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 composer 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 G. 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.
The public is invited to attend several free classical and jazz concerts at the Creative Arts Center during the annual WVU Keyboard Festival and Competition, June 18-July 1, featuring internationally acclaimed pianists Ann Schein and Stefan Karlsson as special guests.
The only festival of its kind, this annual celebration of the piano offers outstanding artists, teachers, workshops, concerts, panel discussions, competitions and more, all exploring the connections of jazz and classical repertoire, with invited presenters from across the United States and WVU faculty.
Plan to join the WVU School of Music for these cool concerts, all to be held in Bloch Hall (Room 200A):
Sunday, June 28, 4 p.m. – Recital with Terry Klinefelter and Friends. This will be a fun, one-hour program with two pianos and percussion, featuring the music of “West Side Story” and other jazz arrangements.
Sunday, June 28, 7 p.m. – A classical and jazz concert by The James Miltenberger Jazz Ensemble, a Morgantown favorite. The group features James Miltenberger, piano, Keith Jackson, trombone, Curtis Johnson and Barbara Green, saxophones, Scott Green, bass, Kevin Lloyd, drums, Lillian Green, viola, and Yana Tyulkova, piano/vocals. The concert will feature the world premiere of a new piece by Russian composer Nikloai Kapustin, who writes classical genres in a jazz style. Yana Tyulkova, who graduated from the WVU School of Music this spring with a doctorate in piano performance, will premiere the work, which was written for her. The concert will also include traditional jazz compositions.
Monday, June 29, 7 p.m. – “A Conversation with Ann Schein.” Come and hear from one of the great pianists of our time. Schein will present an engaging talk with projected images. Her amazing career has earned her high praise in major American and European cities and in more than 50 countries around the world. She has performed with major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony, the Washington National Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed at the White House and has received many distinguished honors for her performances and recordings. The public is also invited to the reception immediately following this event.
Tuesday, June 30, 7 p.m. A concert with jazz great Stefan Karlsson, who will play several standard jazz compositions, as well as his own pieces. He will be joined by Scott Green on bass and Kevin Lloyd on drums. Karlsson was born and raised in Vastervik, Sweden, and came to the United States on a scholarship to study at the University of North Texas, where he began touring nationally and internationally with the band “One O’clock Lab Band” before signing recording contract with Justice Records. His recordings have found great success on the national jazz radio charts and his music has been featured in several feature films, as well as on television in “Melrose Place,” “Party of Five,” “Wings” and “Homicide.”
For more information on the WVU Keyboard Festival and Competition, see the website at http://music.wvu.edu/keyboardfestival.
Photo: The Miltenberger Jazz Ensemble, from left: James Miltenberger, Keith Jackson, Yana Tyulkova, Curtis Johnson, Barbara Green, Scott Green and Kevin Lloyd. Not pictured: Lillian Green.
Four new faculty members will join the WVU College of Creative Arts in August 2015, in the areas of voice, music theory & composition, music education and the new music therapy program. In addition, two interim music faculty members will also be returning next year.
“I am excited about our newest crop of faculty in the College of Creative Arts,” said Dean Paul Kreider. “They bring an extensive array of professional and academic credentials that will most assuredly contribute to the excellence that exists among our faculty ranks. We are extremely proud to have recruited this group of outstanding talent to WVU.”
Tenor Robert Chafin will join the School of Music as assistant professor of voice. A native of Virginia, Chafin has garnered accolades for his dramatic interpretation and versatile creativity on the international opera, concert and recital stages. He has more than 70 operas in his repertoire and has performed as a guest artist at New York City Opera and at Carnegie Hall. He has performed internationally in Berlin (the Deutsche Oper and Philharmonie), Paris, Salzburg Summer Festival, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Vienna, Frankfurt, Brussels, Madrid, Milan, Leipzig and in Israel (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem). He has critically acclaimed recordings of the operas of Franz Schreker (“Flammen” and “Christophorus”), Richard Strauss (“Die Liebe der Danae”), Leonard Bernstein (“Candide”), and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Upcoming engagements include concerts in France and Germany. In March, Chafin sang “Das Lied von der Erde” with the Ensemble du Monde in New York. He will be returning to the faculty of the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and also the international Napa Opera Festival in Napa, California, this summer.
Dena Register, formerly of the University of Kansas, will join the School of Music as coordinator of the new Music Therapy program in Music Education. Register earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the Florida State University and previously worked as a private practice music therapist in Florida, providing services to early intervention programs, students with special education needs, bereaved children and battered women and children. Her research interests include music therapy in early intervention and literacy skill development, as well as working with early childhood educators on incorporating music in their classrooms. In 2009, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to teach and conduct research at Mahidol University, Thailand. She has trained more than 100 professionals, initiated numerous clinical sites and offerings and consulted on research projects across Thailand. She continues her work there as a consultant for the first music therapy training program in the country.
Matthew Heap, who is joining the School of Music as assistant professor of Music Theory and Composition, is an internationally performed composer whose music has been featured in several American and English cities and on WQED and WCLV radio. He is also very involved in the theater community as an actor, director, and writer. Matthew received his BFA from Carnegie Mellon University, MMus from the Royal College of Music in London, and doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. His theory interests center around the analysis of mid- and late-20th century works. Recent projects include a full analysis of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia with a focus on the narrative function of various elements within the work. Currently, he is researching how theories of perception can be applied to works of current composers such as Matthias Pintscher. His compositions range dramatically from completely atonal concert music to musical theater. One of his most recent works, “Loki,” for orchestra, was selected by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for a reading.
Lindsey Williams joins the Music Education faculty as associate professor. Williams earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kansas and his doctoral degree from Florida State University. His public school teaching has included experiences in elementary, junior high, and high school instrumental and choral music in Kansas, Florida, and Georgia, and he has served in various leadership roles within professional music organizations. Williams is an active performer, conductor and clinician for music educators and young musicians throughout the United States and Southeast Asia. In 2012, he was named a Fulbright Scholar and he continued his work with music educators in Thailand in spring 2013. His research interests include musicians’ focus of attention, musical complexity, life-long learning and music teacher training. He is a founding co-editor for the ASEAN Music Journal and is on the editorial boards for the International Journal of Music Education and the Missouri Journal of Research in Music Education.
In addition to the four new music faculty members, two other interim faculty members will be returning to the School of Music next year.
Kym Scott, interim director of the Choral Program, graduated from Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1997 and was a member of the state committee of the Australian National Choral Association, and on the organizing committee of a national male voice festival. She also worked with Stephen Leek and The Australian Voices, facilitating both national and international tours. In 2010, she received a Master of Music degree from the University of Queensland and taught choral music at the Brisbane Girls Grammar School and contemporary music and theory at the Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE. Scott is currently completing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Music at the University of Southern California. While at USC she conducted the USC Thornton Oriana Women’s Chorus. In 2013, she conducted members of the USC choirs in several performances with The Rolling Stones during their “50 and counting” world tour. She also went to China and South Korea in 2014, performing with the USC Thornton Chamber Singers.
Robert Lauver, who came to the School of Music as visiting professor of horn last year after the death of long-time Horn Professor Virginia Thompson, will continue as interim horn professor for the next two years. Lauver received a bachelor’s degree from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and studied at Northwestern University. He has performed professionally with the Chicago Chamber Brass and the Austin, Alabama, Columbus and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras. In 2000 he began his tenure with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, where he is currently second horn. He has toured worldwide in South Africa, Europe and Asia, including a special performance at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II. Since 2000, he has spent his summers performing in the Grand Teton Music Festival, and occasionally the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. He also teaches privately at his home in Pittsburgh and has taught at Southern Illinois University, the University of Missouri, Carnegie Mellon University and The Barry Tuckwell Institute.
ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Dan Fisher (MFA, Technical Theatre, 1986)
Dan Fisher, a graduate of the School of Theatre and Dance, who is currently a property master for some of today’s best-known films and television shows, visited the Creative Arts Center in April to speak to students about his career.
The talk was part of the College of Creative Arts Alumni-in-Residence Series, in which outstanding alumni of the College return to work with students.
Dan attended WVU from 1982 to 1986, graduating with a BFA in Technical Theatre. After graduation, while living in Beckley, West Virginia, he was hired to work as a Set Dresser on the John Sayles film “Matewan” and soon afterward moved to New York City to continue working in film and television production. For almost 30 years, Dan has been involved in props and set decoration on productions including “Mississippi Burning,” “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” “Men in Black,” and “Law & Order.” In recent years, he has worked exclusively as a Property Master on feature films including “Black Swan” and “American Hustle” and on television productions including Season One of HBO’s “Girls” and TNT’s upcoming “Public Morals.” Dan has been married to Helene Eisman Fisher for more than 20 years and they have two teenage children, Augustus and Phoebe Fisher. He said his children are his proudest accomplishment.
“I grew up in Middlebourne, West Virginia, population around 800,” Dan said. “From an early age, I was enamored with movies, TV, and comic books. I decided to go to WVU when I was offered a full academic scholarship. My dad was not thrilled that I chose Theatre as my major, but since my tuition was free, he felt that I had earned the right to study whatever I wanted.”
Some of the professors who were most influential to Dan when he was a student at the CAC from 1982-86 included Jon Whitty, Angela D’Ambrosia, and Frank Gagliano.
“I came in believing I would emerge as an intense method actor, but by my senior year, I felt more encouraged to write and stage plays, courtesy of Frank Gagliano,” Dan says. “But I would also say that my peers in my classes were as influential as anybody. We had a very talented, interesting class. I felt competitive with them, but also inspired by them.”
Dan’s most memorable experience at the CAC was being part of the cast of Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming,” playing the part of Joey, a boxer.
“For that part, I had to lose 15 pounds, adding muscle as I learned how to box, perfect a Liverpool accent, and be part of a steamy, controversial sex scene,” he said.
“The big thing I would like all WVU Theatre students to be aware of is how many opportunities are out there for them in the ever-expanding world of show business.
“With a gazillion TV channels, streaming-only films and shows, and an international appetite for all American entertainment, there are more opportunities than ever before for people with a background in the creative arts.
“I want them to know that, at age 51, I am still learning, still trying to figure out how to do what I do better than I did it the last time. I have experienced success, but I have also made plenty of mistakes along the way. I get up every day and I go out there hoping I will have learned from the mistakes and to not linger too lovingly on memories of success. Every day is, and always will be, an opportunity to prove myself.”
The beautiful voice of music student Faith Snyderman singing “Simple Gifts” was one of the highlights of the College of Creative Arts Commencement on Saturday, May 16, as 115 graduates of the College of Creative Arts received their diplomas during a special ceremony featuring School of Art and Design alumnus Jacob Lewis, director of Jacob Lewis Gallery in New York City, as guest speaker.
Student Marshals, who led the procession of graduates, were undergraduates in the College who have achieved the highest cumulative grade point average in their division. The Student Marshals for 2015 were: Lindsay May Dieffenbauch, School of Art and Design; Ashley Ruth Elliott, School of Music; and Lauren Kimberly Waldron, School of Theatre and Dance.
Outstanding Graduating Senior awards for the three Schools included: Emily J. Hersman, School of Art and Design; James David Conkle, School of Music; and Rachael Anne Cowne, School of Theatre and Dance.
Rachael Anne Cowne was also named the College of Creative Arts Outstanding Graduating Senior for 2014-2015. The award was announced by Dean Paul Kreider during the Commencement ceremony.
From left: WVU Provost Joyce McConnell, Joseph Lupo, Travis Stimeling, Steven Neuenschwander, Michael Ibrahim, Rhonda Reymond, Kristina Olson and Dean Paul Kreider.
In addition to the student awards, the College of Creative Arts also presented Outstanding Faculty Awards for 2015 during the ceremony. These included Award for Adjunct Faculty Excellence: Maureen Kaddar of the School of Theatre and Dance; Outstanding Advising Award: Kristina Olson of the School of Art and Design; Excellence in Internationalizing the College Award: Rhonda Reymond of the School of Art and Design; Outstanding Teaching with Technology: Michael Ibrahim of the School of Music; Outstanding Service Award: Steven Neuenschwander of the School of Theatre and Dance; Excellence in Research and Creative Activity: Travis Stimeling of the School of Music; and Outstanding Teacher Award: Joseph Lupo of the School of Art and Design.
Guest Speaker Jacob Lewis was born in Huntington, West Virginia. In 2001, he received a Bachelor of Arts with a focus in painting and printmaking from West Virginia University. Upon graduation, Lewis moved to New York City, where he began a 13-year career with Pace Prints. In 2007, he was instrumental in inaugurating Pace Prints’ Chelsea gallery as its first director.
During his seven years as director, Lewis developed many personal and professional relationships with the artists whose work he has championed. With their encouragement and support, he opened Jacob Lewis Gallery to present a breadth of imagery and artistic mediums that resonate with the aesthetics of the Millennial generation.
Last January, Lewis brought the New York artists How and Nosm to the WVU Creative Arts Center, where they showed their works in the Mesaros Galleries, presented the Deem Distinguished Artist Lecture in the School of Art and Design, and created a special mural that will be unveiled at the dedication for the new Art Museum of WVU in August 2015.
“It is a huge honor to be back here,” Lewis told the audience at Commencement.
He talked about his days as a student in the School of Art and Design, where he studied printmaking. When he graduated in 2001, he said, all he knew was that he wanted to go to New York City. Internships helped integrate him into the life of the city and he was lucky enough to join Pace Prints during his first few years in New York. He worked his way up and in 2007 was tapped to open Pace Prints Chelsea.
Now he said he works to show people that printmaking is as important as painting and sculpture.
“This all started in my very first class in freshman year,” he said.
He urged the graduates to come back and share their stories and experiences with the next generation of students.
“Thanks to WVU for everything you have done for me,” he said in conclusion. “I can’t tell you how much I love this school.”
Outstanding Graduate, WVU College of Creative Arts
Outstanding Graduate, WVU School of Theatre and Dance
Rachel is from the small town of Warrenton, Virginia. She began dancing at the age of three when she started her first ballet class. As she grew older, she continued to study tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and contemporary dance, as she became a member in the company. At the age of 14, she then became an elite company member at Stage Door Dance Studio and traveled with the company to numerous local and national competitions. When she began high school, she realized that dance was what she really wanted to do with her life after she graduated. During the summer of 2007 she attended Point Park’s Conservatory of the Arts Summer Intensive and during her junior year of high school she was awarded the opportunity to work with the owners of Pushing Progress in New York and received a scholarship to their summer program. She began her first year at WVU in the fall of 2010 with intent of majoring in business and minoring in dance, but in her junior year WVU created a dance major and she immediately switched her major over to dance and was accepted into the program. At WVU she has had the opportunity to perform in three of the annual “Dance Now!” concerts, worked with Pilobolus Dance Theatre, and got accepted into guest artist Adam Barruch’s dance piece that was presented in the 2015 “Dance Now!” concert. She traveled with the Dance Program to the West Virginia Dance Festival and the American College Dance Association conferences and she will be teaching this summer at the WVU Summer Dance Academy. Rachael has been accepted into the training program at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, where she will receive training from elite artists and choreographers who will help her accomplish her dream of becoming a Radio City Rockette.
Outstanding Graduate, WVU School of Music
James Conkle is a percussionist from Washington, Pennsylvania. While growing up, he was influenced musically by his parents and experienced music through community groups and church. While attending Washington High School James studied with Bill Galvin and Jack DiIanni and performed in school ensembles and various state and national groups. He also performed with the Washington Symphony Orchestra as a percussionist and soloist. James came to West Virginia University in 2011 as a Music Education major and began studying percussion with Professor George Willis. While at WVU, James was a member of the Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, Steel Drum Band, and Percussion Ensemble. This past semester, James was a student teacher with John Brosky at South Middle School in Morgantown, and with Mark Santore at Laurel Highlands High School in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. This fall, James will be attending Duquesne University to pursue a M.M. in Percussion Performance.
Outstanding Graduate, WVU School of Art and Design
Emily Hersman is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Student Award from the School of Art and Design. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, she graduated in the Sycamore High School Class of 2010. Throughout her high school and college career Emily was an active member of the marching band, playing a variety of instruments ranging from piccolo to tuba. Emily completed both a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography while at West Virginia University. She is a member of Phi Sigma Theta, Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. Emily’s diverse interests serve as inspiration for her art. She is always interested in exploring new mediums and materials for expression and pushing the boundaries of art as a whole. After graduation, Emily will be returning to Cincinnati where she will work as an intern alongside the Art Conservation professionals of the Cincinnati Art Museum in the Works on Paper Department. She plans to continue her education at the graduate level, pursuing a Master’s degree in Art Conservation.
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.
View a video capturing the thoughts, emotions and images of WVU Commencement Weekend 2015: Sights and Sounds Video