CCM alumnus Alex Smith accompanies Lady Gaga on a performance of the national anthem before Super Bowl 50. (Photo: Cary Edmondson, Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)

CCM Alumni Help Make Super Bowl 50 Performances a Hit

If you were one of the estimated 167 million viewers watching last Sunday’s Super Bowl 50, then you caught two CCM graduates in action!

For her buzzed-about rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” pop singer/songwriter Lady Gaga was joined on piano by CCM alumnus Alex Smith (BM Jazz Studies, 2001).

CCM alumna Lindsey Grebeldinger-Stewart (MM Voice, 2013) was also featured in the pre-game performances, singing “America the Beautiful” as an alto vocalist with the United States Armed Forces Chorus.

USA Today caught up with Smith after his well-received performance and reported on how the pianist and Soundview Preparatory School music teacher prepared for the most-viewed performance of his career.

“Some of my experience with Gaga had primed me a little bit,” Smith explained to reporter Kevin Phelan. “Doing a nationally broadcast television show with her; that was really nerve wracking for me at the time. And getting to play with Tony Bennett was a huge honor and thrill and was also something that created sort of a nerve-wracking experience for me in terms of wanting to do well for someone who’s such a legend… those moments really provided good practice for something like this.”

As previously reported, Smith is a member of the Brian Newman Quintet, which also includes CCM alumni Brian Newman (CCM, 1999-2003), saxophonist Steve Kortyka (BM Jazz, 2004) and bassist Scott Ritchie (BM, 2003). Newman knew Lady Gaga “before she was famous” and his Quintet first performed with her on the 2011 ABC Holiday Special A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, before playing on Gaga’s duet album with Tony Bennett, Cheek to CheekThe quintet also toured North America and Europe with the duo this past summer.

You can read USA Today‘s profile of Alex Smith here.

You can read Billboard‘s report on the Armed Forces Chorus’ rendition of “America the Beautiful” here.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News
Beverly Hills Bar Association logo.

CCM Alumnus Darrell D. Miller Named 2016 Entertainment Lawyer of the Year

CCM’s Department of Musical Theatre has produced scores of successful graduates over the years. Alumni of the program have been seen on Broadway, on television, in movies and in theaters around the country. They work as actors, dancers, writers, directors, producers, musicians and lawyers.

Yes, you read that last sentence correctly: lawyers!

CCM alumnus Darrell D. Miller.

CCM alumnus Darrell D. Miller.

Case in point: alumnus Darrell D. Miller (BM Musical Theatre, 1985) has recently been named Entertainment Lawyer of the Year by the Beverly Hills Bar AssociationThe Beverly Hills Bar Association boasts the largest entertainment law section in the country and awards this particular honor to an attorney whose accomplishments contribute greatly to the profession. Throughout his career, Miller has certainly embodied that description.

This is just the latest in a long line of honors for Miller. The CCM graduate has also been recognized in Variety‘s prestigious “Dealmakers Impact Report” for three consecutive years, made Hollywood Reporter’s list of the Top 100 Power Lawyers and was named the National Bar Association Entertainment Attorney of the Year in 2012.

After graduating from CCM, Miller began his professional life as an actor touring with several national production companies. He also landed a lead role in the jazz opera Leo and traveled with an international tour of the musical The Princess and the Pea. Miller then took his career in a slightly different direction.

In 1990, Miller received his Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center, and has gone on to become one of the world’s leading entertainment attorneys, working in film, television, theatre and digital media. Now the managing partner of Fox Rothschild LLP’s Los Angeles offices and the chair of the firm’s Entertainment Law Department, Miller’s client list includes Academy Award-nominated actress Angela Bassett, star of the hit CBS program NCIS (and fellow Cincinnati-native and SCPA alumnus) Roscoe “Rocky“ Carroll, music mogul and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, reality television star NeNe Leakes and more.

In addition to his decorated law career, Miller recently released his first book, The 16th Minute of Fame, which details the serious perils that come with blindly embracing and enjoying the fleeting fun of celebrity fame and fast money.

Miller explains some of his motivation to write the book, “In reflection, I would say that getting into CCM and performing with the CLO was my first 15 minutes of fame, but at the time, I was just enjoying the experience and praying that it would last.”

Miller’s experience as a performer gives him great insight and has helped him build a career guiding those in the entertainment industry through their first “15 minutes” and maintain their success. Part professional memoir, part insider’s guide to the entertainment industry and part manual for strategic career planning, The 16th Minute of Fame ultimately focuses on the pathways to a more successful life.

Miller will be honored by the Beverly Hills Bar Association during an awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. The entire University of Cincinnati community congratulates him on this latest award and wishes him continued success in the future!

To learn more about Darrell D. Miller and his work in the entertainment industry, visit www.foxrothschild.com/darrell-d-miller.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News
A short film produced by UC's innovative Production Master Class is a finalist in the 2016 New York City Drone Film Festival.

Student Produced Film Nominated Alongside Works By National Geographic, NBC News and ‘Good Morning America’ For NYC Drone Film Festival

A short film created in the University of Cincinnati‘s groundbreaking Production Master Class has been selected as an official nominee by the prestigious New York City Drone Film Festival.

The student and alumni produced film shares elite company in the festival’s News/Documentary category, as it is nominated alongside films by Good Morning America, NBC News and National Geographic!

A still from the UC Production Master Class short film, 'The Making of Expedition Alaska.'

A still from the UC Production Master Class short film, ‘The Making of Expedition Alaska.’

Produced by McMicken College graduate Mackenzie Houston (2015), edited by CCM senior Electronic Media major Nelson Mustain and directed by CCM alumnus Brian J. Leitten (BFA E-Media, 2001), the film details a group of UC students’ experiences filming in the Alaskan wilderness in the summer of 2015. Titled The Making of Expedition Alaska, the five-minute short will premiere in New York City this March.

The second annual New York City Drone Film Festival, presented by GE, will feature an interactive discussion panel, guest speakers, screenings of nominated films and an awards ceremony. This unique festival allows for drone cinematographers and storytellers from across the globe to showcase their work to industry professionals and drone cinema community. The #NYCDFF has been featured by Good Morning America, The New York Times, NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, NPR and more. Festival schedule and ticket information can be found at www.nycdronefilmfestival.com.

A still from the UC Production Master Class short film, 'The Making of Expedition Alaska.'

A still from the UC Production Master Class short film, ‘The Making of Expedition Alaska.’

About the UC Production Master Class
The UC Production Master Class involves an interdisciplinary group of students and faculty from the University of Cincinnati who work with nationally recognized television and film professionals to produce digital media content that reaches a national and global audience.

Since 2012, the UC Production Master Class has involved over 90 UC students hailing from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

UC Production Master Class.Developed by CCM Professor Kevin Burke and UC Alumnus and Emmy award-winning producer Brian J. Leitten, the UC Production Master Course was first funded by a three-year grant from the UC Forward Collaborative, an initiative that supports experiential learning and is part of the UC Academic Master Plan. Last year, UC President Santa Ono pledged additional funding, which allowed the production to continue beyond its initial three-year grant period.

The goal was to create a transformative, “hands-on” experience for the students by taking them out of the classroom and into the field to produce the documentary series that could be distributed to a national television audience.

The project’s initial three years focused on the Gold Rush Expedition Race, a grueling 275-mile race through the California wilderness. Three 90-minute films were produced to document that race. All three films have aired nationally on NBC’s Universal Sports Network.

UC’s Production Master Class changed venues from California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range to the pristine wilderness of Alaska this summer to document 350 mile long “Expedition Alaska” adventure race from June 28 to July 5, 2015. A crew of seven UC student worked with media professionals to film the extraordinary sporting event.

CCM Alumni Applause Faculty Fanfare Student Salutes
the-birht-of-a-nation-movie-nate-parker

CCM Alumnus Dominic Bogart Featured in Sundance Film Festival Favorite ‘The Birth of a Nation’

Alumnus Dominic Bogart, recipient of the 2012 Julia Winter Cohen Career Excellence Award.

Alumnus Dominic Bogart, recipient of the 2012 Julia Winter Cohen Career Excellence Award.

After receiving accolades at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for his lead role in the feature film I Am Not A Hipster, alumnus Dominic Bogart (BFA Drama, 2000) returned to the festival this month for the world premiere of The Birth of a Nation.

After the film received a standing ovation at its premiere, Variety reports that The Birth of Nation landed the biggest deal in the history of the Sundance Film Festival: a $17.5 million payday from Fox Searchlight for global rights!

Bogart plays Hank Fowler in this biopic about enslaved preacher-turned-revolt leader Nat Turner, appearing on screen alongside Nate Parker (who also wrote, directed and produced the film) and Armie Hammer.

This is the latest success for Bogart, who appeared in no less than five feature films this year. He also recently appeared in Sympathy, Said the Shark, which won the audience award for best feature at the Portland Film Festival and enjoyed a multi-city theatrical run.

His other recent and upcoming feature film releases include the rodeo western Mahjong and the West, the SyFy Channel’s science fiction thrill 400 Days and the atmospheric thriller The Ghost and the Whale.

A native of Piqua, Ohio, Bogart was the 2012 recipient of CCM’s Julia Winter Cohen Career Excellence Award.

You can learn more about CCM Drama’s actors at work by visiting ccm.uc.edu/theatre/drama/actorsatwork.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News
Angela Ammerman was named Virginia Orchestra Director of the Year for her work as an enthusiastic, engaging music teacher at Annandale High School. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

‘The Washington Post’ Spotlights the Innovative Teaching Methods of CCM Alumna Angela Ammerman

CCM alumna Angela Ammerman, née Hamester (BM Music Education, 2006), is gaining a great deal of attention thanks to her engaging approach to music education. In a recent Washington Post profile, reporter Moriah Balingit suggested, “If there was ever a music teacher prodigy, Angela Ammerman might be it.”

A teacher at Annandale High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, Ammerman was recently named the Virginia Orchestra Director of the Year by the American String Teachers Association. The Washington Post describes the honor as follows:

“It’s an award she earned for her one-of-a-kind method of teaching music, engaging students who range from the experienced elite to recent immigrants who are picking up an instrument for the first time.”

CCM alumna Angela Ammerman.

CCM alumna Angela Ammerman.

In describing her approach to the classroom to the Washington Post, Ammerman explained, “The kids don’t realize they’re learning. I just try to make the class environment really fun.”

A native of Cincinnati, Ammerman earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree from CCM and then pursued her masters degree at Boston University. She is currently working on her PhD in Music Education at George Mason University.

In the course of her studies, Ammerman has performed under the direction of distinguished conductors James Levine, Erich Kunzel, Xian Zhang, Steven Coker and Mark Gibson. She studied piano with Michael Chertock and Richard Morris. Additionally, Ammerman studied music education theory and practice with authorities Lizbeth Wing, and McGraw Hill’s Multi-Cultural Specialist Rene Boyer.

Upon graduation from CCM, Ammerman taught general music classes for Miamisburg City Schools in Miamisburg, Ohio. In 2007, she and her husband relocated to Jacksonville, North Carolina, where she was appointed Orchestra Director of Swansboro Middle and High School. While in North Carolina, Ammerman drastically increased orchestra membership, consistently received superior ratings at festival, and was selected Beginning Teacher of the Year.

In 2010, Ammerman was awarded the position of Orchestra Director at Robinson Middle School and Bonnie Brae Elementary School.  While living in Stafford, Ammerman also conducted the Rappahannock Youth Symphony’s Primo Orchestra from 2011-14

Ammerman currently maintains an orchestra program of nearly 150 students at Annandale High School in Fairfax County Public Schools.

Ammerman’s research has been featured in the American String Teacher Association’s 2014 Fall Issue and the National Association for Music Educators’ 2014 National Research Conference in St. Louis. Ammerman has presented research and practical sessions at International, National and State Music Education Conferences.

Ammerman’s studies and experiences have laid the groundwork for her philosophy of music education: that Critical Pedagogy provides students with a transformative and synergetic learning environment. Ammerman looks forward to helping students realize that music is a culturally valuable activity for everyone’s enjoyment; that music is historically relevant, provides a lab for students to apply the scientific method, and is a universal form of self and group expression.

Ammerman lives with her husband, Allen Ammerman, and three dogs in Alexandria, Virginia. She is a member of the Music Educators National Conference, American String Teachers Association and has been a guest conductor in All County and All City Orchestras. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, watching The Office, shoe shopping and practicing!

You can read her profile in the Washington Post at www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/fairfax-music-teacher-lauded-for-her-electrifying-methods/2015/12/06/d587163c-9ace-11e5-8917-653b65c809eb_story.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News
CCM alumnus Brad Myers.

CCM Alumnus Brad Myers Releases New Album To 4-Star Review From Famed Jazz Magazine

We are thrilled to report that the new album from guitarist and CCM alumnus Brad Myers (MM Jazz Studies, 2015) has been recognized by the famed jazz magazine DownBeat as one of the best albums of the year!

Myers’ album Prime Numbers will be among the new releases honored in the magazine’s January 2016 edition. This is the first album on which Meyers serves as lead member. The album also features the talents of fellow CCM Jazz Studies alums Tom Buckley, Peter Gemus, Ben Walkenhauer, Dominic Marino, Michael Mavridoglou and Brian Schwab!

'Prime Numbers,' a new album by CCM alumnus Brad Myers.

‘Prime Numbers,’ a new album by CCM alumnus Brad Myers.

Myers and Prime Numbers receive this honor after writer Bill Milkowski gave the album four out of five stars in a DownBeat review earlier this year. Milowski lauds Myers for his “old-school soulfulness, a highly syncopated sense of comping and a relaxed sense of swing on his long-overdue debut as a leader;” he furthermore compliments Myers and his group for “[marrying] modernist ideas with a straightahead [sic] sound.”

The adulation afforded Myers is appropriate considering his lengthy career. A musician since he was six years old, the guitarist spent the previous 20 years working as a sideman and co-director with various jazz groups and ensembles around his hometown of Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati. He made a name for himself performing with local acts such as Ray’s Music Exchange, Aja (a Steely Dan tribute ensemble), Jeremy Pinnell & the 55s, and Savoy Truffle among others. He has also had the fortune to share the stage with many internationally known performers including Bela Fleck, John Scofield, Stanley Jordan, Victor Wooten and Matt Wilson.

You can learn more about Brad Myers by visiting www.musicbybrad.com.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News
CCM musical theatre alumnus Andre Catrini.

CCM Alumnus Andre Catrini Opens First Off-Broadway Musical This Week

CCM alumnus Andre Catrini (BFA Musical Theatre, 2011) is about to open his first Off-Broadway musical, The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit. Catrini has written the music and lyrics to a book by Alan Knee. The production opens at 7 p.m. tonight, Dec. 3, at the New York Workshop Theatre. The show plays through Saturday, Dec. 19.

Set 12 years after the close of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a 19 year old Timothy Cratchit leaves the home of his benefactor, Ebenezer Scrooge, in order to find his place in the world. On his path he encounters many trying, eye-opening and comical situations, but it is with the magnificent stage clown, Grimaldi, and his troupe of lively performers that he discovers his true identity.

Time Out New York has named the piece one of the “Best Christmas Plays to See This Holiday Season.”

Catrini is a composer/lyricist, musical theatre repertoire/audition coach and musical director currently living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is a member of the BMI-Lehman Engel Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop, an alumnus of the ASCAP Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Workshop (plus a proud ASCAP member) and a graduate of CCM. In New York, he recently presented a concert of his material, “All Because Of You,” and was part of the York Theatre’s NEO 7 (New, Emerging, Outstanding) Concert.

Catrini is the proud recipient of the 2014 ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award, given “in recognition for his outstanding talent as a musical theatre composer and lyricist” as well as a 2015 New Voices Project Merit Award.

Catrini is the founder and current member of the writing group THE CIRCLE SONGBOOK, comprised of twelve diverse contemporary musical theatre writers. Circle Songbook concerts are held twice a year in NYC.

His previous writing credits include The Wolf, Timmy the Wizard, Other Women, BLOCKED, Whisper, Love (for which a cast album is available) and concert presentations of “All Because Of You,” “Songs From the Trunk,” “Exercises: Songs From Unwritten Musicals” and “A Little Self Indulgent Music. ”

You can learn more about Andre Catrini by visiting www.andrecatrini.com.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News