Alumni - Submit News
Tracey Phillips accepted the Instrumental Album of the Year during the 45th Annual Dove Awards Pre-Show at Lipscomb University on October 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. Tracey
graduated from MTSU School of Music in 2009 earning a BM with concentration in Theory
Composition. While at MTSU, she traveled to Denver, Colorado to make a presentation on Convention-style
piano accompaniment at the Society of American Music's annual seminar, a very rare
feat for an undergraduate as most presenters are doctoral candidates or professors.
Phillips has lived and worked in Nashville since 1994 and has been featured on the
popular Gaither Homecoming videos. In addition, she has recorded and/or arranged for
a number of well-known Southern Gospel artists, including The Speers, The Perrys and,
most recently, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. She has been nominated for Dove Awards
for her work on Daywind's instrumental series, and her own Christmas CD as well. She
has recorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague, Czech Republic. She
composed original music for and performed for the movie "Billy, The Early Years,"
a full-length feature film recounting the early years of Billy Graham.
Phillips has taught and accompanied for many years at Ben Speer's Stamps Baxter School
of Music and the Alabama School of Gospel Music. She has also taught at the North
Georgia and Texas schools. She has recorded two solo cds and two duet cds with her
mother, Eloise, performing on piano and organ. Her solo piano arrangements are published
by Word Entertainment.
General News reported without graduation dates:
MTSU Music Alumnus Matt Palmer appears on the cover of Classical Guitar Magazine. His interview appears in the May
2014 edition. Published in England, Classical Guitar Magazine is the world's foremost
international classical guitar periodical in the English language.
Alumni, MTSU Guitar Grad - Matt Palmer - Matt was a featured performer in the prestigious Norsk Gitarfestival last week in
Hamar, Norway. (Scandinavia most prestigious guitar series). Matt shared the bill
with 2 other world renown guitarists (both GFA 1st Prize Winners) Lorenzo Micheli
(Italy) and Marcin Dylla (Poland). http://www.norskgitarfestival.no/index.html Matt
is a world class concert guitarist. In the past few years, he has performed solo concerts
in Peru, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and across the US. Matt teaches at
Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. He received his Doctorate from the University
of Arizona. http://www.mattpalmerguitar.com/ (reported August 2013
- Maureen Moeller (2013 Grad) will be pursuing her MA from Eastern Illinois University this fall where
she will study with Rebecca Johnson. Maureen was awarded a full assistantship
- Mara Miller (2013 Grad) was selected at a counselor for the 2013 TN Governor's School for the
Arts. She will be pursuing her MM this fall at the University of Northern Iowa where
she will study with Angeleita Floyd. Mara was awarded a full assistantship.
- Melissa Keeling (2012 MA Grad) was selected to perform at the 2013 NFA Convention in New Orleans.
Melissa performed three original works (Sonyq) on electric flute. She is currently
pursuing her DMA at CUNY where she studies with Robert Dick.
- Kallie Rogers (2012 MA Grad) was selected to perform with the Florida State Flute Choir at the
2013 NFA Convention in New Orleans. She is currently pursuing a DMA at the Florida
State University where she studies with Eva Amsler.
- Roya Farzaneh (2012 Grad) was a winner of the 2013 NFA Master class competition. She performed
Bach's E Major Flute Sonata for Barthold Kuijken at the NFA Convention in New Orleans.
She is currently pursuing her MM at the University of Akron in Ohio where she studies
with George Pope and Jane Berkner.
Lauren Jolley (2011 Grad) is the new assistant band director at Columbia High School in Tennessee.
She will also teach 5th grade general music.
Jenny Davis (2011 Grad) has completed two years of study with Trevor Wye at The Studio
in England. She will begin the pursuit of her MM at Boston University where she will
study with Linda Toote this fall.
- Amanda (Koch) Funderburk - MA Music Education (double bass) - In fall of 2013, Amanda accepted a position
teaching 5th-8th grade strings at Bellevue Middle School in Nashville, TN. She also
works as a freelance bass player and back-up singer in her free time. (submitted 01/2013)
- Abi Coffer (2010 Grad) performed on Floyd's Fabulous Flutes recital at the 2013 NFA convention
in New Orleans. Abi is an Altus Artist and teaches courses in Music Appreciation and
Woodwind Methods at MTSU.
Silviu Ciulei '08
- MTSU Guitar graduate Silviu Ciulei
who won the $1000 Fifth Prize in the Parkening International Guitar Competition
at Pepperdine University, May 28-30. The triennial Parkening Competition is the preeminent
guitar competition in the world, offering $65,000 in cash prizes. Silviu, age 23,
was the only USA college student to win a prize in the 2009 Parkening International
Competition. (The other prize winners hailed from Italy, Spain, Scotland, and Finland).
Silviu, a native of Romania, received his B.M. in Guitar Performance from MTSU in
'08. He has just completed his first year of graduate school at Florida State University
under the direction of Bruce Holzman. (posted 06/01/09)
- Ryan Middagh '08 - MA Jazz Studies - Saxophonist and composer Ryan Miiddagh is releasing his second original recording
featuring Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band) and Tom Giampietro (former MTSU faculty,
currently Instructor of Jazz Drums at the University of Massachusetts) He is currently
finishing his DMA at the University of Northern Colorado.(submitted August 2013)
Seth Carico '05 - BM voice performance - Current position: National Opera Singer - This season, after
recently joining the roster of ADA Artist Management and Representation in New York,
Seth is returning to Nashville Opera to perform Monterone in Verdi's Rigoletto, and
he made two company debuts: first with Atlanta Ballet in the role of Sarastro in Mozart's
Die Zauberflte; and then with Opera Idaho as Alidoro in Rossini's La Cenerentola.
Following his creation of the role of Victor in the world premiere of Jorge Martin's
Before Night Falls with Fort Worth Opera, he will be debuting with the Ash Lawn Opera
Festival in the role of Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni. In 2008-2009 Seth made
his mainstage debut with Fort Worth Opera, appearing as Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen and
George Benton in Heggie's Dead Man Walking, following his debut with Lake George Opera
in Saratoga Springs, NY, as the Imperial Commissioner in Puccini's Madama Butterfly.
He returned to Chautauqua Opera, where he was a Studio Artist in 2006. As an Apprentice
Artist, he was seen in Chautauqua as Harasta in Janácek s The Cunning Little Vixen
and George Jones in Weill's Street Scene. He has previously appeared with Michigan
Opera Theatre as Marquis de Brisaille in the world premiere of David DiChiera's Cyrano,
as well as Antonio in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Alessio in Bellini's La Sonnambula,
and Doctor Grenvil in Verdi's La Traviata. Seth debuted with Florentine Opera as First
Soldier in Strauss' Salome and finished the season with another debut, as The Bonze
in Puccini's Madama Butterfly with the Opera Company of North Carolina. While in Michigan,
he offered a recital at the University of Michigan of Dvorák s Cypresses, accompanied
by renowned pianist and specialist in Czech music, Timothy Cheek. Seth is an accomplished
alumnus of young artist training programs affiliated with Fort Worth Opera, Nashville
Opera, the Seagle Music Colony, and the Brevard Music Center. His featured roles include
Olin Blitch in Floyd's Susannah, Kecal in Smetana's Prodaná Nevesta, Don Alfonso in
Mozart's Cos fan tutte, Aristotle Onassis in Daugherty's Jackie O, Seneca in Monteverdi's
L'incoronazione di Poppea, Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Colline in Puccini's
La bohme, Bartolo in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Gideon March in Adamo's
Little Women. Concert appearances have included Dvorák's Stabat Mater, Mendelssohn's
Elijah, Verdi's Requiem, Handel's Messiah, Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, Bach's
Coffee Cantata, and Mozart's Requiem, with orchestras including the Nashville Symphony,
the Chautauqua Symphony, and the Michigan Sinfonietta. In 2008, Mr. Carico was named
the Grand Prize Winner of the Orpheus National Vocal Competition, and he received
an Encouragement Award from the Chautauqua Opera Guild. This year, he was awarded
Fourth Place in Shreveport Opera's Singer of the Year Competition, and in 2007, he
was awarded a Special Prize at the International Czech and Slovak Song Competition.
Crystal (Blue) Grosvenor '05 - MA Clarinet performance - On October 27, 2007, my husband, Joshua, and I welcomed
our first daughter, Abigail May Grosvenor, into the world. She is a beautiful baby
girl. Currently I teach private music lessons at a local music store. I have about
20 students, on all woodwind instruments, and I am working on the creation of a Classical
and Jazz Academy, in the store, which would include the brass, string, vocal and piano
studios. (submitted Sept. '08)
Jacqueline (O'Kain) McIlwain '05 - BM Clarinet performance - Currently Doctoral Teaching Assistant, Florida State
University - "Upon graduating MTSU, I received my Master's of Music from Indiana University,
and am currently working on my Doctorate of Music at Florida State University as a
Teaching Assistant. I recently married a fellow MTSU alum, Ben McIlwain, who I met
while attending MTSU. I am very grateful for the many relationships and contacts I
made while at MTSU! " (submitted Aug. '08)
Jennifer (Whitehead) Reine '05 - BM Flute performance, MM Flute Performance - FSU '08, MA, Arts Administration -
FSA '10 - "I am currently pursuing my second master's degree in arts administration.
I am the assistant director of the Bryan Hall Learning Community on FSU's campus,
Assistant Director of the Wildacres Flute Retreat and Fundraising Chair of the FSU
Flute Association. I maintain an active performance schedule as well." (submitted Aug. '08)
- Kelly Garner '04 - MA Jazz Studies - Vocalist Kelly Garner recently received the Hal Leonard Collegiate Scholarship Award
through the Jazz Education Network. Kelly is completing her DMA at the University
of Miami in Jazz Vocal Performance and is also teaching as an adjunct at Miami Dade
Community College. She has received the following awards as a commercial vocalist:
Dove Nomination 2001, BMI Award nomination 2002 and 2 Gold RIAA Records for work as
a background vocalist. (submitted August 2013)
- Ben Mcilwain '04 - BM Trombone performance - Currently Assistant Professor of Trombone, The University
of Southern Mississippi - " BM- MTSU in Music Performance, MM- Manhattan School of
Music in Music Performance, DM- Florida State University (in progress). Having taken
2 years off between graduate degrees, I was able to freelance and teach in the Nashville
area. The summer of '08 I married Jackie O'Kain and have relocated to Tallahassee,
FL to begin work on a doctorate degree as a Presidential Fellow at Florida State University." (submitted Aug. '08) - UPDATE 08/09/10 - "Ben McIlwain has been appointed to a position
at the University of Southern Mississippi. Ben, who is completing his doctoral studies
at Florida State University, will be Visiting Assistant Professor of Music for the
upcoming academic year, assuming all teaching duties related to the trombone studio."
UPDATE Feb. 14) - I have been named a recipient of the Aubrey Keith Lucas and Ella Ginn Lucas Endowment
for Faculty Excellence at The University of Southern Mississippi. This endowment will
help fund a new concerto for trombone and orchestra by Polina Nazaykinskaya. Additionally,
Polina has agreed that this piece will be written in memory of my former student Gustavo
Campos Cassemiro, who lost his battle with cancer on December 4, 2013. The title of
this work will be: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, In Memoriam to Gustavo Campos
Polina and I have been working on lining up performances of this work. We are already
slated to premiere this concerto with the Southern Miss Symphony on Feb. 12, 2015.
In addition, I just received an invitation from Sam Woodhead to perform this piece
with the US Army Pershing's Own Orchestra in DC at ETW in March 2015.
Brian Russell '00 - BM - Brian Russell was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Music at Illinois
Wesleyan University in Bloomington, where his responsibilities will include directing
choral ensembles, teaching conducting and choral methods, and supervising student
teachers. Brian is completing his DMA in Conducting from the Eastman School of Music,
where he was the 2009 recipient of the Walter Hagen Conducting Prize. He and wife
Patience Long (BS '01) will move to Illinois this August with their daughter Cadence
(2 yrs old) and son Chase, who was born on June 5. (submitted June '09)
Benjamin Parks '99 - Music Minor - Bassoon/Alto Sax/Voice/Piano - I'm working at Living Arts College
in Raleigh, NC teaching computer animation and video game design. I also consult in
video game design with a local company and primarily direct and do voice acting for
their games currently in development. I have an MFA in Computer Art: Animation from
School of Visual Arts in New York City. I have an amazing wife, Cynthia Yula-Parks,
and daughter, Sydney Elizabeth Gaia Parks (8). In 2008 I was part of a team of motion
capture animators for Rock Band II. I actually graduated MTSU with a degree in Mass
Communications, emphasis Radio-TV/Photography, specialization Digital Animation with
an Art minor and wrapped my 2 1/2 years in the Music Ed. department into a Music Arts
minor. However, I stay active in music as much as I can, although, having never owned
a sax or bassoon, has been difficult. I still hop on the piano as much as I can and
have played my father's guitar from time to time, as music is still a huge part of
who I am and it ! "has to get out" on occasion. I have written a few songs that I'm
recording at the school (they have an audio department and studio) and my daughter
and I sing all the time. (submitted Oct. 2011)
Jared Wilson '98 - BM - Instrumental performance: Organ - Currently serving as Associate Pastor for
Music & Christian Education at Madison Street United Methodist Church in Clarksville,
Tennessee. Currently serving on the adjunct faculty in the Music Department at Austin
Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee teaching organ, piano (through the
APSU Community School of the Arts), and accompanying various choirs and ensembles.
Currently serving on the Acuff Circle of Excellence Advisory Board to APSU's Center
for Excellence in the Creative Arts. (submitted Sept. 2009)
- William Coleman '97 - Radio - MA - Piano Performance - Currently Arts Access Director for the Tennessee
Arts Commission - Just completed a statewide conversation on Arts and disabilities.
Helping Arts organ (submitted Aug. 2014)
- Nancy K Frasier '78 - BM - Instrumental Music Education - Band Director for 14 years at Pisgah High School
in Jackson County Alabama Retired after 30 years in the classroom as a history teacher
in May 2009. Now serving as a Literacy Coach at Pisgah H.S. (submitted Sept. 2009)