Friday, December 20, 2013

Upcoming Alumni Gathering

Do you live near Dallas? 
Are you attending the Jazz Education Network's Conference in January?

If the answer is "yes" to either of those questions, you are invited to Dinner and Conversation with faculty members Nat Reeves and Shawnn Monteiro-Huelbig on Thursday, January 9, 6-7:30 p.m. at Pyramid Restaurant.

If you would like to attend, or for further information, contact Philip Grover at 860.768.4468 or


So many alumni report fond memories of their years at the
University of Hartford. Some things have changed since you
studied here, we're sure. What haven't changed are our
values and the integrity of relationships formed here. We
hope to continue aligning our history with our future in a
way that generates excitement amongst our alumni.

More information about the upcoming gathering in NYC on January 13, 2014 coming soon.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hartt's Guitar Department is 50! SAVE THE DATE


Fiftieth Anniversary Concert celebrating the founding of the Guitar Department
Saturday, April 12: 8:00 PM, Millard Auditorium

 Did you know?

The Guitar Department at The Hartt School University of Hartford is the oldest performance-based guitar program in the country. Graduating its first member in 1968, 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hartt Community Division to Perform The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

The Hartt School Community Division will open its traditional production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker on Friday, December 13 at 7:30 PM. As a special treat this season, the Hartt Dance Department will also offer a Nutty Nutcracker. If you’re a Nutcracker “regular,” you are in for a comical evening with this off-the-wall version of the original Nutcracker. The Nutty Nutcracker, will premiere on Sunday, December 15 at 7:30 PM. Hartt’s Nutcracker production includes two casts from its Pre-Professional and Children’s Ballet programs, former dancers from the Hartford Ballet, and surprise cameo appearances by several local celebrities and dignitaries. In total, the cast numbers more than 100 performers.
Set to Peter IIyitch Tchaikovsky’s glorious score, Hartt’s The Nutcracker features choreography by Community Division Dance Department’s Artistic Director Samantha Dunster, lighting by Production Designer Dewey Strang, brilliant costumes, a Christmas tree that grows to tremendous heights, snow falling and the ultimate battle between Clara’s beloved Nutcracker and his nemesis, The Rat King. Ms. Dunster’s choreography maintains the highest traditional quality of this holiday classic and lends itself to an enchanting evening for the whole family. “I look forward every year to our production of this time-honored tradition,” says Ms. Dunster, “The combination of Tchaikovsky’s enchanting music, the radiant costumes, stunning sets and lighting all paired with our immensely talented students makes for a magical holiday experience for young and old alike.”

Traditional Nutcracker Performances:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Additional Information Concerning Malcolm Morrison

Dear Hartt alumni,

We write to inform you, if you have not yet heard, that former Hartt School Dean Malcolm Morrison died on November 8. We send you this news of his passing with great sadness; we have lost a great leader and lover of the arts, mentor, faculty member, and friend. Malcolm left his stamp on The Hartt School and the University, and changed so many lives for the better. We know you join us in expressing our deepest sympathy to his wife, Jo, his daughter, Nikki, and their entire family.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Message from Stephen Pier

Dear Friends of Hartt Dance,

It has been some time since I sent out our last newsletter, “The Hartt Dance Occasional”, and things just keep getting better. We have had an excellent Fall semester so far with a promising freshman class starting to get traction and a beautiful group of seniors preparing to launch their careers.

Our dancers have just finished an extraordinary series of performances in the Roberts Theater presenting the first half of the Senior class in their own group works as well as solos created on them by professional choreographers.  It was very moving to see them perform along side their younger colleagues and appreciate how far they have come as aspiring artists and engaged human beings. Clearly, the work of our brilliant faculty is having a meaningful effect!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Hartt is Saddened by the Passing of Malcolm Morrison


The following is a message from the Hartt Dean, Aaron Flagg.
It is with great sadness that I must communicate the passing, today, of former Dean and University Professor of Theatre Malcolm Morrison. The Hartt family has just lost a great leader, mentor, faculty member, and friend.

Malcolm Morrison bravely battled illness for over ten years and always maintained his wit and good humor while serving the students and art form he so dearly loved. Professor Morrison was our dean from 1998 to 2008 and oversaw the expansion of Hartt from a distinguished music conservatory to a comprehensive performing arts conservatory including dance and theatre divisions. He oversaw the design and construction of the Mort and Irma Handel Performing Arts Center, which observes its fifth anniversary this month.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

5 Questions with Christopher Selby

Christopher Selby (B.M. Music Education--Instrumental, 1992) studied violin/viola and music education at Hartt from 1988-1992.  He is currently living in Charleston, SC.

What have you been up to since you graduated from Hartt?

After leaving Hartt, I taught for five years in Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia. Then I moved to Columbia, SC to study Orchestral Conducting at the University of South Carolina. I earned my MM (1999) and a D.M.A. (2000) in Orchestral Conducting. After getting my doctorate, I became the District Orchestra Coordinator for Richland School District Two in Columbia, SC where I worked for eleven years.  While teaching orchestra classes and supervising string instruction across the district, I also lead our state MEA as President of the orchestra teachers from 2007-2009, and then President of the SCMEA Executive Board from 2011-2013. I’ve conducted regional and all-state orchestras, and co-authored the SC state standards for Instrumental Music. In the Spring of 2012, I took the Spring Valley HS Chamber Orchestra to the ASTA National Orchestra Festival and we won 1st Place in the competitive string orchestra division.

What are you involved with right now?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

59 Years! Watson Morrison performs this weekend (UPDATED)

Among the fantastic events coming up this week, the Hartt Orchestra performs on Friday evening, and Watson Morrison, who celebrates 59 years of teaching at The Hartt School, performs a special 85th birthday concert on Sunday. Check out all upcoming performances at!
11/8 UPDATE - Due to Illness, Dr. Morrison's recital has been cancelled.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

5 Questions with Brad Danho

Bradford Danho, B.M. 2003, studied Music Education at Hartt from 1999-2003.  He is currently living in Baltimore, MD.

What have you been up to since you graduated from Hartt?

After graduating from Hartt in 2003, I began studies in the Jazz program at the University of North Texas.  While at UNT, I studied saxophone with retired professor of saxophone Jim Riggs and held a saxophone teaching assistantship.  I also played lead alto saxophone in the Grammy nominated One O'Clock Lab Band for two years.  

What are you involved with right now?

In 2008, I won a position in the Jazz Ambassadors of the United States Army Field Band from Washington, DC.  The Jazz Ambassadors are a 19 piece big band comprised of all active duty soldiers in the US Army.  We tour 100 days a year in the continental US. 

What is one of your most memorable things about your time at Hartt?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hartt Gala 2013

The 12th Annual Hartt Gala took place last Saturday, October 19, two days ago as I write this, at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Hartford. It was a blast. Over 300 people attended including several Hartt alums, one of whom, Miguel Vasquez, of the Class of 2013, sang brilliantly and thanked those present for their contributions which had made his arrival and continued attendance at Hartt possible in the first place.

 The scheduled performances, all by Hartt students -- a chorus of pre-college students from the Community Division, a second chorus from the college and then four student performers from the musical, Barnum, two of whom were performing on stilts -- were all enthusiastically received by the audience… as they should have been. They were terrific. The live auction was fun with Maestro Edward Cumming filling the role as auctioneer for the second year in a row. A lot of the trips that were up for bid were sold out quickly and at least two of them were sold at least twice over. Hartt can use the money. And, Steve Metcalf and Mike Morris topped off the evening with their post-gala cabaret featuring pop music, unrehearsed and often wonderfully surprising, in a sing along that has now become a traditional way both to wind down and still continue the festiveness of the event. After all, why would such a youthful, hip audience, especially one as young as this one was (sic), want to go home and turn out the lights on Saturday night at 10:00 P.M? Besides, the Red Sox Game 7 Victory didn’t end until after midnight. There was plenty of time to catch the ending.

 BTW, even Dean Aaron Flagg sang a solo, I’m told, though, alas, I had to exit before that.  I’m sure that alone was worth the price of admission. Did anybody video it, I wonder? You-tube here we come???

Oh yeah, I almost forgot the food and drinks were plentiful and very tasty as always. Yum!

 One of the great bits of fun at the gala for me is always the chance to bump into someone out of one’s past, recent or not so recent, and spend a few minutes reminiscing and catching up. One of those was Dr. Watson Morrison, better known as ”Will” Morrison to many of us, who turns 85 on Sunday, November 10th of this year and will be celebrating his birthday in his annual concert in Millard Auditorium at 3:00 P.M. on that day. He still plays “Willfully” and wonderfully. I hope that many of you who remember him “Will” -- Upper Case “W” definitely intended -- do your best to attend this memorable concert and have a piece of birthday cake with us afterwards.

 The best thing about the gala, for me, and yet at the same time not-the-best, is to hear newcomers to the event rave about the quality of the student performances. It’s terrific, of course, but it’s still so  surprising as Hartt approaches its own significant birthday. In this case, Hartt will turn 100 years old in seven years and there are so many locals who seem to know so little about the place.

What can I say? We’re working on spreading the word and the Hartt Board, under the inspired leadership of Tracy Flater in this area, is constantly inviting new Hartford area residents to student performances to increase awareness and to lessen the number of concert goers and potential friends of Hartt who remain unaware of the terrific actors, dancers and musicians all of whom continue to inspire those of us who are so proud to remain in the know.

Hope to see even more of you at next year’s 13th Annual Gala.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hartt's Honorary Degrees Given in the 1980s

Prior to the 1980s, the honorary degrees Hartt awarded focused on professionals in the classical music arena and the benefactors without whose help Hartt would not have been possible.

The 1980s, however, had a different focus.  Jackie McLean started the Department of African American Music in 1980.  Some prominent jazz artists were awarded degrees and even some of the "classical" musicians were clearly within the sphere of the jazz world.  For example, David Amram is difficult to categorize as a classical composer, especially since he has well-known as a jazz french horn player, who appeared regularly with Dizzy Gillespie.  Even Yehudi Menuhin recorded some jazz collaborations.

Nevertheless, here is the next installment of the Hartt Honorary Degree Recipients.

1982 - John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie

Monday, October 14, 2013

Participate in The Hartt School Gala Auction Online

If you cannot attend the Hartt Gala next weekend, please consider supporting Hartt Scholarships by participating in the online auction.
12th Annual Gala Auction



Auction proceeds will benefit Hartt School scholarships, tuition assistance and educational programming. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Alumni Panel at Paranov Hour/Musicianship

Recently, two Hartt alumni returned the Hartt to speak with students during a panel discussion - Tales from the Front Lines - during Paranov Hour, which is the current iteration of the Musicianship class many of us attended. Michael Thornton ('79) and Mary Junda ('79) gave freely of their time, memories and advice to the students.  Dean Flagg moderated the panel.  After introducing Michael and Mary, Dean Flagg asked a sereis of questions to the guests for their comments and then opened up the microphone for students to ask what was on their mind about life after Hartt.

By way of introduction, Dr. Mary Junda is currently Professor of Music at the University of Connecticut teaching choral music and world music.  Her work, and clearly her passion, includes studies of the Gullah people of the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.  She explained that this culture was cut off from the mainland U.S. for many years, which helped preserve its rich traditions strongly influence by its ancestral roots in Africa.

Michael Thornton also attended Hartt as a music education major, but his career has taken him in a very different direction.  After further study at The Acting Studio and other theaters, Michael helped found and sustain The Capitol Steps, a show of comedy and songs parodying politics and politicians.  He produces his own theater productions and his experience on the stage is wonderfully varied.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hartt's Honorary Degrees Given in the 1970s

Continuing the series of entries on the honorary degrees that Hartt has awarded over its illustrious history, here are the honorees from the 1970s.  All links are to wikipedia.

1970     Mary Primrose Fuller

1970     Martha Blake Walcott
1971     Isaac Stern

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hartt's Honorary Degrees Given in the 1960s

Hartt Underwent some significant changes in the 1960s.  Perhaps, most importantly, Hartt moved into the Fuller Center on the campus of The University of Hartford.  Nonetheless, Hartt awarded honorary degrees to the following individuals.  (All links are to wikipedia except where noted.) 

1960     Eileen Farrell

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hartt's Honorary Degrees Given in the 1950s.

In the 1950s, Hartt awarded honorary degrees to the following people.  Not a bad list.  All links are to wikipedia.

I enjoyed reading about these individuals.  These early years at Hartt must have been very exciting with the people at the school.

Warren Lawson

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

BWW Interviews: Stephen Pier - Heart to Hartt

There is a wonderful recent interview with Stephen Pier - Hartt's Dance Division Director.

A link to the Broadway World website interview is here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Remembering Two Former Hartt Professors

We have recently learned that two former Hartt professors have passed away - Robert Hess, vocal coach, and Edward Miller, composition. 

Condolences to their family and friends.

An obituary for Prof. Miller can be found here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Jaime Laredo, violin, and Joseph Kalichstein, piano, perform at Hartt as part of the Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series

 Location: Alfred C. Fuller Music Center F Millard Auditorium
Admission:  $35 adults; $30 for seniors/educators/UofH alumni; $25 for students and groups 10+

Two of the pre-eminent musical artists of our time, Laredo and Kalichstein have performed, both as soloists and chamber artists, in the leading music venues of the world. They frequently are joined by internationally-acclaimed cellist Sharon Robinson as the Kalichstein/Laredo/Robinson Trio. In addition to his instrumental career, Jaime Laredo is a sought-after conductor, currently in his 13th year as music director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. For their Garmany Series appearance, Laredo and Kalichstein will perform as a duo on the first half of the evening; they will be joined after intermission by the Hartt String Quartet for a performance of the monumental sextet of Chausson.
This series is made possible in part by the Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

For additional information and to purchase Series subscriptions and pre-concert dinner subscriptions, call the University Box Office at 860-768-4228 or click

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hartt Alumni Award Nominations Sought

University of Hartford's The Hartt School

Since 1959, the University of Hartford's The Hartt School has recognized an outstanding alumnus/alumna with the Hartt Alumni Award. A committee will be meeting this fall to select a recipient for the 2014 award, which will be presented at the Hartt Commencement in May 2014. In making its annual selection, the committee strives to achieve a diverse list of candidates based on nominations representing the various curricular programs of The Hartt School.

Qualifying criteria for the award are:
  1. Distinguished professional accomplishments of a Hartt alumnus/alumna in an area of the performing arts as an artist, scholar, or educator.
  2. Professional and critical recognition of these accomplishments.
The committee welcomes the nomination of qualified Hartt alumni for the 2014 Hartt Alumni Award. Submitted nominations are to include:
  1. Name of nominee
  2. Hartt biographical information
  3. Professional accomplishments
  4. Professional and critical recognition
  5. Justification for the nomination
The committee requests that all nominations be submitted using the online nomination form by Tuesday, October 1, 2013.

For more information, please contact Philip Grover, executive assistant to the dean, at or 860.768.4468.

Learn more about the Hartt Alumni Award, the Hartt Alumni Award Committee, and past recipients here.

Thank you,
The Hartt School Alumni Award Committee

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Original Fuller Center Concept circa 1957

Before the 1962 groundbreaking for the Fuller Center, and before Hartt moved from its modest home on Broad Street to the University of Hartford campus in 1963, a great deal of planning was done.  I recently came across this brochure published in 1957, which was the year the three founding members of the University of Hartford came together.

As you can see, the eventual (and current) design of the Fuller Center is actually quite different from the conceptual layout/design even though the main components remained - the large building with the classrooms, the large theater (now, Millard Auditorium), and the small theater (now, Berkman Auditorium).

Enjoy!  If anyone has other photos, posters, etc. from this exciting period in Hartt's history, we would love to see them.  Please feel free to contact me at if you have anything you wish to share.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

5 Questions with Lauren Bernofsky

Lauren Bernofsky (Bachelor of Music, 1990), studied Violin Performance and Composition at Hartt from 1985 to 1990. She is currently living in Bloomington, IN.

What have you been up to since you graduated from Hartt?

I’ve had the good fortune to be able to do what I love, which is teaching (violin and music theory), playing my violin, and, most importantly to me, composing. After Hartt, I went on to do a master’s in composition at New England Conservatory and then a doctorate in composition at Boston University (thirteen straight years of college – whew!) I’ve taught violin privately and through several school systems in the Boston area, and music theory at The Cambridge School of Weston, Boston University, and the Peabody Institute of Music. But I get the most joy from my life as a composer – I’ve written for ballet, film, chamber groups, chorus, orchestra, you name it….

My most recent larger work is a children’s opera called “Mooch the Magnificent,” on a libretto by Scott Russell Sanders. The opera had an extensive run (34 performances!) with Roundabout Opera for Kids, and it was recently published by Theodore Presser. I’ve had a bunch of pieces published, actually – about thirty now. My publishers, besides Presser, are Alfred, FJH, Balquhidder, Fatrock Ink, Boosey & Hawkes, and Hal Leonard. About half of these publications are pedagogical works (so, works that would be played by, say, a school orchestra), and the other half are professional concert works (brass quintet, string quartet, orchestra, and assorted mixed ensembles.)

I should also mention another big part of my life, which is my family. My husband is Christoph Irmscher, a writer and English professor at Indiana University, and we have two kids, Nicholas (13) and Julia (8). And, yes, my kids DO play stringed instruments!
What are you involved with right now?

I’m currently getting a bunch of pieces ready for Theodore Presser – they recently accepted a string quartet, a piece for trumpet and piano, one for flute and piano, a work for soprano and string orchestra, one for string orchestra alone, and one for full orchestra (which they’d like to have in both full orchestra and chamber orchestra versions.) This is keeping me fairly busy right now! I recently sent off the full orchestra version of my Three Portraits of a Witch, so the biggest one is out of the way (that’s what I’m telling myself, because it’s frankly quite a slog working through all these scores and parts, trying to make them as player- and conductor-friendly as possible.) I’d rather be writing new pieces, but as long as I bothered writing these other ones in the first place, I may as well put in the time for getting them “out there.”

I’m also preparing for a position I’ve been recently appointed to, and that is Music Director of the Musical Arts Youth Organization (MAYO) in Bloomington, IN. I’m looking forward to hearing auditions in early fall and then choosing some exciting repertoire for the young players to perform. (And don’t expect me to stick to what was written before the year 2000!) I am pretty excited about this new prospect, this new opportunity to bring truly engaging and, well, fun music to the orchestra members. As their conductor, I’m the one who has to take the heat for either boring or too-difficult or otherwise annoying repertoire, so I take this challenge VERY seriously!

What is one of your most memorable things about your time at Hartt?

I had a lot of important formative experiences while at Hartt, but what comes to mind right now happens to be the words of a bassoon teacher, Frank Morelli. I heard him perform in Musicianship class one day, and he said that (and I paraphrase here) he listens to good singers as a model for musicality. Simple, but so very important to good music-making. During my years of working with players of all instrument groups (that is, not just the strings I’m so accustomed to), and by “working” I include playing with as well as coaching others playing my music, I have come to focus closely on the real essence of the music, how to best bring out that music, in a way that transcends the technical predispositions of any instrument. Wind players have the limitation of needing to breathe, but we have to find ways of incorporating breaths in a way that doesn’t interfere with the musical line. And strings have the limitation of the bow – I’m closest to understanding (or at least being able to point out) this problem, being a string player myself. It’s very difficult to transcend the bow to play in a way that only supports the music and in fact “overcomes” the difficulties of up-bows and down-bows and the relative lengths of each (which result in the volume of a given note.)

I am going to continue this tangent for a minute longer to describe something I’ve come to call “string player musicality.” (I made that up, by the way.) For me, it’s an acceptance of certain unmusical ways of playing that result from the natural tendencies of the instrument. I am referring especially to when string players play loud up-beats because that’s what the bow does naturally. Ridiculous, you might think – shouldn’t we know better than that? But many string players are used to hearing the music played that way, and it’s within their concept of “musical” string playing. I’ve heard way too many performances, even by professionals, where up-beats (or any off-beats) are in fact louder than the main beats, because that’s what the bow does naturally. It’s not what’s best for the music, and as I imagine Mr. Morelli to have thought, it’s not the way a good singer would sing it.
What did you learn during your time at Hartt that you did not appreciate or recognize until after time passed and you had some time to reflect?

I got a B+ on my senior recital jury. I was perplexed – I’d been considered a hard worker (my friends used to make fun of me, good naturedly, on Friday nights when, after dinner, instead of going to a movie or “hanging out”, I went back to the practice room.) I’d prepared and prepared and prepared for this recital, or so I thought. But then just a B+? I asked David Wells, who was on the jury, why. I remember his words that I had “one of the best hearts and minds at Hartt,” but my performance wasn’t really communicative. I THOUGHT I was communicating, moving with the music, whatever. But obviously it didn’t come across to him that way. As I went on to do a lot more performing in various situations where I could get direct audience feedback, especially in informal settings (for instance, playing on the street at Boston’s Quincy Market and playing at retirement homes), I learned how to really communicate the music I was playing, because when I didn’t, the crowd at Quincy Market would walk away (Pachelbel Canon notwithstanding – you always get a crowd with the Pachelbel Canon.) Or the people at the retirement home would lose interest. But people really do respond, I have found, when you “look like the music” you’re playing, that is, convey the music through your body language. And it certainly translated into money for me, as a graduate student in Boston – more money in the case at Quincy Market, or maybe getting called back for a gig the next year. But, more important than the money, why shouldn’t a musician communicate to the audience how wonderful the music is? In fact, the survival of classical music might just depend on it.
What is next for you?

This fall will mark the first season for me as Music Director at the MAYO program I mentioned earlier, and I’m looking forward to my adventures there! As far as composing goes, I’ve been collaborating with some other artists (writers, graphic artists, poets, etc.) in the creation of an online “novel” about a mysterious (and fictional) island called “Blaitholm.” I have already composed the music to the introductory video, and I look forward to contributing music to other aspects of this project, too. I’ve been asked by the Cardinal Stage Company (Bloomington, IN) to write music for a new play by Scott Russell Sanders (who was the librettist for my children’s opera.) And on my wish list for the future … a commission to write a full-length opera on the novel by Sanders, The Engineer of Beasts.
Do you have any suggestions for current Hartt students?

Absolutely: make use of all the resources at Hartt that you can. Don’t just attend master classes on your instrument, or even your area of music; I call this developing “horizontally.” So, if you are a classical player, try a jazz master class. If you play a brass instrument, go to a strings or voice master class. The more you learn about other areas of music, the stronger a musician you will be in your own area. For instance, while I was at Boston University, I learned that the school had a great resource in the Empire Brass Quintet, which was in residence there. I began attending their brass quintet master classes. And there I learned some great stuff that string players don’t necessarily think about (for example, the exact moment you end a chord), and I was able to apply it to string quartet playing.

And take your history and theory classes VERY seriously – believe me, you WILL use this information when you get out of school. It might well be the reason that you get called again for a gig after something goes awry in the performance but all the people who could hear that the group was on the dominant chord found their way back – it’s these musical skills that will really help you as a professional. This is the point in your life when you’ll have the most time to spend on your music, so take in all that you can! And don’t forget to have fun along the way.
If you want people to get in touch, how can they do so?

Fee free to contact me through my website,, or via email at .

Monday, July 1, 2013

5 Questions with Peter Boyer

Peter Boyer (M.M. 1993, D.M.A. 1995, Alumnus of the Year 2002) studied composition and conducting at Hartt from 1991 to 1995. He is currently living in the Los Angeles area.
What have you been up to since you graduated from Hartt?

That’s a big question. Many things! My career has been divided roughly into three areas.

First and foremost, I’ve been an orchestral composer for the concert hall, and very active in that arena. I’ve been fortunate to have over 300 performances of my works by more than 100 orchestras; several recordings on labels such as Naxos, Koch, Albany, BSO Classics, and FWSO Live; and hundreds of radio broadcasts of my music in many countries. I’ve had a pretty steady stream of orchestral commissions, starting shortly after my student days, and continuing to the present. Recent commissions have included a work for the 50th anniversary of the Eastern Music Festival from Gerard Schwarz; my Symphony No. 1 from the Pasadena Symphony; and the Boston Pops 125th anniversary commission, celebrating the legacy of the Kennedy Brothers. Keith Lockhart chose me for this project, which was narrated by actors including Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Alec Baldwin, and was recorded and televised, including on the Fourth of July for 750,000 people! My most popular work to date has been Ellis Island: The Dream of America, the premiere of which I conducted with the Hartford Symphony in 2002; it’s had nearly 150 performances, and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

The second area of my career has been as an orchestrator for films and television. I’ve contributed orchestrations to more than 20 feature film scores, by some of the top Hollywood composers, including Thomas Newman, James Horner, Michael Giacchino, Alan Menken, Mark Isham, and others, for most of the major film studios. Films I’ve worked on have included Skyfall, The Amazing Spider-Man, Star Trek, Up, Mission: Impossible III, Super 8, Cars 2, and Dolphin Tale. I’ve also arranged music for the Academy Awards on a couple occasions, and have composed music for The History Channel.

The third area of my career has been teaching. I’ve been on the faculty at Claremont Graduate University, part of the Claremont Colleges (located east of Los Angeles), since 1996. I hold the Helen M. Smith Chair in Music and the rank of Full Professor there. I should also mention conducting, though that’s largely taken a back seat to my other work in recent years. I’ve conducted various orchestras, mostly in my own music, including the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Pasadena Symphony, and Richmond Symphony in concert; and the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, and various studio orchestras in recording sessions.

What is your current project?

I just returned from London, where I conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra in recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios. We recorded five of my works for an upcoming release by Naxos in its American Classics series. The centerpiece of the recording was my Symphony No. 1, a 24-minute, 3-movement work dedicated to the memory of Leonard Bernstein, and premiered just recently. We also recorded my works Festivities, Silver Fanfare, Celebration Overture, and Three Olympians. The LPO are one of the world’s greatest orchestras, and I had been hoping to work with them ever since I heard them in Howard Shore’s Oscar-winning scores for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The LPO and I recorded nearly an hour of my music in three sessions over a single day and evening—quite a feat, and quite a thrill! I’m really looking forward to the Naxos release in early 2014.

Who were your most important teachers during your time at Hartt, and why?

My two principal teachers at Hartt were Larry Alan Smith and Harold Farberman. I studied with them both for three years, from 1992-1995. Larry was my primary composition teacher, and Harold was my primary conducting teacher. As I was focused on both composition and conducting, it was very valuable for me that both of them were highly skilled and trained both as composers and conductors. Their personalities and approaches were quite different, and I benefited greatly from their different experiences and wisdom. I also studied with Harold during the summers of 1992-95 at the Conductors Institute (which was then at Hartt).

I should also mention some other instructors whose teaching was valuable to me in different ways: Robert Carl was my composition teacher there in my first year; I had James Sellars for 20th-century music; Steve Gryc for orchestration; Anthony Rauche for counterpoint and other subjects; and Kenneth Nott and Charles Turner for music history. They were all highly committed teachers. I learned a great deal from all of them, and look back on all of these courses with great affection. (I still have all of my class notes!)

What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned during your time at Hartt?

My four years at Hartt were a time of incredible growth for me. I had done my undergraduate work at a relatively small state college music department (Rhode Island College), which was a very fine department, but limited in its resources compared to a full-fledged conservatory like Hartt. Being surrounded by so many excellent professional musicians on Hartt’s faculty was eye-opening for me in many ways. Besides my primary work on acquiring techniques and skills as a composer and conductor, probably the most important thing for me was immersion in a huge variety of musical repertoire. My classes exposed me to so much repertoire from so many different composers, and I spent countless hours in the library exploring unfamiliar music. This practice of constantly attempting to broaden one’s horizons was invaluable then, and still is now.

What is next for you?

The most significant upcoming career milestone for me will be the Naxos release of my recording with the London Philharmonic in early 2014. I’ll be on sabbatical leave from my teaching gig for the 2013-14 year, so I’ll be focusing completely on my freelance musical work. It looks like there will be some exciting film orchestration gigs in the near future, but since they’ve not yet begun, I can’t discuss them “on the record” yet. Please stay tuned.

How can your fellow Hartt alumni get in touch with you?

My website is, and on Facebook, I have both a personal page and a “fan page” for Propulsive Music.