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Summer 2016 News

Crane Faculty News

Congratulations to Dr. Jerod Sommerfeldt on the publication of his book, Computer Music Composition with RTemix. Dr. Sommerfeldt reports that most of the examples in the book came from teaching his class Computer Music Programming at Crane. The book is available as a free iTunes download at

Accolades continue to pile up coice Professor Donald George’s book Master Singers: Advice from the Stage, co-authored with Lucy Mauro (Oxford University Press) The book recently received an excellent review in Opera a monthly magazine published in the UK. In addition, Professor George performed a concert at the Hochschule in Munich, Germany, of the complete songs of Nadia Boulanger (with Christiane Iven, soprano; Michelle Breedt, mezzosoprano; Donald Sulzen, piano).  The music was transcribed by Crane student William Zino with a Kilmer Award, as part of a research project.

Dr. Doug Rubio, was one of two recipients of the 2016 Thomas L. and Jane D. Russell Distance Education Faculty Excellence Award. There is no question that Dr. Rubio's online Music of the Beatles course is extremely popular!

Crane Alumni News

Sean Shibata (class of 2014) was awarded a competitive fellowship at the Taiko Center of the Pacific for 2015-2016 where he is studying from taiko expert Kenny Endo.  He is also working on his M.A. in ethnomusicology at the University of Hawai'i.

Derek Sager ('16) is now attending the Fred Fox School of Music at the University of Arizona for a Masters of Music degree in Horn Performance, studying with Greg Helseth and Daniel Katzen. This summer, he was in Potsdam in the pit orchestra for the CPS production of Mary Poppins.

Music Business major Mark Carr ('16) is enjoying his new position as Ensemble Librarian and Media Specialist for the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra.

This May, Crane was pleased to welcome back to campus the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar. The brainchild of mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe ('92) and pianist Alan Smith, this year the seminar welcomed composer Tom Cipullo as a guest artist this year, along with nine new fellowship artists (divided between vocalists and pianists). Daniel Mertzlufft (’15) also returned to Potsdam to serve as the Assistant Director for the Seminar, under Executive Director (and Crane faculty member) Carleen Graham.

The Scarsdale Middle School Band concert in May featured the latest collaboration between band director Nicholas Lieto ('90) and composer Rob Smith ('90), the premiere of Rob's Westchester Daydream. This is the third piece Rob and Nick have worked on together - previously they collaborated on 2014's Ear Bend and Pendulum, in 2015. Rob is an Associate Professor at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. As part of this project, Nick's group also commissioned one of Elliot Del Borgo's (Crane professor emertus) last works in 2013, America Panorama.

Vocalist Raquel Klein ('16) has been active with a number of new pieces since graduating in May. In June, Raquel performed in the NY Philharmonic Biennial at Lincoln Center with her chorus, premiering music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, along with composers Lisa Bielawa, Timo Andres, Gabriel Kahane, among others. In August, Raquel sang in the premiere of the Hubble Cantata, a virtual reality cantata by composer Paola Prestini (being produced by the New York Times and Google Glass), that bridges music and astrophysics, at Celebrate Brooklyn! (at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn). She is also an artist-in-residence at Harvestworks, a multi-disciplinary/multi-channel performing arts space and recording studio for digital music and visual art. In that role, Raquel will premiere an audio/visual work developed at the space in collaboration with several other artists in September. You'll also be able to hear Raquel on two recordings (set for 2017 release on New Amsterdam and Vision Into Art labels). One of the albums will be a recording of Black Mountain Songs, a musical homage to Black Mountain College. (Raquel told us, "I have been performing the music that will be on this album since my Freshman year of college.") The works were written by Caroline Shaw, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, Richard Reed Parry, John King, Tim Hecker, among others. The second record will be a recording of the soundtrack to Hubble Cantata. Her other projects include curating an electroacoustic "21st-century manifestation" of the 40-voice Renaissance motet, Spem In Alium in collaboration with 39 other composers. Requel will record the first voice and send it on to the next composer, who will send both parts on to the next composer, and so forth. The finished project will be projected via 40 speakers and installed at the Micro Museum. She also conducts weekly rehearsals at the Brooklyn Youth Chorus (working with them and singing in a song-cycle project titled Unsilent Voices set to premiere in May of 2017 at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House). And she’s been doing a little recording work for some film/television soundtracks. It can also be noted that Raquel was this year's Julia E. Crane Awardee during the Crane Honors Convocation.

Pianist Chelsea Frirsz Hillerich ('16) checked in with us to let us know that she is opening her own piano studio, the Hillerich Piano Studio ( in the Saratoga Springs area. She also is taking research she did at Crane as part of an independent study in piano pedagogy (with Dr. Kathryn Sherman), and revisiting and expanding on it through a blog.

On a lighter note: trombonist Burt Mason ('97) took a comic turn, appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert during a bit about Astronaut Ice Cream.  Burt played the role of a trombonist, so it was not much of a stretch! You can watch the whole bit online at

Crane Student News

Music Performance News:

The Crane Symphony Orchestra and Crane Chorus took to the Carnegie Hall stage in May, led by Dorothy Albrecht Gregory visiting conductor Duain Wolfe in a concert featuring Fauré’s Requiem, along with: Vaughan Williams (Serenade to Music); both Franck and Bruckner's Psalm 150; and the world premiere of Gary Fry's "Awake, Celestial Airs!" Crane graduate student Fei Ma, soprano, and Christopher Feigum, baritone, were the featured soloists in the Fauré. Other soloists included Crane students Xenia Cumento, soprano (Bruckner), and, in the Vaughen Williams, sopranos Xenia Cumento, Rebecca Farrell, Kate-Nicole Hoffman, Elizabeth Mirandi, Joanna Sanges; altos Amanda Joseph, Nora Kazemieh, Helena Waterous; tenors Sean Fahy, Jacob James, Ivan Jukic, Kirk McAuliffe; and basses Peter Guidash, Shavon Lloyd, Jameson Wells, and William Zino.

Congratulations to Crane harpist Anna Wiegandt, a student of Dr. Jessica Suchy-Pilalis, for being accepted into this year's USA International Harp Competition. The USA International Harp Competition, which takes place in Bloomington, Indiana in June, is the second most prestigious competition in the harp world, putting harpists through four live rounds of competition and requiring over three hours of prepared music. This is the 10th competition since its founding in 1989; the competition is held only once every three years. The nine previous competitions have included harpists from nearly 30 different countries. Anna, who is graduating from Crane this May, plans to return to Bloomington this fall, when she will be starting her Masters degree at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, studying with Susann McDonald.

Music Business News:

At the end of the 2016 spring semester, the SUNY Potsdam Experiential Education Office Newsletter featured Crane student Jack Dring in its student spotlight. Jack is a double major in Music Business and Trumpet Performance who came to Crane initially as a one-semester exchange student from Birmingham Conservatoire in England. Fortunately for us, Jack stayed! He fell hard for the music business program, developed a great relationship with his trumpet teacher, John Ellis, and got involved with Crane's vibrant jazz program (among many, many other things). This summer he completed his Music Business Internship with the Yamaha Corporation in Indianapolis, Indiana.

For the second time in a three-year span, two of Crane’s Music Business majors will be the NAMM interns for the entire year – only one student a time has this honor, so it’s a big deal for Crane that we again monopolized all of 2017! Samantha Sheats (a vocal student) will be the intern from the beginning of February, 2017 until July 31, 2017 and Jordan Olinsky (a trombonist) will take over for her beginning August 1 until the end of January 2018.