Patricia Alessi (B.Mus. 2008) is now the CEO of Abmusic Aboriginal Corporation (started in June 2020). They offer training from Certificate I to Diploma in Music, have a federally funded Indigenous mentorship programme with the West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra (running until 2023) and will be presenting our first arts festival in January and February 2023. They will also be performing again in Fringe 2022 this January and February.
Additionally, she conducts a choir, maintains a full voice studio as Australia’s only Certified McClosky Voice Technician (CMVT), runs the non-profit arts group Curate, performs with Runs with Wolfgang and has produced for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Charles M. Atkinson (Ph.D. 1975) Professor Emeritus, Musicology, The Ohio State University, held a seminar in the series of All Souls Seminars in Medieval and Renaissance Music, University of Oxford, UK, on February 18, 2021. His topic was ” On Modulation in Eastern and Western Chant: Techniques, Texts, and Rhetoric.” Because the seminar was held via Zoom, scholars from around the world could watch, listen, and ask questions. Altogether 156 people participated. Atkinson also delivered a paper titled “‘Degenerate and Illegitimate’ or ‘Sweetest and Finest’? On the Aesthetics of Modulation in Eastern and Western Chant” at the 96th annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, which was held virtually via Zoom at Indiana University 15-17 April 2021.
Evan Atherton (B.Mus. 2013), trumpeter, and cellist Audrey Cook (B.Mus. 2013) celebrated their marriage in October 2021.
Neil Bakshi (B.Mus. 2000) left his violin teaching positions in 2009 to pursue a career in environmental protection. He now works for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in Harrisburg, PA, after collecting a law degree and a Master’s in Public Policy along the way. Neil previously taught at Westminster Conservatory, Moravian College, and a non-profit music school in Collegeville, PA from 2001 to 2009. His three-year-old daughter is learning the difference between a scale and an arpeggio, and his baby son sounds like he is desperately trying to sing.
Sam Barge (B.Mus. 2016) completed his MM in Choral Conducting at Temple University. He is currently the Executive and Artistic Director of Berks Youth Chorus in Reading, PA.
Kent R. Brooks (B.A. 2000) accepted a joint appointment at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois as an assistant professor in the Department of Performance Studies and director of Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL). He designs and teaches classes that explore the language, performance, and social/historical influence of Black Gospel music in the United States in the 20th & 21st centuries. As director of RSL, he is part of a multicultural team that works to enhance the spiritual life of the students, faculty, staff, and the Evanston community through advising, diverse programming, and collaborative initiatives. Kent formerly taught music at Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio.
Emily Bruestle, MM, MT-BC (B.Mus. 2012) received her master’s degree in music therapy from Florida State University in 2015 following her studies at UNC. She has been working as a board-certified music therapist since then at Levine Music, a community music school in the Washington, DC area. Her work at Levine takes her to the public schools and to community settings to provide music therapy services and adapted music lessons to children and adults with disabilities. Emily also oversees the internship program at Levine to provide clinical training to music therapy students who are finishing their degree program. She currently serves as the President of the Maryland Association for Music Therapy.
Molly Calabria (B.Mus. 2006) practices family medicine as a PA in Durham, NC.
John Caldwell (Ph.D. 2021) successfully defended his dissertation, “Songs from the Other Side: Listening to Pakistani Voices in India” in March and officially became Dr. Caldwell in May.
Devin Cornacchio (B.Mus. 2019) studied chamber music and Italian at UWC Adriatic in Duino, Italy through Luther College’s International Music Festival of the Adriatic on the program’s highest scholarship. He was trained in information technology at Revature and now works as a Business Analyst for GovPilot in New Jersey, while performing regularly as a cellist in both the New Inlet Chamber Orchestra and South Shore Symphony on Long Island.
Jim Crew (B.A. Chemistry 1983) almost double-majored in music. He earned a masters degree in jazz studies at NCCU. He is currently a member of the faculty at NCCU, teaching piano, improvisation, and arranging. He is also a media composer; recent projects include a computer game score for Ubisoft and a documentary about Dr. Andrew Fauci.
Rachel Despard (B.A. 2020) recorded an EP, You Started a Fire, in July 2021 at Overdub Lane in Durham, NC. The EP is set to be released on December 3rd, 2021, and everyone playing on the EP with her (Jakob Bower, Arvind Subramaniam, TJ Richardson, and Olivia Fernandez) is a current UNC music student or alumni. The EP was also produced/mixed/mastered by Jason Richmond, who she met through his production class at UNC.
Patrick Dow (B.A. 2019) received his Master of Music degree from the Royal Academy of Music in May 2021.
Richard Drehoff Jr. (B.Mus. 2013) presented his paper, “Deconstructing the ‘Lady with the Hammer’: New Ways of Hearing Galina Ustvolskaya’s Piano Sonata No. 6,” at the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic’s 19th annual conference. Members of the Talea Ensemble premiered his composition “sullen in this sable mire, For with unspoken words we cannot say,” as part of their virtual residence at the Peabody Institute during fall 2020. Richard was awarded an artist residency this summer at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City and was named a finalist in the ASCAP Foundation’s Morton Gold Young Composer Awards Competition.
Ally Dunavant (B.Mus. 2021) received the Fernside Scholarship from the Royal Academy of Music in London and began graduate study in vocal performance there.
Casey Molino Dunn (B.Mus. 2005) is currently the Vice President of Innovation and Program Development at Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA. He began this position in 2020 after co-directing the Academy’s Remote Learning Institute. Before the pandemic, he was based in NYC, leading Manhattan School of Music’s Center for Music Entrepreneurship and freelancing as a singer, keyboardist, and music director.
Erica Fedor (Ph.D. 2021) successfully defended her dissertation, “Sounding Statecraft: U.S. Cultural Diplomacy Programs in the Twenty-First Century” becoming Dr. Fedor in May.
Zachary Gossett (B.Mus. 2015) was awarded a grant by the Durham Arts Council in late 2020 to help fund a recording of original small group music in the Black American Music tradition, entitled “Can’t Forget Where You Come From,” self-released on October 22, 2021.
Aya Esther Hayashi (B.Mus. 2008) was promoted to the role of the Development Director at People’s Theatre Project in February 2021, where she oversees institutional fundraising and donor cultivation. For the last six months, she was part of the inaugural cohort of the New York Foundation for the Arts’ (NYFA) Incubator for Executive Leaders of Color. She also officially incorporated Okaeri Productions, a small theatre company that produces intimate musicals and plays featuring majority artists and creative teams of color. Their next production will be Godspell, which will be held at the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance, February 25-27, 2022.
David Möschler (B.Mus. 2005) and Brian Adam McCune (B.Mus. 2007) met as first-year students playing tuba together in Symphonic Band at UNC-Chapel Hill. Back then, they would have never guessed the friendship they forged in Hill Hall would lead them to creating and sustaining a unique orchestral community together in the San Francisco Bay Area over twenty years later.
After Möschler attended graduate school for conducting at University of California at Davis and McCune studied composition at the Mannes School of Music, they both relocated to Oakland and quickly discovered the strong sense of community and diversity in the musical ecosystem there. In 2013 Möschler founded Awesöme Orchestra Collective with a handful of friends, which included McCune, whose arranging and composition skills were central to the group’s success. Their mission: to create orchestral adventures that celebrate the power of collaborative music-making with an entire community. With a strong focus on diversity and inclusion, over 4000 musicians have played with the collective over the years (including many fellow Tar Heels), which remains free and open to all to join, most often in a pop-up flash mob style in public spaces all over the San Francisco Bay Area.
Möschler (who works full-time as a conductor in theater and opera) took the helm as Founding Artistic Director and Conductor, and invited McCune (who puts his musical training to use in the video game industry) to join the staff as Associate Artistic Director and Resident Conductor while remaining one of the orchestra’s principal arrangers. Since their inception, Awesöme Orchestra has performed more than 300 works at over 100 events, including over 50 premieres of compositions for orchestra, and collaborated on over a dozen album recordings and multiple live shows with artists such as Sly and the Family Stone, Van Dyke Parks, A Tribe Called Quest, Green Day, the Harry Nilsson family, as well as bands like The Dear Hunter, Dia Luna, Beats Antique, among many others.
They remain grateful that much of their musical adventure-seeking, which began in Hill Hall, is able to continue to this day on the west coast.
Adam Pohl (B.A. 2002) left the music department and used his training to enter the field of sports broadcasting. He credits the lessons he learned at Carolina as having been influential in his career. He’s the longest standing lead broadcaster in the Orioles system while also being the 10-year voice of Mount St. Mary’s Basketball in the Division 1 Northeast Conference.
“Coming to Carolina and being a part of the music program and being influenced by great leaders and better people like Jeff Fuchs and Jim Ketch meant everything to me.”
JoAna Rusche (BM 2009) finished her DMA at University of Michigan and is now Lecturer of Voice at the University of Central Arkansas.
Joshua Sawyer (B.S.P.H. & Mus.Min. 2002) is currently serving as a math educator in Elizabeth City, NC. In December 2019, he released his first two-track single, “Chillin Chillin,” which he wrote as a jazz student at UNC. Featured on the track are UNC alumni Connie Sawyer (’00), Will Caviness (’05), and Raymond Sawyer (’13).
Emily Siar (B.Mus. 2014) is an Instructor of Voice at Boston Conservatory, and is a doctoral candidate in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy at New England Conservatory.
Patrick Smith (B.A. 2003) now a clinical health and neuropsychologist at Duke. He’s been conducting NIH funded research for the past decade, mostly focusing on using behavioral interventions to improve brain function, particularly using exercise to mitigate the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Much of his work involves learning, not just cognitively but experientially, emotionally and in context. His dissertation was covered on ABC world health news and was one of the first randomized trials to demonstrate that lifestyle change can decrease risk of dementia.
“Music could not have been more apt in preparing for such a career, I think of it daily. I have remained active performing and I’ve recorded about a dozen albums since graduating with bands like KC and the sunshine band, Fishbone, and Darius Rucker. I’ve also published more than 150 manuscripts, book chapters, and other scholarly works and serve on an NIH study section.”
He met his wife, Angie, at UNC as a music major (she was as well) and they have two daughters together. She is now a prominent urologic surgeon at UNC winning the Hettleman prize last year.
Susannah Stewart (B.Mus. 2019) received her Master of Music from the Eastman School of Music in May 2021.
Alex Van Gils (BMus 2010) joined the staff of Cycling ‘74, creators of Max/MSP, Max for Live, and other software tools for media this year.
2021 saw the release of Nestup, an experimental markup language for musical rhythms specifically designed to help electronic music artists break away from a fixed musical grid. Alex designed this programming language with Sam Tarakajian at their Brooklyn studio Cutelab.
Along with the multidisciplinary artist Bonita Oliver, he is a 2021 artist in residence at NYC’s Loisaida Center, creating music, sound design, and generative video art for the work Seeking Truth, a VR theatrical documentary examining the prismatic historical image of the woman who named herself Sojourner Truth.
Cristina “Trinity” Vélez-Justo (BA Music 2011) started a PhD in Music Theory with a specialization in Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences (aka Music Cognition) at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on how music affects and can change perceptions of underrepresented groups through its use in Media, involving implicit bias towards and between hip-hop, reggaetón, and opera and their association with class and safety.