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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Faculty/Student Achievements

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David Viscoli Named Distinguished Faculty Scholar

David Viscoli was recently named a Distinguished Faculty Scholar. The award was presented by The College of Graduate Studies and Research and the Center of Excellence in Scholarship and Research.

Kacie Hye-Jin Lee Wins MMTA Piano Competition

Kacie Hye-Jin Lee (Piano), won the top award in the Minnesota Music Teachers Association Young Artist Piano Competition. Lee, an international student from South Korea, performed a 30-minute program with works by three different composers. She is a student of Minnesota State Mankato music faculty member David Viscoli. She will perform at the honors concert in the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Meet Jason Shadrick, One of Our Successful Music Industry Alums

Jason Shadrick, a Minnesota State University alumnus, is now a dedicated editor for Premier Guitar magazine and website thanks to the University's Music Industry program.

Shadrick first became interested in Minnesota State Mankato's Music Industry program when he looked over the degree requirements for the program.

"Since I couldn't read music at all as a freshman, the Music Industry degree seemed less theory-based than the others. Luckily, Dr. Douglas Snapp cured me of my inability to sightread pretty quickly and for that, I will always be indebted to him," Jason recalls. "Looking back, it was probably not the best idea to dive into college as a music major with no theory background whatsoever, but it taught me that anyone is able to get through certain challenges if they are motivated enough."

One of the things Jason enjoyed most about the program was having the opportunity to practice and play music everyday.

"I think at the time I took it for granted, but having the time and freedom to really hone your craft and play with other people is a rare opportunity that can easily be overshadowed by all the other stuff you have to deal with in college," he says.

Jason also thoroughly enjoyed his musical ensemble experiences. During his junior year, Jason formed a quartet that won Best College Combo at the Eau Claire Jazz Festival and Minnesota State Mankato JazzFest. He also had two great internships after graduating - one in North Carolina working with singer/songwriter David LaMotte and another with The National Guitar Workshop. Shadrick was also fortunate enough to meet his wife at Minnesota State Mankato.

Since graduating, Jason has been keeping busy doing the things he loves. He first went on to be a graduate assistant at the University of Northern Iowa where he coached a combo and directed Jazz Band III. To top it off, he still found himself buried under piles of assignments and papers. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, Jason accepted a position as Director of Artist Relations with the National Guitar Workshop.

When asked to explain the position, Jason said, "This job was part Marketing Manager, part curator of the curriculum, and it was my duty to track down and convince big-name artists to come and do clinics."

Jason seems to have found his niche elsewhere since then. He is now working as the Associate Editor with Premier Guitar in Marion, Iowa, where, like with many small businesses, his role is slightly varied from time to time. His main focus is obtaining, editing, and organizing all the instructional material in both the Premier Guitar magazine and website. He also writes reviews about musical products like musical gear and CDs, along with the occasional feature article.

"This job is by far the most challenging and rewarding because I need to know everything from modern editing style to engraving in Sibelius to working with audio and video," Jason explains. Alongside his full-time work,

Jason enjoys teaching guitar lessons at the Marion Music Academy and at his home studio. He also keeps himself busy with his two-year-old son and work-related travels around the United States.

Dr. Amy Roisum Foley Elected President of Minnesota Music Educators Association

Roisum Foley eagerly welcomes her six-year commitment to MMEA.

Dr. Amy Roisum Foley has been elected as President of the Minnesota Music Educators Association. Her six-year commitments includes two years as President-Elect, two years as President, and two years as Past-President.

Dr. Amy Roisum Foley is currently in her ninth year as the Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Roisum Foley administrates and conducts the Concert Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and chamber ensembles. She also teaches instrumental music education, graduate and undergraduate conducting and private applied clarinet.

In the spring of 2006, Roisum Foley and Mankato music teacher, Jay Eichhorst, founded the Minnesota River Valley Wind Ensemble a semi-professional wind ensemble whose mission is to perform the highest level of wind band and wind ensemble repertoire. In addition to her teaching and conducting duties, Dr. Roisum Foley regularly guest conducts and teaches body alignment, health and wellness for musicians of all ages.

University Jazz Groups Travel to New Orleans

Students Attend an International Jazz Conference, Perform in a Local Club, and Experience the Culture of the City

The jazz students at Minnesota State University, Mankato are doing a lot more these days than solely rehearsing and making music.

The jazz groups travelled to New Orleans to get a heavy dose of jazz, beignets and gumbo. The Minnesota State Mankato Jazz Singers, Jazz Mavericks Big Band, and Jazz Combos spent several days in New Orleans to attend the second annual conference hosted by the Jazz Education Network (JEN). The conference consisted of many clinics and exhibits for students to learn more about various styles of jazz.

One of the clinics the students attended was an improvisation clinic hosted by Gordon Goodwin.

Scott Means, Minnesota State Mankato Senior and Instrumental Music Education Major, said the clinic was very beneficial. "It took what is usually a complex and scary idea and simplified it," Means explained. Goodwin is a pianist and saxophonist and leads Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band in Los Angeles. He will be the guest artist at Minnesota State Mankato's JazzFest in February. Gordon Goodwin earned a 2006 Grammy Award for his instrumental arrangement of “Incredits” from the Pixar film, “The Incredibles. ” Goodwin has won three Emmy Awards, and has been nominated for eight Grammy nominations in other categories.

The students were able to do more personal clinics with musicians Alan Baylock and Kerry Marsh. The Big Band worked with Alan Baylock, who has arranged repertoire the group has performed. Baylock is the chief arranger for the Airmen of Note jazz ensemble and has become a well-recognized creative voice in the music business. The Jazz Singers worked with Kerry Marsh, who arranged a piece the group has been working on. Marsh is an energetic vocalist and arranger of both vocal and big band charts.

University students were inspired by nightly performances from professional level jazz bands and vocal jazz groups from around the country.

The Minnesota State Mankato jazz groups were also fortunate enough to experience a taste of the New Orleans lifestyle. In addition to the great food, students were able to experience New Orleans street bands that played along the streets of the French Quarter, consisting of many different genres including folk, jazz, bluegrass and Dixieland.

"It was great to see how well respected the street musicians are in New Orleans," explained Senior Elliott Bonner. Bonner continued, "In Minnesota, K-12 schools are constantly fighting to keep music as a subject in their curriculum. In New Orleans, music and the arts are an important ingredient to the culture and history of the city."

Minnesota State Mankato Junior and Bass Performance Major, Dan Nonweiler, had the unique experience of sitting in with a professional jazz trio and playing string bass along with them.

The Minnesota State Mankato Big Band and Jazz Singers also performed at the Irvin Mayfield Playhouse while in New Orleans. During the students' performance, a passing pedestrian heard the music, went inside Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse to listen, and afterward asked director Dr. Doug Snapp, Director of Jazz Studies, if he could speak to the students because he was so impressed. The audience member told the students: "I was just passing by when I heard your music. I asked your director if I could quickly speak to you because I love good music, and your performance really moved me. It was not just the music, but also the way you all interact and have fun making music. If I were a musician, I would definitely want to go to Minnesota State Mankato to study music. Thank you so much for sharing your music with me!"

The Jazz Education Network (JEN) was formed by a group of jazz educators, jazz professionals, and jazz enthusiasts who were all former members of the International Association of Jazz Education (IAJE). Dr. Douglas Snapp was the Minnesota president of IAJE and helped the current committee of JEN mold it into what it is today. When asked why he chose to bring the jazz groups to the conference in New Orleans this year, Dr. Snapp said it just worked out perfectly. The conference happened the week before Spring semester classes began, it was affordable, and the schedule worked out nicely. He also thought it was a great place to have the conference, since New Orleans is often considered the birthplace of jazz.

"I was surprised all the pieces fit. We got lucky," Dr. Snapp said about the trip as a whole.

A Passion for Piano

International student Amy Chin places third in prestigious competition

By Grace Webb - Reporter Staff Writer

It's a good thing Minnesota State music student Amy Chin didn't let her hesitation stop her from entering the prestigious Biennial Lee Piano Competition - otherwise, she wouldn't have won third place in her division.

The Biennial Lee Piano Competition, held at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was Chin's first piano competition. Pianists from all over the region - Iowa, Kansas, Ohio and more - come to compete. There are several divisions of performers, and Chin competed in the "Young Artist" division, for pianists ages 19-22. Her two selected pieces were Ravel's Sonatine and Liszt's Sonetto 47 del Petrarca - both of which she perfected last spring for her senior recital.

Chin learned about the competition through professor of piano Dr. David Viscoli, who has worked with her over the past four years. Chin said that it was Viscoli who eventually convinced her to apply.

"I signed up under a lot of encouragement from Dr. Viscoli," Chin said. "I also thought that it would be a good learning experience for my future career in piano performance."

Though Chin already knew her pieces, she certainly did not stop practicing for the competition. She and Dr. Viscoli worked long and hard to make sure every note was perfect.

"Even after school ended," Chin said, "I had a few classes under [Dr. Viscoli] before I went for the competition just to make sure that I maintained what I [had] prepared for senior recital."

Viscoli agreed about all the effort Chin put into her pieces. "We worked for months and months on these pieces," he said. "She was very ready to go and compete.

Though Chin was sure she knew the pieces, she was still nervous before the competition, mostly because of her lack of experience.

"To be honest, before I went for the competition," Chin admitted, "I told myself not to expect so much as I had no prior experience although I wanted to win as well. That's the point of a competition."

After the preliminary rounds were completed, she was too anxious to check the final list and had a friend do it for her. It was then that she discovered she had made it to the final round and had a chance to place in the competition. After a brilliant performance and a nerve-wracking wait, she learned she had placed third in her division. She and Viscoli both said they were pleased with the end result.

Chin began playing piano when she was three. She would hide behind a pillar at her home to listen in on her five-year-old sister's piano lessons. When her mother discovered her daughter's musical interest, she had the piano teacher give Chin lessons as well.

Chin began working on the Yamaha piano series, where her natural talent distinguished her enough to earn her a place in the Junior Special Advanced Course for the next six years. During this time, she also took exams under the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. After completing all eight grades with special distinction by the age of 13, Chin went on to study piano at the Trinity College of Music, eventually earning a Performance Degree, an Associate level diploma, and a Licentiate. Her final stage is the Fellowship, which she hopes to finish when she returns home to Malaysia.

Chin said she knew as soon as she graduated from high school that she wanted to pursue music. Her family knew that Minnesota offers in-state scholarships to international students, since Chin's sister was attending St. Cloud State University, so Chin applied to some universities in the state. The MSU music department offered her a scholarship and she decided to come study here.

"I have [had] no regrets since," Chin said. "Like every other department at MSU, the music department has not been spared from having budget cuts [but] the level and quality of the classes remain the same. I'm happy to be back."

Chin is pursuing her Masters in Piano Performance and continues to work with Viscoli.

"Dr. Viscoli is a great teacher and I did not mind coming back to learn more from him," Chin said. "He has so much knowledge and experience in piano that I aspire to be like him in the future."

Chin's praise for her professor matches Viscoli's praise for his student.

"It's been great working with [Chin]," Viscoli said. "When someone comes here as a freshman and starts, you see the potential, and what I've noticed is usually between the junior and senior year, the students turn the corner and you start to see the artistry and the decision-making that's taking place on their own. They start to really grow as a musician--the potential reaches fruition. I was very happy last year to see that same transformation taking place with Amy."

Piano Students Take First and Second Place in State Competition

Amy Chin and Youna Choi, two graduate students in piano, won the top two awards in the Minnesota Music Teachers Association Young Artist Piano Competition, which was held in Minneapolis.

Amy Chin received second place and Youna Choi received first place. They each performed a thirty-minute program with works by four different composers.

Amy will perform in the Young Artist Recital at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Plymouth, MN on June 7 and Youna will perform at the Honors Concert at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Saturday, May 21. Both pianists are students of Dr. David Viscoli.

Department Highlights and Good News

  • David Dickau has accepted commissions from ACDA of Minnesota, The Diocese of Des Moines, The Great River Chorale, and the Mankato (MN) Music Community. Dickau will compose these commissions during his upcoming sabbatical.

  • David Viscoli performed a concert with the Chiarina Piano Quartet at the 33rd Annual Upper Midwest String and Chamber Music Conference in St. Joseph, Minnesota. In addition, he co-presented a session titled, "Using the Piano in the Strings Studio-Developing Polyphonic Listening" and gave a chamber music master class.
  • David Viscoli performed two concerts with The Lowry Hill Chamber Players. They performed at Saint Paul College and on the St. Mark's Music Series at St. Marks Cathedral in Minneapolis. The group is comprised of members of the Chiarina Piano Quartet (of which David Viscoli is a member) and musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra.
  • David Viscoli performed solo piano recitals at The University of California, Santa Barbara, the Idyllwild Arts Academy (Idyllwild, CA), Mountain View College in Dallas, TX, Transylvania University (Lexington, KY), Kentucky State University (Frankfort, KY), Concordia College (Moorhead, MN) and Bemidji State University (Bemidji, MN). He also presented master classes at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Concordia College, and at the Idyllwild Arts Academy.
  • David Viscoli performed a solo piano recital and gave a master class at The Lamont School of Music - University of Denver.