From the Chair: Music@Webster

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

Jazz combo scenes

From last week’s jazz combo concert….

Composers’ concert

Eight Webster University composers gathered on Friday evening for a faculty composers’ concert, featuring an eclectic mix of music by a fascinating group of colleagues.  I was delighted to sing my latest Christmas anthem for voice and piano, and also to sing the premiere of ‘Jason’s Song.’

And a good time was had by all!


Mitchell Lecture


The 2014 Mitchell Endowed Lecture in Jewish Music was presented on Tuesday evening by Dr. Paul Laird, chair of the music history program at the University of Kansas. His topic was ‘Leonard Bernstein: Jewish Influences in His Music.’

Paul is an engaging and animated speaker.  His talk was a hit!

I was so glad to see my old professor again, and to have him present at Webster on a day when some of the research he helped guide showed up in a published article with my name on it.

Chamber Singers

Chamber Singers arrive in Little Rock this morning.  They have been on tour this week to Nashville and Memphis and points thereabout….

From their departure on Tuesday morning:image image

In Little Rock

ACDA convention is under way.  And my booth is up and running!



Hello, Little Rock!….


From Barbara Mandrell


As Chamber Singers prepare to head out today on tour, they received this email from Barbara Mandrell . . . .

Thank you, Trent, for your thoughtful invitation for the Franklin performance with your select choir. Your leadership in directing 20 talented students on their first regional concert tour certainly is impressive.  Their schedule looks very busy and entertaining. I extend every good wish for their successful, truly great performances as they visit Nashville, Memphis and Little Rock.


I am delighted that Webster University hosted the regional National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards this weekend.

Young, emerging professional singers from our three states — Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa — convened at Webster for two rounds of competition last evening and this morning.  I got to adjudicate both rounds, which was great fun.

Here are the winners after the announcement Saturday morning:


Christine Brewer

World-famous soprano Christine Brewer concluded her 2013-14 appearances as Webster University Visiting Professor of Music this week with a two-hour master class for younger students, including many freshmen.

I can’t imagine what this must feel like for a freshman . . . to be singing for and then to be working with Christine Brewer . . . .

Chris is now on to Chicago for the Mother Abbess at Lyric Opera, then a full month with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and then some down Down Under singing Strauss with Robertson in Sydney, and Marx in New Zealand.  She doesn’t have a bad summer lined up at all!

Some shots from the beginning of her class last Thursday:

image image


I love the unintended mash-ups that occur in Thompson House.

Just now, from one end of the hallway: “On the street where you live” from My Fair Lady.

On the other, and just as clear in my studio: “Song to the Moon” from Rusalka.



One of the common themes of voice lessons, especially during the first 18 months or so, is how hard the work actually is.  We are remodeling while still having to live and love and work within the space, to use a construction analogy.

We don’t see the progress as clearly, because we are in the space daily.

And we know how far we have to go, but we are not there yet.

From a Facebook post I saw last evening:

If you’re struggling to become exceptional at something, Ira Glass, host of acclaimed radio show “This American Life,” has some words of wisdom for you. The advice is as beautiful as it is brilliant.

Change the ‘storytelling’ to ‘song-telling’ or ‘singing,’ and the words of wisdom are just as germane and true.

Take a listen!


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