CCM Alumnus Receives Prestigious Award from Solti Foundation

Alumnus Stefano Sarzani (CCM 2012-2013) is one of eight recipients of the 2018 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, a grant prize given to help up-and-coming conductors to further their careers.

Stefano Sarzani.

Now in its 14th year of assisting outstanding young conductors, the Solti Foundation U.S. has awarded more than $500,000 in grants and is the foremost organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to helping young conductors.

Sarzani recently worked at the Lyric Opera of Chicago through the Solti Foundation U.S.’ opera residency program; he returns this fall as an Assistant Conductor and member of the music staff. Previously, he was Associate Conductor of the Des Moines Metro Opera where, he conducted a production of Maria de Buenos Aires. His upcoming engagements include assisting at OperaMaine, and guesting with Symphony New Hampshire. Past guesting engagements include Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana (Italy), Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo (Italy), Boise Philharmonic Orchestra, National Repertory Orchestra (CO), University of Memphis Opera and Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy. He has also collaborated with Atlanta Opera, Sarasota Opera, Den Jyske Opera (Denmark) and Opera National de Lorraine (France). In addition to the 2018 Career Assistance Award, Sarzani is also the recipient of a 2016 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, and 2nd prize in The American Prize 2012.

Lidiya Yankovskaya, who previously participated in CCM’s summer Opera Bootcamp program, also received the 2018 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award.

Learn more about the Solit Foundation at soltifoundation.us.

CCM Opera Bootcamp is three-week summer program designed to develop career skills for conductors, singers and collaborative pianists/opera coaches. This year’s Opera Bootcamp culminates this week with three free performances at CCM. More information is below:

7 p.m. Thursday, July 26
• CCM Summer Opera Bootcamp •
MOZART SCENES AND ARIAS
CCM’s Opera Bootcamp 2018 has attracted a talented pool of conductors, singers and pianists from across the country and abroad who will work intensely for three weeks immersed in the craft of opera. They will present scenes from popular Mozart operas. These workshop-style performances are fully staged with orchestra.
Location: Cohen Family Studio Theater
Admission: FREE
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7 p.m. Friday, July 27
• CCM Summer Opera Bootcamp •
FRENCH DOUBLE BILL: Le pauvre Matelot and L’lle de Tulipatan
CCM’s Opera Bootcamp 2018 will present fully staged performances of Milhaud’s Le pauvre Matelot and Offenbach’s L’lle de Tulipatan featuring singers, conductors and pianists from around the country and around the globe. These workshop style performances will be fully staged with orchestra.
Location: Cohen Family Studio Theater
Admission: FREE
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4 p.m. Sunday, July 29
• CCM Summer Opera Bootcamp •
DON PASQUALE
Featuring Vernon Hartman and student conductors and performers from CCM Summer’s Opera Bootcamp
Mark Gibson and Amy Johnson, artistic directors
CCM’s Opera Bootcamp presents Donizetti’s comedic love story “Don Pasquale”. Opera Bootcamp has attracted a talented pool of conductors, singers and pianists from across the country and around the globe who will work intensely for three weeks immersed in the craft of preparing an opera. This workshop style performance will be fully staged with orchestra.
Location: Corbett Auditorium
Admission: FREE

Learn more about CCM Summer’s Opera Bootcamp at ccm.uc.edu/opera-bootcamp.

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CCM Jazz Studies Alumni Accept Faculty Positions in Tennessee and Texas

Two CCM alumni have accepted faculty positions at major universities; Michael Schults (MM Jazz Studies, 2012) is now an Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the University of Memphis, and Thomas Zinninger (MM Jazz Studies, 2009; DMA Saxophone, 2013) is an Assistant Professor of Saxophone and Jazz at Texas A&M University–Kingsville.

Michael Shults

Michael Shults

For the past four years, Schults has been an Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. During his time as a graduate student at CCM, he taught improvisation and coached jazz combos and bands. He studied with James Bunte, Rick VanMatre, Phil DeGreg and Kim Pensyl.

Shults was a finalist in the 2012 North American Saxophone Alliance Jazz Artist Competition and was the winner of the Graduate College Soloist category in the 2012 Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards Issue. He has performed by invitation as a featured soloist at the North American Saxophone Alliance biennial conference, the Jazz Education Network conference, the Wisconsin Music Educator’s Association conference and the Minnesota Music Educator’s Association conference.  He is a founding faculty member of the Kansas City Saxophone Workshop, along with Zach Shemon, alto saxophonist of the PRISM Quartet. Shults has also served on the faculty of the Eugene Rousseau Saxophone Workshop at Shell Lake Arts Center. He is currently the alto saxophone chair in the Coalescent Quartet.

Zinninger moves to Texas A&M-Kingsville from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, where he taught saxophone and led the jazz ensemble. He was both a graduate student and a faculty member while he was at CCM, where he taught courses in jazz improvisation and jazz appreciation.

His performance credits include the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Frank Simon Band, Chamber Winds of Louisville, Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, RL Big Band and the Don Krekel Orchestra. As a soloist, he premiered new arrangements for saxophone at the 16th World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland as well as the 2012, 2014 and 2017 North American Saxophone Alliance Conferences.

Congratulations to both of these CCM graduates for their success!

Are you a CCM alum with news? Stay in touch by sharing your story with us!
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Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

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Samson McCrady in the title role of CCM's Mainstage Production of "Gianni Schicchi," directed by Andreas Hager.

CCM Opera and Voice Alumni Win Prestigious Fellowships

Samson McCrady in the title role of CCM's Mainstage Production of "Gianni Schicchi," directed by Andreas Hager.

CCM Voice alumnus Samson McCrady in the title role of CCM’s Mainstage Production of Gianni Schicchi, directed by CCM Opera alumnus Andreas Hager.

Two of CCM’s stars of tomorrow recently received prestigious positions in the world of opera. Alumnus Andreas Hager (AD Opera Directing, 2018) was awarded one of two JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellowships from the National Opera Association. Additionally, Washington National Opera selected CCM Voice alumnus Samson McCrady, baritone, to fill one of only 11 spots for vocalists in its prestigious Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. Cincinnati audiences saw their artistry in action during CCM’s recent Mainstage production of Gianni Schicchi, in which McCrady performed the title role and Hager directed.

Hager was selected as a JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellow for his summer 2018 work with Wolf Trap Opera, during which he will assist on productions of Idomeneo and Rigoletto. The fellowship includes a stipend to attend an opera stage directing program, and the opportunity to offer a presentation on their fellowship experience at a subsequent NOA National Conference.

Hager’s directorial work spans opera, film, theatre and alternate reality games. Recent directing credits include Il barbiere di Siviglia (Houston Grand Opera), Gianni Schicchi (CCM) and La belle Hélène (Opera North). In addition, he has worked with Opera Philadelphia, the New York Philharmonic, Cincinnati Opera and Opera Columbus. He recently graduated from CCM with an Artist Diploma in Opera Directing and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Cinema Studies from Oberlin College, where he also studied piano performance. He is a winner of Opera America’s Director-Designer Showcase and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.

As a Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist, McCrady will perform the roles of Elk/Camel/Butcher in Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me, Wagner in Gounod’s Faust and Sciarrone in Puccini’s Tosca during the Washington National Opera’s 2018-19 season. McCrady will also sing in WNO’s “A Concert of Comic Masterpieces.”

Because many young artists return for a second season, the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program only accepts a handful of new vocalists each season. This year the program welcomed seven new singers and four returning singers, as well as one new and one returning pianist, out of hundreds of applicants.

The artists in this program have an abundance of performance opportunities, including extensive performances at the Kennedy Center and in community-oriented events. They participate in the WNO’s major performances as supporting characters, including free preview performances that will be live streamed on the Kennedy Center’s website.

McCrady and the other Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists will also perform in recitals in Washington, D.C. art galleries and museums, as well as a series of master classes at the Kennedy Center and elsewhere. They will be seen onstage during the WNO’s American Opera Initiative Festival, during which they will have the opportunity to work with living composers and librettists on brand-new works.

Additionally, the program has an exchange program with Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre Young Artists Opera Program, which includes a few students from each program visiting the other and performing with their newfound peers.  Next summer, the WNO will send several of its young artists to Moscow for this exchange, culminating in two concerts with the Bolshoi Theatre’s young artists.

During his time at CCM, McCrady studied with Voice Professor Bill McGraw. He performed the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, the King of Scotland in Handel’s Ariodante and Jesus in a staged version of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Outside of CCM, McCrady performed the Mandarin in a semi-staged version of Puccini’s Turandot (Kentucky Symphony Orchestra), Alidoro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Queen City Opera), Edward G. Robinson in Robert Xavier-Rodriguez’s Frida (Cincinnati Opera) and Geronimo in Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto (Cincinnati Chamber Opera). Before he came to CCM, McCrady received a Bachelor of Music from Roberts Wesleyan College.

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CCM Sound Design Alumnus Matthew Tibbs Named Visiting Assistant Professor

Matthew Tibbs

CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung has announced the appointment of Matthew Tibbs to the position of Visiting Assistant Professor of Sound Design. Tibbs’ appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

A sound designer with experience in live performance, film and advertising, Tibbs’ nearly 100 sound designs have been seen on stages nationally, including in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Portland. His film work has been seen at national and international film festivals and his advertising work has been distributed on the West Coast in local and regional TV markets.

Tibbs’ theatrical sound design has been featured at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Theatre Company, the Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee, New York City’s Fresh Fruit Festival and Utah Shakespeare Festival. For the past seven years, Tibbs has regularly designed for the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Minnesota.

An experienced educator, Tibbs most recently served on the faculty of Ball State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance. He previously spent three years as Resident Sound Designer for the Pioneer Theatre Company and served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Utah. He has also taught as visiting faculty at Pacific University and as a graduate assistant at CCM.

Tibbs is a member of the designers’ union United Scenic Artists Local 829 and serves as a secretary for the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association (TSDCA).

He holds a MFA in Sound Design from CCM (2007) and a BA in Communication Arts from George Fox University (2004).

On the announcement of Tibbs’ appointment, mcclung commented:

“CCM alumnus Matthew Tibbs’ extensive professional experience as a sound designer for such companies as the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Great River Shakespeare Festival and Indiana Repertory Theatre will be valuable for CCM’s BFA and MFA students.”

Please join us in welcoming Matthew Tibbs to the CCM family!

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Sensory Percussion: Q&A with Alumnus Ben Sloan on His Work with The National

Ben Sloan is a musician, producer and teacher who is passionate about making music accessible to all. Last year People’s Liberty awarded the CCM alumnus with a $10,000 grant to build Percussion Park in East Price Hill. This year he’s experimenting with sensory percussion, which led to a performance as Artist-in-Residence at The National’s Homecoming Music Festival in April and a short tour with the rock band.

Ben Sloan. Photo by Ryan Back.

Ben Sloan. Photo by Ryan Back.

Sloan (BM Jazz Studies, 2011) is grateful for the opportunity to tour with The National and thinks they will work together again in the future. He’s now on a two-week tour with local ensemble A Delicate Motor, which releases a new album Fellover My Own on June 29. Later this summer, Sloan will travel to Berlin to participate in an experimental music festival called PEOPLE.

When he isn’t performing, Sloan works as a teaching artist at MYCincinnati, an after school youth orchestra program directed by CCM alumnus Eddy Kwon (BM Jazz Studies, 2011). He teaches the pre-orchestra students, ages 5-10, in a class that combines singing, movement and percussion.

We caught up with the busy alumnus to talk about his work with sensory percussion and his experience with The National.

What is sensory percussion? When did you start working it?
Sensory Percussion is amazing, and that’s about 90% of what you need to know. It was developed by Sunhouse, and though it’s making the rounds with musicians all over, it is still a relatively new technology. Sensory Percussion is essentially a collection of sensors (you can use up to four), which attach to a drum. Using a corresponding software, the sensors analyze the vibrations of the drum to determine where the player is hitting, i.e. the center, the rim, the shell, the edge, etc.

It’s up to the player to “teach” the sensors how and where one prefers to hit the drum — it is a very individualized system. This “mapping” of the drum allows the player to specifically pinpoint quadrants of the drum and assign samples, midi data, effects and a host of other functions. The result is a totally dynamic and fluid interplay between electronic, sample-based sound and acoustic drumming. I’ve had the sensors for about a year now, and over the past few months I’ve been really digging into them. They are so powerful, it’s incredible. I think the open ended nature of the software, makes the sensors so compelling. No one really sounds the same, because it’s up to the player to set the musical palette and craft the sounds.

How do you incorporate sensory percussion in your work with music groups and local projects?
Since they are still a bit new, I haven’t fully utilized them with any projects other than my own. For the longest time I sort of felt that the music I created through recording and manipulating samples wouldn’t or couldn’t be realized in a live context, but with the sensors, I can take a lot of that material and produce it live, or even embellish the sound. They are just really dynamic instruments.

I’ve brought them to MYCincinnati for our students to use, but because this technology is so new and exciting to play it makes normal drums less enticing. I have to win them back over by playing something really fast or loud — it only kind of works.

You also brought this percussion style to the National’s Homecoming Festival. How did you get involved in the festival?
I ended up using sensory percussion pretty heavily at Homecoming. I was working with A Delicate Motor ensemble to write a set of new music, but I knew I wanted to do something entirely on my own, which was impetus for writing some music with the sensors. The process was an endless tweaking of a sound palette until I could improvise an entire piece. From those improvisations, I would distill whatever I thought was good, and cut out the rest.

I got involved with the festival through Bryan Devendorf, drummer of The National. He’s always been inviting, and over the years we’ve gotten to know each other a bit. He reached out to meet while I was touring with the band WHY? and since then we’ve stayed in touch. He asked if I would be interested in being this year’s artist-in-residence at the Homecoming Music Festival, something they hadn’t done in the past, and I said ‘yes, like duh, of course!’

What was performing with The National at the festival like? Any plans to reconnect with The National in the future?
It was affirming. I spend a lot of time being critical of my work and my abilities, but when artists on that level invite me to play, it’s feels like a major validation of the hours put in. It’s also time to step up and not look like a doofus on stage! I mean, I totally ‘look’ like a doofus, cause that’s how drummers look when they play, but I think it sounded good.

Ben Sloan at The National's Homecoming Festival in April 2018.

Ben Sloan at The National’s Homecoming Festival in April 2018.

After the Sunday night show, The National invited me out for a short tour, so I ended up hopping on the bus for a few days with them. It was a treat to spend some time with the band, and see everything behind the scenes — touring on that scale is crazy! They had such a big crew, all of whom were kind and patient. I’m still reflecting on it all. I’m just grateful. I’m not sure how or when, but I think we will work together again!

What else are you working on right now?
A Delicate Motor started a two-week tour on June 18. We have a lot of momentum from the festival, and the record Fellover My Own is due to be released on Sofaburn later this month. Our album release is June 29 at Northside Tavern. I’m trying to invest as much time in my solo project as possible. It’s still so fresh, but I hope to put out an EP in the coming months.

Later this summer, Price Hill Will/MYCincinnati, in collaboration with The Contemporary Arts Center is hosting the third annual Price Hill Creative Community Festival, which is an ever-evolving and beautiful festival. Each year we host artists-in-residence to work collaboratively with MYC students for two very intense weeks. Along with the artists in residence, the festival curates a huge array of great performers to come do their thing. This year we are hosting cellist and composer Tomeka Reid, who has cultivated some powerful momentum in the Chicago improvisation and jazz scene. I strongly encourage you to go check her work immediately! We also have Josiah Wolf (CCM alum), multi-disciplinary arts collective Collaborative, Jarrod Cann and Paradox Teatro. The full list of artists, and their work is listed online at creativecommunityfestival.org/artists.

That Price Hill Creative Community Festival usually consumes me in the best possible way. It’s happening on August 3-4, the performances are unique and sometimes challenging, it’s all ages, we have great local food and admission completely free!

 

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International Trombone Festival Features Performances by CCM Alumni

CCM alumni are preparing to take over that stages at the International Trombone Festival, which features performances and recitals from a number of alums and professor Tim Anderson. Hosted at the University of Iowa, the festival runs July 11-14, 2018.

The Elysian Trombone Consort. From left to right, Chad Arnow, Nate Silar, Brett Shuster and Timothy Anderson.

The Elysian Trombone Consort. From left to right, Chad Arnow, Nate Silar, Brett Shuster and Timothy Anderson.

The festival features a performance by the Elysian Trombone Consort, which includes Nate Siler (DMA Trombone, 2012), Chad Arnow (BM Trombone, 1997; MM Trombone, 1999; DMA Trombone, 2014), Anderson and Brett Shuster. The quartet will give a new music recital at 1:30 p.m. on July 11 at the festival.

Devoted to the development of trombone repertoire, the Elysian Trombone Consort frequently premieres and performs new works including the compositions of David Fetter, Rodney Oakes, Frank Gulino and John Siler. The group also premiered John Crouch’s Concerto for Four Trombones and Wind Ensemble with the Peabody Wind Ensemble and previously with the CCM Wind Symphony and Wind Ensemble in 2012.

On the second day of the International Trombone Festival, alumnus Russ Zokaites (MM Trombone, 2010; DMA Trombone, 2017) presents a lecture on commissioning new music at 9 a.m. and a recital of new works for bass trombone at 11:30 a.m.

Russ Zokaites.

Russ Zokaites.

Zokaites will be assisted by alumna Brianna Matzke (MM Piano Performance, 2011; DMA Piano Performance, 2014) and Anderson. His recital features works by Will Timmons (MM Trombone Performance, 2009), Inez McComas (DMA Composition, 2009) and Carrie Magin (MM Composition, 2010; DMA Composition, 2013).

“I aim to increase appreciation for classical music through education and performance,” Zokaites says. “By creating a community surrounding musical pursuits, we can make music for everyone. Collaboration creates energy and excitement. This enthusiasm is contagious and encourages curiosity in audience members. We create for them.”

Zokaites has commissioned and premiered 19 works that utilize the bass trombone, and he has performed new music at the American Trombone Workshop, the International Horn Symposium, National Sawdust and the ArtSeedZ Festival in the Netherlands. He was a fellow at the 2012 Alessi Seminar and is an artist for Lätzsch custom trombones.

The International Trombone Association, whose mission is to promote the trombone and all trombone-related activities around the world, hosts the annual International Trombone Festival at a different university each year. In addition to the festival, the I.T.A. also produces a quarterly magazine, publishes sheet music, commissions new works for trombone and holds competitions, along with other activities. Visit the festival’s website for more information.

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CCM Sound Design Alumnus Wins Daytime Emmy for Disney’s Broadway Hits Broadcast

Theatre will always be Matt Kraus’ first love, but the CCM alumnus has made a name for himself by taking on diverse sound design opportunities in multiple mediums. He’s worked on theatrical productions with Liza Minelli and Kristen Chenoweth, and has also been involved in many live telecasts such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar live in concert.

Most recently, Kraus (BFA Sound Design, 2001) won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for his work on the TV broadcast of Disney’s Broadway Hits at Royal Albert Hall. Directed by Jeff Lee, the production brought well-known Disney artists and beloved hits to the London stage.

The broadcast featured the BBC orchestra, led by Keith Lockhart, and nine Broadway vocalists including CCM alums Alton Fitzgerald (BFA Musical Theatre, 1986) and Ashley Brown (BFA Musical Theatre, 2004). It also included the West End cast of Aladdin, a children’s choir of 100 singers and award-winning composer Alan Menken. Kraus has worked on similar shows with Disney over the years but says that this production was much larger.

“The logistics were daunting, as we were loading into the iconic venue and performing all in the same day,” he remembers. “We prepared for months to make sure that once we arrived at Royal Albert Hall, we would have all the tools at hand that we’d need to do the show.”

“The hardest part was keeping the audio team on track to make sure that we kept up with the tight schedule and quality of the audio. All that while getting nine primary vocalists and a world-renowned orchestra comfortable and happy with the sound.”

Disney’s Broadway Hits at Royal Albert Hall aired to much acclaim internationally on SKY TV, Broadway HD and BBC Radio. Kraus says he has enjoyed his work with Disney Theatrical because the productions always bring together a talented team of artists, musicians and directors.

Kraus has worked on many live telecasts, including Macy’s July 4th Fireworks, Tony Bennet’s 90th Birthday Celebration at Radio City, The Wiz, Peter Pan, The Sound of Music and the 2016 International Jazz Day broadcast live from the White House. He has also been the audio coordinator on remote shoots of the Tonight Show, which has filmed all over the country. He’s worked on hundreds of high-profile events like iHeart Radio’s annual Music Festival in Las Vegas, a Gucci/H&M Fashion Show featuring Prince and Nicki Minaj, and Elton John’s 60th Birthday Celebration at St. John the Divine.

Kraus is now a nationally-known sound designer, but he still fondly remembers his time as a student at CCM. He recalls countless late nights drafting and finishing CCM tech rehearsals and finishing the long days with “a milkshake at UDF and a high five.” He credits CCM with molding him into the sound designer he is today.

“Current students should be open to all kinds of opportunities that may come their way,” Kraus advises. “It’s normal to be focused on one medium or design aspect, but there are so many rewards to becoming a well-rounded artist with diversified projects.”

“Theatre will always be my first love, but I’ve had some really amazing experiences working on concerts, live events and television.”

Learn more about CCM Sound Design at ccm.uc.edu/theatre/tdp/sound.

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