smu music education

The faculty of the Meadows School of the Arts is committed to the highest standards of teaching and to active professional participation in music performance and research.

Collaboration and connection doesn’t end after four years.

For the past four years, the college ranking website College Factual named SMU #1 in the country for “Highest Paid Grads” for its music alumni, ahead of Harvard, Boston College, Princeton, Yale and a long list of other blue ribbon schools. Hundreds of Meadows music alumni enjoy success in the arts. The list below reflects career moves or changes that some alumni have had within the last year:

FEATURED | Recent Alumni 

WOODWINDS | BRASS | STRINGS | KEYBOARD | VOICE | EDUCATION | COMPOSITION | CONDUCTING | B.A.

WOODWINDS

Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone

About GABRIEL BEAVERS (M.M. Bassoon Performance ’01)

Gabriel Beavers is the associate professor of bassoon at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. Beavers is also a member of Miami’s Nu-Deco Ensemble and serves as 2nd bassoon with the Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra in Durango, Colo.

Prior to joining the faculty at Frost, he served on the faculty of Louisiana State University School of Music and as principal bassoon with the Baton Rouge Symphony. Formerly a fellow with the New World Symphony, he has also served as principal bassoon with the Virginia Symphony, acting principal bassoon with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and the Jacksonville Symphony and as acting second bassoon with the Milwaukee Symphony for one season. Beavers has also previously held the position of visiting assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Music. In addition to his orchestral activities, he has an active schedule of solo and chamber performances. He has appeared as a soloist with the Frost Wind Ensemble, Greater Miami Symphonic Band, Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble, Virginia Symphony, Baton Rouge Symphony and Louisiana Sinfonietta and has given recitals throughout the United States and at international festivals in Japan and Brazil. His solo albums, Gordon Jacob: Music for Bassoon and A Quirky Dream, are available on Mark Records and his recording of the Dinos Constantinides Bassoon Concerto was published by Centaur Records. He attended both Boston University and Southern Methodist University, where he studied with Matthew Ruggiero and Wilfred Roberts.

What are you working on now?

Associate Professor of Bassoon at the Frost School of Music at University of Miami.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

Weekly lessons with Wilfred Roberts, principal bassoon of the Dallas Symphony for 50 years (1965–2015), combined with excellent orchestral and wind ensemble experiences provided the training I needed to win my first orchestral position. The excellent academic graduate coursework at SMU prepared me for my first teaching position and in fact helped me to identify my interest in academia.

What advice would you give students?

Take the time to explore while you are in school. Find out as much about your profession as you can BEFORE leaving school. Try to identify other interests within your career field and be open to career paths you had not previously imagined.


About HANNAH CRUSE (B.M. Performance/Oboe; B.M. Performance/Organ ’17; Master of Sacred Music, SMU Perkins, ’19) 

  • Organist, Northridge Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Feb. 2016
  • Third Place Winner, International Double Reed Society Competition, 2016
  • Winner, SMU Undergraduate Concerto Competition, 2015; performed Haydn Oboe Concerto Mvt. 1 with Meadows Symphony Orchestra

What are you working on now?

Director of Music and Organist, West Plano Presbyterian Church, October, 2018

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

My high school oboe teacher persistently urged me to audition at Eastman Conservatory. I did, but they refused to accept me into more than one program because, according to them, my time would be too split. I wanted to major in both oboe and organ performance. SMU not only boasted a rigorous music department but also welcomed my duality as an oboist and organist. I am incredibly grateful that I spent four years in Meadows and am now spending two more in Perkins as a Master of Sacred Music student. I believe that SMU exemplifies the right career outlook. We no longer enjoy the luxury of specializing in an exclusive topic and easily finding a job. The world needs more “expert generalists”—people who can do it all and do it with expertise. I feel very prepared for the working world because SMU professors supported and nurtured all of my pursuits and pushed me to consider new ones.

What advice would you give students?

Diversify. Yes, you need to be good at what you do, but approach your specialty with a broad view of the world and a wide array of skills. You’ll appeal to more employers and bring a depth to your work that others who have trained in only one area don’t have.


About MARCI GURNOW (B.M. Performance/Clarinet ’02)

  • Acting 2nd Clarinet, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, 2015–16
  • 2nd/Bass Clarinet, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, 200615

What are you working on now?

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Second Clarinet, 2016–present

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

SMU offered the opportunity to experience my music degree on a personal and in-depth level. Thanks to the smaller scale of Meadows compared to huge universities, I was playing in every ensemble from the beginning and getting the kinds of opportunities reserved for upperclassmen in other schools. This exposure to fantastic repertoire with highly skilled ensembles led by incredible conductors still carries through to this day in my career.

What advice would you give students?

Take advantage of all that Meadows and the city of Dallas have to offer. The academic side of the music school can prepare you for whatever path you take, offering a thorough exploration of classes from music theory to music history. Dallas is also home to one of the top orchestras in the country, as well as an opera and plenty of chamber music, allowing you the opportunity to hear live music every weekend. Your experience is as good as you make it!


About LAUREN WHITE (B.M. Performance/Oboe ’17) 

What are you working on now?

I am currently a second-year M.M. Fellow in Oboe Performance at the Yale School of Music, where I am the oboe studio assistant and an undergraduate oboe instructor. Additionally, I travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma throughout the year where I hold the position of third oboe/English horn in the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

The close faculty/student relationship at the Meadows School of the Arts fostered confidence and clarity in my chosen career path; the high standards in performance necessitated professional levels of preparation and artistry; and the abundance of performance opportunities at SMU as well as in the robust Dallas arts community provided exposure to a plethora of literature.


BRASS

Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba

About MATTHEW ERNST (M.M. Performance/Trumpet ’06; M.M.Instrumental Conducting ’07)

  • Principal Trumpet, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, 2014–16
  • Lecturer in Trumpet, University of Virginia, 2013–14
  • Principal Trumpet, Virginia Symphony, 2012-–13
  • Associate Principal Trumpet, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, 2007–12

What are you working on now?

Principal Trumpet, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (2016)

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

Studying with members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra was instrumental in my development as an orchestral player. Their combined wisdom and experience were invaluable, especially given the fact that it came from the perspective of a full-time performer.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

Go to Dallas Symphony concerts every week. Take advantage of the freelance opportunities greater Dallas has to offer. Study abroad if possible.  Listen and absorb as much as you can.


About BEN HAUSER (M.M. Performance/Trumpet ’16)

What are you working on now?

U.S. Navy Band Washington, D.C., trumpet section since 2017

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

Great audition preparation with consistent detailed work on excerpts.

What advice would you give students?

Take as many auditions as you can and don’t give up working hard!


About DEREK HAWKES (B.M. Performance/Trombone; B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies/Orchestral Management ’14)

Photo by Kurt Heinecke

2nd Trombone, Jacksonville Symphony (Sep. 2015–May 2017)

What are you working on now?

Assistant Principal/2nd Trombone, Nashville Symphony, since 2017

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

Both Meadows and SMU at large offered excellent preparation for my current career, as much as any school realistically can. The brass faculty, and particularly my former professor, John Kitzman, made it clear from the beginning that carrying an objective and high standard was perhaps the most essential rule to creating your own path to success. Preparation was one of the most crucial aspects to success in the studio, as it continues to be at the Nashville Symphony.

The skills I acquired from my B.A. focusing on orchestral management have proven useful across many different committees in my employing orchestras over several years, including board, orchestra and negotiating committees, and marketing and development subcommittees. I still hold that SMU offers a pedagogical versatility that few universities enjoy.

What advice would you give students?

It will be hard to establish balance with the many requirements of your education, on top of the areas you want to explore. Now is the time to push, and to see what you’re made of; to go as far as you can go. You will never have more time and intellectual resources surrounding you as you do right now.

Pick the intricacies of study that interest you fervently, and pursue them with everything you have. While it can be tempting to wildly explore a wide-reaching range of academic interests for the sake of exploration, I would encourage you to inquire with people whose careers you admire what you think would help you the most. Focus on deepening your thought processes in ways that will directly and positively impact your career.

And do what your professor tells you.


About R. BENJAMIN OSBORNE (M.M. Performance/Trombone ’07)

What are you working on now?

  • 2nd Trombone, Austin Symphony Orchestra
  • Lecturer of Trombone, Sam Houston State University

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

The experience gained at the Meadows School of the Arts and the direction of its world-class faculty and the network therein provided an incredible foundation for success in the music world. I use the lessons and information garnered every day on the job and with my students.


About JARROD ROBERTSON (B.M. Performance/Tuba ’03)

Worked as primary sub/extra with the Dallas Symphony since 2007, playing many Masterworks programs under Jaap van Zweden.

What are you working on now?

Principal Tuba, Tulsa Symphony, 2010–present

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

There are music students at practically every college and junior college in America with dreams of performing, but precious few with actual connections to full-time orchestral performers who guide and mentor them.  The environment and musical standard at SMU are without a doubt the only reasons that playing the tuba is my primary source of income.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

GO TO CLASS, and take EVERY opportunity to glean from the experience of the extraordinary instrumental faculty at SMU.  Get plenty of sleep, have some safe, good-natured fun, and get in the practice room by 8 a.m. every day.


About LEE ROGERS (B.M. Performance/Trombone ’00)

  • Principal Trombone of the Harrisburg Symphony, 2012–18
  • 2nd/Assistant Principal Trombone of the Cincinnati Symphony, 2003–07
  • 2nd/Assistant Principal Trombone of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, 2003–04
  • 2nd Trombone of the Buffalo Philharmonic, 2002–03
  • Performed frequently with many of the top orchestras in the nation including New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Naples Philharmonic.

What are you working on now?

Principal Trombone of The Kennedy Center Orchestra/Washington National Opera

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

The extraordinary faculty at SMU, notably my trombone professor John Kitzman, as well as the other brass faculty and ensemble conductors, were truly paramount in my training to become an orchestral trombonist. I was inspired daily by their dedication to teaching our craft and continue to refer back to my training regularly. Meadows School of the Arts faculty teach real world skills that are completely applicable to professional success.

The relationships that I made with my studio classmates have truly lasted a lifetime.

What advice would you give students?

Take advantage of your professors. They are there for you. Go to their performances as well as your colleagues’ to help sustain the family type environment that is Meadows. To this day, some of my best musical experiences of my life were experienced at SMU. Music is competitive yet it is not competition in the end. Learn to be flexible with your musicianship and others just might reciprocate. Have a vision for your future and tackle it head on and you will leave SMU with no regrets.

About SCOTT WISE (B.M. French Horn, B.M Composition ’99; M.M. French Horn Performance ’01) 

  • Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition at the University of Cincinnati
  • World premieres at the International Horn Symposia in 2011, 2015 and 2018. All were collaborations with fellow Meadows alum Dr. Jeb Wallace (B.M. French Horn ’99).

What are you working on now?

United States Air Force Band of the Pacific, Tokyo, Japan, Staff Composer Arranger, Hornist, since 2001

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

The example set by the faculty—both in private lessons, rehearsals, and in the classroom—has left me with an indelible example of what it takes—and means—to be a complete musician. This example was both practical and in the realm of the social and moral responsibilities of an artist. The faculty’s combination of realistic feedback and nurturing of self-confidence and self-reliance prepared me for my career by ensuring I had the necessary skill set to do the job and the confidence to do so.

What advice would you give students?

I would encourage Meadows students to not only take full advantage of the opportunity to study with the amazing music faculty, but also explore the breadth of offerings, not only in Meadows, but throughout the University; my experiences with the Meadows musicology faculty and in Dedman College, in particular, have had a tremendously formative influence on my development as a person and artist.


STRINGS

Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Harp

About ORDABEK DUISSEN (Artist Certificate ’05; M.M. Violin Performance ’07) 

  • Photo courtesy Fort Worth Symphon

    Solo recitals/tours in Russia, Ukraine, Italy, France, England, Scotland, Austria, South Korea, Mexico and throughout USA

  • Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, section 1st violin first section violin 2012–present
  • AIMS Festival Orchestra (Graz, Austria), Concertmaster 2014–present
  • Dallas Opera Orchestra, Assistant Concertmaster 2011–12
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra (finalist) substitute player 2011–present
  • Alabama Symphony Orchestra (substitute 1st violin player) 2008–10
  • Plano Symphony Orchestra (Concertmaster) Plano, Texas, season 2010–11
  • Meadows Symphony Orchestra (rotating Concertmaster) 2003–07
  • New World Symphony finalist, Miami, 2009
  • Kazakh State Chamber Orchestra Academy of Soloists Co-concertmaster 2000–02
  • Kazakh National Academy Symphony (Concertmaster) 1999–2000
  • Kazakh National Academy of Music, B.M. with honors 1998–03
  • Baiseitovas State special music school for gifted children, Almaty, Kazakhstan 1988–98

COMPETITIONS AND AWARDS

  • Honored Artist of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2013
  • First Prize, Franz Schubert International Chamber Music Competition (Ovada, Italy), 2001
  • Second Prize, International Violin Competition in Kazakhstan, 2002
  • Grand Prize, National Competition of Kazakhstan (Astana, Kazakhstan), 1999
  • Finalist, Michelangelo Abbado International Violin Competition, Milan, Italy, 1999
  • First Prize, International Youth Violin Competition of Former Soviet Union Republics, 1993

What are you working on now?

Violinist; first section violin at the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

I would like to thank my alma mater, SMU Meadows School of the Arts, my teachers, classmates and colleagues for everything you have done for me! I am very grateful!

What advice would you give students?

I would encourage Meadows students to not only take full advantage of the opportunity to study with the amazing music faculty, but also explore the breadth of offerings, not only in Meadows, but throughout the University; my experiences with the Meadows Musicology faculty and in Dedman College, in particular, have had a tremendously formative influence on my development as a person and artist.


About SÉBASTIEN HURTAUD (Artist Certificate, Cello Performance ’10)

Concert tours and master classes in Europe, Australia, New-Zealand, USA

What are you working on now?

I’m an International concert cellist.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

The SMU studies showed me how hard a soloist career could be, and gave me the way and the instruction to achieve it.

What advice would you give students?

Practice your piece as the composer would play his or her own music; open your mind; study all different philosophies; and make some (real) friends.


About DOMINIC K. NA (Artist Diploma ’12)

  • Konzertexamen, Musikhochschule Luebeck, Germany
  • Diploma, Musikhochschule Luebeck, Germany

What are you working on now?

  • Principal Cello, Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra since 2016
  • Instructor of Cello at Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville), since 2016

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

Studying with the world-famous cellist Andres Diaz at SMU, I was intensively trained to gain artistic skills in solo performance. In addition, the Meadows School of the Arts provided me diverse opportunities to study with amazing teachers including Christopher Adkins, principal cello at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, in different fields such as orchestral repertoire and chamber music.

What advice would you give students?

“Dream Big” is the quote that was posted in my teacher Andres Diaz’s office. The way for him to remind his students how special each person is and the potential they all have. I want to say do not underestimate yourself, and there is no such thing as small opportunities. Everything leads to another and as a result you finally will achieve your dream. Always be grateful for your faculty and be respectful to them. Please be open-minded to your music studies.


About JUNSOO PARK (Performer’s Diploma ’16; M.M. Performance/Violin ’18)

What are you working on now?

First section violinist, The Dallas Opera, since 2017

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

I’ve learned and grown a lot by having consistent support from amazing faculty at Meadows School. The school is relatively smaller than other schools, giving students and professors better chances to know each other. I luckily had plenty of opportunities to have priceless lessons from amazing faculty and guest artists, which led me to easily establish my career.

What advice would you give students?

Practice and all is coming.


About MAURA SHEFFLER (B.A. Music/Violin ’11; M.A.M.B.A. ’13)

What are you working on now?

Deputy Director, Programs & Marketing TACA (The Arts Community Alliance) since 2013

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

My time at SMU taught me two critical skills: dedication and creativity. When you move from academia into the working world, learning how to transfer the skills learned in school into practice requires (and being your own champion) takes an enormous amount of both.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

Seize opportunities to expand your horizons and learn new things. The world is changing so fast all around you—if you’re not ahead, you’re behind!


KEYBOARD

Piano, Organ

About JONATHAN M. GREGOIRE (Artist Diploma ’17)

Last fall, I was on sabbatical from St. Andrew United Methodist Church to serve as the organ scholar at St. Paul’s K Street in Washington, D.C. The opportunity to learn about their chorister program and experience an organ scholar program myself was invaluable and offered tremendous insight for the launch of the new music academy at St. Andrew.

What are you working on now?

I have been the organist and associate director of music at St. Andrew United Methodist Church since fall 2014. This past year, I was named director of our music academy, with the opportunity to reimagine what such a program could be. This fall we were excited to launch our young professionals division with a partnership with the VCM Foundation, the educational outreach program spearheaded by Paul Smith, co-founder of renowned British vocal ensemble VOCES8 and author of The VOCES8 Method. Each year, we host the VOCES8 North American Scholars in a week-long residency at the start of their year-long program. Additionally, we announced the Larry and Susan Hauser Organ Scholar position, which offers one SMU student a chance to learn about church work first-hand; we are thrilled to have YunJung Lee fill this position for our first year. Next year will be the official relaunch of the music academy with the launch of our choristers program as well as our adult music division. To further augment my commitment to music education, I am the faculty pianist at the Greenhill School in Addison as well as the pianist for Plano West Senior High School.

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

The Meadows School of the Arts faculty are of the highest caliber. Their insight into music, their connection to the musical community, their commitment to their students is all remarkable. I came to SMU having already completed my Doctorate of Musical Arts, but the opportunity to work with Professor Stefan Engels inspired me to pursue further education. Through our work together, I was able to polish my craft to a higher level of artistry previously unimagined. His commitment to his students and their success continues to motivate me and my work still today. I am grateful for my time with him and the rest of the music faculty; this was a high point of my musical studies.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

The faculty and resources available to you as a part of Meadows are invaluable. Everyone is committed to seeing you succeed; make sure you show up to take full advantage of it!


About ARTINA McCAIN (B.M. Piano Performance ’03)

  • M.M. Piano Performance, Cleveland Institute of Music
  • D.M. Arts Piano Performance, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Album, Heritage: Kaleidoscope of American Composers, MSR, scheduled 2019
  • Featured Leader, PBS documentary Roadtrip Nation: Degree of Impact, 2017
  • Co-Artistic Director, Memphis International Piano Festival and Competition, 2016
  • Board, Austin Chamber Music Center, 2016
  • Founder and Director, Musicians Wellness Forum, 2014–16
  • Keyboard Faculty, University of the Incarnate Word 2007–10; 2014–16
  • Assistant Professor of Piano, Texas Lutheran University, 2013–16
  • Award-winning album featuring art songs by Black composers; I, Too, Naxos Label, 2012
  • Lecturer, Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music, 2006–07
  • Faculty, Illinois Summer Youth Music Festival University of Illinois
  • Solo Concerto appearances include: Oregon East Symphony, Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Austin Civic

What are you working on now? 

Assistant Professor of Piano, University of Memphis since 2016

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

Attending SMU is one of the fondest memories of my life. Not only did I have fun, but I grew as a young adult socially, professionally and emotionally. I met colleagues and professors that I still connect and collaborate with today. One of the highlights at SMU was the Meadows School of the Arts and my time studying with Dr. Carol Leone. As musicians, we have the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with leaders in our field to glean knowledge and mentorship from them. This was my experience and I continue to grow as a musician and professor based on my experiences during this time.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

Look left and look right—soon your peers will be the newest leaders in your field. They will be future directors, artists, performers, deans and professors. It’s sometimes hard to imagine how it will work out, but it will! Take the time in school to make many friends and develop professional relationships with your professors. These will pay dividends as you develop in your field and provide invaluable networks as you advance in your career.


About ADAM SALAS (M.M. in Piano Performance and Pedagogy ’18)

Dallas Music Teachers Association Attendance Chair and Jazz-Pop Contest/ Festival.

What are you working on now? 

  • Adjunct Music Faculty, TWU, since 2018
  • Private Piano Instructor since 2016

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

My experience at SMU helped prepare me to be a more confident musician, performer and teacher.

What advice would you give students?

Make sure to keep practicing, and always take new opportunities because you never know where your career may end up.


About YINUO WANG (Performer’s Diploma ’18)

In October 2018, I entered a professional music career management contract with the Concert Artists Guild (CAG) in New York City, and am honored to be an artist on the CAG roster.

What are you working on now?

Graduate Student, The Juilliard School

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

My two years’ study at SMU was an unforgettable experience in my life. The Performer’s Diploma program provided me with many performance opportunities for solo, concerti and chamber music playing with friends, students and excellent faculty members. I learned a great deal from my piano teacher Alessio Bax, and every other teacher at Meadows.

I liked the warm music environment at Meadows and the academic diversity of SMU, which both enabled me to focus on music, and meanwhile to make different friends and keep a curiosity about many other things and happenings at SMU. I’d also like to add that Dallas is a best city for living, SMU is a best university for thinking, and Meadows is a best school for making music.


VOICE

About SHANNON CONBOY (B.M. Performance/Vocal; B.M. Music Education ’16)

Following graduation, I was fortunate to work as the music teacher at Dorsey Elementary. I absolutely loved each and every day, and I know that at some point in my future, I’ll end up back in the classroom. While I was teaching, I was also performing at theatres throughout the DFW area, such as Lyric Stage, Firehouse Theatre and Brick Road Theatre. Just before making the move, I lived in Austin for three months and performed there at the ZACH Theatre. 

What are you working on now?

I’m currently living in Manhattan as a professional actor. I will be performing this December in Lancaster, Penn., as the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol, and just recently signed a contract for a show in 2019. While my weekdays are spent auditioning, I spend as many weekends as I can working as a member of DCINY’s (Distinguished Concerts International New York) production staff. It’s a fantastic organization that allows me to work with classical and choral artists in locations like Carnegie Hall and The Lincoln Center. I’m thankful for the skills I was able to bring from Texas to this crazy, yet incredible, city. So far, it has been a dream!

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

Everything about my experiences at SMU has helped me and prepared me to be where I am today. I consistently look back on my experiences in the opera program with Hank Hammett. My education classes with Dr. Julie Scott proved to be invaluable when I got into the field. As someone new to these industries, I still often turn to my professors for advice, especially my voice teacher, Dale Dietert, and Kevin Hofeditz. I’m thankful each and every day for my mentors and SMU education.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

Go to office hours and build relationships with your Meadows professors. They are professionals in their fields and their knowledge is so invaluable. Also, go see/support/appreciate the art your colleagues are producing!


About KATRINA GALKA (B.M. Performance/Voice ’11)

Debut in a world premiere called Die Weiden with the Wiener Staatsoper this December 2018.

What are you working on now?

Freelance, managed opera singer

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

SMU gave me lots of experience. The opera department was vibrant and energetic, the teachers were supportive and invested, and we were constantly getting up and performing for one another in studio classes, choral concerts, Brown Bag concerts, and on the mainstage. We also did a lot of crossover collaborative work with the theater department which was exciting and a wonderful way to explore being an effective performing artist in general.

What advice would you give students?

Work hard. Take your classes seriously. Meadows offers an incredibly strong academic basis for artists. You have as equal of an opportunity to DO and MAKE your art as you do to educate yourself about its structure, form, function, and history. All of these things come together to make you a better artist in the real world, so don’t skate through your classes. Really learn all you can. Also immerse yourself in as much performance as you can. By that I mean, look for every opportunity to do your craft but also GO to as many performances as possible. I used to try and go to as many recitals, concerts, plays, dance shows, art exhibits, etc. as I could (all within Meadows), and I loved the experience. I learned so much in watching others get up and create art that I couldn’t have learned just through my own doing of it.


About PAUL KROEGER (B.M. Performance/Vocal ’13)

  • M.M. in Vocal Performance, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Tenor soloist, Landestheater Coburg, 2017–18
  • Tenor soloist, Thüringer Opernstudio, at Theater Gera/Altenburg, Theater Nordhausen/Sondershausen, Theater Erfurt from 2015 to 2017.

What are you working on now?

Tenor soloist, Mecklenburgisches Staatstheater, since season 2018–19

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

Meadows is very special because it is a quality music school within a leading university. I had trouble choosing to do music because I was so interested in other fields of academia. Fortunately, at SMU I could mostly focus on music while also taking courses that most of my international opera singer colleagues never had the opportunity to take.

At SMU I studied with Virginia Dupuy and other distinguished music faculty that helped hone my musical ability. I was also encouraged to explore other academic fields, even if they didn’t have a direct impact on my singing. This balance is what allowed me to learn German for fun, even though it wasn’t required in my degree plan. Later I was grateful for that when I moved to Germany for my career!

One thing that I found particularly special about SMU is that the professors really do care. Through the President’s Scholars activities and various other events, I met and bonded with several professors, some of whom weren’t even my professors! I am still in contact with many of them to this day. In fact, I’ll be spending this Christmas in Hamburg with the German Studies professor who led my study abroad program to Germany. Every summer I’m back for voice lessons with Virginia Dupuy. I am in contact with a former English professor who invited me to the opera with him when he reviewed for The Wall Street Journal. The professors at SMU are incredible!

In short, I learned how to learn at SMU. I feel that I could go into many different fields and somehow figure it out given the broad education I received.  And the personal attention I received from the superb professors at SMU prepared me very well for graduate school and my professional work afterwards. As an opera singer, you are your own PR director, fundraiser, tax person, website designer and so much more. At SMU I learned how to sing AND how to start my career.

What advice would you give students?

I would encourage Meadows students to focus on their major, but to take advantage of other classes at SMU as well. If you’re interested in a language or three, take them! If you like history, sign up and prepare for a fun challenge. I took several non-major classes that I don’t use in my daily professional life and several that I unexpectedly do use. I am so glad I took them!


About JENNIE LEE (B. M. Vocal Performance; B. A. World Languages ’16)

  • Fulbright Grant Recipient 2017–18. I worked as an English teaching assistant in Hamburg, Germany.
  • Monteverdi-Chor, soprano 2017. I sang in Hamburg’s Monteverdi-Chor during my Fulbright year. A highlight was singing a sold-out performance of Mendelssohn’s Elias in the Elbphilharmonie.
  • Alpha Chi Omega, Senior Chair 2016
  • SMU ESL, Volunteer 2014–16
  • Diva Dolce, Soprano 2013–16
  • Meadows Opera Theater 2013–16
  • SMU Italian Club, Co-President 2013–15
  • Meadows Chorale, Soprano 2012–13

What are you working on now?

In July of 2018, I completed my Fulbright grant working as an English teaching assistant in Hamburg, Germany. I have extended my contact with the school for another year while I apply to German graduate programs.

Yoga for Kids, 2017–Present. I founded and currently run a weekly yoga course for students at my school.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

At SMU, I had the possibility of pursuing two degrees at once. I received quality, conservatory style training alongside excellent non-musical studies. When I look back now, just three years out of college, it is evident that SMU provided the artistic and academic education and networking that has allowed me to be where I am today.

What advice would you give students?

Take advantage of the creative minds around you. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!


MUSIC EDUCATION

ABOUT JONATHAN JONES (B.M. Music Education ’08) 

Over the years, I have appeared as a soloist around the world with several groups.  I recently performed as a soloist with the Taipei Chinese Orchestra alongside Indian music expert Poovalur Sriji.  In 2016 I appeared as a soloist playing, acting and dancing at Opera Birmingham alongside Talise Trevigne, performing Orpheus and Euridice by Ricky Ian Gordon.  I have also appeared as a world music or jazz soloist performing in Italy in 2016, China and Sumatra in 2015, and Bali and Java in 2014.  I made several other appearances in Italy 2006–10 performing jazz and alongside Dr. Kevin Hanlon in our group Quintet for the End of Time. I have also made several appearances as a soloist with the Las Colinas Symphony and recorded for numerous films and records.

What are you working on now?

I have held the principal clarinet chair for the Dallas Chamber Symphony since the orchestra’s formation in 2011 and also the position of principal clarinet of Las Colinas Symphony since 2008.  I regularly sub with the Fort Worth Symphony and Dallas Opera, among other local orchestras in the DFW area. I spend a lot of my time freelancing throughout DFW and the world, usually focused on world music or jazz. I play with several other groups including: Jamal Mohamed World Ensemble, Horoscope (World Music Trio) and Apollo’s Flight (Electronic Dance Duo).  I also own my own corporation, Lioncraft Corp. My business is focused around DJ, live music and audio-visual services for corporate events, parties and weddings. I have taught clarinet in Coppell for the past five years.  I also recently started working in for Ambit energy in April 2018 and have already been promoted to senior consultant.

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

First of all, Paul Garner shaped me as a musician and refined me into the technical and musical player that I am. Without my intense classical training from him, I would not be where I am today. Secondly, all of my performance experience with Jack Delaney and Dr. Paul Phillips prepared me for ensemble playing of any kind or level.  My private improvisation study with former Meadows faculty member Akira Sato, and performance in jazz combos expanded my horizons. Then joining Jamal Mohamed’s World Music Ensemble was one of the best things I ever did. In his ensemble, I really started to own my abilities to improvise and perform any music from any culture in time signatures like 25/16. Of course, I am also ever-grateful for getting a real education from the fine liberal arts school and having to take a full curriculum. It was tough, but I feel like I graduated very well-rounded, with an expanded capacity for critical thinking and problem solving, not just a music conservatory diploma.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

To be quite honest, my main advice is to learn to improvise and take Jamal Mohamed’s World Music Ensemble and Meadows Jazz Orchestra with Derrick Horne. Expand your horizons and think outside of the box; this will make your more marketable and provide more opportunities in the future. Learn as many new skills as you can and take advantage of all the staff that can teach you something you probably never considered, like world music or jazz or music production or even advertising. Too many top classical musicians I know are limited in their skill set and put themselves in an artistic corner.  Make a lot of friends, expand your network and have a lot of fun! My years at SMU were certainly great but they do go fast, ENJOY!


COMPOSITION

ABOUT OLGA AMELKINA-VERA (M.M. in Composition ’17)

  • M.M. and D.M.A. in Guitar Performance, University of North Texas 2008
  • B.A. University of St. Thomas, Houston
  • Award-winning composer (most recently, winner of The American Prize in Composition 2017–18 for my SMU master’s thesis, instrumental sextet Submerged Worlds.
  • Touring performer as a soloist and with Kithara Duo, a classical guitar duo.
  • Guest conductor and clinician for guitar programs around the country.

What are you working on now?

Full-time Professor of Music at Collin College since 2017.  Areas of specialization: music history, music theory, guitar, composition.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

My experience at SMU was nothing short of transformative, allowing me to realize a long-held dream of developing my compositional skills. SMU composition faculty created an ideal learning environment for me! Coming back to school for a second masters after a doctorate degree from UNT (D.M.A., 2008), I was also tremendously fortunate to be invited to teach at SMU part-time in the music history and theory areas while completing my degree. The experience of teaching brought me in contact with other great faculty and students, from whom I also learned so much! I felt supported and respected by my professors, fellow students and colleagues, who pushed and inspired me to achieve my best. I attribute much of my recent professional success to the excellent instruction and support I received while at SMU.

What advice would you give students?

Cherish the experience, be thankful for your faculty and fellow students, learn from every experience, establish strong relationships in and outside of the program, work your butt off. That should do it!


About DANIEL CHAN (M.M. in Composition ’07

Composer of the animated series Freedom Fighters: The Ray (2017) and co-composer of the mini-series Crisis on Earth X (2017).

What are you working on now?

Co-composer of the series Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (2017-present).

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

The time spent with professors and the live performing ensembles was invaluable. Private lessons and composition master classes helped refine my skills and expose me to other approaches. Regular exposure to symphony orchestra rehearsals was inspiring and grew my love for that medium.

What advice would you give students?

Collaborate. Look for opportunities to create outside of your discipline. You’ll gain a broader understanding of the arts as well as a new perspective on your craft.


MUSIC THERAPY

About KELLI KADER (B.M. Music Therapy; B.A. Psychology ’15)

Music Therapist, Music Therapy Services of Austin, 2015–16 

What are you working on now?

Music Therapist, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, 2017–present

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

SMU’s small classroom size provided me with an individualized education, while being in Dallas allowed for a diverse and high-quality practicum experience.


CONDUCTING

About MICHELLE MERRILL (B.M. in Saxophone Performance; B.M. Music Education ’06; M.M. in Orchestral Conducting; M.M. in Music Education ’12)

  • Associate Conductor, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, 2016–18
  • Assistant Conductor, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, 2014–16
  • Assistant Conductor, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, 2013–15
  • Apprentice Conductor, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, 2012–13

What are you working on now?

  • Music Director, Coastal Symphony of Georgia
  • Guest Conductor throughout America and abroad 

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

Meadows is filled with a faculty of incredible and diverse musicians. I worked incredibly hard during my time there, which mimicked what it was like in the professional world, when deadlines needed to be met in real time. I also think that some of the best musicians in the world are housed inside of Meadows, and being able to learn from them, watch them teach, or hear them play gave me the resources and the ears I needed to be able to navigate my way in the world outside of school.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

Practice as much as you can. Ask questions. Go to a diverse array of concerts, recitals and masterclasses, not just those featuring your primary instrument. Attend a dance performance and see music in motion—you may be surprised what you can learn about making music by watching dancers move to it.  Read literature. Attend a play. Understand how music past and present fits into the world and responds to it.  Remember to enjoy yourself. We all chose music as a profession for a reason; let that reason encourage you during the difficult times, and channel your energy as you strive to become world-class.


B.A.

About LINDSAY FORRISTER (B.A. Music; B.A. Advertising ’16)

My previous full-time positions include art director at Core Publishing (June 2016–Oct. 2017) and web designer at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament (Oct. 2017–Oct. 2018). In addition to full-time work, I also enjoy singing through various performances such as appearances at St. Barnabas UMC and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

What are you working on now?

I am currently a front end web developer at Lifeblue, a digital media agency in McKinney, Texas. Our clients include the Dallas Arboretum, the Perot Museum, The Dallas Morning News and more.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

Though I am no longer pursuing music full time, my music studies allowed me to hone the skills that translate into my current career. Through my music studies I was able to practice a balance of logic/analytical thinking (theory, ear training, musicianship, etc.) and creativity (opera, studio, choir, etc.). This balance has aided in my current position, where I must combine the logical skills of computer programming with the creative skills of design. I also continue to use my music training through various side performances I participate in throughout the year.

What advice would you give students?

Your undergraduate years are only the beginning of your journey! Whether or not you decide to pursue the arts after graduation, the skills you will learn in Meadows will help propel you into a lifelong experience of discovering further techniques, goals and passions.


About SARAH WHITLING (B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies/Nonprofit Organizational Studies; B.A. in Human Rights ’15)

What are you working on now?

Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Manager of Strategic Initiatives – part time starting in August 2015, full time in January 2016

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

SMU taught me invaluable lessons about leadership, creativity and collaboration.

The comprehensive education that I received at SMU helped prepare me for the fast-paced and constantly changing environment of arts administration.

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