As the 2016-17 academic year decrescendos to a close, we’re reflecting on the milestones and memories from these melodious months. As of April 20, the 2016–17 year has brought about 600 total events including approximately 140 solo student performances, 60 master classes with guest artists, 125 guest artist performances, 65 off-campus performances by faculty and students, and many more!
There have also been numerous monumental occasions this year. Collegium Musicum and Western Brass Quintet celebrated their 50th anniversaries, Grammy Award-winning sound engineer Judith Sherman worked with faculty and students by sharing her expertise in the field, a new harpsichord was purchased thanks to the generous donation of Jim and Pat Dolan, and we hosted the Society of Composers, Inc National Conference and the biennial Pioneer Music Educator and Visiting Scholar Symposium.
Additionally, at the end of every academic year, a few outstanding juniors and seniors are acknowledged and awarded special scholarships at the WMU School of Music Honors Convocation. These students produce, compose, perform, conduct, educate, and lead both in their coursework and personal endeavors. Among those recognized at this year’s Honors Convocation were Hannah Truckenbrod, Alex Tobin, Maria Paterno, Eddie Codrington, and Trey Sims. Meet these fine musicians and hear them sing the School of Music's praises in their remarks below:
Vocal jazz student Hannah Truckenbrod is a member of Gold Company and University Chorale. This past year she produced the 2017 Gold Company Miller Show. At the Honors Convocation, she was selected to receive the Theodore Presser Award.
The best advice I can give to a first-year in the School of Music is to try many different things, work with many different people, and go to as many concerts as they can. You never know what is going to inspire you or change your life. Most importantly, collaborate outside of your comfort zone. I’ve often found that the most meaningful learning experiences take place in student-initiated projects formed outside of major classes or ensembles.
Alex Tobin is a multimedia arts technology and theatre studies major. Alex works in the Western Sound Studios as technical producer and lead engineer for Gold Company, as an arts management assistant for University Theatre, and locally as producer and sound engineer for the Overneath Creative Collective and Farmers Alley Theatre. He received the Beulah & Harold McKee Scholarship at this year’s Honors Convocation.
My success stems from the understanding that I am not afraid to fail here. I would suggest that an incoming student looking to succeed leave their pre-conceived notions at the door. This is the place to explore and conquer artistic insecurities; the chance to do so does not come easily as a professional. This security in exploration is the greatest opportunity the School of Music can offer an aspiring artist.
Maria V. Paterno graduated in December with a double major in music composition and German, as well as a minor in multimedia arts technology. Her major instrument is piano but her versatility extended to playing oboe in Concert Band and singing in Gold Company II. Maria will pursue a master’s degree in music composition and continue to explore her interest in how historical women composers influenced the music of their times at the University of Michigan in the fall. At the Honors Convocation, Maria was named the Presidential Scholar.
Take time to find general education classes that actually interest you; most of my inspiration for music projects came from my non-music classes. In a similar vein, once you find something you're passionate about, whether that's a topic you want to study, a piece you want to play, or an idea you want to write, talk to your professors about it! They have tons of resources and experience to offer, and if you're excited about something, they want to help you do it.
Instrumental music education major Trey Sims was one of two featured soloists on the annual School of Music Concerto Concert on April 23. Trey has performed in numerous School of Music instrumental ensembles and is a member of Vocaholics (a cappella ensemble). He was also a piccolo section leader and drum major for the Bronco Marching Band. Trey received the William and Fiona Denny Scholarship at this year’s Honors Convocation.
For students looking to study music at Western Michigan University, or really any school, I would encourage students to keep in touch with their passions and innate musicianship. One should explore other interests while attending college, either in the residence halls or registered student organizations to meet other students and get a more comprehensive view of the university
Saxophonist Eddie Codrington is a jazz studies major. He is founder of the jazz ensembleLushh. He is also a composer, having been commissioned to write a piece for Pioneer High School and contributing a composition this year to a joint concert by Birds on a Wire (contemporary music ensemble) and the Advanced Jazz Ensemble. At the Honors Convocation, Eddie received the Harper C. Maybee Scholarship.
The time I’ve spent here at Western has been monumental to my growth as a musician and as a person. Studying at Western has helped me find my voice as a composer, strengthened my improvising and sight-reading, and improved my doubling on flute and clarinet. Thanks to the incredible musicians who study alongside me, I’ve been able to set a high standard for myself. I feel very prepared for whatever my next steps might be, whether it’s graduate school or hitting the scene for a couple of years first.
Blog contributor: Julie Rickert