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Department and Alumni News  

April 30th Jazz I Concert to feature Alum Jamey Simmons

 Jamey Simmons






Jazz Festival

Jazz Fest






Percussion ensemble selected to perform at international convention

November 14, 2014


percussion ensemble
From Left:Rick Haneman, Cassie Venske, Shawn Muench, Dr. Jeff Crowell, Alli Wilmes, Nick Junker, Jack Donovan, Elliott Rittenberry

A preview performance of "Show Us How to Live" will be performed during the Percussion Ensemble concert at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 in Gantner Concert Hall of the Haas Fine Arts Center.

EAU CLAIRE — Eight University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students will put their percussion talents on display during an ensemble performance at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention Nov. 19-22 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Featured in the ensemble are Cassie Venske, a senior music education major from Waunakee; Alli Wilmes, a junior music education major from Stillwater, Minnesota; Rick Haneman, a senior instrumental music major from Lake Geneva; Nick Junker, a junior music education major from Hastings, Minnesota; Shawn Muench, a senior music education major from Cumberland; Joe Hujet, a junior music liberal arts and business administration major from Appleton; Elliott Rittenberry, a senior music education major from Chippewa Falls; and Jack Donovan, a senior music performance major from St. Louis Park, Minnesota. David Kocik, a sophomore English education major and music minor from Hudson, will attend the convention as an alternate.

This ensemble is one of only five groups selected from around the world to perform at the Thinking Forward concert to be held at the convention Nov. 20, said Dr. Jeff Crowell, associate professor of music and the ensembles director.

"This is the pinnacle of what we can do," Crowell said. "There is no higher honor for a percussion ensemble than to be selected to perform at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, which is attended by more than 6,000 percussionists. It's a chance to show the rest of the world what we do here at UW-Eau Claire and represent the department and university to the best of our abilities."

The experience of playing at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention is one that will be remembered for a lifetime, Wilmes said.

"It is a huge honor to have been accepted to premiere our new piece," Wilmes said. "This performance is the most important performance of my musical career thus far. The members of our ensemble are some of my best friends and that makes this experience even more significant to me. I am so excited to show percussionists from all over the world what our studio can do and also to premiere a very new style of music. Our piece uses a brand new and innovative style of notation, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of this process. Being able to represent our studio and also the university itself is a huge honor that I take very seriously."

The piece the ensemble will perform focuses on the idea that people's actions, thoughts and feelings are heavily influenced by movies, Crowell said. Scored for nine percussionists, "Show Us How to Live" addresses performativity in society and combines predetermined musical structures, improvisation, indeterminacy, acting, mimicry and theater.

"The score for this work is in the form of PowerPoint presentations," Crowell said. "Each percussionist uses a laptop to display a variety of score instructions, including pitch and rhythm materials, videos of gestures and facial expressions, timers and text instructions. The percussionist in the center (Crowell) acts as a leader for the group and provides cues and timing for synchronous sections. The work contains a variety of musical characters, from beat-oriented music to silent actions to a free-flowing fabric of sound and movement."

People are constantly learning how to act from each other, and the trends that permeate society can range from absurd to serious. This work will highlight this characteristic of humanity and draw attention to all aspects of it, Crowell said.

During the four-day convention, the students will also participate in clinics with experts and professionals in the percussion field from around the world.

"I am most excited to see performances given by excellent percussionists," Venske said. "Being in one place with so many others who are passionate about the same thing is a rare opportunity that I am looking forward to. Without Dr. Crowell it is highly unlikely that we would be playing at the convention. His philosophy regarding music and life helped all of us to grow into the people we are today."

During her time at UW-Eau Claire, Venske said she has been most affected by the music department's commitment to high-quality music.

"The expectation that we as individuals will always be devoted to the music wholeheartedly is the best preparation because it is a mindset; it is the way that we always strive to approach our work."

A preview performance of "Show Us How to Live" will be performed during the Percussion Ensemble concert at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 in Gantner Concert Hall of the Haas Fine Arts Center. For more information, contact Dr. Jeff Crowell at or 715-836-5512.




UWEC's Robert Baca Directs NAfME All-National Honor Band

October 24, 2014 


Baca Jazz UWEC

Robert Baca, director of jazz studies, has been selected to serve as the conductor of the National Association for Music Education 2014 All-National Honor Jazz Band. Baca will lead the band's Oct. 29 performance on the world-famous Grand Ole Opry House stage during the gala concert that concludes the NAfME National In-Service Conference in Nashville, Tenn. Baca is one of "four of the most prominent conductors in the United States" chosen to lead four all-national honor ensembles at the NAfME conference's closing celebration of music education and the arts. Read more...

UWEC Composition Major Featured in Minneapolis Concert

September 23, 2014 

Senior composition major Jordan Jenkins had two chamber pieces featuredJenkins[1]
 in a concert at the University of Minnesota campus on September 7th. The concert, titled "A Night of New Music", featured Jenkins' pieces along with the music of well-known composers Libby Larsen and Adam Berndt. The performance featured an all-star ensemble of performers, including members of the Minnesota Orchestra, Zeitgeist, Florestan Recital Project and many other outstanding performers from the Minneapolis area.


Blugolds make music and memories with Kids from Wisconsin

July 25, 2014

UWEC music majors
Left to right: Dominic Domeyer, Alicia Pedersen, Jeremy Steinmetz, Matt Halverson 

EAU CLAIRE — Four University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire music majors are traveling across North America as members of the musical performance group Kids from Wisconsin, which will perform at UW-Eau Claire at 7 p.m. Monday, July 28, in the outdoor amphitheater on the Central Campus Mall.

This summer, Alicia Pedersen, a senior music major from Shawano, Jeremy Steinmetz, a junior double major in music and business administration from Eau Claire, Matthew Halverson, a junior music education major from Rice Lake, and Dominic Domeyer, a sophomore music education major from River Falls, join the almost 700 young artists who have participated in Kids from Wisconsin since its creation in 1969.

Pedersen serves as the tour administrator for the troupe, Steinmetz performs as a vocalist and dancer, and Halverson and Domeyer play in the band — Halverson on trombone and Domeyer on trumpet.

The Kids from Wisconsin program's history and reputation were big factors in deciding to audition, Steinmetz said.

"I became involved in Kids from Wisconsin because of the great things I've heard from former Kids," Steinmetz said. "I also love the fact that everyone who is a part of this organization is very dedicated and takes music and performing as seriously as I do. I think my favorite part of Kids is the friendship and bonds I am making with the other members of the troupe. When you live and breathe together for a whole summer, through 60 performances, you become really close with everyone and become a family. The memories and friendships I have created from this experience will be something I will never forget."

The Kids from Wisconsin troupe consists of 33 members: 10 male singers/dancers, 10 female singers/dancers and a 13-piece band. With a troupe this large, coordination and organization is crucial, and Pedersen has stepped in to fill that need.

"My position as tour administrator is very similar to what I want to do in the future," Pedersen said. "I've gained a lot of insight on how to plan the details that go into a tour, and watching the performers learn and grow has been exciting. They learned all of the music and choreography in just over two weeks and are constantly working to improve the show and do their best. It is incredible to see their dedication."

The Blugold performers are eager to share their experience with the Eau Claire community through their performance.

"I am beyond excited to be performing with the Kids from Wisconsin in Eau Claire this summer," Steinmetz said. "It is truly amazing how many friends and family I have created being on campus and involved with the music and theater program at UW-Eau Claire and the surrounding community over the past two years. Every day I hear about more and more people who are coming to the Eau Claire show to support us, and I am very excited, grateful and ready to share with everyone the 2014 Kids from Wisconsin."

The Kids from Wisconsin performance is free and open to the public.

For more information about the Kids from Wisconsin program, contact Tina Weiss, executive director for Kids from Wisconsin, at





Trombone Studio

The UWEC Trombone Studio has been busy in 2013-14! In October we hosted the fifth Upper Midwest Trombone Summit with guest artists Henry Charles Smith III and Marshall Gilkes. This June we will attend and perform at the International Trombone Festival in Rochester, NY. The concert will include performers Northwestern University graduate student Joe Aumann (UWEC '13) and Eastman School of Music graduate student and UWEC alum Josh Becker.

The trombone studio has been fortunate to receive two major gifts recently. UWEC alum John Minors gifted his vintage Elkhart Conn 88H to the department.

Bruce and Linda Livermore donated a Greenhoe Conn Bass Trombone to the department to honor their son, Ross. Ross was a trombone student at UWEC and passed away tragically in October 2012. The trombone studio is grateful to have such an awesome way to remember Ross! Thank you Bruce, Linda and sister Meg.


Opera Workshop

In the spring semester of 2014, the UW-Eau Claire Opera Workshop Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Mark Mowry completed an 8 show tour, bringing opera to children in elementary and middle school students around Eastern Wisconsin.  The tour, called Opera on Wheels, was put in place by former director of the Ensemble Dr. Robert Knight, and continues with the mission of introducing opera to children. Thousands of children have been reached throughout the 20 years of the program.


Tuba/Euphonium Studio

Jerry Young is concluding the first year of his two year term as President of the International Tuba – Euphonium Association. He officiated at the International Tuba –Euphonium Conference held at Indiana University May 19 – 24 where he led meetings of the Association's various Boards, general meetings, and the biennial Awards Banquet.

Jerry Young gave the world premiere of former UWEC faulty member Ethan Wickman's new tuba concerto, "Three Visions of El Greco" at the University of Texas – San Antonio on April 4. In addition to rehearsing and performing with the UT-SA Wind Band, he gave a master class for the university's low brass students. He also gave performances of the concerto in Gantner Concert Hall with the UWEC Wind Symphony on April 27 and on the stage of the MAC at Indiana University on May 24.

BASSically BRASS, the UWEC euphonium and tuba ensemble, was presented in concert at the International Tuba – Euphonium Conference at Indiana University at 2:30 p.m. on May 24 in Auer Concert Hall. They performed arrangements by UWEC alumnus Andrei Strizek, long time BASSically BRASS friend and arranger, Ronald C. Knoener of Plymouth, Wisconsin, St. Louis composer Kim Portnoy, and a former Interlochen student and colleague of Dr. Young, Luis Maldonado. The Knoener arrangement of Grieg's "The Last Spring" was a world premiere. Student conductors for the program included Zachary Tessling of Rosemount, MN, Nick Hansberry of Alexandria, MN, Lauren Little of Brookfield, WI, and Nathan Rakow of Sparta, WI.

Tubist Kurtis Polishinski of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin was the runner-up for the UWEC Band Department 2014 Concerto Competition. He was featured with the UWEC Symphony Band under the direction of Dr. Phillip Ostrander on their spring concert performing Arthur Pryor's "The Blue Bells of Scotland."

UWEC senior euphonium student Nathan Rakow has been awarded a work-study scholarship to the International Euphonium Institute, which was held in Atlanta, Georgia in June of 2014.

The euphonium studio was privileged to perform the Wagner tuba parts for Bruckner's Seventh Symphony with the University Orchestra under the direction of Nobuyoshi Yasuda this spring. The Wagner tuba (usually played by hornists) is a somewhat rare instrument only owned by major orchestras, and our euphoniumists relished the opportunity to be part of the orchestra.


Jazz Studies

The Jazz Studies area released two CD's this year.

Jazz In Clear Water:  Black, Brown and Beige  Features modern works plus a live performance of Duke Ellington's largest work "Black, Brown and Beige". UW-Eau Claire is the only ensemble besides Duke Ellington's Jazz Orchestra to record this work.

Jazz In Clear Water:  Ebony Concerto  Features the lead alto saxophonist on clarinet performing Igor Stravinsky's Ebony Concerto in addition to several modern selections.

In addition, highlights of Jazz Ensemble I performance season included the host ensemble for the Stillwater Jazz Festival, a performance at the UW-Eau Claire Artist Series for vocalist Denise Donatelli and Geoffrey Keezer, a performance to a sold out Eau Claire Memorial Auditorium with trombonist WyCiffe Gordon and trumpet artist Byron Stripling at the Eau Claire Jazz Festival and supporting LA Saxophonist/UW-Eau Claire Alumnus Tom Luer at the Essentially Eau Claire performance at Eau Claire Memorial Auditorium.

Robert Baca Activities:

Artist in Residence: Virginia Tech University
MTSBOA Tennessee Honors Jazz Ens., Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Vermont All State Jazz Ensemble, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
NAfME All National Jazz Ensemble, Nashville, TN
North Suburban All Conf. Jazz Ens., Minneapolis, MN
University of Minnesota Jazz Festival, Minneapolis, MN
Stillwater Jazz Festival, Minneapolis, MN
Burlington Jazz Festival, Burlington, VT

Broadway Show: "Wicked" Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
Broadway Show: "The Book OF Mormon", Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
Broadway Show: "Evita" Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
Soloist: "Carmen Fantasy" Chippewa Valley Symphony, Eau Claire, WI
Soloist:  Waseca Jazz Festival, Waseca, MN
Soloist:  Montevideo Jazz Festival, Montevideo, MN
Soloist:  Essex Jazz Festival, Essex, VT


UW-Eau Claire Trombone Ensemble invited to perform at prestigious festival


EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Trombone Ensemble has been invited to perform at the 2014 International Trombone Festival, to be held June 4-7 in Rochester, N.Y.

A panel of International Trombone Association judges selected the ensemble from a submitted performance recording.

"This a fantastic honor for the ensemble," said the group's director, Dr. Phillip Ostrander, associate professor of music. "The world's finest trombone performers, teachers, students and fans will be at the 2014 festival. UW Eau Claire students will get the chance to play a concert at the festival, then attend numerous recitals, concerts, master classes, jam sessions and more."

Ostrander also will conduct the festival's jazz participant trombone choir and perform with the 2014 Cramer Choir.

UW-Eau Claire's ensemble currently consists of 18 student musicians. It has performed at the International Trombone Festival once previously, in 2004. Since then, it has performed at the Eastern Trombone Workshop, the Minnesota and Wisconsin Music Educators Association state conventions and, in fall 2007 and July 2013, Minnesota Twins home games in Minneapolis, where the group played the national anthem (see videos of the 2007and 2013performances).

The International Trombone Festival is a prestigious annual event that allows trombonists to come together and share their common passions for the trombone in all types of musical environments. It features concerts, recitals and master classes from world-renowned trombonists as well as the opportunity for participants to perform for each other.

For more information, contact Dr. Phillip Ostrander, associate professor of music, at ostrenpa@uwec.eduor 715-836- 4156.

News Bureau - April, 2014 

UW-Eau Claire musicians to perform at International Tuba-Euphonium Conference


EAU CLAIRE — The International Tuba-Euphonium Conference will have no shortage of UW-Eau Claire students and faculty this summer.

The biennial conference, which consists of recital and concert programs by top artists from around the world, will feature UW-Eau Claire's Wind Symphony, low brass ensemble BASSically BRASS and Dr. Jerry Young, professor emeritus of music. The conference is hosted by the International Tuba-Euphonium Association, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year.

Young, who also serves as president of the International Tuba-Euphonium Association, will perform the world premiere of a new concerto composed by former UW-Eau Claire faculty member Dr. Ethan Wickman.

"I think our artistic aim is to look back over the past 40 years to review what we have accomplished, not only as an association of people dedicated to the euphonium and tuba, but also as a part of the larger musical community," Young said.

BASSically BRASS, which has previously performed at a variety of international conferences both in the U.S. and abroad, will perform as one of only a handful of college-level euphonium and tuba ensembles invited to the conference. The group also has performed at state education conferences in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. More than 60 works have been composed specifically for BASSically BRASS over the past 31 years.

Young, director of BASSically BRASS, says that the conference is an opportunity for UW-Eau Claire's low-brass musicians to be showcased and distinguished.

"Our low-brass area is nationally and internationally recognized for its consistent production of outstanding graduates as educators and performers," Young said. "The continuing invitations to perform on this important international stage before our peers on a recurring basis keeps our university and its outstanding reputation front and center in the minds of prospective students and in the profession at large."

Each piece performed by BASSically BRASS at the conference will be led by UW-Eau Claire students.

The UW-Eau Claire Wind Symphony is the official accompanying ensemble for the conference. It will perform with famous solo artists Dr. Brian Bowman from the University of Northern Texas, Tim Northcut from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, UW-Eau Claire's Dr. Jerry Young and Andreas Hofmeir, who recently performed and recorded with the Munich Philharmonic.

"The amount of international exposure we're getting from this is amazing," said Dr. John Stewart, assistant professor of music and director of the Wind Symphony. "This is a big deal."

The Wind Symphony has performed at many regional and national conferences, including the National Association for Music Education, the College Band Directors National Association, the Wisconsin State Music Conference, the Illinois Music Educators Association Convention and the National Band Association-Wisconsin Chapter Convention. The Wind Symphony frequently records for professional music publishers Daehn Publications and JPM Music.

For more information, contact Dr. Jerry Young at jyoung@uwec.eduor 715-836-3633.

News Bureau - April, 2014



Music faculty member releases new CD featuring world-premiere recordings of commissioned works

January 13, 2014

Nicholas Phillips UWEC

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Nicholas Phillips, an associate professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has recently released a new CD titled "American Vernacular: New Music for Solo Piano" produced by New Focus Recordings.

The CD is a collection of works commissioned by Phillips, who gave 10 composers the theme "American Vernacular," along with free reign to take that theme in any direction.

"I came up with this crazy idea to commission a group of composers over a year ago and did the recording this summer in Minneapolis," Phillips said. "I always enjoy introducing audiences to new music, but I find sometimes they are reluctant. The idea of this project was to commission works on a theme that would create something new while drawing on something familiar."

One of the composers Phillips commissioned for this project was Dr. Ethan Wickman, a former UW-Eau Claire assistant professor of music. Phillips recorded a CD of Wickman's music, titled "Portals and Passages," in 2011 on Albany Records. That same year he released a CD called "Boris Papandopulo: Piano Music," also on Albany records.

The pieces included on "American Vernacular: New Music for Solo Piano" draw influence from diverse sources, including John Fahey, Billy Joel, Langston Hughes, Miles Davis, Alberto Ginastera and hip-hop legends De La Soul.

Producing a CD of this nature presents many challenges, Phillips said, but waiting for scores to arrive proved to be the most anxious part.

"It's exciting to commission a composer, but then you never know what you're actually going to get until it arrives," Phillips said. "But I really enjoy all of the pieces that have been written for me and I couldn't be happier with the variety of styles and influences represented."

"American Vernacular: New Music for Solo Piano" was featured as the Jan. 13 "Album of the Week" on Q2 Music, a high-profile online radio program in New York City that focuses on new music.

"Q2 Music focuses on music by living composers, so this is a perfect outlet for 'American Vernacualar,'" Phillips said. "They reach a huge online audience, both in New York City and across the country. Looking at some of the composers and performers they have featured in the past, it is a tremendous honor to have this CD chosen as their 'Album of the Week.'"

Visit!/story/pianist-commissions-ten-composers-redefine-american-vernacularto read the Q2 Music article featuring "American Vernacular: New Music for Solo Piano."

Phillips, who is currently on tour performing pieces from the album, is scheduled to play the program in recital at 5 p.m. Feb. 9 in Gantner Concert Hall of the Haas Fine Arts Center at UW-Eau Claire.

The album is available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon and at

For a complete schedule of performances or for more information about Dr. Nicholas Phillips, visit his website at, or contact him at or 715-836-5842.

News Bureau - January, 2014


Over the summer, Phillips gave a presentation at the College Music Society International Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He also gave a recital there, at the Isaac Ferdinand Blanco Museum. Featuring works by American composers (including former UW-Eau Claire composer Ethan Wickman) and the Croatian Boris Papandopulo, the recital was sponsored by the Croatian Embassy in Buenos Aires.



Alumni News 

Alumna premieres music composition in New York City

December 2, 2014


Joosten alumna UWEC

EAU CLAIRE — Heidi Joosten, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire music composition alumna, had always dreamed of her music being performed on the big stage. Little did she know her dream would become a reality just months after graduating from UW-Eau Claire.

Joosten, originally from Cameron, was among the female composers selected to have their original musical theater compositions featured at "The Music Box: An Evening of Lady Composers," an event of the summer 2014 New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF).

The NYMF is the largest annual musical theatre festival in the United States, presenting productions, concerts, readings and special events each summer. The festival provides or subsidizes all the key components needed to put on a show, from theaters, performers and technical equipment to marketing, industry and audience outreach. For new musical theater writers, NYMF offers an all-too-rare chance to fully realize their shows in three dimensions and with top-flight collaborators — an experience that is essential for the development of exciting new work. More than 90 NYMF shows have gone on to productions on and off Broadway, and festival alumni have received a wide array of awards including the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Joosten, who received her UW-Eau Claire degree in December 2013, entered a few of her pieces into the competition, which encourages women who are creating new and innovative works for musical theater to submit original songs for the showcase. Her composition "(Marry Me) Anywhere but Here" was chosen as one of the winning pieces to be staged by Broadway performers.

"While I hadn't written a full-length musical yet, I had been writing some songs in a musical theater style and figured that since there was no entry fee, I had nothing to lose by submitting," Joosten said. "I sent my entry in at the beginning of June, and I was notified at the beginning of July that a piece of mine had been selected. Within three weeks, my family and I were on a plane out to New York City to hear the performance."

Joosten transferred to UW-Eau Claire as a junior after spending two years at UW-River Falls. She originally intended to start her composing career after earning her master's degree in composition from a larger university.

"Instead, my two and a half years of studying with incredible professors led to a piece of mine being selected to be performed in New York just months after I graduated," Joosten said. "I couldn't be more grateful for the training, confidence, and networking I gained through my education at UW-Eau Claire, and I look forward to wearing blue and gold proud throughout the rest of my professional career."

During her time at UW-Eau Claire, Joosten performed in a wide variety of ensembles as a vocalist, pianist and harpist. She said that these experiences have given her an invaluable respect and desire for collaboration. While she acknowledges the support of all of her professors, she was particularly influenced by the mentorship of faculty and staff members Paula Smith, Dr. Gary Don, Dr. Chia-Yu Hsu, and Dr. Ethan Wickman, who now teaches at another university.

"These four especially shaped me to be the composer and human I am today, and I am forever grateful for all that they have done for me," Joosten said.

Hsu, an assistant professor of music, said that Joosten's determination to succeed has led her to her many accomplishments.

"Her passion for music shows through her compositions," Hsu said. "This incredible opportunity opens up a whole new chapter for her and helps her get firsthand experience in the world of theater she's been so fond of."

Joosten said the most important thing she learned while at UW-Eau Claire was not related to her curriculum, but to how she interacts with those around her.

"Every single person you come across has great value and something significant to teach you," Joosten said. "Therefore, be grateful for everything, listen carefully and always give of yourself even when you feel like you have nothing left to give. People will return the favor when you very least expect it."

Joosten's plans for the future include graduating from Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts in 2016 with a master's degree in music composition. From there, she would like to either work in the musical theater industry as both a pianist and composer or to earn her doctorate in composition and become a professor.

For more information on Joosten and her current projects and to listen to her piece "(Marry Me) Anywhere but Here," visit her website,

Behind the Scenes: Set Design at The Guthrie Theatre

2005 Theatre Arts graduate James Gangl was recently featured in a behind the scenes look at set design at the Guthrie Theatre.

Creating the World on Stage: from Sketch to Set


Blugold grads earn spots among top U.S. young jazz composers

July 16, 2014


jazz alumni

EAU CLAIRE — For two years straight, UW-Eau Claire music graduates have received one of the nation's highest honors for young jazz composers.

UW-Eau Claire alumnus Keith Karns, a trumpet player, composer and bandleader now living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, recently received a 2014 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award during the Jazz Wall of Fame event hosted in June by The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in New York City. Karns followed in the footsteps of UW-Eau Claire alumnus Aaron Hedenstrom, a saxophonist, composer and bandleader also living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, who received the honor in 2013.

A third UW-Eau Claire music alumnus, trumpet player, composer and bandleader Andrew Neesley, received the award (then called the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award) in 2004. Neesley, a 2003 UW-Eau Claire graduate, now lives and works in the New York City area.

"My hope is that successes like this will help UW-Eau Claire's music program to receive more recognition and help showcase the work that all of the faculty at UW-Eau Claire are putting in daily to help people like myself and Keith Karns to succeed in the real world," Hedenstrom said. "My hat's off to all of them."

The Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award is presented by ASCAP to recognize gifted jazz composers between the ages of 11 and 29 who are selected through a juried national competition. Previous winners have gone on to become leaders in the field of jazz and commercial composition and to receive Grammy awards. The awards program carries the name of famous trumpeter and ASCAP member Herb Alpert in recognition of The Herb Alpert Foundation's support for the program.

Both Karns and Hedenstrom said attending UW-Eau Claire was essential to the development of their musicianship and cited Robert Baca, UW-Eau Claire professor of music and director of jazz studies, as being integral to their success. Both musicians performed in Jazz Ensemble I, the top jazz ensemble at UW-Eau Claire. Baca directs the ensemble.

"In all honesty, I owe just about everything I have done to Mr. Baca," said Karns, who is from North Pole, Alaska, and graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in trumpet performance. "Not only did he work tirelessly to teach us the trumpet and jazz, but it seems to me that his main goal at UW-Eau Claire was to teach us hard work, love, compassion and honesty — all things that are very rare in most professional music circles today."

Karns went on to earn a master's degree in jazz studies from Indiana University's School of Music. He now teaches jazz performance fundamentals and directs the Six O'Clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas. He also performs throughout Texas and the Midwest with his quintet and the 17-piece Keith Karns Big Band.

Karns released his first album, "Thought and Memory," in 2012. He has worked with some of the most renowned artists in jazz, including Benny Golson, Jamey Aebersold, Joel Harrison, David Baker and the University of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band. He also has composed and arranged music for many music programs across the country, including Indiana University, Eastern Washington University and the University of North Texas.

"Playing in Mr. Baca's big band taught me so much about music, and one of the best things about it was being able to bring in my own compositions to play with the band," said Hedenstrom, a St. Paul, Minnesota, native who received a bachelor's degree in music composition from UW-Eau Claire in 2011. "Mr. Baca has turned his jazz program into a real-world workshop for people wanting to make the jump to the professional world."

Hedenstrom also holds a master's degree in jazz arranging from the University of North Texas. He operates a large teaching studio in Denton, Texas, and frequently performs original compositions with his big band, the Aaron Hedenstrom Orchestra, and with various other renowned ensembles. He also is the winner of the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival Arranging Contest and a recipient of a 2013 DownBeat Award for a blues/pop/rock soloist.




Tuba/Euphonium Studio

Tuba alumni Adam Koble and Jesse Orth held the principal low brass teaching assistantships at the University of North Texas for the 2013 -14 academic year. Koble will complete requirements for the master of music degree this summer, and Orth has achieved ABD status in the doctoral program with plans to graduate in December. Former students of Dr. Jerry Young at UWEC, they have completed their graduate studies with famed tuba pedagogue, Donald C.Little. Orth is also a semi-finalist in the Artist Division of the Leonard Falcone International Tuba Solo Competition which will be held in August at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan.

Micky Wrobleski, principal tubist of the Beijing Philharmonic, recently toured Mexico and the United States with that orchestra,including a performance at Carnegie Hall.

Euphoniumist Alan Herold recently returned from a year-long tour of duty in South Korea as part of the U.S. Army Band program. He is now back to his regular musician's duties in Alabama where he lives with his wife, Kim and their three children.

Tubist Joshusa Lee is completing requirements for the Performer's Certificate at Carnegie-Mellon University where he is a student of Pittsburgh Symphony tubist, Craig Knox.

Euphonium alumnus Matthew Turek is the new director of bands at the Central High School for the Performing Arts in St. Louis, Missouri.

Tuba alumnus Dr. Paul Budde was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. Dr. Budde formerly taught at Gustavus Adolphus College, Mankato State University, the University of St. Thomas, and St. Cloud State University.In addition to his work as a music education professor, he is an active tubist in the Twin Cities area.


Jazz Studies

2004 Graduate Dan Urness (trumpet) recently received the trumpet position for the Broadway show "Les Miserables" in New York City.  After UW-Eau Claire,Dan received a full scholarship to the Manhattan School of music where, while in school, he frequently subbed on the then off-broadway show Grey Gardens.  The show eventually went to Broadway and Dan received the trumpet spot one week after graduation and has been performing various Broadway shows ever since.  When asked how UW-Eau Claire prepared him for his career he replied,

"For me, the variety of different ensembles and their attention to the detail of the styles of music really benefited me in ways I am still discovering. 

For example, I remember one year playing for both the Jazz Ensemble and the Symphony Orchestra at the Viennese Ball. This meant that every set, I was running to the other end of the dance floor to play with the other group. We finished Sing, Sing, Sing and the first piece for the orchestra might be the Radetsky March.

There are many shows on Broadway that may be mostly in one style,but then there's one song usually toward the end of the show where the writers try to change things up.

Being able to quickly change gears is a skill that has benefited me, but not all music schools have that type of training for their students.

Currently Jeremy Miloszewicz (Trumpet) is performing the Broadway show Newsies nightly on Broadway, New York City.  Other shows Jeremy has played on Broadway include: Leap of Faith,Follies, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, The Book of Mormon, The Drowsy Chaperone, Grey Gardens, In the Heights, Chita Rivera, West Side Story, Billy Elliot, Jersey Boys

Award-winning Film, TV and Game music composer and 1999 UW-Eau Claire Graduate, Kyle Newmaster(Trumpet) - a self-professed "Star Wars" fanatic - helped bring the pop culture phenomenon back to avid gamers in the latest LucasArts' title Kinect: Star Wars. Kyle Co-scored the game which was recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London, with the London Symphony Orchestra.  Kyle's most recent project was re-scoring the 2014 movie thriller "Something Wicked".  Kyle was awarded the  2013 Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award last December.  Photo Attached

1985 Graduate Steve Sveum (Saxophone) received the 2014 Jazz Education Achievement Award  from Down Beat Magazine and featured in an article about the award.   Article attached

In April, 2004 Graduate Stacy Kern Dzuik (Saxophone) recently accepted a position and will be joining the faculty at Eastern Connecticut State University as Professor of Woodwinds.

2008 Graduate Joshua Pauly(Trumpet) received the award for Outstanding New Music Educator for impacting music education and children within the first five years of service from the Vermont Music Educators Association.

2010 Graduate Brandon Covelli (Piano) is touring Australia with the Glenn Miller Band.

2012 Graduate Cody Peterson (Piano) has become the new pianist with the US Air Force Band of The West

In April, 2008 Graduate Keith Karns (Trumpet) was the recipient of the 2014 ASCAP award for young Jazz Composer.  Paul Williams said, "The talented young music creators we recognize through this program represent the future of jazz composition. Keith also was honored with the 2014 Graduate College Down Beat Award Winner for best Original Composition.  The 2013 ASCAP Award Winner was UW-Eau Claire's Aaron Hedenstrom.  Keith currently attends North Texas State University.

2011 Graduate Aaron Hedenstrom (Saxophone) received the 2014 Down Beat Award for Outstanding Performance for Graduate College with the Aaron Hedenstrom Organ Quartet and the Graduate College Winner for Jazz Soloist.  Aaron was also the recipient of the2013 ASCAP Award.  Aaron currently attends North Texas State University.

UW-Eau Claire graduate Brian Handeland, Aaron Hedenstrom, and Keith Karns perform in the famed North Texas State One O' Clock Jazz Ensemble.  Of the nine selections on the newest One O'clock Jazz Ensemble CD, four were written by UW-Eau Claire students.

During the Christmas season, UW-Eau Claire graduates Max Robinson, James Geddes, Paul Stodolka, Elizabeth Stodolka and James Yardley made up the majority of the orchestra for the nationally touring Broadway Show "ELF".  Their tour included major cities across the United States.

UW-Eau Claire graduates Lorie Carpenter-Niska, Kurt Niska, Michael Swedberg, and Terrence Niska who make up the bulk of the Vocal Jazz Group Five By Design have been making a living singing professionally since 1991.  They have sung with over 190symphony orchestra.  This years highlight was a Christmas tour on the east coast with the Boston Symphony Orchestra

2004 Graduate Andrew Dzuik (Trumpet) recently had seven renaissance trumpet intradas by Hans Leo Hassler for six-part trumpet ensemble published by Triplo Press.  A link to the publishers site follows:

2013 Graduate Alex Piela (Trumpet) will be attending Graduate School at the Eastman School of Music on a Teaching Assistantship under Clay Jenkins and Jeff Campbell.

2014 graduate Michael Malone (Percussion) will be tour with the famous son of bassist Ray Brown and Ella Fitzgerald, the Ray Brown Jr. Quartet and performing in Italy, Turkey and the Mediterranean area from July until November of 2014.