Bienen School of Music alumni hold positions as performers, administrators, and educators in leading arts and educational institutions throughout the world.


Mary Beth Peil ’62 is an actress and singer known for her work on Broadway, television, and film.

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Kate Lee ’17 is director of choirs at Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Illinois.

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Roderick Cox ’11 MMus is a Berlin-based American conductor.

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Bassist and composer Rufus Reid ’71 has been an active presence in the jazz world since the 1970s.

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Agnieszka Roginska ‘04 PhD is a professor of music technology at New York University.

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Matt Martin ‘07 currently serves as alderman of the 47th Ward in Chicago.

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Beth Kirkpatrick ‘03 is a multi-talented performer best known for her work on Broadway.

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Thomas Mesa ‘14 MMus is an award-winning cellist.

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Paula Grissom-Broughton ‘99 MMus is chair of the department of music at Spelman College.

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Mallory Thompson ‘79, ‘80 MMus is director of bands at the Bienen School of Music.

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Ian Derrer ‘01 MMus is general director and CEO of the Dallas Opera.

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Pianist Ralph Votapek ‘60 won the prestigious Naumburg Award and the first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

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Rena Kraut ‘99 is founder and executive director of the Cuban American Youth Orchestra.

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Rodney Dorsey ‘92 MMus, ‘06 DMA is professor of music and chair of the department of bands at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

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Caitlin Finnie ’16 serves as the Christine Daaé alternate on the world tour of "The Phantom of the Opera."

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Elizabeth Bennett ‘04, director of orchestras at Buffalo Grove High School, was one of 10 finalists for the 2020 Music Educator Grammy Award

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Curtis Moore ‘95 is an Emmy nominated musician, composer, songwriter, and producer.

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Michelle Edgar ‘05 leads creative marketing campaigns for her roster of artists as VP of brand marketing for Epic Records.

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Kangmin Justin Kim ’11 was the first male singer to play the role of Cherubino in "Le nozze di Figaro" at London’s Royal Opera House.

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David Krehbiel ’59 wrote the book Through the Door about his 40 years of adventures as a principal horn with the Chicago, Detroit, and San Francisco Symphonies

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Andi Lamoreaux ’69 MMus recently celebrated 50 years at Chicago radio station WFMT. She joined the station as librarian in 1969 and was named its music director in 2001.

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Craig Nordstrom ’71 retired as the bass clarinetist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra after a tenure of over 40 years. Previously a member of the US Marine Band and the Vancouver and Cincinnati Symphonies, he is a former faculty member at Boston University, New England Conservatory of Music, and the Tanglewood Music Center.

Hollis Thoms ’73 MMus wrote the libretto and score for the 50-minute opera Adam and Eve, premiered by Bach in Baltimore under the direction of T. Herbert Dimmock. Based on Book IX of Milton’s Paradise Lost, the work is scored for four singers, woodwind quintet, double bass, and harp. Bach in Baltimore previously premiered Thoms’s Passion (2011), Isaac (2012), and And did the world with devils swarm, all gaping to devour us… (2017).

Daniel Spalding ’74, ’76 MMus is in his eighth year as music director of the Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey and 29th year as music director of the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra. Over the past two years he has also taught conducting and served as music director of the Global Music Partnership All-Star Orchestra, which in 2019 and 2020 performed in New York’s Carnegie Hall and at South Korea’s GMP Seoul Music Festival. 

Ralph Hepola ’78 released his eclectic jazz and blues independent debut album, Tuba. Hepola received a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council to support the recording project.

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John Gordon Ross ’81 MMus was named interim music director of the Blue Ridge Orchestra for its 2020–21 season. He recently completed a 26-year tenure as music director and conductor of the Western Piedmont Symphony in Hickory, North Carolina. 

David Evan Thomas ’81 composed Fruit of the Spirit: Chorale Preludes for Organ, published by Augsburg Fortress in May. 

Katherine M. Levy ’82, professor and coordinator of music education at the State University of New York at Fredonia, received the 2020 Fredonia College Council Award for Community Engagement. The award recognizes those who help to accomplish the university’s mission.

Richard Sherman ’82 MMus was selected from a pool of 5,700 faculty across Michigan State University’s 17 colleges to receive MSU’s William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. The award honors a comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence in research and/or creative activities, instruction, and outreach. 

Lyle Rebbeck ’83 MMus published A Practical Guide for Teaching Saxophone to Beginners, which includes a foreword by the late Frederick Hemke, Rebbeck’s teacher at Northwestern. Rebbeck has been teaching saxophone, flute, and clarinet for 34 years at Medicine Hat College in Alberta, Canada.

Pianist Wendy Prober ’85 performed with longtime collaborator Maria Newman in weeklong artist residencies at the Eastman School of Music and Central Washington University. In October 2019, Prober performed 10 concerts in eight Midwestern states on tour with the crossover trio Take 3, featuring Yanni violin soloist Lindsay Deutsch.

Jennifer Bales ’88 MMus has been a licensed attorney in Texas since 2014. Formerly she was principal trumpet with the United States Air Force Heartland of America Band. She also spent two seasons as principal trumpet with the Royal Seville Symphony Orchestra. Upon retiring from the Air Force, she attended the Texas A&M School of Law and received her JD in 2013. Bales is now the managing partner with Vinson & Bales in Hurst, Texas, where she practices family law, civil law, and probate. She continues to play trumpet and sing in the Dallas– Fort Worth area with country singer Larry Heath and the Wingnuts.

Cathy Venable ’89 is the associate music director for the national tour of Disney’s Frozen. She was associate music director for a national tour of The Sound of Music and was first keyboard and assistant conductor for a national tour of The Phantom of the Opera. Prior to touring, Venable was a pit pianist and rehearsal pianist in New York City for 13 Broadway shows—Wonderful Town, The Light in the Piazza, Beauty and the Beast, Curtains, Les Misérables, Evita, Aladdin, The Apple Tree, Cinderella, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Visit, Sondheim on Sondheim, and Anything Goes.

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Jerod Tate ’90 has composed works recently performed by several major ensembles. The San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Erina Yashima, performed his Spider Brings Fire for orchestra and narrator in February with Tate narrating. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra commissioned his bassoon concerto Ghost of the White Deer and premiered it in February with DSO principal bassoonist Ted Soluri and conductor Ruth Reinhardt. The Meraki Duo commissioned Tate’s Heloha Okchamali (Blue Thunder) for piano and clarinet and premiered it in September 2019 at the District New Music Coalition in Washington, DC. Also that month, MoonStrike for string quartet, commissioned by the Apollo Chamber Players, premiered at Midtown Arts and Theatre Center Houston.

Norman Weston ’90 DMA recently retired after 31 years at Saddleback College in Orange County, California, where he served as professor of music and headed the music composition and theory program. During his tenure, Weston was named both Saddleback College Professor of the Year and Orange County Community College Professor of the Year. Although COVID-19 forced the cancellation of a planned celebration of his music, the college premiered his opera Bernice Bobs Her Hair in early March for four sold-out performances.

Donald Reid Womack ’90 MMus, ’93 DMA received a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship. A professor of composition at the University of Hawaii since 1994, Womack is recognized as a leader in the burgeoning field of intercultural composition, working with many of the foremost performers of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese instruments. His music is widely performed in Korea, where he is one of the most sought-after composers for Korean instruments and where his gayageum and haegeum concertos have become standard repertoire for the top gugak orchestras. For his Guggenheim project, Womack will compose a geomungo concerto for soloist Yoonjeong Heo.

Flutist Jennie Oh Brown ’91 is heard on two albums released commercially by Innova Recordings. Her solo album Giantess, featuring Kate Carter ’11 DMA and Paula Kosower ’06 DMA, includes works by Carter Pann, Shulamit Ran, Augusta Read Thomas ’87, Valerie Coleman, and Misook Kim. Brown is also featured as a member of the Heare Ensemble on the album Vox in music by Pann, George Crumb, Narong Prangcharoen, and Stacy Garrop.

Rodney Dorsey ’92 MMus, ’06 DMA, professor of music at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, was selected to lead the National Association for Music Education’s 2020 All-National Concert Band. 

Richard Tengowski ’92 MMus was named president-elect of the North Central Division of the National Association for Music Education. He is a music teacher for Wisconsin’s Kohler school district and an adjunct instructor at the University of Wisconsin–Sheboygan.

Frederick Burrack ’93 MMus coauthored the book Developing and Applying Assessments in the Music Classroom, a practical text offering future music teachers a framework for integrating assessment processes with assessment tools and tasks. A distinguished graduate professor at Kansas State University, Burrack recently collaborated in developing model cornerstone assessments for the revised National Standards for Music.

Timothy Loest ’93 MMus is the band director at F. E. Peacock Middle School in Itasca, Illinois. His compositions and arrangements for young band are performed world-wide. As an exclusive writer for the FJH Music Company, he coauthored Measures of Success: A Comprehensive Musicianship Band Method and is lead author of the “Beyond” series, which includes Warm-ups and Beyond, Rhythms and Beyond, and Chorales and Beyond

Allison Chesley ’94 MMus, a cellist and composer known as Helen Money, released her fifth solo album, Atomic, on Thrill Jockey Records in March.

Jan Berry Baker ’98 MMus, ’03 DMA joined UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music as associate professor of saxophone. She most recently served as associate professor and graduate director for Georgia State University’s School of Music.

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Cory Hills ’03, a percussionist based in Los Angeles, performed with pianist Nadia Shpachenko on the album The Poetry of Places, which won the 2020 Grammy Award for best classical compendium. Percussive Storytelling, his community arts engagement program for bringing classical music and storytelling to children in underserved communities, recently marked its 600th performance, having reached more than 170,000 children in 10 countries. 

Jennifer Kessler ’03 was named executive director of the International Contemporary Ensemble. Previously she served as executive director of Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls.
Elizabeth Bennett ’04 launched a “Summer Break Bach” giveaway at Buffalo Grove (Illinois) High School to provide needy families with boxes containing nonperishable food items and a packet of music lessons created by Bennett’s students. She funded the project with her prize money as a top 10 nationwide finalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award.

Kimberly Gelbwasser Lazzeri ’04 was named music program head at Northern Kentucky University’s School of the Arts, where she is associate professor of voice and vocal area coordinator. Lazzeri also serves as president of the Kentucky chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

Agnieszka Roginska ’04 PhD was named president of the Audio Engineering Society. She is a professor of music technology and vice chair of the music and performing arts professions department at New York University.

Genevieve Thiers ’04 MMus is founder of Sittercity, which launched an initiative in March to provide free childcare resources to families of Chicago’s first responders and essential workers combating COVID-19.

Noa Even ’06 was appointed lecturer and head of woodwinds at Rowan University. She previously taught at Kent State University and the University of Oregon. 

Laura Kind ’06 was promoted to vice president of brand strategy at Wakefern Food Corporation. She joined the company in December 2018 as director of brand marketing and packaging.

Adam Swayne ’06 DMA was appointed deputy head of the school of keyboard studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he joined the faculty in 2017 as a lecturer in music. He previously taught at the University of Chichester and Junior Royal Academy of Music.

Joel Wallgren ’07 was named executive director of Washington state’s Poulsbo Community Orchestra as of its seventh season (2020–21). The orchestra was cofounded in 2014 by Blake Yarbrough ’06, currently president of its board of directors. Since the orchestra’s inaugural concert in 2014, its audience has grown from 75 to standing-room-only crowds of over 750.

Marcos Balter ’08 DMA joined the composition faculty of the University of California, San Diego. Previously a visiting professor at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, Balter has held positions at the University of Pittsburgh, Columbia College Chicago, and Montclair State University’s John Cali School of Music.

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Andy Hudson ’12 MMus, ’18 DMA is assistant professor of clarinet at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro. Appointed the North Carolina chair for the International Clarinet Association in 2019, he was recently awarded a UNCG faculty grant to record his debut solo album, featuring music entirely by women or nonbinary composers. This year he was appointed third/bass clarinetist of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra.

David Carter ’13 DMA was named assistant professor of music theory and composition 
at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. 

Jing Qiao ’13 MMus was named to the second violin section of the Kennedy Center’s National Symphony Orchestra by music director Gianandrea Noseda in 2018 and won a position in the first violin section the following year. As a regular substitute violinist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, she took part in the orchestra’s recent tour of Europe and Israel. Qiao has also performed frequently at the Bravo Vail Music Festival and Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Veronique Filloux ’15 won the Musicians Club of Women’s 2020 Lynne Harvey Foundation Scholarship. 

Regina Ceragioli ’16 MMus won a Farwell Trust Award from the Musicians Club of Women.

Sebastian Dunn ’16 MMus accepted the position of fourth horn with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Caitlin Finnie ’16 joined the world tour of The Phantom of the Opera as the Christine Daaé alternate. She previously performed in the Les Misérables national tour as an ensemble member and the Cosette understudy.

Cellist Russell Houston ’16 won the gold medal in the 2020 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition’s senior string division as a member of the Balourdet String Quartet. The ensemble also received second prize in the 2019 Carl Nielsen International Chamber Music Competition in Copenhagen.

Katherine Young ’17 DMA was named assistant professor of composition at Emory University. She previously taught composition, electronic music, and improvisation at Berklee College of Music and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jordan Lulloff ’18 MMus was appointed saxophone instructor at the University of Illinois–Chicago.

Drew Powell ’18 MMus advanced to the finals of the National Flute Association’s Orchestral Audition and Masterclass Competition.

~Nois—a Chicago-based saxophone quartet consisting of Hunter Bockes ’18 MMus, János Csontos ’18 MMus, Jordan Lulloff ’18 MMus, and current doctoral student Brandon Quarles ’17 MMus—released its debut album, Is This ~Nois, in June. The album features music by composers with strong ties to Chicago and Northwestern, including composition professor Hans Thomalla, alumni Marcos Balter ’08 DMA and David Reminick ’16 DMA, and current doctoral composition students Mathew Arrellin, Niki Harlafti, and Craig Davis Pinson.

Olga Sánchez-Kisielewska ’18 PhD received the Janel M. Mueller Award for Excellence in Pedagogy from the University of Chicago, where she is a lecturer in music theory. The nomination letter states, “Olga’s masterful integration of historical, critical, and practical ways of musicking upholds this university’s highest values of inquiry and knowledge.” Sánchez-Kisielewska teaches undergraduate musicianship courses, including musicianship skills and the harmony and voice-leading sequence.

Daniel Dehaan ’19 DMA was appointed assistant professor of music technology at Columbia College Chicago.

Miriam Piilonen ’19 PhD was appointed assistant professor of music theory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

Danielle Taylor ’19 MMus was named manager of Chicago Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion, which seeks to develop diverse emerging musicians, conductors, and administrators on and off stage. Taylor is a former Project Inclusion Freeman Orchestra Fellow. 

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