Current Student News

Jeffrey Larson and Christian Bonner are 2019-2020 recipients of the HexU (Public Humanities Exchange for Undergraduates) grant for this upcoming school year. HexU challenges undergraduate students on campus to “make meaningful connections between their humanities scholarship and the needs of the local community through new models of social engagement.” As future music educators, we have seen the existence of racial and social disparities within music classrooms. Especially in the middle and high school levels, students without knowledge of Western notation or interest in band, orchestra, or choir have been weaned out of the general public music education sphere. We know as a fact that students today are listening to music for, on average, 4 hours a day. Music consumes a large space in students’ lives, yet the typical music that students hear is never played or discussed in school. Project Amplify, through our partnership with Madison Public Library, will provide Madison area students with resources to create music without feeling pressured to adhere to Western ideals of classical music.

Michaela McCabe, a senior double major in communication sciences and disorders and vocal performance, has won a Hilldale Undergraduate Research Award for her research into the overlaps of music and language development. She will complete a thesis on how music can be used to help facilitate word learning in infants.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Michaela McCabe

For the second year, Kyle Johnson received the Outstanding Presentation award at a regional College Music Society conference. On April 8 in Murray, Kentucky, Kyle delivered his lecture entitled “Science-Art/Art-Science: Representations and Dichotomies within Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux.” As part of the presentation, he also performed “Le Courlis Cendre,” the final work in Messiaen’s multi-volume set of pieces. Kyle is currently a dissertator in the School of Music, whose dissertation project involves the production of a podcast series devoted to multidisciplinary perspectives on Messiaen’s ornithological and ecological works. For more information, please visit

Kyle Johnson at the 2017 School of Music Graduation & Awards Ceremony at Music Hall. Michael R. Anderson photograph.

Bassoonist Ranveer Vasdev has been awarded the Leo and Jean Besozzi Scholarship, which provides a one-time, $1,500 award to a high achieving senior. In addition to pursuing his music degree, Ranveer is also currently doing research with the Department of Comparative  Bioscience. In early spring 2015 Ranveer was invited to play at an international wind band festival at Carnegie Hall. He also hopes to attain a MD/PhD practicing pediatric pulmonology and researching diaphragmatic and intercostal neuroplasticity.

Saxophonist Rachel Heuer has won the Ann Durra Scholarship from the College of Letters & Sciences. This scholarship provides a one-time, $3,000 award to a high achieving junior or senior pursuing a degree in mathematics, the physical sciences, or the natural sciences. In addition to pursuing her music degree in jazz performance, Rachel is also pursuing a degree in molecular biology. She has played self-composed original pieces at Jazz at Five weekly concerts on Capitol Square. She also works in a lab on campus studying heart disease.

Percussionist Aaron Gochberg has won a Hilldale Undergraduate Research Award for his past and continued research into Cuban music and folklore.

Doctoral trombonist Will Porter, a student of Mark Hetzler, has won a $10,000 dissertation fellowship from the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Porter is one of two UW-Madison doctoral candidates to win the award, and they are two of only ten winners in the United States.

The recipients were selected based on a number of criteria including how the fellowship will contribute to the completion of the dissertation, the significance of original research, and endorsement by the dissertation chair.

Porter’s project is focused on music education in Mozambique. His doctoral research examines the relationship between classical-music education and social development. It focuses on the Xiquitsi (“Shi-keet-see”) Project in Mozambique, an emergent classical-music education and outreach project inspired by the El Sistema orchestral training program in Venezuela.

Established in 2014, the Dissertation Fellowship Program allocates $100,000 annually in support of active Phi Kappa Phi members. In addition to these fellowships, the Society awards $1.4 million each biennium to qualifying students and members through study abroad grants, graduate fellowships, funding for post-baccalaureate development, member and chapter awards, and grants for local, national and international literacy initiatives.

The fellowship supports students in the dissertation writing stage of doctoral study. Awards are for 12 months of dissertation writing. All pre-dissertation requirements should be met by the application deadline, including approval of the dissertation proposal.

Jerod_reetzWisconsin native Jerod Reetz, a doctoral student in composition studying with now-retired professor Stephen Dembski, has received a commission to write a work for low flutes. Low flutes include the following instruments: alto flute, bass flute, contrabass flute, subcontrabass flute, and hyperbass flute.

The $250 commission is the 2017 Peter Sheridan Low Flutes Opportunity Award, awarded by the Madison Flute Club during the Wisconsin Flute Festival in early March.

Jerod has a bachelor’s degree in music composition from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee and a master’s of fine arts in music composition from California Institute of the Arts in Valencia.  An article of his is currently being considered for publication by the Journal of Singing, “Contemporary Perspectives on the Countertenor: Interviews with Kai Wessel, Corinna Herr, Arnold Jacobshagen, and Matthias Echternach.”

Jerod also is involved in historical musicology, has a minor in music theory, and teaches composition at James Madison Memorial High School and elsewhere. He is also a harpist, countertenor/bass/baritone, and collaborative pianist.

Zijin Yao, a piano doctoral student studying with Professors Jessica Johnson and Martha Fischer, is a winner of the 2015 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self–Financed Students Abroad. There are 166 recipients in the US. Zijin was the only representative in humanities and arts among 33 recipients in the Chicago Consular District and one of the five recipients from UW-Madison. Read a news release here.

Zijin Yao with the Chinese Consul General in Chicago, Hong Lei.

Zijin Yao with the Chinese Consul General in Chicago, Hong Lei.

Student of Jessica Johnson and Martha Fischer

Freshman tubist Hayden Victor has been selected as one of six Semi-Finalists in the student division of the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival solo competition. Hayden will travel to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lakes, Michigan to perform and compete in the competition in August.

The Falcone competition is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious tuba and euphonium solo competitions in the world. Semi-Finalists are selected to attend after advancing through a recorded round which draws entries from around the world. In addition to participating in the competition, Hayden will have the opportunity to attend master classes and performances by this year’s guest artist, Italian tuba virtuoso Alessandro Fossi.

Student of Tom Curry

Sophomore voice major Claire Powling, a British native, won honorable mention in April at the Schubert Club Competition in Minneapolis, advancing to the national level in the National Association of Teachers of Singing online competition in May.  “The competition has us send in videos of each of our pieces until they narrow down each age group division to 14 performers, who are invited to the national competition in Boston; it should really be called a YouTube competition!” she says.

This summer, she will attend SongFest in Los Angeles, California, a summer program exclusively focused on art song. At the Schubert Club, Claire sang “Deh Vieni, Non Tardar” from the Marriage of Figaro and “Du Bist Die Ruh” by Schubert. Claire says: “I moved from England after my dad got a job transfer and we’ve been in the States since then. I was raised in Appleton and I decided to come to Madison after attending UW-Madison’s Summer Music Clinic. Here, I’m pursuing a B.A. double major in history and vocal performance with a certificate in leadership. In addition to my majors, I also work at the Morgridge Center for Public Service, as a Writing Fellow, and as a literacy researcher for the UW English Department; however, I consider music my truest passion and I love being a part of our school of music, especially as a chorus member in UW-Opera productions.”

Student of Mimmi Fulmer

UW-Madison freshman and Oshkosh native Grace Subat, in partnership with the Oshkosh Community Players, has been awarded a 2016 Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowship to bring the works and inspiration of Shakespeare to local students in Oshkosh, WI, this summer.

The project was one of four selected for the second-annual Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowships (WOECF), a summer program designed to support community-based project across the state.

The WOECF challenges undergraduate students at UW-Madison to work with community partners outside of the university to develop a community project in a Wisconsin town that the student has a connection to. This summer, the four selected projects will address climate change, youth sustainability education, literature education and sustainable transportation in three different Wisconsin communities: Oshkosh, Milwaukee and Monona.

Projects must be designed around the content provided in one of six massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by the UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies during the 2015-16 academic year. Each fellow will receive a $3,000 stipend and up to $1,000 for project expenses.

Throughout the duration of the fellowship, each student will work to implement their project with a UW-Madison faculty mentor and a community partner organization. Fellows were required to work with both their community partner and faculty mentor from the beginning of the project design, although for most fellows, they have known and been working with both their mentor and their community partner for much longer.

Community partners will also receive $1,000 for participating in the fellowship, with UW-Madison faculty/staff mentors receiving $1,000 as well. The WOECF is a collaboration of the Division of Continuing Studies, Educational Innovation, and the Morgridge Center for Public Service at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Grace, a freshman majoring in history and vocal performance studying with Professor Mimmi Fulmer, will work with the Oshkosh Community Players and the Oshkosh Area School District to encourage local students to read, discuss, and perform the works of William Shakespeare. Motivated by the joint recognition of funding challenges facing many arts programs in the state and her own positive experience with theater as a high school student in the area, Grace’s project will create a weekly workshop in which students can experience Shakespeare’s work in multiple ways. Participation in the workshops will be open to all students in the area, with slots filled on a first come, first serve basis.

During each session students will read, discuss, and perform for one another prominent selections from corners of the Bard’s canon that students may not have previously encountered, including Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello. Grace and members of the Oshkosh Community Players will encourage students to consider how the themes in each play apply to their own lives. Students will also be encouraged to make dramatic theater an important part of their lives. The workshops will culminate with a public performance of some of the scenes the students had rehearsed. The performances will be used as both a fundraiser for local arts programs as well as a statement about the importance of supporting theater efforts in local schools.

Student of Mimmi Fulmer