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Fall 2023 Student and Alumni Notes

Submitted by Joanne De Pue on November 8, 2023 - 5:27pm
  • Participants in the Halloween Organ Concert
    Halloween Organ Concert performers (left to right): Stephen Price, Emily Chua, Melia Watras, Karen Haining, Trey Wheeler, Wyatt Smith (Photo: courtesy Stephen Price).
  • Wyatt Smith and Stephen Price
    Dapper condiments at the Halloween Organ Concert: alumnus Wyatt Smith (left) and School of Music organ professor Stephen Price (Photo: courtesy Stephen Price).
  • Baroque Ensemble at Seattle Opera
    Members of the Baroque Ensemble--Tess Roberts, (front row center), Mike Chen and Logan Tsui (back row, left to right) joined faculty Tekla Cunningham (right) and Stephen Price (left) at a recent performance at Seattle Opera (Photo: Tekla Cunningham).
  • Pianist Li-Cheng Hung (DMA Piano) performing a chamber concert.
    Pianist Li-Cheng Hung (DMA Piano) performing a chamber concert with piano faculty at Southwestern Oklahoma State University (Photo: Courtesy Li-Cheng Hung).
  • Doctoral student Cee Adamson (left) and Music History professor Anne Searcy (right), took part in a panel discussion, “Gender Fluidity in Opera,” at Seattle Opera recently.
    Doctoral student Cee Adamson (left) and Music History professor Anne Searcy (right), took part in a panel discussion, “Gender Fluidity in Opera,” at Seattle Opera recently.
School of Music students and alumni report recent academic appointments, honors, performances, and other artistic and scholarly accomplishments.

Jiannan Cheng (’14 MM, Wind Conducting) has been selected as a cover conductor for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Her responsibilities include understudying the scores for the music director and guest conductors, giving pre-concert lectures, and conducting in rehearsals and concerts as needed. Her first rehearsals with the orchestra were this week. Following an audition, she was contracted for three programs this season. She continues in her position as Director of Orchestras/Assistant Professor of Music at Rowan University in New Jersey. 

Former UW Bands teaching assistant Mark Tse (’21 DMA, Wind Conducting) has returned to his native country of Canada to serve as Assistant Professor of Instrumental Music Education/Conducting at the University of Saskatchewan. He will be teaching courses in Instrumental Music Education, Conducting, and Musicianship and will be conducting the USASK String Orchestra. Dr. Tse holds degrees from the University of Toronto, Western University, and the New England Conservatory in addition to his DMA from the University of Washington.

Doctoral voice student Cee Adamson and Music History professor Anne Searcy were panelists for a recent Seattle Opera discussion, “Gender Fluidity in Opera,” exploring the genre’s long history of gender flexibility in vocal range and roles, considering relationships between gender and vocal range, and discussing how vocal range might influence audience perceptions of opera characters, among other topics. Adamson and Searcy were joined in this discussion by panelists John Marzano, tenor, and Randall Scotting, countertenor. The discussion was videotaped for broadcast on Seattle Opera's YouTube channel.

Music History graduate student Michael Bennett delivered a talk, “Sex Crimes and 1990s Politics in Kiss of the Spider Woman and Parade" at the American Musicological Society's annual meeting in Denver in early November. Also presenting at the conference: UW Percussion DMA student Rose Martin, presenting "Language, Ethics, and Death: '...And Points North' by Stuart Saunders Smith."

Members of the UW Baroque Ensemble—Tess Roberts, Mike Chen, and Logan Tsuitook a field trip with director Tekla Cunningham and UW organ faculty Stephen Price recently to attend a performance of Seattle Opera’s production of Handel’s Alcina.  The group performs at the School of Music on Sunday, Nov. 19.

Alumnus Wyatt Smith ('19 DMA, Organ Performance) returned to campus on Oct. 30 to participate in the revival of the UW's beloved Halloween Organ Concert, presented at the Walker-Ames Room, Kane Hall, under the direction of Dr. Stephen Price, the UW's inaugural Paul B. Fritts Faculty Fellow. Current UW students Karen Haining (BM Piano Performance, BS Computer Science), Emily Chua (BA Music, BA Math), and Trey Wheeler (BM Music Education, BM Vocal Performance), and UW viola professor Melia Watras also were all featured performers on the concert.

Alumna Li-Cheng Hung (’19 DMA, Piano Performance), former student of Robin McCabe, was a guest judge for the 2023 Hubbard-Males Piano Competition at the Southwestern Oklahoma State University.  She also conducted master classes and performed in a chamber music concert with the piano faculty. She currently works as a collaborative pianist with Seattle Opera. 

Former UW Bands teaching assistant Linda Moorhouse (DMA, Instrumental Conducting) has been named director of the School of Music at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where she is Professor of Music and Director of Undergraduate Studies. A faculty member at UI since 2010, she previously taught for more than 20 years at Louisiana State University, where she was awarded numerous honors and distinctions for excellence in teaching. 

Alumnus Lucas Zeiter (’20 BM, Orchestral Instruments) has been awarded the second bassoon chair with Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra in New London, Connecticut. Zeiter is currently finishing up his MM degree at Yale University.

Alumnus Mark Babbitt (’06 DMA, Trombone performance) is starting his 14th year at Illinois State University, where he is Professor of Trombone. Additionally, he is starting his 12th year as principal trombone with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. This season he adds acting second trombone with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra to his busy performance schedule.

Alumnus Rylan Virnig (’22 MM Orchestral Conducting) has accepted a position at the School of Music as the school’s new assistant director for admissions, recruitment, and community outreach. After completing his master’s degree at the UW, where he served as assistant conductor of the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra and conductor of the Campus Philharmonia Orchestra, Virnig worked as the community partnerships and personnel manager for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra in Elgin, Illinois. While at ESO, he managed hiring, onboarding, and placing musicians for each concert series and coordinated community partnership programs in schools, hospitals, and retirement communities.

Daren Weissfisch, ('21 MM, DMA candidate, Orchestral Conducting) is principal conductor for all four productions this season at the Tacoma Opera. He is a finalist for the music director position at both the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra and the Lake Union Civic Orchestra.

Ryan Farris ('18 MM, Cello Performance, DMA, Orchestral Conducting) has appeared twice recently as guest conductor with the Octava Chamber Orchestra, and is a finalist for the music director position at the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra. He also served as assistant conductor of the Lake Union Civic Orchestra for the 2023-24 season.

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