Skip to Content

School of Music

2023 Liner Notes

The University of South Carolina School of Music is pleased to announce these faculty, staff and students’ accomplishments and awards along with mentions in regional and national media channels.

USC Jazz Professor Debuts New Band, The Southern Pines
  • Colleen Clark, assistant professor of jazz studies at USC, debuted her brand-new band, The Southern Pines, featuring two-time GRAMMY Award-winning vocalist Quiana Parler, at Columbia Museum of Art in March. This all-female collaboration takes inspiration from life in South Carolina and work from the museum’s current show, “Our Own Work Our Own Way: Ascendant Women Artists from the Johnson Collection.”
Opera at USC Director Invited as Guest Director
  • Opera at USC director Ellen Schlaefer traveled to Texas in March to direct Amarillo Opera’s production of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Globe-News Center. While there, she appeared on behalf of the Amarillo Opera to discuss the production on-air with High Plains Public Radio.
Assistant Director of Admissions’ Troupe Presents New Spin on Opera
  • In its March 30, 2023 issue the Daily Gamecock featured The Columbia Operatic Laboratory, an ensemble Jennifer Mitchell, Assistant Director, School of Music Admissions, is a founding member. Mitchell's troupe hopes to expand the genre of opera in the Columbia community by bringing this musical storytelling form to nontraditional venues like local bars.
Assistant Dean for Advancement Selected to Present Research
  • University of South Carolina School of Music Assistant Dean for Advancement, Audra Vaz, Ed.D., has been selected to present her research at the International Positive Psychology World Congress this July in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Along with her research partner, Dr. Patrick Dwyer from Indiana University's Lilly School of Philanthropy, Vaz will share findings from her doctoral research with a presentation titled "Gratitude and generosity: Does putting the 'you' in 'thank you' promote giving behavior?" Vaz's research examines how self-benefit and other-praising expressions of gratitude in annual giving stewardship may impact future giving. 
Lullaby Project Receives National Attention
  • Coverage of School of Music students and faculty members' partnership with new mothers at Camille Graham Correctional Institution to write original lullabies for their little ones through The Lullaby Project, an initiative of Carnegie Hall and its Weill Music Institute, has captured the attention of national media outlets including Good News Network,  Sirius XM's American Voices and NPR. 
School of Music Vocal Students Recognized at SC NATS Auditions
  • Congratulations to our voice students for their success at the South Carolina NATS auditions.  The students listed below move on to the regional auditions in Lynchburg, VA in March 2023. Eight of our students won their category and performed in the Honors Recital.  All voice studios are represented in the list below as well.  It was a great day for voice at USC!
  • Briona Robinson, Category Winner

    Sarah Alexander
    Bailey Barefoot
    Madeline Fyock

    John Child, Category Winner

    Brynn Gianatassio
    Galilea Ramos, Category Winner
    Emily Schlegel

    Curran Bramhall
    Jasper Vasilevskis

    Anna Klausli
    Briona Robinson, Category Winner
    Emma Schwertfuehrer

    Matthew Chesnutt
    Andrew Hebert, Category Winner

    Harper Davis
    Daisy Lawrence, Category Winner

    Dylan Hinson, Category Winner
    Michael Ntwa Ydjumbwiths
    Deshawn Stevens

    Nico Caruso, Category Winner
    Austin Means

    Jeremy Miller

    Jeremy Miller

Faculty and TAs recognized in USC’s Thank-a-Teacher Program
  • The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) launched a Thank a Teacher Program during the Fall 2022 semester to provide an avenue for students to thank faculty and Teaching Assistants (TAs) who positively impacted their educational journey.  School of Music faculty and TAs received 451 notes of appreciation from students. Faculty members Michelle Haché, Julie Hubbert, Aletha Jacobs, Birgitta Johnson and teaching assistant Jordan Knapp received certificates of appreciation. 
Professor of Piano and Chamber Music releases new solo CD 
  • Neuma Records will release Professor of Piano and Chamber Music Phillip Bush's new solo CD recording featuring the Concord Sonata by Charles Ives this spring. This recording includes Professor Bush's culmination of studying and performing the work for over 30 years. The recording includes Six Preludes, Op. 15 by Marion Bauer, who was more or less a contemporary of Ives. 
Associate Professor of Jazz Studies premieres Dolly at Charleston Jazz Festival
  • Matt White’s Dolly is a reimagining of the early music of Dolly Parton, combining her incredible song writing and lyrics with contemporary musical styles and improvisation. Matt was drawn to Dolly’s early career and imagined how her music, often tackling themes of poverty and gender equality, could be reconstructed by connecting southern roots music with contemporary styles and production. An album of this music was recorded in 2022 with support from the South Carolina Arts Commission.  The composition is being premiered by White at the 2023 Charleston Jazz Festival.
Music Theory Faculty Member Invited to Speak at International Event in February 2023
  • Bruno Alcalde, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, has been invited to speak at Iremus, series of conferences explores music analysis from the perspective of students and teachers and how their interests determine the repertoires and methods of study.  Alcalde will present "Outsourcing Familiarity: engaging with students’ personal playlists to teach harmonic concepts and contexts."
Assistant Dean for Enrollment Elected to Performing Arts Board of Directors
Professor of Music/Piano and Piano Pedagogy Receives Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Cleveland Institute of Music named Scott Price, Carolina Distinguished Professor of Music/Piano and Piano Pedagogy, as winner of their 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award. The award honors alumni who have attained the highest stature in their field. Price’s accomplishments as a pianist and his work with children with special needs helped earn him this recognition. Price received his MM from CIM in 1991.
Director of The Carolina Band Invited to Join College Football Playoff Operations Staff
  • Dr. Jay Jacobs, director of The Mighty Sound of the Southeast, is joining the College Football Playoff (CFP) operations team at the 2023 National Championship in Los Angeles.  For the 2023 national championship game, the Fiesta Bowl Champion will compete against the Peach Bowl Champion. As one of two Band Operations Workforce directors, Jacobs will assist the directors, staff and students of the university bands representing The Peach Bowl Champion.
School of Music GRAMMY Award Nominations
  • Congratulations to USC Assistant Professor of Guitar Mak Grgić for receiving a GRAMMY nomination for “A Night in Upper Town – The Music of Zoran Krajacis” in the “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” category! USC School of Music alumnus Andy Akiho’s “Ligneous Suite” has been nominated for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition.”
  • Grgic appeared on Columbia's WACH-57 to discuss the nomination. 

“It goes without saying that it is not only an honor to have received this nomination for an album so special, but to see my name appear amongst the leaders of the classical performing arts is a dream come true! Daniil Trifonov, Mitsuko Uchida, Hillary Hahn, Time for Three and Xian Zhang are at the topmost echelon of the classical music industry, bringing even more meaning to this accolade. I am beyond thrilled, and hopeful that this award also brings recognition to the USC School of Music, where I just started my faculty position this fall.”

–  Mak Grgić, USC Assistant Professor of Guitar

Associate Professor of Piano/Chamber Phillip Bush also made the list for his contribution to a GRAMMY nominee. Bush’s piece “When There Are No Words” was among a collection produced by James Ginsburg that earned the producer a nomination of “Producer of the Year, Classical.”

USC Selected as Co-recipient of 2023 MTNA Collegiate Chapter of the Year
  • University of South Carolina Collegiate Chapter of Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) has been selected as co-recipient of the 2023 MTNA Collegiate Chapter of the Year. The selection recognizes the significant accomplishments and important work you are doing to advance music and music teaching on your campus and in your community. During the past year, School of Music chapter members have been active in exploring under-represented composers and repertoire including piano works of varying levels from the United States, Nicaragua, the Philippines, South Korea, China and Malaysia. Teaching Workshops currently being presented include the following titles: The Echo of Beijing Opera in Piano Repertoire, Kodály Folk Song Collections: Developing the Inner Ear of Young Pianists through Folk Song, and Bror Beckman’s Herb Garden Flowers, Op. 20: Impressionistic and Late-Romantic Miniatures for Early-to-Late Intermediate Students.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.