Between the Lines, Fall 2019

Read the latest faculty news from Fall 2019.

Mark Britt is serving as department chair for the 2019-2020 academic year. In December of 2018, he was a guest conductor for the Central Davidson High School Symphonic Band to commemorate their 60th anniversary. (Britt was the band director in that program from 1985-1989.) Last June marked his eighth term as the instrumental music director at the Montreat Conference on Worship and Music, a national conference sponsored by the Presbyterian Association for Musicians.

For the past two years, Britt has served as a music performance assessment adjudicator for NC Band Directors Association and for the Young Artist Competition at Converse College. In February 2019 he performed with the South Carolina Directors Jazz Band, and in February 2018, he conducted a performance by the Palmetto Posaunen at the SCMEA Professional Development Conference in Columbia. He is currently training to become a visiting evaluator for the National Association of Schools of Music.

Britt now serves as director of Furman’s Study in Italy program at the Accademia dell’ Arte in Arezzo, Italy, where he recently taught. That program, founded in 2006 by professor emeritus William Thomas continues to provide life-changing experiences for Furman’s brightest scholar-musicians.

The Furman University Percussion Ensemble, directed by Omar Carmenates, was selected as a feature performer at the 2019 Percussive Arts Society International Convention as part of the New Music Research Day themed “The D.Y.I. Percussionist.” As one of the only academic ensembles selected, they will perform Matthew Burtner’s “Avian Telemetry”, a collaborative work which combines Furman faculty and student research on biology, romantic-period poetry, ecoacoustic music and avant-garde percussion performance to create a space for the contemplation of habitat conservation through music. The work was commissioned by Furman’s David E. Shi Center for Sustainability and premiered by the ensemble in 2018.

Christopher Hutton, professor of violoncello and coordinator of string chamber music, and history professor Marian Strobel recently led “War and Rembrance,” a study away program to England, France and Belgium that focused on the western front of the first world war. He and David Gross, associate professor of piano, are planning a 2020 study away program, “Mozart and Beethoven in Vienna,” where students will attend performances of the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Austria. In a November 2019 recital, Hutton was joined by the new director of Furman Bands, Sue Samuels, Alison Trainer, soprano and professor of voice, three guest artists and four current Furman students for performances of Giovanni Sollima’s Violoncelles Vibrez for eight cellos and Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 for eight cellos and soprano.

Cecilia Kang, associate professor of clarinet, enjoyed a successful tour of concerts, lectures and master classes at the Seoul Arts Center, Yonsei University, and Kyung Hee University in South Korea, as well as Tainan National University of the Arts, National Taiwan University of Arts, and Tunghai University in Taiwan this spring. Over the summer she was invited to perform at Piccolo Spoleto Festival, International Clarinet Association’s ClarinetFest and Bay View Music Festival, where she served as artist faculty-in-residence. Kang also had the honor of recording a clarinet pedagogy video for Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician, authored by Scott Rush and Jeff Scott. This fall she appeared as a guest artist at the Thailand International Clarinet Academy in Bangkok and Conservatorio di Milano in Italy.

Laura Kennedy, associate professor of musicology, received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar award to conduct research in Russia during the 2019-20 academic year. For her research project, “Ballet in a Waning Empire: Shostakovich, Lopukhov, and the Search for Soviet Dance,” Kennedy will work in music and dance archives in St. Petersburg and Moscow. She will research costumes, set designs, choreographic notes, musical scores, photographs and other materials from early Soviet ballet productions written in Leningrad in the 1920s and 1930s, a formative period of experimentation in the Russian arts.

Professor Mark Kilstofte’s song cycle, “The White Album,” received its Northwest premiere last February in a Portland recital by mezzo-soprano Page Stephens and pianist Chuck Dillard ’98. In May, soprano Jazmin Black Grollemund ’10 and pianist Jean-Marc Bonn gave the French premiere during Grollemund’s guest artist performance at La Cité de la Voix in Vézelay, France. Kilstofte recently presented seminars at the University of Georgia, Lewis & Clark, Portland State University and the University of Oregon. This fall he will conduct a Duke University performance of “The White Album” featuring Stephens and Dillard.

Watch the performance of “The White Album.”

Professor of Saxophone and Director of Jazz Studies Matt Olson released his fourth album as a leader or co-leader in May 2019. 789 Miles, released on Origin Records’ OA2 Records label, features Olson’s colleagues from Arizona State University, Michael Kocour on Hammond B-3 organ and Dom Moio on drums. It includes Olson’s original compositions and the original compositions of five current and former Furman jazz students. The recording has received worldwide airplay and is available for download and streaming at many different outlets.

Derek Parsons, professor of piano, was invited to perform at the American Liszt Society 2019 Festival at Arizona State University. His performance was part of a concert in celebration of the 200th birthday of the celebrated pianist Clara Schumann, where he played two of her lesser known works. Parsons was chosen as one of the recipients of the Furman Standard Grant for 2019, a three-year grant awarded to assist with the performance and recording of the little-known Concerto for Pianoforte and Orchestra in C minor, Op. 76 by Canadian composer Healey Willan.

Patricia Sasser, whose article “A Recording Artist: Enrico Caruso and His Scrapbooks” received the Vladimir Fédorov Award from the International Association of Music Libraries ( IAML) for the best article published in Fontes artis musicae in 2018. It was announced at the IAML congress in Kraków.

University organist and Professor of Music Charles Tompkins performed recitals this past May at the chapels of King’s College, Cambridge (pictured) and Queen’s College, Oxford. In June, he performed one of the featured recitals at the American Guild of Organists Southeast Region convention in Myrtle Beach, where he was joined by son Gregory Tompkins in a program of music for organ and violin. During the third week of July, he served as organist for the Royal School of Church Music in America’s annual Charlotte course, which was headquartered this year at Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, North Carolina. The RSCM week concluded with course members singing for Sunday services at Charlotte’s St. John’s Episcopal Church (morning) and Myers Park Presbyterian (afternoon Evensong), with Tompkins playing for both services.