Alumni, Faculty, and Student News

May 30, 2015

Alumni News

ACDA Convention: Feb 2015

The American Choral Director’s Association gathered in Salt Lake City in February, and many ISM students, faculty, and alumni were involved with the event. ISM/YSM gathered for an evening reception, and managed to get a group photo as well! [photo by Katharine Luce]

Jeffrey Bernstein (M.M. ’92) is an active composer and conductor in southern California. Now in its sixth season, the Pasadena Master Chorale, founded by Bernstein, presents popular concerts on an innovative “listen first, then pay” model. In the first three months of 2015 Bernstein premiered of his Fukushima Requiem for chorus and orchestra, and The Human Journey, composed for the L.A. Choral Lab as part of a six-composer Mass project entitled Missa Urbis Angelorum. He also released his second album of improvised piano music, Clear Mind Calm Water.

Meg Bernstein (M.A.R. ’13) has been awarded the Kress Institutional Fellowship, and will spend 2015-17 at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London researching for her dissertation on Gothic parish churches.

Katie Carloss Bugyis (M.A.R. ’09) recently defended her dissertation “Ministers of Christ: Benedictine Women Religious in Central Medieval England” for the completion of her doctorate in medieval studies from the University of Notre Dame. She will graduate this May. She was also offered, and accepted a tenure-track position in religious studies at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, for this coming fall.

Colin Britt (M.M. ’10) is in the second year of his doctoral studies at Rutgers University, where he also teaches undergraduate conducting and conducts the Rutgers University Choir, a 100-voice mixed ensemble. In the fall of 2014, he (along with fellow ISM grad Dominick DiOrio) was among a handful of living American composers featured on Seraphic Fire’s highly acclaimed new album, Reincarnations.

John Cantrell’s (M.M. ‘02) 8-part setting of Ave Verum Corpus will be published by Seeadot music this summer. In November of this year, he will be featured performer on the new Marianorgel concert series in Witten, Germany.

Philip Corbett (S.T.M. ’14) is now Priest in Charge of St Stephen’s Lewisham in South London, where “we have just started a music program, and have a new professional choir singing for Sunday masses.”

Dominick DiOrio (M.M.’08, M.M.A.’09, D.M.A.’12) has been named one of Indiana University Bloomington’s Outstanding Junior Faculty for the 2014-15 academic year, along with four other faculty in public affairs, psychology, informatics and physics. This University-wide award recognizes tenure-track faculty who have begun to develop nationally recognized research, scholarship, or creative programs and devoted productive time to teaching and service prior to achieving tenure. The award provides a grant of $15,000, which faculty members may use to support their research, scholarship, or creative activity.

After serving as Associate Pastor for 13 years at First United Church of Christ (Congregational) in Milford, CT, Adam Eckhart (M.Div. ’01) was called in December 2014 to become their Senior Pastor.

Diapason Magazine has a new initiative:  “20 under 30” highlights talented and rising young organists under the age of 30.  Three of those named are ISM alums: Dexter Kennedy (M.M. ’14), Andrew Schaeffer (M.M. ’13), and Benjamin Straley (M.M. ’10; M.Div. ’12). 

Kai Hoffman-Krull  (M.A.R. ’12) recently had a poem performed at Saint John Divine Cathedral, as part of its 2015 Musica Sacra concert, reviewed here.

Peter Nikiforuk (M.M. ’87, D.M.A. ’93) recently celebrated his 25th anniversary as director of music at St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Kitchener, Ontario. Among the anniversary celebrations was the commissioning of a new Christmas carol, Rend Wide the Heavens, from noted Canadian composer Jeff Enns.

Ann Phelps (M.A.R. ’09) continues to write liturgies and cantor for the Episcopal Church nationally as a member of the Theodicy Jazz Collective, which she heads with another ISM grad, the Rev. Andrew Barnett (M.Div. ’12). After a tour of England culminating in the world premiere of the Canterbury Jazz Mass, commissioned in 2011 and recently released as a CD with the Cincinnati Cathedral Choir, the group continued to have significant teaching, playing, lecturing, and conference opportunities. More recently, they provided music and liturgies for the annual House of Bishops, and this year are providing liturgy for general convention in Salt Lake City.

Grammy-winning conductor Patrick Duprè Quigley (M.M. ’02) headlined Gramophone Magazine’s “Sounds of America” section for April 2015.  In the issue, Quigley’s newest recording with Seraphic Fire, Reincarnations, which prominently features compositions by ISM alumni Dominick DiOrio and Colin Britt, also receives a glowing review.

Interview with Quigley | Review of Reincarnations

Kaji Douša Spellman (M.Div. ’06) is now senior minister of The Table: UCC, a renewing congregation in San Diego, CA. Anyone interested in partnering with us for an internship (short or long-term) can find out more at

Tenor Kyle Stegall (M.M. ’14) and violinist Holly Piccoli (YSM ’12), a former member of the Yale Baroque Ensemble, have announced their engagement.  The two met at the ISM, collaborated on many projects during their studies, and performed together in New York, Virginia, Japan, Singapore, and Italy. The couple will be forever grateful to the ISM for bringing them together. The wedding date is not yet set, but stay tuned!

Elizabeth Ursic (M.Div. ’03) is currently professor of religious studies at Mesa Community College.  Her book, Women, Ritual, and Power: Placing Female Imagery of God in Christian Worship was published by SUNY Press in fall 2014. A paperback version will be available in July 2015. She began the research for this book while at the ISM, with the Daughters of Wisdom Catholic sisters in Litchfield, Connecticut. Three Protestant communities were added for her Ph.D. dissertation at Arizona State University. The chapter on the Church of Scotland was added while she was a visiting scholar at The University of Edinburgh in 2012. The book debuted with an author’s reception at the National Women’s Studies Conference in Puerto Rico in November, and was also featured in two panels at the 2014 AAR annual conference.

Cheryl Wadsworth (M.M. ’95) retired last October from the United Methodist Church of Hartford with the title director of music ministries emeritus, and continues to practice there and substitute and perform recitals in the greater Hartford area.

Amanda Weber (M.M. ’13) will be starting a D.M.A. program at the University of Minnesota this fall.

Margaret Boxwell Williams (M.Div. ’81) started a new position as Associate Pastor at First Congregational Church of Stratford in late February. This is a part-time position; she will continue my part-time work as Chaplain at the Greater Bridgeport Community Mental Health Center. She is also Dean of the Greater Bridgeport Chapter of the AGO.

Fellows News

Bert Groen (2011-12 Fellow) has been reappointed for a term of five years as UNESCO Chair for Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue in Southeastern Europe. He held the Sir Daniel and Countess Bernardine Murphy Donohue Chair of Eastern Catholic Theology at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome during 2013-14; he remains there this year teaching as a visiting professor.


SCSM Conference: Feb 2015 | The Society for Christian Scholarship in Music was held in February at Emory University, and a number of ISM students, faculty, and alumni were featured in this conference.  Blenda Im (M.A.R. ’12) won the prize for the best presentation by a graduate student; current students Emilie Coakley and Megan Francisco gave papers that were based on work done at the ISM; and ISM faculty member Markus Rathey and 2012-13 ISM postdoctoral fellow Deb Justice also gave papers. Additionally, ISM student Adam Perez participated in a graduate students’ panel discussion.

Megan Francisco (M.A.R. ’14) is the new student representative on the SCSM board; 2013-14 ISM fellow Jennifer Bloxam is the new SCSM vice president.  Other ISM attendees were Martha Brundage, Andrew Pester (M.M. ’07, M.A.R. ’08), and SCSM keynote speaker Robin Leaver.

Notes on the Staff

Jenna-Claire Kemper is leaving the ISM in May to become executive director of the Henry Koerner Center for Emeritus Faculty at Yale. She will be greatly missed, and the send-off festivities and tributes will be chronicled in the next issue. A national search is under way for her replacement; the job description is here.