Alumni, please update us here with your latest news!
Dr. Jeremy Wohletz, Class of 2007, is currently serving as Department of Arts and Letters Chair and Associate Professor of Music at Dickinson State University, in Dickinson, North Dakota. After graduating from SIUC in 2007, he received a DMA in Clarinet performance and has enjoyed a diverse career of teaching and performing. He has performed both nationally and internationally, including a series of concerts with SIUC clarinet professor Dr. Eric Mandat throughout Portugal. Wohletz is also currently continuing his research in Balinese gamelan and hopes to transcribe more works for clarinet and clarinet ensembles.
Dr. Christopher Allen, BA 1998 / MM 2002, formed the Madison Classical Guitar Society, a 501c3 Non-Profit, and currently serves as the President. After graduating from SIUC in 1998 with a Bachelor’s of Arts and with a Master’s of Music in 2002, he went on to graduate from UW-Madison with a DMA in performance in 2012. Currently, he also serves as a Guitar Instructor at Madison College in Madison, Wisconsin. Dr. Allen has competed at international guitar festivals, and recently was the headline performer at the Puerto Rico Guitar Project Festival in February 2020. In addition, he has performed with violinist/violist Shannon Farley in Duo Canzonetta, and lute duets with Douglas Towne.
Emily Fons, MM O/MT '08 is making waves in Seattle's production of "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs," a 2017 opera about the life of the iconic Apple co-creator. In a Seattle Times review (excerpt below), Fons was given sole credit for transforming the character of Laurene Powell Jobs (previously criticized as underdeveloped by the composer & lyricist) into a powerful, multi-faceted stage presence:
"Mezzo-soprano Fons, especially, brought range (both vocal and emotional) to a character who isn’t much more than an archetype in the libretto. As some reviewers opined of the opera’s world premiere at Santa Fe Opera in 2017, the story here turns on a disappointing cliché: that of a good woman who helps a socially challenged genius become a better person. There’s no denying this — though there’s talk of Laurene’s MBA and professional ambitions, she first appears onstage to tell Steve he’s working too hard and needs to take a break. That Laurene is more fully fleshed out than her initial appearance suggests is thanks entirely to Fons’ performance; it’s reason alone to buy a ticket."
—Megan Burbank, Seattle Times
A trailer preview of Fons' performance can be viewed below:
"With a new school year comes a new beginning for the Tigers, the worst-ranked high school cheerleading team in teh state. Riley, the new captain, rallies the girls for a fresh start at the annual team sleepover, however, the night takes a bloody turn. A squad that can't stick a landing now has to solve a murder if they want any hope of making it to regionals — or the morning.
Featuring an infectious pop rock score and razor-sharp wit, this brand-new musical proves the highs and lows of being a teen girl in high school are more extreme than they seem."
Michael Wheatley, Associate Conductor, American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, writes: "This June, I'll be traveling to the UK to present a recent research paper of mine at the University of Oxford's OCI Conducting Studies Conference 2016. In August, I'll be starting work on my DMA in Orchestral Conducting at the Eastman School of Music. Best wishes to everyone at SIUC!!"
Brent Wallarab, BM Performance: Composer/arranger, bandleader, trombonist Brent Wallarab is Associate Professor of Music at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he conducts Jazz Ensemble I and teaches courses in jazz arranging, composition, and jazz history. Before his post at Indiana University, he maintained a diverse free-lance career writing for or performing with artists including The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Benny Carter, The Count Basie Orchestra, Rosemary Clooney, Natalie Cole, Ray Charles, Perry Como, and Bobby Short. A founding member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, Wallarab served as lead trombonist and principal arranger from 1991-2008 and was appointed as Specialist in Jazz for the Smithsonian Institution in 1993. In 1994, Wallarab co-founded the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra based in Indianapolis. The BWJO has recorded 7 CD’s, their 2008 release Basically Baker being named as one of the top 100 jazz albums of the decade by Downbeat magazine. Wallarab has had an active international career including performances in Canada, Italy, France, Finland, The Netherlands, The UK, Spain, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, and Taiwan. He has arrangements published through Warner Bros. Kendor, and Really Good Music. Wallarab graduated from SIU-C in 1987. He was a member of the Marching Salukis and studies with Bob Weiss, Bob Allison, Mike Hanes, Eric Mandat, Frank Stemper.
Michael Wheatley (MM 2012): Is currently living, teaching, conducting in the Washington, DC area.
2012-2014 – served as Chief Conductor of Cincinnati Chamber Opera
July 2013 – led the Rochester Philharmonic (NY) in Concert
July 2014 – led the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra (GA) in concert
October 2014 – in partnership with Drake University, led the Zabrze Philharmonic (Poland) in concert, including the Eastern European premier of Ned Rorem's "Cello Concerto
Josh Shaw, MMOMT 2004, writes: In 2014 I've continued to grow Pacific Opera Project directing and designing sold-out and critically acclaimed productions of The Turn of the Screw, Carmen, and the Los Angeles Premiere of Cavalli's La Calisto. I was named the Resident Director of Chamber Opera Players of Los Angeles and have directed productions of Gallantry, Man on a Bearskin Rug, and Sunday Excursion for them. I'll return to Carbondale in June to direct Lucia di Lammermoor and a Star Trek-themed production of Abduction from the Seraglio, for which I am writing an new English translation. In the fall, I will direct and design a "site specific" Tosca for POP. Act 1 will take place in the sanctuary of a church, Act 2 moves to a theater on the church campus, and Act 3 moves outside. In December we remount our very popular La bohÃ©me, "AKA The Hipsters". Josh's complete resume can be found at http://www.joshshaw.org/
Patrick Saddler (MM, 2002) is Director of the Paducah Tilghman High School Band, Paducah, KY. Under his direction, the PTHS Band of Blue competed in Jacksonville, Florida, during winter break, 2013, against seven other bands from around the country in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl Parade and Field Show Competition. The PTHS marching band swept the Class AA Parade and Field Show Competition, earning 13 trophies, three plaques, and $10,000. For its dominance in all areas of the competition, the band was named Sweepstakes Grand Champion, and earned a right to perform the pregame show at the 2014 Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day. The band also performed with seven other bands at halftime of the game, which featured the University of Nebraska taking on the University of Georgia. Among the trophies the band took home were Class AA Outstanding Marching, Outstanding General Effect, Outstanding Auxiliary, Outstanding Percussion, Outstanding Music, and Outstanding Drum Major.
Donald H. Sanborn III, Class of 1995, says: "My composition for solo organ, "Trinity," was selected for performance at an October 2013 national conference of the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers."
Eric Fotre Leach, Class of 2010, says: "I just wanted to take a moment to write and fill you in on some news. About 2 months ago I accepted the Music Director position for the tour of ELF the Musical. I also act as Conductor and Keyboard 1 during performances. This is my first tour, largest production and biggest orchestra to date and I am just so blessed to have been trusted in this position. And am just so thankful to be a working musician on the road!
I write for 2 reasons...
One, to say that my time at SIUC really did help to prepare me well for my entrance into this business, so thank you guys. The opportunities I was given in regards to choirs, orchestras, concerts, musicals, independent studies, accompanying, composing, voice lessons, acting, theatre classes, independent projects as well as all the different performances I was a part of were all such an incredible start. And you all were just so damn encouraging. I loved it!
And two, in case any of you just happen to go to the Fox Theatre in St. Louis in Mid December, make sure you stop by the orchestra pit and say hello!"
Rob Riddle, MM OMT 2010, is playing Roger Sherman and understudying John Adams in Sarasota, Florida at the Asolo Repertory Theater in a production of 1776 directed by Frank Galati. The show runs Nov. 16 through Dec. 23.
Nik Wenzel, BM Voice Performance 2007, was a winner in this year's Chicago district Met audition.
Keenan McCarter, MMOMT 2011, was rehired by Chicago Lyric Opera to tour in their Opera in the Neighborhoods program. He plays Papageno in Magic Flute.
Recent SIU graduates Boja Kragulj and Jon Goodman were both finalists in the 2011 ClarinetFest Research Competition of the International Clarinet Association held in Los Angeles in August. For her stunning presentation, entitled, “The Clarinet as a Defining Instrument of Turkish Popular Culture: Its History, an Exemplification of its Practice by Serkan Çagri, and a Single Case Study,” Boja was awarded the First Prize of $1000. Jon’s excellent presentation, entitled, “The Clarinetist(s) that Inspired the Composition of the Six Clarinet Concerti of Johann Melchior Molter,” was very well received by the audience; Jon was the youngest of the eight finalists, which included entrants from the USA, Mexico the United Kingdom, and Germany. Additionally, Boja, who appeared as a guest soloist with the 2011 Southern Illinois Summer Music Festival, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to continue her studies in Turkey, and to perform throughout Europe. This is a wonderful testament to the well roundedness of the students in the clarinet studio at SIUC; congratulations to Boja and Jon!
Sharon Marlow Ziegler-graduated 1967 & 1969. "Music ed with piano major/minors clarinet/voice/organ and lots of wonderful memories! I taught 8 yr gen mus=Alton Il; 2 Yrs or EVERYTHING in Gary, WV. 20 years of Jr. HS/middle school marching band and now into my 4th yr at Bluefield College, Bluefield, VA teaching piano. Music has indeed been my life's work and God's gift to me! And SIU made it possible."
Eric Fotre Leach - BA in Music Open Studies: Musical Direction - 2010: Eric currently lives in Flat Rock, North Carolina where he is the full time Music Supervisor for the Flat Rock Playhouse YouTheatre. He serves as musical instructor, composer and pianist for music and theatre classes as well as music/vocal director for YouTheatre Productions. Eric has appeared on the Flat Rock Playhouse Mainstage and continues to arrange, compose and perform for their Second Stage Concert Series. In addition to Theatre and Music Camps, he serves as music director and pianist for the Apprentice Program at the playhouse during the summer months.
Renee Rybolt, MM Choral Conducting, 2011, was named one of the 4 core sopranos in the Houston Bach Society.
Michael Boyle, MM 2006: "After graduation from SIU, I accepted a position as full-time professor of Music at Oklahoma City Community College, where I serve as program director for the Department of Music. My duties as program director include overseeing all concert series, recitals, and Master classes. I direct 2 student jazz ensembles and conduct the school’s musicals and operas. I oversee the school’s two newly constructed recording studios and their student workers.
As a performer, I am active in the fields of opera, ballet, and music theatre, symphonic, solo, and chamber music. I play nearly every weekend as a double bassist in a variety of settings, usually jazz or free-lance. I have performed three faculty recitals that have featured my own compositions as well as the works of Bach, Rachmaninoff, Proto, Turetzky, Charles MIngus, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk and others.
I have just released a concert-length HD DVD of my most recent recital. I perform frequently with the Elad Katz Trio, a jazz standards trio, and Simcha Raba, a klezmer ensemble that features traditional Hassidic and Jewish music as well as Israeli Pop music. Simcha Raba has recently performed in Dallas, Wichita, and Tulsa and performs frequently in the Oklahoma City area.
I am deeply indebted to the music faculty at SIU who were essential to my success in both my performance and education careers."
Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber, MM in OMT 1997. The National Opera Association is pleased to announce Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber as the incoming editor of The Opera Journal. The Opera Journal is now accepting submissions for the following: 1. Scholarly articles related to the field of opera: operatic composers, librettists, works, performance practice, etc. 2. Articles related to the teaching and training of operatic singers. Please email submissions to Dr. Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber email@example.com OR send submissions on CD to: Dr. Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber Misciagna Center for the Performing Arts Penn State Altoona 3000 Ivyside Park Altoona, PA 16601
Jonathan Perez, BM 2007. After living on the road for the past five years Jon has moved to NYC with his fiancee Ellie Atwood (former student of the SOM and met during BAT BOY at SIUC). Jon is currently working on making the big dream happen in NYC.
Rhonda McAfee, MM O/MT 1986. St. Louis, MO (KPLR) -- For the first time in history Russian and American singers will performing Handel's Messiah in Moscow's state Kremlin palace theater. Rhonda McAfee, a music teacher at Rose Acres Elementary will be leading the performance.
Michael Lindner, BA in Music Theater 1998. Michael is finishing up two years on the national tour of MAMMA MIA as the father. Next on his schedule is RAGTIME at the Drury Lane Oakbrook/Terrace, opening March 14, 2010. He won the 2005 Joseph Jeff Award (Chicago's "Tony" Award) for Lead Role in a Musical: Sweeney in SWEENEY TODD. He was also nominated for a Best Supporting Role in a musical in THE FULL MONTY
Emily Fons, MM O/MT '08 has won the Regional Metropolitan Opera Auditions in Minneapolis and in early March participated in the semi-finals in NYC. This fall she makes her Lyric Opera debut as Mercedes in the new production of CARMEN.
Paul Aitken, MM O/MT '96 had his piece "Under Eternal Sky": a composition for choir and band commissioned by the State of Idaho Capitol Re-Dedication Committee, premiered on January 9th on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol. The text for this piece was written by Idaho poet, Neysa C. M. Jensen.
Peter Chudyba, BA '09 is living in the Los Angeles area. He has had several appearances in television series and is currently working as the character of Dapper Dan at Disneyland. Peter is now a member of SAG.
Kevin Lucas, 2002 and 2004 (Music Education and a Masters in Music Performance): His professional touring group, The Kevin Lucas Orchestra, from Carbondale, IL was named the 2008 "College Radio Breakthrough Artist of the Year" at the New Music Awards in Hollywood last November. In April of 2009, they were named "Best Pop Artist" for an unsigned artist at the People's Music Awards in London. Their new album "Green and Blue" has been submitted to the 2010 Grammys. KLO has received radio airplay all over the world including a feature on XM-Satellite Radio last year. Aside from their busy music schedule this year, the group has performed a concert to help Pat Benton's foundation from Magic 95.1 called 'Pat's Kids', which benefits abused children. The Kevin Lucas Orchestra also just finished their 2009 Southern Illinois nursing home tour called "Operation Give Hope III". Kevin is endorsed by Promark Mallets.
Debbie (Schwab) Rice, MM O/MT ‘79, writes that she is currently serving as the Executive Director for the International Handbell Committee. Upcoming conducting assignments include: -June 09 International Handbell Festival Tour in the UK
-July 09 Handbell festival in Singapore
-July 09 National Clinician for directors in Arizona
-August 09 National Handbell event for ringers in Japan
Additionally, there are several US events on the calendar for 2010, including a return to Japan.
Johnny Lee Lane, M.M. 1972 Percussion Performance is presently Director of Education for the Remo Drum Company. As an internationally renowned educator, he taught percussion at the Indiana University School of Music at IUPUI, Tennessee State University, and Eastern Illinois University for 28 years. At EIU, Professor Lane developed one of the finest percussion programs in the nation and for 13 years facilitated the United States Percussion Camp, which at its apex included over 300 students and 37 faculty members. In 2004 Professor Lane led the Tournament of Roses Parade playing the world’s tallest drum and in 2007 recieved the Percussive Arts Society Lifetime Achievement in Education Award. Professor Lane presently conducts clinics around the country for Zildjian, Remo Drum Company, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, and Dynasty Marching Percussion.
Nadine Haynes Shanti , MM 1978: Nadine is currently performing, composing and arranging, and teaching in the Pacific Northwest. Since leaving SIU, she has appeared in Cabarets and Jazz Festivals in the U.S., Okinawa, Australia and Japan. She continues to perform as a featured artist with the Everett Symphony in Washington State. In April 2009, she will do an encore performance of her “Tribute to Burt Bacharach with the Everett Symphony under the direction of Dr. Paul Elliott Cobbs. The tribute features Bacharach songs which Shanti arranged for female voice and orchestra. Jeanine Wagner and Margaret Simmons include Shanti’s compositions in their recitals of 20th Century African American Art Songs.
Sean Osborn, MM 1999, Clarinet Performance, sends the following news:
Last summer, I released my latest CD: Sean Osborn Plays Mozart, which American Record Guide called "...a supreme pleasure," and the Buffalo news called "...absolutely delightful." I also performed in the Seattle Chamber Music Society's Summer Festival, and the CoralWind Music Festival's inaugural year. In October, I presented my eighth annual Clarinettissimo concert, which included a world premier clarinet choir piece that I had written for the occasion. I continue to perform with the Seattle Symphony and Opera, and teach clarinet and chamber music at the University of Washington, as well as perform chamber music and recitals regionally and around the world.
Gillian Martin (BA, 1990) is a National Host/Producer for American Public Media's Classical 24, a classical music radio service heard on more than 200 public radio stations across the country (including WSIU-FM). She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, with her spouse Kate and too many pets.
Jeff Bowen, BM, Percussion, 2007: I recently accepted a position at Meadowlawn Middle School in St. Petersburg, FL, which boasts approx. 350 students in the band program and over 200 in the choir. I am the Co-Band/Choir Director. I teach beginning band, a concert band, a percussion ensemble, and 2 choirs. In addition to my duties at Meadowlawn, I am also the pit instructor for the Scarlet Regiment at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg.
Jane Brockman MMOMT 1988: May 2008 Jane appeared in the PBS Live From Lincoln Center broadcast of Camelot as Lady Anne. She was featured in the performance which starred Gabriel Byrne, Marin Mazzie and Nathan Gunn and was played by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Paul Gemigniani conducting. This summer Jane will be playing the role of Chelsie in Arrowrock Theater production of On Golden Pond.
Leo Ruebke, BME 1966, MM 1969: I taught for 1 year in Saprta and 4 years in Gorham. Then moved to Michigan where I taught in the Kearsley School District, near Flint, until I retired in June of 1997. Since retirement I am involved with the Flint Institute of Music where I conduct the brass sectionals for the Flint Youth Symphony and help conduct the New Horizons Band. My wife, Nancy, and I also do quite a lot of adjudicating, both band and orchestra and solo and ensemble, at Michigan School Band and Orchestra Assoc. events at district and state festivals.
Jennifer Cannon MMOMT 2005: Jennifer is traveling the high seas with Celebrity Cruises on the good ship Constelation, singing and dancing and drinking mojitos in Spain. Prior to that she was in Jerry Springer: the Opera at the Playhouse on the Square in Memphis. You can follow her cruise details at garymusick.com or celebritycruises.com.
Melody (Hesketh) Moore, BAMT 1998: Melody is starring in the 40th-season finale of Weathervane Playhouse in Ohio playing the tap-happy title role in Thoroughly Modern Millie. More information can be found at: www.dispatch.com
Maegan McConnell, MMOMT 2003 was cast in another production of West Side Story with the Fullerton Civic Light Opera.
Nik Wenzel, BM Voice 2007. Nik is on a full ride scholarship at Northwestern University pursuing an MM in Vocal Performance. He was one of four students selected to sing for Renee Flemming.
Kara Shaw, MMOMT 2004, is has one of the four roles in the Marvelous Wonderettes in Los Angeles, which will be transferred to Off-Broadway in New York. She will also be appearing on the new NBC game show The Singing Bee as one of the singers with the band. Her website is www.karashaw.com
Victoria Whitlow BA Music Theater 2005 just completed her first summer with Princess Tours Music of Denali in Alaska and is headed to Wichita, Kansas where she is performing at Crown Uptown Dinner Theater and will be doing Holidazzle, Honky Tonk Angles, and Ring of Fire through April.
Nick Williams, BM, Music Education, Trombone, 2007. I am currently Director of Bands for Murphysboro Middle School, Murphysboro, Illinois. I teach band, 6th grade theory, and 8th grade music history. In addition to my duties at the Middle School, I am also the Assistant Director for the Murphysboro High School marching band, teaching both visual and musical elements.
Anthony Russ. For my alumnus notes, I am currently Director of Bands at Memphis East High School in Memphis, TN, and also am performing on Flute and Clarinet with the contemporary (Christian) music ensemble at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Bartlett, TN.
Sean Osborn, MM, clarinet, 1999. This past year, I've traveled to North Carolina, Japan, Croatia, and Alaska for concerto and chamber music performances. My new CD of Rose Etudes is getting great reviews, such as Gramopone Magazine:
"Splendid flexibility and expressive range..." "Osborn brings mellifluous beauty and agile ease to Rose's creations." I'm also currently editing my new CD of Mozart chamber music, which will be out in early 2008.
Michael Norsworthy (’99 B.M. Clarinet) is teaching at The Boston Conservatory and Columbia University. He is also an artist in residence at Harvard University with HGNM. Michael enjoys a very active concert schedule and is playing around the world as soloist and chamber musician. Recent collaborations and projects include Klangforum Wien (Vienna), Manhattan Sinfonietta (NY), Fromm Players at Harvard (Boston), Ensemble 21 (NY), ClarinetFest in Vancouver and he is director of the new annual Clarinet Day in Boston. He is a performing artist on the rosters for Buffet Crampon USA and Rico International. For more info, please visit:http://www.michaelnorsworthy.com
Roderick George, MM 96 sang Tamino in The Magic Flute with Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis summer of 07, and he also sang Rodolfo in "La Boheme" with them the previous summer. In October of 07 he will sing Don Ottavio in "Don Giovanni" with Asheville Lyric Opera. He teaches at the University of Montevallo.
Jonathan Perez, BM Voice Performance 2005: Summer 2007 will be performing daily at Busch Garden's Europe in Williamsburg VA until late Aug. Then a year touring with Theatre IV out of Richmond VA. Shows and parts are: Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk, Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, and Ugly in The Ugly Duckling.
Sara Alstat, BA and MM in Opera/Music Theater 2003 is Voice faculty at Rend Lake Community College.
Hollie Molesworth, MM 2005, is married and living in Italy with her husband and one-year old daughter, Cecilia.
Sokrates Frantzis, BA in Opera/Musical Theater, 1999. After several years performing in Portland, Sokrates is moving to La La Land (Los Angeles) to continue his performance persuits. He would love to connect with any Salukis there!
Sandra Agans, M.M. Opera/Music Theater 2004. Opera in the Ozarks as Rosina (Barbiere), Zita (Gianni Schicchi), La Badessa (Suor Angelica) 2006; Metropolitan Regional Auditions First Alternate 2005; Currently in St. Louis.
Erica C. Thomas, MM 1994 is Director of Cimarron Circuit Opera Company (CCOC) based in Norman, Oklahoma. Erica also teaches voice at Rose State College and is a candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. CCOC was founded by Thomas and Carol Brice Carey in 1975 and continues to provide opportunities for aspiring performers while educating. Check out our website www.ccocopera.org.
Nathan D. Arnett: MM O/MT 2001. Nathan is the Music Instructor and Applied Lessons Coordinator for John A. Logan College in Carterville, IL. He continues to direct college, community, and professional musical theatre in southern Illinois. He and Lauren reside in Carterville with their two children, Grace and Lily.
Lauren W. Arnett : MM O/MT 2001. Lauren is the choral instructor for Carterville, IL. She continues to maintain a private vocal studio and loves to spend her time being a wife and mother.
Jeff Miller: MM O/MT 2002 Jeff currently teaches voice for musical theater at Illinois Wesleyan University and is proud to have current and former students performing all over the world on national and international tours, and in scores of regional theaters. Jeff is married and has two children.
Gregory Tomlinson, MM 2014: Just got a job at Fox Products in South Whitley, Indiana. The position is for "bassoon adjusting". I do the final adjusting before brand new bassoons are shipped to their new homes. Fox Products is one of the leaders in double reed manufacturing - high quality oboes and English horns as well as, arguably, the highest standard of bassoons and contra bassoons in the world.