CCM Welcomes Judith Mikita As Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance

Judith Mikita

CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung has announced the appointment of Judith Mikita to the position of Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance, with a focus in modern choreography. Mikita has served as an adjunct dance instructor at CCM for more than 20 years. Her new appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

Mikita is a choreographer and performer with more than 30 years of professional experience. Her choreography has been presented by the American Dance Festival, the New York International Independent Film Festival, Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center and the Biagiotti Art Gallery in Florence, Italy, among others. She has also choreographed for Cincinnati’s Contemporary Dance Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cleveland Fringe Festival, Covington’s Carnegie Art Center and New York’s White Mountain Dance Festival.

As an artist and educator, Mikita has served on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Columbia College and Antioch College and as artist-in-residence at Wright State University and the University of Utah. She has also choreographed at Miami University, Northern Kentucky University and Interlochen Center for the Arts.

As a performer, Mikita has toured nationally with the Chicago-based dance companies of Shirley Mordine, Jan Erkert and Bob Eisen. She has worked with Martha Clarke of Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Lucas Hoving of the José Limón Dance Company, Marnie Thomas of the Martha Graham Dance Company and Gus Solomons, Jr. of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Mikita is a founding member of the Greater Cincinnati Dance Alliance and has served on the board of directors for OhioDance and Cincinnati’s Contemporary Dance Theater. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance from Indiana University and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from University of Michigan.

On the announcement of Mikita’s appointment, mcclung commented:

“Judith Mikita’s extensive experience in modern dance and professional work with arts institutions, festivals and dance companies throughout the country will benefit CCM’s BFA students in refining their contemporary dance technique.”

Please join us in welcoming Judith Mikita to the CCM family!

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Scott Linford, incoming Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at CCM.

CCM Welcomes Scott Linford as Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology

Scott Linford, incoming Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at CCM.

CCM Interim Dean bruce d. mcclung has announced the appointment of Scott Linford to the position of Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at CCM. Linford’s appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

A scholar, filmmaker and performing musician, Linford has conducted fieldwork in West Africa, Central America and the United States around themes of participation and musical experience, ethnicity, gender and politics. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he holds an MA and PhD in Ethnomusicology from UCLA and most recently served as Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts (Music History) at the Berklee College of Music.

In addition to his dissertation, “Interweaving Worlds: Jola Music and Relational Identity in Senegambia and Beyond,” Linford’s work has appeared in Ethnomusicology Review and the Yearbook for Traditional Music. He has presented papers at annual meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the African Studies Association, and has presented invited lectures at UCLA, Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, and Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City.

A guitarist, bassist, fiddler and award-winning banjoist, he directed the UCLA Bluegrass and Old Time String Band, which won numerous awards at regional music festivals. Linford has also directed three documentary films focusing on musical communities.

On the announcement of Linford’s appointment, mcclung commented:

“CCM students will benefit from Linford’s expertise as an ethnographic researcher, documentarian and performer. He makes an excellent addition to our Composition, Musicology and Theory Division. I am grateful to Search Committee Chair Jonathan Kregor and committee members Jenny Doctor, Stefan Fiol, Jeongwon Joe, Stephen Meyer, Matthew Peattie and Stephanie Schlagel for their collaborative effort on this successful search.”

Please join us in welcoming Scott Linford to the CCM family!

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A portrait of CCM's incoming TAPAA Division Head, Denton Yockey.

Accomplished Producer and Administrator Denton Yockey is Named Head of CCM’s Division of Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration

A portrait of CCM's incoming TAPAA Division Head, Denton Yockey.

CCM Interim Dean bruce d. mcclung has announced the appointment of Denton Yockey to the position of Professor of Arts Administration and Head of the Division of Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration (TAPAA) at CCM. Yockey will arrive on campus this July to work with TAPAA’s Interim Division Head, Alan Yaffe, and his appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

In his new position, Yockey will oversee CCM’s Departments of Acting, Arts Administration, Dance, Musical Theatre, Opera, and Theatre Design and Production. He will also serve as producer of CCM’s Mainstage and Studio Series productions.

Yockey is one of the nation’s premier regional theatre producers and presenters of touring Broadway. During a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Yockey has produced or presented shows starring such luminaries as Jensen Ackles, Margaret Colin, Richard Kind, Jack Klugman, Lorenzo Lamas, Donna McKechnie, Lou Diamond Phillips, Tony Randall, Cathy Rigby, Sally Struthers, new Tony winner Rachel Bay Jones and Academy Award-winning June Squibb.

Yockey is currently the Executive Director of the Thrasher-Horne Center at St. Johns River State College in Orange Park, Florida. He is also a principal with A Rising Tide Theatrical Group, LLC, which independently produces theatrical entertainment and national tours while providing counsel for other projects.

Over the course of his career, Yockey has helmed four not-for-profit theatres including Lone Star Performing Arts Association in Galveston, Texas (Executive Director); Casa Mañana Theater in Fort Worth, TX (President and Executive Producer); and Starlight Theatre in Kansas City (President and Executive Producer). Under his leadership, Starlight Theatre received the 2013 Venue Excellence Award from the International Alliance of Venue Managers in the Performing Arts Centers category. Also in 2013, his mini-tour of Miss Saigon was cited in Playbill’s list of “Most Unforgettable Experiences.” During his tenure at Casa Mañana, the landmark theatre underwent its historic renovation and the theatre was the producer and presenter of all the Broadway shows at the newly opened Bass Performance Hall. Upon his departure from Casa Mañana, Yockey received the Silver Dome Award, the theatre’s highest award for meritorious individual accomplishment.  He is one of only three recipients in the 13-year history of the award.

Yockey received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University South Bend. He is a member of the Broadway League and a past Tony Awards voter for over 15 years. While in Texas he was a theatre panelist for the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and the Texas Commission on the Arts, and board member of the Live Theatre League of Tarrant County, Texas Nonprofit Theatres, Inc., and the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.

A native of Plymouth, Indiana, Yockey met his wife of 26 years, Gina, on stage in a production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. They are the proud parents of Gwyneth and Grayson Yockey, both whom are pursuing acting careers.

On the announcement of Yockey’s appointment, mcclung commented:

“Yockey’s impressive background in producing, presenting and administration, coupled with his dedication to artistic success, positions him as the ideal head of CCM’s Division of Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration. I am grateful to Search Committee Chair Alan Yaffe and committee members Rebecca Bromels, Lydia Brown, Vince DeGeorge, Susan Felder, Qi Jiang and Stirling Shelton for their work and dedication to find CCM’s next great division head.”

Please join us in welcoming Denton Yockey to the CCM family!

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Spring scenes on campus, CCM.

Thank You: CCM Celebrates Faculty Retirements

As the 2017-18 academic year comes to a close, we celebrate the careers of retiring faculty members Randy Gardner and Mary Sue Morrow, who have dedicated themselves to continuing the college’s legacy as a leading training center for the performing and media arts.

Randy Gardner with CCM horn students.

Randy Gardner with CCM horn students.

Horn Professor and Chair of the Winds and Percussion Department Randy Gardner joined the CCM family in 1996. He is honored that students have entrusted him to help them achieve their dreams, and “for the privilege of serving on a faculty of world-class artists/teachers and colleagues.” He adds:

“The positive energy, freedom and support to create the horn program I envisioned, and student-centered focus made CCM a wonderful place for me to teach during the past 22 years. Special memories for me include phone calls from excited students who won jobs, achieved honors, or shared personal life events, horn choir performances at international symposia and on-campus, and fun studio parties.  I look forward to staying in touch with my CCM friends and receiving updates about our great school.”

Current and former CCM horn students will gather to celebrate Gardner’s retirement in concert at 8 p.m. on Monday, April 23, 2018 in CCM’s Werner Recital Hall.

Mary Sue Morrow (left) with two friends after hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.

Mary Sue Morrow (left) with two friends after hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.

Musicology Professor Mary Sue Morrow came to CCM in 1999, moving from New Orleans’ Loyola University where she taught for 15 years. When she arrived in Cincinnati, she says she was excited by the classes she taught and the “bright and very musical students,” but she missed the sunny southern weather of her former home — and the fresh oysters and boiled crawfish:

“I quickly realized that there were very few universities where I would find not only good colleagues and a supportive atmosphere for teaching, but would also meet a wide variety of bright and talented students. CCM has proved to be a congenial and supportive atmosphere for both my teaching and research, and I have enjoyed it all. My retirement plan is to spend most of the year in Cincinnati, but in January and February, I intend to escape down to New Orleans, where the crawfish are boiled and peppery and the oysters are salty and fresh.”

Please join us in saluting their decades of service to the CCM community!

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CCM Piano Instructor Wins UC’s Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award

Andy Villemez, CCM Adjunct Instructor of Piano. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Andy Villemez, CCM Adjunct Instructor of Piano. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Distinguished faculty members were recognized in UC’s university-wide Faculty Awards Celebration on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. They were each nominated by students, staff or other faculty members in December and given awards during Tuesday’s ceremony in Tangeman University Center’s Great Hall.

Along with the other award winners, CCM Piano Instructor Andy Villemez was honored in this year’s ceremony, where he was presented with the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award. Visit the Faculty Awards website to read profiles on each of the recognized faculty members.

Villemez is praised by his CCM colleagues for going above and beyond for students. The adjunct instructor of piano carries a full course load, teaching undergraduate and graduate classes, while mentoring students outside of the classroom.

“He uses his position as an adjunct instructor to better prepare his students for life as professional musicians rather than just fulfilling his duties as an instructor,” says one current student.

He graduated from CCM with a DMA in Piano in 2015 and incorporates his experience as a recent graduate into his teaching methods. In order to better prepare students for life after graduation, Villemez began the “Big Picture” lecture series, a professional development initiative that is open to all CCM students of any major.

The lecture series falls outside of Villemez’s typical responsibilities as an instructor. It includes mentoring students on community engagement, finance management and even how to build a professional website.

He is also the faculty advisor for CCM’s Chapter of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), where he works with students on research projects and conference proposals. Earlier this year, one student presented research at the MTNA Collegiate Symposium in Austin, Texas, and thanks Villemez for helping her develop an engaging presentation in her nomination letter.

Villemez recently presented two of his own research papers at the Ohio Music Teachers Association Annual Conference: “Building Arts Ambassadors Through Private Music Instruction” and “Teaching to Everyone: The Basics of Universal Design for Learning.” He has also written multiple scholarly articles focused on piano pedagogy for the MTNA Electronic Journal and Clavier Companion.

“What distinguishes Dr. Villemez is his commitment to research, pedagogical leadership and mentorship of students,” says CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung. “Simply put, he is one of CCM’s most valuable adjunct faculty members for the model he sets and his deep engagement with student learning and career development.”

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CCM Assistant Professor of Violin Giora Schmidt.

Acclaimed Violinist Giora Schmidt is Named Assistant Professor of Violin at CCM

Interim Dean bruce d. mcclung has announced the appointment of Giora Schmidt to the position of Assistant Professor of Violin at CCM. Schmidt joined CCM’s faculty on a visiting basis in 2017. His new tenure-track appointment will begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

CCM Assistant Professor of Violin Giora Schmidt.

CCM Assistant Professor of Violin Giora Schmidt.

Praised by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as “impossible to resist, captivating with lyricism, tonal warmth and boundless enthusiasm,” Schmidt has appeared with many prominent symphony orchestras including Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Toronto, Vancouver and the Israel Philharmonic.

As a recitalist and chamber musician, Schmidt has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, San Francisco Performances, the Louvre Museum in Paris and Tokyo’s Musashino Cultural Hall. His festival appearances include the Ravinia Festival, the Santa Fe and Montreal Chamber Music Festivals, Bard Music Festival, Scotia Festival of Music and Music Academy of the West.

Born in Philadelphia to professional musicians from Israel, Schmidt began playing the violin at the age of four. He has studied with Patinka Kopec and Pinchas Zukerman at the Manhattan School of Music, and the late CCM faculty member Dorothy DeLay and Itzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School.

Schmidt was the first prize winner of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Greenfield Competition in 2000, the recipient of a 2003 Avery Fisher Career Grant and won the Classical Recording Foundation’s Samuel Sanders Award in 2005. He was selected to be a Starling Fellow at the Juilliard School from 2004 to 2006.

Prior to his current appointment as Visiting Assistant Professor of Violin at CCM, Schmidt was on the faculty of the Juilliard School and the Perlman Music Program. Through technology and social media, he continues to find new ways of reaching young violinists and music lovers around the world.

On the announcement of CCM’s new Assistant Professor of Violin, mcclung commented:

“Schmidt’s commitment to pedagogy and his passion for excellence make him an ideal addition to the CCM family. I am grateful to Violin Search Committee Chair James Bunte and committee members Gershon Gerchikov, Alexandra Kazovsky, Kurt Sassmannshaus, and Won-Bin Yim for their work and dedication to find CCM’s next great faculty member.”

Please join us in congratulating Giora Schmidt on his new appointment!

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Composition Professor Michael Fiday Previews New Work at CCM

Cincinnatians can get an inside look at the development of a new work by CCM Composition Professor Michael Fiday at an informal workshop at 5:30 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 at CCM’s Mary Emery Hall Room 3250.

The workshop will serve as an experimental laboratory for Fiday’s developing piece for New York-based music ensemble Mantra Percussion. While the workshop will not be a performance of the completed work, it is open to those who wish to hear the ensemble and witness Fiday’s compositional process in action.

The Fromm Music Foundation honored Fiday with a $12,000 grant to write the new work. He was one of twelve composers and one ensemble recognized by the foundation, which is housed at Harvard University.

The foundation requires that applicants submit a proposal of the details of the work and its potential performers, but there are no rules about what those details might be. Fiday’s proposal specifically focused on a new piece for Mantra Percussion because of its daring attitude and long relationship with the composer.

“My idea was to write a piece where each member of the ensemble plays an electric guitar, but plays it as a percussion instrument, i.e. laid flat and struck with various kinds of beaters and foreign objects,” Fiday says.

“This idea was the result of previous discussions I’d had with Mantra Percussion over the years, and it’s the kind of idea that can only come from players who do not shy away from a sense of risk and adventure.”

The final product will be somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes long, and Fiday expects that it will premiere either in 2019 or 2020.

Mantra Percussion will hold a free guest artist recital from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22 in the CCM Atrium. The lunchtime concert features Michael Gordon’s Timber. Mantra Percussion performs the piece in the below video, which can also be viewed online at mantrapercussion.org/timber.

In addition to the piece for Mantra Percussion, Fiday was recently commissioned to compose two other works for national and local arts organizations. He is currently on sabbatical from CCM to focus on his compositions.

Fiday was awarded a commission for $5,500 from the Barlow Endowment at Brigham Young University to write a 15-minute piece for the Hypercube ensemble. The quartet of saxophone, percussion, guitar and piano held a residency at CCM in February 2017, which included a workshop and two concerts.

“I’m infinitely grateful to both foundations for their generous support, and I’m especially grateful to CCM for the full-year sabbatical I’ve been granted during 2018, all of which will make conducting this work possible.”

The third major project in store for Fiday is a commission from CCM alumna Brianna Matzke (MM Piano Performance 2011). Matzke is the artistic director of The Response Project, a commissioning initiative that asks composers to write a piece of music in response to a pre-existing work or idea.

Fiday is one of 12 composers who are writing works for The Response Project’s Something Is Happening Here, which will feature solo piano works in response to tracks from Bob Dylan’s 1964 album, Highway 61 Revisited. Fiday’s work is in response to “From a Buick 6,” and it will premiere, alongside the other new works, in fall 2018 in Cincinnati.

Fiday is regularly commissioned to write new compositions for multiple organizations, including the National Flute Association and the American Composers Orchestra. In 2016, he was commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to write a piece for the One City, One Symphony initiative.

He not only works to create his own new music but also fosters that creativity within his students. CCM has one of the nation’s top 10 music composition programs, according to the US News & World Report. Student composers enjoy opportunities to work with CCM ensembles and community organizations for hearings and performances.

Learn more about CCM’s Composition program at ccm.uc.edu/music/cmt.
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Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle

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