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Spring 2016 News

Crane School News

Come celebrated the Bicentennial of SUNY Potsdam at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The Crane Spring Festival concert kicked-off the SUNY Potsdam Lougheed-Kofoed Festival of the Arts in Hosmer Hall on Saturday, April 30. The concert then went on the road to Carnegie for a Sunday, May 8th concert. Guest conductor Maestro Duain Wolfe, from the Chicago Symphony Chorus, spent a week on campus working with students and then led the combined forces of the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra in both concerts. Christopher Feigum, baritone, joined Crane graduate student Fei Ma, soprano as guest soloist. Also performing: Crane faculty member Michelle Martin-Atwood, organ.

The program includes the world premiere of Gary Fry's Awake, Celestial Airs! and the Fauré Requiem. Also on the program are works by Vaughan Williams, Franck, and Bruckner. 

Crane Faculty News

The Potsdam Brass Quintet performed a concert at the 2016 International Brass Festival at the University of Florida, Gainesville on January 23rd. The PBQ is professors John Ellis, James Madeja, Lauren Becker, Mark Hartman, and Charles Guy. Their concert included works by Fisher Tull, Tomaso Albinoni, Thom Ritter George, Raymond Dempsey, Morley Calvert, and two Gershwin works.

Bassist and Crane faculty member John Geggie was featured in the Ottawa Citizen in January. John's group, the Journey Band, performed as part of the Ottawa Jazz Festival's Winter Fest in February, playing improvised music with influences ranging from Turkish folk tunes and Josquin des Prez to Bela Bartok and Ornette Coleman.

Dr. Brian K. Doyle, Director of Bands at Crane, was recently elected into the American Bandmasters Association, a prestigious honor. Membership in the ABA is by invitation only and recognizes the significant accomplishments and contributions of its members to the advancement of the Wind Ensemble and its literature. Founded in 1929 by famous band directors such as Edwin Franko Goldman, John Philip Sousa, A.A. Harding, Charles Benter, Victor Grabel and Arthur Pryor, the ABA has only about 300 members. It should be noted that one of its charter members, Charles O'Neill, was a Crane faculty member from 1938-47; O'Neill served as the ABA's very first vice-president and second president.

Crane flute professor Jill Rubio received the New York State Band Directors' Association Distinguished Service Award at NYSBDA's annual symposium. In addition to teaching at Crane, Jill is the band director for the Potsdam High School, a role that allows her a special perspective for our flautists who are music education majors.

The Music Library Association's 2016 Vincent H. Duckles Award for the best book-length bibliography or other research tool in music was presented to Crane's Edward Komara and Greg Johnson for 100 Books Every Blues Fan Should Own (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). Ed Komara has directed the Julia Crane Memorial Library since 2001. Both authors have served as Blues archivists at the University of Mississippi (Johnson currently holds the position). They were charged with what could best be described as their "dream desert island scenario": to compile their list of the top 100 books about the Blues. The award citation stated, "The authors' essays are delightful and extremely informative reading. The methodology and organization are clearly explained. The volume includes a healthy amount of added value, including a playlist that demonstrates something about each entry and a chapter describing the resources used to compile the list of 100 titles. The arrangement of the listing "by time coverage" allows the reader to construct a clear understanding of Blues history. Komara and Johnson's book honors Duckles the bibliographer and Duckles the historiographer by providing this doorway into the world of Blues scholarship. It is a special pleasure to award the Vincent H. Duckles Award to Edward Komara and Greg Johnson."

Pianist, and Crane Associate Professor, Paul Wyse performed the inaugural piano recital in Performing Arts Center's Proscenium Theater in March 2016. This was also his final Crane Faculty Recital, as Dr. Wyse is leaving Crane after fifteen years on the faculty. The concert, along with a profile of Dr. Wyse, was featured in a front-page article in the Watertown Daily Times. The all-Russian recital was enhanced by Dr. Wyse speaking briefly between works, and by a series of pictures accessible via Dr. Wyse's Facebook page - and therefore the rare event where audience members were encouraged to turn their smart phones on! The concert concluded with Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, an appropriate choice considering Dr. Wyse's other career as a painter and visual artist ( One of Dr. Wyse's projects in the last few years is working with Steinway and Sons on Long Island to design a new "art case" piano. In the Watertown Daily Times article, Dr. Wyse spoke of the piano being designed specifically for Pictures at an Exhibition, with aspects relating to the piece. For example, the keys of the piano will not be made of normal materials but of amber and bone, which is a reference to the eighth movement, The Catacombs, and the legs will be carved to resemble a "witch's hut", which is a reference to the The Hut on the Fowl's Legs movement. Dr. Wyse performed on the College's newest Steinway concert grand piano (which was of the ordinary variety), which he helped to select for the Proscenium Theater. This exact same Steinway piano was featured in an NPR video filmed at the Steinway factory. Also joining him for the concert was Crane faculty members Deborah Massell and Franois Germain, and Crane student Maxwell Howard.

Crane Alumni News

Crane alumna Stephanie Blythe ('92) was featured on the cover of the January 2016 edition Classical Singer, and then was featured in Opera News' Coda section in April. In this article she noted her long relationship with the magazine, stretching back to her time at SUNY Potsdam and Crane. It also included a terrific caricature of Stephanie as Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd (a role she played this fall in San Francisco). Lastly, despite the major snowstorm that nearly shut down NYC, SUNY Potsdam alumni and friends braved the snow to see Stephanie Sing America! at Carnegie Hall on January 23rd.

Jay Wanamaker ('77), President and CEO of Roland US, was profiled in Music Inc. magazine in January, and then, in April, he was interviewed for an article in the April issue of Music Trades Magazine. The issue features North America's Top Music & Sound Suppliers and highlights Roland's growth in the industry.

Trombonist James Dissinger ('06) is also an alum of the Long Island Youth Orchestra, which provides a thumbnail sketch of his activities on their website: "He is currently serving as a trombonist with Navy Band Northeast in Newport, Rhode Island, one of only eleven Navy Fleet Bands worldwide. Prior to his enlistment he performed for two years in the pit with the National Broadway Tour of Hairspray, which included a three-week engagement in Tokyo, Japan. He has completed multiple contracts with several cruise lines including Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises spanning all of the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Black seas and even up to Alaska and British Columbia." James is the founder of an entertainment agency,, recruiting highly qualified musicians for jobs aboard luxury cruise liners. More recently, he has been performing with a traveling production of the musical Shrek; in January the tour was performing in Istanbul, Turkey.

Cal Polytechnic Pomona University recently featured alumnae Jessie Vallejo ('07) on their website. Jessie joined Pomona as an Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicologylast fall. Read all about the cool things she's been up to since graduating from Crane here.

Jessie Thoman ('97) was also in the "faculty spotlight," this time for University of Tennessee - Martin's Department of Music website this winter. Dr. Thoman is Assistant Professor of Horn and Music History at UT Martin, and a member of the Mirari Brass Quintet and the Paducah Symphony.

In January, Crane alums Joseph Rosen ('62, clarinet), Vanessa Mulvey ('90, flute), and Mark Sophia ('12, oboe) joined Crane professors Carol Lowe (bassoon), and Lauren Becker (horn) in for a invitation-only recital of woodwind music. The program included quintets by Danzi, Reicha, Cohn, and Nielsen. The Manhattan recital was the inaugural event for the Joe and Christina Rosen Endowment for Crane Performance Travel.

This January saw the release of pianist Erika Tazawa's ('08) first solo album, Rhythm of Silence, on Belarca Records/Naxos, and available in all the usual places for purchase or download. Erika also informed us she performed at the Hot Springs Music Festival for several weeks this past summer, and then spent over a month in Austria as a staff pianist for AIMS Graz. She writes, "It was really rewarding to get to do all of the aspects of performing I love - chamber, solo, and vocal accompanying!"

Lydia Zervanos? ('10) book Singing in Greek was reviewed in the January 2016 issue of Classical Singer by Dr. Brian Manternach , who wrote, "With this volume, Zervanos has taken away the obstacle that, to this point, has prohibited wider exploration of Greek repertoire. In so doing, she has opened up a world of previously inaccessible music - and for this, singers everywhere can be grateful."

On Superbowl Sunday Crane alum Megan Weikleenget was on the field as one of 33 vocalists from the five uniformed services bands who sang America the Beautiful before Super Bowl 50. Her participation makes her the academy's first-ever representative at a Super Bowl. Read the full story here.

Crane alum Mark Ponzo ('79) came back to Potsdam to perform in February. The concert featured Mark on cornet alongside pianist JeongSoo Kim, in celebration of Mark's new CD, Vintage Cornet Recital (Mark Masters). Mark is also featured as a soloist on a recently released CD by the Northern Illinois University Wind Symphony.

Our thanks to our alumnus Paul Hunt ('50), whose substantial gift enabled us to move ahead with replacement of the acoustical shells in both Hosmer Hall and Snell Theater over winter break. Tune into one our streaming concerts to see the new shells (and hear some great music).

Crane Student News

Music Education News:

National String Project interns (and Crane students) Rachael Howard and Amanda Heaton had the privilege of representing the Crane National String Project at the ASTA National Conference, held in Tampa, Florida (March 2-5, 2016).

The presentation, Stories From Intern Perspectives, was featured as part of the NSP Best Practices session. It was an opportunity for Racheal and Amandato share their stories and listen to the terrific ideas that are taking place at String Project sites all around the country.

Crane students Derek Bull, Jaqueline Saunier, and Olivia Rehm presented alongside Crane professor Dr. Caron Collins and Dr. Danni Gilbert (Doane College) at the NAfME National Research and Teacher Educator Conference in Atlanta, March 18, 2016, another example of the research opportunities undergraduate students have at SUNY Potsdam. The session was on the Curious, Collaborative, Creativity approach to ensembles. Many important music educators and researchers spoke with the team, including the president of NAfME and renowned researcher and author, John Kratus.

Music Business News:

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation announced their 2016 President's Innovation Award Recipients recently. Of the 59 students from across the nation so honored (from 15 different colleges), 14 attend The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam - that's 24%! We are so proud of program director Kickie Britt, Crane professor Jim Petercsak, and everyone involved in the Music Business program at Crane. And a special shout-out to these wonderful students who are 2016 NAMM Innovation Award Recipients:

  • Thomas Benedetto, Hannah Coburn, Adam Emery, Christopher Goodwin, Lisa Morabito, Jordan Olinsky, Laurette Roddin, Brian Schuh, Samantha Sheets, Matthew Smith, Geoffry Snow, Logan Turner, Cassidy Vianese, and Laura Wendelin.

Meanwhile the Music Business majors and minors who interned at 2016 NAMM Show (January 21-24, 2016) are listed below with their assigned company. This year the group got an extended stay in California when the mega-snow storm back East disrupted their travel plans. But like the troopers they are, the group made the most of the extra time with an extra day of work at the NAMM show and a behind-the-scenes tour of a major Hollywood Studio.

  • Hannah Coburn and Chris Goodwin (Connolly Music)
  • Hannah Roberts, Laurette Roddin, Michael Rosenberg, and L.B. Wendelin (D'Addario & Co)
  • Cassidy Vianese (Dansr)
  • Logan Turner (Innovative Percussion)
  • Bobby Rosato and Jordan Olinsky (KHS Music)
  • Geoffrey Snow (Sabian Ltd)
  • Tom Benedetto and Adam Emery (Samson Technologies)
  • Brian Schuh (Sennheiser)
  • Lisa Morabito and Samantha Sheats (SKB Cases)
  • Jack Dring and Nick Leonard (Yamaha Corp. of America)
  • Matt Smith (Zoom North America)

We also need to sing the praises of our recent graduates. Typically the fall is our "quiet" semester when it comes to Music Business Internships.While this spring we have 11 students out on internships, there were just four who completed their internships in the fall, and we are proud to say they are now all working in the industry:

  • Rebekah Geiselman took a position at her internship site, Uzan international Artist, a leader in international artist management based in New York City.
  • Rebecca Scholldorf also continued on at her internship site, Dansr, an Illinois-based leader in the products industry.
  • Katelyn Donohue stayed on at her internship site, The Syndicate, an entertainment marketing agency.
  • Daniel Kurtz began at the Nashville, Tennessee office of performance-rights giant ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers).

Music Performance News:

Dr. Brian Doyle led the Crane Wind Ensemble on their spring tour in March. The Wind Ensemble performed at Maple Street Middle School (in Saratoga Springs, NY), Harrison High School (Harrison, NY), and Niskayuna High School (Niskayuna, NY), culminating with a concert at the Eastern Division Conference of the College Band Directors National Association (at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT). The Wind Ensemble's program featured works by Agusta Read Thomas, Joni Greene, Chen Yi, Kristin Kuster, Roshanne Etezady, and Frank Ticheli.

The Texas Music Festival Orchestral Institute is one of the premiere summer music opportunities for college students in the U.S., and Crane trombonistStephen Whimple, student of Mark Hartman, was accepted as an orchestral fellow, which includes a scholarship covering tuition and housing. The program is hosted at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music. Each year the TMF Orchestral Institute accepts only enough students to fill one orchestra from applications that come from all over the world.

The Akropolis Reed Quintet was on campus in February for a residency, during which they performed and work with students. The Quintet spent time reading works by Crane student composers, and also had masterclasses with reed students.