School of Music High Notes: March News

High Notes: News from CFA School of Music

Welcome to the seventh issue of High Notes: News from CFA School of Music. High Notes is intended as a monthly information column that highlights the high notes achieved by our students. Feel free to pass along any items of interest, especially related to our students and alums, directly to Cami Sylvia.

March 2021

Resilience — In the CFA School of Music, we have had numerous opportunities in the past year to celebrate individual and collective resilience—specifically, how we continue to thrive as musicians. In the Spring semester, we challenged ourselves to develop and explore meaningful ways to make music together in community. As artists, we are creative beings, but many of us may have felt thwarted in our efforts to continue along with anticipated courses of study. Some of us may have been surprised at our abilities to flourish. Our pedagogies at the School of Music have indeed flourished as we pivoted in a variety of unexpected ways during the past semester.

For example, during the intercession, we received modifications to our protocols from our University’s Medical Advisory Group that detailed restrictions on woodwind and brass performance and instruction within the School. Such directives were of course put in place to protect our faculty and students, but they nevertheless presented new challenges for us all. Our response? Yes, we enacted another pivot in our approach to musical instruction. Just last week we received word from BU’s Medical Advisory Group that we had been approved for the return of live woodwind and brass performance. After yet another nimble pivot, we enacted a complex web of preparations, staffing, and performance expectations to, yes, demonstrate our resilience.

A takeaway from this past year is not merely that of how to make lemonade out of lemons. We have all come to better appreciate our individual ability to temper expectations with the reality of living in a community of musicians. Over the past few months, I have heard students repeating my favorite admonition, “this is how you make music in a pandemic.” And…it is true. We are resilient.

You can reach me at I look forward to hearing your stories of resilience; we will surely learn from each other’s stories.

Calling All CFA School of Music Alums Out There!

We’d like to hear from all alums. What are you up to? New jobs or positions? New creative projects, compositions, performances? Any awards? We want to hear from you. Please communicate directly with Director Gregory Melchor-Barz at with your degree and class year please.

BU @ Carnegie Hall

As many of you know, March 4th, 2021 would have been the day that the CFA School of Music arrived at Carnegie Hall for a concert featuring some of our finest students. Today, we celebrate the achievements of these students again as we imagine what that concert would have looked and sounded like. Winners of the “BU @ Carnegie Hall” Competition for 2020-21 are as follows:

Saejin Yoo, piano
William Grant Still: “Three Visions,” II and III

Jillian Agona, soprano and Jing-Fang Huang, piano
Richard Strauss: “Ständchen”/ Gaetano Donizetti: “Eterno amore e fè / Manuel de Falla: “Seguidille”

Tianhong Yang, piano
Isaac Albeniz: “El Corpus en Sevilla, Iberia”

Hyojin Kim, viola with staff pianist Siu Yan Luk
Ralph Vaughan Williams: “Romance”

Jessica Hetrick, soprano and Ann Schaefer, piano
José Rolón: “Debujos sobre un Puerto”

Xinyuan Wang, violin
Eugène Ysaÿe: Sonata No. 4, Allemande

Sarah Rogers, soprano and Regan Siglin, piano
Debussy: “De rêve” from Proses Lyriques

Chengcheng Ma, piano
Earl Wild: Fantasy on Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

Students are from the studios of Professors Gila Goldstein, Penelope Bitzas, Michelle LaCourse, Pavel Nersessian, Shiela Kibbe, Sharon Daniels, Bayla Keyes, and Boaz Sharon.

Achievements from the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology

Fifth-year PhD candidate Brett Kostrzewski (CFA’23) has just published an important article on Josquin des Prez in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Musicological Society, ” Rome after Josquin: The Missa La sol fa re mi Reconsidered.” Aside from the achievement of a graduate student publishing in the foremost journal of his field, the article provides a potential re-dating of works that opens up new ways to consider the production of this seminal composer. Access Brett’s article through BU Libraries here.

First-year MA student Regina Dziergas (CFA’23) was awarded the inaugural Jeremy Yudkin Scholarship, an award established by Prof. Yudkin’s former student Julia Adams (née O’Toole, PhD’17) in his recognition. The scholarship offers a financial award based on merit and need.

Third-year PhD student Sebastián Wanumen Jiménez (CFA’25) has a chapter “Queer Cosmopolitan Barranquilla? Spatiality and Temporality in/outside Carnival’s Tourism,” which will soon be published in the edited volume Ambiance, Tourism and the City, edited by Iñigo Sánchez-Fuarros, Daniel Paiva and Daniel Malet Calvo, forthcoming from Routledge.

Music Education Celebrations

Tina Nospal (on-campus DMA candidate and music teacher in the Cambridge Public Schools) has published an article in the Research and Teacher Education column of the Massachusetts Music Educators Journal titled, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor? A Review of the Literature on Paraprofessionals in Inclusive Music Settings.”

Online DMA student Paul Halpainy (CFA’24) has an article in the latest MMEA journal: “Relationships over Rigor: Teaching Band During a Pandemic.”

DMA candidate Jordan Stern (CFA’23) has just had an article published with the Journal of Band Research with the title “Correlations between socioeconomic status and scores at a marching band contest.” In this article he examined whether a correlation existed between the socioeconomic status (SES) of a school (based on the percentage of students at the school who qualified for free or reduced price lunch), and scores received at the Bands of America 2017 San Antonio Super Regional Marching Band Competition. The results of the regression analysis were statistically significant (p < .001), and indicated that 45.7% of the variance in scoring could be statistically attributed to SES. This study has major implications for our field.

Exciting Updates from the Studio of Penelope Bitzas

Professor Penelope Bitzas shares exciting updates for three of her current graduate students. Mezzo-soprano Gabrielle Barkidjija (OI’22) won Second Place in the Student Category of the Orpheus Vocal Competition. You can view the final competition presentation and Gabrielle’s performance of “Am I in Your Light?” by John Adams here.

Soprano Sarah Kay Rogers (MM’21) will be attending the Summer Opera Festival at the UtahVocalArts Academy this July and performing the role of the Countess in the Marriage of Figaro. Additionally, soprano Maureen Brabec (OI’21) will be returning to the Pittsburgh Festival Opera where she will perform the role of Myrrhine in Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata. She will also attend the Institute of Young Dramatic Voices with the American Wagner Project.

Graduate Student Success at New England Region NATS Auditions

Good news from the regional National Association for Teachers of Singing! Stephanie Pfundt (MM’22) and Aleksander Reupert (MM’22) competed in the New England Region NATS Auditions Finals earlier this month. They are both students of Prof. Lynn Eustis and Prof. Aaron Sheehan. Additionally, Stephanie received 1st place in her category, Advanced College Treble, at the New England NATS Student Auditions this week and will compete in the National NATS Student Auditions in July.

Wonderful News from the Viola Studio of Michelle LaCourse

Alum Mark Holloway (BUTI’97,’98 | CFA’02), member of the Pacifica Quartet, has won the Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance for the group’s album “Contemporary Voices,” featuring music by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Jennifer Higdon, and Shulamit Ran.

Former DMA candidate David Mason has won the position of Principal Violist of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Current DMA student Joyce Chiung-Hsien Huang (CFA’24) has won First Prize in the College/Conservatory level String Division of the American Protégé Competition in New York, and will perform in a Winners’ Concert in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall when it re-opens for live performances.

Current DMA Pianist Excels in NYC Competitions

Ms. Estelle Bang (CFA’21), DMA candidate from the studio of Boaz Sharon, won First Prize at the 9th New York Artists International Piano Competition and will be featured in a NYC recital later next year. She also won first prize at the American Protégé Competition in the College Students and Professional Musicians Category and will play at Carnegie Hall this year.

Harlem Stride Piano Concert

Piano students of Prof. Boaz Sharon performed in a recital which was live-streamed for the Lenox Club in Lenox, MA on March 28 in a program featuring the Harlem Stride Piano (1921-43) and works by Thomas “Fats” Waller and James P. Johnson. Prof. Jeremy Yudkin gave the introductory remarks on this important early jazz period and Boaz Sharon participated alongside the students in a performance of classic jazz works including “Charleston,” “Viper’s Drag,” “Alligator Crawl,” “E Flat Blues,” and other works. This event also included a performance of James P. Johnson’s iconic “Carolina Shout,” which was the first recorded jazz piano work and recorded exactly 100 years ago.

Performers included: Anna Arazi (DMA’15), Estelle Bang (DMA’21), Jingyuan Gao (MM’21), Youngjin Kim (DMA’24), Yuyeon Lee (MM’22), Chi-Wei Lo (DMA candidate at NEC), Chengcheng Ma (AD’17, DMA’23), Mavis Song (DMA’24), Xiaopei Xu (DMA’21), John Zhao (CAS), and Kyra Zhao (DMA’21).

Founded in 1872, Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Music combines the intimacy and intensity of traditional conservatory-style training with a broad liberal arts education at the undergraduate level and elective coursework at the graduate level. The school offers degrees in performance, conducting, composition and theory, musicology, music education, and historical performance, as well as artist and performance diplomas and a certificate program in its Opera Institute.

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