Twin Towers partnership grows to embend 6 CCM students in senior living community

CCM and Twin Towers Partnership Embeds Six Student Artists in Senior Living Community

In 2015, CCM and Twin Towers partnered to create a new artist-in-residence program, which provided two CCM graduate students with free housing as they lived and performed in the senior living community. After two successful years, the program has grown to include six graduate students.

The program provides students with an immersive learning experience while bringing new musical talents to the Twin Towers residents. All six students reside on one of the Twin Towers neighborhoods as they work to complete their graduate degrees at CCM. They perform in monthly recitals and socialize with the community’s residents throughout the year in discussions and open rehearsals.

Twin Towers’ partnership with CCM has exceeded all expectations, says Executive Director Jim Lay:

“The personal connections that have developed between these exceptional young men and women and the Twin Towers residents have blossomed to levels and depth that were never anticipated. The student residents are part of the essential fabric of our community, and we are blessed to have this unique connection to the arts and to the aspiring artists. We can no longer imagine a Twin Towers without our beloved artists.”

Lay thanks the inaugural artists-in-residence, Master of Music student soprano Annie Barr and recent graduate Alyssa Griffith (MM Collaborative Piano, 2017), for being the “trailblazing artists” in the program.

Griffith’s connection to Twin Towers moved her fiancé to propose to her in front of two hundred residents and guests during a concert at the senior living community. The couple also held their wedding reception at Twin Towers.

This fall, Barr returns for her third year as an artist-in-residence. Second-year Master of Music students Anna Odell, harp, and jazz studies major Angie Coyle are also returning as artists-in-residence.

“I have met a majority of the residents and know many of them well,” says Barr. “Being here reminds me of one of the main reasons I love to perform — music is absolutely necessary for expression. So often I will practice or perform music the residents recognize from their past, or music that moves them to reflect on their life currently. Whether its a remembrance of sorrow or happiness, it is important. I’m glad that I can be a part of their lives in this small way.”

Barr’s fiancé Matt McAllister (BM Jazz Studies, 2013), who studies composition at CCM, is joining the program as an artist-in-residence this year. He is joined by Shu-Li Cheah, an Artist Diploma student studying cello, and Bryan Banowetz, a Master of Music student studying collaborative piano.

Banowetz was intrigued by the concept of sharing music with a senior living community and living among its residents. He moved into Twin Towers on Aug. 10 and says he can tell it will be an inspiring place with its quiet atmosphere and natural surroundings.

“Twin Towers offers free housing to its artists, and this was a big burden off of my shoulders as a young artist and as a student,” says Banowetz. “Now, I can really focus on my studies and my development as a musician.”

He says he also looks forward to the monthly recitals at Twin Towers, which will give him the opportunity to share repertoire that he may not typically get the chance to perform.

The artists-in-residence will hold their first recital at 6:30 p.m. on September 28 at Twin Towers. Visit for more information.

“We wait with excitement to see how this diverse array of young artists will collaborate to delight audiences with their creativity and immense talents,” Lay says. “The arts are alive and performances are live every month at Twin Towers. We are committed that this program will be part of our resident experience for years and years to come.”

Meet the new 2017-18 Artists-in-Residence

Bryan BanowetzBryan Banowetz grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He graduated magna cum laude from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and English in May 2017. He was the winner of Luther College’s Concerto Competition and performed part of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with the Luther College Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 2016. He is also a two-time winner of the Luther College Distinction in Accompanying and Collaborative Piano Award in 2015 and 2016. In August 2017, Bryan began to pursue a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano at CCM. He was awarded a vocal studio accompanying assistantship and the Artman Straub Scholarship.

In addition to his diverse accompanying experience at Luther College, Bryan has also served as a collaborative pianist at Interlochen Arts Camp and the Cedar Rapids Czech School. He remains active as a freelance pianist. Bryan has given recitals in Iowa and in Vienna, Austria, where he studied German and music in Fall 2015. He has performed such works as Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy and J.S. Bach’s Italian Concerto. His teachers have included Dr. John Strauss (Luther College), Carol Morgan (Vienna), Dr. James Martin (Cornell College) and Matthew Burrier. He also studied collaborative piano with Dr. Jessica Paul and Dr. Nicholas Shaneyfelt at Luther College.

Bryan is a member of three honor societies: Phi Beta Kappa (liberal arts), Pi Kappa Lambda (music) and Sigma Tau Delta (English). His academic interests include feminist literary criticism as well as use of the body at the piano and in performance. More generally, he enjoys languages, literature and the occasional crossword.

Matt McAllisterMatthew McAllister, percussionist & composer, graduated from CCM in 2013 with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies. He is currently pursuing a Master of Music in composition at CCM. During his time as an undergraduate, Matthew was a part of the FIPSE International Study Abroad Program and lived in Brasília, Brazil for six months. While there, he studied cultural rhythms, Brazilian percussion and learned to speak Portuguese.

Since graduating with his bachelor’s degree, Matthew has been an active performer, composer and educator. His performance styles range from big band jazz, traditional New Orleans jazz, original rock, Brazilian folk music and experimental music. Matthew also works with a variety of musical theatre companies and has performed in over ten pit orchestras.

As an educator, Matthew has worked in a multitude of environments with students of varying ages and experience levels. Since 2013, he has held a consistent studio of over fifteen students. Matthew also teaches group percussion classes. This year he created, developed and lead his first drum set camp. Matthew has taught master classes at Loveland High School, Middletown Middle School, Cincinnati Country Day and Xavier University.

In addition to performing and teaching, Matthew is very passionate about composition. Many of his compositions are written for and performed by his jazz trio, Animal Mother, which consists of tenor saxophone, electric bass and drum set. They have recorded two studio albums, both of which feature Matthew’s original music. Animal Mother has been reviewed by major news publications, such as The Washington Post, and they have performed in over 25 cities.

Shu-li CheahCellist Shu-Li Cheah is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at CCM. A native of Malaysia, she was a member of Orkes Praise Malaysia and a founding member of the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Since she began her studies at CCM in 2012, Shu-Li has performed with Cincinnati singer-songwriter Allan Pray at the Midpoint Music Festival and was featured on several pop songs and feature films both in Asia and America, including Lead the Way by Matt Bierwagen, Confession by Mariah Mu, Question in the Rain and Love Confession. As cellist in the Queen City Opera Orchestra and the CCM Philharmonia, she has played for operas like Siegfried, Don Giovanni, Alcina and The Magic Flute, as well as musicals such as Carousel, Les Misérables and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

A strong believer in the importance of engaging communities through music, Shu-Li’s desire to share the gift of music with others has brought her to unique performance locations such as the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Seacrest Studio. She also played in the music video of rEVOLUTION CINCY, a project by Liz Wu that challenges Cincinnati residents to “be the change” through their actions, donations, volunteer work and by remaining educated on current events. During the summer of 2014, Shu-Li interned with MYCincinnati, an El Sistema-inspired free orchestra program for children in the Price Hill area. Her experiences there have allowed her to witness how music can truly be a vehicle for social change. She continues to volunteer at MYCincinnati whenever possible and constantly searches for more opportunities to bring music, art and communities together.

Shu-Li recently received her Master of Music from CCM under the tutelage of Ilya Finkelshteyn, principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, she graduated summa cum laude from CCM with a Bachelor of Music in cello under the direction of Lee Fiser, cellist of the LaSalle Quartet.

About the Twin Towers Senior Living Community
Located on Hamilton Avenue between Cincinnati’s Northside and College Hill neighborhoods, Twin Towers is committed to enhancing adult lifestyles through a philosophy of whole-person wellness. Specializing in both residential and assisted living, the community consists of patio and apartment homes throughout their Towers, Greeno, North and Parkview areas. Twin Towers provides a full neighborhood experience including an extensive dining area, full gym and pool, and multiple other locations for residents to meet, interact and partake in the arts.

Twin Towers is owned and operated by Loveland-based Life Enriching Communities, Inc. (LEC), a private not-for-profit corporation, offering an integrated family of lifestyle communities and senior living services in greater Cincinnati. Best known for their Twin Towers and Twin Lakes senior living communities, they deliver exceptional everyday experiences to everyone they serve. With a focus on quality living options and healthcare services, and a commitment to whole-person wellness, LEC has become one of the area’s leading senior living providers. Life Enriching Communities is affiliated with the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church and welcomes people of all faiths. For more information, please visit

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News Student Salutes
CCM's inaugural artists-in-residence at Twin Towers: Alyssa Griffith and Annie Barr.

McKnight’s Senior Living Magazine Spotlights CCM Artist-in-Residence Program With Twin Towers

The McKnight’s Senior Living magazine and media brand has turned the spotlight on CCM’s new artist-in-residence program with the Twin Towers Senior Living Community.

As previously reported, this partnership offers free housing to two CCM graduate students on one of Twin Towers’ campuses for the duration of their degree programs. In return, these students will perform one recital per month and allow the community’s citizens unprecedented interaction through discussions and open rehearsals.

The inaugural artists-in-residence are soprano Annie Barr and collaborative pianist Alyssa Griffith, both of whom are first-year Master of Music students at CCM.

In the recently published McKnight’s article, Twin Towers Executive Director Jim Lay explores the surprises brought about through this intergenerational program:

“The simple vision that these students would provide pleasing musical entertainment for Twin Towers’ residents has blossomed into a depth of kinship and connection between unlikely acquaintances,” Lay observes. “When semester break led to the students heading home to be with their families for the holidays, their Twin Towers family anxiously anticipated their January return.”

Barr and Griffith have expressed similar enthusiasm for the innovative new program.

“I loved the idea of living in the Twin Towers community, having more opportunities to perform and practice for the residents’ enjoyment,” Griffith says.

“I feel honored and thankful to have this opportunity,” Barr adds. “I love interacting with all of my neighbors, they’re all so sweet and kind. The neighborhood is a happy place to live.”

CCM Dean Peter Landgren views this new partnership as a natural extension of the college’s ongoing community engagement activities throughout Greater Cincinnati. “An important part of CCM’s responsibility as a training ground for the performing and media arts is to provide aspiring artists with opportunities to interact with and give back to their communities,” he says.

Read the complete McKnight‘s article online at

Learn more about CCM’s partnership with Twin Towers at

CCM News Student Salutes