Scott Simons’ career as a musician began at age 15 when his father, a newscaster and weatherman at WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, West Virginia, hired him to write new theme music for the 6 o’clock news.
After seeing his name credited at the end of every newscast, Scott knew he wanted to write music for a living. He played keyboards in cover bands and composed jingles for local radio and TV stations, which led him to study music composition at WVU. After graduating in 1998, Scott spent the next ten years touring in several 15-passenger cargo vans while fronting original indie-pop band The Argument.
The Argument toured the country, performed on public radio’s “Mountain Stage” twice, and was named as one of the “Top Ten Unsigned Bands in America” by the American Music Awards. When the band broke up, Scott began writing and producing for other artists, which led to frequent writing trips to Los Angeles and Nashville and his first co-publishing deal with Bug Music. In 2006, his self-produced internet smash cover of Rhianna’s “Umbrella” was added to many radio station rotations all over the United States and overseas, received praise on countless internet pop culture sites such as TMZ.com, and amassed millions of plays on MySpace, YouTube and other social media.
In 2008, Scott made the move west to Los Angeles and has been keeping busy as a writer, performer and recording artist ever since. As a songwriter and producer, he has worked with many writers and artists all over the world. His recent collaboration with Italian pop DJ group Daddy’s Groove “Stellar” hit No. 1 on the Italian Dance Music charts. Scott also co-wrote “Another Break Up Song” with up-and-coming soul singer songwriter Allen Stone. Other notable song placements include: dance music legends Dirty Vegas, Drake Bell (Nickelodeon’s “Drake & Josh”), Brandon and Leah (“Keeping Up With The Kardashians”), Eurovision Contest winner Lena, Holland Idol winner Lisa Lois and Broadway actress Shoshana Bean from the musical “Wicked.”
As a performer, Scott works behind the scenes and occasionally in front of the camera on “America’s Got Talent” and “The X Factor.” He has been musical director for Nickelodeon actor-turned-musician Drake Bell, “X Factor” finalist Chris Rene, “The Voice” finalist Chris Mann and “American Idol” finalist Megan Joy. He has played keyboards for Leona Lewis, Aimee Mann, Lucy Woodward, Robert Schwartzman, Toby Lightman and has also appeared on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Anderson Cooper Live,” “Ellen,” and The Brazil Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. Simons also sings the Emmy-nominated theme song for Nickelodeon’s “Paw Patrol,” Netflix/Dreamworks “Veggie Tales in the House,” and Esquire Network’s “Lucky Bastards.”
Scott’s newest project is TeamMate, a two-piece band with drummer Dani Buncher. The duo spent the last few years touring the United States supporting OneRepublic, Bleachers and Skylar Grey and has been featured on Huffington Post, KROQ-FM, KIIS-FM and The Advocate. On TV, TeamMate’s music has been heard on ESPN’s Wimbledon coverage, NBC’s Sunday Night Football and various commercials. RapperWiz Khalifa also sampled TeamMate’s song “LA Winter” for the first track of his last full length album “O.N.I.F.C.”
Three outstanding alumni of the College of Creative Arts will return to the Creative Arts Center to work with students during the month of September.
Matt Connar (Art and Design, 1999), Ethan Clark (Music, 2008), and Scott Simons (Music, 1998) are taking part in the College of Creative Arts Alumni-in-Residence Series. Their talks with WVU students will also be open to the public.
Matt Connar Thursday, Sept. 10
Matt Connar, who holds a BFA degree in graphic design, will work with students in design classes on Thursday, Sept. 10. He will also give a presentation at 5 p.m. in Bloch Learning and Performance Hall (Room 200A).
A week before he graduated from WVU in 1999, Matt was hired as an in-house graphic artist in the marketing department of MeriStar Hotels and Resorts, which at that time owned and managed more than 250 hotels and resorts internationally. While at MeriStar he developed marketing materials for each of the properties, as well as the food and beverage outlets within them.
He then worked as art director at Chico’s FAS, an upscale women’s retail corporation which operates over 1,000 specialty stores. At Chico’s he played an integral part in national ad campaigns and was responsible for point-of-purchase creative materials for all stores and outlets.
Matt is currently the owner and creative director of Boost Creative, based in Cape Coral, Florida. His specialties include brand identity and advertising concepts.
Ethan Clark Monday, Sept. 21
Ethan Clark, who graduated with a degree in music education, will visit the CAC on Monday, Sept. 21. He will make a presentation to WVU music education students at 9 a.m. and also during the regular Music Convocation at 4 p.m. in Bloch Hall (200A). Given Ethan’s work with the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), the School of Music is also inviting administrators, teachers and parents to the Music Convocation and it is also open to any interested community members.
Ethan’s presentation to students at 9 a.m. is titled “The Art of Family-School Partnerships.” During this session, music education methods students will explore and discuss the six national standards for family-school partnerships and how they relate to music program goals and other school-wide improvement goals. At the end of the presentation, students will work in groups to develop their own music program strategies for engaging the whole school-community in support of student success.
The Music Convocation presentation is titled “It Takes a Village” and will focus on new research and updated policies supporting arts education to help advocate for more music in the schools. Those attending will discover how they can collaborate more with their community by exploring the music education ecosystem, including school partners, players and policymakers, and take home best practices for collective impact.
Ethan joined National PTA in September 2012. He oversees the development and implementation of educational programs and partnerships that help PTAs to work with school leaders on improvements to the school that enrich the educational experience for all children.
Prior to joining National PTA, Ethan worked with the Arts Education Partnership on projects such as the State Policy Database and ArtsEdSearch. From 2010 to 2011, he worked with a number of arts organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Future of Music Coalition, and the Washington Choral Arts Society. Ethan began his career as a high school director of bands and a music teacher in Pennsylvania’s public school system.
In addition to his bachelor’s degree from WVU, Ethan has a master of arts in arts management from American University, Washington, DC. He lives in DC and volunteers for a variety of service organizations including the DC Trust, DC Commission on the Arts and the Humanities, and the DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative.
Scott Simons Monday, Sept. 28
Scott Simons, who graduated with a degree in music composition, will speak with students during the 4 p.m. Music Convocation on Monday, Sept. 28, in Bloch Hall. He will also work with students in the Music Industry program while visiting the CAC.
Scott currently lives in Los Angeles, where he works as a songwriter, performer and recording artist. As a songwriter and producer, he has worked with many writers and artists all over the world. As a performer, he works behind the scenes and occasionally in front of the camera on “America’s Got Talent” and “The X Factor.” He has been musical director for Nickelodeon actor-turned-musician Drake Bell, “X Factor” finalist Chris Rene, “The Voice” finalist Chris Mann and “American Idol” finalist Megan Joy. He has played keyboards for Leona Lewis, Aimee Mann, Lucy Woodward, Robert Schwartzman, Toby Lightman and has also appeared on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Anderson Cooper Live,” “Ellen,” and The Brazil Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. Simons also sings the Emmy-nominated theme song for Nickelodeon’s “Paw Patrol,” Netflix/Dreamworks “Veggie Tales in the House,” and Esquire Network’s “Lucky Bastards.”
He is currently part of the duo TeamMate, whose music has been heard on ESPN’s Wimbledon coverage, NBC’s Sunday Night Football and various commercials. RapperWiz Khalifa also sampled TeamMate’s song “LA Winter” for the first track of his last full length album “O.N.I.F.C.”
For more information about the Alumni-in-Residence Series events, contact the College of Creative Arts at 304-293-4359.
Music faculty members Evan MacCarthy and Travis Stimeling have been awarded research grants from the WVU Office of the Provost as part of the Big XII Faculty Fellowship Program.
This is WVU’s third year of participation in the program, which offers faculty members at institutions in the Big XII Conference the opportunity to travel to other member institutions to pursue collaborative research in a wide variety of ways.
The university’s application specifies that award recipients may each use up to $2500 in fellowship funds to “work on collaborative research, consult with faculty and students, offer a series of lectures or symposia, acquire new skills, or take advantage of a unique archive or laboratory facility.”
Travis Stimeling is assistant professor of Music History. His research focuses on the history of Country Music, recording practice, and the intersections of music and environmental issues. He will be visiting Texas Christian University’s School of Music during November 30-December 2, where he will work with undergraduate and graduate students in music, deliver workshops on ways to use music history classes to develop graduate students’ identities, and present a public lecture on his research on Nashville session musicians.
Evan MacCarthy, also assistant professor of Music History, focuses his research on the history of 15th-century music and music theory, late medieval chant, German music in the Baroque era, and late 19th-century American music. He will visit the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin in October, where he will be visiting undergraduate and graduate seminars and delivering a public lecture.
“We’ve seen a steady increase in interest in this program since we began participating,” said C.B. Wilson, associate provost for Academic Personnel. “We sent six researchers in the first year, then eight last year, and now we’re pleased to be funding nine projects for 2015-2016.”
The College of Creative Arts is pleased to announce its success during the “State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University,” the comprehensive capital campaign conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of WVU. Thanks to the generosity of alumni, faculty, and friends, the College of Creative Arts has raised $17,453.434 of its goal of $23 million.
“On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the College of Creative Arts, I express thanks and appreciation to donors and friends who continue to invest in the arts and arts education. We will be excellent stewards of your generosity,” said Dean Paul Kreider.
“The college’s previous State of Minds goal of 13.5 million was surpassed and the new goal of $23 million was set when the campaign became extended,” he said.
The impact of donor generosity on the College of Creative Arts and its programs includes:
Gifts totaling nearly $600,000 in support of the Art Museum Capital Project, Museum Store, and Museum Education
Acquisition of three new Boston Steinway pianos for the School of Music, as part of its effort to become an All-Steinway school
Endowed scholarships supporting art education, music therapy, music, and art education through planned and major gifts
Gifts supporting the “Pride of West Virginia’s” travel to Atlanta, Georgia, and also McDowell County, West Virginia
Creation of a Classical Music Touring Fund
$200,000 in support of research activities for faculty in the School of Art and Design
New camera and lighting equipment for the School of Theatre and Dance
Gifts of artworks in support of the Art Museum of WVU
“A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University,” the $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University, runs through December 2017.
The WVU School of Music is hosting the International Flute Symposium at the Creative Arts Center, July 15-19, with internationally acclaimed flutists Nina Assimakopoulos and Alberto Almarza performing in an opening night gala concert on July 15, at 8 p.m., in Bloch Learning and Performance Hall (Room 200A). The concert is free and open to the public.
The International Flute Symposium is hosted by Nina Assimakopoulos, internationally acclaimed flutist and flute professor at WVU. Assimakopoulos has released five solo CDs and has toured extensively as soloist and masterclass presenter in Europe, Asia, the United States, and South America. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the Aaron Copland Fund Grant for New Music Recording, two Fulbright Grants, and the National Society of Arts and Letters Career Award, and has performed with the Munich City Opera, Bavarian Radio Symphony Academy Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Toledo Symphony Orchestra.
This year’s roster of internationally acclaimed teachers also includes Pittsburgh Symphony flutist Lorna McGhee, David B. Houston of the Boston Flute Academy and body mapping specialist Kelly Wilson.
The WVU Symposium offers the widest variety of performances, workshops, and master classes, as well as the largest roster of world-renowned flutists and university professors from the orchestral, classical and jazz fields of any university flute symposium in the United States.
For more information about the International Flute Symposium please visit: http://ifs.wvu.edu/
In June 2015, West Virginia University’s School of Music hosted its first Smithsonian Folkways Certification Course in World Music Pedagogy. Thanks to a Teacher Institute grant from West Virginia Humanities Council, twenty West Virginia K-12 music teachers received support to participate in this unique professional development opportunity endorsed and supported by Smithsonian Folkways. Participants were immersed in the extensive audio, film, and print resources of Smithsonian Folkways and introduced to pedagogical tools for building connections between school music programs and global and local music cultures. Daily workshops led by music faculty and guest artists featured three musical cultures that are integral to the programs in the School of Music: Africa, Appalachia, and Brazil. Guest faculty and teacher-artists presented throughout the week, sharing their cultural heritages and expertise. Through a partnership with Smithsonian Folkways, teachers received certification from the Smithsonian Institute with specialization in World Music Pedagogy.
Luke Frazier, a graduate of WVU with a degree in piano performance, will return to the CAC on Aug. 23 to work with music alumni and faculty to present a memorial concert honoring long-time WVU piano professor Christine Kefferstan, who died last year.
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Parkersburg, W.Va. native Luke Frazier is a successful conductor and still barely 30 years old. He stays busy writing and conducting performances for the Fairfax (Va.) Symphony Orchestra, where he is Principal Pops Conductor, as well as guest conducting at music halls all over the country. Frazier says he doesn’t get home often, but he carries West Virginia in his heart and credits the opportunities he found here for launching his career.
His mentor at Parkersburg High School was Luke Zyla, also a graduate of the WVU School of Music and a former WV Bandmaster of the Year. It was Zyla who encouraged him to apply for the Young Conductor’s fellowship that gave him the opportunity to study conducting with West Virginia Symphony Orchestra conductor Grant Cooper for six months. He then studied piano performance at the WVU School of Music with Dr. Christine Kefferstan.
“I don’t think there’s enough attention given to the quality of music education at WVU,” he said in a recent newspaper article. “It’s a fantastic program, and because of it, I got so many experiences that a lot of my colleagues who went to very prestigious schools didn’t get.”
It was through WVU’s partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony that Frazier worked with Marvin Hamlisch, which he says was a huge and very rare opportunity to work with a Tony-, Emmy-, and Academy Award-winning composer and a pops conductor.
Since graduating from WVU and getting a master’s in conducting at Ohio University in 2009, Luke has been working his way up the ranks in the world of pops conducting, working with Renée Fleming, Kevin Spacey, Denyce Graves, Darren Criss, Lea Solanga, Laura Osnes, Eric Owens, Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, and Michael Feinstein, among others.
He is the founder and conductor of the American Pops in Washington D.C., which presented its first concert in June 2015 and he also has a 24-voice professional chorus.
For more information, see Luke’s website: http://lukefraziermusic.com.
Christine Kefferstan, who was professor of piano in the School of Music for 35 years, passed away last August, but her legacy lives on through her students.
Several of her former students will perform in a memorial concert for Dr. Kefferstan on Aug. 23, at 2 p.m. in the Gladys Davis Theatre of the Creative Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public.
The concert is being organized by former student Luke Frazier, who graduated in 2007 in piano performance. Frazier also recently established the Christine Kefferstan Memorial Piano Scholarship in the WVU School of Music.
The first scholarship recipient, Philip Nichols, is a piano performance student who studied with Kefferstan during his freshman year.
“When I decided to start the scholarship, I wanted to come and do the concert along with it,” Frazier said. “This is her legacy concert. Her work still goes on, even though she is not here.”
Frazier said he wanted to feature Kefferstan’s diverse students who have gone on to do a lot of different things.
Pianists on the program include Zach Wilson, now a doctoral student at the University of Texas, who will perform one of his original compositions.
Lisa Withers, who is associate professor of piano and music at Emory & Henry College in Virginia, will perform Debussy’s “Estampes-Pagodes” because Christine Kefferstan was known for her Debussy and Ravel.
Christine’s daughter, Mary Kefferstan, who is on the faculty of the New School for Music Study in Kingston, New Jersey, will perform the first movement of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. A graduate of Duquesne University, Mary won the 2008 Duquesne University Concerto Competition performing this concerto.
Kefferstan’s former students Solee Lee-Clark and Joyce Wang both studied with her for doctorates in piano performance. Lee-Clark will perform Two Sonatas by Scarlatti on the program and Wang will perform collaborative piece with current WVU flute student Keith Hanlon because Kefferstan was known for her collaborative piano performances.
Members of the WVU School of Music faculty and the WVU Symphony Orchestra will also be part of the memorial concert and Frazier programed Ravel’s “Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte” for the orchestra because this was the first piece that he and Christine Kefferstan ever worked on together.
Cellist Susan Bestul and violinist Margie Cooper, who performed in the Sarasvati Trio with Christine Kefferstan for many years, will perform with the orchestra. Cooper will perform “Meditation” from the opera “Thaïs,” and Bestul will join the Orchestra for “Rachmaninov Vocalise.”
For the concert finale members of the WVU choirs will join the orchestra for a performance of Aaron Copland’s “Promise of Living,” from his full-length opera, “The Tender Land.”
“We not only want to focus on Christine’s legacy, but how her legacy lives on, and we not only want this to be a memorial concert, but a very uplifting concert as well and this piece is very uplifting,” Frazier said.
He said the concert will also include short videos of Christine playing and interviews with people who knew her.
Christine Kefferstan was a classical pianist who performed all over the world, including Belize, London, Rio de Janeiro, Indonesia, Malaysia and Canada, as well as many venues in the United States, but she was best known for her love of teaching.
She was the founder of the annual summer Intersection of Jazz and Classical Music Keyboard Festival and Competition, held each June at the Creative Arts Center, and she was also closely involved in the School of Music’s efforts to become an All-Steinway School.
A graduate of the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, she earned her doctorate with Israeli pianist David Bar-Illan and had additional coaching with Anna McGrosso, Sedmara Rutstein, and Viachaslov Gabrielov.
The Art Museum of WVU is scheduled to open to the public in late August with a number of programs and activities planned for the campus and community during a week-long celebration.
Designed by Stanley, Beaman & Sears of Atlanta, the building is located next door to the Creative Arts Center, facing Patteson Drive.
It will be home to WVU’s collection of nearly 3,000 works of art, as well as visiting exhibitionsall open to the public with free admission.
The building has two galleries totaling 5,400 square feet, a classroom seating 25 students, collection storage, and a collection research room.
“The Art Museum is a beautiful place for people to see and experience art,” said Director Joyce Ice.
The WVU art collection has been assembled for more than 40 years and includes everything from Korean pottery of the Silla Dynasty to 19th- and early 20th-century landscapes and prints, African masks and sculpture, to works of art created just recently by contemporary artists.
The collection has strong Appalachian roots with works by West Virginians such as woodblock artists Blanche Lazzell and Grace Martin Taylor, and gifts from the Appalachian collection of Ramona Lampell, which highlights self-taught artists throughout the region.
But the collection also houses works by names almost everyone is familiar with, including Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Ansel Adams. And there is a substantial collection of African art of more than 300 pieces.
See the schedule of events for the opening of the Art Museum below. All events are free and open to the public!
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 1 p.m. Dedication ceremony at the Museum Education Center. Reception following.
Tuesday, Aug. 25 – The inaugural exhibition opens. Titled “Visual Conversations: Looking and Listening,” it highlights connections among the works of art in the WVU collection and presents the work of dozens of different artists.
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., “WVU Student Evening at the Art Museum,” with music, food, games and tours for WVU students.
Wednesday, Aug. 26, 5 p.m., Bloch Hall (Room 200A), Creative Arts Center – Dan & Betsy Brown Lecture by Sean O’Harrow, Director of the University of Iowa Museum of Art: “What does an Art Museum have to do with University Education?”
Thursday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m., Bloch Hall (Room 200A), Creative Arts Center – J. Bernard Schultz Lecture by Roger J. Crum, Professor of Art History at the University of Dayton: “Renaissance Florence as Prequel to the Art Museum of West Virginia University.”
Friday, Aug. 28, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Opening Party with tours, live music and DJ, food, door prizes and art activities.
Saturday, Aug. 29, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., “Family & Community Day at the Art Museum” with hands-on art activities, tours, music and refreshments.
For more information, see the Art Museum website at http://artmuseum.wvu.edu or call 304-293-7790.
As we celebrate our 53rd year of existence, the School of Music’s Community Music Program is excited about the continued steady growth in all it’s lesson/class offerings, and about the strides the Program has made, in demographics, as it continues to reach farther and farther afield, to encompass a greater Morgantown/tri-state community.
Of particular interest, is the community involvement in the establishment and growth of our large ensembles. The Morgantown Community Orchestra has been under the umbrella of the Community Music Program for approximately 4 years now. We have watched the personnel numbers steadily increase, the quality of the musicianship improve, and the most recent performances to “standing-room-only” audiences. With this summer’s term of activities, the Community Music Program has enveloped the adult West Virginia Community Choir. At the time of its first rehearsal within our Program, under the capable directorship of School of Music faculty Kym Scott, enrollment showed close to 50 members, with that figure continuing to increase as members encourage their friends who encourage their friends etc.
Folks are traveling down from as far as Pittsburgh and across from Parkersburg to participate in this group. And finally, we are so very pleased to announce our ‘adoption’ of the already-established Morgantown Children’s Choir this coming Fall. We welcome them to the Program and pledge to do all we can to help Director Helen Comber build a budding and exciting young group of treble voices that will make our region proud.