Category: Conservatory

His students applaud as John Holiday finishes inspired run on “The Voice”

John Holiday sings Where Do We Go during Monday’s finals of NBC’s The Voice. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University voice professor John Holiday finished his wild ride on NBC’s The Voice Tuesday night, placing fifth in the 19th season of the popular TV singing competition.

Holiday, an associate professor in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music since 2017, showcased a voice that John Legend called “otherworldly” as he advanced through the blind auditions, the battle rounds, the knockouts, the live playoffs, and the live semifinals, where TV viewers cast votes to move him into the Final 5.

On Tuesday’s finale, he was joined on stage by Legend to sing Bridge Over Troubled Water, his final performance during an inspired run.

“It’s been an incredible dream I could never have imagined,” Holiday said of his time on the show.

But the title for Holiday wasn’t to be. Carter Rubin, a 15-year-old coached by Gwen Stefani, was named the winner, based on viewer votes following Monday night’s live finals performances, earning a recording contract in the process.

Late Tuesday, Holiday tweeted: “America, I love you so much! I appreciate every prayer that helped me and my #TheVoice family soar. Congratulations, @carterjrubin! The world is ready for your fierce talents and beautiful spirit. #HoliBaes forever! I love you and I am excited to be on this ride with you.”

Holiday excelled in a competition that began in the spring with thousands of hopefuls and drew an average TV viewership of more than 7 million people during twice-weekly airings over the past two months. The show was conducted without its usual live audience and with social distancing protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get to know Lawrence’s John Holiday here.

Follow along with the John Holiday Tracker here.

Flashing a fun sartorial style to match a vocal talent that has made him a rising star in opera circles, the 35-year-old Holiday drew plenty of applause along the way, earning attention in the Los Angeles Times and USA TODAY, hearing effusive praise from the show’s celebrity coaches—Legend, Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, and Blake Shelton—and growing a fan base he calls his Holibaes.

Holiday’s voice students at Lawrence, who affectionately call him Prof, cheered him every step of the way, including through tonight’s finale.

“From day one, Prof has told us that one of the main reasons he pursues his career is to show us what’s possible,” said David Womack ’21, a senior voice student from Austin, Texas. “Watching him quickly become a household name is direct proof that we can do anything we set our minds to, as he frequently reminds us.”

John Holiday sings Halo during the live finals of The Voice. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

In Monday night’s live finals, Holiday delivered Beyonce’s Halo as his cover song and the Justin Tranter-produced Where Do We Go as his original.

“I love that you continue to show America more of yourself,” Legend told him. “You put your heart out there every single week. You have an out-of-this-world gift.”

Staying genuine

Holiday jumped into the competition after the pandemic shut down his performance schedule in the spring. He continued to teach remotely while quietly taking part in the auditions and the early rounds of the show from Los Angeles. The recorded segments—launched with Holiday delivering a stunning performance of Misty that quickly drew Legend to his corner in the blind auditions—began airing in mid-October. Holiday was sworn to secrecy as he advanced through each round as part of Team Legend. He returned to L.A. as the live rounds and viewer voting began two weeks ago.

Sarah Navy ’22, a junior voice student from Holiday’s hometown region of Houston, Texas, said she and her Lawrence classmates already appreciated Holiday’s immense talents. Seeing other viewers discovering not only that talent but also his joyful heart was part of the fun.

“Even though I have spent so much time with him and have heard him sing so much, sometimes I go back to the first time I met him and I become that girl in tears who knew one day she could be great, too,” Navy said. “He is such a genuine person who works so hard and is being a representative for so many people.”

That genuineness shined through all levels of the show, whether Holiday was talking to Legend or host Carson Daly about his teaching at Lawrence, being Black and gay, singing opera, his incredibly high falsetto, growing up in his beloved Texas, his relationship with the grandmother he calls Big Momma, and the pain being felt by artists around the world in the midst of the pandemic.

“He is always so authentic to who he is, which is so inspiring to see,” said Jack Murphy ’21, a senior choral student from Neenah. “And just witnessing the outpouring of love for him. Not only for his talent, but what he stands for as well. It’s encouraging and wonderful. I am so immensely proud of him, and so is our entire studio.”

During his run on The Voice, Holiday became the student under the coaching guidance of Legend. In Monday’s episode, he thanked his mentor for instilling in him confidence that he could shed labels and transcend musical boundaries.

The Voice has been a place that has helped me to stretch myself far beyond what I thought was possible for me,” Holiday said. “Having John as one of my biggest supporters, his belief in me means the world. … I spent so much of my life hiding, and I won’t ever hide again. He’s given me permission to fly.”

Lawrence pride

While NBC billed Holiday as a native of Rosenberg, Texas, his home the past three years has been in Appleton. He represented Lawrence well throughout the season, speaking not only to the power of music education but also to the need for musicians to live and perform authentically and with empathy, resiliency, and flexibility.

“We couldn’t be prouder of John Holiday and his incredible journey on The Voice,” said Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory. “John is the perfect example of the flexible, versatile, virtuoso musician that the 21st century needs and Lawrence strives to produce. He is an opera star who can sing jazz and pop at the highest levels. He is a top-tier performer and a top-tier educator who values his students above all else. What an incredible role model for our students and musicians around the globe.”

With The Voice now finished, Holiday will prepare for Winter Term at Lawrence while getting at least a bit of his performance schedule back. Opera Philadelphia announced last week that Holiday will take the lead in Tyshawn Sorey’s Save the Boys in February, to be streamed on the Opera Philadelphia Channel.

Hannah Jones ’22, a junior voice student from Houston, will be among the Conservatory students excited to welcome their professor home, even if it has to be via Zoom for a bit longer.

“Prof always tells us, ‘I want to show you that it is possible,’” Jones said. “Well, he was doing that well before The Voice, but this is another level. Words cannot describe my excitement for Prof’s success.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

LU Jazz Ensemble takes a top DownBeat award for second year in a row

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Link to video of Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble
Click above to see video of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble.

It’s back-to-back wins for the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble.

The ensemble has been named the winner in the undergraduate Large Jazz Ensemble category in Downbeat magazine’s 42nd annual Student Music Awards (SMAs) competition, which awards some of the highest honors in jazz education each spring. 

“The students in the Jazz Ensemble work together on music that is unique, challenging, and a joy to perform,” said Patty Darling, a music professor in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music who directs the much-lauded ensemble. “This includes a lot of contemporary jazz rep and premier works from Lawrence’s student jazz composers and arrangers.”

The honor was announced Tuesday and appears in the newly published June edition of DownBeat magazine.

This is the second consecutive year that Lawrence has won the top honor in the large ensemble category, and the fifth time in the ensemble’s history that it has been honored by DownBeat.

More on the Conservatory of Music and the LUJE here

Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble performs at Memorial Chapel.
Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble

This is not small stuff. DownBeat’s SMAs are top-tier honors in the world of jazz education. They are presented in 13 categories in five separate divisions: junior high, high school, performing high school, undergraduate college and graduate college.

Lawrence has been a major player in those awards over the past four decades. To date, students and ensembles in the Lawrence Conservatory have won 28 of these awards in various categories, including undergraduate large ensemble, small group, jazz composing, jazz arranging, solo performance, and jazz vocal group. 

This was the fifth time in its history the Jazz Ensemble has been honored by DownBeat. It was previously recognized in 1985, 2000, 2007 and 2018.

Back-to-back wins for the Jazz Ensemble is something the school, its faculty and students can take great pride in, Darling said.

“It is a privilege to work with such talented, dedicated musicians who are so receptive and have such down-to-earth attitudes,” Darling said. “We are incredibly proud of them and I am very grateful to the jazz faculty who are their mentors.”

If you want to see the LUJE in concert, you can catch them at 8 p.m. May 22 at Memorial Chapel. Admission is free.

The DownBeat Student Music Awards were launched in 1978. Judging criteria are based on musicianship, creativity, improvisation, technique, sound quality and balance, excitement, and authority. Recordings are submitted from institutions worldwide and are judged by panels of respected jazz performers and educators who determine the awards in each of the categories. 

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

An A+ for D Term: Students Offered a Rich Array of Experiences During Winter Break

From Appleton to London to Hong Kong, Lawrence faculty and students used D-Term 2018 to explore ideas, art, research skills and the wider world. D-Term, or December Term, is a two-week mini-term that offers brief, intensive enrichment courses. This year, students had the opportunity to engage with questions of sustainability and historical resilience to disasters, bring a liberal arts perspective to wellness and sharpen practical skills in design and data analysis.

Read more about this year’s D-Term classrooms, whether it’s a room in Main Hall, an urban garden in Hong Kong or the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, through insights from faculty members.

Hong Kong: Sustainability, Livability, and Urban Design

Group of Lawrence students with Hong Kong skyline in background
Students taking part in the D-Term trip to Hong Kong stand on Victoria Peak, overlooking the Hong Kong skyline.

This combined discussion-and-travel course examined sustainable, livable urban design through the lens of contemporary Hong Kong. The class, taught by Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and Associate Professor of Government Jason Brozek and Associate Professor of Government Ameya Balsekar, spent one week on campus reading and preparing, followed by several days in Hong Kong for on-the-ground study, including meetings with local NGOs, government officials and business leaders. Below are excerpts from Jason Brozek’s daily reports on the opportunities for students during the on-the-ground study portion of the class:

Day 1: The first day of the on-the-ground portion of our class on livability, sustainability and urban design in Hong Kong focused on the city’s history, British & Chinese influences and its emergence as a global trading and financial hub. We visited Chunking Mansions to engage with “low-end globalization” (a concept and case study from one of the books we discussed during our week of prep on campus), did a mapping activity with a scan of a vintage 1930 map of Kowloon, visited the Hong Kong Museum of History and hiked at Victoria Peak. We ended the day by having dinner at the Happy Valley Jockey Club with KK Tse (’81) and Wendy Lai.

Day 2: We focused on the preservation of things like urban green space and historic buildings—the  kind of things some cities have lost as they tried to build and grow quickly. We did a slow-looking activity in Kowloon Park (inspired by Freshman Studies), then compared it to wilder green space by hiking across the Wan Chai Gap trail to the reservoir on the south side of Hong Kong Island. Connected to a different class discussion, we also visited some preserved historic sites. They included a former army barracks in Kowloon Park, the 1912 Wan Chai Post Office (now the Environmental Resource Centre) and the international award-winning Blue House.

Day 3: We kicked off with Rooftop Republic, a nonprofit that helps corporations and schools build rooftop farms. At this site, they grow on top of a shopping mall and donate the produce to local food banks.

Then we met with Rick Kroos ’66, who was the engineer for the HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong’s financial district (as well as many other projects). Rick connected us with a wide range of other speakers, including Billy Wong, deputy head of research at the HK Trade Development Council; Anneliese Smilie from Redress, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing waste in Hong Kong’s garment industry; and Bernard Chang, an architect with the firm KPF.

Day 4: We spent the morning with the staff of Department of City Planning to learn about the HK2030+ strategic vision. Overall, Hong Kong is focused on livability, sustainability and integration with the broader Pearl River Delta (Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Macau and other nearby cities in China). The students asked terrific (hard!) questions about how this plan intersects with climate change, affordable housing, green space, waste management, historic preservation and land reclamation. In the afternoon, we visited the new Kowloon terminal for the high-speed rail connection with mainland China, which is controversial in Hong Kong. Many people here see it as encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy, which is guaranteed under the Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems principle.

You can view the full gallery of photos from Hong Kong here.

Bebop Language and Innovations

Director of Jazz Studies Jose Encarnacion writing musical notations on whiteboard.
Director of Jazz Studies José Encarnación and students make musical notations.

All instruments were welcome in this course exploring how to improvise using bebop language. Among the activities, students studied solo transcriptions of musicians like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown, and applied improvisational concepts. 



With an ever and constant changing world, I make my best efforts to keep our students current with contemporary musical forms and genres.

Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies José Encarnación shares that, “the music, it is always about the music and the musicians of that time period. Their wisdom, understanding, imagination, creativity, commitment and contributions to the music inspires me to introduce it to students. With an ever and constant changing world, I make my best efforts to keep our students current with contemporary musical forms and genres,” continues Encarnación. “I like for my students to listen and understand the tradition of this important American art form called ‘jazz’ and the many transformations it took on along its history. In my teachings, I encourage my students to listen, learn and develop respect for the past so they may add their contribution, knowledge and new light embodying the richness of the past and freshness of the new.”

Introduction to R and Excel for Data Analysis

Careful data analysis has become central to decision-making in areas from politics to sports to medicine. This D-Term course introduced students to collecting, cleaning and manipulating messy, real-world data with powerful programs R and Excel.

Professor Arnold Shober stands in front of a graph in a classroom.
Arnold Shober explains how to manage and analyze data to students in his D-Term class.

For any of the natural and social sciences, quantitative data analysis is a core skill,” explains Associate Professor of Government Arnold Shober.  “It is like reading a book–but for most of us it is more like reading a book in a language we’re just learning.  And just like learning a new language, we make lots of mistakes.  The D-Term course lets my students make those mistakes in a low-stakes, focused environment.  Then, when it really counts, on their own projects, they can focus on their analyses and not the mechanics.  They can write paragraphs–not spell words.”

Happiness: Meditation and Science

Constance Kassor and students meditating at a table.
Professor Constance Kassor and students participate in a guided meditation exercise.

This course took a liberal arts approach to meditation, tackling the question “What is happiness and how is it achieved?” by engaging with ideas of Buddhist philosophy of mind and investigating the ways in which they are being studied and employed by psychologists, neuroscientists and cognitive scientists. This D-Term offering is also an extension of Lawrence’s commitment to student wellness and the whole student.

My hope is that students will come away from this course with tools to help them better deal with stress at Lawrence and beyond.

“This course stemmed from my research and teaching interests in Buddhist thought and meditation,” explains Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Constance Kassor. “Not only did we read about suffering and happiness from both Buddhist and scientific perspectives, but we also spent time engaging in the different meditative practices that we studied. Students were also required to commit to 10-30 minutes of meditation outside of class every day and report on their experiences. My hope is that students will come away from this course with tools to help them better deal with stress at Lawrence and beyond.”

Plague, War, and Fire: Disasters and the Making of London

Three students pose on top of St. Paul's Cathedra with the London skyline in the background.
Students participating in the D-Term London study course stand atop St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Between 1642 and 1666 London experienced war, plague and fire. This December, Lawrentians traveled to London to examine these catastrophes and explore how the city’s responses shaped the future of not merely London, but other cities across the globe. Students visited museums and historical sites and considered how London responded to crisis, commemorated it and confronted it again when German bombs fell during the twentieth century.

“London is such an incredibly rich landscape on which to study history,” notes Frederick, whose D-Term class grew out of an earlier course he taught at Lawrence’s London Centre in 2016. “During these two weeks we were in constant contact with the deep history of this fascinating city, from walking past walls erected by the Romans, to having a lecture from an archeologist about the 14th-century plague skeleton he had laid before us, to exploring the rooms from which Churchill defended the defense of England during the Blitz. I can teach students a great deal about history in the classroom, but there is something to being in the place where it happened that just can’t be replaced.”

(Frederick also adds a dispatch about the updated London Centre: “We got a tour of the new London Center. It’s awesome!”)

Adobe Creative Suite

Associate Professor of Art Benjamin Rinehart developed a workshop setting to introduce students to the Adobe Creative Suite programs, which include Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. “Students, staff and faculty are eager to become proficient in the Adobe Creative Suite programs,” observes Rinehart. “This course is valuable for any field of study and has many applications beyond being an artist or designer.”

Student at computer editing image in Photoshop.
A student explores Photoshop during D-Term.

From creating art to presenting data, knowledge of design principles and programs gives Lawrentians another tool to enhance their own work and offer a broad array of talents to prospective employers. The class is project-centered, allowing each student to explore the multifaceted and contemporary nature of each program. In just a couple of short weeks, students are exposed to methods in image construction, graphic design, typography and more. Students also visited the Lawrence University Office of Communications to speak with designers and see how these programs are used to advance an organization’s materials and mission.

Conservatory Hits High Notes with an Awards-Filled November

By Savvas Sfairopoulos ‘19

A scene from the opera "Le comte Ory"The Lawrence University Conservatory of Music clinched an impressive list of awards this November, with major wins at opera and voice competitions. Lawrence University placed first in Division 4 of the National Opera Association’s Best Opera Production 2017-2018 for their production of The Count Ory. The French comedic opera by Rossini was staged in March under the instruction of Director of Opera Studies Copeland Woodruff. Opera studies also had a strong showing in the musical theater division of the Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition, making it to the finals. In addition to the impressive group performances, Jack Murphy ’21 of Neenah, Wis., and Nysios Poulakos ’21 of Iowa City, Iowa, will be competing at the NOA National Conference in Salt Lake City in the January in the musical theatre division, performing a scene from Duncan Sheik and Steven Slater’s Spring Awakening.

In more exciting news for Lawrence opera, Anna Mosoriak ’19 of Highland, Ind., won a Metropolitan Opera National Council Encouragement Award. The MET Opera National Council is the most prestigious competition in the United States for young singers; the Encouragement Award is presented to singers who, though they do not advance to the next round of the competition, show promising talent.

The list of accomplishments for the Conservatory continues, with 10 Lawrentians earning accolades in a huge showing at the annual Wisconsin Chapter of the National Association of Teachers and Singing (NATS) competition held Nov. 3-4 at UW-Whitewater.

Kyree Allen ’22, Washington, D.C.: First place men’s first-year college classical division.

Clover Austin-Muehleck ’19, San Francisco, Calif.: First place women’s fourth-year college classical division.

Emily Austin ’21, Washington, D.C.: First place women’s third-year college classical division.

Nick Fahrenkrug ’20, Davenport, Iowa: First place men’s third-year college classical division; this is Nick’s third straight NATS title.

Alex Iglinski ’19, Muskego, Wis.: Second place men’s third and fourth-year musical theatre division.

Hannah Jones ’22, Houston, Texas: First place women’s first-year college classical division.

Baron Lam ’21, Galesburg, Ill.: Second place men’s second-year college classical division.

Emma Milton ’21, Muskego, Wis.: Second place women’s second-year college classical division.

Jack Murphy ’21: First place men’s first and second-year musical theater division and first place men’s second-year college classical division.

Sarah Scofield ’21, West Lafayette, Ind.: First place women’s second-year college classical division.

The NATS competition features 28 separate divisions grouped by gender and level. Depending upon the category, competitors are required to sing two, three or four classical pieces from different time periods with at least one selection sung in a foreign language. This year’s showing builds on Lawrence’s winning tradition at NATS; Lawrence singers have regularly taken first-place honors in a competition that draws hundreds of singers from around the state.

Lawrence University Presents 38th Annual Jazz Weekend

Lawrence University will present the 38th annual Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend with live performances from the Regina Carter Quartet on Friday, November 2 and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra on Saturday, November 3. Both concerts will take place at 7:30 pm in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Tickets are free for all students with a valid student ID, and range from $20 – $30 for seniors and adults. Tickets are available for purchase from the Lawrence University Box Office in person, online or by calling 920-832-6749.

Headshot of Regina Carter
Jazz Violinist Regina Carter

Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend brings professional jazz artists to the Lawrence campus for a non-competitive jazz education festival. Over the course of the weekend hundreds of middle and high school students from around the Midwest work with Lawrence faculty and jazz educators from across the country. The weekend culminates in the Friday and Saturday evening concerts given by internationally acclaimed jazz musicians.

The concert on Friday, November 2 will feature Regina Carter, a Sony Masterworks recording artist and the foremost jazz violinist of her generation. Her quest for beauty combined with her passion for excellence did not escape the attention of the MacArthur Foundation, who awarded Regina their prestigious fellowship “genius grant.” Carter’s recent release, Ella: Accentuate the Positive and touring program, Simply Ella, mark the 100th birthday of musical legend Ella Fitzgerald. Carter will perform Simply Ella live at Lawrence with her quartet.

Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

The concert on Saturday, November 3 showcases the multiple-Grammy winning 16 piece Vanguard Jazz Orchestra which features some of the world’s finest musicians. Co-founded by legendary trumpeter Thad Jones and drummer Mel Lewis, after more than 50 years the ensemble still plays virtually every Monday night at the renowned Village Vanguard Jazz club, New York City’s most famous basement. The beautiful and unique arrangements of Thad Jones enchanted audiences worldwide. The mixture of the music from diverse backgrounds created their innovative sound and the band was quickly recognized as a world-class big band. The ensemble cultivated its rich history while commissioning new music that made them the prototype of innovative big band music.

For more information about these events or the Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend, contact Jillian Johnson at 920-832-6773

Copeland Woodruff wins national opera directing award, two LU productions also earn top honors

Copeland Woodruff
Copeland Woodruff

In baseball parlance, Lawrence University has swept a prestigious doubleheader in the annual American Prize Performing Arts competition.

Copeland Woodruff, director of opera studies and associate professor of music at Lawrence, has been named the 2018 recipient of the American Prize’s Charles Nelson Reilly Prize for stage direction. Selected from among 15 national semifinalists, he was honored for his work on Lawrence’s 2017 production of Philip Glass’ “Hydrogen Jukebox.”

American Prize hailed Copeland as “a champion of improvisation, musical and physical, in the operatic medium as a tool for education, creation and performance.”

Additionally, Lawrence’s opera productions “The Beggar’s Opera” and “Hydrogen Jukebox” shared first-place honors for the American Prize in Opera Performance in the college/university division.

Lawrence’s two productions were chosen from among 15 reviewed operas. Lawrence was competing against several institutions with graduate programs, including Yale University, University of Wisconsin-Madison. and Oklahoma State University.

Scene from the opera "The Beggar's Opera"
Lawrence’s 2016 production of “The Beggar’s Opera” tied for first-place honors with the college’s production of “Hydrogen Jukebox” in the American Prize in Opera Performance in the college/university division

In announcing Lawrence as this year’s performance winner, American Prize said “Recent productions have garnered national attention because of their well-crafted and dedicated musical and dramatic performances.”

Copeland said being honored as the first recipient of the newly-named Charles Nelson Reilly Prize was “daunting.”

“I admired Reilly as a child and met him in the early 1990s while I was on staff at Santa Fe Opera,” recalled Woodruff. “His acting classes were packed and like nothing I had ever seen before. To be mentioned with a man who lived his amazing life proudly and among many of the world’s great talents, is a blessing I never anticipated, but am over-the-moon about.”

Copeland credits Brian Pertl, dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, who hired him in 2014 as the university’s first director of opera studies, for offering him “the chance to dream.”

“The Charles Nelson Reilly Award recognizes Copeland’s outstanding achievements as an artist, director, and educator. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this singular honor.”
— Brian Pertl, dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music

“Lawrence has been the epitome of environments to teach, learn, develop craft and struggle to tell difficult, funny, frightening, loving, messy human stories on stage,” said Woodruff.  “I have been a very lucky man to do what I love for a living and feel luckiest being able to work with unbelievably generous colleagues and students whom I also see as colleagues. Lawrence is fertile soil with dedicated gardeners. I’m humbled and inspired each day.”

Pertl called winning the American Prize for two separate opera productions “a rare and momentous occasion.”

“It speaks to the incredible strength of the Lawrence Opera program, our outstanding students and especially our world-class faculty,” said Pertl. “From the moment Copeland Woodruff walked through the doors of our conservatory, we all knew that he was a creative visionary who would build an opera studies program that would give our students the opportunity to receive not only exceptional opera training but also the opportunity to create art at the highest level.

“The Charles Nelson Reilly Award recognizes Copeland’s outstanding achievements as an artist, director and educator,” Pertl added. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this singular honor.”

Woodruff’s Reilly Prize honors the memory of Charles Nelson Reilly, the Tony Award-winning actor for his 1962 portrayal of Bud Frump in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” Broadway stage director, acclaimed opera director and acting teacher.

Woodruff joined the Lawrence faculty after spending six years as co-director of opera activities at the University of Memphis, where he earned four first-place National Opera Association Best Opera Production Awards. In addition to directing Lawrence’s annual main stage opera production, Woodruff has launched a series of “micro-operas” that examine socially relevant issues and are performed at non-traditional locales.

Lawrence’s production of Philip Glass’ “Hydrogen Jukebox” shared top honors for this year’s American Prize in Opera Performance, college/university division, along with Lawrence’s production of “The Beggar’s Opera.” in Opera Performance in the college/university division.

The American Prize honors are only the latest accolades for Woodruff. His 2016 mainstage production of “The Beggar’s Opera” was awarded first-place honors by the National Opera Association while his 2015 production of “The Tender Land” earned second-place honors in the NOA’s Best Opera Production competition. “The Beggar’s Opera” also was named “Best of Local Productions” from among 164 productions in both local and professional categories by WFRV-TV arts critic Warren Gerds.

Other awards during Copeland’s tenure include first-place honors for seven students in the 2015 Collegiate Opera Scenes competition held at the NOA’s national convention in Indianapolis, Ind., and his first two micro-operas — “Expressions of Acceptance” and “Straight from the Hip,” which addressed issues of gun presence/gun awareness in the community — earned third-place recognition in the NOA competition, competing against standard opera performances.

Founded in 2009 and based in Danbury, Conn., the American Prize is a series of non-profit national competitions in the performing arts providing cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals each year in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Music lecturer Evan Williams ’11 wins Detroit Symphony’s 2018 Classical Roots African American Composer Residency

Evan Williams, who is spending the 2017-18 academic year as a visiting lecturer in music in the composition department at Lawrence University, has been named the winner of the Detroit Symphony’s 2018 Classical Roots African American Composer Residency.

Evan Williams
Evan Williams ’11

Williams, a 2011 Lawrence graduate, was chosen from a national application process. He will be in residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Feb. 24-26. During his residency, he will conduct community outreach education with the civic ensembles of the DSO.

Highlighting his residence will be a performance of his composition “GRIME” performed during the Classical Roots Chamber Recital Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at Detroit’s Plymouth United Church of Christ.

Written in 2013 for the Fresh, Inc. chamber music festival at UW-Parkside, “GRIME” is an eight-minute work for violin, viola, cello and double bass. Calling it a “confluence of seemingly disparate inspirations, including rock, spectralism, minimalism and modernist techniques,” Williams said the goal of the piece was to create a piece that would recreate the sound of a different instrument, in this case, an electric guitar with heavy distortion.

The work’s title came near the end of the composition process. Its working title was “GRIND” due to the harsh grinding sound that resulted from the molto sul ponticello and bow overpressure used in the work.

“In the search for a title, I wanted a word that began with G and also had an ‘edgy’ feel to it, given the rock inspiration,” Williams wrote in a blog post about the work. “I eventually decided against the word ‘grind,” as it held more hip hop and rap connotations for me. While ‘GRIME’ doesn’t hold any rock connotations that I am aware of, the title seemed to be more suited to the work.”

Prior to joining the Lawrence faculty, Williams spent a year as a composer fellow at Bennington College and taught in the Young Musicians Program at the Walden School in New Hampshire.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in theory/composition at Lawrence, Williams earned a master’s degree in composition from Bowling Green State University and a D.M.A in composition from the University of Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.


Lawrence welcomes jazz legend Joe Lovano

Grammy Award-winning saxophonist/composer Joe Lovano showcases his conceptual and thematic ventures Friday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. in a Lawrence University 2017-18 Jazz Series Concert. J

Joining Lovano on stage will be his Classic Quartet bandmates: Lawrence Fields, piano, Peter Slavov, bass and Lamy Istrefi, drums.

Saxophonist Joe LovanoTickets for the performance in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Lovano’s career has been defined by his creative efforts to find new modes of artistic expression and new ways to define the jazz idiom. With his bandmates, Lovano explores the rich history of mainstream jazz through swing and bebop, driving the edges while honoring the structures of straight-ahead jazz.

José Encarnación, director of jazz studies at Lawrence and an accomplished saxophonist in his own right, calls Lovano “one of my favorites jazz artists of all time.”

“I love every single one of his recordings,” said Encarnacion, who had the pleasure of meeting Lovano in the 1990s while performing at a jazz festival in Puerto Rico with the Bob Mintzer Big Band. “Joe’s music is always fresh, rooted on the tradition but always moving forward with new sounds and adventurous musical stories.”

A 12-time Grammy Award nominee, Lovano won the trophy in 2000 in the best large jazz ensemble album category for his work on “52nd Street Themes.” That same year, he topped both the readers and critics polls in DownBeat magazine as tenor saxophonist of the year. DownBeat named Lovano its jazz artist of the year twice, including 2010 when he captured the magazine’s “triple crown”: tenor saxophonist, jazz artist and jazz group (Joe Lovano Us 5) of the year.

His discography includes 28 albums as leader and more than 50 others as either co-leader or sideman.

Lovano has taught as the Gary Burton Chair in Jazz Performance as an artist-in-residence at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Nirmala Rajesekar brings Indian classical repertoire to World Music Series

Indian classical music will be highlighted when Nirmala Rajasekar takes the stage Wednesday, Oct 25 in the second concert in Lawrence University’s 2017-18 World Music Series.

Nirmala Rajasekar
Master veena artiste Nirmala Rajasekar

Rajasekar will be joined by renowned violinist, violist, composer and educator VVS Murari; Sri Murugaboopathi, a.k.a. Boopathi, one of the world’s most celebrated mridangam players; and acclaimed khanjira artist KV Gopalakrishnan.

Tickets for the concert, at 8 p.m. in Harper Hall of the Music-Drama Center, are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors/students and are available online through the Lawrence Box Office or by calling 920-832-6749.

Rajasekar, who made her concert debut at the age of 13, has established herself as a world-class artist during her nearly four decades of performances. One of the most recognized names in the world of Indian classical music today, Rajasekar has been hailed as a “dynamic and vibrant performer.”

She is known for her creative exploration of the ancient Indian instrument, the seven-stringed Saraswathi veena and her vast repertoire reflects her adherence to the rich tradition, heritage and lineage of her gurus.

Rajasekar has been the recipient of numerous international honors and awards for her contributions to music and education, among them recognition from the Music Academy Madras, known as the Carnegie Hall of India.

The artistic director of the Naadha Rasa (Essence of Tone) Center for Music, Rajasekar travels around the world teaching and performing Carnatic Music vocally and on her veena.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence students shine in state music competition

Three Lawrence University students captured first-place honors at the 2017 Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Wisconsin state competition held Oct. 7 at Lawrence. The performance competition recognizes exceptionally talented young artists and their teachers in their pursuit of musical excellence.

Senior Nicholas Suminski, Williamsburg, Mich., earned first-place honors in young artist piano division. He performed Paul Schoenfield’s Boogie from “Peccadillos”; Schumann/Liszt’s “Widmung”; Beethoven’s “Sonata in C minor” opus 53″ and Piazzolla’s Tango #1 from “Tango Suite.”

Senior flutist Ned Martenis, West Newton, Mass., won the young artist woodwind competition. His winning program included CPE Bach’s “Sonata in A minor”; Griffes’ “Poem”; Kapustin’s “Sonata opus 125” and Robert Dick’s “Lookout.”

Freshman Robert Graziano, Kenmore, N.Y., won the senior division piano competition. His winning performance featured Chopin’s “Etude in C minor opus 10 #1”; Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody #5 in E minor”; Debussy’s “Hommage a Rameau” from Images book 1 and Ginastera’s “Danzas Argentinas.”

Nick Suminski
Nick Suminski ’18

Robert Graziano
Robert Graziano ’21

Ned Martenis
Ned Martenis ’18

The young artist division is for state musicians aged 19-26 while the senior division is open to musicians 15-18.

Sophomore violinist Abigail Keefe of Appleton and Third Form Trio – junior flautist Bianca Pratte, Walnut Creek, Calif., junior bassoonist Stuart Young, Arlington, Texas, and senior pianist Mayan Essak of Shorewood — were named “state representatives” as the only entrants in their divisions.

The three winners and the designated state representatives advance to the regional competition Jan. 7, 2018 at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana with regional winners competing in the MTNA national finals March 17-21, 2018, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Also at the competition, senior Anthony Cardella, Porterfield, and freshman Noah Vasquez, Zurich, Switzerland, earned second place and honorable mention honors, respectively, in the young artist piano division.

Suminski and Vasquez study in the piano studio of Cathy Kautsky. Graziano is a student of Anthony Padilla. Cardella is a student of Michael Mizrahi. Keefe studies with Wen-Lei Gu, while Martenis and the members of Third Form Trio are all students of Erin Lesser.

Appleton’s Abigail Peterson, a ninth-grade, piano student at the Lawrence Academy of Music, won the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association High School Virtuoso Competition held at the same time. A student in the piano studio of Catherine Walby, Peterson received $100 for her winning performance.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.