by Jeffrey Carter
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 . . . .
Chief 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 http://www.hectv.org/video/13906/january-2014/.
The 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