Professor Susan C. Cook and Professor Paul Rowe are retiring this spring.

Cook is a professor of musicology, and was formerly the academic associate dean for the Arts and Humanities in the Graduate School and director of the School of Music. She also held the Walt Whitman Chair in American Culture Studies as part of the Fulbright Distinguished Teaching Program in the Netherlands.

Cook’s teaching and research focuses on contemporary and American music of all kinds and demonstrates her abiding interest in feminist methodologies and cultural criticism. The author of Opera for a New Republic, she also co-edited 2 volumes of essays, Cecilia Reclaimed and most recently Bodies of Sound: Studies Across Popular Music and Dance, in collaboration with dance historian Sherril Dodds. As director of the School of Music, Cook played a critical role in the Hamel Music Center building campaign, as well as leading discussions on the department’s strategic vision and mission.

Professor of Voice Paul Rowe has also served on the voice faculties of the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, Vanderbilt University, State University of New York at Purchase, Lehigh University and Nazareth College of Rochester, the Berkshire Choral Festival, and the Tennessee State Governor’s School. He was the Artistic Director of the Madison Early Music Festival, an annual festival he helped found in 2000.

Rowe has maintained a wide ranging performing career throughout the United States for the past 20 years. He has performed with many of the leading American musical organizations including the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Seiji Ozawa at Symphony Hall in Boston and Carnegie Hall in New York, American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera and Kennedy Center, and Musica Sacra at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall. He has appeared as well with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Smithsonian Chamber Players, the Alabama and Arkansas symphony orchestras, the Folger Consort, and the Ensemble for Early Music, among many other groups.

The School of Music is thrilled to announce Albert Pinsonneault as the incoming Associate Director of Choral Studies starting this fall. Pinsonneault will teach choir, conducting, and the graduate choral literature seminar.

“I am so honored to join the faculty at the Mead Witter School of Music and to begin my work making art collaboratively in this community,” Pinsonneault said. “I have a lifelong passion for ensemble singing and I am grateful for the opportunity to share, critically examine, and produce music here.”

Pinsonneault is founder and artistic director of the Madison Choral Project, a 24-voice professional chamber choir based in Madison. A fierce advocate for new music, he has commissioned and premiered dozens of new works for choir. He received second place in the American Prize for Professional Choirs in 2020, performed at Midwestern ACDA Regional conferences (2018, 2020), presented at ACDA National in 2017, and will headline the Iowa Choral Directors Association state conference in 2024. His booklet Choral Intonation is published through Graphite and in active use at over 150 high schools, universities, churches, and community choruses.

Pinsonneault was Director of Choral Activities at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota where he oversaw a large undergraduate choral program involving 200 student musicians, a nationally televised Christmas program, and a history of international travel. From 2015-2019 he was Associate Director of Choral Organizations at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where he helped administer a distinguished doctoral program in choral conducting, led two choirs, taught the graduate choral literature sequence, and served on dissertation committees.

A native of Minnesota, Pinsonneault attended St. Olaf College (BM Piano Performance) and the University of Minnesota (MM Choral Conducting) before completing his studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (DMA Choral Conducting, minor in Music Theory).

Professor Les Thimmig, who taught at UW–Madison for over 50 years, died April 28, 2024.

Leslie L. Thimmig (“Les”) grew up in Joliet, Illinois, where he played his saxophone as a teenager in jazz clubs. He graduated from the Eastman School of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree in composition, and was awarded MMA and DMA degrees in composition from Yale University. He taught music theory at Yale before joining the faculty of the University of Victoria, British Columbia, to direct the composition/theory department. In 1971, Thimmig joined the music faculty at UW–Madison to direct the composition program. He later added woodwind performance and jazz studies to his teaching curriculum.

Thimmig was an internationally known soloist and composer. His compositions have been performed in North and South America, Europe, and Africa, and his commissioned work for the Da Capo Chamber Players premiered in Carnegie Hall. His jazz career included performances with the orchestras of Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Oliver Nelson, and Duke Ellington. He recalled fondly his dates in the Catskill Mountains with prominent band leaders of the ’60s, and his work during the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s with leading artists.

Additional performing affiliations included membership in The Thimmig-Johnson Duo (Madison), Present Music (Milwaukee), Adam Unsworth Ensemble (Ann Arbor), New Sousa Band (San Francisco), and Chicago Clarinet Ensemble. He was leader of the Les Thimmig 7, which performed his compositions exclusively.

Thimmig was revered as a devoted teacher and mentor by his students. His positive attitude and skill at enhancing their performance–and his excitement at assisting graduate students preparing for doctoral evaluations–were essential to what he believed was his obligation to the university.

In the jazz field, Thimmig’s role at the university evolved over the years. When he first arrived, he was involved with the UW Jazz Ensemble for a short period of time. Then he helped teach classes for a jazz major that was first developed in 1979, even though the major was short lived. From 1982 to 1988, Thimmig helmed the UW Jazz Ensemble again. While never his sole focus, jazz remained an important part of Thimmig’s career.

Thimmig most recently ran the Jazz Composers Group, one of several jazz ensembles at the School of Music. Sometimes called a “laboratory,” it was a place where jazz students were able to experiment under Thimmig’s tutelage. With a foundation library of Thimmig’s work, the group slowly became centered on student writing each semester.

A project proposal submitted by Oriol Sans, Director of Orchestral Activities and Assistant Professor in Orchestral Conducting, and Cat Richmond, Music Ensemble Librarian, has been funded by the Library Collections Enhancement Initiative. Jeanette Casey, Head of Mills Music Library, also provided support for the proposal. 

The Library Collections Enhancement Initiative is a program to strengthen campus research capacities by providing UW–Madison libraries with flexibility to address critical and emerging collections needs.

The UW–Orchestral Library, housed in the School of Music, is a crucial tool for creative research for conducting faculty, graduate students in orchestral conducting, and students in the orchestral ensembles at UW–Madison. These performing bodies include the UW–Madison Symphony Orchestra, the All-University Strings ensemble, and the Medical Sciences Orchestra. This library serves these various stakeholders on a regular basis by providing essential performance materials for research and study, as well as music for each programmed concert.

This project augments the Library holdings with current editions of recently published full orchestral scores and parts. These publications are informed by recent musicological research, and will improve the scholarly commitment to both students and faculty. With these contemporary editions, students will be exposed to the most informed canonical standards of orchestral music and performance practice.

Additionally, providing newly researched and edited repertoire of historically under-represented composers and modern composers will encourage a broadened understanding of diverse musical practices, and pedagogical initiatives, while further aligning the Orchestral Library with the School of Music’s objective to expand musical boundaries.

Finally, widening the music catalog to include orchestral music scores and performance materials in recently developed and genre-bending fields, such as dance music, opera, and film music, will further UW–Madison’s commitment to innovation and foster engagement with a broader audience.

The Library Collections Enhancement Initiative is supported by the OVCR with support from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

Todd Reck, Undergraduate Advisor for the School of Music, was chosen as a 2024 College of Letters & Science Early Career Advising Award recipient. Reck formally received the award at the L&S Award Ceremony and Reception on April 17 at the Pyle Center on the UW–Madison campus.

Those honored with an L&S Academic Advising Award are “exceptional advisors,” and “have demonstrated exemplary performance both in terms of their positive impact on students and through distinctive contributions to their department, unit, and/or the College of Letters & Science.” 

Reck was nominated by Student Services and Curriculum Manager Diana Wheeler, Assistant Director Wendy Johnson, Professor Martha Fischer, and undergraduate student Michael Wu (who was advised by Reck as a student at the School of Music). 

Reck joined the department in September 2021, and works to provide academic advising to undergraduate music students, including prospective, pre-declared, and declared majors and double majors in all music programs within the School of Music to ensure timely degree completion and an excellent student experience.

The 2024 Creative Arts Awardees have been announced by the UW–Madison Division of the Arts. Laura Schwendinger, Professor of Composition, leads a distinguished list of faculty, staff, and student recipients who will be honored publicly at a special gala event on May 2, 2024 at the Hamel Music Center. Peter Dominguez, Professor of Double Bass and Jazz Studies, will be awarded with an Emily Mead Baldwin Award in the Creative Arts, and Magdalena Sas, a PhD candidate in cello performance, will be awarded with a Graduate Student Creative Arts Award.

Schwendinger will receive the Creative Arts Award, which recognizes and honors extraordinary artistic projects and endeavors of the highest quality carried out by tenured members of the UW–Madison arts faculty.  Schwendinger is the award-winning composer of Artemisia, winner of the 2023 American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Opera award, one of the largest such awards to composers of opera, was the first composer to win the Berlin Prize in 1999 and is a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow.

The Creative Arts Awards program enables the Arts Division to recognize and support research and outreach in all areas of the creative arts at UW–Madison. Eight awards are open to a variety of arts practitioners, researchers, students (both undergraduate and graduate), staff and faculty from arts academic departments, co-curricular arts units and programs. The gala awards ceremony, presented by the Division of Arts, is a celebration of diverse and groundbreaking creative arts research that spans disciplines and departments across UW–Madison.

After competitive national searches, the School of Music is thrilled to announce the hiring of Dawn Dongeun Wohn as Assistant Professor of Violin, and Matthew Treviño as Assistant Professor of Voice. Wohn and Treviño join the faculty this fall.

Wohn, who is currently in a teaching faculty role at the School of Music, has performed in concert halls across five continents including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. She has appeared as a soloist for live-broadcast performances with orchestras such as the Korean Broadcasting Symphony and the Aspen Conducting Orchestra, The New York Sinfonietta, and Japan’s Telemann Ensemble. In addition, she has performed recitals across the world including Carnegie Weill Hall, Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, and Jordan Hall.

Her debut solo album Perspectives, featuring works by female composers, was featured by the New York Times, Spotify and Apple Music and was chosen as one of WQXR’s best albums of the year. Her recent release, Unbounded by Delos Music, explores music by American women.

“I’m very excited to continue working for the School of Music in this new position,” Wohn said. “I love working with our curious, creative and open-minded students, and our collaborative and supportive faculty and staff. I am happy to be able to add my voice and be able to serve our School of Music community.”

Hailed as “a bass of rare talent,” Treviño most recently performed the role of Bonze in Madama Butterfly and Ferrando in Il Trovatore with L’Opéra de Montréal, Dr. Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro with Calgary Opera’s and Austin Opera, Dr. P in Nashville Opera’s revival of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Friar Laurent in Roméo et Juliette with Florentine Opera, and Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata with the Calgary Opera.

Treviño is currently the chair of the voice department at McGill University in Montreal. A devoted and passionate educator, he is committed to a teaching approach which includes the science of healthy singing, a sensitivity to the artist’s physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, and an unyielding commitment to guiding students towards a more productive life both personally and professionally.

“I am thrilled to join the faculty of the School of Music’s voice department and look forward to contributing to the school’s already stellar reputation,” Treviño said. “My wife, son, and I are so excited to begin our adventure in a city as vibrant and beautiful as Madison, and I’m eager to be a contributing member of its educational and artistic community. I’m humbled by this opportunity to teach, mentor, and guide the students at UW–Madison and help propel the School of Music to even greater heights.”

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After recently winning The American Prize for its 2022 production of Sweeney Todd, University Opera closes the 2023-24 season by returning to the crossover between classical voice and contemporary musical theatre, presenting The Light in the Piazza by Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas. Four performances will be presented at Music Hall on the UW–Madison campus: March 15 at 7:30 pm; March 16 at 7:30 pm; March 17 at 2 pm; and March 19 at 7:30 pm. Vocal coach Thomas J. Kasdorf will stage direct, and Professor Oriol Sans, Director of Orchestral Activities, will be the music director for the production.

The winner of six Tony Awards in its original Broadway run, including Best Original Score, The Light in the Piazza follows Margaret Johnson and her daughter Clara in the summer of 1953 on their vacation in Italy, where the return of a windswept hat by a handsome stranger sets the pair on an unexpected journey. A lush, soaring operatic score by Adam Guettel (Days of Wine and Roses, Floyd Collins) and book by Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss, An American in Paris) brings this tale of love, regret, and hope to life. Joining the cast will be a 16-piece student orchestra, helmed by Sans and graduate assistant Daewon Kang.

The ensemble cast for the University Opera production features Madison Barrett and Eliza Morris alternating in the role of Margaret Johnson, and Isabel Celata and Avery Brutosky as her daughter Clara. Will Volmar and Benjamin Johnson will both portray Fabrizio Nacarelli, with Grady Hayden as his father, Signor Nacarelli, and Eloise Berkley and Katie Eggers sharing the role of his mother, Signora Nacarelli. Michael Chiaverini and Corey Lallo will share the role of Giuseppe Nacarelli, with May Kohler and Minseon Lee splitting performances as Giuseppe’s wife, Franca. Evan Mitchell will perform the role of Roy Johnson, Brendin Larson will appear as Tour Guide, and Augustine Ahn will play Priest. Rounding out the cast is an ensemble of skilled undergraduate performers, including Samuel Arnold, Riley Brutto, Elizabeth Cantwell, Alex Cook, Eric Luebke, Isabella Nowka, and Elena Paul.

The scenic concept is by Greg Silver, scenic construction by Zane Enloe and Scott Shapiro, and guest artist (and UW-Madison alumnus) Matthew Albrecht will be the lighting designer. Costumes will be designed by Kenneth Hoversten and Emily Popp. Sara Bartlett provides choreography, and Zak Wolff will be the propertiess designer. Musical preparation will be by William Preston, and Frankie Bones is the rehearsal pianist. Others on the production staff include Alissa Berman, production stage manager; Meghan Stecker and Eva Perez as assistant stage managers; Benjamin Johnson, operations manager for University Opera; and Katie Eggers and Kyla Moore, costume assistants.

Tickets are $30 for the general public, $25 for senior citizens, and $10 for UW–Madison students, available in advance through the Campus Arts Ticketing office at (608) 265-ARTS and online. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office Monday-Friday, 11:30 am-5:30 pm, and Saturdays, 12-5 pm. Tickets may also be purchased at the door beginning one hour before the performance. The Carol Rennebohm Auditorium is located in the Music Hall at the foot of Bascom Hill on Park Street.

Professor Scott Teeple, Director of Bands, has been inducted into the American Bandmasters Association (ABA). He’s conducting the United States Navy Band in concert in Washington, D.C. on March 7, 2024 as part of the ABA convention and induction. 

Being a member of ABA is one of the highest honors in the profession. Membership is granted through an extensive process that acknowledges the quality of someone’s work, musicianship, and contributions to the field. To be accepted into membership, an individual must be nominated by a group of members, submit a dossier of materials including a CV and performance recordings, and then be voted upon by the membership committee and the full membership of the organization.

Dr. Kevin Geraldi, Director of Bands at the University Illinois, and Dr. Mary Schneider, Director of Bands at Eastern Michigan University, served to nominate Teeple.

“Scott is most deserving and it was my honor to be one of his sponsors,” Geraldi said.

Founded in 1929, ABA recognizes outstanding achievement on the part of concert band conductors and composers. The current invitational membership comprises approximately 300 band conductors and composers in the United States and Canada.

Daewon Kang, a current DMA Orchestral Conducting student studying with Professor Oriol Sans, was selected to participate in Jorma Panula’s Conducting Masterclass in Vaasa, Finland in January 2024.

Only a handful of conductors from around the world are invited to participate in the masterclass. These include winners of the Bucharest International Conducting Competition, finalists of the International Besançon Competition, a kapellmeister (conductor) at the Hannover State Opera in Germany, and the music director of the Washington Opera Society.

Panula’s teaching has nurtured a significant number of prominent conductors throughout his career. His students include Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mikko Franck, Sakari Oramo, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Osmo Vänskä, Hannu Lintu, Susanna Mälkki, Pietari Inkinen, Rolf Gupta, Jukka Iisakkila, Dmitri Slobodeniouk, and Dalia Stasevska ja Klaus Mäkelä.

“It was an immense privilege for me to be chosen to work with Maestro Panula and conduct the Vaasa City Orchestra at the concert, which was held at the historic Vaasa City Hall in Vaasa,” Kang said.

Dan Cavanagh, director of the School of Music, won The American Prize in the “Composition, 2023, Social Justice related” category for his composition Even if the Last Bullet Hits My Chest. A work for wind symphony, the piece reflects on the patterns of war and hope, and its impact on human beings.

“Some number of years ago, I was listening to the BBC World Service on the radio, and through an interpreter, a Yemeni farmer was being interviewed about the civil war there,” Cavanagh wrote in program notes. “He said something so profound: ‘Even if the last bullet hits my chest, we must end this war.’ To me hearing that was like a flash of human connection across the globe, from a man I will never know, from a completely different culture. That has stuck with me ever since.”

The piece was also awarded second place earlier this year in The American Prize Wind Symphony Composition division.

“I’m glad I was able to tackle themes of war and cultural connection through this piece and I’m grateful that it continues to spread that message,” Cavanagh said.

The University of Texas at Arlington Wind Symphony premiered the piece, with a subsequent professional debut by the Dallas Winds. 

According to the organization, The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts is the nation’s most comprehensive series of contests in the performing arts. The American Prize is unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, directors, ensembles and composers in the United States at professional, college/university, community and high school levels, based on submitted recordings. The American Prize was founded in 2010 and is awarded annually in many areas of the performing arts.

The Mead Witter School of Music is excited to announce that Ben Bell Bern has accepted the position of Music Operations Manager, effective November 13.

Bell Bern was born and raised in Madison, WI, where he studied trumpet in high school with UW–Madison Emeritus Professor John Aley. Bell Bern received a degree in trumpet performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

“I am thrilled to be joining the School of Music as Music Operations Manager,” Bell Bern said. “I can’t wait to meet its many talented students, faculty, and staff, and to ensure that the school’s resources and policies best support their learning, teaching, and work.”

For 14 seasons, Bell Bern worked backstage at Lyric Opera of Chicago–most recently as the Director of Company Management–supporting all facets of artistic, production, and technical operations. Additionally, he served as Rehearsal Department Director at The Santa Fe Opera for nine seasons, where he also played trumpet in the stage band.

“Ben impressed the search committee and many other colleagues who participated in the interview process as someone with a deep understanding of music operations, a mature and thoughtful leadership philosophy, and an excitement for the role and the School of Music,” Dan Cavanagh, Director of the School of Music, said. “I am looking forward to him joining our administrative leadership team.”

The Music Operations Manager plays a critical role leading all music production operations for the department. The position also manages strategic planning for events, and serves as the primary contact with internal and external partners on the use of performance spaces at the Hamel Music Center. Bell Bern can be reached at after November 13.

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After recently winning The American Prize for its 2022 production of Sweeney Todd, University Opera begins the 2023-24 season with Francesco Cavalli’s Baroque masterpiece, La Calisto. Four performances of this important work will be presented at Music Hall on the UW–Madison campus: November 17 at 7:30 pm, November 18 at 7:30 pm, November 19 at 2 pm, and November 21 at 7:30 pm. David Ronis, Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera, will direct and visiting guest artist and Baroque specialist Christa Patton will be the music director for the production.

Inspired by the myth of Calisto as recounted in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, La Calisto explores themes of gender and power, sex and consent, revenge and justice, mortality and morality. With a good dose of comedy thrown in. In Giovanni Faustini’s beautifully crafted libretto set to Cavalli’s intoxicating score, the gods are brought down to earth, both figuratively and literally. Here they let it all hang out and prove that they are every bit as lustful, pernicious, and simple-minded as mortal humans.

The story: Jove espies the fetching young nymph, Calisto, a devoted and chaste follower of the goddess Diana, and immediately falls in lust. On advice from Mercury, his right-hand man and fellow schemer, Jove disguises himself as Diana and successfully seduces Calisto. His wife, Juno, finds out and takes revenge, turning Calisto into a bear. But Jove manages to save Calisto from a life of wandering the earth in animal form by transforming her into a constellation, Ursa Major. Along the way, Diana falls in love with the handsome shepherd/astronomer Endymion and various hijinks are provided by Linfea, another follower of Diana, and a trio of satyrs.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it is difficult not to view the central plot line of the story as one about a powerful man–perhaps the most powerful archetype of a man ever–using cunning and deceit to seduce a naïve young woman. Not only does Jove get away with his ruse, but as Juno is powerless to truly punish her husband, she takes her fury out on… yes, the victim, Calisto. Although Calisto is eventually transformed into something seemingly beautiful and eternal – a constellation of stars – she has still undergone classic, textbook, sexual subjugation at the hands of a powerful patriarch.

The production will feature an ensemble of period instruments–harpischords, theorbo, Baroque guitar, Baroque harp, organ, Baroque strings, and recorders–creating an authentic sound world characteristic of the seventeenth century. The ensemble will be placed on the audience level of Music Hall, as opposed to being in in the orchestra pit. Thus, the audience will have the chance to be even closer to the musical underpinnings of the score and see the Baroque instruments.

Preceding the performance on Sunday, November 19 at 12:30 pm in Music Hall, there will be a panel discussion of dramaturgical and musicological aspects of La Calisto. The panel will consist of Christa Patton, music director for the production; Margaret Butler, Associate Professor of Musicology at the School of Music; Olivia Gacka, dramaturg and Ph.D. candidate in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies; and David Ronis, Director of University Opera. The panel discussion is free of charge. The public is encouraged to attend.

The large cast for the University Opera production features May Kohler and Eliza Morris alternating in the title role and Eric Luebke and William Volmar as Giove. Eloise Berkley will portray both Diana and “Giove in Diana” while Madison Barrett will take on Endimione. Professor Julia Rottmayer will portray Giunone and Ryan Nash will be Mercurio. Danielle Bullock and Elena Paul will split performances of Linfea while Avery Brutosky and Riley Brutto will do the same with the role of Satirino. Benjamin Johnson and Noah Strube will split the performances of Pane while Augustine Ahn and Corey Lallo will do likewise with Silvano. For the Prologue, Minseon Lee will be Eternità, Jing Zhang will be Natura, and Brendin Larson will be Destino. Xinyi Liu and Alexxis McDade will round out the group of Nymphs and Furies.

Greg Silver will do triple duty as set designer, lighting designer, and technical director. Costumes will be designed by Kenneth Hoversten and Emily Popp. Sara Bartlett provides choreography, Jan Ross will design hair and makeup, and Zak Wolff will be the props designer. Musical preparation will be by Thomas Kasdorf and Frankie Bones is the rehearsal pianist. The production stage manager will be Elizabeth Cantwell. Others on the production staff include Oliva Gacka, assistant director and dramaturg; Benjamin Johnson, operations manager for University Opera; Audrey Ferrero, assistant stage manager; and Katie Eggers and Kyla Moore, costume assistants.

Tickets are $30 for the general public, $25 for senior citizens, and $10 for UW–Madison students, available in advance through the Campus Arts Ticketing office at (608) 265-ARTS and online at Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office Monday-Friday, 11:30 am-5:30 pm,  and Saturdays, 12-5 pm, and at the door beginning one hour before the performance. The Carol Rennebohm Auditorium is located in the Music Hall, at the foot of Bascom Hill on Park Street.

The UW Marching Band, a School of Music ensemble, has a long tradition on campus, and we are proud of the ways in which it contributes to the culture of the university and spreads the joy of music throughout the state. The School of Music remains unwavering in its commitment to the UW Marching Band and its contributions to Wisconsin.

Through activities such as Badger Bash, performances at athletic events, run-out concerts across the state, and special community events, our Marching Band students enjoy rich opportunities that enhance the student experience and connect them with beloved state and University traditions.

The Marching Band will continue to participate in these kinds of opportunities going forward, continually adapting to meet the needs of our community and the best interests of our students.

We are also grateful for the leadership of Dr. Corey Pompey–Associate Teaching Professor, Associate Director of Bands, and Director of Athletic Bands–and his mission to carry on the Marching Band legacy. A valued member of the School of Music community since 2019, Dr. Pompey’s appointment to the academic staff, rather than faculty, is in keeping with similar positions across the country, and allows him to focus his full efforts on teaching.

“Since my arrival on campus in July, I’ve been tremendously impressed with Dr. Pompey’s vision and leadership,” says Dan Cavanagh, Director of the School of Music. “We fully support Dr. Pompey and his work.”

We have no plans to alter the artistic vision of the Varsity Band Spring Concert, an annual tradition which provides a major culminating performance experience to band members in the spring. We look forward to the upcoming Varsity Band Spring Concert in April 2024.

Watch the October 29 live stream

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet, a faculty ensemble-in-residence at the Mead Witter School of Music, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. At the forefront of brass chamber music since the group’s founding in 1972, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet has offered countless concerts, clinics, workshops, residencies, and other educational services throughout Wisconsin and the nation.

The ensemble celebrates its milestone achievement with a concert and reception on October 29 at 2 pm at the Hamel Music Center. The concert includes performances of pieces by Emeritus Professor of Tuba John Stevens, Emeritus Professor of Horn Doug Hill, and current Professor of Horn Daniel Grabois, with special guest John Aley, Emeritus Professor of Trumpet.

“The Wisconsin Brass Quintet has brought the sounds of brass music of all eras off campus, and is a loud and vital audio representation of the Wisconsin Idea,” Grabois said. “Within the ensemble, graduate students have always filled the second trumpet chair, and they have gone on to illustrious careers of their own. The WBQ is proud to represent UW–Madison, and looks forward to the next 50 years of playing and teaching.”

Emeritus Professor of Tuba John Stevens, who played with the ensemble for nearly three decades, congratulated the current members of the group as they begin the next half century of brass artistry and innovation.

“As representative of the Mead Witter School of Music through live performances, recordings, and master classes, the quintet has brought the highest level of musical artistry and pedagogy to the greater Madison community, throughout the state of Wisconsin and around the country,” Stevens said. “I can think of no musical endeavor more rewarding than playing chamber music of all styles and eras with consummate musicians who bring the highest artistic standards to every note and phrase.”

The ensemble has always maintained a commitment to commissioning and performing new music, and has worked with composers such as Verne Reynolds, Jan Bach, Karel Husa, John Harbison, Daron Hagen, and more.

Emeritus Professor of Horn Douglas Hill played with the quintet from 1986 to 2011 and composed several pieces for the group.

“Some of the most enjoyable memories of my 25 years with the Wisconsin Brass Quintet occurred when we rehearsed and frequently performed my ‘Timepieces for Brass Quintet,’” Hill said. “I composed that five movement work in 1997 as a celebration piece for the ensemble’s 25th anniversary. Knowing, after 10 years, that my colleague’s musical talents, sensitivities, and abilities were limitless, that allowed me to write whatever I thought sounded good at the time.”

Current members of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet include Jean Laurenz, trumpet; John Wagner, trumpet; Daniel Grabois, horn; Mark Hetzler, trombone; and Tom Curry, tuba.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet in 1982, from L to R, John Aley, Mitch Gershenfeld, Bill Richardson, Nancy Becknell, and Kevin Woelfel.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet on tour in Alaska, 1989. The tour van John Aley, Elizabeth Schmitter, Douglass Hill, Bill Richardson, and John Stevens were traveling in broke down on a rural road in bitter cold temperatures. They were able to hike back to a bar they passed earlier, where the owner was originally from Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet visiting schools as part of its 25th anniversary.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet performing on State Historical Society Civil War instruments at the Dean House in Monona, WI.

WBQ at 25: John Stevens, John Aley, Douglass Hill, William Richardson, and Richard Rulli at the 25 year mark of Wisconsin Brass Quintet history.

WBQ & Friends: Tom Curry, Mark Hetzler, and John Aley with members of Stockholm Chamber Brass.

The School of Music is excited to announce the hiring of four new faculty members for the fall: Gabrielle Cornish, Assistant Professor of Musicology; John Walsh, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology; Jesse Rathgeber, Assistant Professor of Music Education; and Sarah Brailey, Voice Instructor.

Cornish’s research broadly considers music and everyday life in the Soviet Union. In particular, her monograph-in-progress, Socialist Noise: Sound and Soviet Identity after Stalin, traces the intersections between music, technology, and the politics of socialist modernity during the Cold War. Her research has been supported by the Fulbright Program, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Musicological Society, and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of Musicology and the Journal of the American Musicological Society, and she has bylines in Slate, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

“I’m thrilled to be coming to UW–Madison,” Cornish said. “The research environment is everything a young scholar could hope for, and I’m eager to work with such a devoted, intelligent, and supportive community of students and scholars. The department is moving in very exciting directions, buoyed by its faculty, staff, and students, and I’m excited to be a part of these transformations.”

Rathgeber has been a faculty member at Augustana College in Illinois and James Madison University in Virginia. As part of his teaching, scholarship, and service, Rathgeber has founded AugiePlay and JMUke, both informal, community-based music projects. He also co-founded the Center for Inclusive Music Engagement and co-convened the Disability Studies and Music Education Symposium. Prior to his work at the collegiate level, Rathgeber was K-12 music teacher for Deland-Weldon Community Unit School District 57 and EC-5 general music teacher for Kildeer Countryside School District 96, both in Illinois.

“I’m excited to join everyone at the Mead Witter School of Music and UW–Madison, broadly, in order to build upon the deep and meaningful history of music education scholarship and practice and to help chart new pathways toward inclusive, responsive, critical, just, and playful lifelong music learning,” Rathgeber said. 

As an ethnomusicologist, Walsh is broadly interested in the relationships between music and cities. Specifically, his work explores the music scene as a flexible form of collective expressive culture that articulates relations between sociality, materiality, and aesthetics. His current research focuses on contemporary music scenes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under conditions of political transformation. Walsh’s research has been supported through two Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships, the Cota Robles Fellowship, The John L. Simpson Memorial Research Fellowship, the Rocca Pre-Dissertation Research Grant, and UC Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies and Center for African Studies.

Brailey, a Wisconsin  native, received her MM and DMA from the Mead Witter School of Music. She has worked as a freelance soloist and chamber artist in New York City and around the globe for the past 15 years in a repertoire that includes historically-informed performance, contemporary classical pieces, and 18th- and 19th-century solo and orchestral music. A prolific recording artist, she won the 2020 Grammy in the category Best Classical Solo Vocal Album for her performance in Dame Ethyl Smyth’s The Prison.   She is a member of the Lorelei Ensemble and Roomful of Teeth, and is co-founder of the Just Bach chamber series in Madison as well as Artistic Director of the Handel Aria Competition. 

Graduation: A time for celebration and reflection; a time to say goodbye to friends and prepare for the future. Graduating students Lauren Rault and Heidi Keener highlighted those sentiments during prepared remarks at the Graduation, Hooding, and Awards Recognition Ceremony on May 12.

“I’m so grateful for everyone I’ve crossed paths with over the past four years,” Rault said. “No matter how small the interaction, every single person I met made me better in some way, so thank you.”

Held at the Hamel Music Center, a portion of the ceremony included recognition of all students who have earned School of Music awards over the past year. The Class of 2023 joins 4,702 living School of Music alumni.

“No matter where you go in the world, you are likely to meet other alumni, and be reminded that you are forever a Badger,” Director Susan C. Cook said.

Watch the live stream: 

Heidi Keener, DMA Flute Performance ’23, offers remarks on her time at the School of Music.

School of Music choral students perform “In My Life” and “The Road Home” during the ceremony.

Chris Fiol, MM Tuba Performance ’23, accepts a pink rose from Professor Martha Fischer. Pink is symbolic of music in academia.

Jerzy Gillon, MM Vocal Performance ’23, accepts a pink rose from Professor Martha Fischer.

Jason Xue, Piano Performance ’23, and Shelby Miller, MM Flute Performance ’23, attend a post-ceremony reception in the Hamel Music Center lobby.

Karen Szczech, MM Violin Performance ’23, Amelia Simpson, Violin Music Performance ’23, Dr. Dawn Dongeun Wohn, Jane Krasovich, Violin Music Performance ’23, and Nithya Attipetty, Cello Music Performance ’23.

Andrew Voth, DMA Choral Conducting ’23, and Herbert Payung, DMA Wind Conducting ’23.

Hanna Noughani, Oboe Music Performance ’23, Dr. Lindsay Flowers, Professor Emeritus Mark Fink, and Keslie Pharis, MM Oboe Performance ’23.

Let’s celebrate: Students and supporters attend a a post-ceremony reception in the Hamel Music Center lobby.

Dan Cavanagh has been named the next director of the School of Music, effective July 1, 2023. Cavanagh’s appointment concludes a national search led by Associate Dean Susan Zaeske of the College of Letters & Science; music professors Mimmi Fulmer, Christopher Taylor, Scott Teeple, Conor Nelson, and Daniel Grabois; and School of Music Assistant Director Wendy Johnson.

“I am thrilled that Dan will bring to the directorship of the Mead Witter School of Music a cutting-edge vision of research and curricular excellence combined with the wherewithal to get things done thanks to his many years of experience as a music and liberal arts administrator,” Zaeske said.

Cavanagh is a composer and pianist who has garnered numerous awards in both areas. As a composer he has written or arranged for Latin Grammy-winning AfroBop Alliance, the legendary Patti LaBelle, and a wide range of classical and jazz performers across North America and Europe. He has released five critically acclaimed jazz CDs as a leader.

His music can be heard on many other recordings both classical and jazz and he continues to be commissioned and programmed around the world. Cavanagh has also performed extensively in North America and internationally. He has been a finalist in the EuropaFest Jazz Contest in Bucharest, and in the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Piano Competition.

“I am very excited to join UW–Madison as the next Pamela O. Hamel/Music Board of Advisors Professor and Director of the Mead Witter School of Music,” Cavanagh said. “The school’s national reputation is bolstered by its amazing faculty, talented students, and accomplished staff.”

Cavanagh is currently the interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to serving as interim Dean, Cavanagh held various academic leadership roles, including program director, music department chair, and associate dean. He has also served in high-profile shared governance roles in the University of Texas System, including as Chair of the Faculty Advisory Council representing over 21,000 faculty members across the 14 institutions in the system.

From 2015-2020, he served as the Co-Chair of Region VI for the Society of Composers and currently serves on the executive board of a2ru, the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities. Cavanagh serves on the board of directors for Downtown Arlington Management Corporation (Arlington, TX), chairs Downtown Arlington’s Cultural Arts District Partners group and serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Dallas Winds, a five-time Grammy nominated professional Wind Symphony.

Cavanagh succeeds Director Susan C. Cook, who will be on research leave during the 23-24 academic year after serving 10 years as director of the School of Music.

“I look forward to engaging with the Board of Advisors, colleagues across the University, and individuals throughout the community to continue growing the impact, reach, and excellence the School of Music creates every day, and to advance the ideals of the Wisconsin Idea through the creative work and scholarship we will produce together,” Cavanagh said.