Spotlight on the Music Department

Thomas Toner The fall to me has always had connotations of reflection: all that summer brings with it (beautiful weather, time spent with family, etc.) is about to cede into the cold, shorter days of winter – but it's not there yet. Fall is the perfect time to look back at what we've done and what we want to accomplish in the future.

Our faculty continues to excel not only in their creative work, but also in the classroom and in creating new learning opportunities for our students. In that vein, Paul Besaw, Associate Professor of Dance, was awarded one of UVM's highest faculty awards: the Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award. (Paul was our third recent winner, joining Associate Profs. Wayne Schneider and Patricia Julien.) Also, the Department will welcome two new Marsh Professors this year: dance artist Jennifer Monson (, who was nominated by Paul Besaw and faculty from the Rubinstein School and Bailey Howe Library; and Srinivas Krishnan, a master percussionist from India (, nominated by Associate Professor Patricia Riley. These two will join our current Marsh Professor, Ghanaian master drummer and composer Sowah Mensah ( We are very much looking forward to the opportunities that these Marsh Professors will provide our students (and those throughout the College and University) in the coming years. Dance continues to grow and flourish, and we have added a new full-time lecturer, Clare Byrne, who will help increase the number of dance classes we teach as we begin our first semester with a new minor in dance.

Patricia Riley in China The Department faculty's recent creative work and scholarly research is extensive and diverse. Assistant Prof. David Feurzeig was awarded a grant by the American Composers Forum, presented a paper at the West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis, and performed at an international conference at the American University of Paris. Associate Prof. Patricia Julien recently released a new CD with her jazz-fusion band Fragile Zoe (available at and has articles forthcoming in Theory and Practice and Jazz Perspectives. Her composition, “Attitude,” for mezzo soprano and piano was premiered by Department faculty Evelyn Kwanza (voice) and Sylvia Parker (piano) at the UVM program “Celebrating the Creative and Artistic Spirit of Women in Music: A Special Tribute to Women of Color” last fall and was also performed as part of a new music festival at the Univ. of Alabama - Huntsville in the spring. Prof. David Neiweem was the director of the Pitten International Music Festival in Austria again this summer, and continues his work as Music Director of both the Burlington Choral Society and the First Congregational Church of Burlington. His "Vermont Organ Project" culminated in a live recital heard on Vermont Public Radio. Senior Lecturer Sylvia Parker wrote an article about composer Bela Bartok's summer home in Vermont for the spring 2010 edition of Vermont History, as well as maintained a very active schedule as a pianist. Associate Prof. Patricia Riley published articles in several peer-reviewed journals, presented sessions at many international, national, and regional conferences, and spearheaded our Department's hosting of the College Music Society Northeast Chapter meeting in March. She traveled to China in May (pictured above) to continue working as the music education specialist with an NGO, China Schools Foundation, developing a curriculum to implement in rural Chinese schools. Read more about her recent trip to China at Associate Prof. Wayne Schneider, Director of Music at the Unitarian-Universalist Society of Burlington, has had an article on composer George Gershwin accepted for an upcoming edition of Musical Quarterly. Associate Prof. Alex Stewart presented a paper and presided over a panel discussion at the Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference in Mexico City. Stewart continues directing the summer Jazz Camp at the Flynn Center, and performs regularly with Jazzismo. Senior Lecturer Ray Vega’s recent activities include lectures on jazz at Stanford University and Union College as well as the Louis Armstrong House in Corona, New York; performances locally and at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles; and recordings for Deutsche Grammophon and Origin Records. While I find it hard to keep up with my colleagues in this area since I became Chair, I continue my positions as Principal Percussionist of the Vermont Symphony, and Festival Director of the Northeast Instrumental Music Festival in Lake Placid, NY, and guest conduct when I can – this year at SUNY Fredonia.

In addition to the full-time faculty, we are blessed with many wonderfully talented Artist-Teachers such as Paul Asbell, jazz guitar (who was featured in a recent issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine); Amber DeLaurentis, jazz voice (who recently released her first full-length CD, "Hey Sadie"); Rachael Elliott, bassoon (whose new music quartet "Clogs" performed across the US and on a live broadcast of WNYC); Paul Orgel, piano (who gave two solo recitals in China this summer); Jeff Salisbury, jazz drums (who taught at the KOSA International Percussion Festival this summer); and Michael Zsoldos, jazz saxophone (who presented master classes at the Faenza Saxophone Festival in Italy this summer). It's easy to see how our students are inspired by these teachers as well as those who are regular members of the Vermont Symphony (Anne Janson, flute; Alan Parshley, horn; Suzanne Polk, cello; and Heidi Soons, harp), and the Vermont Mozart Festival (Janson and Steve Klimowski, clarinet).

Vermont Quarterly Our ever-increasing number of music majors and minors performed in nearly 40 recitals and concerts over the past year, including a very special recital hosted by President Fogel and Rachel Kahn-Fogel at Englesby House. That experience will be one they all remember for many years – especially the audible "wow" from the President after one particular aria! One of the featured students in that recital, pianist Xiudan Lin, '10, was featured on the cover of this summer's Vermont Quarterly. Lin was accepted into the graduate program at Indiana University, but has chosen to pursue a career in arts management with a goal of trying to increase performances by young American classical musicians in her native China. Another performer in the Englesby House recital, clarinetist Wesley Christensen, '10, received departmental awards in both of his majors, music and economics, at the College Honors Ceremony in May. These are but two of the many outstanding musicians we have in our department, not only honing their skills in performance, but also being challenged academically in music history, theory, and technology classes.

This academic year will bring another round of exciting performances (faculty and senior recitals, ensemble concerts, etc.). I hope you will join us for some of them. I'm sure you will be as pleased and proud of the level of musicality and professionalism as we are. A list of these concerts can be found by clicking "Events/Concerts" on our home page (

- Prof. D. Thomas Toner, Chair