Walter Honored Upon Retirement
Elaine R. Walter was honored at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music Diploma Ceremony on May 18, 2013 with the Bishop Shahan Medal for Service. Provost James Brennan, Ph.D., presented the award to Dr. Walter upon the occasion of her retirement after 50 years of service to the Catholic University of America.
The School of Music conferred 56 degrees at the ceremony, where Dr. Walter also delivered the address to the graduates. Starting in 1982, Walter served as Dean of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music for twenty years, after which she returned to the faculty for active teaching in musicology and opera scenes. Her retirement marks the departure of the School of Music's longest-serving current member of the faculty.
The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music conferred 56 degrees on Saturday, May 18, 2013. Dr. Elaine Walter delivered the address at the School of Music Diploma Ceremony, and was honored by Provost James Brennan, Ph.D., with the Bishop Shahan Award for Service for her longtime tenure and contribution to the Catholic University of America. Students and families braved a cloudy and rainy morning to celebrate the achievements of our graduates. Congratulations!
Defiant Requiem Returns to Prague in Freedom
On June 6, professor Murry Sidlin's concert-drama DEFIANT REQUIEM returns to Prague,CZ for a performance at St. Vitus' Cathedral. Sidlin will conduct the Kuhn Choir of Prague, the Choir of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and the Prague Symphony Orchestra in the 24th performance of this moving tribute to the prisoners of Terezin concentration camp. In 1943/44, conductor Rafael Schaechter led prisoners in 16 performances of the Verdi 'Requiem' for their captors, memorizing the work from a single score and accompanied by a single, battered piano. He promised them one day, they would return to Prague and perform the work onstage in freedom.
This performance seeks to realize the dream Schaechter had for the people he led in rebellious song against the Nazis who has imprisoned them. It takes place at the invitation of Cardinal Duka, the Archbishop of Prague, and is dedicated to the prisoners and performers of the Terezin camp.
Music Professor to Receive Medal of Valor
Murry Sidlin, professor of conducting, will receive the Medal of Valor from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center will present its Medal of Valor to Murry Sidlin, professor of conducting and Holocaust music studies at Catholic University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music.
The medal will be presented at the center’s National Tribute Dinner on June 12 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Sidlin will receive the medal for his dedication to illuminating the Terezin legacy by keeping alive the memory of Rafael Schächter, a leader of the World War II Terezin-prisoner arts community. Schächter inspired the Jewish inmates of the Nazi concentration camp by organizing performances of opera, children’s opera, chamber music, cabaret, and a grand chorus that he taught by rote to sing 16 performances of composer Giuseppe Verdi’s monumental “Requiem Mass.”
“Professor Sidlin’s commitment to honoring the legacy of the Jewish prisoners at Terezin has been exceptional,” says Catholic University President John Garvey. “The Catholic University of America community is proud of his accomplishments in bringing to light the extraordinary example of Rafael Schächter and the other prisoners to preserve their dignity and uphold their ideals.”
A global Jewish human rights organization with 400,000 members, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance each year present the Medal of Valor to individuals “whose courage and conviction have helped change our world for the better,” writes Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the center, in his letter of award to Sidlin.
These performances of Verdi’s “Requiem,” with its themes of God’s justice and liberation, were presented by the Jewish prisoners to demonstrate their defiance of Nazi degradation.
“Presentations world-wide of your concert-drama ‘Defiant Requiem,’ which tells of Schächter’s heroic efforts to create hope, courage, dignity through rehearsals and performances of Verdi’s inspiring score, will assure Schächter’s memory in perpetuity,” adds Hier.
Sidlin has performed “Defiant Requiem” three times on the grounds of Terezin, as well as at concert venues throughout the United States, including Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as a guest of the Jewish community in Budapest, Hungary, and at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem. This week, he presented his concert-drama to sell-out audiences at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, and next week’s performance at New York’s Lincoln Center is also sold out. Later this spring “Defiant Requiem” will be performed in Prague at the St. Vitus Cathedral at the invitation of Czech Cardinal Dominic Duka.
His documentary film about Rafael Schächter, “Defiant Requiem, Voices of Resistance,” made with Partisan Pictures of New York, was finished last May, and has been seen in film festivals at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Vancouver, and at many cities in the United States including New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. The award-winning film has been shown on PBS stations around the United States this spring and will soon be seen on the BBC network.
Sidlin is the founder and president of the Defiant Requiem Foundation, which is dedicated to the illumination of the Terezin legacy. He also directs the Rafael Schächter Institute of Arts and Humanities at Terezin, which each summer commemorates and replicates events similar to those experienced by the Terezin prisoners, on the grounds of the former concentration camp. These events recall the nearly 1,000 concerts, 2,400 lectures, and numerous drama presentations held there between 1941 and 1945.
Past recipients of the center’s Medal of Valor include, among others, Miep Gies, who hid Anne Frank and her family; Sully Sullenberger, the USAirways pilot who in 2009 safely water-landed his aircraft on the Hudson River in New York City; the Tuskegee Airmen, the African American pilots who fought in World War II; and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a survivor of an assassination attempt.
For a video of the May 2010 performance of the “Defiant Requiem” in Budapest, visit http://music.cua.edu/archive/concert/defiant-requiem.cfm
Students and Alumni Nominated for Helen Hayes Awards
The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music is proud to announce that musical theatre senior, Paul Scanlan leads CUA students and alumni in this year’s Helen Hayes Awards with a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Musical for Spring Awakening at the Keegan Theatre.
Spring Awakening was also nominated for Outstanding Ensemble, Resident Musical. The Choreographer/Assistant Director was alumnus, Kurt Boehm BM ‘05, and cast members included, junior, Alex Alferov, seniors, Vincent Kempski and Maria Rizzo, and recent alumni Sean Burns BM ‘12, Emily Dey BM ’09, Gannon O’Brien BM’11, and Nora Palka BM’12,.
Junior Olivia Reed and alumna Melissa Victor BM’12 were among the actors in The Color Purple at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, nominated for Outstanding Resident Musical.
N. Thomas Pedersen, head of the Musical Theatre Division says, “We are thrilled that our students and alumni did so well in this year’s Helen Hayes nominations and are happy that they continue to be a vibrant part of the fabric of the DC Theatre Community. What better place for young actors to grow up professionally than DC?”
Organ Professor Profiled by Washington Post
"For nearly 50 years, Robert B. Grogan has ignored howling winds and frigid temperatures to climb hundreds of steps up into the tower of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and manually play, with his fists and his feet, 56 carillon bells . . .Whether it has been to celebrate the arrivals of Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict, or to remember the 26 children and adults who died Dec. 14 in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., or to entertain the faithful arriving Monday on Christmas Eve for midnight Mass, Grogan has never missed a major event as the basilica’s carillonneur." Read more.
It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Dr. Emma Garmendia on Nov. 15, 2012. She was the founder and director of the Latin American Center for Graduate Studies in Music from 1984 to 2000. A notable pedagogue and musicologist, Dr. Garmendia dedicated her career to promoting Latin-American music, presiding at the Fourth Inter-American Music Education Conference, sponsored by the Organization of American States (1970), giving seminars and workshops on Latin-American music, serving as a music consultant in various Latin-American musical institutions and festivals, and adjudicating international and Inter-American music contests. In 1990 she was the president of the Eighth Inter-American Music Education Conference, held in Washington, D.C. For her outstanding work in the field of Latin American music and for her contributions raising the academic level of the music to an international stature, Dr Garmendia received many international awards, among them the prestigious Award Konex (1999).
Her academic publications include: Compilation of Songs for Teaching Music in the Elementary and High Schools in two volumes, University of Rosario, Argentina, and the nine-volume Tratado de Audioperceptiva published by Ricordi Americana. Her investigations into Argentinian music resulted in the doctoral dissertation The Use of Vidalita, Milonga, and Huella in the Piano Works of Alberto Williams.
Music Professor Honored by University for Teaching
On November 7, CUA honored Dr. Andrew H. Weaver with the Advancement of Teaching award.
Advancement of Teaching
Andrew Weaver, associate professor in the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, received the Advancement of Teaching Award, which recognizes creative and innovative contributions to effective teaching, from adding technologies that improve delivery of information to students to introducing new areas of study.
Weaver received his bachelor’s in music, magna cum laude, at Rice University, with a double major in musicology and viola performance, and then went on to Yale University, where he completed his M.Phil. in 2000 and Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at the University since 2005, and was promoted to associate professor in 2011.
Weaver accepts the Advancement of Teaching award.
“He has been an active scholar and performer throughout his career,” said Brennan, noting that Weaver’s book “Sacred Music as Public Image for Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III: Representing the Counter-Reformation Monarch at the End of the Thirty Years’ War” was recently published.
Weaver is known for encouraging projects with performance opportunities for his students.
“His nominators noted specifically the work in his seminar coordinated with the opera production of the great Italian composer Monteverdi’s ‘Poppea,’” said Brennan. “He coached many of the singers participating in the performances, both graduate and undergraduate, and taught them various performance possibilities suggested by scholars in recent research.” This performance was acclaimed in The Washington Post and other media, he added.
A colleague noted that Weaver’s greatest achievement was the creation of a B.A. in music, a program that doesn’t require an audition and is designed to provide students with advanced music preparation at the university level combined with a broad liberal arts education.
Brennan noted Weaver was praised by colleagues for “his caring and innovative approach to education. He truly embodies the ideal of ‘scholar as performer, or ‘musicologist as performer.’”
“It’s a tremendous honor to receive this award,” said Weaver, adding that his parents had traveled from North Carolina to see him honored. “I am thankful to be teaching at this school that encourages us to be innovative and creative and provides the rich environment that made this award possible.”
He added that the award is not his alone, but belongs to the colleagues “without whom I never could have pursued the activities for which I’m being honored.” The award, he said, speaks to a cornerstone of his pedagogy “and that is of collaboration,” with students, colleagues, and other schools at the University. “I love what I do.” Read more.
Finian's Rainbow Shines in Hartke Theatre
DC Metro Theater Arts gave our production of Finian's Rainbow a great review!
"Catholic University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music mounts a fabulous production of Finian’s Rainbow for its fall musical, with additional actors from Howard University and Duke Ellington School of the Arts. The 1947 musical has a book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy and music by Burton Lane with lyrics by Harburg.
Helen Hayes Award recipient, (for his choreography for Arena Stage’s critically acclaimed production of Oklahoma!) and Director and Choreographer Parker Esse, creates a simple, funny, and high-energy production of this classic hit." Read entire article.
Join us October 26-28 for additional performances at the Hartke Theatre. Tickets are available online or at the door.
Alumni Info Needed for "Legacy: Memorable People, Memorable Events"
Dr. Elaine Walter is close to finishing her book chronicling our Music School and the impact of the famous and not-so-famous people who interacted with faculty and students during her years at CUA that began in 1959 when she first arrived as a Woodrow Wilson Alternate Fellow graduate student. She seeks news to include in her chapter on alumni professional achievements. Please send items directly to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adjunct Professor Kevin O'Brien to be Honored by ACDA
Dr. Kevin O'Brien has been awarded the Julius Herford Dissertation Prize for 2011 for Russell Woollen: Catalogue and Contextual Examination of the Sacred Music. The Herford Prize is awarded for the outstanding doctoral terminal research project in choral music. Dr. O'Brien was the first graduate of the Doctor of Musical Arts in Sacred Music program at CUA in 2011.
In his recommendation letter Dean Grayson Wagstaff wrote, “When the Woollen archives were deposited at the Library of Congress and the topic of Kevin’s dissertation was made known, the LOC asked Kevin to be the official cataloger of the collection…. As a result this research undertaken for the dissertation, Dr. O’Brien was asked to author the entry on Russell Woollen for the forthcoming second edition of the New Grove Dictionary of American Music and Musicians …. Dr. O’Brien’s treatise provides scholar-conductors with an annotated catalogue of the entire oeuvre, with a comprehensive biography and insightful information on the choral canon, enriched through exhaustive interviews and correspondence with the composer’s wife, family, colleagues, commissioners, performers and conductors. In its published form, it should be a shelf book for American conductors hungry for distinctive American choral music.”
The committee’s comments included the following: “an exhaustive study supported by multiple resources… very thorough history of Roman Catholic church music and composers;” “a mature writer and a very fine story-teller … Woollen has been effectively revived;” “a cogent presentation of important music.” All committee members felt it made a contribution of the highest caliber to the body of choral scholarship.
Dr. O’Brien is currently Lecturer in Music at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music of The Catholic University of America, teaching undergraduate choral conducting, music theory, and conducting two of the school's five choruses. He is in his tenth year as Music Director at St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill, and is active as conductor in both the CUA and Washington communities.
He received his B.M. in Sacred Music (organ concentration) from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and holds M.M.S.M. and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Sacred Music with concentration in choral music from The Catholic University of America.
The award will be presented at the ACDA national convention in Dallas, March 2013.
Students Join Bucchino at Kennedy Center
Four musical theatre students joined composer John Bucchino for a Kennedy Center Millennium stage concert on September 22nd. The students, Sarah Biddle, Nicki Elledge, Jimmy Mavrikes, and Paul Scanlan presented original works by Mr. Bucchino to a large audience. Sarah, Nicki, and Jimmy will also appear in the October 2012 production of "Finian's Rainbow," directed by Parker Esse.
School of Music Students Shine in "Spring Awakening"
The Keegan Theatre recently presented a production of "Spring Awakening" at the Church Street Theatre, and the Washington Post has high praise for two current students and one alumna!
"Vincent Kempski is particularly charismatic as the smart, mutinous hero Melchior ...The vocally gifted Paul Scanlan brings a persuasive desperation and restlessness to the misfit Moritz, Nora Palka [BM '12] is poignantly scarred and waifish as the outcast Ilsa..."
Three Students Appear at Infinity Theatre this Summer
Simpson Praised by Post
Dr. Andrew Earle Simpson, ordinary professor and head of the Theory and Composition division, had his score for the 1928 silent film "The Wind" premiered at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring. Performed by the Cantate Singers under the direction of Gisele Becker, the Washington Post praised the work, saying, "Neither the film’s absence of spoken dialogue nor the drowning of the choral texts in a welter of instrumental sound and theater acoustics mattered ... The music did its job of amplifying the story’s passion, humor and drama and did it splendidly." Read the entire review.
Ph.D. Candidate Wins Grant From Cosmos Club
Kenneth Stilwell, Ph.D. candidate in musicology, received a grant from the Cosmos Club of Washington, D.C. to research how Jesuit missionaries in New France used music in their work among the Huron, Mohawk and Abenaki nations over a two hundred year period. With the generous support of the Cosmos Club, Kenneth traveled to the Séminaire de Québec, founded in 1663 by Bishop Laval and located in Quebec City, to study mission manuscripts housed in the archives, some with noël and cantique melodies whose original French texts were replaced with Huron, Mohawk, and Abenaki texts by the Jesuit missionaries. Many of these melodies are still sung by native communities today. Kenneth was recently honored at a dinner held for this past year’s Cosmos Scholars and joins a wonderful group of emerging scholars from area universities cited for their work in philosophy, history, government, and the sciences.
MT Junior Wins in D.C. Competition
Jimmy Mavrikes, a junior Musical Theatre major, won the Helen Lee Henderson Award at the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters Career in Musical Theatre Competition. Competition judges included Broadway Music Director, David Loud, award winning music director, Christopher Denny, Palmer chair of Fine Arts at Mercersburg Academy, Laurie Mufson, and renowned dance instructor, Lea Archer. In the middle of May, Jimmy will go on to Compete Nationally against 13 other chapter winners in El Paso, Texas.
School of Music Partners with Mexican Cultural Institute
On January 29, the Rome School of Music presented a lecture and concert of the Music of Carlos Chávez at the Mexican Cultural Institute here in Washington, D.C. The lecture, presented by Assistant Clinical Professor Christina Taylor Gibson, Ph.D., was titled "Chávez and Modernism." After the lecture, the School of Music presented a concert featuring students, faculty, and staff for an hour of art song and chamber music.
This concert was given in honor of Dr. Robert L. Parker, distinguished scholar of Mexican music.
'Songs of Old CUA' Performance Brings Musical History to Life
On Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, performers from Catholic University's Benjamin T. Rome School of Music presented "Songs of Old CUA," a nostalgic revue of music from CUA's history. Songs not heard for decades were performed again as part of the event celebrating the University's 125th anniversary. The Great Room of the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center was packed with an audience of about 400 people, many of whom were alumni who came back to hear the old songs they remember singing during their years as students. After the show, audience members enjoyed a reception and swing dancing to a live orchestra. See photo gallery.
Fall Music Hits the Right Tone
This fall's production of "On the Town" hit all the right notes with critic David Friscic of MDTheatreGuide.
"From the moment the 30 piece-student ensemble plays the exciting Leonard Bernstein overture to the lovable old chestnut On the Town, you feel swept up and propelled into the vibrant world of three sailors on leave for a weekend ‘on the town’ in New York City. Music is the strong point of this ambitious undertaking by an enthusiastic group of college talent from the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music under the superb conducting of N. Thomas Pedersen. Presented at the Hartke Theatre of the Catholic University of America, this tried and true classic holds up well – especially when executed by such an eager and enthusiastic cast." Read the entire review.
School of Music begins offering three new undergraduate programs
Effective Fall 2011, the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music will offer three new undergraduate programs. All three will be Bachelor of Arts in Music degrees, a more liberal arts-oriented set of programs. Two of these programs don't require an audition! Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Music.