Music

Notable Faculty & Student Achievements

April 2019

  • Part-Time Assistant Professor of Voice Julia Taylor  performed the role of Mimi in the all-female production of Puccini’s La Boheme (La Femme Boheme)  with Local Opera Local Artists (LOLA) at the Women’s Music, Diversity, and Leadership Conference at San Diego State University.





  • Part-Time Assistant Professor of Music and Concert Cellist Hai Zheng Olefsky has been invited to be an adjudicator for strings and to give two cello master classes April 11–12 at the 2019 Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS) Arts Festival in Austin, TX. This Festival has grown to be the nation’s premiere annual regional arts festival among independent schools. The festival is a collaborative enterprise with more than 40 participating schools. For more than 50 years, the ISAS Fine Arts Festival has been a celebration of the visual and performing arts, bringing together thousands of students who will share their talents and be inspired for their futures.





  • Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts and Professor of Music Michael Cooper gave a guest lecture titled “The Silence of Florence Price” at Trinity University on April 2. The talk featured recordings by award-winning pianists Lara Downes and Petronel Malan of five still-unpublished piano compositions by Florence Price (1887–1953). Cooper called for a more intersectional and sustained exploration of the composer’s life and works. Those interested may find the narcolepsy-inducing abstract here.





March 2019

  • Professor of Music Lois Ferrari conducted the Austin Civic Orchestra (ACO) on March 26, 2019, in its annual Texas Rising Stars (TRS) concert. The TRS performance is presented in collaboration with the Butler School of Music (BSOM) at the University of Texas at Austin and highlights winners of the BSOM string concerto competition. Also featured was the Amster String Quartet, an ensemble of high-school musicians nominated by their teachers and then auditioned by the ACO for the honor of being coached by a noted local music teacher (this year’s teacher was Dick Frazier at Anderson High School). Every year, a different ensemble is assembled and coached on a rotating basis (woodwind, brass, strings, percussion, etc.). The ACO was also honored to present the U.S. premiere of Roydon Tse’s Sinfonia Concertante, which won the ACO’s biannual composition contest.





  • Music Literature major Katiebeth Brandt ’19 prepared a critical edition and arranged for the posthumous premiere of Florence B. Price’s choral composition titled “Bluebell.” Based on a text by Mary Rolofson Gamble, the work was performed on March 3 at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Brandt prepared her edition under the supervision of  Professor of Music and Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts Michael Cooper. The autograph was obtained from the University of Arkansas Special Collections Library and has a professional recording and video made from the premiere. This piece was written by a woman, with a woman poet, edited by a woman, with a treble section of eight women voices, conducted by a woman with a woman accompanist.





  • Part-Time Instructor of Applied Music Adrienne Inglis’s composition “Asleep in a Blanket Spun of Energy” enjoyed its world premiere performance by Inversion Ensemble on March 2 and 3, 2019, in Austin, TX. Honoring Inglis’s Ojibwe ancestors, the work for mixed chorus and Trevor Shaw’s electronic track evokes the vivid imagery of Margaret Noodin’s poem “We Are Returning Always.” The piece sets all of the English text and a few key words of the Anishinaabemowin text from the bilingual poem, which beautifully captures a glimpse into the natural and celestial wonders of the Ojibwe world. The music reflects a taste of the syncopated embellished singing, pentatonic melodies, and steady drumbeat characteristic of Ojibwe music. The electronic track provides both a compelling rhythmic foundation and fantastical sonic representations of the moon, nebulae, supernovae, the aurora borealis, and the forests of the Ojibwe lands.





February 2019

  • Sphinx Organization Laureate Lara Downes gave the world premieres of two major compositions by Florence Price discovered and edited by Professor of Music and Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts Michael Cooperin a major concert on Feb. 23. The concert, part of the Washington (DC) Performing Arts series, previewed Downes’s new project,  Holes in the Sky (Sony Masterworks, March 1). The album, a genre-fluid collaboration with Judy Collins, Rhiannon Giddens, and others, is devoted exclusively to music by women, performed exclusively by women. Along with other pieces, Downes performed Price’s “Fantasie Nègre no. 2,” long believed lost before Cooper recovered it, as well as her more compact “Sketches in Sepia” and “Memory Mist.” All three compositions typify Price’s creative synthesis of African-American stylistic traits with the genres and techniques of concert music.





  • A concert aria by Felix Mendelssohn, discovered by Professor of Music and Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts Michael Cooper,received its Puerto Rican premiere in performances by the International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico with soprano Sara Garcia under the direction of Emilio Colón on February 8–10 in Mayagüez and San Juan. The 14-minute aria, “Infelice! / Ah, ritorna, età dell’ oro, MWV H 4” (1834), was long assumed to be a draft for a different piece written nine years later, but Cooper’s research into the manuscripts, text, and music revealed it to be an autonomous composition—resulting in the addition of a major “new” composition to the catalog of Mendelssohn’s works and the repertoire of nineteenth-century vocal music.





  • Professor of Music and Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts Michael Cooper uncovered and edited a composition by Florence B. Price titled “Memory Mist,” which was performed on Feb. 1 by Grammy-nominated pianist and Sphinx Organization Laureate Lara Downes as part of Detroit Public Radio’s celebration of the first day of African-American history month. The piece is part of Cooper’s large-scale project exploring the hundreds of unknown compositions by Price, who, despite her sex and race, was acclaimed as the mid-20th century’s leading African-American composer of concert music. The performance will be rebroadcast by Detroit Public Radio after Feb. 23 and will be one of the featured tracks on Downes’s new genre-fluid CD Holes in the Sky, devoted exclusively to music by women composers and performers (due for release on March 1).





January 2019

  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Beth Everett presented a session at the National Opera Association national conference titled “Female Conductors and Directors and Their Paths to Careers in Opera.” The conference took place on Jan. 3–5, 2019, in Salt Lake City, UT.





  • Professor of Music Lois Ferrari conducted the Austin Civic Orchestra on Dec. 2, 2018, in a concert titled Bohemian Rhapsodies. The concert featured guest violist Roger Myers and music by Czech composers Dvorak, Stamitz, Husa, and Smetana.





  • Part-Time Instructor of Applied Music Adrienne Inglis’s composition “Innocent Blood” was part of the Inversion Ensemble’s “I, Too, Sing America” performance, which was just selected by The Austin Chronicle as one of  Robert Faires’s Top 10 Dance and Classical Joys of 2018. Faires  describes the performance as “a history lesson through choral music, speaking to struggles present and past (e.g., witch trials in Adrienne Inglis’s forceful “Innocent Blood”), with the choir’s united voices ever a symbol of e pluribus unum.”





December 2018

  • Six music majors have prepared source-critical editions of unknown, unpublished, or little-known works by African American composer Florence B. Price (1887–1953) for the Music in the United States course offered by Professor of Music and Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts Michael Cooper. The editions were prepared from autographs held at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and include a scholarly preface, a source-critical score of the work, and a critical report. The students have gone through the entire process of preparing scholarly editions, including finding the sources, requesting reproductions and agreeing to the holding library’s terms, researching the poets and texts (where applicable), inputting the music using professional music-editing software, and assembling the final product. They hold the copyright on their editions. The students, works, and work-statuses are

    • Emily Barham ’20, Fantasy in Purple (new edition; text by Langston Hughes)
    • Katie Beth Brandt ’19, Bluebell (premiere edition; text by Mary Rolofson Gamble; recorded by the University of Texas at San Antonio choir and set for posthumous premiere in spring 2019)
    • Myles Kellerman ’20, Monologue for the Working Class (premiere edition; text by Langston Hughes)
    • Alex Slaid ’20, The Retort (new edition; text by Paul Dunbar)
    • Tabitha Thiemens ’19, God Gives Me You (new edition; text by unidentified author)
    • Ti Xin ’20, Presto (premiere edition; for piano solo)




November 2018

  • Part-Time Instructor of Applied Music Katherine Altobello was the guest mezzo-soprano soloist in Austin Chamber Ensemble’s production A Haunted Evening,featuring works by Brahms, Strauss, Verdi, Britten, Wildhorn, Schwartz, and Sondheim. Altobello performed alongside soprano June Julian, tenor Dr. Jeffrey Jones-Ragona, and pianists Dr. Stephen Burnaman and Martha Mortensen Ahern. Performances were on Oct. 19 at Huston–Tillotson University’s King Seabrook Chapel (celebrating their second season as an “all-Steinway” music school) and on Oct. 20 at the First Presbyterian Church in Austin. Performances included solos, duets, trios, and piano movements that fit the Halloween spirit.





  • Professor of Music and Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts Michael Cooper  uncovered, edited, and arranged for the posthumous premiere of two unpublished songs by African-American composer and civil-rights activist Margaret A. Bonds (1913–1972). The songs are based on Edna St. Vincent Millay’s (1892–1950) sonnets “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed” and “I Know My Mind and I Have Made My Choice.” Millay’s poems, considered among the finest sonnets of the 20th century, are important for their use of feminist themes, which Bonds in turn engages in the works’ musical style. The works received their modern premiere at a recital by former Southwestwestern Instructor of Music Dana Long Zenobi at Butler University, Nov. 6, 2018.





  • Professor of Music and Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts Michael Cooper discovered and edited an unpublished choral work by Florence B. Price (1887–1953) that will be performed by Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Beth Everett and the Southwestern University Chorale at their concert on Nov. 3, 2018. The composition, titled “Night,” is based on a poem first published in 1930 in the NAACP journal The Crisis by Harlem Renaissance author Bessie Mayle. Price, generally acclaimed as the doyenne of African-American concert music of the mid-20th century, set Mayle’s poem to music in 1945. After her setting was premiered in Chicago, the autograph was filed among Price’s other manuscripts. Cooper discovered it during his research in the summer of 2018.





October 2018

  • Faculty members from the Department of Music were well represented at the annual meeting of the College Music Society, held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Oct. 10 13.

    • Professor of Music Kiyoshi Tamagawa presented his paper “Ragtime, Gamelan, and the Music of Claude Debussy: Exoticism vs. Cultural Appropriation.”
    • Associate Professors of Music David Asbury and Bruce Cain performed three songs composed by Associate Professor of Music Jason Hoogerhyde from the River of Words Project. The River of Wordsis a collection of songs the duo has commissioned from multiple composers, setting texts written by children on the topic of the environment.




  • Professor of Music Lois Ferrari celebrated her 16th consecutive appointment as music director of the Austin Civic Orchestra (ACO) by opening the 2018–19 season on Oct. 6 with a concert titled Bella Italia! Guest trumpeter and Part-Time Assistant Professor of Applied Music Kyle Koronka joined the ACO in a concert that featured music by Italian composers Vivaldi, Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, and Respighi.





  • Part-time Instructor of Applied Music Adrienne Inglis’ composition “Innocent Blood” will soon enjoy its world première performance by Inversion Ensemble. Mary Esty, the composer’s eighth-great-grandmother, was falsely accused of witchcraft and hanged September 22, 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts. Using poetry, court records, Mary’s petition from prison, and Puritan hymns, “Innocent Blood” tells her tragic story in this work for mezzo-soprano soloist, chorus, flute and bass flute, and organ. The performance will be hosted Oct. 6, 2018, at 7 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas, and Oct. 7, 2018, at 3 p.m. at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.





  • Part-time Instructor of Applied Music Katherine Altobello was the featured mezzo-soprano vocalist for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, Texas, led by Dr. Jeffrey Jones-Ragona of Saint Mary Cathedral and accompanied by Dr. Maimy Fong, an independent music director.





September 2018

  • Part-Time Instructor of Applied Music Katherine Altobello was a featured mezzo-soprano soloist and ensemble member with the Texas Bach Festival under the direction of Barry Williamson and collaborative pianists Rick Rowley and Andrew Brownell. Featured works included J. S. Bach’s motets, “Jesu, Meine Freude” (BWV 227), “Singet dem Herrn ein Neues Lied” (BWV 225), Brahms’s “Liebeslieder Walzer, Op. 52,” and Vaughan Williams’s “Serenade to Music.”





  • Associate Professor of Music Jason Hoogerhyde’s work “Ebullient Echoes” was chosen as part of the 52 Weeks of Flute Project, spearheaded by Chicago-based flutist Robin Meiksins. Meiksins prepared the composition in consultation with Hoogerhyde and presented it on the Project’s YouTube channel. The performance may be viewed here.





August 2018

  • Part-Time Assistant Professor of Music Alisha Gabriel is celebrating the release of two more nonfiction children’s books titled The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Triggers Reform and Escaping an Animal Attack, both published by The Child’s World.





June 2018

  • Part-time Instructor of Applied Music Adrienne Inglis’ composition “El sol” for SATB chorus, harp, and Venezuelan cuatro enjoyed its world première performance June 2, 2018, in Austin, Texas, with Inversion Ensemble and harpist Shana Norton. “El sol” (The Sun), sets Sonnet XXXIII by Luis Martín de la Plaza to a Venezuelan joropo for SATB chorus, harp, and cuatro. Luis Martín de la Plaza (1577–1625) grew up in the small southern Spanish town of Antequera. A gifted poet as well as a priest, he wrote this Petrarchan sonnet in classical style. The octave (the first eight lines) presents a violent thunderstorm with dark clouds that hide the sun, fierce winds that fight with the sea, waves that batter the rocky coastline, and hail that blankets the fields. The sestet (the final six lines) turns the narrative to the sun’s breaking through the clouds, calming the sea, hushing the wind and thunder, painting the clouds gold, and adorning the fields with fragrant flowers. One is left to wonder whose eyes are so beautiful as to make the sun’s dawn envy their colors. The sonnet’s rhythmic and vivid imagery lends itself to a Venezuelan joropo, a creole dance and musical style derived from Spanish, African, and indigenous sources. The SATB choral parts indulge in some cross rhythms and playful polyphony over a typical joropo rhythm on the harp and Venezuelan cuatro.