Faculty, Alumni, and Staff News

May 18, 2020

Faculty News

Marguerite L. Brooks was honored at the conference of the Eastern Region of the American Choral Conductors Association in March, where she received the prestigious Helen Kemp Award. Initiated in 2010, this award is given to an individual who “through teaching, performing, and sharing, exhibits a lifelong passion and commitment to the choral art.”  

students and professors

Thomas Murray joined Oklahoma University’s Prof. John Schwandt for an Organ Historical Society Symposium focusing on the work and aesthetic of renowned organ builder Ernest Skinner.  In addition to lectures presented by Murray and Schwandt, two students of Alan Morrison from the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia were heard in a masterclass, playing the Aeolian-Skinner organ in Stoneleigh, the new OHS headquarters at Villanova, Pennsylvania.

Christian Wiman’s latest collection of poetry, Survival Is a Style, was published in February by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Alumni News

Arianne Abela (M.M. choral conducting ’10) was featured in Early Music America’s EMag for her work in founding Kaleidoscope vocal ensemble. Abela writes, “Kaleidoscope is a racially diverse octet whose artists specialize in early and new music. In coming together, our hope is to share our stories, visions, hardships, and successes to help inspire people on and off the stage. As performers, we have a duty to reach listeners beyond our immediate audiences. How can we make quality music accessible to all people and all educational levels? We hope to send a message to the youth of our country that says ‘you belong here’ by modeling representation and inclusivity for young aspiring musicians.” You can read the article on Early Music America’s website.

Organists Chelsea Chen (A.D. ’09) and Adam Pajan (M.M. ’10) will perform at Walt Disney Concert Hall in the spring of 2021.

Ken Cowan (M.M. organ ’99, A.D. ’00) hosted a masterclass and short recital by Thomas Murray at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he is professor of organ. Former ISM staff member Laura Chilton, who now works at Rice, caught up with them for lunch. 

Cowan was featured as organist on the 2020 Grammy award-winning album Duruflé: Complete Choral Works with the Houston Chamber Choir.

ISM graduates featured on other Gammy-nominated albums this year included Virginia Warnken (M.M. voice ’13) for Charpentier: Les Arts Florissants Les Plaisirs de Versailles, as well as our alumni in Conspirare (Dashon Burton [M.M. voice ’11] , Dann Coakwell [A.D. voice ’11], Estelí Gomez [B.A. ’08], Scott Mello [M.M. voice ’13], Steven Soph [M.M. voice ’12], and Paul Max Tipton [M.M. voice ’10]) for the album The Hope of Loving, and James Reese (M.M. voice ’18) in The Crossing’s Boyle: Voyages and Smith, K.: The Arc in the Sky.

Dominick DiOrio (D.M.A. choral conducting ’12) was appointed artistic director of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. In addition to his new appointment with Mendelssohn Club Chorus,  DiOrio will continue as associate professor of music on the conducting faculty at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, a position he has held since 2012. He also currently serves as president of the National Collegiate Choral Organization and as chair of American Choral Director Association’s National Standing Committee on Composition Initiatives.

Robinson McClellan (M.M. composition ’06; D.M.A. ’11) has joined The Morgan Library & Museum as assistant curator of music manuscripts and printed music.

Aaron Peisner (M.M. choral conducting ’16) was appointed tenure-track assistant professor and director of choral activities at UNC Wilmington. He served as visiting professor at UNC Wilmington during the 2019–2020 academic year.

Paraclete Press has published two anthems composed by Andrew Pester (M.M. ‘07; M.A.R. ‘08) in 2019: “The Lamb” for two-part treble choir and organ, and “Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates” for SATB choir and organ. Andrew has profound gratitude to the ISM for all of the positive influence that it had on his career.

Jon Seals (M.A.R. visual art and material culture ’15), associate professor of art and digital media at Olivet Nazarene University, has been named chair of that department beginning in the fall semester of 2020. Seals joined Olivet’s full-time faculty in 2018, teaching courses in drawing, design, figure studies, color theory, and art history. He is also the gallery director of Olivet’s Victorian House Gallery as well as other exhibition places on campus.

Seals was also recently awarded Olivet’s Hippenhammer Faculty Scholarship Grant to begin work on his collaborative project titled, “A Ribbon of Quicksilver: Art and Environment on the Kankakee River.” Seals and other ONU faculty, together with contributions from ISM religion and literature graduates Timothy Cahill (M.A.R. ’16) and Joanna Murdoch (M.A.R. ’15), will create an interdisciplinary exhibition of new artwork with an accompanying exhibition catalogue.

Amanda Weber (M.M. choral conducting ‘13) was a winner of the 2018–2020 Julius Herford Dissertation Prize from the American Choral Directors Association. Her dissertation, Choral Singing and Communal Mindset: A Program Evaluation of the Voices of Hope Women’s Prison Choir, “presents a program evaluation of Voices of Hope, a women’s prison choir at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Shakopee, MN. By examining the experience of the incarcerated singers and their collaborators, [Weber] suggests choral singing to be a powerful tool in creating a communal mindset – developing skills of listening, empathy, and igniting a fire to advocate for one another.”

Weber is minister of music and the arts at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis, and the founder and artistic director of Voices of Hope. Prior to this she was an adjunct professor at Concordia University (St. Paul, MN) and at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She has also been a speaker at the TEDx Minneapolis Salon (2016) and has contributed to Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayerbook published by Augsburg Fortress (2019).

Notes on the Staff

Sally Hansen (M.A.R. religion and literature ’18), the ISM admissions coordinator, will enter the Ph.D. program in English literature at the University of Notre Dame in the fall, where she will continue exploring the intersections of poetry, mystical theology, and trauma theory in late nineteenth and twentieth century literature. Bringing the insight of a recent student to her position at the ISM has enabled her to make many improvements to the recruitment process, including a new virtual info session format introduced this spring and technical updates to online application experience. She has built solid relationships with her counterparts at the Divinity School and School of Music. We will miss her here and wish her the best in her new adventures!