Faculty Notes for Winter/Spring 2012-13

Melia Watras
Violist Melia Watras (Photo: Rosemary Wagner)

Good reviews, new transcriptions, and an upgraded chair position are among noteworthy updates from School of Music faculty for Winter and Spring Quarters 2012-13.

Gramophone magazine singles out violist Melia Watras, chair of the UW Strings program, for particular praise in a recent review of her CD Short Stories. In a write-up in the February 2013 issue of the magazine, reviewer Donald Rosenberg remarks on Watras’s “insatiable curiosity about solo music for her instrument” and declares her “an artist of commanding and poetic personality,” able to present the viola as a “charismatic musical voice on a level with its high-flying and usually more extrovert colleague, the violin.” Watras’s musical collaborator, pianist Kimberly Russ, also receives high praise, and as a duo the musicians are credited with investing the recordings with “plenty of vinegar and honey.” Short Stories, a collection of works from the early 1990s to 2008, is available through Fleur de Son Classics, Ltd.

Choral conducting professor Geoffrey Boers has maintained a busy travel schedule of guest conducting and teaching appearances recently, taking him to multiple states and abroad. Earlier this academic year, he conducted All-State choirs and led master classes for area conductors in Georgia, Wyoming, and Utah (where he conducted a 600-member choir in the famous Mormon Tabernacle). During Winter Quarter, Boers traveled to Seoul, Korea where he was guest artist with the Incheon City Chorale, conducting the group in a well-reviewed concert on March 5. In addition to his concert with the Chorale, Boers led master classes at local universities, working with graduate and undergraduate conductors. During Spring Quarter, he travels to Wiesbaden, Germany to conduct a concert by a U.S. Armed Forces Honor Choir.

Timothy Salzman has also been on the move in recent months, with multiple guest conducting and teaching gigs throughout the United States and beyond. The director of UW bands and band conducting has had little down time during 2012-13. In November, he guest conducted the Southeast Asia High School Honor Band in Manila, Philippines, and one week later jetted to Anchorage, Alaska to work with students from 15 counties in the Alaska Music Educators All-State Band. In February, UW Bands hosted the 25th Annual Pacific Northwest Band Festival, with 28 area junior high and high school bands and their conductors performing at Meany Theater for guest clinicians from Tokyo, Singapore, and Boston. That month Salzman also guest conducted the University of Kentucky High School Honors Wind Ensemble in Lexington. Finally, in March, Salzman headed to Beijing, arriving ten days before the 60 members of the UW Wind Ensemble participating in the 2013 China Tour. In the nine days before the full band arrived to perform concerts at various prestigious venues throughout Beijing (read more about the tour here), Salzman led 11 master classes, including sessions at the China Conservatory, with the Beijing Police Band, and at numerous high schools and middle schools in Beijing.

Rhonda Kline, opera coach and coordinator of accompanying at the School of Music, recently made her recording debut on a CD of Nordic songs performed by soprano Mimmi Fuller, professor of voice and opera and chair of vocal studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kline is one of two pianists featured on Voyage Home, a March 2013 release on the Centaur label.

Piano professor Craig Sheppard marked his eighth recording turn with Romeo Records with the April release of Claude Debussy: 24 Preludes.  A live recording made October 22 and 23, 2012 at the UW's Meany Theater, the CD documents the first half of Sheppard's 2012-13 foray into the music of Debussy, a musical journey he continues on April 16 at Meany Theater with a performance of the composer's Twelve Etudes and shorter works. As with all of Sheppard's UW concerts, the performances on this CD were conducted on Sheppard's own Hamburg Steinway D #489770, built in 1984 and recently refurbished by UW piano technician Doug Wood.

Artist in Residence Jeffrey Fair, who joined the School of Music faculty in Fall 2012, has been appointed principal horn of the Seattle Symphony. Music Director Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony announced in March the appointment of Fair to the position of the Charles Simonyi Principal Horn. Fair joined the Seattle Symphony horn section as Assistant Principal in 2003, and has served as Principal Wagner Tuba for six cycles of Seattle Opera’s Ring of the Nibelung.

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra will feature Duke Ellington’s “Reminiscing in Tempo” in its April Jazz of the Harlem Renaissance performances at Benaroya Hall and the Kirkland Performance Center. The score for this work, originally recorded by the Ellington Orchestra in 1935, has never been published and was transcribed for performance by SRJO co-director Michael Brockman, longtime saxophone instructor at the School of Music. Brockman says this work and additional pieces on the program (such as 1930 hit Mood Indigo) were chosen to illustrate Ellington’s artistic evolution from writer of popular dance music to composer of extended works for jazz orchestra. Ellington’s artistic development has long been a subject of keen interest to Brockman, who explored the artist’s growth as a composer in his doctoral dissertation.