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Six UNK Voice Students Place in West Central NATS CompetitionUNK Piano Major Wins State MTNA Young Artist CompetitionUNK Composer Receives $5,000 Nebraska Arts Council AwardOne-Handed Woodwind Creators Receive Kennedy Center AwardFirst KSO Young Artist Competition to be Held in AprilUNK Music Department Celebrates Another Major GiftMusic Program at UNK Receives $2 Million Private GiftMusic & Performing Arts Chair named MTNA Foundation FellowNational String Project Consortium (The Columns)Jeff Stelling Receives Distinguished Alumni AwardDr. Valerie Cisler Receives University-Wide OTICA AwardUNK Piano Trio Wins MTNA State Chamber CompetitionUN Foundation Awards $150,000 Grant to UNK Music DepartmentUNK Pianist Named Division Winner for MTNA CompetitionUNK Band Off To Italy (Kearney Hub)Eight UNK Music Students Earn Top Honors in NATS CompetitionMusic Pedagogy Resource Center Receives $16,000 GiftOne-Handed Woodwinds Program Launched at UNKUNK Music Grads Featured in National JournalAlumna's Gift Strikes a Chord with UNK String Quartet
Six UNK Voice Students Place in West Central NATS CompetitionNovember 13, 2012
University of Nebraska at Kearney vocal students recently took part in the West Central Region of the National Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition. “Our students advanced or placed in nine of the eleven categories in which they participated,” said Dr. Anne Foradori, UNK Professor of Music. “The students represented UNK very well, and demonstrated a professionalism and an esprit de corps of which our faculty can be proud.” The students competed against other vocalists from Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming. “Kudos and appreciation to our collaborative pianists Nancy Curry, Dr. Marilyn Musick, Todd Thalken and Jordan Peterson,” Dr. Foradori said. “These individuals prepared a total of eighty selections from standard and contemporary musical theatre, opera, oratorio and art song for these students.” Peterson is a UNK student from O’Neill.
The categories in which UNK students placed are as follows: Freshmen Men: Nolan Pribnow (Lincoln), Third Place. Senior Women: Katherine Ridder (Kearney), Fourth Place. Graduate Women: Elizabeth Peters (North Platte), Second Place. Younger Musical Theatre Women: Madison Hoge (Omaha), Fifth Place. Younger Musical Theatre Men: Michael Cantrell (Grand Island), Fifth Place. Older Musical Theatre Men: Nate Rocke (Lincoln), Second Place.
UNK Piano Major Wins State MTNA Young Artist CompetitionOctober 26, 2011
A University of Nebraska at Kearney piano performance major has taken top state honors in the 2011 MTNA Young Artist Competition. Dan Yu, a UNK piano performance major from China, won the state level at the competition held earlier this month in Lincoln. Yu is a student of Dr. Nathan Buckner, UNK professor of music and a graduate of the Juilliard School. “The UNK community and the Nebraska members of MTNA are all very proud of Dan for her achievement," Dr. Buckner said. Yu is the fourth UNK pianist to have won the annual MTNA Young Artist Piano Competition for Nebraska in the space of a decade. She competed against five other pianists from Nebraska colleges and universities. "We congratulate Dan Yu on her winning the 2011 MTNA Young Artist Competition." said Dr. Ron Crocker, acting chair of the UNK Department of Music and Performing Arts. "Her achievement also speaks well for the level of teaching taking place in UNK music department studios."
For the competition, Yu performed Prelude & Fugue in G minor (WTC-I) by J. S. Bach, Funérailles by Franz Liszt, Córdoba by Isaac Albeniz and Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonata in D Major, D. 850. Yu will compete at the regional level against the other West Central Division winners in January. Winning pianists from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota will compete at the regional level.
The Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) is more than a century old. The organization’s mission is to advance the value of music study and music making to society, and to support the professionalism of music teachers.
UNK Composer Receives $5,000 Nebraska Arts Council AwardJune 4, 2011
Dr. Darleen Mitchell, a University of Nebraska at Kearney composer and music professor, has been named the recipient of the $5,000 Individual Artist Fellowship in Performing Arts for 2011 from the Nebraska Arts Council. Mitchell, who teaches courses in composition and organ, as well as coordinates the UNK music theory curriculum, has published more than 115 of her original compositions. The works are written for orchestra, chorus, voice, and various ensembles. Most of the works are published by the American Composers Editions in New York. Her compositions are performed nationally and internationally by many notable groups, including the Contemporary Chamber Players and the American Chamber Symphony in Chicago, the Aurora String Quartet in San Francisco, the North-South Consonance in New York, the Harmoniemusik Ensemble in Lowell, Mass., and Duo 46, among others. Mitchell has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships, including, the 2006 Composer’s Commission for the Nebraska Music Teacher’s Association, a commission from the Lincoln-based Third Chair Chamber Players for Music Remembrance in 2007, an Illinois Arts Council Grant, Artist Fellowships, Meet the Composer grants and a Florida Arts Council Artist Fellowship. In 2002, Dr. Mitchell established the New Music Festival at UNK, an annual event that draws submissions by composers from across the nation, and occasionally, internationally. A five-member committee of UNK department of music faculty reviews the festival submissions, from which three are selected to be performed in a series of three concerts. UNK musicians and area guest artists perform the works featured in the festival. Mitchell also founded the American Women Composers-Midwest, an organization based in Chicago which performs and champions work by women composers.
After earning a Bachelor of Music from De Paul University, Dr. Mitchell went on to earn a Master of Music from Northwestern University, where she won the Faricy Award for Creative Composition. She then earned a Doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Chicago where she studied with Ralph Shapey and Pulitzer Prize winning composer Shulamit Ran, the second woman to win the prestigious award. Before joining the music faculty at UNK, Mitchell taught at De Paul University, Chicago City College’s European Division in Belgium, Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Ill., and Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City, Ala., and chaired the musicianship and composition department at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.
The IAF program, which is a part of the Nebraska Art Council (NAC), annually recognizes exemplary achievements by Nebraska artists, and supports originating artists in their respective fields by providing public recognition and monetary awards. To be eligible for an IAF award, applicants must be at least 19 years of age, a resident of the state of Nebraska for at least two years, provide proof of residency via notarized affidavit of residency, must not be enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate or certificate-granting program in the artistic field for which the application is being made. Applicants must also exhibit professional commitment to the artistic field in which the application is being made and must be the originator of the work, not an interpreter of someone else’s work. The submitted work is reviewed through a professional peer review process. Three jurors living outside the state of Nebraska, who are selected for their expertise as established career professionals in the artistic discipline, evaluate the merit of the work based on quality. This includes innovation demonstrated by significant critical and aesthetic considerations explored through the art form. The IAF program focuses on various major artistic disciplines, including literature, visual arts, performing arts and filmmaking, on a three-year rotation. Next year the program will recognize artistic achievements in literature and the award for performing arts and filmmaking will be given again in 2014. For more information on the IAF program, contact J.D. Hutton, artist services and communications manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One-Handed Woodwind Creators Receive Kennedy Center AwardMay 5, 2011
The first Very Special Arts (VSA) Award for Achievement in Instrument Adaptation is being presented to Dr. David Nabb, a University of Nebraska at Kearney professor of music, and instrument technician Jeff Stelling of Kearney tonight (Thursday, May 5) at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Nabb and Stelling are being honored for their pioneering work in developing woodwind instruments for people with disabilities. In 2000, Nabb, an accomplished saxophone player, suffered a stroke that left him unable to use his left hand. Stelling, owner of Stelling Brass and Winds, working with Nabb, developed a “toggle-key” design, which makes it possible to play the saxophone with one hand. According to Scott Stoner, vice president of VSA Educational Services, Nabb is playing a brief piece at the awards ceremony tonight to demonstrate his artistry and the successful adaptation of his saxophone. The award was made possible by a grant from the National Association of Music Merchants and is being presented in conjunction with the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT). Nabb and Stelling are receiving the award during the VSA International Young Soloists Award Program.
When the first one-handed saxophone was completed in 2003, Nabb was able to resume playing and teaching at UNK. And in 2004, the two established the One-Handed Woodwinds Program at UNK. The program makes one-handed woodwind instruments available to permanently disabled individuals. The first person to receive a toggle-key saxophone after Nabb was Kyungsun Orr, who lost his left arm in an airplane accident in 2002 at the age of 14. Before the accident, he had been an avid saxophone player. With a toggle-key saxophone from the UNK One-Handed Woodwinds Program, he was able to play again, which he did throughout high school and while an architecture student at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C. In addition to playing in symphonic school bands, Orr often played for friends and family, including playing a solo at his own wedding in the summer of 2008. To further knowledge about the toggle-key saxophone, Dr. Nabb has demonstrated the unique instrument at the World Saxophone Congresses in Minneapolis, Slovenia and Thailand. In addition, he has performed at the International Saxophone Symposium, the annual American Music Therapy Association Conference and the Biennial Conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance. In November, he will perform at the 11th Asia Pacific Wataboshi Festival in Bankok, Thailand.
Today, Dr. Nabb again maintains an active teaching and performance schedule. In February, he presented a two-day workshop for Ogallala (Nebraska) High School, which culminated with a high school band concert. Two days later, he performed a solo with the UNK Wind Ensemble. In April, he performed twice--once on a colleague's recital and the second time on his student's Senior Recital. Nabb can be seen on Youtube performing "Blue Caprice" by Victor Morosco on the toggle-key saxophone. More information about the toggle-key saxophone is available at: onehandedwinds.unk.edu. Stelling, who holds a bachelor's degree in music business from UNK, began repairing instruments part-time in 1989 while a student at UNK. A member of NAPBIRT, he is regularly asked to present repair and customizing clinics. Stelling, also a musician, plays trombone with the Kearney Symphony Orchestra.
Very Special Arts, the international organization on arts and disability, was founded in 1974 to provide arts and educational opportunities for people with disabilities and increase access to the arts for all. Each year, seven million people of all ages and abilities participate in VSA programs, in every aspect of the arts – from visual arts, the performing arts and the literary arts. VSA is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
First KSO Young Artist Competition to be Held in AprilFebruary 17, 2011
UNK – The first ever Kearney Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition will draw students from throughout the Midwest to the University of Nebraska at Kearney in April. The event, which is sponsored by the Kearney Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, is open to students, ages 13 – 18, from Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Wyoming and South Dakota. The first competition will take place on the UNK campus on Saturday, April 30. “In this inaugural year of the competition, the competition will be open only to players of string instruments, namely, violin, viola, cello and bass,” said Dr. Noah Rogoff, director of the UNK String Project. “As the competition grows and attracts more applicants in the future, separate categories of prizes for performers in string, wind and piano will be administered. “It offers a unique opportunity for young musicians in Nebraska and the surrounding states to compete for cash prizes up to $800, and a grand prize of a performance with Kearney Symphony Orchestra next season,” Rogoff said.
Students must also compete with repertoire for which orchestra parts are available, play with piano accompaniment, and compete with a complete work or complete movement from work that is at least eight minutes long. The competition will be judged by Dr. Ron Crocker, KSO director and UNK music professor; Dr. Ting-Lan Chen, KSO concertmaster and UNK associate professor of music; and Dr. Noah Rogoff, KSO principal cellist and UNK assistant professor of music. Winners of the competition will perform in a concert the evening of the competition. The concert and competition will both take place in the UNK Fine Arts Building. Applications for the competition, along with a $15 entry fee, must be submitted to the UNK Department of Music and Performing Arts at the following address: KSO YAC, Department of Music and Performing Arts, 2506 12th Ave, Kearney, Ne 68849. The deadline for submission is Monday, March 21. Details about the competition and the application form are available on the UNK Department of Music and Performing Arts website: http://www.unk.edu/fah/music.aspx?id=54996.
UNK Music Department Celebrates Another Major Gift,Completion of Challenge GrantOctober 4, 2010
The University of Nebraska at Kearney Department of Music and Performing Arts is celebrating another major gift of $500,000. The gift will support an endowed fund to provide annual scholarships for students who study brass, woodwind and percussion instruments. The gift supports the University of Nebraska’s current fundraising initiative called the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities. The gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation was provided by the same anonymous benefactor who announced in April a $500,000 contribution to establish a permanently endowed chair named in honor of Ronald Crocker, UNK’s long-time professor of music and performing arts who also directs the Kearney Symphony Orchestra. At that same time, the donor offered the music department a challenge grant of $100,000 to support student recruitment efforts if $150,000 from others could first be raised. According to the University of Nebraska Foundation, the challenge grant was a success and the matching funds have been raised. These gifts now establish an endowment to sustain the music department’s recruitment efforts, including support for on-campus music workshops, camps, clinics and competitions. The total support for the music department gifted by the same anonymous benefactor now exceeds $2.5 million. Much of the support has established permanently endowed funds that provide perpetual support for student scholarships and academic music programs. The total donations comprise the largest private support received in history for the music department.
“Our campus and community cannot begin to express our appreciation to this most generous supporter,” said Chancellor Doug Kristensen. “This incredible investment in education provides consistent annual support for student scholarships and music instruction while bringing recognition to our quality music programs and a distinction to our campus.”
Dr. Valerie Cisler, professor of music and chair of the Department of Music and Performing Arts, said the gifts received this year and over time by this benefactor have been a “tremendous boost to the music students and faculty” at UNK. “The effects of this remarkable support reach far beyond our increased ability to recruit and retain excellent faculty and talented students,” Cisler said. “At a far deeper level, it acknowledges our continued efforts to improve the quality of our academic programs, outreach performances and activities, and sends the message that the arts are both appreciated and valued. We are deeply grateful to the donor for providing the department with a level of support that will clearly enhance our vision for continued artistic and educational excellence well into the future.”
Jon Abegglen, vice president of development at the University of Nebraska Foundation, said half of UNK’s $50 million campaign goal has now been realized, thanks to these and other private gifts. “We are very grateful for this additional support our donor has provided,” Abegglen said. “These gifts support the top priorities of the Campaign for Nebraska for UNK, including student support and faculty support for the campus. These latest gifts match up perfectly to these areas.”
The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for 74 years. In 2009, the foundation provided the university with more than $102 million in private funding for scholarships, medical research, and support for faculty and academic programs. In October of 2009, the foundation announced the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities, a $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign—the largest in the university’s history. For more information, visit nufoundation.org.
Music Program at UNK Receives $2 Million Private GiftApril 28, 2010
The University of Nebraska-Kearney Department of Music and Performing Arts has received private gifts totaling $2 million from an anonymous donor, including $500,000 to permanently endow a chair in the music department. The chair will be named the Ronald J. Crocker Chair in Orchestra, and Crocker, professor of music and performing arts at UNK, will be the first faculty member to hold the chair created in his name. Crocker also directs the Kearney Symphony Orchestra. The gift announcement was made Tuesday evening at the symphony orchestra’s last performance of the season.
The donor’s gifts include $1.4 million over the last several years to provide scholarships for piano and strings students in the UNK music department. In addition, the donor is willing to provide another $100,000 in the form of a challenge grant; that money will be received if other donors can provide $150,000. The challenge grant would be used to recruit music students from around the country to UNK. “This is the largest gift in the music department’s distinguished history at UNK and provides not only fantastic opportunities for UNK students, it also enhances the campus’ cultural impact in the community and region,” said Chancellor Doug Kristensen. “This is a tremendous day not only for UNK students, but for the community overall.”
Creating the orchestra chair not only formalizes a relationship between the Kearney community and the university, it recognizes the contributions of a long-time faculty member in the UNK department of music and performing arts. Crocker is in his 43rd year at UNK, where he started as assistant director of bands in 1966. Crocker is also interim director of UNK’s theater program, interim chair of art and art history, and associate dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts.
“I think part of the award – the gift that’s being given – is an acknowledgement of Ron as a person,” said Valerie Cisler, chair of the department of music and performing arts. The Ron Crocker Chair in Orchestra will be a five-year appointment that can be renewed every five years. Crocker has served as the director of the community orchestra for 12 years. “In every way, this is a gift that will benefit the university and the community,” Crocker said. “I fully expect that the result of this will be the ongoing future of the orchestra and how it will continue to be a community/university orchestra well into the future.”
The symphony orchestra, except for a few years it did not meet during World War II, is essentially 100 years old and it still reflects a strong sense of community. “I can’t think of another organization on campus that encompasses more types of people – faculty, staff, students and community members of all ages – who come together to perform,” Cisler said. The orchestra is made up of faculty members from the music department, faculty members from other departments, a vice chancellor, talented high school students, UNK students and members of the community. Its youngest member is age 14, and its oldest member is 86. Beyond recognizing Crocker’s commitment to the orchestra, the music department and UNK, the gift positions the orchestra for a strong future, Cisler said. “This gift serves as a cornerstone for the future of the orchestra, of this department and the area of strings,” she said. “We are very, very grateful.”
Jon Abegglen, vice president of development for the University of Nebraska Foundation, noted that UNK is currently in a fundraising campaign to raise $50 million with top goals of student and faculty support. “We are very grateful for this gift, which provides generous support for students and faculty, and provides great momentum for the campaign,” he said. Abegglen said he was hopeful that other donors would be able to meet the challenge grant, which would bring more music students to campus. All gifts for the challenge grant will go to the UNK Music Student Recruitment Fund, which would provide resources for on-campus events for prospective orchestra and piano students, advertising and for faculty to travel to recruit students to UNK.
The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for 74 years. In 2009, the foundation provided the university with more than $102 million in private funding for scholarships, medical research and support for faculty and academic programs. In October of 2009, the foundation announced Unlimited Possibilities: the Campaign for Nebraska, a $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign—the largest in the university’s history.
Music & Performing Arts Chair named MTNA Foundation FellowJuly 15, 2009
University of Nebraska-Kearney chair of the Department of Music and Performing Arts has been named a Foundation Fellow by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA).
Dr. Valerie Cisler, Department of Music and Performing Arts chair and professor, received the honor during the MTNA national conference held recently in Atlanta, Ga. A nationally certified teacher of music, Dr. Cisler has taught applied and class piano, and directed the piano pedagogy program at UNK since 1994. She is known nationally for having co-authored the “Composition Book” series for Alfred’s “Basic Piano Library” and “Technique for the Advancing Pianist.”
Further, she is well-known as a performer, as well as for her achievements as an educator, having given numerous performances and presentations at state, regional, national and international conferences, including MTNA.
Her teaching and research have earned her numerous awards including: the 2005 Pratt-Heins Foundation Award for Scholarship, the 2006 UNK Creative Teaching Award and the 2007 University of Nebraska system-wide Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA).
The mission of MTNA is to advance the value of music study and music making to society and to support the professionalism of music teachers. The association maintains two subsidiary programs: MTNA Professional Certification Program and the MTNA Foundation Fund. The Professional Certification Program exists to improve the level of professionalism within the field of applied music teaching and helps the public readily identify competent music teachers in their communities. The MTNA Foundation Fund supports programs to financially assist teachers and students with their educational pursuits while providing an opportunity for individual and corporate support of MTNA and its programs.
According to Chad Schwalbach, MTNA Marketing and Public Relations associate, the MTNA Foundation Fellow program offers a meaningful method of recognition for individuals who have made outstanding contributions to music teaching. The award is presented when a peer or group of peers donates $1,000 to the MTNA Foundation Fund in an individual’s name.
National String Project Consortium: UNK's Membership Beneficial to AllOctober 24, 2008 - The Columns
Valerie Cisler, Chair of the Music & Performing Arts Department, is thrilled with UNK’s elite membership in the National String Project Consortium mostly because it benefits many parties in the community—UNK students, UNK faculty and academics, school children, the arts community—and enhances the overall quality of life in central Nebraska.
The National String Project Consortium is an American program with only 35 members. Cisler points out, “UNK’s Music program has been chosen to be in the company of some very impressive programs in higher education institutions across the country.”
Cisler explains the background that led to the creation of the NSPC. “[The music education community] first discovered in the late 90s, a severe shortage of string teachers in the U.S., and it didn’t take us long to deduce that if there aren’t enough teachers, we wouldn’t have enough performers in the near future. Something needed to be done to avoid that.”
Thus, the mission of NSPC. The Project is working to eliminate this shortage by facilitating undergraduate music students to teach their art to pre-college students. “What’s happening, among so many other wonderful results,” Cisler reports, “is that these students, most of whom have never considered teaching, are finding that they love teaching and are very effective doing so.”
The NSPC benefits to elementary students are many. First, the children receive quality instruction through NSPC two hours per week for only $35 a semester. That’s 95 percent less than the average cost of regular music lessons, commercial or private. Currently, Cisler explains, children don’t start receiving exposure to the string instruments until the fifth grade; the NSPC allows for exposure as early as the third grade. “The NSPC philosophy is very sincere in its desire to support and enhance public school music education programs.” School children who choose to participate in NSPC come with their instruments to a classroom on campus outside of their regular school day. In this first semester of NSPC at UNK, there are already 30 Kearney school children learning how to play the strings from UNK music major Rachel Weinberg, a senior from Kearney. “Besides the obvious educational rewards, look at the kind of role models and environment we, as an institution, are able to provide to our community,” Cisler continues. “It’s a two-way focus on students—in the public schools and on our undergraduate students as well.” In addition to encouraging students to become teachers, NSPC undergraduate instructors also receive an hourly stipend and work closely with a faculty mentor.
Ting-Lan Chen is responsible for writing the proposal for UNK to become part of NSPC. And, the newly-granted faculty line for the department, recently accepted by Noah Rogoff, is a direct result of UNK’s membership in NSPC. Cisler reports that cellist Rogoff spends a quarter of his time directing the UNK NSPC. “And, he spends the rest of his time teaching low strings. Before, resources only allowed for a part-time instructor in this area.”
Cisler explains that Rogoff holds three performance degrees plus extensive certification in both music theory and music criticism. Also, Rogoff’s performance talents are now complementing the Kearney Symphony Orchestra and chamber ensembles.
Chen’s proposal has manifested into UNK’s membership in the NSPC, which is a ten-year commitment. To begin, UNK had to match NSPC’s start-up funds of $10,000. Next year, that figure will be only $6,500. Cisler is grateful to so many, and explains that UNK’s membership in NSPC is possible through the support of the Dana Foundation, UNK’s Office of Sponsored Programs, Department of Music & Performing Arts, College of Fine Arts, Kearney Symphony Orchestra Board, Kearney Area Arts Council and many private donors and friends.
Jeff Stelling Receives Distinguished Alumni AwardSeptember 24, 2007
Jeff Stelling of Kearney, the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, developed a one-handed saxophone for Dr. David Nabb. Dr. Nabb, a woodwinds professor at UNK, lost motor skills on the left side of his body after he suffered a paralyzing stroke in 2000. That stroke meant Dr. Nabb couldn't play woodwind instruments, including his passion, the saxophone. It also meant he couldn't teach music. That's when Stelling entered the picture.
Stelling, who has Stelling Brass & Winds, a instrument repair business, in Kearney, created a solution. Working with Dr. Nabb, and with support from Yamaha Corporation, Stelling developed an artist-quality saxophone that can be played with one hand.
Two initial instruments were demonstrated at the World Saxophone Congress in 2003 and his creations have made a difference to others with use of only one arm, including a teenager in South Carolina who lost an arm in an accident. An accomplished musician himself, Stelling played the trombone in the Kearney Symphony Orchestra for 20 years. He was the brass coach and symphony board president.
Dr. Eugene Rousseau, chief consultant to Yamaha Corporation on saxophone construction since 1972, said, "Jeff is not a repairman. He is a master craftsman . . . a genius master craftsman."
Dr. Valerie Cisler Receives University-Wide OTICA AwardApril 30, 2007
For Dr. Valerie Cisler, professor and chair of the Department of Music & Performing Arts, her professional career has never been about making a choice between teaching or research. “To me, it’s all one. It’s all related. It’s the same goal. Whether it’s in the classroom or developing materials, it’s about making better musicians and teachers,” she said. “The things I do in scholarship come from my teaching.” And her teaching was recognized earlier this month with one of the most prestigious university-wide awards presented to faculty—the Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA).
In his nomination letter for Dr. Cisler, Dr.William Jurma, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities, wrote: “Her record and the accomplishments of her students are consistent and superior. In addition, her scholarship complements her teaching. “She has an agenda as a teacher/scholar that has focus and depth. Her students are motivated, accomplished and recognized for the quality of their work,” he said.
One of her former students, Angela Leising, who is currently an affiliate piano faculty member at Athens (Ohio) Community Music School, said of her mentor, “During my years at UNK, I was a student in many classes taught by Dr. Cisler, including several that she personally developed. Her teaching was one of the most important and valuable components in my training. Classes with Dr. Cisler required a ‘real-life’ approach with hands-on experiences in the field of teaching through demonstrations, internship experiences and observation opportunities…As a teacher and mentor, she continues to inspire my own teaching.”
“Dr. Cisler’s service record includes work related to her teaching,” Dean Jurma said. “She was instrumental in the establishment of a Music Pedagogy Resource Center at UNK.”
“Her efforts to improve the pedagogy resource center ensured that the students had access to the best examples of teaching materials and resources available,” Leising added. “The knowledge and experience I gained while studying with Dr. Cisler laid a strong foundation for my continued studies of piano pedagogy at the graduate level.” Leising now holds an M.M. degree in piano performance and pedagogy from Ohio University and has recently been named a finalist for the national MTNA Studio Fellowship Award.
Another former student of Dr. Cisler’s, Angela (Suing) Wright, was the first UNK student to complete the Piano Pedagogy program, which Dr. Cisler developed. “In 1999, I not only graduated with a B.A. in music education, I was also the first student to complete the Piano Pedagogy program,”Wright said. “The Piano Pedagogy program developed my knowledge in teaching piano and has helped me become a qualified piano teacher.” Earlier in her career,Wright almost gave up playing the piano. “I had developed a technique in playing piano that was incorrect and had caused serious problems with my wrists and forearms,” she said. The hours spent practicing were causing the numbness and pain. “Discovering this was devastating to me, as I did not want to give up playing piano or my dream of teaching music,” she said. In the fall of 1995, Wright began studying piano with Dr. Cisler. “She worked with me in great depth on ‘re-learning’ how to play the piano. She had me work on a large number of technique exercises. Some of these exercises were from various technique books. Others were exercises written by Dr. Cisler, many of which are now published in Technique for the Advancing Pianist,” she said. “Through it all, Dr. Cisler was always positive and reassuring that I would work through this and be able to play more difficult pieces better than I could before.” In November of 1998, Wright successfully performed a Senior Piano Recital consisting of six major works by composers from Bach to Muczynski. “To this day, when I play piano, I do not experience any of the problems I had during my freshman year in college,” she said. “I credit this to Dr. Cisler and her patience and wisdom in teaching me how to play with correct piano technique."
Dr. Cisler co-authored Technique and the Advancing Pianist with world-renowned piano pedagogue Maurice Hinson. The book has had international sales of more than 50,000. Her Composition Book Series, available through Alfred Publishing, earned her a nomination for the Francis Clark Pedagogy National Award. The first four books in the series are distributed internationally, including Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom and the U.S., and were recently translated into Korean. Her next book, Functional Skills for the Advancing Pianist, is projected for publication in 2009. Her scholarly work was recognized in 2005 with a Pratt-Heins Award for Scholarship and Research. Other areas of curricula that she has developed include an accompanying and collaborative performance class and a keyboard class for non-majors approved as a General Studies course. Further, she has had a key role in the revision of class piano curriculum. Her professional recognitions in and out of the classroom are numerous. She is a Fellow with the Center for Great Plains Studies, received the Mortar Board Award for Dedication to Teaching Excellence, was selected for the Nebraska Touring Artist Program by the Nebraska Arts Council and is a charter member of the UNK chapter of Phi Kappa Phi honor society.
As former student Leising said, “Dr. Cisler’s tireless work continues to shape her students, the music department and UNK for the better.”
UNK Piano Trio Wins MTNA State Chamber CompetitionOctober 27, 2006
A UNK student piano trio took top honors at the Music Teachers National Association competition held in Hastings, Nebraska last weekend. The trio consists of violinist Heidi Hilligas, cellist Tina Lund, and pianist Hikari Maekawa; the ensemble is coached by Dr. Ting-Lan Chen, UNK Assistant Professor of Music. The trio competed against musicians from other Nebraska colleges and universities.
For the competition, the piano trio performed works by Beethoven and Debussy. Winning chamber ensembles from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota will compete at the regional level held in Bismark, North Dakota in January.
The Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) is more than a century old. The organization's mission, according to their Web site, is to advance the value of music study and music making to society, and to support the professionalism of music teachers.
UN Foundation Awards $150,000 Grant to UNK Music DepartmentSeptember 11, 2006
Two grants totaling $150,000 from the University of Nebraska Foundation are music to the ears for the Department of Music and the Department of Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. The Department of Music has already put its $50,000 grant to use replacing aged and irreparable musical instruments.
Dr. Valerie Cisler, professor of music and chair of the Department of Music and Performing Arts, said they have concentrated on obtaining "families" of matching models of brass, woodwind and percussion instruments. The goal is to help ensembles achieve uniformity in sound quality within each instrumental section. "When we had eight sousaphones from nearly as many decades and models, the possibility of achieving that uniformity was remote," Dr. Cisler said. "The new instruments provide a much richer, fuller quality of sound."
The music department is coming out of a 35-year period during which there was no budget available for replacing old instruments, resulting in the need for major repairs and replacements, she said. "On our last accreditation site visit, we were cited for the lack of sufficient numbers and quality of instruments for practice, technique classes and performance, and for the lack of adequate budget for the repair and replacement of instruments," Dr. Cisler said. "The NU Foundation grant has made it possible for us to address this significant concern."
Perhaps the most immediate and measurable effect of the new instruments has been the morale boost among students. "Upon seeing all the new instruments as band camp opened this fall, the students were thrilled," she said, "They see the new instruments as an important measure of support for the program, and are both encouraged and motivated to work harder than ever to make UNK proud."
The University of Nebraska Foundation's grants committee awarded 10 grants across the university campuses, totaling $1.05 million for 2006-2007. Much of the annual grant resources are made available from unrestricted donations to the foundation.
"We are very gratified with the enthusiastic responses from each of the campuses to our request for proposals," said Grants Committee Chair Veronica Haggart, a University of Nebraska graduate and St. Paul native. "It is always rewarding to see how the boost to the programs selected for funding enables the university to further enhance the lives of so many people both on and off the campus."
In March, grant applications were submitted to James B. Milliken, president of the University of Nebraska, from each campus chancellor. The proposals were required to be tied to campus priorities and the university-wide strategic framework. It was then the job of the foundation grants committee "a group of 13" to make final recommendations to the foundation's board of directors in June.
The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 70 years. More than $77 million was provided last year for students, faculty, academic programs, research, and building and campus capital improvements.
More information is available at www.nufoundation.org.
UNK Pianist Named Division Winner for MTNA CompetitionJanuary 25, 2006
Akina Yura, a sophomore music performance major at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, is one of only seven student pianists in the United States selected to compete at the national level of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artist Competition.
Yura, a native of Japan, began her journey to the national competition by winning the state competition in October. At the state level, there were eleven pianists vying for the opportunity to continue in the competition. At the West Central Division Competition, held in Omaha earlier this month, Yura competed against state winners from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. In the divisional competition, each pianist performed for 50 minutes. During that time, each pianist played a complete piano concerto and multiple solo selections.
Yura studies under Dr. Nathan Buckner, an associate professor of music at UNK. "I feel her performance was truly professional," he said. "As a college sophomore, she was remarkable."
Yura will travel to Austin, Texas in March for the MTNA Young Artist National Competition. Dr. Buckner plans to attend the competition. The national competition will take place during the 2006 MTNA National Conference, March 25 - 29. In the national competition, Yura will compete against six other pianists from across the nation. At the national level, she will perform 40 minutes of solo selections as well as a complete piano concerto. The concerto is typically 25 - 35 minutes long.
The national winner of the Young Artist Competition will receive a Steinway & Sons grand piano, with a retail value in excess of $43,000. The winner will also perform in a Winners Concert during the conference, and a performance with the Toronto (Canada) Symphony Orchestra during the 2007 conference.
UNK Band Off To ItalyDecember 26, 2005 - by Vicki Rice, Kearney Hub
KEARNEY - Members of the University of Nebraska-Kearney's Pride of the Plains Marching Band will soon be part of two firsts and are hoping to be part of a third. The marching band will be the first from U.N.K. to march overseas and the first American band to participate in Rome's annual New Year's Parade, said Director Neal Schnoor. Members may also get a chance to play for the Pope, but they won't know until they are in Italy.
Of the students going on the trip, Schnoor said a third of them have never flown. Advertisement Culture was a large factor in choosing Italy. "I wanted to go to a cultural center, to provide the students with a cultural experience as well as musical," he said.
The program will include three parts: American and Italian patriotic selections; a drum line feature; and American jazz and rock classics. The parade selection is an arrangement of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."
More than 70 performers, or about 75 percent of the band, will make the trip. Schnoor said nobody thought they would have more than 30 percent. "I didn't want to go if we had less than 50 percent," he said.
Schnoor said the 2005 season has been busy and rewarding for the band. Members performed at pre-game and halftime of seven home football games, and at two parades and eight volleyball matches. In November, the band was selected through competitive audition and transitioned quickly into a symphonic concert ensemble to perform for the Nebraska Music Educators Conference.
Josh McIntosh, a recent UNK graduate from Palmer, will be making the Italy trip with the band. He was a member of the drum line while he was a student at UNK, and said he has had to practice quite a bit to keep up with those currently in the band. He is looking forward to the opportunity to play in lots of different places in Italy. Band members will visit the Vatican where they will tour St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel. Members will also visit the Coliseum, Forum, Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona. Before visiting Rome, the band members will begin their tour in the Tuscany area, traveling to Florence, Siena and Montecatini. The ensemble will present a stationary performance at the Piazza del Popolo in Montecatini then take part in the New Year's celebration in Siena. Members will also tour Florence, visiting the Cathedral, Giotti's Belltower, and the Baptistery's "Gates of Paradise" by Ghiberti.
Schnoor said he would like to return to Rome every three years, but go to different areas in Europe leading up to it. "To share performances and cultural experiences with Italian audiences, European bands, and possibly the Pope are quite probably once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our students," he said.
Eight UNK Music Students Earn Top Honors in NATS CompetitionOctober 21, 2005
Eight University of Nebraska-Kearney music majors earned top honors or were finalists in the competition at the annual National Association of Teachers of Singing student auditions held recently in Hastings.
Matthew Nicholson, a baritone, from Plattsmouth, won the senior men division. Grant Pyper placed first among the freshmen men. Pyper is a baritone from Grand Island. Michael Crawford, a bass/baritone from Broken Bow, placed third in the freshmen men division. Placing first in the freshmen women division was Minami Okamura, a soprano from Imizu gun, Japan. Finalists included Sarah Anderson, a soprano from Kearney; Jessica Murtaugh, a soprano from Harlan, Iowa; Katherine Musick a soprano from Omaha; Mai Shibahara, a soprano from Okayama, Japan.
NATS is the largest association of teachers of singing in the world. The organization, founded on March 23, 1944, in Cincinnati, Ohio, currently has about 6,000 members.
Music Pedagogy Resource Center Receives$16,000 Gift From Alfred Publishing Co.December 8, 2004
UNK music students and music teachers across the state received an early Christmas present this month from Alfred Publishing Co. of Van Nuys, Calif.
The company has donated more than $16,000 worth of music resources to the Music Pedagogy Resource Center. The music resources include sacred and secular choral music, classroom resources, band methods, string methods, solo instrumental literature, group piano methods, theory resources, software and DVDs.
The center was started two years ago and is currently comprised primarily of piano pedagogy resource materials. Dr. Valerie Cisler, chair of the Department of Music & Performing Arts, established a special Music Pedagogy Resource Center fund through the University of Nebraska Foundation.
"The idea was to expand the holdings into all areas of music teaching, including general elementary music, middle school and high school wind, strings, percussion, brass, and vocal methods and materials," Dr. Cisler said.
The center serves as a resource library for current students in all areas of music pedagogy, and for area private music teachers and public school music educators. Individuals may make contributions through the NU Foundation office.
Alfred Publishing Co. is the world's largest publisher of educational music materials. Offices are located in New York, Los Angeles, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and Germany. International distribution goes beyond these countries, however. The publisher has a connection with a UNK graduate, Nicole Elliot, as well as, Dr. Cisler. Elliot, a recent UNK graduate with a bachelor of science in music business, is currently on the Alfred Publishing staff. Dr. Cisler is an author for the company.
Technique for the Advancing Pianist is one of the books Dr. Valerie Cisler has had published by Alfred Publishing Co.
One-Handed Woodwinds Program Launched at UNKNovember 5, 2004
The One-Handed Woodwinds Program at the University of Nebraska-Kearney will be officially launched Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Museum of Nebraska Art.
Proceeds from the $25-a-plate light dinner and lecture/recital next Saturday will establish the program, which will make one-handed woodwind instruments available to permanently disabled individuals.
The One-Handed Woodwinds Program is the idea of UNK woodwinds professor Dr. David Nabb, and Jeff Stelling, a UNK music graduate who has Stelling Brass in Kearney. The two designed and built a one-handed saxophone for Dr. Nabb to play after a massive stroke robbed him of the fine motor skills in his left hand.
Once the one-handed sax was successfully developed, Dr. Nabb showcased the instrument at the 2003 World Saxophone Congress. Since that time, he has received more than 15 requests for one-handed instruments. Currently, there are only two, one-handed saxophones--the one the Dr. Nabb plays, and the prototype, which is now being leased to a South Carolina youth who lost his left art in a plane crash.
The Saturday event will begin with a light dinner and social hour at 6:30 p.m. followed by a 7:30 p.m. lecture/recital. Dr. Nabb and Stelling will give a presentation on the development of the instrument. Performing in a recital that evening will be Dr. Nabb, alto saxophone; Dr. Nathan Buckner, piano; Franziska Nabb, flute; and Wes Hird, guitar.
Individuals wishing to attend may make reservations by calling the UN Foundation Kearney Office at 308.865.8272.
Those unable to attend, but wishing to support the program, may make checks payable to the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Checks need to have "UNK One-Handed Woodwinds Program" noted in the memo line. Checks may be sent to the NU Foundation Kearney Office, P.O. Box 2678, Kearney, NE 68848.
UNK Music Grads Featured in National JournalSeptember 27, 2004
University of Nebraska-Kearney graduates were pictured and included in an article in the September 2004 issue of Mix magazine, which is considered world's leading magazine for the professional recording and sound production technology industry. The article featured RavensWork, one of the music industry's leading post-production facilities located in Venice, Calif. Eric Ryan and Chris Canning are UNK music business graduates who work as audio mixers at the studio. Ryan, a 1991 graduate, is originally from Ogallala, and Canning, a 1994 graduate, is from Denver, Colo.
According to the article, "RavensWork serves as a one-stop shop for the post-production community, where clients can benefit from the latest digital technology, top-notch engineers and a view of the Pacific Ocean less than a mile away. "In addition to mixing for commercial broadcast clients such as Toyota, the U.S. Air Force, Sirius Radio, Nissan and Infinity, RavensWork has also hosted mix sessions for music videos from Ricky Martin, *Nsync, Jennifer Lopez, Destiny's Child, Aerosmith and Alicia Keys."
"UNK is very proud of our music business students who have worked their way up in the business side of the music industry to positions of prominence, which speaks well of the education they received as students here," said Dr. James Payne, UNK professor of music. The full article can be found at http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_ravenswork/index.html
Alumna's Gift Strikes a Chord With UNK String QuartetDecember 13, 2002
A Kearney State College alumna strikes a chord with the string quartet at the University of Nebraska-Kearney by recently donating $200,000. Mary Elaine (Thornton) House of Rockwall, Texas, established an endowment in her family's name at the University of Nebraska Foundation to provide four annual Thornton String Quartet Scholarships. The fund also provides support to help defray the string quartet's expenses.
House, a 1940 graduate of music performance, and her husband, Robert, former chair of the music department from 1950-55, share music backgrounds and wanted to create something that benefits music and performing arts. "We realized immediately how a string quartet of talented musicians enrolled with generous scholarships could be beneficial to UNK," she said. "Their campus appearances, performances in regional schools and addition to the Kearney Area Symphony Orchestra were all very worthy objectives. It pleases me to be able to make this gift to UNK, which is not only a memorial to the Thornton family, but has the potential for assisting with the growth and quality of the programs offered at the university."
Ron Crocker, chair of the UNK Department of Music and Performing Arts, said, "The Thornton String Quartet Scholarship Fund is very important to the future of string performance at the University of Nebraska-Kearney and to string education throughout the state. It is essential that the rich heritage of string ensemble and orchestra performances be sustained at the highest levels possible. The Thornton String Quartet scholarships will help achieve that goal."
The Thornton family moved to Kearney in 1928, when the Chamber of Commerce hired House's father. Over the years, the entire Thornton family promoted the city and its college.
The University of Nebraska Foundation is a nonprofit corporation supplementing support for students, faculty, facilities and programs at the University of Nebraska's four campuses through gifts from alumni, friends, corporations and other foundations.
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