Autumn 2020 Student and Alumni Notes

  • Max Shaffer
    Alumnus Max Shaffer (’20 BM, Classical Guitar) has released his first album.
  • Kelsey Guo
    Music Education doctoral student Ke (Kelsey) Guo is engaged in research about Sephardic musical traditions.
  • Alumna Julia Tai
    Alumna Julia Tai has been chosen to lead the Missoula Symphony Orchestra.
  • Doctoral student Gabriela Garza
    Doctoral student Gabriela Garza has been named Music Director of the Poulsbo Community Orchestra.
  • Music Ed graduate students involved in the 20th year of Music Alive! in the Yakima Valley.
    UW graduate students (left to right): Skúli Gestsson, Cameron Armstrong, Juliana Cantarelli Vita, Jack Flesher, and Kaity Cassio Igari collaborated on recent publications (Photo courtesy Patricia Campbell).

School of Music students and alumni report recent academic appointments, performances, career milestones and other notable achievements.

Alumna Julia Tai (’10 DMA Orchestral Conducting) was recently appointed Music Director of the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale. A student of the late UW conducting professor Peter Erös, Tai was selected from among five conductors vying for the position with the Western Montana ensembles. Since completing her UW doctoral studies, Tai co-founded (with School of Music Composition alumnus Jérémy Jolley) the Seattle Modern Orchestra and serves as music director of Seattle-based chamber orchestra Philharmonia Northwest.

UW Voice students Natalia Valvano and Mavis Chan, students of Carrie Shaw, placed in the divisional competition of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition in October. Chan took third place; Valvano won first place and will be featured in the organization’s Honors Recital in January 2021.

Doctoral student Gabriela Garza Canales (DMA Orchestral Conducting) was recently appointed Music Director of the Poulsbo Community Orchestra, a non-profit volunteer ensemble performing several concerts per year in the North Kitsap community. During her degree studies at the UW, Garza has served as co-conductor of the UW Campus Philharmonia Orchestras and assistant conductor of the UW Symphony Orchestra. In November 2018, she was appointed assistant conductor of the Whidbey Island Orchestra. Recent guest conducting appearances have included engagements with the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra and the Sammamish Symphony Orchestra.

Elisabeth Crabtree, a PhD student in Music Education, was invited by Schott-Music of Germany to write a book of Orff Schulwerk lessons for children, based on Carl Orff's volumes of Music for Children. The book, tentatively titled Teaching Orff: Lullabies, Rhymes, and Seasonal Songs, is due out in Spring 2021. Crabtree is the current president of the Northern California chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association. 

Music Education doctoral student Clayton Dahm presented a spoken paper at the annual Society for Ethnomusicology conference. The paper, “Three Senegambian Mandinka Weddings: Mediating Assembled Identities in Musical Performance,” considers musical engagement and the politics of fiscal patronage in West African Mande music, and represents Dahm’s research interest in musical transmission and representation.

PhD Music Education student Ke (Kelsey) Guo, a singer of Sephardic song, has been working with the local Sephardic Jewish community on a songbook translation project that will be published through digital platform in the coming year. She also is participating in an inter-generational interview project between UW graduate students and local Sephardic community members, to be presented at the International Ladino Day hosted by UW Sephardic Studies in December 2020. She was recently named a graduate fellow in Jewish Studies for 2020-21 by the UW’s Stroum Center for Jewish Studies. Fellows receive mentorship from Stroum Center faculty, attend workshops on public scholarship and Jewish Studies, and share their research with the community through public presentations and articles published on the Stroum Center website. 

Chris Mena, PhD candidate in Music Education, recently served as guest in webinars for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and a new group called Decolonizing the Music Room. He is presenting on topics of World Music Pedagogy, the history of Mexican Americans in Music Education, Afro-Peruvian landó, and identity development in the music classroom. He is developing an arts program called ROOTS Framework, working with visual and performing arts teachers in the Seattle Public Schools to develop an antiracist framework for an all-district arts curriculum. Chris is currently teaching guitar and orchestra at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School as well as serving on the music curriculum team for Washington (state) Ethnic Studies Now Coalition (WAESN). 

PhD candidate Juliana Cantarelli Vita was recently appointed a predoctoral instructor at the Spanish and Portuguese Studies department at UW. Recent publications include an article in the Journal of Folklore and Education focused on the Music Alive! In the Yakima Valley project, and an article in The Orff Echo focusing on multicultural sensitivity through a performance at UW's partner-school, Laurelhurst Elementary.

Mike Kohfeld, PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology, is currently at work on their yet-untitled dissertation on space, identity, and performance in the Seattle drag scene, with focus on the use of remix as a process of critical cultural production. They are co-teaching a course on U.S. popular music with the School of Music during Autumn 2020 and will be working as an application reader for the UW Admissions department in winter 2021. 

Several Music Education and Ethnomusicology graduate students contributed to a recent special issue of Local Learning, the journal of the National Network for Folk Arts in Education. The UW contingent was invited to contribute to the issue, organized around the theme “Teaching for Equity: The Role of Folklore in a Time of Crisis and Opportunity.” The article, “Let’s Stand Together, Rep My Tribe Forever,” tells some of the story of the UW’s work with its Music Alive! In the Yakima Valley project. Collaborating authors included Kaity Igari, Juliana Cantarelli Vita, Skuli Gestsson, Cameron Armstrong (Music Education) and Jack Flesher (Ethnomusicology). “This is one of about six articles and several book chapters now out in national and international journals of our work in Toppenish, White Swan, and Harrah,” says Music Education Professor Patricia Campbell. “What we do has become a model of practice for others now who work with Indigenous students, and/or the collective song-writing process, and/or children of migrant and second-generation Mexican-heritage families.” (Read the article.)

Recent Guitar Studies graduate Max Shaffer (’20 BM Guitar), now based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has just released his first album, "Lost to the World," featuring works from Albéniz, Mertz, Goss, and others. “The title itself is inspired by a poem by Fredrich Rückert (I am lost to the world), which captures the sentimental and evocative nature of the album,” Shaffer writes. The five-song work may be heard on Spotify and Apple Music.

In recent academic appointments, Jennifer Rodgers (’20 DMA Choral Conducting) has been appointed Assistant Director of Choral Activities at Iowa State University. Jian-nan Cheng (’14 MM, Wind Conducting) has been appointed Assistant Professor/Director of Orchestral Activities at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.