Music

Notable Faculty & Student Achievements

May 2022

  • 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.





November 2021

  • Part-Time Assistant Professor of Music and concert cellist Hai Zheng Olefsky has been teaching and coaching Austin-area young talents. Her students have won auditions as the first cellist for both middle school and high school all-region orchestras in 2021. It was announced this week that two of her students won cello auditions for the 2022 All-State Symphony Orchestra (highest-level orchestra) sponsored by the Texas Music Educator Association. She is also the cello teacher for a top high school cellist, Yochen Zhong, who recently won second place for cello (age group D) in the 2021 King’s Peak International Music Competition.





  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper gave an invited lecture for the Juilliard School titled “‘And I must go farther …’: Margaret Bonds and the Credo of W.E.B. Du Bois.” The paper was a thoroughly overhauled version of a talk that Cooper gave earlier this year for the Royal Irish Academy of Music and the University of California, Irvine, now revised to foreground documents that reveal Bonds’s thinking about her inheritance from her family—especially her mother—and her responsibility to her heritage as an African American, an artist, and a woman.





  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper completed the first installment of his work as a member of the Leadership Council of the three-part festival titled “The Souls of Black Folk: Rediscovering Black Classical Music,” a historic event offered in Washington, D.C., by the PostClassical Ensemble. In addition to designing most of the program, which included three posthumous premieres of music by Margaret Bonds and Florence Price and performances of other important marginalized works by Black classical composers, Cooper helped select the performers, wrote a characteristically windy, obtuse, and vaguely sanctimonious program note, gave an on-air live interview with host David Rabin on WPFW-FM, and participated in an after-concert roundtable moderated by Jenn White, permanent host of the national 1A radio program. 





  • Professor of Music Lois Ferrari led the Austin Civic Orchestra (ACO) in the second concert of its “Reunited” season on October 30. The costumed orchestra presented a Halloween-themed program titled “ACO Spooktacular!” and featured music by Moussorgsky, Berlioz, Holst, Grieg, and John Williams.





  • On November 1 at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Austin, part-time Assistant Professor of Applied Music Katherine Altobello ’99 was the mezzo-soprano soloist in J.S. Bach’s Cantata BWV 79 alongside soprano Jenny Ohrstrom, bass-baritone Gil Zilkha, oboist Rebecca Fairweather-Haskins, cellist Matthew Arbruster, organist Austin Haller, and the St. Martin’s Lutheran Church choir (conducted by Tim O’Brien). 





  • Part-time Assistant Professor of Applied Music and Opera Julia Taylor will be the soprano soloist in performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Austin on December 7 at Riverbend Centre and December 11 at St. Matthew’s Episopal Church.





  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper has been chosen as a recipient of the Dena Epstein Award for Archival and Library Research in American Music from the Music Library Association. The award will go toward supporting Cooper’s archival research for the first book-length biography of composer Margaret Bonds.





  • Professor of Music Kiyoshi Tamagawa performed on November 7 with Suzanne Jacobson and Cory Blais, concertmaster and principal cellist, respectively, of the Temple Symphony Orchestra, as part of the symphony’s 2021–2022 season. The fall performances feature members of the orchestra and guests in chamber music concerts, with full orchestra performances set to resume in the spring. The program included trios by Mozart, Beethoven, and award-winning contemporary composer Jennifer Higdon.





  • Michael Martinez  ’15 recently earned his doctorate in trombone performance from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester and was awarded the principal trombone position at the Arizona Philharmonic Orchestra.





  • Music alumnus Jason Schayot ’97 has been nominated for the Recording Academy and Grammy Museum’s 2022 Music Educator Award.





October 2021

  • Two songs from part-time Instructor of Applied Music Adrienne Inglis’s recently commissioned song cycle “Most Importantly, Loves” were premiered October 16–17 by soprano Maureen Broy Papovich and pianist Joseph Choi during Inversion Ensemble’s Through the Prismconcert. The Concordia Singers performed the live in-person premiere of her piece “La Ciudad Sumergida” on October 24 at the Concordia University Texas Chapel. Chaski will perform her pieces “Newt” and “A Noiseless Patient Spider” on November 21 at 2 p.m. at the Georgetown Public Library.





  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper is serving as musicological consultant for season two of the ONEcomposer initiative, focusing on Margaret Bonds (with cameos from Florence Price). The official launch features a series of scholarly commentary videos by Cooper, together with stunning performances of works by Bonds and Price given by award-winning soprano Karen Slack and pianist Michelle Cann, as well as bass-baritone Justin Hopkins and pianist Jeanne-Minette Cilliers. Cooper’s recently published and soon-to-be-published editions of these works by Bonds and Price are the source of most of the performances. Cooper’s narcolepsy-inducing commentaries can be viewed along with those beautiful performances at the ONEcomposer website.





September 2021

  • Professor of Music Lois Ferrari led the Austin Civic Orchestra (ACO) in its first live concert since February 2020 on September 26, 2021. The ACO presented its program, titled “Come for the Music, Stay for the Flowers,” in a performance at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The concert featured the different, separate sections of the orchestra and included the music of Piazzolla, Newbold, Vivaldi, Balmages, Reich, R. Strauss, and Di Lorenzo.





  • Professor of Music Michael Cooperwrote the program note for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance of Florence B. Price’s Symphony No. 4 in D minor, to be released on the orchestra’s Digital Stage on October 13. The symphony was composed in 1945 but only recently discovered and published; it represents a substantially different approach to the genre of the symphony compared to Price’s previous symphonies and tenders perhaps her most overt musical commentary on the war. 





  • Professor of Music Michael Cooper  made his first (and probably last) foray into phrenological musicology, or perhaps musicological phrenology, with a virtual guest lecture for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro music program. Titled “Disorderly Inspiration: Hector Berlioz’s Idée Fixe, the Clash of Tradition and Modernity, and the Episode in the Life of an Artist,” the lecture showed how Berlioz, who studied medicine before his descent into music, appropriated the technique of using a specific musical theme to represent an extramusical fixation or monomania from the pseudoscientific phrenological research of F. J. Gall and J. G. Spuzheim, specifically the first two volumes of their Anatomie et Physiologie Système Nerveux en Général, et du Cerveau en Particulier.  Of this pseudopsychiatry was born great art: Berlioz used Gall’s and Spurzheim’s concept to invent the technique of the (musical) idée fixe in his Symphonie Fantastique  and other works, a technique that became foundational to later Romantic music. 





August 2021

  • Professor of Music Lois Ferrari  conducted and presided over the Austin Civic Orchestra’s (ACO’s) three-part summer concert series, the final installment of its The Beat Goes On  virtual season. These concert programs were designed to provide the orchestra’s musicians with a safe environment in which to rehearse and perform during the current pandemic. ACO members were assigned to small chamber groups or chose to form their own groups, all with social distancing and aerosol management at the forefront of consideration. The members rehearsed for four to five weeks and then recorded their performances as virtual compilations or in person at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. The streamed events drew large appreciative virtual audiences on both the ACO Facebook page and YouTube channel. Ferrari and the ACO plan to return to the live stage for their 2021–2022 season, titled Reunited .