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Music News 2017-2018

SMSU Jazz Ensemble Performs for Local Charter School  (10/18/2017)

Ryan Ohm and Samuel Roden trade solos on Freddie FreeloaderThe members of the SMSU Jazz Ensemble recently performed for an all-school assembly at the Milroy Area Charter School.  The band performed a number of pieces representing different styles of jazz.  The performance was made possible through collaboration with the Milroy school's band director, Mr. Tom Vondracek.  Mr. Vondracek has taught music in southwest Minnesota for many years not only at Milroy but at Westbrook-Walnut Grove.  In fact, one of his former students, Samantha Hotzler, currently plays bass in the jazz ensemble.  He also serves as the trumpet instructor for the SMSU Music Program.  In addition to their excellent musical performance, band members also demonstrated each instrument for the students in order to encourage all the students to join the band when possible.  Dr. Ginocchio told all the students that he hoped that someday, they might be playing in the SMSU Jazz Ensemble.

SMSU Music Students Benefit from Guest Clinician's Masterclass  (10/18/2017)

Drew Neneman works with Patrick RoweOn October 18th, the SMSU Choral and Vocal Studies Program hosted a Guest Voice Masterclass led by Drew Neneman. Drew is from Omaha, Nebraska where he is Music and Liturgy Director at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church and instructor at SNJ Studio of Music where he keeps a private voice studio serving young adults from 14 districts in 2 states. Mr. Neneman holds a Master's Degree in Vocal Performance and a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. An avid performer of classical and vernacular music, he keeps a full performance schedule as a liturgist, pianist, soloist and songwriter. While at SMSU, Drew worked with four of our wonderful voice students: Rachael Blake, Patrick Rowe, Taylor Engel and Margaret Wolverton. Our singers learned a great deal from the experience. Thank you, to Dr. Anna DeGraff for setting up this wonderful opportunity for our students. And thank you, Drew!

SMSU Chorale Hosts Annual "Singfest"  (10/17/2017)

Dr. Kingsbury's selfie with Singfest participantsOn Monday, October 16th, the SMSU choirs played host to over 250 area high school students for our fourth annual SingFest. Participating students engaged in a full day of sectionals and mass-choir rehearsal that culminated in a recording session of four fabulous pieces. Sectional rehearsals were led by SMSU student section leaders, Illana Peter, Malorie Hudson, and Noah Anderson.  The full rehearsals were conducted by SMSU Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Stephen Kingsbury.  Participating students were also treated to a mini concert by the SMSU Chorale. Thank you to all who attended, and thank you to the members of the Chorale for being such wonderful hosts!

SMSU Voice Majors Perform at the Governor's Pheasant Opener  (10/13/2017)

SMSU vocalists sing for the Governor's Pheasant OpenerOn Friday, October 13th, several members of the SMSU Chorale sang the National Anthem at the banquette for the Governor's Pheasant Opener.  Now in its seventh year, The Governor’s Pheasant Opener was started by Governor Mark Dayton in the fall of 2011.  The event is meant to highlight the Minnesota tradition of celebrating the opening of pheasant hunting season.  It is also meant to highlight the contribution that hunters make to the local economy.  The event began with a banquette for 300 people at the conference center at SMSU, and continued the next day by a pheasant hunt led by Governor Dayton, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, and various DNR officials.  It was an honor for the members of the Chorale to be asked to sing at an event that gave the SMSU Choral program great exposure on the state-wide stage. 

SMSU 50th Anniversary Celebrated by the Music Program  (10/2/2017) 

The Music Program was heavily involved in the celebration of the university's 50th Anniversary over Homecoming weekend.  On September 29th, the SMSU Jazz Ensemble and SMSU Chorale performed for the University Gala, and annual event intended to raise money for scholarships at SMSU.  Both ensembles performed during the Social Time prior to the dinner. 

2017 Alumni Pep BandThe Mustang Pep Band hosted an Alumni Pep Band, also in honor of the 50th Anniversary.  Over thirty band alumni returned to perform during the first half and half-time of the Homecoming football game on September 30th.  Alumni from as early as 1972 and as recent as last year's graduating class participated in this special event.  The band was also pleased to welcome two previous directors of the pep band, Dr. Alan Taylor and Dr. David Peterson to direct the band during the half-time performance. 

Alumni with Dr. TaylorThe Southwest Minnesota Orchestra helped to bring the Homecoming festivities to a close with their "All-American Concert" on October 1st.  The program featured music by American composers including current SMSU Music Program faculty member, Dr. Peter Lothringer and Emeritus Professor, Robert Butler Whitcomb.  The SMSU Chorale collaborated on the performance of  Whitcomb's piece Ear Abounding: An Ode to Music with text written by former SMSU English Professor, Philip Dacey.  This work was conducted by the Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Stephen Kingsbury.  Director of the Orchestra, Dr. Daniel Rieppel was also a featured pianist on George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, conducted by Director of Bands, Dr. John Ginocchio.  The orchestra was also pleased to host SMSU Music Alumnus, Mr. Ryan Hugh Ross and his wife, Siân Cameron as featured vocalists on Aaron Copland's Old American Songs.  Over the weekend, Ryan Ross was also recognized as the 2017 Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award Recipient by the SMSU Alumni Association. 

Band Program hosts Tami Tango Residency  (9/25/2017) 

Eduardo Tami on fluteIn collaboration with the Student Activities Office and the SMSU Spanish Program, the Bands hosted a residency by flautist Eduardo Tami covering the history and development of Argentinian Tango music on September 21 & 22.  The guest spoke with all Spanish classes and the Survey of World Music Course.  He also lead a workshop on the authentic performance of tango music with all of the music majors at SMSU.  The residency culminated with a concert featuring Mr. Tami and his guest pianist along with the SMSU Jazz Ensemble.




SMSU Music Students attend performance of "The Firebird" by the Minnesota Orchestra (9/18/2017) 

On September 15, 2017, seven students and one music faculty traveled to Minneapolis to attend the season opening concert of the Minnesota Orchestra which featured "The Firebird Suite" by Igor Stravinsky; the Minnesota premier of Violin Concerto No. 2 by Anders Hillborg; and "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" by John Adams.  The music faculty are encouraging music students to attend more live concerts by professional musicians.  While the Music Program brings in numerous guests each year, the faculty believe that students will benefit musically from exposure to added concerts of different genres.  The trip to Orchestra Hall was only the first of several opportunities that will be provided to SMSU music students during the year.  Plans are in the works for similar trips to Minneapolis and St. Paul to see the Minnesota Opera performance of "Rigoletto" in March as well as the touring production of "Something Rotten" at the Orpheum Theatre in April.

Music Faculty Receive Individual Artist Grants  (9/8/2017) 

Over the summer two members of the SMSU Music Faculty received Individual Artist Grants from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council (SMAC) to aid in their continued artistic and professional work.  As stated on their website, The Southwest Minnesota Arts Council "seek(s) to encourage growth and development of the Arts in Southwest Minnesota by serving as a source of funds and technical services which enable local organizations, educational institutions and individuals to sponsor and/or create and promote the Arts in their communities."  SMAC grants are awarded with funds from the McKnight Foundation.  Individual artist grants recognize regional artists and assist in their career development and artistic activities. 

Dr. Anna DeGraff (adjunct voice instructor) received a grant from the SMAC for her project, “Sounds of Southwest Minnesota.”  For this project, four different composers with Minnesota ties will each write one orchestral song setting texts by poets connected to SMSU.  Dr. DeGraff will premiere all four orchestral songs at the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra’s spring concert on April 29, 2018. 

Dr. Ginocchio  photoDr. John Ginocchio (Professor of Music, Director of Bands) also received a grant in support of his study of the music of the Festival of Moors and Christians.  Dr. Ginocchio will travel to Valencia, Spain in March and April to conduct first-hand analysis of the Moorish and Christian marches written and performed at area festivals.  He will study unpublished examples of the music and speak with performers, conductors, and composers about this tradition of music.  Following this travel, he will conduct examples of this music with several community bands in the region including the Marshall Municipal Band, the Tracy Community Band, the Mankato Area Community Band, the Swift County Community Band, and the St. Cloud Municipal Band.  He will also present informational sessions for these communities on the history of the festival and the role of the music in their celebration.


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