spectaular St. Peter's in Vienna

From left: Rusty Bonasso, Dr. Cynthia Anderson, Sarah Murphy, Billy Titus, Rachel Rabeneck, Stephen Oswalt. and Evan Klein at Café Central

The WVU Oboe Studio and Professor Cynthia Anderson took a trip to Vienna and Salzburg recently to experience the musical and cultural events that Austria has to offer.

During the week-long visit, students met with an oboist from the Vienna Symphony and learned about the unique Viennese oboe, an instrument unlike our French-style oboes, played only in Austrian orchestras. They attended a performance of “Le Nozze de Figaro” at the Vienna State Opera, toured the Hofburg Treasury Museum, viewed masterpieces of art by Klimt and Schiele at the Belvedere, watched the Lipizzaner Stallions in their morning exercises, and rode the world-famous Prater Wheel for a sky-high view of the city.

In Salzburg, they walked through the streets of Mozart’s hometown (and yes, there were plenty of reminders of “The Sound of Music” too). Their visit to the capital city included sampling world-famous pastry at Café Central under portraits of Emperor Franz-Joseph and Empress Sisi, schnitzel at Figlmuellers, and the occasional coffee at Starbucks.

“Vienna is the world’s music capital, and for WVU’s oboe students, it was an enlightening and inspiring trip of a lifetime,” Dr. Anderson said. “It was a unique and happy time for all!”

spectaular St. Peter's in Vienna
Spectacular St. Peter’s in Vienna

Look for more “Studio Stories” coming to the blog soon! This new feature highlights the activities of students in the different studios located at the Creative Arts Center.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Tommy Joe Anderson, music educator, recording engineer & producer

Tommy Joe Anderson, a graduate of the School of Music (MM Composition ‘74, DMA Composition ‘81), is making the music of his mentor, Herman Godes, available to the public. What’s your story? Send us a blurb and we’ll try to print it in one of our future newsletters. We’d love to hear from you!

Tommy Joe Anderson

Tommy Joe Anderson’s company, ACA Digital Recording, Inc., based in Atlanta, Georgia, has recently released two recordings in their “Legacy Piano Series” by pianist Herman Godes, who was a highly respected artist-in-residence and teacher in the WVU School of Music for more than 40 years. A native of Latvia, Godes survived wartime service and incarceration in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and restarted his concert career with renewed energy, only six months after liberation.

“As a student and friend of Herman’s since 1969, he was a major influence on my career,” Anderson said. “When Herman passed away in 2007, I collected all of his known recordings—which included 100 reel-to-reel and cassette tapes—from his wife Catherine and re-mastered them to CDs. From this collection, I chose two performances that I had recorded in 1970 and in 1978 for download release, in order to show his great artistry.”

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The 1970 performance was recorded at the WVU Creative Arts Center. In it, Godes shows incisive technique with lots of warmth and poetic beauty during the recital of choice selections by Scarlatti, Albeniz (Evocation), Debussy, and Handel (Passacaglia), plus an excellent Chopin Sonata No. 3.

The 1978 recording is from a recital at DeKalb Community College in Georgia. It consists of Godes working his magic again in performances of Handel’s Passacaglia, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 28, Rachmaninoff’s Sonata No. 2, shorter works by Chopin and Prokofiev, and a luminous account of Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit.

These download-only releases are available on iTunes and Amazon:

iTunes: Herman Godes Live 1970

Amazon: Herman Godes Live 1970

iTunes: Herman Godes Live 1978

Amazon: Herman Godes Live 1978

Tommy Joe Anderson studied at Shenandoah Conservatory of Music where he received his bachelor’s degree in piano performance. He continued piano study with Herman Godes at WVU and earned the Master and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in composition with Thomas Canning. Dr. Anderson is a Professor Emeritus of Music from Georgia Perimeter College-Clarkston Campus (formerly DeKalb College) in Clarkston, Georgia, where he taught piano, composition and music theory. Many of his compositions are published and receive numerous performances in the United States and Europe. He is the president of ACA Digital Recording, Inc., and is the producer of THE ATLANTA MUSIC SCENE heard weekly over Atlanta’s WABE-FM 90.1. He also produces the Spivey Soiree (Sept.-Nov.) and is one of the recording engineers for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra broadcast recordings also heard weekly (Feb.-July) on Atlanta’s WABE-FM 90.1, state-wide on Georgia Public Broadcasting and nationally on American Public Media’s Performance Today and SymphonyCast.

ACA Digital Recording now has more than 120 releases of classical chamber music, solo recitals, choral works and traditional jazz being distributed nationally by Albany Music Distributors with downloads distributed through The Orchard. For more information, see the website: www.acadigitalrecording.com.

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Arthur White, a graduate of the WVU School of Music, who is currently Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri, will visit the Creative Arts Center on Monday, March 16, to work with students and take part in the Jazz Ensembles Concert that evening.

His visit is part of the College of Creative Arts Alumni-in-Residence Series, in which outstanding alumni of the College return to work with students.

Originally from Kansas, Dr. White received his Master of Music in Jazz Pedagogy from WVU in 2000. He also holds a BA in Music from Emporia State University and a doctorate in Saxophone Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

White conducts the Concert Jazz Band at the University of Missouri, which has risen to national prominence since his arrival at MU in 2009. Additionally, he directs the Graduate Jazz Combo and Creative Improvisation Ensemble, and oversees the combo program. He teaches courses in improvisation, pedagogy, arranging and composition.

Previously, White was the director of jazz studies at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. During his tenure there, he produced five critically acclaimed CDs with the NSU Jazz Ensemble; two of those recordings were named as Blue Chip Award winners by Jazz Education Journal, signifying the recordings as among the 10 best in college jazz recordings. NSU named White as a Centurion, naming him as one of the 100 most influential people in the university’s history. He was also named the 2007 Oklahoma Jazz Educator of the Year by the Oklahoma Jazz Educators Alliance.

Ensembles under White’s direction have recorded with a veritable Who’s Who in modern jazz: Bobby Watson, Russell Malone, Henry Johnson, Scott Wendholt, Robin Eubanks, Mike Mainieri, Mike Metheny, Byron Stripling, Bob Sheppard, Sean Jones, and Jimmy Greene. White has also been fortunate to record CDs with legendary trombonist Fred Wesley, Chris Murrell (vocalist with Count Basie), and jazz legend Dewey Redman.

He is also in demand as an arranger and has written music for jazz luminaries James Carter, John Clayton, Mike Mainieri, Peter Erskine, Eric Person, Mulgrew Miller, Kevin Mahogany, Henry Johnson, Dewey Redman, Scott Wendholt, Bobby Watson, Bob Mintzer, Robin Eubanks, Kathy Kosins, Paul Hanson, Russell Malone, Bob Sheppard, Andy Narell, and Randy Brecker.

He has performed with numerous nationally acclaimed jazz and pop artists. High school and college jazz ensembles throughout the country have performed his arrangements and original compositions. White is also active as a clinician with high school and college bands, and as an adjudicator at jazz festivals, throughout the United States.

Wind Symphony 2

The WVU Wind Symphony, a 51-member select group of the finest wind and percussion performers within West Virginia University, will participate in the annual Percy Grainger Wind Band Festival in Chicago, during March 5-8.

The Wind Symphony will perform in concert on Saturday, March 7, at 1:30 p.m. at the Orchestra Hall at Chicago Symphony Center at 200 South Michigan Ave. Tickets are free to the general public, but must be reserved in advance. To reserve tickets, go to the website at: Grainger Band Festival.

According to WVU Director of Bands John Hendricks III, who is also conductor of the WVU Wind Symphony and Assistant Dean of the College of Creative Arts, other groups performing during the March 7 concert will include the East Texas Baptist University Symphonic Band, the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra, and the Ada High School Wind Ensemble from Ohio.

“All of the groups will be performing works by Percy Grainger,” Hendricks said. “The WVU Wind Symphony will be performing two of Grainger’s most famous works—’Handel in the Strand’ and his wind band masterpiece ‘Lincolnshire Posy.’

“Australian-born Percy Aldridge Grainger is best remembered as a pianist of great skill and a composer of many memorable tunes for piano. The arrangement and compositional skills shown in his settings of the many folk songs collected by him—as well as his original works for wind ensembles—are still considered pinnacles of achievement.”

Membership in the WVU Wind Symphony is earned through audition. The group performs at a near-professional level, presenting at least four concerts each year at WVU, comprised of the finest classical and contemporary wind literature.

While in Chicago, the WVU Wind Symphony will receive a clinic by Dennis M. Layendecker, director of the George Mason University School of Music and retired conductor of The United States Air Force Band of Washington, D.C.

The Wind Symphony will also attend a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and tour several of the main museums in Chicago during their visit to the “windy city.”

The Percy Grainger Wind Band Festival is hosted by Music Celebrations International, a professional performance touring company.

The WVU Wind Symphony tour to Chicago is generously funded by an anonymous donor, as well as by the Dean’s Office of the College of Creative Arts and by the WVU School of Music.

For more information about the Percy Grainger Wind Band Festival and the March 7 concert, go to the website at: http://graingerbandfestival.org.

WVU alumni attending the concert who would like to sit with a group of fellow WVU alumni and friends can reserve tickets through WVU College of Creative Arts Development Director Anna Justice by calling 304-293-4331 or by emailing Anna.Justice@mail.wvu.edu.

The visit to the Creative Arts Center by Robert Shreve on Friday, Feb. 27, has been cancelled due to the weather. It will be rescheduled.

Shreve is a graduate of the WVU School of Theatre and Dance who is currently corporate vice president for Attractions Development at Herschend Family Entertainment in Atlanta, Georgia. He was scheduled to speak students at the Creative Arts Center about his career in theme park design management, as part of the College of Creative Arts Alumni-in-Residence Series, in which outstanding alumni of the College return to work with students.

Shreve graduated from the School of the School of Theatre and Dance in 1980 with a degree in technical theatre. He has been engaged in theme park design management since 1990, working with project teams at Disney and Universal Studios, as well as at Herschend Family Entertainment.

We will post the rescheduled date for his visit as soon as it is available.

Symphony Orchestra Poster Feb 26

The award-winning WVU Symphony Orchestra continues its 2014-2015 season at the Creative Arts Center with a concert featuring music of great emotional energy that will feature faculty violist Andrea Priester Houde as soloist.

Conducted by Mitchell Arnold, director of Orchestral Studies at WVU, the concert will be held Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m., in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre.

“Concerto for Orchestra,” by Witold Lutosławski, will be the evening’s focal work. According to Arnold, it pushes the limits of virtuosity and emotional boundaries.

The driving rhythms and near chaos of portions of the Concerto for Orchestra are balanced by moments of great serenity,” he said. “Only orchestral music is capable of such extremes and our students meet the challenge with their talent.”

Andrea Houde will perform William Walton’s deeply expressive “Viola Concerto,” which Arnold said explores the darker side of virtuosity. “There is very little bubble and fizz in this concerto,” he said. “It is music of great passion and depth that is emotionally captivating.”

Rounding out the program will be Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” for string orchestra, which will be conducted by graduate assistant conductor Hanjin Sa.

“Vaughan Williams chose a haunting Psalm tune by the 16th century English composer Thomas Tallis as the basis of his music,” said Arnold. “The tune’s soulful quality still resonates with listeners hundreds of years after Tallis set it down.”

He said it is rare to have three such great works on the same orchestra program.

“Each one demands virtuosity from the orchestra, and each one is emotionally riveting,” he said.

Mitchell Arnold received a doctorate in Conducting from Northwestern University and has an extensive background in new music. Before coming to WVU, he was director of orchestras at Northern Illinois University and assistant director of orchestras at Northwestern University. He has also served on the faculties at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music. In March 2013 he made his guest-conducting debut with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra in Charleston, and returned to conduct WVSO in 2014.

Andrea Houde received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis and a Master of Music in Viola Performance/Pedagogy and a Graduate Performance Diploma at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. An active performer, she is the violist of the West Virginia Piano Quartet, former Principal Viola of the Lancaster Symphony, and was a nine-year member of the Maryland Symphony.

She is also a founding musician and Principal Viola of the Endless Mountain Music Festival in Wellsboro, Pa., where she has performed and taught in the summers since 2006. She has performed in festivals including the Aspen Music Festival and School, Encore School for Strings, Brevard Music Center, the Castleman Quartet Program, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and Interlochen Arts Camp. As a two-time Peabody-Singapore Fellow, she traveled to Singapore to mentor students at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory and to perform with the Singapore Symphony.

The West Virginia University Symphony Orchestra was one of only two collegiate orchestras invited to perform at the 2014 national conference of the College Orchestra Directors Association, and in 2013 the WVUSO was awarded the American Prize Special Citation for Musical and Technical Excellence in a national competition. Arnold has been WVU’s director of Orchestral Activities since 2007.

For concert tickets and information, call the WVU Box Office at (304) 293-SHOW.

Effie Arkoudis

WVU School of Music music student Eftihia Arkoudis recently won first alternate and a chance to perform in the Houston Flute Club’s Byron Hester Solo Flute Competition, to be held March 14. It is one of the largest flute competitions in the United States.

The Byron Hester Competition is held at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music each year in March and is open to high school, college and professional-level flutists from all over the country. There is no age limit. Five finalists are selected on the basis of their recorded preliminary round tapes from a competition at the Houston Flute Club’s Annual Flute Fest and the final round is a live competition open to a public audience.

According to WVU flute professor Nina Assimakopoulos, as first alternate, Eftihia has proven herself to be one of the finest flute players in the United States. She may have a chance to perform at the final round of the competition on March 14, if one of the five finalists is unable to perform.

“Eftihia has worked diligently for this competition and her acceptance as first alternate is quite an honor,” Assimakopoulos said.

Εftihia, also known as Effie, comes from Corfu, Greece and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in flute performance at WVU, on scholarship. She studies with Assimakopoulos and performs with the WVU Symphony Orchestra. She is also principal flutist of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra of Vienna and a founding member of Polytropon Ensemble, which performs throughout Europe. WVU recently awarded her an International Travel Grant in order to perform with those ensembles.

This year she also received the Susan B. Hardesty Music Scholarship and also the Eleanor Tucker Donley Memorial Music Scholarship at WVU for outstanding academic status and achievements. In addition, she was a finalist in the WVU Young Artist Competition in 2014.

Effie holds artistic diplomas with distinctions and awards from both the Prayner Conservatory of Vienna and the Athens Conservatory, in Greece. She has been the principal flutist of the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Bayreuth, in Germany, and the Greek-Turkish Youth Symphony Orchestra.

She has attended the master classes of Nina Assimakopoulos, Alberto Almarza, Franscesca Arnone, Brad Garner, Erwin Klambauer, Caroline Debonne and was one of only ten students selected to attend the International Masterclass given by Jasmine Choi in Austria in 2014.

Along with her numerous activities as a musician with ensembles and marching bands in Athens and Corfu, Effie also holds a bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and Nutrition from the Technological Institute of Athens and performed as a dancer 18 years. Currently, she is translating a book about the American composer John Adams, from German to English, and also writes for the official website of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra of Vienna, Austria.

Music students perform Spring Festival Overture

The three WVU School of Music students performing “Spring Festival Overture” include cellist Christy Oscar, saxophonist Tak Chiu Wong, and pianist Qian Xu.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., was brightly decorated and filled with the exciting atmosphere of Spring Festival on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 13, as Ambassador Tiankai Cui and a group of Chinese college students from around the United States gathered to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Goat.

Among the students were seven from West Virginia University, including three graduate students from the WVU School of Music who were specially selected to perform at this year’s event.

Ambassador Tiankai Cui and other high-level diplomats watched as the WVU students—pianist Qian Xu, saxophonist Tak Chiu Wong, and cellist Christy Oscar—performed “Spring Festival Overture.”

Tak Chiu Wong arranged the popular work by Chinese composer Huanzhi Li for this special combination (saxophone, cello and piano), especially for the Embassy event.

Other WVU students attending included Dehui Hu, vice-president of the WVU Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA); Zhengjun Wang, a doctoral student in Physics and the former president of CSSA; and Peng Zheng and Xiaorui Tong, who are both doctoral students in Mechanical Engineering.

Zhengjun Wang said it was a great honor for all of the Chinese students and scholars from WVU to have three of their own perform at the Chinese Embassy.

“We received the invitation from the Embassy just a week before the performance, and we were not sure if we could make it due to the weather,” he said.

“The Embassy has the Chinese New Year Celebration every year. This year, only 60 Chinese students from universities across the United States were invited to join the celebration, so it’s really a great honor to have been invited.

“Also, to have Qian Xu, Tak Chiu Wong, and Christy Oscar invited to perform at the celebration shows the excellent students we have at WVU. We were so proud to be Mountaineers at this event!”

The invitation from the Chinese Embassy’s Education Department came after diplomats from the Embassy visited WVU and met some of the students at the Creative Arts Center in April 2014.

“Three groups of diplomats from the Chinese Embassy visited WVU in 2014 and they all visited the CAC and met with Dean Paul Kreider of the College of Creative Arts and some of the students while they were here,” Zhengjun said.

“WVU has a very close connection with the Chinese Embassy and we believe there will be more collaboration between WVU and universities in China in the future.”

Tak Chiu Wong, who is a native of Hong Kong, said he greatly enjoyed playing in front of the ambassador and the other officers in the Embassy.

“The ambassador was very pleased to hear us and we had some nice conversations about life in the United States,” he said. “It was also funny to know that the Ambassador Cui was making dumplings for us while we were rehearsing for the performance!”

“To play for the ambassador sounded like a huge and serious thing—like playing for the President of the United States or something—but it turned out to be a fun and enjoyable experience in a warm and relaxing environment.

“I would like to express my thankfulness to everyone who helped to make this event happen, and for WVU’s support.”

Wong, who is studying for a doctorate in saxophone performance with WVU saxophone professor Michael Ibrahim, already had a wealth of professional experience as both a saxophonist and as a teacher when he entered WVU. He plays a wide range of styles and has performed in a large number of international venues throughout Asia, Europe and North America.

Christy Oscar, who is from Indonesia, and plays in the WVU Symphony Orchestra, said the group received a warm welcome at the Embassy.

“I was very thankful be invited and to participate in the New Year celebration,” she said. “My grandparents came from Xia Men, Fu Jian Province in China, so it was indeed a privilege for me to be a part of it.”

Christy came to WVU from Unversitas Pelita Harapan and is studying for a master’s degree in cello performance with cello professor William Skidmore. She previously performed with the Jakarta Symphony Orchestra and Universitas Pelita Harapan String Orchestra and has also been involved in music festivals and camps, some of which took place in Germany, France, Japan and Russia.

Qian Xu, of Shandong, China, is a doctoral student in piano performance at WVU. She received a bachelor’s degree from China Conservatory and a master’s degree from the University of Wyoming and is a graduate student of international standard. She chose to come to WVU so that she could study piano with Peter Amstutz.

“This celebration was really a joyful performance,” she said. “We also made a lot of new friends from other states.”

See more information about the Spring Festival at the Chinese Embassy on the Embassy’s website, where the WVU music students’ performance is highlighted: Chinese Embassy Website

Making dumplings at Chinese Embassy

Dehui Hu (in red dress), vice-president of the WVU Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), makes dumplings with Ambassador Tiankai Cui (the second from left) at the Chinese Embassy prior to the Spring Festival Celebration on Feb. 13.

Ambassador with student performers

Ambassador Tiankai Cui (center) poses with all the student performers during the Spring Festival event. The three students on the right are the music students who performed the “Spring Festival Overture.” From left: Qian Xu, Tak Chiu Wong and Christy Oscar.

Ambassor & audience enjoy performance

The audience at the Chinese Embassy, including Ambassador Tiankai Cui and other high-level diplomats, enjoy the musical performance during the Spring Festival.

Haruna Walusimbi

Grammy Award-winning artist Haruna Walusimbi, and School of Music alumnus Mark Stone (‘96) will present a recital at the Creative Arts Center, Monday, Feb. 23, as part of a two-day visit the World Music and Performance Center, where they also presented a workshop for students.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Bloch Learning and Performance Hall (200A) and is free and open to the public.

Haruna Walusimbi is one of Uganda’s most celebrated artists. In his work as a multi-instrumentalist, singer, dancer, actor, and educator, he embodies the holistic nature of Uganda’s Ngoma repertoire.

Walusimbi performed a leading role in the film “Throw Down Your Heart,” produced by American banjo legend Bela Fleck. He subsequently worked with Fleck on the audio recording “Throw Down Your Heart: Tales from the Acoustic Planet Vol. 3: Africa Sessions,” which won a Grammy Award in 2010 for Best Contemporary World Music Album and Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

Haruna also acted in the Academy Award-winning film “The Last King of Scotland,” starring Forest Whitaker. He is being hosted in the U.S. by his close friend and former classmate at Makerere University, Mark Stone, who is currently Associate Professor at Oakland University and who graduated from the WVU School of Music in 1996. As a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at Makerere University during the 1996-1997 school year, Mark researched traditional Ugandan music and performed extensively with the Nakibembe Xylophone Group. He has since shared his research and love of Ugandan music with many American students and audiences. In addition to hosting Haruna’s tour, Mark will be assisting Haruna with his performances and educational programs.

James Nova, trombonist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, will present a guest artist recital and master class at the WVU Creative Arts Center, Tuesday, Feb. 17. Both events are free and open to the public.

The class will be held at 6 p.m. in Bloch Learning and Performance Hall (Room 200A) and will be centered on technology and music. The class will also feature WVU music students working on orchestral excerpts.

The master class will be followed by the recital that evening at 8:15 p.m., also in Bloch Hall. It will feature trombone and piano repertoire to be announced.

Nova’s visit is part of the partnership between the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the College of Creative Arts that also brings the PSO to the WVU Creative Arts Center three times each school year as part of the Canady Symphony Series.

James Nova joined the Pittsburgh Symphony in 2009 and previously served eight seasons as the Assistant Principal/Second Trombonist of the Utah Symphony Orchestra. He attended the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, before moving to Boston to pursue a Master’s Degree on a full scholarship at the New England Conservatory of Music. In addition to his college education, James attended the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and was also a member of the Tanglewood Music Center Fellowship Orchestra for three summers. After finishing his master’s degree, he freelanced in Boston for several years, substituting on a regular basis with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra, making several recordings and television broadcasts with both groups as both principal and second trombone. He joined the Utah Symphony Orchestra in 2001.

For more information, see Nova’s website at http://www.jimnova.com.