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Fall 2016 News

Crane School of Music News

The Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize was founded by Dr. Gary C. Jaquay (’67) to honor his life partner Domenic J. Pellicciotti, an ardent fan of opera. The award seeks to encourage and acknowledge the creation of new opera works that explore themes related to tolerance, inclusion or the celebration of diversity within an inclusive community. The prize is the middle of its second iteration at Crane, which will result in a new commissioned opera to be premiered in 2018. In September, we welcomed the four finalists to campus, each of which had composed twenty minute excerpts from their proposed operas.

The four finalists were:

  • Patrick Soluri, composer; Deborah Brevoort, librettist. Project title: Albert Nobbs
  • Tom Cipullo, composer & librettist. Project title: Mayo
  • Anthony Davis, composer; Joan Ross Sorkin, librettist. Project title: The Reef
  • Lori Laitman, composer; Leah Lax, librettist. Project title: Uncovered

For more about the artists and their proposals, see

On September 23rd, the composers, librettists, and Dramaturg Cori Ellison participated in a panel discussion introduced by Crane composition faculty member Timothy Sullivan, and moderated by Mark Campbell and Darren Woods. The next day, Crane students, alumni and faculty performed minimally staged versions of the four finalists’ work. There was time for audience feedback after each piece, moderated by Darren Woods.

After all of that input, the judges had to make their decision, and we are thrilled to announce Tom Cipullo's Mayo as the 2018 Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize recipient! The selection committee was impressed with the compelling themes and scenes from each of the finalists, so selecting just one to commission was not an easy task. We look forward to the next two years as Mayo's story is brought to life on stage in November 2018! Congratulations, Tom!

For more:

Below: Crane faculty David Pittman Jennings and Lorraine Sullivan perform in Tom Cipullo’s “Mayo.”

The Crane School of Music was honored to be host of a November 2nd New York City roundtable on the future of music education, with SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and Crane alumnae Reneé Fleming ('81) serving as moderators. Among the participants were Michael Brownell ('88), President of NYSSMA and Crane School Dean, Michael Sitton. Much thanks also to our fellow sponsors of this event, the Johnson Center for Leadership in Music Education, Janice Rowlands Johnson ('56) and Roger Johnson.

The film For the Love of the Mambo was screened on Monday, September 26, 2016 at the Roxy Theater in Potsdam as part of the Roxy’s Cinema 10 film series. The screening was followed by a Q and A session with the film's directors, Crane faculty member Dr. Marsha Baxter and SUNY Potsdam video production instructor Doyle Dean. Afterward, the Crane Latin Ensemble performed at Maxfield's. For the Love of the Mambo has been screened at a film festival in Mumbai, New Mexico as well as last year's St. Lawrence International Film Festival. For more:

The 8th Annual Sandy Feldstein Music Business Roundtable took place on Saturday, September 24, 2016 in the Proscenium Theatre at the Performing Arts Center. This year's panel, moderated by professor Carol "Kickie" Britt (center), included (left to right): Troy Woolwage (Marketing Manager, Percussion, for Yamaha Corporation of America); Scott Goodman (Crane ‘78: CEO, Zoom North America); Joe Testa (Crane ’91; Director of Artist Relations, Vic Firth Company); Dana Hofseth (Director, Human Resources and Administration, NAMM, the International Products Association).

The 2016 Crane Piano Pedagogy Conference took place on Saturday, September 17, 2016, and featured clinician Dr. Julie Knerr co-author of the Piano Safari method, and Crane Assistant Professor Dr. Young-Ah Tak as the featured performer. Piano teachers from around the Northeast attended the annual conference. Drs. Knerr and Tak are pictured below.


The Potsdam Clarinet Summit took place on September 16-17, 2016, hosted by the Crane Clarinet Studios. Master classes, recitals and clinics were presented for students at the Crane School of Music and the public by our 2016 artists:

  • National Symphony Clarinetist Eugene Mondie,
  • University of Michigan faculty Chad Burrow and Dan Gilbert,
  • Rochester Philharmonic Clarinetist Andrew Brown,
  • Christina Rawady, Potsdam Middle School Band Director (BM ’09, MM ’10)
  • Jennifer Guzman, DMA Candidate, University of North Texas (BM ’11), and
  • Rebecca Scholldorf, Coordinator of the Vandoren Regional Artist Program (BM ’15).

The 2016 Joy Anthony Douglass ’56 Visiting Master Teacher, Patricia Shehan Campbell, was in residence September 26 – 28, 2016 at The Crane School of Music. Campbell is a specialist in music in early and middle childhood, world music pedagogy, sociology of music, and music and movement. A world-renowned scholar, she has written or co-authored many books on music education including Music in Childhood, Teaching Music Globally, Songs in Their Heads, and Lessons from the World.

Campbell is the Donald E. Petersen Professor of Music at the University of Washington (in Music Education and Ethnomusicology) and the Chair of the Smithsonian Folkways Board.

Joseph Alessi, the principal trombonist with the New York Philharmonic, was in residency at Crane for several days, culminating in a performance with the Crane Wind Ensemble (directed by Brian Doyle) on Friday, October 21, 2016, where he performed (for only the third time) a consortium premiere of a new trombone concerto written for him by composer Steven Bryant. Alessi also conducted several masterclasses with trombone and brass quintet students.

Soprano Lisa Vroman ('79) worked with Crane voice students in a master class in September while in town to celebrate the closing celebration of Take the Lead Campaign, and we extend a special thanks to her for being one of the Campaign co-chairs (along with Michael Galane, '74). Ms. Vroman worked with Ivan Jukić ‘18 (tenor), Samantha Sheats ‘17 (soprano), Sarah Solari ’19 (soprano), Shavon Lloyd ‘19 (baritone), Brett Roden ’18 (baritone), Andrew Morrison ‘19 (tenor), and Nora Kazemieh ('17).

Other guests in October included Crane alumnae Margaret Lattimore (’91) on October 20, 2016, and two-time Tony-award winning Broadway actor and singer George Hearn on Friday, October 21, 2016. Ms. Lattimore is Grammy nominated mezzo-soprano, and she gave one of the Crane alumni concert series concerts and also coached students during a vocal masterclass. Mr. Hearn, best known for originating the role of Albin in La Cage aux Folles, was a guest of the music business program, speaking to students in Music Business I.

Student News

Crane Concerto winner, flautist Julia Murray (class of 2017), performed the Carl Nielsen Concerto for Flute and Orchestra with the Crane Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Peter Folliard in October. Julia is flute performance student from Saranac Lake, NY in the studio of Kenneth Andrews.

Students Matt Tichy (trombone) and Matthew Boice (bassoon) were recently selected to play in the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) National Small Band Programs Intercollegiate Band in March of 2017.  This was a competitive process, and Crane was one of the few schools were allowed more than a single applicant. Matt and Matthew are both Performance major (although Mr. Tichy is also a Music Education double major). The National Small Band Programs Intercollegiate Band will rehearse and perform in conjunction with the 2017 National Conference of CBDNA (March 15-18, 2017) in Kansas City. Gary Green, Professor Emeritus from the University of Miami Frost School of Music will be the clinician for the band, and the repertoire included a world premiere of a new work by Donald Grantham!

As is typical, a group of Crane vocal students went to the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition (Central New York/Finger Lakes Chapter) in October. Due to some other vocal-type events on our calendar, only five students attended this year (with some 200 students participating altogether). In the Classical Division, two students placed: Shavon Lloyd (’19) was 1st Place in the Second Year Collegiate Men category, and Karina Roman (’18) was 2nd Place in the Second Year Female category. Both are students of Lonel Woods. In the Musical Theater category (Upper Division), Bridget Moriarty’s student, Sean Fahy (’17) was 2nd Place.

We are pleased to announce that Stephen Whimple, a senior Performance major at Crane (and a student of Mark Hartman) is a finalist in the Big 12 Solo trombone competitions. The finals will take place in January at Texas Tech University as part of the Big 12 Trombone Conference. Stephen was among only three finalists in the Yamaha-Xeno Tenor Trombone Solo Competition, alongside students from Baylor and University of Texas at Austin. 

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) President/CEO (and recent SUNY Potsdam honorary degree recipient) Joe Lamond recently announced the NAMM Foundation's prestigious President’s Innovation Award winners. There were 60 names on the list, all outstanding college music students exploring a career in music education, music business and/or music products. Fifteen of those names are Crane students, a whopping 25%. The awards provide these students with a stipend to attend The 2017 NAMM Show, the annual global music products trade show held in Anaheim California, January 19-22, 2017. The Crane recipients are Adam Hammer, Alison Evans, Andrew Dik, Bailey Holmes, Brent Spreter, Declan Lynch, John Hylkema, Johnna Bernard, Joseph Randazzo, Luca Esposito, Michael Hahn, Morgan Cluck, Nick Avery, Paul McKay, and Sara Difiore. For more:

The Crane School of Music Sigma Alpha Iota chapter, Gamma Delta, received the Province Collegiate Chapter Leadership award and the Regional Collegiate Chapter Leadership awards for the 2015-2016 school year. The province award is given annually to a chapter whose officers and members have achieved distinction in fulfilling the National Objectives, local and national obligations. Their regional award is selected from all province winners within region 8, which consists of the whole northeast. Congratulations to chapter president Anne Incontro and all of the SAI sisters!

Faculty News

Crane welcomed an unusually high number of new faculty this fall. Starting as Assistant Professors were Young-Ah Tak (piano), Michael Vitalino (music theory), Erin Brooks (music history), Rosemarie Suniga (keyboard), Lauren Becker (horn), and Liesl Schoenberger Doty (violin). We also welcomed in Miles DeCastro as the school’s new Instrument Technician and Russ Faunce as Student Teacher Supervisor in the Syracuse area.

We also had a number of visiting faculty, including Bethany Cencer (music history), Paul Reynolds (viola), Casey Grev (saxophone), Nils Klykken (choral conducting), Phil Salathe (music theory and composition), Jarrett Larson (keyboard), Bridget Moriarty (voice), Peter Folliard (conducting), and David Mathie (trombone techniques).

Violinist Liesl Schoenberger Doty was on stage as part of the Boston ensemble A Far Cry (pictured below) at Jordan Hall in Boston to open their 10th Season in September. A Far Cry are a self-conducted, democratic string orchestra with rotating leadership and self-curated programming. The centerpiece of the September program (entitled "Memory") was Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, which the ensemble performed without any music.

Music education professor, Dr. Caron Collins presented at the National Association for Music Education National Teacher In-Service Conference in Grapevine, Texas in November. Dr. Collin's talk (Curious, Collaborative, Creativity: Empowering Ensembles with 21st Century Skills) relates directly to her work with the Campus Community Band at Crane. Her research was partially funded by the new Flatt-Mango Family Endowment for Music Education Research.

The National Arts Centre Orchestra (Canada) released a CD this fall which includes Crane faculty member Anna Hendrickson on oboe. Anna is a regular member of this orchestra, and this recording of baroque music includes some fabulous oboe work by Anna and her fellow oboist (and fellow "Anna") Anna Petersen in Handel's Entrance of the Queen of Sheba.

The Orchestra of Northern New York, under the direction of Crane Professor Kenneth Andrews, featured Crane's Doug Rubio as guitar soloist in Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez in concerts in Potsdam  and Watertown in October. Then their colleague, mezzo-soprano Colleen Skull, was featured in ONNY Holiday Magic concert in December.

Doug Rubio was also featured at Onondaga's Day of Guitar Festival in November.

A new CD of Liszt songs features six world premieres of variant Liszt editions which are a product of research by Crane's Dr. Michael Vitalino, Assistant Professor of Music Theory. Dr. Vitalino also wrote the liner notes for the release, which is on MSR Classics.

Crane's new music history faculty members, Dr. Erin Brooks and Professor Bethany Cencer, both presented papers in at the national meeting of the American Musicological Society in Vancouver. Dr. Brooks analyzed the screening of early motion pictures in classical music venues, and Professor Cencer discussed portable musics in 18th century England.

The annual Crane Candlelight Concert in Hosmer Hall featured the premiere of Laude! by Crane Professor Dr. Gregory Wanamaker, featuring lyrics by Garth Bardsley. Other highlights included the premiere of Alleluia, Venite Gaudete by Gary Fry (who composed a new work for the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra in honor of SUNY Potsdam's bicentennial last year), solo turns by Crane Professor soprano Deborah Massell, Crane alumnae and frequent accompanist Nancy Hull (on the accordion, not the piano), and of course the audience sing along. Jeff Francom conducted the combined forces of the Crane Symphony Orchestra and Crane Chorus.

As part of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) annual meeting, which took place in Dallas, TX in mid-November, Dean Michael Sitton was elected as a member of NASM’s Commission on Accreditation.

Alumni News:

David Bojanowski ('14) informed us he is now telecommuting to his position at the League of American Orchestras as he begins a graduate certificate in Viola Performance at Penn State. Meanwhile, Crane alumni Daniel Els ('16) has joined the League of American Orchestras team. Both David and Daniel were Music Business majors at Crane.

In August, the Saratoga Performance Arts Center presented An Evening with Renée Fleming (Crane class of '81), part of SPAC's 50th anniversary. The concert was sponsored by SUNY Potsdam, and Renée was accompanied by the Philadelphia Orchestra with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting.

In November, several Crane graduates were announced as winners in the first edition of the international Art of Chamber Music competition, including Drew Lammly (’15) and Sam Detweiler (’12) as members of the first prize Eos saxophone sextet (pictured below) , Jen Guzman (’11), in third prize with the WindWorks wind quintet, and  Austin Lamarche (’13), in first prize with the Dressage percussion trio.

Crane alum Tucker Biddlecombe (’98) was recently named the 11th Director of the Nashville Symphony Chorus This is in addition to his position as Associate Professor and Director of Choral Activities at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music.