Mountaineers marching to McDowell: 'Pride of West Virginia' to perform for first time in southern county in 26 years
It’s no mystery that the Mountaineer Marching Band is beloved across the state of West Virginia.
But how much are they loved?
Enough for McDowell County officials to reschedule a high school football season opener to accommodate the “Pride of West Virginia?”
Yes, and that’s something they can toot their horn to.
It’s been nearly three decades since the Band performed for the fine folks of McDowell County West Virginia University Extension agent Donald Reed has been keeping count.
So when President Gordon Gee swept through McDowell County this summer on his 55-county tour, Gee asked residents what the University could do for them.
Reed replied, “What would it take to bring the Mountaineer Marching Band to McDowell?”
“The audience really clapped and showed their support, and he told me that he would check on it,” Reed said.
Gee took Reed’s request back to Morgantown and Jay Drury, the Band’s director.
The nearly 400-member Band will perform at Riverview High School in Bradshaw at 6 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 28) prior to the “Battle of the Views” season opener between Riverview and Mount View. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
The game was bumped up a day earlier to fit the Mountaineer Marching Band’s schedule as it travels to Atlanta, Georgia, this weekend for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game pitting WVU against Alabama.
“To me, having President Gee honor our request shows that he really does believe what he said that WVU is the people’s university,” Reed said. “McDowell is the farthest county away from WVU, but this request shows that we are not forgotten. It also will give our kids a small taste of the opportunities that await them in Morgantown.”
Drury said the Band, which is part of the WVU College of Creative Arts, will leave Morgantown early Thursday. President Gee will meet up with the crew and ride the bus into McDowell County.
The last time the Band played in the county was in 1988 at Mount View High School in Welch, Drury said.
“We’ll perform a pre-game show,” he said, “that will include patriotic and other standard tunes.
“We really like to believe that the Band belongs to the state. Our nickname, after all, is the ‘Pride of West Virginia.’ We take a lot of pride in that and we enjoy the opportunity to perform for folks in the state, especially those who don’t get to see us on a regular basis. It’s also great for our students to see other areas of the state and connect with fans they’d normally never get to meet.”
The Band isn’t stopping with McDowell County. At 10:30 a.m. Friday, they will roll over to H.P. Hunnicutt Field in Princeton (Mercer County) to perform for local schoolchildren.
Then it’s off to Atlanta where the band will meet up with the University of Alabama’s Million Dollar Band for a joint performance at the game.
To help defray 2014 travel costs for the “Pride of West Virginia,” the Pride Travel Fund, established by the WVU Foundation, is accepting donations. Along with the trip to the Georgia Dome, the Band also plans to travel to the Maryland game Sept. 13, as well as other locations around the state and region.
Thanks to Reed’s request, one of those first stops will be McDowell County.
“It will be amazing to have the WVU Band play at River View High School,” he said. “I have lived here most of my life and have been an agent for almost four years. One of my main roles is being an ambassador for my community, and the mission of Extension is to use University-level knowledge and research to help solve local problems. I was able to use the University connection to bring a chance of a lifetime to McDowell.”
Christine Kefferstan, Professor of Piano in the WVU School of Music for 35 years, passed away Wednesday morning, Aug. 20, with her family at her side. Dr. Kefferstan graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, where she earned her DMA with Israeli pianist David Bar-Illan. She came to the WVU Creative Arts Center in 1979.
“Over the years, Christine was a consummate artist and pedagogue whose devotion to her students and colleagues was always clear,” said Keith Jackson, Director of the School of Music. “Her smile, laugh and good humor will be missed by all.”
Recognized by the WVU School of Music and by the West Virginia Music Teachers Association for her excellence in teaching, Kefferstan was very proud of her students who hold university, church and studio positions throughout the country. An active member of Music Teachers National Association since 1982, she served as WV State President, MTNA Eastern Division President, and a member of both the MTNA National Foundation Board and the MTNA Board of Directors. She was also the founder of the Annual Summer Keyboard Festival and Competition held at the Creative Arts Center.
There will not be a traditional funeral service, but a celebration of her life will occur at a later date.
NYMF Opening Party
Matt Webster and Taylor Ferrera have been best friends since they were students in the School of Theatre and Dance at WVU andafter graduating less than four years agothey both moved to New York City, ready to take a bite out of the big apple.
And did they ever!
Both have achieved tremendous success individually in a short time, and now, a show they co-wrote, titled “Propaganda! The Musical” has been selected for the prestigious New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), the largest annual musical theater festival in America. The show opens July 23 and will run through July 27 at PTC Performance Space, 555 West 42nd St., in the heart of New York City’s Theatre District.
This world premiere is directed by Nathan Brewer and the cast of ten also includes MaryJoanna Grisso, a Morgantown native who graduated from the School of Music in 2011, (who just came off a national tour of “West Side Story” as Maria), as well as other actors and singers who have performed on Broadway, Off Broadway, or toured nationally with various shows.
“Propaganda! The Musical” is the story of a somewhat ignorant young man who takes over his family’s business and soon finds out that it is full of secrets. Now it’s up to him to cover up the biggest scandal since Watergate! Armed only with a clever idea, he must also fight off the evil mastermindAgent Xand save the world from certain doom.
Add to that an energetic, catchy score and maybe even a tap dancing president (rumors are that it is Richard M. Nixon), and the result is a show that provides lots of fun for the audience.
To hear some songs from the show, go to this link on the NYMF website and click “music and video.”
The partners have been working on the musical for the past three years, constantly revising it, writing new songs, and performing it in workshops. On March 25 of this year, when the “Propaganda! The Musical” had its premiere reading in New York City, people were standing in the back and sitting on the floor for a chance to see it.
The Dream Team
Both Taylor and Matt have been performing since they were young children, Matt since he was five years old and Taylor since she was three.
“I was one of the twins in the musical “The King and I,” said Matt, who is from Martin’s Ferry, Ohio. “My mom took me to the audition and I caught the bug. I did a show pretty much every year of my life after that.”
Taylor, a native of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, got her start when she played the head orphan in the musical “Oliver” at her brother’s elementary school. “My mom runs a children’s theater company, so I was lucky enough to be involved in theater my whole life.”
The two met at WVU during the fall of 2008 when they did the show “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” together and they often played music together in the practice rooms at the Creative Arts Center.
“The Creative Arts Center really cultivates an environment that inspires personal creativity,” Taylor said. “Matt and I played music with other students in the practice rooms and that’s when Matt began pushing me to take songwriting seriously.”
They also got to be in a lot of shows, including six main stage productions each year and multiple laboratory theater shows.
Both were also in “Urinetown: The Musical” at WVU, which inspired them as actors and as writers. In that Tony Award-winning show, there is a terrible water shortage and public toilets are controlled by giant corporations. Matt and Taylor were part of a cast of rebellious characters who break into song as they demand free access for the people and are chased by police through the sewers!
It was shortly after this experience that Matt started writing his first musical, “Kingdom Come,” while still a student at WVU. Told through singing and dancing, monologues and scenes, the show features 14 stories, all centered on the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Kingdom Come” was performed in Morgantown and other places before it went on to win Best Musical of 2012 at the prestigious Downtown Urban Theatre Festival in New York. Since then, it has been featured by the New York Theatre Barn and had a three-night, sold-out run at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City.
Taylor was one of the stars of that show. “I loved being part of Matt’s original musical, “Kingdom Come,” which was the first time I was really involved in an original musical like that,” she said.”
Taylor received a BFA in acting from WVU in 2010 and has been in New York for three years. In that short time, she has attained a worldwide audience on YouTube. (See her YouTube videos here: http://www.taylorferrera.net/videos.html and her website: http://www.TaylorFerreraMusic.com.) She has been featured in the Huffington Post, on NBC, and various radio shows across the country for her songwriting.
In addition to acting, she writes songs for individuals, campaigns, and companies and also writes sketches and short plays. “Propaganda! The Musical” is the first time she has delved into the world of musical theater writing.
“After graduating and doing summer stock with Matt, I moved to New York with another friend from WVU,” she said. “I’d been to New York plenty of times, but that never prepared me to live here. The first year was full of figuring out how to make it in the city.
“That was also when I first came up with the idea for ‘Propaganda! The Musical,’ while at an audition. It was an open call and I was bored while I was waiting and wrote a song in my head. I wrote down the lyrics and the title and immediately went to Matt with the idea.”
By that time, Matt, who graduated in 2011, was also in New York, where he has been in the Off-Broadway Alliance Award-winning family show, “StinkyKids the Musical”; “The Curious Quest of Benjamin Bunny” with Connecticut Children’s Theatre, a member of the Rescue Agreement Theatre Company, and a show host on TvTalk. See Matt’s website: http://www.theothermattwebster.com.
In November 2013, he joined the Broadway national tour of “West Side Story,” performing the role of Gladhand for nine months as the show traveled around the country, with his fiancée, MaryJoanna Grisso, as Maria. (See MaryJoanna’s website: http://maryjoannagrisso.com.)
“Taylor approached me with the idea for ‘Propaganda, the Musical,” he said. “I loved it and the collaboration began.”
Out of the song, lyrics, and title that Taylor came up with originally, the title is the only thing that has survived the past three years of revision.
“We have been constantly working on music, working on lyrics, working on the book, changing things around, making edits, cutting things, and adding things to flesh out the show and make it more fun and more awesome,” Matt said.
Back in 2012, when Matt and Taylor took their musical to Orlando, Florida, to workshop it, WVU reporters caught up with them, and produced this video about the budding playwrights: WVU video.
Along the way, Matt and Taylor have received support from many friends, as well as their WVU family.
“We have been lucky to have a great group of friends from WVU,” Taylor said. “Even if we fall out of touch, whenever support is needed, they are always there. “The WVU/NJ Alumni Chapter has also reached out to us and has been very generous and supportive.”
Their goal now is to use the New York Musical Theatre Festival as a springboard for the show, since the festival has established itself as an unparalleled launching pad for new musicals.
“We hope we can continue to work on the show and get a commercial run,” Matt said. “That’s the dream. To continue to work, collaborate and move forward.”
They both hope to have future lives where they continue doing what they love.
“I don’t’ think I’ll ever stop wanting this show to be produced,” Taylor said.
“In the meantime, I’m willing to serve shrimp in Times Square so I can write and produce new musicals in my free time!”
Matt and Taylor with Dan Simpson, who plays the lead character in the musical.
Propaganda! The Musical” is being staged at PTC Performance Space, 555 West 42nd Street (between 9th & 10th Avenues) in New York City for five performances during July 23-27.
The schedule includes: Wednesday, July 23 at 8 p.m.; Thursday, July 24 at 1 p.m.; Friday, July 25 at 9 p.m.; Saturday, July 26th at 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 27 at noon.
For more information about “Propaganda! The Musical” and the New York Musical Theatre Festival, see the festival website.
Matt and Taylor are still raising funds for the show. Anyone interested in contributing can visit http://www.PropagandaTheMusical.com and click “donate” in the top right corner.
Also, see them on Twitter: @PropTheMusical, Instagram: @PropTheMusical, and Facebook.com/PropagandaTheMusical.
Solee Lee Clark, a native of Seoul, South Korea, pianist and 2008 WVU graduate, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City on May 26.
Clark performed Sonata in d minor K. 141 “Toccata” by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757).
“Performing at Carnegie Hall is a musicians’ dream,” said Clark. “The experience helped me build confidence in my playing and hopefully be a stepping stone for future career endeavors.”
Clark was given this opportunity after being named a Second Place Winner at the American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition. All winners were invited to play at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.
“The American Protégé International Piano and Strings is open to school students and adults of all nationalities,” said Clark. “The competition is designed for young musicians on the path to a successful career. Winners of the competition perform one piece selected by the judges from the participant’s audition repertoire.”
Clark received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from WVU in 2008. During her time as a student and after graduation, she said, WVU helped her further her musical career in more ways than one.
“Opportunities for teaching and performing were always available at WVU,” she said.
While attending WVU, Clark landed her first two academic teaching positions. Because WVU is the only university in West Virginia that offers a doctoral degree in music, Clark was able to travel to many small colleges to teach music classes.
She was also introduced to the harpsichord while attending WVU. She performed on this instrument with Collegium Musicum, WVU’s early music ensemble.
“The harpsichord is now an integral part of my career,” she said. Clark plays the harpsichord regularly with the West Michigan Symphony.
Before she moved to Morgantown to complete her degree, Clark was involved in an automobile accident and instead of the long hours she had spent playing previously, she was only able to practice for one hour a day. One month before her doctoral recital, she was in severe pain and considered changing her career to avoid making the injuries worse.
‘Two providential events helped me to continue piano,” said Clark.
First, her teacher, Dr. Christine Kefferstan, taught her how to release tension when she played and gave her tips as to what to do when she “practiced away from the piano.”
The second thing was learning the Alexander Technique.
“A class for this method was offered through the Community Music Program at WVU, which teaches people how to stop using unnecessary levels of muscular and mental tension during every day activities. I was able to take private lessons with an instructor and regain my stamina for playing.”
“I am sincerely grateful WVU prepared me well to be a performer, both as a soloist and collaborative artist, and as a teacher,” Clark said.
Sixteen outstanding high school and college student pianists participated in competitions at the Creative Arts Center as part of the Annual Keyboard Festival and Competition held in the WVU School of Music, June 23-27.
Titled “The Intersection of Jazz and Classical Music: a Piano Festival for Students and Teachers,” the event explored the many ways jazz and classical music intersect and influence each other.
Special guests for the festival include internationally known pianists Christopher Taylor and Harold Danko.
Piano competitions for both high school and college students in the areas of jazz and classical music offer prizes that include substantial cash awards, as well as performing opportunities.
The awards were made possible through the generous support of Paul G. Benedum, Jr., Margaret Butman Fund, Dr. Jeffrey B. Jackson-Mountain State Dermatology, Steinway Piano Gallery Pittsburgh, WVU School of Music Endowment Fund, and the West Virginia Wine & Jazz Festival.
Students who took part in the competitions were selected on the basis of performances and letters of recommendation.
The high school and collegiate competition winners include:
High School Classical Competition
First Place: Wesley Dziedzic is a freshman at Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois. He was selected for the Illinois Music Educators Association Jazz Pianist Regional Level, 2013, and won a gold medal in the Chicago Area Music Teachers Association Sonata/Sonatina Festival in 2013. He has studied with Christie Chiles Twillie since 2011.
Second Place: Juncheng Shen is a junior at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, where he studies with Ivo Kaltchev. He was a prizewinner in the Maryland Music Teachers Association Elizabeth R. Davis Competition in 2013, the Gottlieb Competition in 2013, the Gustavo Romero International Piano Competition in 2011, the Viola Harman Performance Awards in 2009, and the International Young Artist Piano Competition.
Collegiate Classical Competition
First Place: Chia-Ying Chan received her bachelor’s degree in Taiwan and her Master of Music degree at Cleveland Institute of Music. She is currently a doctoral student studying piano with Timothy Ehlen at the University of Illinois. She has received the Cleveland Presidential Merit Award and awards from the University of Illinois. She was first prize winner of the concerto competition Tainan, Taiwan, and second prize winner of the piano competition at the University of Tainan, Taiwan.
Second Place: Anthony Cornet, who was First Prize Winner in the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, has been heard in Carnegie Hall, the Dicapo Opera Theatre, Merkin Concert Hall and at Lincoln Center. Recent performances include venues throughout Austria, Germany, Italy and Russia. Locally, he has been soloist with the Nittany Valley Symphony, the Johnstown Symphony and the Altoona Symphony. His degrees include a Master of Music from Duquesne University, where he was a student of David Allen Wehr, and a Bachelor’s of Music in Piano from Temple University. This fall, Anthony will begin doctoral studies at Shenandoah University, with piano professor John O’Conor.
High School Jazz Competition
First Place: Albert Newberry is in tenth grade and lives in in Blacksburg, Virginia. He won the 2013 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award and Honorable mention in the 2014 Harold Protsman Classical Period Piano Competition. He has been studying classical piano with Teresa Ehrlich at Renaissance Music Academy in Blacksburg for seven years. Just recently, he began taking lessons in jazz improvisations form John Salmon at UNC Greensboro. Last summer he recorded his first jazz album, “From the Sublime to the Ridiculous,” collaborating with a drummer and a saxophonist.
Second Place: Brian Donaldson, of Morgantown, West Virginia, is finishing his junior year at Morgantown High School. He also studies with Dr. James Miltenberger and Kathy Winkler at WVU. His honors include selection for the 2013 Governor’s School for the Arts and second place high school jazz winner for the 2013 WVU Piano Festival & Music Competition. He also plays trumpet with the Morgantown High School Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and the Red and Blue Marching Band.
Collegiate Jazz Competition
First Place: David Meder was the winner of the 2013 Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition and is a graduate summa cum laude of Florida State University with degrees in Music, Political Science, and Spanish. He studied with Marcus Roberts and Jean-Michel Pilc. Meder has received two DownBeat Magazine awards for “Best Jazz Soloist.” He currently resides in New York City, where he studies and teaches at New York University.
Second Place: Eric Krouse of Summerville, Pennsylvania, is a Jazz Studies major at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He began playing piano at age four and has been working as a professional musician since age 13. At Oberlin, he also composes, arranges, and gives jazz piano lessons to non-jazz major students. He is looking forward to playing in the Twin Cities Jazz Festival in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the summer of 2014.
Honorable Mention: Sein Oh graduated from the University of North Texas with Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz studies in 2012 and is currently working on her Master of Music degree at University of North Texas. She actively performs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and has also performed internationally. She has studied with Dan Hearle, Stefan Karlsson and Michael Palma.
In addition to the piano competitions and some amazing concerts, the festival featured various clinics, workshops, master classes and teacher panel discussions on a wide array of topics.
Congratulations to the winners!
Anna Justice has joined the WVU College of Creative Arts as the new director of development. She was previously a development officer at Loyola University New Orleans. Justice began work with Creative Arts Dean Paul Kreider and WVU Foundation Assistant Vice President Chuck Kerzak on June 16.
“I’m really excited to be joining the College of Creative Arts team and getting to know the university and its vibrant arts community,” Justice said. “I was a trumpet major in my undergraduate studies, and I’m thrilled to continue my work in the arts management in higher education. This is my dream job continued!”
“I am also excited to have Anna Justice join our College staff,” said Dean Paul Kreider of the College of Creative Arts. “She brings significant arts development experience to our team. Her experience at Loyola University of New Orleans, coupled with her arts training, provide a foundation that will help move the College closer to achieving its philanthropic goals. I am confident our faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and supporters will find her a wonderful addition to the team as well.”
Justice, originally from Pawleys Island, South Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, as well as a Master of Science in Arts Administration and a Certificate in Fundraising Management from Boston University.
She joined Loyola University in 2008 where she was the development officer for the College of Music and Fine Arts.
While at Loyola, Justice served on the board of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s new audience group, “Prelude,” and was a member of the New Orleans Friends of Music, an organization that brings internationally renowned performing ensembles to the New Orleans community. She was also active on the advisory board for the New Orleans Opera Association.
She was a member of the Junior League of New Orleans, and holds professional memberships with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
Justice also taught an overview class in arts administration as an adjunct professor through the Department of Music Industry Studies in the Loyola College of Music and Fine Arts.
It was a packed house at the Creative Arts Center on Saturday, May 10, as graduates of the College of Creative Arts received their diplomas during a special ceremony featuring actor and alumnus Chris Sarandon as guest speaker.
Diplomas were awarded this year to approximately 115 students in the College of Creative Arts, including graduates of August 2013, December 2013 and August 2014.
Daniela Longono-Bernal, the Outstanding Graduating Senior in the School of Art & Design, was also named the overall Outstanding Graduating Senior in the College of Creative Arts for 2014.
The other outstanding graduates recognized were: Jacob Sandridge, Outstanding Graduating Senior in the School of Music, and Nora Perone, Outstanding Graduating Senior in the School of Theatre and Dance.
Guest speaker Chris Sarandon is a native of Beckley, W.Va., an alumnus of the College of Creative Arts (Drama, 1964), and an award-winning actor best known for playing Prince Humperdinck in “The Princess Bride.” His many other roles in films, on Broadway, and on television, include the vampire Jerry Dandridge in “Fright Night” and Detective Mike Norris in the first entry of the “Child’s Play” series, as well as for providing the speaking voice of Jack Skellington in “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Leon in the 1975 film “Dog Day Afternoon.”
“I can’t tell you how proud I am to be here today,” Sarandon said. He then told a true story:
“When one of my daughters was five years old, she and a friend were having pizza with the friend’s mom, and when the mom asked her own daughter what her daddy did, she said “He makes wires in houses.” Her mother said ‘That’s right, Daddy’s an electrician.’ Then the mother turned to my daughter and she said ‘You know what your daddy does, don’t you?’ and my daughter said ‘Yeah, he looks for work.’”
After much laughter, Sarandon told the graduates he was certainly not one who felt competent to give them the secrets of the cosmos, or tell them how to get a job, but he wanted to share four seemingly random events that occurred during his undergraduate years at WVU that each turned out to be a lightning bolt to him and helped give his life a new direction.
“I was preparing for one of several majors and thought that taking a few easy electives would be a good way to up my GPA,” he said.
Lightning bolt number one was an elective English class called “101 Scottish and Irish Ballads” taught by the renowned folklorist Patrick Gainer, who was professor of English at WVU from 1946 to 1972.
Professor Gainer would stand in front of the class and reference his book called “101 Scottish and Irish Ballads,” while punching the buttons on the 50-pound Wollensack reel-to-reel tape recorder that he had lugged up and down the mountains and hollows of West Virginia as he recorded amateur musicians singing the almost-identical words to the ballads in his book. These words had been passed down, orally, through the centuries, from Scotland and Ireland, and finally to West Virginia.
“At the time I was very snooty about what I thought of as hillbilly music, because I was a child of Greek immigrants and they worked very hard to assimilate and be all-American,” Sarandon said. “But, pow! Suddenly I was confronted by the fact that the state where I was born and raised and in which I was continuing my education and – by the way, from which I had been dying to get away – was the epicenter of a culture that went back hundreds and hundreds of years.”
Lightning bolt number two came in another English class, called “Victorian Poetry.”
“This appealed to the romanticized image I had of myself at the time as a sad, poetic soul,” Sarandon said. “And, it looked easy. It was taught by an aloof, but charismatic, professor named Gordon Pitts.”
Pitts was an English professor who founded the Victorian Poetry journal at WVU in 1962. He was passionate about poetry, and he recited it beautifully.
“His passion was catching. And his essay exams required answers that were graded on one’s ability to express original and complex interpretations of the poems,” Sarandon said. “In other words, they required one to think critically and write well, a muscle that I had used sparingly up to that time.
“I only got one C when I was here at West Virginia – I say somewhat immodestly – and I feel proud to have earned that C from Professor Pitts.”
Lightning bolt number three was a music class called “Choral Union,” taught by another charismatic teacher who was anything but aloof. His name was Joseph Golz and he was the first director of the opera and vocal program at WVU.
Somehow, Sarandon said, Professor Golz managed by force of his vivid personality and his acerbic humor to get a group of several hundred non-music students and a few voice major ringers to sing the “Carmina Burana” the Brahms “Requieum,” and the Bach “Mass in B Minor.”
“The experience of blending my voice with hundreds of others was an experience that was a high, and I’ll never forget it.”
Lightning bolt number four was a “Beginning Acting” class taught by Drama professor Charles “Chuck” Neel. This seemed like another easy class, especially since Sarandon had always had a way with accents and taking on characters and stories.
During the first semester, Professor Neel asked Sarandon to take a small part in a studio production that he was directing of “Julius Caesar.”
“I had some time and I wanted to earn some brownie points, so I accepted the three-line role,” Sarandon said. “And when it was over, he proposed that I accept another role. This time it was the lead in the studio production of a play called ‘Tartuffe,’ by Moliere.
“So then I had to make a choice,” he said. “To continue my somewhat aimless existence, going to parties and coordinating various campus activities, and taking classes that I barely cared about, or to commit myself to the theater – put on a wig, a false nose – with a wart – and, as an extra added attraction, to woo the young actress who was playing opposite me, the reigning Miss West Virginia. Well! I don’t have to tell you, the choice was not a difficult one. I bit. And I was bitten.”
As a result, Sarandon said, he was transformed from a boy, who had been trying on various identities – including jokester, rock musician, and campus politician – to a young man experiencing transcendent moments and taking on the identities of timeless characters such as Romeo, Harold Hill, and Tartuffe.
“If you graduates were as fortunate as I was to have a few lightning bolts while you were in college – classes or college experiences that led you to a wider view of the world and your place in it – then you were blessed,” he said.
He said the class in West Virginia music gave him a sense of authenticity. He felt pride in being surrounded by a centuries-old tradition and art form. The class in Victorian poetry connected him to a timeless and magnificent language taught by a teacher who expected his students to be critically original. The Choral Union made him a singer in an immense choir that was a mystical cooperative effort and collaboration.
And finally, through his acting mentor, Professor Chuck Neel, he was able to understand “how to connect with the characters that lived inside this manufactured exterior that I had worked so long to create.”
“An artist is made up of everything the he or she experiences,” he said. “I hope that during your time here you have used, absorbed, synthesized, grabbed onto, sucked into yourselves – personalities, artworks, music, personal tragedy, mundane everyday events, the prodigious minutia of life that will continue to inform your work throughout your life.
“By living a life in the arts you will be at times deeply discouraged in a culture that values celebrity over accomplishment and making money over making something lasting that enriches the world around you. But stick with it, whatever you do.
“Please, stick with it, whether it’s your vocation, or your avocation, for believe me there will be times when many of you will be doing other jobs to support your art habit or will be looking for work, just as I have. But if your life is an artwork, whatever job you do will be filled with dancing, breathless laughter, and maybe a few finger puppets.”
Sarandon ended his speech by reading a poem called “For the Young Who Want To” by Marge Piercy.
Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.
Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.
Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
asking why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.
The reason people want M.F.A.s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms
is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re certified a dentist.
The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.
Outstanding Senior – College of Creative Arts
Outstanding Senior – School of Art and Design
Daniela Londona-Bernal was the outstanding senior in the School of Art and Design and she was presented with the award as overall outstanding senior in the College of Creative Arts during the Commencement ceremony by Dean Paul Kreider and Provost Michele Wheatly. Daniela received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography and samples of her photographs were projected on a screen above the stage at Commencement. Her work was also displayed in the lobby and in the Mesaros Galleries.
Daniela is a native of Antioquia, Columbia. While a student at WVU, she has been the recipient of numerous academic and artistic awards. She received a number of merit based academic scholarships, including the WVU Foundation Outstanding Senior Award, a WVU Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarship, a WVU Fine Arts Scholarship, and a Valerie Canady Scholarship Award. As an artist, Daniela’s work has been exhibited and/or published in Small Art/Big Impact, juried exhibition through Manhattan Arts international; Art Biologic, juried exhibition at the Limner Gallery in Hudson, New York; 15th International Juried Krappy Kamera Competition in New York, New York; 16th Annual International Open Exhibition at the Women Made Gallery in Chicago, Illinois; and Best of College Photography 2013 by the Photographers’ Forum Magazine. Additionally, Daniella has worked as a photographer for the WVU student newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum, and as a Student Ambassador for the College of Creative Arts.
Outstanding Senior – School of Music
Jacob Sandridge was this year’s outstanding senior in the School of Music and was congratulated by Dean Paul Kreider. Jake received a Bachelor of Music degree in composition and piano performance. During the Commencement ceremony, Jake performed “Skyscraper” from his work titled “Pieces of Glass.”
Jake is from Philippi, West Virginia. At WVU he has studied composition under Dr. John Beall, electronic composition under Dr. David Taddie, and piano under Dr. Peter Amstutz. Jake has composed for a variety of chamber ensembles including string quartet, piano quintet, woodwind sextet, art song, solo piano, and choir. He has also composed for electronic media with percussion and piano, and his art songs have been performed in a number of venues. Sandridge is the secretary of the WVU chapter of the Society of Composers and an active member in the Music Teachers National Association and served as a Student Ambassador for the College of Creative Arts. After graduation, Jake will attend Bowling Green State University for graduate study.
Outstanding Senior – School of Theatre and Dance
Nora Perone was congratulated by Provost Michele Wheatly for being the outstanding senior in the School of Theatre and Dance. Nora received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting. During the Commencement ceremony, Nora sang “What I Did for Love.”
Nora is a Morgantown native. She attended Morgantown High School, where she was an International Honor Thespian. She has also been very active in community theatre in Morgantown and Fairmont. During her time with the WVU School of Theatre and Dance, she appeared on the main stage as a cigarette girl in “Carmen,” as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret,” and as a rebel soldier and Justice Shallow in “Henry IV,” as well as performing in several student-run productions. She will continue her education next fall in a postgraduate musical theatre course at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.
Following the conferring of degrees, there was a reception in the Douglas O. Blaney Lobby of the Creative Arts Center for the graduates, their families and friends, as well as College of Creative Arts faculty and staff.
See the entire College of Creative Arts Graduation Commencement Ceremony on YouTube Link to CCA Commencement 2014.
View a video capturing the thoughts, emotions and images of WVU Commencement Weekend 2014 at 2014 Video.
See photos of the ceremony, including photos of each of this year’s graduates, at the University Relations Photography link.
Six undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Creative Arts were named winners of the annual Faculty-Mentored Research Awards, given by the College of Creative Arts during a ceremony held April 16 at the Creative Arts Center.
The awards honor students for excellence in faculty-mentored creative, research and scholarly works in the arts. This can be evidenced through, but is not necessary limited to, works, exhibitions, performances, publications, or any other form of scholarly, creative and/or research work related to the arts. Additional consideration is given to works that effectively help advance the College’s contributions to the research mission of the University.
The awards were presented by Dean Paul Kreider. “The quality of this year’s projects was very exciting,” he said. “Choosing the winners was difficult. We looked at the research, the outcomeartistic or notand the final presentation. It was a valuable learning experience for everyone involved.”
Theatre student Daniel Gutierrez, of Dublin, Ohio, who will graduate this spring with a BFA in Theatre Design and Technology from the School of Theatre and Dance, won the Undergraduate First Place Award. His faculty mentor was Theatre professor Steven Neuenschwander, who serves as the School of Theatre and Dance faculty technical director and production manager. This award included $750 for the student as well as a $750 travel award for the faculty member.
Gutierrez’s project involved creating the sound of a cell phone buzzer for the School of Theatre and Dance play “God of Carnage.” The script called for a cell phone to constantly vibrate on cue, so Gutierrez and Neuenschwander created a wireless buzzer that could be controlled by a technician offstage. They custom built a buzzer box and programmed it with Arduino microcontrollers and XBEE radios. The finished device was an Altoids mints tin that the actor placed in his coat pocket. This allowed the sound effect to come from his pocket and not a speaker overhead. It also allowed the actor to move around freely on stage.
Art student Jordan Welsh, of Front Royal, Va., who is studying for a BFA in Printmaking, won the Undergraduate Second Place Award. His faculty mentor was Art professor Joseph Lupo, coordinator of the Printmaking program in the School of Art and Design. The award included $500 for the student and a $500 travel award for the faculty member.
For his project, titled “Home Sweet Home,” Welsh chose to research beetles from the subfamily Dynstidae, focusing on the connection between their natural environment and evolutionary adaptations to their physical structure, which allow them to survive. He created images of the beetles and printed them on t-shirts, along with commercial-style packaging, to draw a connection between humans, insects, and the environment we share.
The Undergraduate Third Place Award was a tie. The winners were Thomas Logan Seidler, of Wheeling, W.Va., who is studying for a BA in Multidisciplinary Studies, and his faculty mentor Michael Vercelli, director of the World Music and Performance Center, and also James Pfaff, of Parkersburg, W.Va., who will graduate this spring with a BFA in Sculpture, and his faculty mentor Dylan Collins, who is coordinator of the Sculpture program in the School of Art and Design. The award included $250 for each student and a $250 travel award for each faculty member.
Seidler’s project, titled “Togo Atsia: Ewe Music and Dance” is the study of a social, recreational dance of the Ewe people of Ghana in West Africa. Seidler began studying this music at the Dagbe Cultural Center in Ghana while on Dr. Vercelli’s 2012 Summer Study Abroad trip to Africa. Because it was an aural tradition, Seidler had to learn it by rote, and then transcribe it. He led the WVU African Drum and Dance Ensemble in a performance of the Ghanaian music during the fall 2013 WVU World Music Showcase Concert at the Creative Arts Center.
Pfaff’s project, titled “Dead Weight,” dealt with the collaboration with his faculty mentor Dylan Collins in all the processes of foundry works involved in iron castingincluding furnace construction, making sand molds and core pins, and the production of hollow cast iron art objects. He also gained knowledge through field trips, demonstrations and first-hand experience. Phaff’s final iron casting projects are currently on display in the Creative Arts Center’s Mesaros Galleries as part of the BFA Senior Project Exhibition.
Graduate Student Awards
Art student Lauren Schiefelbein, of Philippi, W.Va., who is studying for an MFA in Graphic Design, was named the Graduate First Place Winner. Her faculty mentor was Art Professor Eve Faulkes, coordinator of the Graphic Design program. The award includes $1000 for the student and a $1000 travel award for the faculty member.
Lauren’s project, titled “A Community that Embraced the Mentally Ill, Speaks,” is an exhibit built to address the patient experience at the former Weston State Hospital, in Weston, W.Va., which was open from 1864 to 1994 and is now a museum called the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. The finished project, now on view at the museum, is a two-room exhibition that includes stories and quotations built into handmade books, serigraphy on handkerchiefs, embroidery on a nurse’s uniform, and a patient’s letters to his psychiatrist. Photos, artifacts, and a contextual timeline complete the work.
Art student Nathan J.H. Ditzler, of Kailua, Hawaii, who is studying for an MFA in Ceramics, received the Graduate Second Place Award. His faculty mentor was Art professor Shoji Satake, coordinator of the Ceramics program. The award includes $500 for the student and a $500 travel award for the faculty member.
Nathan’s project, titled “Guan Xi” or “Good Social Relations” is the culmination of his research conducted during the fall semester of 2013 in Jingdezhen, China, as part of the School of Art and Design’s ceramics program at Jingdezhen. He completed the work relying entirely on seven highly specialized local artisans, local materials and WVU’s unique relationship with The Pottery Workshop at The Sculpture Factory in Jingdezhen. The final work is an abacus, with ceramic hands instead of beads. The object speaks to the way in which art can serve as a means of cross-cultural communication and good business.
From left: Shoji Satake, Nathan Ditzler, Laura Schiefelbein, Eve Faulkes, Daniel Gutierrez, Dean Paul Kreider, Steven Neuenschwander, Jordan Welsh, Joseph Lupo, Thomas Logan Seidler, Michael Vercelli, and Dylan Collins. Not pictured: James Pfaff.
WVU School of Music alumnus and internationally acclaimed tenor James Valenti will return to the Creative Arts Center as a visiting artist during April 21-22 where he will work with music students.
He will present a master class for voice students on Monday, April 21, and will work individually with music students on Tuesday, April 22.
A native of Clinton, N.J., Valenti earned a bachelor’s degree in music from WVU in 2000. He studied with former music professor and artist-in-residence, Augusto Paglialunga, as well as Opera Program Director Robert Thieme, and former choral director Kathleen Shannon. They were the first to notice the young singer’s raw talent.
Valenti experienced exceptional growth artistically and culturally while at the Creative Arts Center, going from a fresh-faced 18-year-old attending his first opera in Pittsburgh on a WVU trip, to auditioning for national opera apprenticeships upon graduation. He went on to study with William Shuman at the distinguished Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.
At age 25, he made his professional debut at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma where he played Rodolfo in the Franco Zeffirelli production of “La Bohême.” Since his debut, he has scored one triumphal role after another and has had the opportunity to perform in many of the most celebrated citadels of opera in the world and to work alongside some of the greatest opera voices and maestros in the industry.
Valenti has received a number of accolades in his young career including the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Grand Finals, where many of today’s opera luminaries have been discovered as promising young artists, the New York City Opera’s Outstanding Debut Artist Award in 2008, the Maria Callas Debut Artist Award in 2009, and the Richard Tucker Award in 2010, which is considered the “Heisman Trophy of Opera.”
Currently, Valenti is expanding his musical repertoire and preparing for a number of exciting roles in 2014. In March, he made his debut as Italian film star Rudolph Valentino in the new biographical opera, “Dream of Valentino.” He is also scheduled to perform as Cavaradossi in “Tosca,” Don Jose in “Carmen.”
In early April, he will make his triumphant return to the Metropolitan Opera to perform as Pinkerton in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.”
A group of 35 friends of the College of Creative Arts, along with Dean Paul Kreider, will attend one of these performances in New York on April 12. While there, they will have a private back-stage tour and behind-the-scenes overview of the Metropolitan Opera House. Following the performance, they will celebrate during a private reception with Valenti, where Dean Kreider will present him with the College of Creative Arts’ Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2014.
For more information see Valenti’s website.
Four outstanding musicians who represent musical excellence at West Virginia University will take the stage with the WVU Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mitchell Arnold, as the Orchestra presents its annual Young Artists Concert, on Thursday, March 20.
The program begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre at the Creative Arts Center.
The Young Artists Competition is open to all full-time junior, senior and graduate student music majors, and the winners are selected after a rigorous competitive audition process.
“The competition winners represent the finest among our large number of talented musicians at the WVU School of Music. The process is very demanding, so it is a pleasure to collaborate with students who have worked so hard,” said Dr. Arnold.
The Young Artists Competition winners performing are: Diego Gabete-Rodriguez, violin; Hyejeong Seong, piano; Carl Wiggins, saxophone; and Jocelyn Lee Jia Yin, piano.
The program will include: “Concertino da Camera” by Jacques Ibert, featuring Carl Wiggins, alto saxophone; the first movement of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Concerto No. 2 in G minor for violin and orchestra,” featuring Diego Gabete-Rodriguez, violin; the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Concerto No. 3 in C Minor for piano and orchestra,” featuring Joceyln Lee Jia Yin, piano; and the first movement of Edvard Grieg’s “Concerto in A Minor for piano and orchestra,” featuring Hyejeong Seong, piano.
Diego Gabete-Rodriguez is from Zaragoza, Spain. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from the Basque Country Conservatory, and also a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Violin Performance and orchestral training from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, UK. Diego also holds an artist diploma from Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music. He has been a member of the Spanish Youth Orchestra and the European Union Youth Orchestra, and has performed at the Barbican Hall in London with the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Academy of Music. Diego is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts in Violin Performance at WVU, studying with Dr. Mikylah McTeer. He will represent WVU and the State of West Virginia in the MTNA National Competition finals to be held March 21 in Chicago.
Hyejeong Seong received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from the Kyoung-won University at South Korea and a Master of Music Degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. In Korea, she won 1st prize at the 1990 National Instrumental Music Competition, and also 1st prize at the Kyoung-hyang National News Piano Competition in 1992. She was the 1st prize winner at the Dae-Jeon Art High School Competition in 1997 and in May of that same year, she won the Choong-Nam Philharmonic Orchestra competition and performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Choong-Nam Philharmonic Orchestra. Hyejeong has performed as a soloist in numerous locations such as Cleveland, Columbus, Germany, and Seoul. She is currently attending WVU for her Doctor of Musical Arts degree on a scholarship.
Carl Wiggins is in his first year of the Doctor of Musical Arts program at WVU studying saxophone with Dr. Michael Ibrahim. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Bowling Green State University and his previous teachers include Timothy Roberts, David Bixler and John Sampen. He is a winner of the BGSU Chamber Music Competition, the BGSU Competitions in Music Performance and of the West Virginia and Ohio State Music Teacher National Association (MTNA) Chamber Music Competitions. He has performed in master classes for saxophonists Marco Albonetti, George Wolff and Jean-Michel Goury and as soloist with the Bowling Green Philharmonia and West Virginia Symphony Orchestras. Carl has premiered works by Erin Rogers, Burton Beerman, Marilyn Shrude and Frederic Rzewski.
Jocelyn Lee Jia Yin, born in Singapore, is a junior double-majoring in Piano Performance and Violin Performance at WVU. Her principal piano teachers include Dr. Peter Amstutz and Dr. P’ng Tean Hwa. She is also currently studying violin with Dr. Mikylah McTeer, and is a member of the WVU Symphony Orchestra. Jocelyn has performed in many countries and participated in various competitions. Recently, she won a Gold Prize in the Asia International Piano Competition and Festival (AIPAF) held in South Korea. She also attained her Licentiate Diploma in Piano Performance (LRSM), (LTCL) and (LLCM) from the Royal School of Music, the Trinity College of Music, as well as the London College of Music by age 15. Jocelyn is a recipient of the WVU Fine Arts Tuition Waiver and the Blue and Gold Academic Scholarship.
Tickets for the concert are available through the WVU Box Office at 304-293-SHOW.