Alumni Spotlight - Careers in Music
Department of Music alumni live, work, and create in towns and cities around the world. Here's a look at a few of our alumni:
Douglas Major received his Bachelor of Arts degree in organ performance in 1974. An active composer and organist, he spent the next three decades at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where he headed the music program at one of the most important churches in the country. A world-traveling recitalist, Doug focuses today on concert work on both organ and piano. He is the 2013 Outstanding Alumnus of the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts.
Jennifer Johnson Cano is a rising star in the world of opera, art song, and oratorio. After completing her undergrad degree at Webster, she went on to graduate school in Texas and then directly into the Lindemann Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera. She's now a Met artist, appearing on international telecasts and singing a variety of roles. She has appeared in recital at Carnegie Hall, and sings frequently as a concert soloist with the New York Philharmonic.
James Sedares has led many important orchestras throughout the US, the Pacific Rim, and Europe, with special affiliations with the Phoenix Symphony and with orchestras in New Zealand. A Chicago native with an undergraduate degree from Webster, Sedares' recordings are available on major labels such as Naxos and Deutsche Grammophon. He continues an active conducting career around the globe.
John Zorn is a multi-faceted composer and performer, now based in New York City. His college study at Webster focused on music composition, leading him to a reputation as a major avant-garde composer and arranger. He received the American Academy of Arts and Letter 2012 Arts and Letters Awards in Music. Notably, he received a 2006 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the so-called "Genius Grant."
Don Diekneite has developed a significant career as a composer of music for video games. His undergraduate degree in music composition morphed into the new world of Atari soundscapes, and eventually to life as an audio designer and producer. Don also has a doctorate in music from Indiana University.
Erin Bode is a leading jazz artist, performing worldwide from her base in Saint Louis. The Erin Bode Group creates music forged from the Americana of its members' Midwestern roots, infused with jazz grooves and made magic by Bode's bell-like voice. Sophisticated arrangements and attention to phrasing further distinguish the band's fresh sound.
Other outstanding alumni include:
- Sandra Levy-Smith, Emmy®-winning composer, Saint Louis
- Peter Mayer, vocalist/guitarist/composer with Jimmy Buffett
- Robert Power, Grammy®-winning producer, New York
- Mona Bagasso-Crane, contemporary Christian performer
- Butch Thomas, saxophonist with Sting, New York
- Nicolai Bica, violin, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
- Carol Chapman, professor, Missouri State University
- Linda Presgrave, jazz pianist, New York
- Rie Suzuki, clarinet faculty, Peabody Conservatory
- Dave Boonshoft, president, Aguilar Amplification, New York
"My experience at Webster was one I can truly say shaped the person I have become. The Department of Music, with the rest of the school, is overflowing with a talent pool of staff and students that constantly kept me pushing and challenging myself. Webster's diverse environment forced me to become a more open-minded, well-rounded individual."
- Krystal Schieffer, BME '11
"From the second I stepped onto Webster's campus, I have felt at home, like part of a family. The Department of Music shares a solid bond because of its size and the cozy feel of Thompson House; but even as the Department expands, there is still the fundamental sincerity of people who care about each other. Creative people could not be more different, and my time at Webster has showed me that these differences are sometimes what unites us the most. Across the spectrum of disciplines, whether you're a composer, jazz pianist, vocalist, violinist, teacher, ad infinitum, Webster provides a support system that you don't find at other schools. There is no cut-throat environment here; everyone is encouraged to grow as an artist and musician in a manner that promotes confidence, inspiration, and success."
- Samantha Schmid, BA '11
"Webster University made me excited to go back to school for my master's degree. The professors, my advisor, and the staff were very helpful and flexible; they worked with my schedule as a working graduate student. They allowed me to basically get a "Beth degree," within my requirements. This knowledge was immediately applicable to my current job. When I look back now I am so pleased that I got to study with professors that are such talented, intelligent, professional and accomplished musicians. Webster was exactly what I needed and wanted."
- Beth Enloe Fritz, MA '05
"I thought Webster was perfect for my undergrad as it gave me the attention I needed. I never worried about getting lost in a sea of faces, and I wound up with excellent tools for graduate school. The low-stress environment also made it easier for me to learn my way around the stage as I was able to openly experiment with new ideas. Furthermore, Webster, unlike other smaller universities, gave me the opportunity to work with some important figures in opera, like Christine Brewer. Webster is definitely the way to go."
- Maddy Pessin, BM '11
"The staff, students, ensembles, and facilities are all dedicated to making music better and understanding it more fully. I appreciate knowing every time I walk into a classroom in Thompson Music Building this is the goal. Webster was a wonderful fit for me."
- Gabriel Maichel, BME '13
"Webster was truly an amazing experience. I loved every bit of it."
- Kayla Wong, BA '13
"So many faculty members are personable, kind and warm. And that's awesome!"
- Caroline Camp Corrales, BM '14
"I came to Webster because I wanted to be a better songwriter, and I've accomplished that."
- Tim Walther, BM '14
Department of Music News
Seniors 2015May 2015
The Department of Music captured a few moments with our 2015 graduating seniors to find out what they will miss, what they will share, and what makes Webster their home.
Connor ScottMarch 2016
Music education major Connor Scott wins a conducting competition, and talks about his time at Webster University.
Ready for successSpring 2016
Chris Poetz (BM '16) talks about how the faculty have helped him be ready for film school.
Chamber SingersMarch 2014
Chamber Singers perform at the 2014 divisional convention of the American Choral Directors Association.
Music EducationSpring 2015
Christy Timberlake is featured in an introduction to Music Education at Webster University.
Bob ChamberlinMay 2015
Bob Chamberlin sat down with the department of music to give us a glimpse inside his 42 year history with the university and share some memories and advice with students and his colleagues as he moves into the next phase of his life.
Webster University OrchestraFall 2016
Dr. Paul Davis leads the Webster Symphony Orchestra in the year-opening concert, September 2016.
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