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Summer 2018

School News

SUNY Potsdam reunion 2018 took place in mid-July. This year the week included a number of reunion events for tuba and euphonium alumni. The Crane Alumni Tuba-Euphonium Weekend was hosted by Dr. Charles Guy, Professor of Tuba-Euphonium, along with special guest, faculty emeritus, Dr. Peter Popiel, and was capped by a Saturday evening concert in Hosmer Hall.

Awards were also given out during Reunion,  with three Crane School of Music alumni receiving awards this year:

Receiving the Helen M. Hosmer Excellence in Music Teaching Award were Jeffrey (’72) and Brenda Wheatley (’73) Vredenburg, who continue to serve Crane as Student Teacher Supervisors in the Albany Area.

Alongside the Vredenburg's was fellow Hosmer award winner Susan Vroman Cavanagh ‘77, who has been the choral teacher at Palm Harbor Middle School (Florida) for over 20 years.

Lastly, the Rising Star Award was given to Rebecca Kraft Benjamin ‘08/’09. Rebecca was cited in particular for her work in literacy and music. She completed a master's degree in literacy from the University at Albany and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education Theory and Practice/Language and Literacies Specialization at the University at Albany. She is also an active organist, and serves as a literacy specialist and new student case manager for the Schenectady County School District.

Congratulations to a wonderful group of alumni!

(Pictured below: Rebecca Benjamin, the Vredenburgs and Susan Vroman Cavanagh)

Crane Abroad

Twelve choral students biked 400+ miles across Germany, from Hamburg to Dresden, then spent a few days in Prague as part of a travel course led by Crane Professor and Choral Area Head Jeffrey Francom. Over the course of 14 days, they attended concerts in Hamburg (conducted by 2013 Dorothy Albrecht Gregory Visiting Conductor Christoph Prick) and Dresden; studied German history, culture, and food; visited many important museums and castles; and sang in nearly a dozen historical churches, including Wittenburg’s Castle Church, cathedrals in Magdeburg and Meissen, and churches in Hohenwarthe, Steckby, Dommitzsch, Torgau, Bortiz, Dresden, and elsewhere. Below are some pictures.

Crane also had summer travel course to Ireland with Dr. Shelly Tramposh and students in the newly formed Crane Irish Ensemble. 

Locally, the Norwood, NY Village Green summer concert series included a number of Crane connections. The concert series kicked off at the end of May with the St. Lawrence County Music Educators Association Pop Choral/Stage Band Festival, featuring ensembles from local school led by their teachers, who are nearly all Crane alumni:

  • Jonathan Pabis ('08 & ‘11), Hermon-DeKalb Jazz Band
  • Kyle Tupper ('13), Hermon-DeKalb Rock Ensemble
  • Matt Gayle ('07) Potsdam Middle School Chorus
  • Christina Rawady ('09 & ‘10) Potsdam Middle School Stage Band
  • Jonathan Hunkins ('97) Massena High School Jazz Band
  • Glenn Roberts ('89 & ‘96) Lisbon High School Jazz Band
  • Jonathan Burnett ('09 & '16) NNCS BelAires

The last group on the concert, the Potsdam High School Jazz Band, was led by Crane flute professor Jill Rubio.

Over the course of the summer, other Crane-connected acts included

  • Roots music performed by Crane violin professor Liesl Doty, bassist Karl Doty and mandolinist Joe K. Walsh
  • The Crieco Sisters, three of whom are Crane graduates: Toni Zygadlo ('73), Catherine Peyton ('76), and Lisa Smith ('95), who sang with Linda Ebensperger, and Mary Jo Walsh. The concert was a Father’s Day celebration.
  • The Northern Symphonic Winds, directed by Crane Professor Brian Doyle and Professor Emeritus Scott LaVine ('71). The band features a number of other Crane faculty, students and alumni.
  • The All Star Big Band, led by Wally Siebel ('68), and featuring a number of Crane alum, Crane Professor Bret Zvacek, and guest artist Darmon Meader, who also conducted workshops at the Crane Youth Music camp.
  • The Potsdam Brass Quintet, made up of Crane faculty members John Ellis, James Madeja, Lauren Becker, Mark Hartman, and Charles Guy.
  • The band Northbound which includes Crane alumni Don Cannamela ('97), Larry Baycura ('86), Andy Van Duyne ('75), Tim Savage ('84), Chip Lamson ('81), along with guitarist Michael Welch.

The 2018 Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar returned to Crane in May.  Fall Island is the brainchild of Artistic Director Stephanie Blythe (’92) with heavy lifting by Executive Director, Crane voice professor Lorraine Yaros Sullivan along with Music Director Alan Smith and Crane alum Daniel Mertzlufft (’15), who served as Assistant Director again.

Opera News

The Crane Opera Ensemble's production of Aaron Copland's The Tender Land was awarded 3rd place in the American Prize in Opera Performance, 2017-18 (College/university Division). Congratulations to musical director Kirk Severtson, and the entire production team, cast and crew! Joshua Borths also received Honorable Mention in Directing for Crane’s production of The Magic Flute in spring 2017. The Crane Opera Ensemble previously won the American Prize in Opera Performance in 2011 and 2012, as well as numerous awards from National Opera Association’s Collegiate Production Competition. It is also the host organization for the Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Competition, which awarded Tom Cipullo a commission for his opera Mayo, which will be premiered by the Crane Opera Ensemble in November 2018. 

Alumni News


Crane alum Stephen Travers (’13) joined Steinway & Sons as a Concert Services Administrator, working in a number of areas around Steinway artists, Concert & Artist pianos, and the Concert Services team. Prior to joining Steinway, Stephen worked for the New York Philharmonic and OPERA America, and he continues to work as a copyist/engraver for clients such as Boosey & Hawkes and the Leonard Bernstein Office. Stephen was a double major at Crane, earning a B.M. in both Music Business and Musical Studies (Music Theory & History). As an all-Steinway School, Crane is always pleased to see another familiar face at Steinway!

Crane congratulates Carol Rourke on her retirement this year at SUNY Potsdam. Carol graduated from Crane in 1981 and has served the College in a variety of roles, including Alumni Director and her retiring title, Executive Assistant to the President.  With the exception of a short hiatus while raising her family, she has been associated with SUNY Potsdam since she came as a Crane student at the age of 18, and has served under five Presidents and five interim Presidents.  In her campus roles Carol has continued to be a devoted alumna of Crane and strongly supportive of its students and programs.  We wish her well in a well-deserved retirement!

Kimberly Busch ('93), who received both her BM and MM in Music Education from Crane, was awarded the St. Lawrence County Arts Council's 2018 Arts Recognition Award. The award was presented by Suzy McBroom (on the right), SLC Arts' Executive Director, as a surprise to Busch during a Canton Central School grades 5/6 ensemble concert on May 30th. Each year, SLC Arts recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the arts in our area. The names of these community leaders are engraved on a plaque that hangs in the SLC Arts offices in Potsdam. Kim is an outstanding arts educator: In addition to her role as a middle school and high school vocal music director at Canton Central School, she directs Canton's musicals, and created and teaches a technical theatre class which designs and builds sets for the musicals. She also takes on volunteer roles in the St. Lawrence County Music Educators' Association, is the president of the Orchestra of Northern New York's Volunteer Guild, and helps with various music events at Potsdam schools.


We wanted to share this inspiring story which appeared in the Watertown Daily Times about Crane Alumnus Michael Tyo ('83), the Adams United Methodist Church organist for over 30 years Michael also performed a special concert to benefit the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Northern New York, of which he’s a member, at the Clayton Opera House in August.



The Crane School was represented well on July 4th in the capitol: Alums Christopher Roussey ('87) and Renée Fleming ('81) were both featured during the “A Capitol Fourth” show in Washington, DC this year. Renée Fleming '81 performed America the Beautiful with the National Symphony Orchestra and SGM Christopher James Roussey ’87 performed his last Capitol Fourth concert as a member of The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets. Roussey retires this Fall after 28 years of service in The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” (Thanks to Tracy Roussey for sending this picture our way).



Matthew Abernathy ('14) let us know that since completing graduate school in 2016 he's been on the music staff at Minnesota Opera where he is the Music Director of Project Opera, the company’s nationally recognized youth opera program. He has also served as Chorus Master for both the professional Adult Chorus and Children’s Chorus in several mainstage productions at the Minnesota Opera. Matt was a voice student at Crane, with a major in Musical Studies - Music Theory & History.



Kody Andreas ('16) presented a workshop at the 2018 Early Childhood Music and Movement Association International Convention at Buffalo State in June. Kody was one of the few public teachers to present at the conference, as most attendees and presenters came from universities (University of Maryland, University of Brazil, Temple University, etc.). Headliners included Patricia Shehan Campbell, Crane's Joy Anthony Douglass Visiting Master Teacher in 2016. Kody teaches at Nassau Elementary School.



Michael Hayden, Crane class of '97, is the superintendent of the Clyde-Savannah Central School District, in addition to being an accomplished percussionist. In early July, he was the closing speaker of the two-and-a-half day Wayne Finger Lakes Leadership Academy at the W-FL BOCES Conference Center. “I always said if I can change one kid’s life through music, then I’ve done my job,” Hayden noted in his talk.



Mikaela Davis ('14), harpist and songwriter and singer and band leader recently released her new album, Delivery, on Rounder Records. Her album tour will include upcoming concerts in Europe and the U.S.




David Williams' ('87) book The Enterprising Musician's Guide to Performer Contracts was praised in a glowing feature and interview in the summer 2018 edition of Classical Singer magazine, and a similarly positive review can be found in the June/July 2018 American Music Teacher magazine (the MTNA journal): "This is a book that could just as well serve actors, dancers and other performers who live in the 'next gig' world of freelancers everywhere...a great addition any performing artist's library." David is returned to the Crane faculty in the fall of 2018 as part of the Music Business faculty.


Recent alumnae Francesca Hilditch (Composition, ’18) spent the summer in Paris studying at the Nadia Boulanger Institute. In the fall, she will begin her Masters degree at the Royal Academy of London.

Ralph Hastings ('70) has published his eighth organ work, with Wayne Leupold Editions of Colfax, North Carolina. My Dancing Day uses varying compositional techniques, employs thematic material from Simple Gifts, a Shaker tune of 1848 by Joseph Brackett, and Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, a late Fourteenth century medieval Christmas carol. Retired from the music faculty of Malone Central School, Mr. Hastings is a member and past Dean of the St. Lawrence River Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and is presently serving on the Board of Trustees, Julia E. Crane Alumni Association. At Crane, he studied organ with James Autenrith and composition with Arthur Frankenpohl and Elliot DelBorgo. He was, for forty-seven years, organist at Malone’s First Baptist Church and presently serves as guest organist in area churches.


Todd Hobin ('72, BM Composition) was featured on the news website. Elissa May Murphy ('15 BM Performance/Music Business), who did her Music Business practicum with Todd as part of her degree at Crane, sent us the link, which is about Todd's musically-oriented recovery from two strokes in May, and his return to the stage with the Todd Hobin Band in July. We send all our best wishes for Todd's continuing recovery!

The full article is at



Curtis Karwacki ('16) checked in to let us know he recently received his Masters of Music - Cello Performance degree from the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music. He writes, "I’m taking auditions, starting a podcast, playing with bands, and enjoying the freelancer lifestyle."




Heather Taylor (’09, Flute Performance and Business of Music double major) was recently featured in the Asheville, North Carolina Mountain Express because she has released a new album, Undercurrents. The article detailed her journey from a flute performance major to a mandolin-playing singer-songwriter. For more,



Music and math double major Genevieve Ruhland (’18) was in the SUNY Potsdam alumni spotlight in June.



Student News


Crane freshman Christina Morris (Double Bass Performance and Music Theory double major) spent her summer with the National Youth Orchestra of The United States of America as one of just two conducting apprentices. Here she is leading a portion of full orchestra rehearsal from the podium, with coaching by Orchestra Director James Ross (Photos: Jennifer Taylor). The Youth Orchestra is organized and funded by the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute. This program accepts talented students from around the country and gives them a chance to come together and make beautiful music while simultaneously traveling the world and sharing their passions on an international level.


Crane junior Shavon Lloyd had his choral work So Breaks the Sun performed by the 18th Street Singers in Washington DC in June. Shavon's work was the winner of the group's 2018 choral composition competition. Shavon is a Music Education major, with a minor in Composition, studying voice with Dr. Lonel Woods. For more see

Olivia Phaneuf (Junior Music Education/Performance double major), Emma Karp (Junior Music Education major, pictured), and Eric Villalta (Senior Music Education/Performance double major) participated in the Great Plains Saxophone Workshop at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. At GPSW, they performed in Masterlasses, Saxophone Duets, Quartets, Octets, and a monster saxophone ensemble with over 150 saxophonists.


We wanted to highlight this SUNY Potsdam feature on Brandon Keough ('18), who completed the Performer's Certificate in Viola at Crane - as a non-music major. Bradon's degree is in geology, with a minor in wilderness education, but music was a big part of his life at SUNY Potsdam. We wish him well as he goes off to Purdue University for a graduate degree in geology this fall, confident he will continuing his musical life as well.

Senior trombonist Jenna Thomas (a Music Education and Performance double major) performed on a program entitled Don Winston and Friends in Port Washington, NY on June 9.  Jenna was invited to perform solo and ensemble pieces with New York Philharmonic trombonists Colin Williams and George Curran as well as euphonium soloist Demondre Thurman and Crane alum Burt Mason (’97). Other Crane alums performing in concert were members of the Steinway Street Brass – trombonist Stephen Souza (’06) and trumpeter Bradley Curtin (’10).  Other Crane alums were in attendance as well including Jerry Felker (’89), Stephen Whimple (’17), Joe Randazzo (’18), Danny Warburton (’17), and Tom Veltre (’78), as well as current students Richie Zec and Grant Schmidt. Jenna performed Eugene Bozza’s Ballade for trombone and piano and played in a premiere of a brass ensemble  by Tom Davoren entitled Magnificent and a trombone ensemble work by Steven Verhelst, Giant’s Tale.


Crane voice professor Donald George spent some of his summer on the faculty of the Scuola Italia program for opera singers in Sant'Angelo in Vado, located in central Italy. Also there, participating in the program, were Crane student Kimberly Casey (a senior vocal performance major) and Crane alum Nicholas Roehler ('16, performance major in both voice and piano), who are pictured below.

The SUNY Potsdam student group The Potsdam Pointercounts, have released a new recording, Hall of Fame. Audio samples are at




Music Education major Sean Hogan was one of the drum majors with the Madison Scouts. This is Sean's second season with the Scouts. He previously conducted at the 7th Regiment drum and bugle corps in 2016, and has previously worked on staff for the Arlington High School marching band in Lagrangeville, New York. Sean is a flute student in the studio of Jill Rubio.


SUNY Potsdam presented a wonderful student profile of Music Education major Dominique Santiago, who is a voice student in the studio of Margaret Chalker.



Faculty News


This year's winner for Boston's Best Classical Ensemble was A Far Cry, a Grammy-nominated string orchestra whose members include Crane violin professor, Liesl Schoenberger Doty - she's the one on the left with her arm up, by the way. (Her husband Karl is also a bassist the group.)



Crane Piano Professor Young-Ah Tak’s recording of Beethoven Sonata Op.31 No.3, recorded in New York City in February, has been added to Steinway’s Spirio catalogue, and was featured on the Spirio Highlights webpage. Dr. Tak is a Steinway Artist, and this is her fourth piece to be added to Spirio, Steinway’s high-resolution, 21st century player piano.  As with all items in the Spirio catalog, you can hear Dr. Tak’s rendition of the Op. 31 No. 3 wherever there is a Spirio piano.  And be sure to check out her other Spirio recordings: Beethoven’s Rondo in C and Sonata Op.10 No.2, and Debussy Images Book I.

Over the summer, Crane Music Education professor Peter McCoy presented at the Modern Band Summit in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dr. McCoy's paper, co-authored by professor emeritus Dr. Marsha Baxter, was Changing Clave: Engaging With Music Beyond the Filing Cabinet, and was part of the Modern Band Colloquium, the academic conference associated with the Summit.  Also at the summit were Crane alumni (pictured) Steven Underhill ('06), Ben Rybolt ('13), and Jacqueline Saunier ('16).





Assistant Professor Robert Docker spent a few days recently helping out in Syracuse, where the city schools are in the process of revving up their string program. The district will bring in new string teachers next year, but in the meantime, they are training their current general music, band, and choral teachers to teach beginning strings. Which is where Robert came in. We don't think they could have asked for a better teacher! Below are some of the Syracuse teachers, with Robert on the right leading the session. Sarah Gentile, Supervisor of Fine Arts for the Syracuse City School District noted, "Even my most resistant band folks had nothing but rave reviews of the three days-quite a compliment!" Robert will be returning again this fall to follow up with these brave new string teachers.

Research by Crane Music History professor Erin Brooks appeared in two publications this summer: her article Movies at the Met? Space and Meaning in Early Film Screenings, was featured in a special issue on silent film music in the journal American Music (Vol. 36, no. 1, 2018). In this work, Dr. Brooks analyzes the meaning of silent film exhibitions in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, and New York City's Metropolitan Opera House. She also contextualizes current relationships between performance spaces and musical genres by scrutinizing the distribution of filmed opera in movie theaters as well as "live synch” film scores by symphony orchestras in concert halls.

Dr. Brooks’s other recently published work discusses the role of history in two 19th-century grand operas by renowned French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Her chapter “Camille Saint-Saëns and Staging History: Henry VIII and Ascanio at the Opéra," appeared in The Many Faces of Camille Saint-Saëns, ed. Michael Stegemann (Turnhout, Brepols, Speculum Musicae, 2018). For more on this volume, which brings together 20 articles investigating Saint-Saëns and establishes an important building block for further studies, see