From the Chair: Music@Webster

From the Chair of the Department of Music, Webster University in Saint Louis

String teaching workshop

Dr. Paul Davis, Director of Instrumental Studies, has a full week next week.  Take a look!


This week in Lincoln, I have seen a number of variant spellings of the four primary voice types.

Herewith, a curious list:

  • seprano
  • sapprano
  • mezzio-alto
  • tenner
  • tenre
  • barritone
  • and of course, base.


NPR ran this article on Saturday.

I enjoyed 27 immensely!

That a major world premiere took place on our campus, and just yards from our music building, is truly a wondrous and happy thing!

Spotted on campus

Leaving for lunch today, I spotted Troy Morris, senior music major in bass performance, taking his bass outdoors on a stunningly Spring-like day.


Year-end report

May 10, 2014


Dear colleagues, good scholars, and graduating students:

Within the next few days, we will call an end to the current academic year and bid another school year farewell.

Please take a few minutes to read and celebrate these 2013-14 successes . . . .

chamber-singers-archChief amongst this year’s high points must be Chamber Singers’ performances at both the Missouri Music Educators Association annual gathering (January 2014) and the American Choral Directors Association biennial divisional conference (March 2014).  Chambers Singers performed two very different programs to a very high standard, joined by Martha J. Hart at MMEA.  Webster University is one of only a handful of schools in the country ever to have choirs on two refereed-appearance conventions in the same year.  We celebrate with Trent Patterson and these gifted, committed students as we honor their effort over the past few years.

Our roster of guest artists and speakers this school year included Christine Brewer, alumna and Metropolitan Opera artist Jennifer Johnson Cano, Davine Davis of MSHSAA, Mark Kellogg and Joe Werner of Eastman, Amy Kaiser of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Kaye Harrelson of the Saint Louis Public Schools, Paul Laird of the University of Kansas, Allison Felter of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Jill Maguire of the Regional Arts Commission, jazz sax great Freddie Washington, international jazz star Joe Lovano, our own John McClellan telling tales of Chet Atkins, opera director Gene Roberts and conductor Scott Schoonover, Gavin Chuck from Alarm Will Sound, composer Beth Denisch, and Wynton Marsalis.

Five students placed in the final round of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Central States region biennial auditions.  Winning first place in their respective divisions were Danielle Feinstein, Connor Scott, and James Stevens.

As I write this message, Jimmy and three other students – Andrew Gribat, Brooke Vonderheide, and Lindsey White – are wrapping up a term in Vienna, where by all accounts they have nourished the study-abroad experience all they could!

Paul Davis led the Webster University Chamber Orchestra in the premiere of a major new work by Kim Portnoy, setting a text by Missouri Composer Laureate David Clewell.  Jeffrey Carter sang the premiere.  (Each of these gents is also Webster University full-time faculty.)

HOW TO MAKE A GOOD CHOIR SOUND GREAT, a new instructional DVD, was published this year by GIA Publications.  The DVD features Webster choirs.  Funding was provided by the university in a project led by Trent Patterson.

In the area of partnership and cooperation, Webster University hosted two NATS events this year. We presented three concerts at Christ Church Cathedral on the Shepley Concert Series, and also produced a departmental showcase concert on the concert series at Concord Trinity United Methodist Church in South County. Chamber Singers performed on tour in Tennessee and Arkansas; they also shared school visits with Belmont University and Vanderbilt University. The jazz area hosted high school jazz groups as part of Webster Works Worldwide. We hosted a Symphony in Your College concert in cooperation with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. And this week Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is loaning us world-renowned singer and diction coach Erie Mills for one last master class. Of course, we know of many more partnerships, large and small, that are occurring!

An important collaboration this year led an hour-long feature on the Higher Education Network of Saint Louis’ public television station. The Webster jazz program was featured on the I LOVE JAZZ broadcast in January; the program continues on line at

DSC00650The Department of Music presented nearly 120 performances this year, from a guest recital by Jennifer Johnson Cano to studio recitals.  Two of my personal favorites this year (and naming any of these is dangerous, but name I will) were the January Opera Scenes and the combined concert last month by Jazz Singers and Jazz Collective.

This month we celebrate 20 years of Jean Huber’s life and service amongst us.  She is such an integral part of what we do here, and deserves the recognition!

You may wish to review some of the year’s key moments:

These few recollections only scratch the surface of the many moments that have made up this year.  We each have stories to tell, music that still rings in our ears, and instances of laughter or tears that make up the fabric of another school year.

I am personally grateful to Glen Bauer and Jean for keeping the ship on course while I was on leave in Fall 2013.  So many others stepped in various ways, and I am reminded of how we are each connected and dependent on each other for different pieces of this profession, this vocation, this calling that we name ‘music.’

Wherever your summer takes you, I hope that you find these next weeks restful and invigorating, peaceful and full of possibility.  To those who are leaving us, do let us know of your accomplishments and successes, and know that we are ever cheerleading and expecting great things from you!

All the best,

Dr. Jeffrey Carter

Erie Mills

Famed singer and coach Erie Mills gave a master class to voice students at Webster as the last official event of the 2013-14 school year.  Six singers participated in this class, one that was slipped into a day when Ms. Mills was rehearsing two different operas with Opera Theatre of  Saint Louis.

I was able to get somewhat decent pics (strange lighting, too far away, no flash) of two of the singers, Danielle Feinstein and Connor Scott.

Moving forward

The tussle between the University and the City of Webster Groves has reached an end, at least for now.  Let’s hope all parties move forward in good faith and harmony.

Trent’s speech

Delivered by Dr. Trent Patterson on Sunday evening during the year-end choral concert . . .

Over the past several years, Webster University choirs have become an integral part of the longstanding choral tradition in the Saint Louis region. The students take their work seriously. They are talented, enthusiastic, hardworking, and committed to creating beautiful and expressive music. The growing number of our students who sing in the Bach Society of Saint Louis, the Saint Louis Symphony Chorus, and in many area church choirs is a testament of our students’ diligence and musicianship.

The Chamber Singers have had a banner year, which began with an article in St. Louis Magazine last summer. They have literally performed all over the city – for the Saint Louis Rotary Club, the University Board of Trustees dinner at the Jewel Box in Forest Park, for a local chapter meeting of the American Guild of Organists, in churches, schools, retirement homes, but that is not all.

In January, the Chamber Singers were the featured collegiate choir at the 76th Annual Missouri Music Educators Association conference in Lake of the Ozarks. Seven weeks later in March, they were one of five college choirs from seven states chosen to perform for the Southwestern Divisional American Choral Directors Association Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Chamber Singers have sung at Vanderbilt University, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and yes, even at the Baymont Inn and Suites in Murfreesboro Tennessee for patrons during the complimentary buffet breakfast.

Since January, all three Webster choirs have received recognition due to the new choral pedagogy DVD, “How to make a good choir sound great,” which is being marketed across the country by GIA Publications.

Students, thanks to all of these activities and accomplishments, the Webster choral program is gaining a following in new places, as represented by new Department of Music students next fall from Illinois and Kansas, as well as by inquiries from states further away, such as Tennessee and Florida.

At this time, I would like to pay a special tribute to those students who are graduating and have made such a significant impact on Webster’s choral program. As I call your name, would you please step forward or stand up to be recognized.

Nora Benedict, 6 semesters in Chamber Singers

Katie Burger, 7 semesters in Concert Choir

Mary Beth Freitag, 3 semesters in Chamber Singers

Nicole Peach, 7 semesters in Concert Choir, 1 semester in Chamber Singers

Hannah Satterwhite, 2 semesters in Concert Choir, 6 semesters in Chamber Singers

Kristine Gage, 3 semesters in Concert Choir, 2 semesters in Chamber Singers

Lori Hoffman, 4 semesters in Chamber Singers

Dea Hudson, 7 semesters in Concert Choir, 1 semester in Chamber Singers

Tim Walter, 4 semesters in Concert Choir

Nathan Loseke, 4 semesters in Concert Choir

Domenic Mendoza, 2 semesters in Concert Choir, 6 semesters in Chamber Singers

Joey Otradovec, 1 semester in Concert Choir

Josiah Zigo, 2 semesters in Concert Choir

Thank you students for your dedication, your passion, and your commitment to musical excellence.



Honors Convocation

My comments from last week’s Honors Convocation, at which we recognized graduating students from the Department of Music:


webster-logo.jpgYou stand on the cusp of new beginnings . . . of possibility . . . of re-creation.

You are poised to leave the structure and rigor and occasional drama of higher education, and to enter the tough world of making your own way.

We have nurtured you these years, and we remain steadfast in our desire to be of counsel . . . mentors along the path . . . but our role changes now to that of cheerleaders and sometimes to that of wise older voice.  And writers of reference letters.  Don’t ever be shy in asking us to write on your behalf!

As you enter the world of learn-ed scholars and practicing musicians . . .  of course, many of you are practicing musicians already, but now you will have credentials too . . . as you enter this world, here are a few thoughts to take along the way:

1.  Last year, the great conductor Riccardo Muti gave a commencement address at a school in Chicago where he is Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  I paraphrase his concluding thoughts.  “What diplomacy can’t do, music creates.  What words cannot do, music communicates.  That’s the reason you, friends, have a mission. You have embraced culture. You must use culture  . . . music . . .  to bring people together.

The world today is extremely problematic. Blood is everywhere. People don’t seem to understand each other. We are all so damn polarized.  But I can tell you as I conclude that you, young and cultivated people, through your world of music, can help your nation and the world become better.

2.  Some practical advice: you can never stop practicing.  Bob Chamberlin posted something on Facebook earlier this semester, and I passed it along to the faculty as well.  “When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere IS practicing, and when you meet him, he will win.”  This applies to auditions, to job interviews, to gigs, to your own growth as musicians and people.

This applies to each of us . . . faculty included.  We must never stop honing our craft, because when we do, someone who thirstier and hungrier will slip in and take our place.

3.  The notes on the page are only the skeleton. Music is what happens between those little black dots.  If you take this to heart, what you will discover decades from now is that you have lived and loved and lingered over what truly matters.  Live in the moment.  Feel what happens between the dots.  And know that the journey is as important as the destination.

4. This final word from me: at the end of the day, it’s all about the people.  Be nice to others.  Share your lunch.  Pay it forward.  As much as practice is often solitary, we live our lives with others, and THEY matter.  Kindness counts.  So does doing things in such a way that others don’t have to clean up your messes.  Keep a child’s faith and focus, but think and act as an adult.

And life truly is about others . . . about the people.  Live your life as if in community with others, knowing that we are all connected.

We have done our part, and we now send you on your way with our good hopes and high expectations.  We want to hear of your success, so please do stay in touch!

Go now . . . and live the life you have dreamed.

Graduates, we commend you, we salute you, and we say Godspeed.

Last concert

Our last concert of the 2013-14 season is over.

Three choirs sang this evening in concert in the Community Music School concert hall.

And a good time was had by all!


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