Winter 2020

Recent Orchestral, Academic and Professional Appointments 

  • Robert Black (current undergraduate student) – Principal Tuba, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
  • James Blanchard (BM ’16) – Principal Flute, Des Moines Symphony & Opera San Jose
  • Jeremy Buckler (MM ’11) – Trombone section (one-year position), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 
  • Melissa Deal (current graduate student) – Violin section, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra 
  • Nina DeCesare (BM ’14) – Double bass section, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra 
  • George Goad (MM ’15) – Second Trumpet, Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra 
  • Mark Grisez (current graduate student) – Principal Trumpet, Columbus Symphony
  • Hannah Hammel (MM ’17) – Principal Flute, Detroit Symphony Orchestra 
  • Anthony Limoncelli (current graduate student) – Second Trumpet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 
  • Michael Marks (MM ’18) – Double Bass section – National Symphony Orchestra
  • Gary Paul Matz (MM ’16) – Double Bass section, Buffalo Philharmonic  
  • August Ramos (BM ’17, MM ’19) – Double Bass section, Colorado Symphony Orchestra
  • Lucas Sanchez (BM, BA, MM ’16) – Percussion Clinician, Florida Christian School
  • Amy Semes (MM ’19) – Associate Principal Second Violin, Houston Symphony
  • Courtney Silver (BM ’16) – Assistant Concertmaster, Peoria Symphony Orchestra 
  • Gabe Slesinger (BM ’16) – Associate Principal, Charlotte Symphony 
  • Zachary Spontak (BM ’15) – Concertmaster Orquestra Classica do Sul, Portugal 

Competitions, Awards, Performances and Premieres 

Cellist Katherine Audas won the Ann and Charles Eisemann International Young Artists Competition. She will be playing Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the Richardson Symphony Orchestra on March 7 in Dallas. 

Alumni James Blanchard (BM ’16) and Bianca Chambul (LOA) are among twelve students to be selected to travel to London in April for an intensive training with the London Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Sir Simon Rattle, as part of the second year of the Linda and Michael Keston Music Academy of the West Exchange program.

Two current Shepherd School students Theo Chandler and Nicky Sohn and one Shepherd School alumna Clare Glackin (MM ’17) participated in the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, a week-long intensive immersion with the Minnesota Orchestra culminating in a concert performance and live broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio.

Current voice student Jessica Crowell is among eighteen artists on the roster of the 2020 Pittsburgh Festival Opera Young Artists Program.

Current voice student Blake Denson will return to Wolf Trap Opera this summer covering the title role of Eugene Onegin in Eugene Onegin and performing the role of the Commander in the same production. He will also cover Marcello in La Bohème. Emily Sheets will be a Studio Artist with Wolf Trap Opera, performing the role of Filippyevna in Eugene Onegin. Among the 2020 Wolf Trap Filene Artists are alumnus Calvin Griffin (MM ’13) performing the roles of Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, and Don Inigo de Gomez in L’heure espagnoleNicholas Newton (MM ’19) performing the role of Colline in La Bohème; and Tommy Glass (MM ’16) as Eugene Onegin in Eugene Onegin.

In November 2019, Brandon Gibson (BM ’00) made his debut with American Baroque Opera Company in the dual roles of Apollon and Pluto in Marc Antoine Charpentier’s La descente d’Orphée aux Enfers.

Among the announced 2019 Associate Artists for the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, MA (BSC) is one of Shepherd’s alumnus Alan H. Green (BA ’95). Associate Artists are part of the artistic team and assist in suggesting plays and musicals to be produced. 

Rebecca Henry (BM ’09) recently completed the Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera, where she conducted opera, operetta, orchestral, and contemporary repertoire. 

Shepherd School current voice students Cory McGee won second place in the 32rd Annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers. current students Emily Kernand Rachel Shaughnessy, sopranos; Isabel Signoret, mezzo-soprano; and Jehu Otero, tenor  were among the semifinalists.

The Verona Quartet, including Shepherd School alumna Dorothy Ro (MM ’15), was named the winner of the 2020 Cleveland Quartet Award.

Tenor Christian Sanders (MM ‘15) performed in a recital featuring four artists from the Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist Program.

Houston Chamber Choir, Houston’s professional concert choir led by Founder and Artistic Director (and Shepherd School Lecturer in Church Music) Robert Simpson, received a 2020 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for their album “Maurice Duruflé: Complete Choral Works.” The recording also included Shepherd School’s Professor of Organ, Ken Cowan and Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Cello, Norman Fischer. The album was recorded in the Shepherd School’s Edythe Bates Old Recital Hall and Grand Organ and was produced by Shepherd School alumnus Blanton Alspaugh (BM ’87). Blanton Alspaugh also won Producer of the Year, Classical for the third time. 

Alumnus Ricardo Jose Rivera-Soto (MM ’18) performed as Sharpless in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini.

Caen Thomason-Redus (MM ’99), the Senior Director of Community and Learning for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, was named a Musical America’s “Top 30 Professionals of the Year” in recognition for his continuous efforts surrounding community engagement and diversity and inclusion.