9/14/2020; rev 9/28/20 Howard University’s Afro Blue has been selected by UpStaged™ Entertainment Group to compete in “UpStagedAID: One World, Every Student Voice”—the biggest international college a cappella championship in history and the first ever virtual college championship of its kind. Watch a 30-second video about UpStaged here.
Over 160 leading college a cappella groups from around the world applied for the competition, and Howard University’s Afro Blue was one of only 32 U.S. groups selected. All teams have been seeded into a 32-team bracket by region (modeled after NCAA’s March Madness). Howard University’s Afro Blue is the #1 seed in the Mid-Atlantic Region bracket.
The competition kicks off on Monday, September 21, and is being hosted on UpstagedU.com. Winning teams will receive $10,000+ in cash prizes and donations to the social justice charities of their choice.
Here’s the best part: You can help Howard University’s Afro Blue become the first ever UpStaged NCPA “People’s Choice” College A Cappella Champion!
Winners are determined by a combination of fan voting rounds and celebrity judging rounds. Since fan voting will determine, in large part, how far each group goes in the competition, university and alumni support is crucial. I strongly encourage you to share info about the competition, and how to vote, far and wide with your alumni base.
If you would like to share this information on social media to encourage alumni, students and other fans to vote for Howard University’s Afro Blue, please tag @UpStagedNCPA and use the hashtags #NCPAchamps, #UpstagedU and #NCPAacappella.
Professors Eichelberger and Franke Appear in Documentary Film
9/14/2020 An important new documentary featuring members of the Department of Music, Dvorak's "New World" Symphony: A Lens on the American Experience of Race, was produced by the PostClassical Ensemble and is freely available on YouTube. Professor Kehembe Eichelberger (voice) and Dr. Matthew Franke (music history), along with other scholars and performers, provide commentary in the film.
The film examines Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 (1893) in light of Dvorak's interest in and support of African American and Native American music, and his prediction that Black Americans would define America's music in the years to come--a promise that has proved true through the global popularity of jazz, R&B, hip-hop, etc. The producers of the film summarize the key issues this way:
Why did American classical music “stay white”? What was the credibility of Dvorak’s prophecy? How did it infiltrate his own New World Symphony? Was Dvorak guilty of “cultural appropriation”? These are some of the questions posed by our film, which presents Antonin Dvorak as a humanitarian visionary.
There will be a live chat about the film on Zoom on September 23, 2020 from 6:30 - 8pm.
Classical Voice Student Receives Scholarship
9/12/2020 [coming soon]
'Everybody Wear They Mask'
8/19/2020 Jazz Voice alumnaChristie Dashiel, B.M. '10 (Jazz Studies), appeared on ABC's Good Morning America in a music piece by Wynton Marsalis entitled "Everybody Wear They Mask."
Marsalis and his 15-piece orchestra came together virtually to create this song to urge people to stay safe and wear masks.
UC Resonance Journal Publishes Article by Jessica Boykin-Settles
7/27/2020 Resonance: The Journal of Sound and Culture, published by the University of California Press, has published an article by Jazz Voice faculty member Jessica Boykin-Settles. The article, entitled "Two Heads Are Better Than One: The Artistry of Shirley Horn," is a scholarly dissertation on the life and artistry of jazz vocalist and pianist Shirley Horn.
Born in Washington, DC, Horn was one of the most singular and respected musicians on the jazz scene during a career that spanned more than five decades. Despite minimal accolades, Horn’s contributions to the art form are rarely rivaled. She was a virtuoso pianist and a genius song stylist.
Through recorded performances that best exhibit vocal phrasing, chord voicings, and comping patterns in the jazz tradition, Professor Settles analyzes Horn’s piano and vocal performance in order to demonstrate why her genius should occupy the top echelons of revered American musicians this country has ever produced. Jazz and classical musicians whom Horn cited as her biggest influences are discussed to demonstrate how she absorbed and expertly integrated chosen elements of those individual styles into her own performance to create a distinctive sound and a unique approach to interpreting standard jazz repertoire. Through biographical information, Horn’s career is examined through a lens of intersectionality to discover how social categorizations such as race, class, and gender might have played a part in informing her musical and professional choices.
New York's Lincoln Center Honors Opera Star Jessye Norman
4/24/2020 Lincoln Center will honor voice alumna Jessye Norman, B.M. '67 Classical Voice, with the broadcast of a rare performance that hasn't been heard in over 20 years.
The two-hour program, “A Celebration of Johannes Brahms with Jessye Norman,” will air at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, simultaneously on the LincolnCenter.org site and on the Center’s Facebook page.
You will be able to find it on YouTube.com after the airing.
The program, which originally aired on May 4, 1997, features soprano Norman and violinist Pinchas Zukerman performing Brahms’ “Quintet for Strings, Op. 111,” “Two Songs for Soprano, Viola, and Piano, Op. 91″ and “Quintet for Piano and Strings, Op. 34.”
Four-time Grammy Award-winner Norman died September 30, 2019, at age 74. Her many honors included the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor.
Portions excerpted from The Augusta Chronicle. Read the full article.
Afro Blue Releases New Video Retrospective
4/24/2020 Afro Blue, Howard University's premier jazz vocal ensemble, has released a retrospective of it's activities during the 2018-2019 school year. Entitled Afro Blue: A Year In The Life, it recounts the group's journey from initial auditions through the end-of-the-year recording session.
The documentary was produced by alumnus and now film director T.L. Benton, B.M. '19 Composition, under his new company, Mecca Filmworks LLC.
The video follows through from auditions and rehearsals to live concerts and the final studio recording session of the year.
4/6/2020 Afro Blue, Howard University's premier jazz vocal ensemble, has been busy recording a new CD and companion music video. The CD, We Shall Overcome, will be available after Easter. In the meantime, you can hear audio samples of all the tracks here.
The accompanying music video is a sample of a larger video project to be released soon. It captures a studio recording of W.C. Handy's St. Louis Blues. T.L. Benton, B.M. '19 Composition, and his company, Mecca Filmworks LLC, produced the video.
In addition to the full Afro Blue ensemble, the video features Afro Blue soloists Ekep Nkwelle and Indigo Passariello, as well as faculty pianist Cyrus Chestnut; Eliot Seppa, B.M. '14 Jazz Studies, bass; and Kelton Norris, drums. Connaitre Miller, Afro Blue's director, arranged and led the sessions. WATCH NOW.
Chorale Joins in Gershwin Prize Gala Honoring Garth Brooks
4/1/2020 The Howard University Chorale, conducted by Eric O. Poole, joined Keith Urban in performance at DAR Constitution Hall on March 4th as the Library of Congress honored Garth Brooks with the 2020 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The invitation-only audience enthusiastically acknowledged Mr. Urban and the Chorale in their performance of Brooks' 1992 Country Gospel hit We Shall Be Free. The selection heralds man’s desire for freedom from tyranny and hate, a much needed and poignant message for today.
Enjoy the all-star tribute, with performances by Garth Brooks, as well as Trisha Yearwood, Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Keb' Mo', Lee Brice, and the Howard University Chorale — hosted by Jay Leno.
3/30/2020 Ms. Bria Shauntelle Whitaker, a freshman music business major from Bolingbrook, Illinois, has been selected as a 2020 Avedis Zildjian Percussion Scholar. The Zildjian Company annually selects 25 outstanding university percussionists for the award. Howard University music students have been recipients since 2002.
Congratulations to Bria, her percussion instructor, Mr. William Richards, and her academic advisor, Professor Valarie Eichelberger.
Faculty Pianist Natalia Kazaryan Plays Smithsonian
On Sunday, August 11, 2019, 3 – 4:30 PM, critically acclaimed pianist Natalia Kazaryan will perform at the summer Steinway Series at the Smithsonian American Art Museum ("SAAM"). Ms Kazaryan was a student at the Julliard School and is now on the adjunct piano faculty at Howard University. She has received top prizes from the Eastman Young Artists International, Zosciuszko Foundation Chopin, and the New York piano competitions, and a "Sobresaliente" Award from Queen Sophia of Spain. Natalia will be focusing on all women composers for her performance. Kazaryan’s 2019 performance at SAAM was praised as “one of the best concerts of summer 2019” by The Washington Post.
Note: Ms Kazaryan's May 10, 2020 back-by-popular-demand SAAM concert was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
College of Fine Arts Reinstatement Postponed to Mid-2020
8/6/2019 The University has revised the timeline for transforming the departments of Art, Theatre and Music, currently comprising The Division of Fine Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences, into a new College of Fine Arts. The change, which was originally scheduled to take placed on August 15, 2019, is now scheduled for Fall 2020.
Under the new plan, the dean of the College of Fine Arts will report directly to the Provost. Art, Theatre and Music will continue to function as individual departments in the new college.
Liana Valente Receives Summer Faculty Research Fellowship
7/1/2019 Dr. Liana Valente, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Classical Voice, has been awarded a 2019 Summer Faculty Research Fellowship by the Howard University Office of Research. With support from this fellowship, Dr. Valente will spend part of her time during the next year writing a comprehensive introductory musicianship textbook for musical theater students. Once completed, this new text will be an invaluable resource for students preparing for a professional career on the musical theater
Blues Alley Books HU Jazz Faculty and Alumni
6/28/2019 Blues Alley, "Washington's Premier Jazz Supper Club," has booked several Department of Music alumni as featured artists this summer. The historic jazz venue was founded in 1965 and has operated continuously since that time as one of the Nation's top jazz spots. It's location in a 19th-century carriage house—in an alley in Georgetownnow named after the club—adds to the jazz mystique and allure. Everyone who's been anyone in the jazz scene, from Earl "Fatha" Hines, Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan to Ramsey Lewis, McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea, has played there.
This summer's Howard University jazz artists will include
May 26 - Akua Allrich, B.M.'00 Jazz Studies, Jazz Voice
June 5 - AFI Soul, Voice
June 17 - The Washington National Cathedral Band (several HU music alums are members)
June 20 - Integriti Reeves, M.M.'14 Jazz Studies, Jazz Voice
June 21-22 - Wallace Roney, B.M.'93 Jazz Studies, Trumpet
July 1 - Paul Carr, B.M.'85 Jazz Studies, Tenor Saxophone
July 15 - Brian Settles, M.M.'08 Jazz Studies, Saxophone & Jessica Boykin-Settles, M.M.'06 Jazz Studies, and HU Assistant Professor, Jazz Voice - Quintet
August 1-4 -Marcus Johnson, B.M.'93 Jazz Studies, Keyboards
August 12 - Imani-Grace Cooper, B.M.'15 Jazz Studies, Jazz Voice
August 22-25 - Cyrus Chestnut, Lecturer in Jazz Piano & Improvisation, Piano Trio
1073-Rear Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 337-4141 www.bluesalley.com
Sets at 8 & 10 PM. 1/2-Price Admission for HU Students with ID Sunday - Thursday 10pm shows ONLY.
Alumnus Harold Wheeler Wins Lifetime Achievement TONY Award
6/9/2019 On Sunday night, the Tony Awards honored legendary orchestrator and arranger Harold Wheeler (B.M.'64) with one of three 2019 Lifetime Achievement Awards. Wheeler has written the music for 30 Broadway shows, and is currently represented on Broadway with AIN'T TOO PROUD - THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS.
Watch Howard Wheeler accept the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Rolanda Carter Attends NYU Summer Songwriting Workshop
5/31/2019 Rolanda Carter has been accepted into the New York University Summer Songwriting Workshop and awarded a scholarship.
Roland is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Composition. During the school year, she attends songwriting workshops conducted by Dr. Anthony Randolph, chair of the Department of Music, who encouraged her to apply to the NYU program.
HUJE Releases New CD
May 2019 The Howard University Jazz Ensemble (HUJE), under the direction of Fred Irby, III, released its annual CD at the end of April. As usual, the recording was recorded at Bias Recording Studios in Silver Spring, MD at the end of the previous academic year and is simply titled "HUJE 2018."
Read a full review by Jack Bowers on "All About Jazz.
Join us in April as we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month 2019. Many events are free and open to the public!
On April 16, NEA Jazz Master Abdullah Ibrahim will conduct a masterclass. Other events feature our jazz ensembles and jazz choirs, as well as special lecture presentations about jazz music and musicians.
Click on the program at right to view and print the full schedule.
Arthur C. Dawkins, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Introduces Jazz Oral History Project
On March 7, 2019, Dr. Arthur Dawkins, Professor Emeritus, spoke to students during the Department's weekly recital period. His audio-visual presentation introduced his Jazz Oral History Project, now available in the Moorland-Spingarn Library Collection at http://library.howard.edu/jazz/.
The Project comprises more than 290 hours of audio and video recordings of interviews conducted over a number of years by Dr. Dawkins and two others. The subjects are 15 of the major architects of modern jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey and Max Roach.
Dr. Dawkins also discussed the evolution of Jazz Education at Howard University.
Cyrus Chestnut Releases New CD
8/31/2018 Professor Cyrus Chestnut, Master Instructor in Jazz Piano, has released a new CD entitled "Kaleidoscope" that features his trio with Eric Wheeler on bass and Chris Beck on drums.
The CD is on the HighNote label, and features music other than the eloquent staterments of traditional jazz standards that Cyrus is known for. Here he chooses to explore works by French Impressionist composers Claude Debussy (Golliwog's Cakewalk, Jimbo's Lullaby), Maurice Ravel (Entre cloches) and Eric Satie (Gymnopedie No. 1, Son binocle, Gnossienne No. 1). All Cyrus's tone, but very different structures.
Of course, the classic trio sound he is best known for is present in the standard "Darn that Dream," and there is his tone in the humn "Lord I Want To Be A Crhistrian" and two Cyrus originals, "Father Tiime" and "Prayer for Claudine."
HighNote HCD 1737.
Jazz Voice Alum Maya Cunningham Launches New Radio Show
6/29/2018 Maya Cunningham (B.M. '01 Jazz Studies), a former Fulbright Fellowship recipient, will be launching her own radio show. "Music In Culture: Sounds of the Black Experience" will premiere this Sunday, July 1, 2018 at 3 PM on WOWD 94.3-FM in Takoma Park, MD. Maya's show will use ethnomusicology to explore the many genres of Black music from all over the world, from African American jazz and blues to Afro Brazilian Samba Schools and South African protest anthems.
Music In Culture will feature interviews with local and international musicians, artists and activists from Africa and the Diaspora, sound documentaries and, of course, the music.
Beginning July 1, Music in Culture's 'Summer in South Africa' series will focus on the rich jazz tradition that is part of South African protest music:
• Hugh Masekela, a Jazz Warrior (July 1)
• Music, Marriages and the Transnational Conversation Between Black America and South Africa (August 5)
• Winston Ngozi and the Capetown Coltrane Lineage (September 2)
Tune in every first Sunday at 3:00 PM. If you miss the live broadcast, you will be able to find a recording of the program online at Ethnomusicology in Action, a website launched by Maya in 2017.
Faculty and Alums Again Tapped for OSCARS
Feb 2017 For the second year in a row, Howard University Department of Music alumnus Harold Wheeler, B.M.'64, served as Music Director for the Academy Awards (OSCARS).
Professor Fred Irby III , trumpet, and Michael Bearden, B.M.Ed.'86, keyboardist, were also hired to perform for the second year in a row.
As reported by listen-la.com, the 89th Annual Academy Awards telecast is one to be remembered — and not just for the Best Picture snafu. In the Oscar’s 64 years of being televised, every single person who worked on the production has been listed in the end credits — that is, except for musicians. That changed this year, when the names of all the live orchestra musicians were listed on the end crawl. Read more and view photos.
Charlotte Holloman Memorabilia on Display at MLK Library
9/25/2016 A significant exhibit of items from the vast music collection of former professor of music Charlotte Holloman is now on display in the Washingtoniana Division, Room 307, of the Special Collections section of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library located at 9th and G Streets NW in Washington, DC.
Three vitrines containing correspondence, photos, programs, performance reviews and ephemera will be on display until November 1, 2016. All of Mrs. Holloman's extensive and fascinating collection was assembled and donated to the Library by her daughter Charlotte after her death in the summer of 2015. Mrs. Holloman was a longtime member of the Friday Morning Music Club and Foundation Director from 1991-1995.
Liana Valente Appointed NFMC Representative to the United Nations
Indianapolis, IN – September 19, 2016 – The National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC), a United States Congressionally chartered organization, has appointed Dr. Liana Valente, Assistant Professor of Classical Voice and Coordinator of the Classical Voice Area, to the position of NFMC Representative to the United Nations.
A music educator with over 25 years' experience teaching at the post-graduate level, Valente joined the music faculty in the fall of 2015. In addition to her teaching, Valente has served as an arts administrator for opera companies and non-profit fine arts organizations throughout the United States; for six years she directed the Sigma Alpha Iota People-to-People Project, facilitating the donation of instruments and music staples to teachers, schools, and organizations in underdeveloped and developing parts of the world.
As a musician, Valente is admired for her performances of traditional opera, oratorio, and song literature, and is recognized as an exciting performer of new music, regularly commissioning works from composers across the globe.
NFMC affirms music as a universal language and strives to enhance the musical path of mutual understanding through cultural enrichment at all levels, amateur or professional. It is committed to the survival of music in all its multiple noteworthy facets.
The National Federation of Music Clubs was accredited by the United Nations as a member of the Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations (DPI/NGO) in 1949.
Pianist Karen Walwyn Commemorates 9/11
On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, faculty pianist Karen Walwyn shares her composition inspired by the tragedies of that fateful day in 2001. She hopes that Reflections on 9/11 will "provoke thought and understanding of this day that has marked this country forever." Karen performed the national debut of her completed work on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on August 31, 2009. Listen.
Dr. Walwyn joined the Howard University faculty in 2004. In 2012, she was awarded a Mellon Faculty Fellowship by the John Hope Franklin Institute at Duke University, where she completed her work entitled Of Dance & Struggle: A Musical Tribute to the Life of Nelson Mandela. She became an official Steinway Artist in 2014, and is currently researching the music of ... for future performance publication.
James E. and Geraldine N. Johnson Donate Piano
8/13/2016. Drs. James and Geraldine Johnson have generously donated their piano to the Department of Music. Paul Milesi, University Piano Technician, was responsible for securing the gift.
Dr. Geraldine Johnson attended Howard University in the 1980s, and remained to teach literature and creative writing at Howard for several years.
The piano, a 1929 5'2" Hamilton grand that was partially rebuilt in the early 1990s, has been placed in the teaching studio of Dr. Eric Poole, Director of the Office of Choirs and Bands and a member of the Department of Music voice faculty.
Orchestra Concert Features Pianist Raymond Jackson
On April 24, 2016, the Howard University Symphony Orchestra presented its annual Spring Concert in Ira Aldridge Theater with Dr. Raymond Jackson, Professor of Piano Emeritus, as piano soloist. Conductor Timothy Maček and Dr. Jackson had been working toward this feature for some time. The Department of Music's new Steinway Model B piano, a gift from the Katz Foundation, was moved to Aldridge Theater for the performance.
The Orchestra opened its program with the Overture to "The Italian Girl in Algiers" by Giacomo Rossini. The first movement of Ludwig van Beetheoven's Piano Concerto No.4 in G Major, Opus 58 (Allegro moderato) featuring Dr. Jackson as soloist concluded the first half. The concert was rounded out by Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished) in the second half of the concert.
Department of Music Faculty and Alums Tapped for 2016 OSCARS
Howard University Department of Music alumnus Harold Wheeler, B.M. '64, was the Music Director for the 88th Academy Awards(OSCARS) on February 28, 2016. The Gala was televised live on ABC-TV from the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, CA.
HU was also represented in the orchestra by Professor Fred Irby III , trumpet, and Michael Bearden, B.M.Ed. '86, on keyboards.
Fred Irby III Receives Jazz Service Award
Professor Fred Irby, III was one of three recipients of the "Ronnie Wells Jazz Service Award" during the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival (MAJF) in Rockville, MD. Ron Elliston and Joan Rackey also received the award.
Pictured with Professor Irby is Paul Carr, B.M.'85 Jazz Studies, Executive and Artistic Director of MAJF and a 2014 recipient of HUJE's Benny Golson Jazz Master Award.
Passionately committed to the education of children, particularly as it relates to the preservation of jazz, in 2002, Paul founded the Jazz Academy of Music, which hosts summer camps and jazz ensembles for kids throughout the year. In 2010, he re-established the East Coast Jazz Festival as the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival.
Metropolitan Club Donates Steinway Grand
2/1/2016. The Metropolitan Club of the City of Washington has generously donated a 1924 Steinway Model M grand piano to the Department of Music. Paul Milesi, University Piano Technician, was responsible for securing the gift. The piano has been placed in the teaching studio of jazz piano instructor Cyrus Chestnut.
Katz Foundation Donates New Steinway Recital Piano
The Abraham J. and Phylis Katz Foundation has graciously donated a new 7' Steinway Model B recital piano to the Department of Music. Steinway B #597670, encased in satin ebony and sporting the classic Steinway logo on its treble side, will reside on the stage of Lulu Vere Childers Recital Hall.
Dr. Charles Timbrell, Coordinator of Keyboard Studies, was responsible for securing the gift. Dr. Timbrell and fellow faculty member and Steinway Artist Dr. Karen Walwyn selected the piano at Steinway Piano Gallery in North Bethesda, MD, the local Steinway dealership.
This extraordinary gift will be officially recognized and celebrated in a Dedication Concert scheduled for Thursday, January 21, 2016 in Childers Recital Hall. The program, with Howard University pianists Charles Timbrell, Karen Walwyn, Cyrus Chestnut and Laurie Bunn, will feature a variety of piano music ranging from classical to jazz and spirituals, as well as an original composition by pianist/composer Walwyn. The concert is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.
Mickey Thomas Terry Receives Award
Dr. Mickey Thomas Terry has been awarded a 2015 DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities Artist Fellowship Award. This is the third consecutive year in which Dr. Terry has received this award.
Chris Royal Named "Green Teacher of the Year"
Professor Chris Royal has been awarded The Howard University Green Teacher of the Year Award for 2015.
GRAMMY® Award Winner Patti Austin at Howard
GRAMMY® Award Winner Patti Austin visited the Department of Music on Friday, November 6, 2015 to rehearse with the Howard University Jazz Ensemble (HUJE) for an upcoming engagement. She also took time to present a brief masterclass and speak with students about her extensive career in the music industry.
The following Monday, November 9, Ms Austin performed with HUJE at the DC Jazz Festival's Annual Trustee Gala at Hamilton Live.
Choral Director J. Weldon Norris Featured in "Voices on the Hill - A Lifetime of Music"
On October 11, 2015, Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick hosted Distinguished Alumnus and retired Director of University Choral Activities Dr. J. Weldon Norris on The Journey, a weekly production of WHUR 96.3 FM. Listen
Alumna Dawn Wilson Travels to Abu Dhabi
Oct 2015. Dawn Wilson, M.M.E. '14, just returned from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where she provided music theory training to police musicians in the music department of the Police College.
Marching Band Participates in Honda Battle of the Bands
Howard University's "Showtime" Marching Band was one of eight bands invited to participate in the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase in Atlanta, GA on January 24, 2015. Band members and faculty also participated in the HBOB Recruitment Fair, sharing information about Howard University's band and music programs with thousands of prospective students.
The Honda Battle of the Bands was created to celebrate, support and recognize the excellence of Black college marching bands and the unique academic experience offered by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Honda annually awards more than $200,000 in grants to participating marching bands during the program period.
Afro Blue Releases New Christmas CD Recorded Live at NPR
A tambourine jingled merrily and spirits were high when Afro Blue visited NPR's Studio 1 to share a brilliant assortment of holiday music. The group delighted the audience with fresh, thoughtful arrangements of Christmas favorites, from a rollicking "Angels We Have Heard On High" to a sublime, weighty "Silent Night." Also on the bill were a few lesser-known holiday numbers, such as director Connaitre Miller's original piece "That Is Love," which offers a meditation on the meaning of the holiday season.
... As a further treat, Afro Blue was joined by jazz master and Howard University professor Cyrus Chestnut on piano, along with Eliot Seppa, B.M. '12, on bass and Carroll Dashiell III on drums. Read More, Listen, Share.
Purchase "An Afro Blue Christmas" as an MP3 download or on CD.
Richard Smallwood Speaks To Students
On Tuesday, September 16, 2014, in celebration of Gospel Music Heritage Month, renowned gospel artist and HU Alum Richard Smallwood, B.M. '71, returned to an overflowing Childers Recital Hall to address a rapt audience of Department of Music students and faculty. He spoke of his seminal years at Howard with fondness, described the challenges of his formative years as a young professional in the music industry, and humbly revealed his ultimate success as a brilliant gospel artist.
Throughout the evening, Mr. Smallwood delighted all in attendance whenever he turned to the Steinway concert grand upon which he had played his graduation recital and sang brief excerpts from the gospel repertoire—both his own and that of others. The evening closed with Mr. Smallwood leading the audience in a moving rendition of Total Praise.
Brent Birckhead Appointed to Morgan Faculty
Jazz Studies program alum Brent Birckhead, B.M. '08, M.M. '10, has joined the music faculty of Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD as the saxophone instructor beginning Fall 2014.
In 2011, Brent was one of three Howard students among six students nationwide to be recognized for a Graduate College Outstanding Performance in the Jazz Soloist category in DownBeat Magazine's 34th Annual Student Music Awards.
Afro Blue and Traces of Blue Release New Videos
Afro Blue, Howard's premier vocal jazz ensemble under the direction of Professor Connaitre Miller, and Traces of Blue, an alumni outgrowth, have released two new videos entitled "Tribute to the Great Jazz Ladies of the Apollo" and "How I Got Over."
Recorded during the Alumni Jazz Concert that kicked off the Department of Music's 7th Annual Jazz Week this past April—part of a year-long centennial celebration for the Department—the videos feature a rich mix of current students, Afro Blue alums and a stellar rhythm section comprising pianist Geri Allen, B.M. '79, bassist Carroll Dashiell Jr., B.M. '87, M.M. '95, and drummer Carroll Dashiell III.
HOWARD Magazine Highlights 100 Years of Musical Excellence at Howard
The Summer 2014 issue of HOWARD magazine—complete with iconic professor James Weldon Norris on its cover— celebrates the Department of Music centennial.
The Editor's Letter, President's Perspective, and three feature articles all underscore a century of musicmaking by the Department and its alumni:
Karen Walwyn Named Steinway Artist
Steinway & Sons has designated Professor Karen Walwyn an official Steinway Artist, adding her to the ranks of an elite group of pianists worldwide awarded such stature by the famous piano maker, and making her Howard University's first "Steinway Artist-in-Residence."
Dr. Walwyn joined the Howard faculty in 2004. She was recently awarded a Mellon Faculty Fellowship by the John Hope Franklin Institute at Duke University, where she completed her debut work entitled Of Dance & Struggle: A Musical Tribute to the Life of Nelson Mandela. Read more.
University Publishes New Fine Arts Video
Howard University has published a new video on its YouTube channel which provides an overview of the Division of Fine Arts. The 7-minute piece is a collage of students, alumni and faculty from the Departments of Art, Theatre and Music at work and in interviews. Watch.
Larry Jenkins Receives Appointment at Tennessee State University
Larry Jenkins, M.M. '14, was appointed Assistant Director of Bands at Tennessee State University in Nashville beginning Fall 2014. In addition to his responsibilities with the marching and concert bands, he will teach some music education courses.
Afro Blue Students Garner Top Awards
Students in Howard's premier vocal jazz ensemble, Afro Blue, again earned top recognition in the annual DownBeat Student Music Awards for 2014. Afro Blue won first place for Outstanding Performance by a Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Blue Note, a sub-group of Afro Blue, was awarded first place for Outstanding Performance by a Small Vocal Jazz Group. Shacara Rogers (B.M. '12, M.M. '14) was cited for Outstanding Performance in the Vocal Jazz Soloist category.
Afro Blue also won a 2014 "Wammie" for Best A Cappella Group in the 28th Annual Washington Area Music Awards, awarded by the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA).
Kudos to the members of Afro Blue and its director, Professor Connaitre Miller!
7th Annual Jazz Week Features Howard Jazz Program Alumni
The Department of Music's 7th Annual Jazz Week featured the Department's graduates in lectures, panel discussions, workshops, films and concerts throughout the week of April 7-12, 2014. Pianist Geri Allen (B.M. '79) and acclaimed South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela highlighted the opening concert in Cramton Auditorium, which included alumni from both instrumental and vocal jazz studies programs.
Alumnus Damien Sneed Awarded Sphinx Medal of Excellence
On March 19, 2014, multi-genre pianist-composer-conductor Damien Sneed, B.M. '01, was honored, along with Carla Dirlikov and Pedrito Martinez, as a 2014 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient at an event at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and was among the guests of honor at a black-tie dinner at the United States Supreme Court, hosted by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Sneed was selected for the honor as one of the emerging Black and Latino leaders in classical music who demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination and leadership potential. The Sphinx Medal of Excellence carries a $50,000 honorarium.
Vocal Jazz Students Participate in Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center
Vocal Jazz Studies students Shacara Rogers (B.M. '12, M.M. '14) and Integriti Reeves (M.M. '14) were among an elite group chosen to participate in the 2014 Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead program at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from February 24-March 7.
The Jazz Ahead program identifies outstanding, emerging jazz artist-composers in their mid-teens to age twenty-five, and brings them together under the tutelage of experienced artist-instructors who coach and counsel them, helping to polish their performance, composing, and arranging skills. The two-week residency program includes daily workshops and rehearsal with established jazz artists and culminates in three concerts on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, broadcast live over the Internet. Archived performances.
Other Howard alums who are Jazz Ahead alumni include pianist Amy Bormet (M.M. '10) and vocalist Christie Dashiell (B.M. '10).
Department of Music Students and Faculty Join With Jazz Stars in Howard University's Musical Tribute To Nelson Mandela
Department of Music students and faculty contributed their talents along with jazz luminaries Larry Willis and Hugh Masekela in Howard University's February 11, 2014 Musical Tribute to Nelson Mandela.
HUJE Collaborates With The Washington Ballet In "The Jazz/Blues Project" At Harman Hall
"The [Etta] James catalogue was performed live by the Howard University Jazz Ensemble and vocalist E. Faye Butler, and the musicians proved to be the essential spark that pushed this work into overdrive." -Sarah Halzack, The Washington Post. Read the full review.
President's February 2014 Bison Beat Newsletter spotlights Division of Fine Arts, Dr. Norris, Afro Blue, others. Read and Watch Video.
Pianist Leon Bates Presents Masterclass and Mini-Concert
On September 19, 2013, Department of Music students were treated to a masterclass and mini-concert by renowned concert pianist and Steinway Artist Leon Bates. The event took place in Childers Recital Hall. Howard University President Sidney A. Ribeau, Interim Provost Wayne A.I. Frederick, Associate Dean Gwendolyn Everett (Division of Fine Arts) and Department of Music Interim Chair Saïs Kamalidiin offered brief remarks.
The program—the first in a series of events planned to publicize and support the Department's Piano Renewal Initiative—was made possible through the generous support of David Slan and Steinway Piano Gallery–Washington DC, who provided a C&A Steinway Model D concert grand piano and paid the expenses associated with Mr. Bates's appearance.
L to R: Ken Saliba of Steinway Piano Gallery,
Leon Bates, Khari Sarad-Sheldon, Kayla Waters,
Kalifa Moore, La'Vonne Tynes, Basil Muhammad
Four student pianists and one Department of Music alum actively participated in the masterclass by playing for Maestro Bates in front of their peers, Departmental faculty and other guests. Mr. Bates critiqued each student's performance, offering supportive comments as well as suggestions for improvement.
Among those who participated were Kalifa Moore (Class of 2015; student of Raymond Jackson), Basil Muhammad (Class of 2016; student of Charles Timbrell), Khari Sarad-Sheldon (Class of 2014; student of Karen Walwyn), La'Vonne Tynes (Class of 2015; student of Charles Timbrell) and Kayla Waters (B.M. '13; student of Karen Walwyn). Their repertoire that day included works by Albeniz, Beethoven, Debussy, Khachaturian and Mozart.
The Department of Music hosted student and VIP receptions following the performances to provide students, faculty, and members of the Howard University administration an opportunity to meet and talk with Maestro Bates and Steinway & Sons representatives.
Tracey Stewart Awarded Fulbright
Tracey Mia Stewart, B.M. '12 (Music History), has been honored as one of six Fulbright Fellows from Howard University for 2012-2013. Tracey will spend the coming year in Jamaica, W.I., exploring the rhythmic patterns that link the music of the Akan of West Africa, Jamaican Maroons, and the Gullah of the United States.
Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program mission is to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills. The national grant, funded by the U.S. Department of State, allows U.S. citizens or permanent residents to engage international communities through research and study or by teaching English abroad after earning Bachelor degrees. Grants cover travel and living costs for the academic year and necessary tuition at overseas universities.
Department of Music Marks 100-Years
The Department of Music began a two-year celebration of the 100th anniversary of its founding with an inaugural concert on Sunday afternoon, February 12, 2012 in Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel on the Howard University main campus.
Dr. Raymond Jackson, piano, Professor Kehembe Eichelberger, voice, and Professor Fred Irby, trumpet, performed to a full house. The program included ....