The Catholic University of America

Our Students

Our composition community is made up of a vibrant group of composers and performers.  Currently, there are 14 composition majors and minors in the School of Music, including undergraduate composition minors and majors, as well as masters and doctoral students.  All have access to the many performance and reading opportunities that the composition program offers, including: division recitals featuring student compositions, as well as orchestral and chamber music reading sessions by the CUA Symphony Orchestra, guest performers, and student ensembles.

Our students are also making reputations for themselves beyond the School of Music.  Here are some profiles of a few current students and recent alumni of our school.

 

 

 

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Selected Current Student Profiles

 

 

Amanda Bono (DMA, 4th year) is an active composer of concert music for a variety of genres and ensembles, including works for orchestra, wind ensemble, voice, and chamber ensembles. A native of Pennsylvania, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Fine and Performing Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Saint Joseph’s University, as well as a Master of Music degree in Music Composition from Rowan University. Her primary teachers include Suzanne Sorkin, Bruce Yurko, Stephen Gorbos, and Andrew Simpson. Her music has been featured at both the Atlantic Music Festival and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Currently, Amanda is a Music Theory Teaching Fellow at the Catholic University of America. She is a member of ASCAP, and she also serves as President of the CUA chapter of Society of Composers, Inc. and as a Co-chair of the New Voices @ CUA annual vocal festival.

Listen"Someday, Maybe"

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Jay Parrotta (DMA, 3rd year) majors in Organ Performance and minors in Composition. His compositional studies began in high school with Dr. Frances Thompson McKay at Levine School of Music. He continued his study of composition at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America with Dr. Anthony Randolph and Dr. Stephen Gorbos. Jay has received commissions from the Columbia Pike Community Chorus, District of Columbia American Guild of Organists, and Trinity Episcopal Church, Arlington. He has premièred his works at the historic Calvary Church, D.C.; St. Andrew's, College Park; St. Luke's, Annapolis; St. Patrick's, Falls Church; and Washington National Cathedral. During his junior year at CUA, he was named a Fellow of the American Guild of Organist; in the 100-year history of the guild, the youngest individual to receive such a distinction.

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Joseph R. Kaz (MM Stage Music, 2nd year) is a dynamic young composer established across the Eastern United States.  With performances by ensembles such as The Long Bay Symphony, The University of Tennessee at Martin Marimba Choir, The University of Memphis Marimba Choir, The Ithaca College Wind Dectet, Contemporary Ensemble, Chamber Winds, and The Ithaca College Light Opera, Joseph’s music covers many genres and fields. An advocate for music education, Joseph’s music has also been performed in many public school settings in school districts throughout upstate New York, and in South Carolina.  In competition, Joseph's music has won many prizes including being a two time winner of The Jack Downey Composition Prize, The 2014 Ithaca College ACDA Composition Contest, the 2010 Texas Orchestra Directors Association Composition Contest, and the 2011 Metropolitan Wind Symphony's North American Composition Competition.  Joseph completed his Bachelors in Music Composition at Ithaca College where he studied with Dr. Dana Wilson, Dr. Sally Lamb McCune, and Dr. Jorge Grossmann, and is pursuing his Masters in Music Composition at the Catholic University of America studying with Dr. Andrew Simpson 

Listen"Lilacs" for SSA choir

Listen"Pegasus" (3rd mvt. from "In the Garden of Statues" for wind quintet)


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Jonathan Kirby (BM, 4th year) is an undergraduate composition major. He began piano lessons in high school, and began composing his Sophomore year. Despite being homeschooled, Jonathan's earliest exposure to music was mostly through music theatre productions, tap dancing, and through movie scores. Mr. Kirby has written for various instrumentation, such as string orchestra, string quartet, brass quintet, cello and harp, SATB chorus and piano, SATB chorus, violin, cello, and piano, and solo piano. Composition teachers include Dr. Andrew Simpson and Dr. Stephen Gorbos. Jonathan has had his work premiered at the National Shrine of Our Lady of LaSalette and at St. John the Evangelist in his hometown of Attleboro, Massachusetts. Jonathan premiered his work 09-11-01: NY Healing at Carnegie Hall on Dec. 16, 2012, and had his piece Witticism for the Steinway performed at the Lancaster International Piano Festival, July 21, 2013. Jonathan is also a member of Redline A Cappella at Catholic University.

Listen "NY Healing"

Listen "Cherry Blossoms"


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Carson Kirchner (BM, 2nd year) began studying the violin when she was three years old and has loved music ever since. With constant exposure to an orchestral setting, she soon realized that she wanted to begin composing music in her junior year of high school. Winter, her first piece composed while at CUA, was performed on the Spring 2015 Composition Division Recital in her Freshman year. Carson has composed mainly for chamber groups but plans on expanding her body of work to include music for larger ensembles and orchestra. 

Listen "Winter" for cello and piano


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Paul Kneusel (BM, 4th year), hailing from Colorado, began piano lessons at an early age and has been regularly composing since his high school years. Paul’s musical background is primarily classical, but he enjoys all styles of music, especially folk music and jazz, and will often incorporate elements of these styles into his work.  In addition to these interests, Paul is inspired and influenced by the art of film music, a craft which he intends to pursue in graduate studies.  In his music, Paul likes to focus on lyricism and unique harmonies.  Some of his favorite composers include, amongst many others, Aaron Copland, Ennio Morricone, Maurice Ravel, and Thomas Newman.  Along with the piano, Paul also plays the cello and organ, and casually studies other instruments including the oboe, pennywhistle, and Irish flute.

 

 

Listen "Winter" for Bass voice, violin and piano on a text by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow
(performed by Joseph Chee, bass; Joseph Taylor, violin; Grace Brungardt, piano)

Listen "Bird out of the Cage" for ensemble
(performed by Great Noise Ensemble)

 

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Selected Alumni Profiles

 

 
Erik Abrahamson (MM, 2015), originally from Minnesota, received his Bachelors of Music in composition from Moorhead State University. To the shock of his musical peers, Erik then accepted a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps and spent the next 12 years flying helicopters. Erik served three tours in Iraq and earned the Master of Science degree in post-secondary education before leaving active service to follow the path leading to a career as a music educator.

 Erik has served as Vice President of the CUA chapter of the Society of Composers, Inc., and Co-Chair of the 2014 New Voices @ CUA Festival. His fanfare for chorus and orchestra, The Heavens Rained, premiered on 6 December at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, during the 24th Annual Christmas Concert for Charity. Erik is married to Major Kate Fleeger (USMC), and is the proud father of Milo, their son, to whom everything is an airplane.

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Brian Rice (DMA, 2013) has written pieces for orchestra, wind ensemble, choir, and chamber ensembles in a wide variety of styles. Brian is currently attending the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he is studying composition with Dr. Steven Strunk. He has previously studied composition with Walter Ross, Carl Roskott, Joseph Del Principe, and Angela Jelliffe (BA University of Virginia, MM University of Redlands). He was awarded with the University of Virginia, McIntire Department of Music Departmental Recognition Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Contribution, and elected into Pi Kappa Lambda, a music honor fraternity. His piece Triptych was funded in part by the Composer Assistance Program of the American Music Center. Brian is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, ASCAP, and the American Music Cente. He is President of the CUA chapter of the Society for Composers, Incorporated (SCI), and has been instrumental in organizing the division's annual New Voices @ CUA festival

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John Henderson (BM, 2013) is a composer based in the D.C. metro area where he is currently completing his BM in music composition at the Catholic University of America. John's works have been performed by pianist Ivo Kaltchev, members of the Orlando Philharmonic, as well as Leo Nestor and the CUA choruses. He has been heard in festivals including the Rolf Piano Series in Pensacola, Florida, the Washington International Piano Series, and New Voices at CUA in Washington, D.C.  John is also an active bassoonist, collaborative pianist, and organist, performing with the CUA symphony orchestra, accompanying for the Washington School of Ballet, and serving as assistant organist at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.  John is currecntly pursuuing graduate studies in composition at the Peabody Conservatory.

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Sarah Horick (DMA, 2012), a native of South Carolina, holds an MM in Composition and an MA in Music Theory from Florida State University and a BM in Music Theory from Furman University. Her works have been performed throughout the US, Canada, the UK, and Europe and on the programs of festivals such as Electronic Music Midwest, the New Music Forum 7th Annual Festival of New Music, Electroacoustic Juke Joint, the SCI Student National Conference, the Asolo Song Festival (Italy), the Schlern International Music Festival (Italy), and FreePlay 10: Listening Chamber, among others. Ms. Horick has collaborated with a number of ensembles, performers, dancers, and visual artists, and she is currently working on a commission from the Hispanic-American Lyric Theatre for a new opera. More at www.sarahhorick.com.

Listen Deleted Scenes VII, Sarah Horick;
Erie Saxophone Quartet

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Andrew Morrissey (MM Stage Music Emphasis, 2012) is a graduate from Plymouth State University with a BA in Music. He has worked as a collaborative pianist and as a music director for various semi-professional, university, and community theatre companies in New Hampshire, but his accompanying has taken him internationally, including Vietnam, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro and most recently Morocco. Shows that he has musically directed include: Once on This Island (Moultonborough Academy), Edges (Plymouth State University), Urinetown,  Lippa’s Wild Party, Songs For A New World (Peacock Players). He also was the music director for a workshop performance of Sit In at the Five and Dime at the New Harmony Project in Indiana.

Listen I Woke Today, Andrew Morrissey

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Tim Eisman, MM Composition Stage Music Emphasis, CUA  

Timothy B. Eisman (MM Stage Music Emphasis, 2011) completed undergraduate studies in Music, Theology and Communications/Theatre at Concordia University Chicago in 1999, and continued on to serve as Music Director for the Artists of Concordia Theatre and The Résonanz Ensemble at Concordia through summer 2009.  He has also served as Music Director for The Community House Players’ summer theatre program in Hinsdale, IL since 2006.  Selections from his thesis project, a one-act musical based on “The Nightingale and the Rose” by Oscar Wilde, were performed at the Kennedy Center’s annual Page-to-Stage Festival on September 4, 2010, and was presented in full during Spring semester 2011 at CUA.

Listen Deliberation, Tim Eisman 

 

Original score for dance, composed for Stage Music Practicum.

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Roc Lee, MM Composition Stage Music Emphasis, CUA  
Roc Lee (MM Stage Music Emphasis, 2011), does work in film scoring, music recording, music production, transcriptions, and collaboration.  Roc is also particularly interested in issues of social justice and works to bring awareness through his music.  His article, Music education in prisons: a historical overview, was recently published in the International Journal of Community Music. He has also studied opera in the English language and orchestration at New College, Oxford University and served as an instructor/accompanist for Camp Arena Stage. 

More at http://www.roclee.net

ListenSound of Trees, Roc Lee

Text from Robert Frost (PD); Roc Lee, speaker

 

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Alumni in Academe

 

Dr. Kyle Gullings

Kyle Gullings (DMA Composition, 2011 ) is Assistant Professor at the University of Texas-Tyler.  A versatile and collaborative composer of stage, vocal, and chamber works and a 2008 ASCAP/SCI Regional Winner, he has received national and regional performances through the Society of Composers, Inc., the College Music Society, the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival, and the John Duffy Composers Institute. He has been performed by Altra String Quartet and Chicago Miniaturist Ensemble, and commissioned by The Catholic University of America Women's Chorus. A post-secondary music instructor since 2006, Mr. Gullings completed his DMA in Composition at The Catholic University of America in 2011, where he was also the first recipient of their Stage Music Emphasis masters degree.  More at kylegullings.com

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 Photo of Prof Anthony Randolph

Anthony Randolph (DMA Composition, 2007) is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Music, Howard University in Washington, DC. Dr. randolph is a composer, pianist, and music historian with extensive teaching experience at the university and primary levels. Dr. Randolph has served on the music faculty of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America, and is currently Associate Professor of Music at Howard University.

Recent compositions by Dr. Randolph include Requiem Mass for the African-American Slave for orchestra, chorus, and soloists, Baghdad, the Day After, for orchestra, muezzin, and audio CD, How Long, O Lord, an electronic composition and video compilation chronicling the struggles of African-Americans from the slave trade to the present, as well as multiple chamber works.

A 2005 commissioned composition, titled Songs of the Forgotten War, was a group commission inspired by the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC. Dr. Randolph was on of the nineteen composers commissioned to reflect upon, and compose a one-minute composition on one of the nineteen bronze soldiers of the memorial. Songs of the Forgotten War had its world premiere at The Catholic University of America in spring 2005 as the third of the four-part President's Concert, "Waging Peace: Making Music in Time of War." Songs of the Forgotten War was a feature piece on WAMU radio's "Metro Connection" in summer 2005, and received a second performance at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, August, 2005, with both performances favorably reviewed by the Washington Post. Other commissions include To Do Battle in the Land, The John Brown Story, a documentary film on the life of abolitionist John Brown for the United States Parks Department, Harper's Ferry National Park, Harper's Ferry, WV. To Do Battle in the Land was recorded by the Howard University Concert Choir and instrumentalists under the direction of J. Weldon Norris.

Fanfare, a composition for orchestra and chorus by Dr. Randolph, was premiered by the Catholic University Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at the Annual Christmas Concert under the direction of Leo Nestor, at The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, December, 2003. The concert was broadcast on The Eternal World Television Network and on Howard University Television, WHUT.

Dr. Randolph is a member of The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), The College Music Society, and The American Composers Forum. He is also the new Interim Chair of the Deparment of Music for the 2014-2015 Academic Year.

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El compositor. Nicolás Suárez posa para una imagen del disco.

Nicolás Suárez Eyzaguirre (DMA Composition, 1997) is Professor and Director at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música and Universidad Católica Boliviana in La Paz, Bolivia. Born in La Paz in 1953, he completed his studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, where he participated in the formation of the Latin American Center for Musical Studies. He is a composer, teacher and producer, and has recorded his works on stamps, representing Bolivia and the United States.

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Joao Guilherme Ripper (DMA Composition, 1997) is currently composition faculty member and former Dean (1999-2003) of the School of Music of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and Director of Cecília Meireles Concert Hall. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he studied Composition and Conducting with Henrique Morelenbaum, Ronaldo Miranda e Roberto Duarte at the School of Music of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where he also got his Master degree. In 1994, he moved to the US to pursue his doctoral studies under Helmut Braunlich and Emma Garmendia at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. Ripper served as Assistant Teacher of the Orchestration class at the CUA, and created a music program at the Adult Education Program at the Connecticut Park Center, in Montgomery County, where he taught for three years. With his Composition students, he founded the Composers Society of Montgomery County. Additional studies in orchestral conducting were held in Argentina, under Guillermo Scarabino. In 1997, he returned to Brazil and resumed his duties at the School of Music of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where he served as Dean from 1999 to 2003.

Ripper has guest-conducted important Brazilian orchestras as the National Theater Symphony Orchestra (Brasília), Cuyo Symphony Orchestra (Mendoza-Argentina), National Symphony Orchestra (Rio de Janeiro), Sinfonia Cultura Orchestra (São Paulo) and Symphony Orchestra of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Rio). Currently, Ripper is Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Pantanal Chamber Orchestra, in Mato Grosso do Sul. The orchestra is the leading ensemble in the region featuring a varied repertoire that ranges from the classics into popular and new Brazilian music. In December 2005, The Pantanal Chamber Orchestra toured in other Brazilian states.

Ripper's works have been performed in many concerts hall of Brazil and abroad. He wrote "Chamber Symphony for Winds" for the Catholic University Wind Ensemble in 1996. The last movement, "Brasiliana," has been featured in the repertoire of many wind ensembles . In 1999, he was commissioned by the Akron Symphony to write a symphonic work for the celebration of Brazil's 500th anniversary -- Abertura Concertante -- which was premiered in March 2000 at E.J.Thomas Hall, in Akron (OH). His chamber opera "Domitila" was awarded the best chamber work of 2000 by the National Critics Association of Brazil. His symphonic works are in the repertoire of important Brazilian orchestras. The cantata "Passio" was performed in a series of four concerts in one of the leading halls in Rio. In July 2003, his third opera "The Dark Angel" received 16 performances in São Paulo. In December 2005, the performances of "The Dark Angel" were listed in the top works of the last eight years. 

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Janet Peachy (DMA Composition) teaches theory, compostion and music technology at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C.

Dr. Peachey has written music in a wide variety of genres: opera, ballet, orchestral, chamber, piano, and vocal. Her works have been performed to critical acclaim in the United States and Europe. She recently completed both libretto and music for Wheel Ordeal, a comic opera about buying a car.

Dr. Peachey has received grants for composition from the National Endowment for the Arts, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Meet the Composer, Alban Berg Foundation, and the City of Vienna Cultural Council, and has had music published by Arsis Press. She was a two-year Fulbright grantee in Vienna, Austria, studying at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst (Academy for Music and Performing Arts), where she was awarded DIPLOMAS in composition and conducting. She also holds DMA and B.Mus. degrees in composition from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

As Artistic Director of Capital Composers Alliance from 1988 to 2004, Dr. Peachey organized and produced concerts of works by Washington, DC area composers; from 1989-1993 she was Vice President of Programs for American Women Composers, Inc.

To learn more, click here.

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Robert Gibson (MM Composition, 1975) is Professor and Director of the University of Maryland School of Music. Dr. Gibson has been a composer member of the Contemporary Music Forum of Washington, DC (1987–2000), and he is also active as a performer of new music. As a jazz bassist and composer he has appeared leading his own groups and, during the early 80’s, as a sideman with internationally recognized artists including Mose Allison, Bob Berg, Marc Copland, Tom Harrell, Eddie Harris, and Barney Kessel.

Among Mr. Gibson’s compositions are Offrande for string quartet, Concerto for Double Bass and Chamber Orchestra, A Sound Within for piano solo, and numerous works for various chamber ensembles. His compositions have been performed throughout the United States, including concerts at the Bowling Green 21st Annual New Music and Arts Festival and the national conferences of The College Music Society, The National Flute Association, and Society of Composers, Inc. Mr. Gibson’s works have also been presented on National Public Radio and in Europe, South America and China. Noted artists and ensembles who have performed his works include bassists Bertram Turetzky and David Walter, clarinetist Esther Lamneck, the Meridian String Quartet, the Clarion Wind Quintet, the Contemporary Music Forum, the 20th Century Consort, and The National Symphony Bass Quartet, who commissioned his composition Soundings (2001). His large orchestra work Through the Ear of a Raindrop, written for the inaugural season of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland was premiered by the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra and conductor James Ross in May 2002.

Mr. Gibson’s awards in composition include seven Creative and Performing Arts Awards from the University of Maryland, the Artist Fellowship in Music (1982) and an Individual Artist Award (1993) from the Maryland State Arts Council, and a Community Engagement Grant from the American Composers Forum (1999).

 

To learn more, visit www.robertgibsonmusic.com.

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Allen Bonde

Allen Bonde (DMA Composition) is Professor Emeritus at Mount Holyoke CollegeBonde's academic focus is sensitively balanced with his continuing and exciting professional career, one which spans most of his life. As a pianist, Bonde has performed in many venues, including Carnegie Recital Hall, the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Severance Chamber Hall. His performances have been described as "brilliant" (Washington Post) and "solid" (New York Times). Recorded and widely commissioned, his compositions, demonstrating great diversity, have been performed throughout the world by such notables as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic brass principals, and Wong Ching-Ping, one of the most famous pipa players. (The pipa is a short-necked plucked wooden lute.)

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David G. Heinick (DMA Composition) is Professor at The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam. David Heinick's music spans a broad range of styles and performing forces, often juxtaposing disparate styles within a single work.  His music has been performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, and has been broadcast on NPR, the CBC, and the BBC.  With Carol Heinick, he has performed extensively playing music for two pianists at one or two pianos; he has also been active as a collaborative pianist, having performed with numerous prominent soloists and members of major orchestras.  Since 1989, he has been a member of the faculty at SUNY-Potsdam's Crane School of Music; he previously taught at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore and St. Mary's College of Maryland.

 

 

 

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