Notable Faculty & Student Achievements

November 2022

  • Professor Emeritus of Music Lois Ferrari conducted the Austin Civic Orchestra in a performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and Wolf, narrated by Peter Bay, the Austin Symphony Orchestra conductor. Ferrari and Bay collaborated in the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s Pajama Party concert on November 12. Both orchestra and audience arrived in their pajamas and settled in for a unique take on the bedtime story.

    • In June of this year, Associate Professors of Music Bruce Cain and David Asbury made video recordings of works written for them. They are releasing them as the editing process is completed. The next video in this series, Atmósfera, is the first song from the cycle Sobre La Naturaleza by Diego Luzuriaga. The composer, originating from Ecuador, has a special affinity for writing music derived from traditional sources and connects deeply with themes from the natural world. The video can be viewed here.

  • Part-Time Assistant Professor of Music and concert cellist Hai Zheng Olefsky has been invited to be an adjudicator for a strings-cello audition for All-State Orchestra by TMEA (Texas Music Educator Association) on Saturday, November 12, 2022. She has continued coaching the Austin area’s top high school cellists. Two of her cello students have auditioned and won the first cello chairs for both Texas Region 26 and Region 32-All Region High School Orchestra this school year.

  • Part-time Instructor of Applied Music Katherine Altobello ’99 was the mezzo-soprano soloist in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “All Night Vigil” with the Texas Bach Festival, under the direction of Dr. Barry Williamson on June 23 and 26 in Georgetown and Austin. The work consists of 15 movements with a capella chorus and soloists, sung in Church Slavonic/Russian. The “All Night Vigil” is one of Rachmaninoff’s finest compositions, considered “the greatest musical achievement of the Russian Orthodox Church.” Watch the performance here

October 2022

  • In June of this year, Associate Professors of Music Bruce Cain and David Asbury made videorecordings of works written for them and are releasing them as the editing process is completed.The next video in this series is a song from the River of Words Song Cycle entitled Mariquita,featuring music by Diego Vega, and text by Yutzel Garcia.

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper gave a presentation at the 25th anniversary conference of the African American Art Song Alliance at the University of California, Irvine. Titled “A Ghost No More: On a Prize-Winning Song by Margaret Bonds No Longer Lost,” Cooper’s talk centered on Bonds’s setting of Frank Dempster Sherman’s poem “A Sea Ghost,” which she composed at the age of eighteen and for which she won a prestigious prize of $250 (about $5,400 in 2022 dollars) in the national Wanamaker Competition in 1932. The song has frequently been described as lost, but Cooper discovered it in the course of his archival research. By examining it and the political campaign song “We’re All for Hoover Today” (written when Bonds was fifteen), putting those two into a focused chronology with the flowering of mature song that emerged in mid-1932, and examining the previously unknown correspondence of the composer, Cooper shed light on the nature and potency of the otherwise unseen but powerfully felt encounter that enabled Bonds to grow by a decade or more as a composer in a matter of mere months. For those who are wondering, it is totally and truthfully coincidental that Cooper, who has an aversion to cheesy promotional stunts, gave a talk about ghosts and phantom voices two weeks before Halloween.

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper wrote the program notes for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s first-ever performance of the two violin concertos of Florence B. Price (1887–1953). In Prince’s life, most White stages banned Black audience members, White orchestras had no Black performers, White orchestras rarely performed classical music by Black composers, and standing Black orchestras that could handle difficult concertos, Florence Price had to know that the chances of these two powerful compositions (1931 and 1951) being performed were virtually nil – and yet she wrote them. Now, though, 67 years after their composer’s death, they have finally been performed by one of the world’s greatest orchestras. Cooper’s program notes supplement their abstruse analytical comments on Price’s violin concertos with reflections on Price’s complex and deft negotiations of White and Black performance spaces and music in these two compositions.

  • Associate Professors of Music Bruce Cain and David Asbury released a video recording of “Juntos Frente al Mar,” the third and last song from the cycle  De Amor y Desventura  by Julio César Oliva. The video is available on YouTube .

  • Associate Professors of Music David Asbury and Bruce Cain performed their program titled “Canciones por la Vida” as part of the guest artist series at Kalamazoo College on September 29. This program contains many songs commissioned by the duo in the last 11 years, primarily on environmental themes.

September 2022

  • Associate Professors of Music David Asbury and Bruce Cain have released the second in their series of video recordings made in the summer of 2022. The recording is the second movement of the song cycle  De Amor y Desventura  written for the duo in 2017 by Julio César Oliva and is titled “Un Grito de Dolor.” The video is available on YouTube .

  • Associate Professors of Music Bruce Cain and David Asbury made video recordings of works by Federico Garcia Lorca, Jason Hoogerhyde, Diego Luzuriaga, Eduardo Martin, Julio César Oliva, and Diego Vega. The first of these recordings is titled “Encuentro” and is the first movement of a song cycle entitled  De Amor y Desventura  by Julio César Oliva. The video is available on YouTube .

  • Associate Professors of Music Bruce Cain and David Asbury were invited to perform at the Cheboygan Opera House in Cheboygan, Michigan, at the Heart of the Turtle Gathering in Mackinaw City, Michigan, and as part of the guest artist series at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Charlevoix, Michigan, in May 2022. The programs for these concerts featured works on environmental themes written for the duo by composers Matthew Dunne, Jason Hoogerhyde, Diego Luzuriaga, Eduardo Martin, Julio César Oliva, and Diego Vega.

  • Part-time Instructor of Applied Music Adrienne Inglis and Shana Norton, otherwise known as the flute and harp duo Chaski, will present “Most Importantly,” a recital of music that explores the things that really matter, with soprano Maureen Broy Papovich and pianist Jeanne Dayton Sasaki. The recital’s centerpiece is the premiere of the song cycle “Most Importantly, Loves” (2021) by Inglis. The performance will be October 2 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.

August 2022

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper wrote the program notes for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s upcoming performance of both violin concertos by Florence B. Price, scheduled to take place November 6–9 with soloist Randall Goosby under the baton of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Price wrote both concertos in an age where most white halls barred Black audience members, most white stages banned Black performers, and no white orchestras included any Black players; she had to know there was virtually no chance of the concertos being performed with orchestra during her lifetime. And indeed they were not: the Second Concerto, written just 13 months before her death, was premiered with piano three years after her passing, performed one more time, and then forgotten, and there is no evidence that the First Concerto was ever performed. Both works were lost until their manuscripts were found in an abandoned house south of Chicago in 2009. They were first performed in 2018 and are now in the repertoire of one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper was the first guest speaker in the 2022 University of Arizona Choral Studies Distinguished Speakers Series. Titled “The Africans, Who Are a Part of My Ancestry, Say …’: Voices of Heritage in the ‘Credo’ and Spirituals of Margaret Bonds,” Cooper’s video lecture includes a significant amount of newly discovered archival evidence as well as readings by Candace Kerr Johnson (University of California, Berkeley) and performances by Grammy-winning chorus Conspirare and acclaimed soprano Karen Slack accompanied by Michelle Cann. A previously unknown exchange of letters between Bonds, Shirley Graham Du Bois, and Sam Fox Music Publishing provides unusually direct smoking-gun evidence of the music-publishing industry using its economic leverage to ensure that Bonds’s musical affirmation of Black folk and the Black ancestral heritage would be silenced.

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper published three new editions of music by Margaret Bonds as part of Hildegard Publishing Company’s Margaret Bonds Signature Series: the Afro-modernist “African Dance” for soprano, baritone, and piano (text by Langston Hughes); “Especially Do I Believe in the Negro Race” for soprano, chorus, and piano (the second movement of Bonds’s setting of the W. E. B. Du Bois prose poem “Credo”); and, most significantly, The Montgomery Variations, a 23-minute orchestral work that offers a series of snapshots of the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycott to the 16th-Street Baptist Church Bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, followed by a radiant “benediction” in which, according to Bonds, “a benign God, father and mother to all people, pours forth His love on His children—the good and the bad alike.” Released on a rental basis in 2020, the variations have been recorded by the Minnesota Orchestra and were featured at this summer’s Brevard Music Center Summer Festival in North Carolina. This study score is a full scholarly edition that will make the works available to individuals and libraries as well as performing groups.

July 2022

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper gave a virtual lecture titled “‘So Sind Wird Nun Botschafter’: Der Gemeingut Mendelssohns und Wagners als Repräsentanten Deutscher Kultur in England” (“‘So Now We Are Ambassadors’: The Common Ground between Mendelssohn and Wagner as Representatives of German Culture to England”) for a conference titled Mendelssohn und Wagner: Zwei Leitfiguren der Leipziger Musikgeschichte (Mendelssohn and Wagner: Two Leading Figures of Leipzig’s Musical History) hosted by the University of Leipzig. Cooper was one of only two U.S. scholars in the program. His paper showed that although Mendelssohn and Wagner are commonly understood as absolute antipodes in 19th century music, they followed parallel strategies in a shared mission of musical diplomacy for expanding and enriching the musical life of England via recent and historical contributions of German composers. 

  • Part-time Instructor of Applied Music Adrienne Inglis participated in “I Belong to You,” a multimedia experience presented by Inversion Ensemble and featuring the world premiere of “Motherland/I Belong to You,” an oratorio blending poetry, comic book illustration, and choral music, on June 25. The autobiographical libretto by critically acclaimed comic book author Greg Pak (The Incredible Hulk, Star Wars) explores the history, culture, and natural wonders of Texas from the perspective of a native Texan during the various stages of his life. The musical adaptation of Pak’s text by Inversion’s three founding members—Inglis, Robbie LaBanca, and Trevor F. Shaw—was sung by Inversion’s flagship choral ensemble and accompanied by guest artists Invoke (string quartet) and Ethan Shaw (steel guitarist). “Motherland/I Belong to You” will also be published as an original comic book by Pak, commissioned by Inversion, with illustrations by renowned artists Ann Smith, Dustinn Craig, Ethan Young, Sean Chen, and Shing Yin Khor. A recording of the performance may be purchased via the Inversion website

May 2022

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper gave a virtual presentation titled “Freedom, Justice, and Jazz: An American Odyssey” for the New Horizons International Music Association. The presentation began with a cursory review of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs and proposed that the creative urges that resulted in the musical revolutions of jazz were able to achieve extraordinary prominence not only as an art form, but also as a sonorous expression of the forces that underlay and are embodied in the fifth level (self-actualization) of Maslow’s hierarchy. Using guided questions and assigned listening, the presentation applied this thesis to Langston Hughes’s iconic poem “The Weary Blues” (both in its original 1925 literary guise and in his own televised reading with a jazz ensemble in 1958), the televised performance of Max Roach’s and Abbey Lincoln’s “Triptych” from the Freedom Now Suite, and Bob Kaufman’s poem “Walking Parker Home.” The presentation was adapted from a class assignment in Cooper’s fall 2021 course, Music and Poetry from the Harlem Renaissance to #BlackLivesMatter. 

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper taught a class and delivered a public preconcert lecture at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory on the occasion of a performance of the Margaret Bonds/Du Bois Credo by the conservatory’s combined choirs (150 voices) and orchestra in the world-renowned Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Titled “FLEX: The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Margaret Bonds and Her Credo,” the class and lecture adduced unpublished correspondence between Bonds and Shirley Graham Du Bois to illustrate how the political economy of classical music and music publishing works to erase, tacitly but potently, the presence of women, Black folk, and their art in musical life and narratives of music’s history. 

  • Part-time Assistant Professor of Music and concert cellist Hai Zheng Olefsky was invited to give a live music performance and talk as the guest speaker at the May 19 installment of the Full Circle: Speaker Series for Creatives in Georgetown, Texas. She was also interviewed for a feature article in Georgetown View magazine. 

  • Part-time Instructor of Applied Music Adrienne Inglis’s composition “El Mar” (2020) for mixed chorus and piano will enjoy its live premiere performance by the San Francisco State University Chamber Singers on May 6. The piece expresses the angst and tragedy in Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni’s “Frente al Mar.”

April 2022

  • Professor of Music Lois Ferrari led the Austin Civic Orchestra (ACO) in the fourth concert of its “Reunited” season on April 2. The performance was the 8th Texas Rising Stars concert and featured the three winners of the University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music String Concerto Competition as soloists. The program included music by Tchaikovsky, Chausson, and Brahms, along with a performance of the Ukrainian national anthem. Ferrari is currently in her 20th consecutive season with the ACO.

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper was guest musicologist for a two-day Florence Price Festival at Bowling Green State University. In addition to meeting with musicology and other music students, Cooper delivered two lectures as part of his visit: “Hear Her Voice: On Knowing Florence Price, Pianist, Today” and “’With Love, Devotion to the Negro Race and Humanity …’: Margaret Bonds and the Social Work of The Montgomery Variations.” Both talks were updated versions of lectures previously given virtually, now incorporating new information and issues raised by archival sources. In addition to aspiring to keep his audiences only minimally vegetative through 45 minutes’ worth of musicological droning, Cooper strove above all in these two talks (which were addressed to audiences comprised primarily of younger individuals beginning careers that may enable them to make the world a better place) to convey a sense of the courage and hope that motivated both Price and Bonds in their work as they challenged an unjust system and used art not as entertainment, but as an agent of social change.

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper  gave a presentation titled “The Prophecies Fulfilled: Margaret Bonds and the Sacred Social Work of The Montgomery Variations and the Du Bois Credo ” at Georgetown University. The presentation explored how Margaret Bonds’s work in celebrating Black vernacular music in genres traditionally reserved for Euro-American classical repertoires was a 20th-century enactment of ideas first proposed in the 19th and early 20th centuries by Frederick Douglass, James Monroe Trotter, Frédéric Louis Ritter, Antonin Dvořák, and W. E. B. Du Bois. The presentation was followed the next day by a preconcert lecture (also at Georgetown University) for the first performance since 1973 of the orchestral version of the Bonds/Du Bois Credo and Bonds’s orchestral magnum opus, The Montgomery Variations (both recently discovered and published by Cooper), along with excerpts from her recently published cantata Simon Bore the Cross. 

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper was interviewed on historian Pamela Toler’s blog, “History in the Margins,” about his work in excavating and bringing back into public life the music of Florence B. Price and Margaret Bonds, including his motives, hopes, and trepidations. As is customary on the blog, Cooper asked a question of Toler after answering her questions to him. Read the complete interview

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper helped organize the world premiere of Florence B. Price’s choral/orchestral work “Song of Hope” (1930) at Ithaca College and participated in a pre-concert panel discussion on the piece and its significance. Learn more about the event and the work on the Ithaca College website.

Feburary 2022

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper delivered a virtual guest lecture for the John Bird lecture series at Cardiff University (Wales). Titled “‘… and God and Everything Noble’: Margaret Bonds and the Montgomery Variations,” the lecture was an updated version of a lecture given for the University of Iowa in December 2021.

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper gave the keynote lecture (virtually) for the two-day Florence Price Celebration jointly hosted by the University of the Incarnate Word and Texas Lutheran University. Titled “Hear Her Voice: On the Challenges of ‘Rediscovering’ Florence B. Price,” Cooper’s talk included recordings of two of his recently published editions of previously unknown music by Price. It also included a recording of the posthumous premiere of another song that remains unpublished, “Brown Arms (To Mother),” an otherwise utterly unknown composition that contemplates what must have been one of the most painful episodes in Price’s entire life: her mixed-race mother’s abandonment of her entire Arkansas family (including Price) to live a life passing as white in Indianapolis—forever. 

  • Part-time Assistant Professor of Music and concert cellist Hai Zheng Olefsky has been teaching and coaching young talents in the greater Austin area. Two of her students won the final round of auditions as the first cellist and eighth cellist in the 2021–2022 All-State Symphony Orchestra (highest-level orchestra) sponsored by the Texas Music Educator Association, and three of her students from St. Stephen’s School won their auditions for the Texas Private School Music Educator Association (TPSMEA) 2021–2022 All-State Orchestra. 

January 2022

  • Under the direction of founding artistic director Craig Hella Johnson and with the assistance of renowned pianist Anton Nel, six-time Grammy-winning chorus Conspirare will perform a concert on February 15 featuring pieces from Margaret Bonds that Professor of Music Michael Cooper has unearthed, edited, and published. The program was designed in consultation with Cooper and consists entirely of compositions he edited. The finale will be Bonds’s inspiring and magisterial setting of the W. E. B. Du Bois’s prose poem “Credo”—a musical social-justice manifesto the likes of which the world had never seen before and has never seen since. For more information, visit the Conspirare website.

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper published two short choruses by Margaret Bonds with Hildegard Publishing Company. Titled “No Man Has Seen His Face” and “Touch the Hem of His Garment,” the two works were written in the spring of 1968 and exemplify Bonds’s commitment to providing high-quality music for both amateur and professional choruses.

December 2021

  • Professor of Music Kiyoshi Tamagawa was the piano soloist in a December 2 performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, Op. 80, by the Westwood High School Symphony Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Joshua Thompson. The orchestra’s past honors include being selected as an Honor Orchestra by the Texas Music Educators Association and being invited to perform at the national Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. Last month, 12 of the group’s string players were selected for the Texas All-State Orchestra. 

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper wrote the program note for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Digital Stage performance of Florence Price’s Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, airing December 8–15. Composed in 1938–1939, the work marks the beginning of a new period in Price’s creative life. She was obviously aware of its originality, trying for several years after its premiere to secure a second performance. Despite her previous successful track record as symphonist, these efforts were in vain, and her correspondence makes the reason plain: “To begin with I have two handicaps—those of sex and race. I am a woman; and I have some Negro blood in my veins.” The Philadelphia rendition marks this important composition’s first complete performance by a top five U.S. orchestra. 

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper consulted with the Boston-based Convergence Ensemble on a program titled “American Voice in Poetry in Song II,” writing the program note and offering a short virtual lecture for a virtual concert that aired on December 4. The program included works by John Wesley Work III on poems by Maria Howard Weeden and Myrtle Vorst Sheppard, works by Florence Price and Margaret Bonds on poems by Langston Hughes, and a selection of spirituals.

  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper gave a virtual lecture for the Musicology, Music Theory, and Ethnomusicology Colloquium of the University of Iowa titled “‘With Love, Devotion to the Negro Race and Humanity …’: Margaret Bonds and the Social Work of The Montgomery Variations.” The Montgomery Variations, a 23-minute set of programmatic variations on the spiritual “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” for large orchestra, is a work that Cooper discovered during archival research in 2018, edited that same year, and published with Hildegard Publishing Company in 2020. In October 2021, it was recorded by the award-winning Minnesota Orchestra. Margaret Bonds’s lifelong work as an advocate for racial justice and gender justice is well known, and Cooper’s paper situates The Montgomery Variationsin the context of the composer’s increasingly ambitious projects that she mounted in the service of those goals, portraying it as a series of snapshots of major events of the civil rights movement, including the Montgomery bus boycott (1955), the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing (1963), and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.