Alumni Spotlight: Brian Katona, MM Choral Conducting 2002

Story by CCM Associate Director of Alumni Relations Jamie Muenzer. Originally published online at

Choose a college. Get through courses, tests and performances. Graduate and never look back. Right?

Well, we hope not.

And we are especially fortunate that Brian Katona (MM Choral Conducting, 2002) keeps choosing to look back. “I worked with conducting alumni while I was in school, had access to all kinds of professors, and wasn’t restricted to only doing one thing,” Brian says. “The College-Conservatory of Music was an incredible resource to both learn and play.” And as an Emmy Award-winning documentary film score composer, Brian felt it was important to eventually come “home” and pay it forward.

Similar to many students going into the creative or performing arts, Brian started his Master’s at CCM somewhat unsure of his ultimate path. Documentary filmmaking wasn’t even on his radar. But as a true testament to the well-rounded nature of CCM’s programs, there was an incredible amount of crossover with many other departments — Musical Theatre, Dance, Acting, Opera — and he found himself conducting many of the shows in Corbett Auditorium while expanding his own personal preference and repertoire.

And thanks to a master class he attended, Brian caught the bug for documentary film scoring. Soon after the workshop, he traveled to the renowned Aspen Music Festival for The Susan and Ford Schumann Composition Film Score program, and the field has been his driving passion ever since. Thinking back on this time, he says the faculty at CCM were especially encouraging, helping to develop both his composing and conducting craft.

CCM to Film: Coming Full Circle
Having worked on award-winning films ranging from The Town that Disappeared Overnight to The Builder, Brian says film scoring is about creating a connection with the imagery through sound. “As a film composer, you’re trying to capture moments through music, sometimes in scenes with very little dialogue. It’s a challenge, but you become so drawn to the story.”

Spending most of his time composing in his home studio in Newtown, Pennsylvania, Brian works with footage provided by the production companies and uses both computer-based and live instruments to create the musical score. He says each project is a brand new adventure and challenge. When he approached CCM to teach a master class, he hoped to share some of the same trials and joys of film scoring that he’s encountered. “And selfishly, it’s so nice to connect with younger composers,” he adds. “By sharing their thoughts and fresh creative ideas they often teach me as much as I teach them.

After connecting with Professor of Commercial Music Production professor Tom Haines and learning of his advanced Film Scoring class, Brian saw the perfect match. And for seniors pursuing their Bachelor of Music in Commercial Music Production, it was the perfect opportunity. Students would work with Brian over the course of a three-session Skype master class to develop their own scores for a documentary film. The catch: It was a film Brian had already worked on, stripped of the music.

“It was up to the students to create their own interpretation of the mood the film should take on,” Brian says. “By the third session, they were presenting to me and I was providing feedback on some really amazing scores. The students demonstrated a wide variety of musical styles ranging from the traditional classical approach to scores that had elements of jazz and pop. Regardless of style, each score fit very well and gave a unique and powerful emotional subtext to the film.” The workshop has gone so well that Brian says there might be one more session in the works.

If Brian’s career path is any indication, all it takes is one workshop or master class to alter the trajectory for the rest of your life. His hope for students? Find that spark.

Brian Katona is an Emmy® Award-winning composer, orchestrator, arranger, and conductor. Recent film/television credits: The Builder (Emmy Winner for best musical composition), A Hope For Hartly (Best Melodic Theme, Garden State Film Festival), PEI Kids: Generation Change (Film: Broader Vision Award, Garden State Film Festival), The Town That Disappeared Overnight (Film: Two time Emmy Winner, Garden State Film Festival Winner), Biserici De Lemn Din Romania (SEEFest Official Selection), I Throw Rocks (Film: Maumee Film Festival Winner), My Spirited Sister (Sitcom). Theater credits: Jesse James: Dead or Alive. Commercial recordings: The Voice of Christmas: “The Night Before Christmas,” A Christmas Journey: “I Wonder What I’ll Get for Christmas.” Published concert music (Imagine Music): Anthem for the Patriots, Space Battle, Space Fantasy, When I Hear Music, An Irish Blessing.

Soundcloud: @emlaproductions

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CCM Summer hosts the Choral Conducting Master Class and Workshop July 10-14, 2017.

CCM Summer Hosts Choral Conducting Master Class and Workshop

UC’s College-Conservatory of Music provides a comprehensive approach to studying choral repertoire in the Choral Conducting Master Class and Workshop offered July 10-14, 2017.

Participants in the summer program will study gesture, score study, vocalization and musicianship skills necessary for choral conducting. Repertoire will include choral works by Bartók, Kodály, Orbán, Kocsár and Ligeti.

The workshop is led by guest faculty member Katalin Kiss, a professor of musicianship and conducting at the Kodály Institute of Liszt Academy of Music, Hungary. CCM faculty includes Associate Professor of Music Education Eva Floyd, who is a specialist in the Kodály approach of choral music education. She holds advanced degrees in choral conducting from the University of Kentucky and the Kodály Institute.

Kiss is an international expert on choral conducting and contemporary choral repertoire. She founded the world famous Ars Nova Vocal Ensemble in 1990, and has conducted them at more than four hundred international concerts, winning sixteen first prizes and seven Grand Prix prizes at international competitions, including Champion of World Choir Games title in 2008 (Graz, Austria) and 2014 (Riga, Latvia).

CCM’s 2017 Choral Conducting Master Class and Workshop is now accepting applications. The application deadline is April 15, 2017; enrollment for CCM Summer Programs is limited.

Visit for application details and more information on the program.

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L. Brett Scott leading CCM's Chorale at the 2012 Moveable Feast gala event.

CCM Professor Brett Scott Named Director of Cincinnati’s Musica Sacra Chorus

We are happy to report that CCM Assistant Professor of Ensembles and Conducting L. Brett Scott has been appointed as Music Director of Cincinnati’s Musica Sacra Chorus.

Scott was nominated by Dr. Helmut J. Roehrig, who founded Musica Sacra in 1965. Dr. Roehrig will now assume the title and duties of Music Director Emeritus, and will continue to be involved in some decision-making aspects of the Chorus.

Scott has been a faculty member at CCM since 2007. He conducts the CCM Chorale and the Opera D’Arte undergraduate operas, and is also director of Cincinnati Camerata.

He is currently Vice President of the National Collegiate Choral Association, and has conducted, taught and lectured in Canada, Portugal and Cuba as well as throughout the United States. At the recent 2013 Portugal International Choral Festival, he conducted the ESML Chamber Choir to Gold and a first place finish in their category.

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Become a CCM Insider: Subscribe to THE VILLAGE NEWS

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Click here to subscribe to THE VILLAGE NEWS.

What’s the best way to keep up with CCM’s remarkable faculty, students, alumni, friends and benefactors? Subscribe to THE VILLAGE NEWS, CCM’s new electronic newsletter.

  • Learn about the CCM student and alumni-led Whiz Kids Music Program, which is making a difference in disadvantaged schools throughout Cincinnati.
  • Watch all 75 current Musical Theatre majors perform CCM alumnus Stephen Flaherty’s (BM, 1982) “On the Wings of a Dream” in tribute to UC alumnus and supporter Otto M. Budig Jr.
  • Find out where CCM’s latest Fulbright grant-recipient will be studying next year.
  • Read what the New York Times had to say about CCM’s string quartet-in-residence, the Ariel Quartet.
  • Get to know CCM’s newest faculty members.

Subscribe to THE VILLAGE NEWS and we will deliver these transformational stories to your inbox throughout the year. If you missed our SUMMER 2014 issue, sign up today and we’ll send you a copy!

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And don’t worry: we will continue to provide you with breaking news through the CCM Blog, too!

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CCM Alumnus Brandon Dean Receives Gustavus Adolphus College’s Award for Teaching Excellence

CCM alumnus Brandon Dean (DMA, 2011).

CCM alumnus Brandon Dean (DMA, 2011).

CCM alumnus Brandon Dean (DMA, 2011) has received Gustavus Adolphus College’s 2014 Swenson-Bunn Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. The award is nominated and selected by students and has been presented annually since 1990. Congratulations!

Dean joined the Gustavus faculty in 2011, after completing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting at CCM. At CCM, he also served as the conductor of the UC Women’s Chorus from 2008-2011.

An Assistant Professor of Music ad Gustavus, he conducts the Choir of Christ Chapel, Lucia Singers and St. Ansgar’s Chorus, and teaches courses in music theory and music history.

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CCM Doctoral Student Named Artistic Director of Dayton’s Musica Chamber Choir

CCM student Michael Fuchs will serve as new artistic director for Dayton, Ohio's Musica.

CCM student Michael Fuchs will serve as new artistic director for Dayton, Ohio’s Musica.

Congratulations to CCM doctoral candidate Michael Fuchs on being named new artistic director of Musica, a Dayton-based professional choral ensemble.

Pam McGinnis recently profiled Fuchs for the Dayton Daily News. You can read her feature online here.

Fuchs is pursuing a doctoral degree in choral conducting at CCM, where he also conducts the UC Women’s Chorus and is co-director of the Collegium Vocale.

The UC Men’s and Women’s Choruses open their season on Tuesday, Nov. 5, with a concert of traditional and contemporary choral works featuring Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Gustav Holst’s Two Psalms.

Learn more about Choral Studies at CCM here.

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CCM Student Marie Bucoy-Calavan Named As Inaugural May Festival Choral Conducting Fellow

Marie Bucoy-Calavan has been named the inaugural recipient of the May Festival Choral Conducting Fellowship. She will enter her third year of studies in CCM's DMA in Choral Conducting program this fall.

Marie Bucoy-Calavan has been named the inaugural recipient of the May Festival Choral Conducting Fellowship. She will enter her third year of studies in CCM’s DMA in Choral Conducting program this fall.

We are delighted to report that DMA candidate Marie Bucoy-Calavan has been named the inaugural recipient of the May Festival Choral Conducting Fellowship. This new position was established thanks to the incredible foresight and generosity of Ginger Warner and was created as part of an ongoing collaboration between the May Festival and CCM’s Department of Choral Studies. Each year, a May Festival Fellow will be selected from CCM’s pool of Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting students and will serve as the Assistant Conductor of the May Festival Chorus.

“The new May Festival Choral Conducting Fellowship provides unique professional training for CCM’s doctoral choral conducting students,” explains Director of Choral Studies Earl Rivers, “providing them opportunities to conduct rehearsals, as well as to attend May Festival Board and Artistic Planning meetings to learn how a world-renowned Choral Festival is successfully produced.”

Bucoy-Calavan will begin her duties with the May Festival Chorus next fall. As Assistant Director she will be responsible for running select rehearsals and smaller sectional rehearsals. In addition Bucoy-Calavan will conduct some concerts within the community. Commenting on her appointment, Bucoy-Calavan says, “I am very excited and honored at the chance to have a mentorship with [May Festival Director of Choruses] Robert Porco. I attended the Conducting Masterclass that the May Festival held a year ago, and was inspired by his musical insights and skill for teaching conducting. I look forward to the fall and to the prospect of working with the May Festival Chorus.”

Learn more about the May Festival Choral Conducting Fellowship.

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Under Direction of CCM Alumnus David Morrow, the Acclaimed Morehouse College Glee Club Performs in Cincinnati Next Month

CCM alumnus David Morrow.

CCM alumnus David Morrow.

The Glee Club and Vocal Quartet from Morehouse College in Atlanta, whose voices have serenaded Olympians and Presidents, will make their biennial appearance in Cincinnati on Saturday, March 9. The Morehouse Glee Club is directed by CCM alumnus David Morrow, who received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting from CCM in 1995.

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CCM’s Choirs Celebrate the Life of Elmer Thomas on Sept. 30

Elmer Thomas at CCM for the occasion of his 80th birthday in October, 2010.

Elmer Thomas at CCM for the occasion of his 80th birthday in October, 2010.

CCM’s Chamber Choir and Chorale, UC Men’s and Women’s Choruses, Cincinnati Children’s Choir and Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble combine at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30 in Corbett Auditorium to celebrate the life of Elmer Robert Thomas, a pioneering choral director who left an enduring legacy in Cincinnati. Thomas died of respiratory failure at the age of 81 on June 13, 2012.

Professor emeritus Elmer Thomas founded CCM’s choral studies program over 45 years ago and built it into a program recognized far and wide for its excellence. His caring nature and passion for his art made him an admired mentor by his students and a revered colleague and friend by his peers. He remained director of the program until 1995.

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