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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CCM Alumnus Marcus Shields Returns As Visiting Assistant Professor of Opera Directing

UC College-Conservatory of Music Interim Dean bruce d. mcclung has announced the appointment of CCM alumnus Marcus Shields (MM, 2015; AD, 2017) to the position of Visiting Assistant Professor of Opera Directing. Shields’ appointment will officially begin on Aug. 15, 2018.

Shields is a New York City-based director who specializes in the presentation and performance of classical music and opera. His experience ranges from installation/performance art to fully produced theatre, blending his artistry as a pianist, singer, visual artist and director into works that probe the boundaries of genre.

He has served on the directing staff of the Lyric Opera Chicago, Atlanta Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Wolf Trap Opera and the Curtis Institute of Music. Directing credits include La Vida Breve with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and Northern Kentucky University School of the Arts, and a touring production of The Bolcom Cabaret with engagements at the Neue Galerie in New York and the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.

Recently, Shields directed Bernstein’s Mass at Cincinnati’s May Festival, which attracted a sold-out crowd at Music Hall. At CCM he directed a semi-staged production of Arthur Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake and the 2017 Mainstage Opera production of Mozart’s Idomeneo, which was praised by arts reporter Janelle Gelfand as “striking” and a “rare treat.” In the fall of 2018, Shields will direct Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca at New York City’s Madison Theater.

Recipient of the 2018 Stage Directing Fellowship at San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program, Shields holds a Master of Music degree in Voice and an Artist Diploma degree in Opera Direction from CCM. In 2017 he was a recipient of the Drama League Opera Directing Fellowship in conjunction with the Metropolitan Opera and Wolf Trap Opera.

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

“CCM opera and voice students will benefit from Shields’ expertise as an opera director, visual artist and diction coach. His experience at San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program, Atlanta Opera and Chicago’s Lyric Opera promises to enrich CCM’s renowned opera program, ranked third in the country according to the most recent U.S. News and World Report ranking. I am grateful to the Search Committee Chairs Alan Yaffe and Robin Guarino for their collaborative effort on this successful search.”

Please join us in welcoming Marcus Shields to the CCM family!

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Stanley E. Romanstein Named Dean of University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

An accomplished leader in education and the arts as well as a UC alumnus, Romanstein’s appointment follows a national search for CCM’s next dean.

Kristi A. Nelson, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Cincinnati, today announced the appointment of Stanley E. Romanstein, PhD, as Dean of the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Romanstein’s appointment becomes effective July 1, 2018, pending approval of the University’s Board of Trustees.

“I am delighted to welcome Stanley Romanstein back to his alma mater as Dean of UC’s College-Conservatory of Music,” said Nelson. “He is an outstanding organizational leader, entrepreneur and scholar, in addition to being a proud UC alumnus. I was most impressed with his passion for arts advocacy, his engaging interpersonal skills, and his forward-thinking and student-centric approach to education.”

Romanstein is an accomplished nonprofit executive with 22 years of leadership and management experience in education and the arts. He comes to CCM from Georgia State University’s Creative Media Institute, where he has served as a professor of practice/music and the arts for the past four years. He also serves as a principal at BLJackson Associates, a consulting firm that works with arts, humanities and education-focused nonprofits across the country. Romanstein was previously President and CEO of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, President and CEO of the Minnesota Humanities Center, Director of Development at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Executive Director of the Baltimore School for the Arts and Baltimore School for the Arts Foundation, and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Music at St. Lawrence University.

“I have firsthand knowledge of CCM’s excellence in music and arts education and I am a proud beneficiary of those high standards. I am honored to have the opportunity to contribute to my alma mater’s continued success as its next dean,” said Romanstein. “CCM’s reputation as a leading performing and media arts school is 150 years strong, and that reputation continues to grow thanks to the talents and dedication of its faculty, staff, alumni, donors, volunteers and community partners. Working together, we will continue to nurture the talents of our students and inspire future generations of artists, teachers, creative thinkers, innovative problem-solvers and media-savvy arts entrepreneurs.”

Romanstein continued, “I have found ideal partners in President Pinto and Provost Nelson and I look forward to working with them to build on CCM’s history and successes while advancing CCM’s role within the university’s strategic direction, Next Lives Here.”

Romanstein’s appointment follows a national search begun in fall 2017. The search was led by the UC Provost Office and chaired by Greer Glazer, Dean of the College of Nursing.

Nelson expressed her gratitude to bruce mcclung, who has served as CCM’s interim dean since July 2016. “I would like to acknowledge the outstanding service of Dean mcclung,” said Nelson. “UC owes mcclung a huge debt of gratitude for his leadership during the past two academic years, culminating with CCM’s 150th anniversary celebration.”

About Stanley E. Romanstein
Stanley E. Romanstein, PhD, brings to his new role at CCM extensive experience as a visionary leader, entrepreneurial strategist, engaging communicator, passionate fundraiser and successful manager.

In November of 2014, Romanstein began his tenure as professor of practice/music and the arts at Georgia State University’s Creative Media Institute, where his work focused on building music industry collaborations. During this time, he also served as a principal at BLJackson Associates, a consulting firm based in Atlanta that works with arts, humanities and education-focused nonprofits across the country. The firm creates and implements tailored solutions to challenges in organizational strategy, governance and development/ fundraising.

Romanstein has 22 years of leadership and management experience in education and the arts. As President and CEO of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (2010-14), he strengthened the orchestra’s connection to the community through expanded concert offerings and a wide range of impactful education offerings. He also created and implemented a new business model that reversed a 12-year history of financial loss and positioned the orchestra for long-term sustainability and artistic achievement.

As President and CEO of the Minnesota Humanities Center (2001-10), Romanstein transformed the center from a small organization with a local focus to a highly regarded regional and national leader in its field. He also created and distributed acclaimed new media; this included a collection of four Somali folk tales taken from oral tradition and written down for the very first time, as well as an Emmy Award-winning documentary, Iron Range: Minnesota Building America.

Romanstein proved to be an enthusiastic and productive fundraiser at the Minnesota Humanities Center, Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum and the Baltimore School of the Arts. He attracted new local, regional and national funding to support the center’s $4 million annual budget, including support from the Minnesota State Legislature by establishing partnerships with the state’s four ethnic councils: American Indian, African American, Latino and Asian. As Director of Development at the University of Minnesota’s Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum (2000-01), Romanstein led what was, at the time, the highest grossing annual fund drive while laying the groundwork for the museum’s successful capital campaign. As Director of Baltimore School for the Arts (1996-2000), Romanstein positioned the school for a successful capital campaign as well as a facility renovation and expansion.

From 1987-96, Romanstein served as an associate professor and chair of the music department at St. Lawrence University, a highly selective liberal arts institution in New York. He refocused the department’s traditional music curriculum to emphasize interdisciplinary and multicultural perspectives and created meaningful connections with departments and colleagues across the campus.

Romanstein earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree, cum laude, from Carson-Newman College in 1976. He then came to CCM to earn a Master of Music in Choral Conducting in 1980 and a PhD in Music in 1990. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Israel in 1985-86 and in Japan in November-December 1998.

About the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
Declared “one of the nation’s leading conservatories” by the New York Times, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. The school’s educational roots date back to 1867, and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time.

CCM offers nine degree types (BA, BM, BFA, MFA, MM, MA, AD, DMA, PhD) in nearly 120 possible majors. The synergy created by housing CCM within a comprehensive public university gives the college its unique character and defines its objective: to educate and inspire the whole artist and scholar for positions on the world’s stage.

CCM’s world-class facilities provide a highly creative and multidisciplinary artistic environment. In 2017, the college completed a $15-million renovation of its major performance spaces, ensuring that CCM’s facilities remain state-of-the-art.

The school’s roster of eminent faculty regularly receives distinguished honors for creative and scholarly work, and its alumni have achieved notable success in the performing and media arts. More than 150 internationally recognized faculty members work with students from around the world, specializing in the areas of:

  • Composition/Musicology/Theory,
  • Electronic Media,
  • Ensembles and Conducting (Choral Studies, Commercial Music Production, Jazz Studies, Orchestral Studies and Wind Studies),
  • Keyboard Studies (Harpsichord, Organ and Piano),
  • Music Education,
  • Performance Studies (Strings, Voice and Woodwinds/Brass/Percussion) and
  • Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration (Acting, Arts Administration, Dance, Musical Theatre, Opera and Theatre Design and Production).

The largest single source of performing arts events in the state of Ohio, CCM presents nearly 1,000 major public performances each year, ranging from faculty and guest artist concerts to fully supported acting, dance, musical theatre and opera productions.

CCM is an accredited institution of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST), as well as a member of the University/ Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA).

Learn more by visiting http://ccm.uc.edu.

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New Work by Professor Douglas Knehans Premieres at New York Opera Fest

It’s been an exciting and busy year for CCM Norman Dinerstein Professor of Composition Scholar Douglas Knehans, a recent winner of the Ohio Arts Council’s 2018 Individual Excellence Award.

His most recent album Unfinished Earth, released on April 6, has already won five international awards including best classical album at the spring 2018 Clouzine International Music Awards, best contemporary classical album at the Independent Music Awards and three silver medals at the Global Music Awards.

Now, Knehans is preparing for the world premiere of his operatic monodrama Backwards from Winter during the New York Opera Fest. Directed by CCM alumna Jennifer Williams (AD Opera Stage Directing, 2012), the work premieres this Friday, May 25, 2018, presented by the Center for Contemporary Opera at Symphony Space.

With a libretto by Juanita Rockwell, Backwards from Winter explores a single woman’s reflection on love and grief after she loses her partner in an automobile crash. It uses live voice, live electronic/computer music and video streams to trace the unnamed woman’s past year with her beloved.

“We tell a story of love and loss, though do so in a way that constantly asks questions rather than gives answers,” Knehans says. “We follow the inception and ultimate tragic demise of a relationship but told in a reverse chronology and linked to a reverse cycling of the seasons — Backwards from Winter.”

Knehans and Rockwell began collaborating on Backwards from Winter in 2010. He completed the composition in 2013, using only the resources of electric cello, electronically processed soprano voice and computerized sound. Knehans says the cellist will also sing, hum and intone words throughout the production, adding an extra layer of dramatic friction to the music.

“Douglas is a truly interdisciplinary artist,” says Williams. “Backwards from Winter, like much of his work, brings together modern technology and timeless lyricism. His score puts a variety of musical styles and compositional techniques in conversation with each other.”

“He is a composer who is genuinely interested in the ideas of the artists performing his work. Working with him is a very collaborative and adventurous experience.”

Williams makes her New York directorial debut with the premiere of Backwards from Winter. The production features a set designed by CCM alumnus Ryan Howell (MFA Stage Design, 2013) and video projections created by Yee Eun Nam.

“A stark, dramatic Noh-like approach to stage will be used,” says Knehans, comparing Backwards from Winter’s staging to the Noh traditional Japanese theatrical form. “This element will also permeate the symbiotic lighting, set design and video creation to evoke the external natural world that stands as a counterpoint to the rich internal questions asked by the protagonist and the music.”

The video projections represent the character’s emotional process as she confronts her grief. The woman always initiates the images seen in the projections, Williams adds. The set is composed of car debris and white, ashen boxes that represent the compartments of her memory.

“She opens one – the inside is a vibrant color, different from the rest of the world of the set – and a sapling tree grows out of it, or a gust of leaves blows out of it,” Williams says describing how the set interacts with the video projections. “The videos are an expressive extension of her action.”

Williams says she brings a feminist perspective and an interest in new technology to the productions she directs. When she first came to opera, she didn’t like how the women were nearly always victims, so she works to dig deeper into the music and underlying story elements to present women as empowered and in control of their own destinies.

Other directors have chosen to invent a husband character as a looming presence in Backwards from Winter, but Williams says the woman’s conflict isn’t with her deceased partner — it is with her own grief. Additionally, the libretto for Backwards from Winter doesn’t specify that the woman’s lost love was male.

“I wanted to avoid inventing a husband character to keep the story inclusive,” Williams says. “I want everyone in the audience to be able to see themselves and their own experience in the story. A more expressive and less traditional, cinematic approach to video design leaves space for that — it invites more perspectives into the story.”

Knehans is very proud and excited that Backwards from Winter will premiere at New York Opera Fest this Friday, May 25. There will also be a new production of the monodrama presented at the Dark Mofo Festival in Australia on June 20-23.

Douglas Knehans.

Douglas Knehans. Photo by Tina Gutierrez.

About Douglas Knehans
Douglas Knehans has received awards from the American Music Center, the NEA, the Australia Council Performing Arts Board, Yale University, the MacDowell Colony, Opera Australia, The Cannes Film Festival, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The National Symphony Orchestra, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Meet the Composer and a host of others.

His music has been praised by the Washington Post as “beautiful,” by the Miami Herald as “wildly inventive,” by the Australian as “brilliantly catchy and eerily bright” and by Fanfare Magazine as “…effective…incisive… and hauntingly beautiful.”

Knehans’ music is available on ERM Media, Crystal Records, Move Records, New World Records and ABLAZE Records. His full biography is available online at douglasknehans.com.

For more information on CCM’s Division of Composition, Musicology and Theory visit ccm.uc.edu/music/cmt.

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CCM Welcomes Kathleen Kelly as New Associate Professor of Opera Coaching

CCM Interim Dean bruce d. mcclung has announced the addition of Kathleen Kelly as the college’s new Associate Professor of Opera Coaching. An accomplished opera coach, conductor, pianist and teacher, Kelly’s appointment begins on Aug. 15, 2018.

Kelly currently serves as an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance. She joined the faculty in 2015 as the school’s first coach/conductor of opera. While there, she conducted performances of Giulio Cesare, Così fan tutte, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dinner at Eight, the difficulty of crossing a field and L’heure espagnole/Gianni Schicchi, which won the American Prize in Opera Performance. She also led workshops for The Dream of the Red Chamber, Kept and Black Clown and oversaw the musical preparation for the university-wide performances of the new critical edition of Porgy and Bess.

Kelly was the first woman and first American named as director of musical studies at Vienna State Opera, where she oversaw the daily musical life of more than 50 ensemble singers in more than 50 operas from 2010 to 2013. She also curated a recital series in the opera house’s famous Mahlersaal and served as the series’ principal pianist. She was the recitative accompanist for new productions of The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, and assisted Maestro Franz Welser-Möst on new productions of Kát’a Kabanová and Z mrtvého domu.

Before moving overseas, Kelly served as the music director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio as well as the company’s head of music staff from 2006 to 2010. Highlights of these years include conducting her own chamber music arrangement of Hansel und Gretel in a remarkable production by Basil Twist, serving as pianist for the Eleanor McCollum competition and curating the HGOS recital series at Rienzi.

From 1997 to 2006, Kelly served as an assistant to the music director at the Metropolitan Opera, specializing in the works of Wagner, Strauss and Berg. During that time, because of her success as a prompter and musical assistant, she was the focus of a Wall Street Journal article and a Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast feature. From 2005 to 2008 Kelly was also the music director of the Berkshire Opera, conducting two productions each summer and overseeing the young artist program.

As a conductor, Kelly has led the 2018 Schwabacher Concerts at the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Francesca Zambello’s critically acclaimed Ariadne auf Naxos at the Glimmerglass Festival (nominated for an International Opera Award), The Marriage of Figaro at Wolf Trap, the premiere of Emmerich Kálmán’s Arizona Lady at Arizona Opera, Carmen and Madama Butterfly at Opera Columbus, Hansel und Gretel at El Paso Opera and the Alexandria Symphony in Virginia. She also conducted the West Coast premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s A Coffin in Egypt, starring Frederica von Stade.

Kelly earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in piano performance from Arizona State University and received a Fulbright Scholarship in Music to study at the Musikhochschule Lübeck in Germany.

She has performed internationally as a recital pianist, including performances at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Vienna’s Musikverein and Tucson’s Desert Song Festival. Her recital partners have included Jamie Barton, Thomas Hampson, Renee Fleming, Christine Goerke, Albina Shagimuratova, Valentina Nafornita, Patrick Carfizzi, Michael Kelly, Jill Grove and Troy Cook.

Kelly has taught master classes in the United States and internationally, including at Interlochen Academy, CCM, Baylor University, Vanderbilt University, Arizona State University, Western Ontario University, Peabody Conservatory and Moscow Conservatory, among others. She is also a regular guest coach for Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz program, and works regularly with young artist programs nationally, notably at the Los Angeles Opera, the Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Seattle Opera and in the CoOperative Training Program at Westminster Choir College.

Additionally, Kelly is gaining recognition as a writer of articles, translations and original texts. She has written lead program articles for Wolf Trap, Houston Grand Opera and Arizona Opera. For the Arizona Lady performances, she created a new trilingual adaptation of the libretto. She also wrote the text Texanische Liebeslieder, a song cycle by David Hanlon, which premiered in 2015.

Most recently, Kelly wrote a new English translation Hansel und Gretel for Tri-Cities Opera. She was also commissioned by Wolf Trap Opera to write the libretto for Listen Wilhelmina!, a children’s opera that premiered in May 2017.

Interim dean mcclung thanks the search committee, co-chaired by Alan Yaffe and Robin Guarino, and committee members Amy Johnson, Marie-France Lefebvre and Michelle Conda for their work on finding CCM’s new associate professor of opera coaching. He adds,

“Professor Kelly brings a wealth of experience and artistry both nationally at the Metropolitan Opera and internationally at the Vienna State Opera to CCM’s nationally ranked and internationally renowned opera program.”

Please join us in welcoming Kathleen Kelly 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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Jiaen Zhang.

Piano Student’s Perseverance Takes Her from Hit and Run to Graduation

Jiaen Zhang.

Jiaen Zhang.

After being seriously injured by a hit-and-run in fall 2016, Jiaen Zhang was afraid she wouldn’t be able to fully recover to become a professional pianist. Thanks to her dedication, and the support of faculty and friends, the CCM piano student overcame her injuries and walked proudly with the Class of 2018 at this year’s Graduation Convocation on April 28.

Around 10 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2016, Zhang finished practicing piano in CCM’s Memorial Hall and began her walk home. As she crossed Calhoun Street, she was struck by an SUV, which threw her 20 feet and knocked her unconscious.

She woke up with fractures in her right hand and thigh, brain trauma and bruises on her lung and liver. After multiple surgeries on her thigh and hand, Zhang remained at the UC Medical Center for 20 days in recovery. Her thigh healed rapidly, but her hand remained in a plaster cast for three months.

“The flexibility of the joints in my third finger was completely lost,” Zhang remembers. “I had to start at zero, trying to at least move my injured finger. It took me two weeks before I could move it a single inch.”

While she recovered, her classmates and teachers at CCM sent her “heart-warming” messages, including a card with more than 60 signatures. Interim Dean bruce mcclung and Piano Department Chair Michael Chertock kept Zhang’s family in China updated throughout the ordeal. CCM Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of Graduate Studies Scott Lipscomb and the CCM College Office staff helped her make up missed classes so she would graduate on time. Zhang says her appreciation to them all “is beyond words.”

Chertock worked with Zhang to create a “back to piano” plan for her recovery. They began with simple pieces to rebuild the muscles in her injured hand. Chertock told her that the technical problems in her playing could be fixed with the right mindset.

“When you have the imagination and passion for music, your hands will find their own way to achieve whatever you want to do,” she says.

On Feb, 7, 2018 — year and a half after the hit and run — Zhang held her senior recital in CCM’s Robert J. Werner Recital Hall. She played a Mozart sonata, Alexander Scriabin’s Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand and Brahms’ challenging Op. 118. Chertock calls the recital a “heroic conclusion to a year and half of struggle.”

“She endured surgical screws in her right hand, multiple surgeries on her leg and a great deal of pain and scarring without the slightest trace of bitterness or anger,” Chertock says. “She rebuilt her piano playing and developed a style that is more broad, deeper into the keyboard and sustained.”

Zhang came to Cincinnati from her hometown of Guangzhou, China, to study at CCM. She says she was drawn to the college by its distinguished faculty and the artistry of its students.

“Since my first year here, I’ve learned a lot from the faculty and students,” she says. “In this environment, my studying and growth are not limited to only classrooms and lessons. It’s exciting to feel myself improve every minute. The friendly atmosphere encourages and reminds me to help my peers and people who haven’t had the advantage of studying music.”

Zhang was particularly fond of the piano repertoire class she took with instructor Andy Villemez, who recently won UC’s Outstanding Adjunct Instructor Award. The class gave her a broader understanding and knowledge of piano music, which helped her become more comfortable and confident when she gives lessons and presentations, she says.

“It taught me historical facts of piano music and how to better share this knowledge with audiences,” she says. “Rather than simply teaching my students how to play a nice sound, I can lead them to think about music in a more critical way by giving them the historical context of the pieces.”

She will continue studying with Chertock over the summer to prepare for her solo recital in China in September — it will be her debut in her home country after graduating from CCM with a bachelor of music in piano. After the recital, she plans to give piano lessons at a private music school in China.

“Jiaen’s calmness, courage and perseverance were ultimately able to overcome the reckless act that injured her,” Chertock says. “I will always remember her sincere desire to heal and refusal to live in despair.”

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