
  • Keith Brown (MM Studio Music & Jazz, 2011) released an album called “Sweet and Lovely” April 15, 2011.  The album was recorded in France. For more information, see the Knoxville New Sentinel article. Keith is the son of UT Jazz Piano Associate Professor Donald Brown.
  • Valerie Sanders (BM Music Education/clarinet and BA German, 2000) won an ADDY award in February 2011 for music she composed for the 2011 YWCA awards video. Valerie is a registered composer with BMI and has also composed the theme music for the Vol Network. Valerie has been a band director at West Valley Middle School in Knoxville since 2004 where she also serves on the leadership team. Valerie is married to Mischa Goldman (BM Studio Music & Jazz/String bass performance, 2007).
  • Priyeshni Peiris (MM 2007, Piano) is finishing her DMA in piano at Texas Tech University. In summer 2008, she returned to Sri Lanka to perform an invited recital sponsored by the American Embassy of Sri Lanka. The concert was held at the ambassador's residence and was followed by a grand cocktail reception. She performed:Bach's Partita in E minor (#6) Stravinsky Serenade en la Faure- Theme & Variations in C# minor Earl Wild Etude. In June 2008, she passed the Fellowship of the Royal Schools of Music (FRSM- U.K) exam for the final level of the diploma sequence. She is the first person in Sri Lanka to pass this exam. Priyeshni also presented a paper at the National Conference of Keyboard Pedagogy in Chicago, July 2009.
  • Dosia McKay (B.M. Theory/Composition, 2009) has completed a M.M. degree in Music Theory/Composition • Scoring for Film and Multimedia from New York University. She is living and working in New York as a composer and conductor for film, multimedia, and concert hall. Her recent projects include an original score to "The Bubble Tree", an animated film by Ran Jing, winner of the Skirball Competition, which was premiered in March by the New York University Symphony Orchestra,"Farewell Dream Garden" for soprano, flute, and string orchestra which won the second prize in the International "Music in the Garden" Composers' Competition Wroclaw – Kraków 2010/2011 to be premiered in Poland in May by The Orpheus Orchestra, "Unveiling", a work for string orchestra to be premiered by the North/South Consonance in June in New York City, co-writing a score to a Catalan silent film depicting cultural life of the early XX c. Barcelona which was screened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in April 2010 as part of the Washington International Film Festival, a recording of "Lush", a new work for jazz piano, soprano saxophone, and jazz chamber orchestra at the New York University, and a variety of scores to short films by the directors at the Tisch School of the Arts. For more information on Dosia's work, see http://www.dosiamckay.com/
  • David Pletincks (M.M. 1996) is the founder and director of the Nature Coast Children's Chorale which made their Carnegie Hall debut in February 2010 in a performance of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" under the direction of Maestro Vance George, Director Emeritus of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. David is also the choral director at Powell Middle School Performing Arts Center in Spring Hill, FL. In the last two years, the Powell Girls Chorus has placed first at the Smoky Mountain Music Festival in 2009 and Festival Disney in Orlando in 2010. Finally, David Pletincks has been elected Middle/Junior High School Choirs Chairman-Elect for the state of Florida. He will serve a two-year term as chairman-elect and then a two-year term as the Florida Middle/Junior High School Choir Chairman.
  • Jennifer D'Agostino Sams (M.M. Vocal Performance, 2006) recently participated and served as faculty for the Madison Early Music Festival in Madison, WI. She has completed her coursework for her DMA in voice at University of Wisconsin-Madison and is working on her dissertation in Troubadour Music. Jennifer toured with the Opera for the Young during their 2010-2011 season, playing the role of 'Ruth' in The Pirates of Penzance. In Spring 2011, she played the role of 'The Mother' in Menotti's The Consul with UW opera theatre. In Fall 2010, she gave two recitals, a lecture recital on her dissertation topic, and a recital of works for mezzo-soprano including Rossini's 'Giovanna d'Arco,' Ravel's 'Sheherazade,' Mozart's K578 'Alma Grande' and Vivaldi's 'Agitata da due venti' from his opera Griselda. Jennifer is married to Aaron Sams. (BA in anthropology, University of Tennessee-Knoxville 2008)
  • Slade Trammell (M.M. Piano Performance, 2009) was the piano soloist Sunday, November 7, with the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Lucas Richman, conducting. Slade performed Mozart's D Minor PIano Concerto, K. 466, as part of the Chamber Classics Series concert in the Bijou Theatre.  This concert was a special 75th Anniversary celebration for the Knoxville Symphony. Slade is a piano faculty member at Roane State Community College.
  • Doug Brown (BM Music Education 2004) entered the Ultimate Music Room Make-over Contest sponsored by In Tune Monthly Magazine, a magazine written exclusively for music making students in grades 7 - 12 and their teachers. Out of all the entries, Doug’s essay won! As a result, his middle/high school program at William Campbell Combined School in Naruna, VA, has been chosen to receive over $40,000 of new equipment. The equipment includes equipment from Buffet, Pearl, Roland, Zildjian, Notion software, Promark, and Yamaha, as well as a $2000 gift certificate to The Woodwind & Brasswind store. Congratulations to Doug and his students!
  • Ben Boone was recently promoted to Full Professor at California State University. He has also received the "Provost's Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Research, Scholarship or Creative Activities" in 2010. In addition, his latest CD, "The Benjamin Boone Quartet: LIVE" is being aired on over 30 radio stations nationally. His musical, "CON - MAN: The Musical," directed by David Schweizer and starring John Fleck, was recently produced in Los Angeles and had three sold-out shows. Finally, in fall 2010, Ben will record at Bavarian Radio for four days with German violinist Stefan Poetzsch.
  • Joseph Patrick Moore (BM Studio Music and Jazz, 1991) released a CD in May 2010 titled  "To Africa With Love" (Blue Canoe Records of White, GA).  Joseph has worked with many notable artists (Stewart Copeland - The Police) and he toured with Jazz veteran's Earl Klugh and Bob James in May 2010 in LA and Seattle.  More information about this CD can be found at: http://www.JPMAfricaLove.com


 

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