Cali School Faculty, Student and Alumni News


Brian Abrams (Associate Professor—Music Therapy) served as Conference Chair for the Second International Health Humanities Conference: Music, Health, and Humanity, hosted by Montclair State University in August. This collaboration among the Colleges of the Arts, the Humanities and Social Sciences, and Education and Human Services applies humanities disciplines (arts, literature, languages, law, history, philosophy, religion, etc.) to discourse about the promotion and enactment of human health and wellbeing. In attendance at the three-day event at the Montclair State Conference Center were professionals and graduate students from various disciplines: medicine, psychology, literature, arts, music, and music therapy; and from universities and health care agencies and other human services organizations throughout the world.

Magdalena Baczewska (Adjunct Faculty—Piano) recently recorded a 4-CD classical piano album for the New Hope Fertility Center Music Collection, performed a recital with violinist Kinga Augustyn at the Sevenars Festival in Massachusetts, and served on the faculty and performed at the International Keyboard Institute in New York.

Don Batchelder (Adjunct Faculty—Trumpet, Brass Program Coordinator) is Principal Trumpet with the New York City Opera and a busy classical free-lancer. He was recently featured on the well-reviewed recording of Copland's Quiet City in its original chamber music instrumentation, restored by saxophonist Christopher Brellochs. He is pursuing a Doctorate in Musical Arts degree at Rutgers University.

Robert Butts (Adjunct Faculty—Introduction to Music) conducted the premiere performance of his opera Mark Twain and the General in August. He composed the music to a libretto by New Jersey playwright Jewel Seehaus-Fisher. The performance was part of the 2012 BONJ Summer Music Festival. In September, the edition by Dr. Butts of Alessandro Scarlatti's oratorio La Giuditta (1693) was used in a talk and performance at the Fall Salon presented by the Caspersen Shool of Graduate Studies, Drew University program of Arts and Letters.

Lisa DeLorenzo (Professor—Music Education) was awarded a 2012 Choice Book Award for her recent publication, Sketches in Democracy: Notes From an Urban Classroom, by the American Educational Studies Association. Dr. DeLorenzo continues to research urban teaching and is presently working on a project to determine why there aren't more teachers of color in the music education profession. She is seeking participants in the study who are African American, Latino or a combination of the two, currently teaching in a public school, and graduated from an urban high school. (Contact for more information.)

Renée Anne Louprette (Adjunct Faculty—Organ) is  Organist and Associate Director of Music and the Arts at Trinity Wall Street in New York City. She received a glowing review from the New York Times for her inaugural performance in a new organ series she directs, Pipes at One.

Lori McCann (Assistant Professor—Voice) taught for the eighth year at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. She also participated in multiple events at the National Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) where she was a representative of the New York City Chapter of the organization. Dr. McCann was an invited adjudicator for the Artist Awards (NATSAA), a panelist for the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory (Toronto) Achievement Program, and a co-presenter for the NYC-NATS sponsored event, A Microphone Workshop, which addressed the interface between audio professionals and singers and their teachers, as well as microphone techniques. In August she completed extensive training to become a member of the College of Adjudicators for the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory of Music Achievement Program, a highly effective, sequenced course of music study from beginner to advanced levels which inspires excellence through individual student assessments. As a Founding Voice Teacher Member, her aim is to help spread this excellent program of study to voice teachers and music schools throughout the country in order to help raise the level and scope of early training of the nation's vocal students. 

Mary Ann Mumm (Adjunct Faculty—Violin) traveled to "Esperanza Azteca" in Puebla, Mexico, for a teaching/performance residency in May. Also in May, she worked with "Filarmonica Joven de Colombia" in Bogata, Columbia. As FJC chair of strings, she helped the national orchestra prepare and tape the first international broadcast of the popular radio program From the Top. In June she was guest soloist and artist teacher at the 2012  Alfredo St. Malo International Music Festival in Panama City, Panama, and she spent the month of July working with Youth Orchestras of the Americas in a Chilean residency and tour including work with conductors Benjamin Zander and Carlos Miguel Prieto. As coordinator of the YOA Leaders Program, she also oversaw musical outreach programs in major cities throughout Chile for the month. In August she was on the ASTA/NJ 2012 Chamber Music Institute faculty.

Mark Pakman (Adjunct Faculty—Piano) served as one of the two judges of the 2012 Princeton Piano Competition. He also performed and taught at the Summit Festival (Purchase, NY) in July.

Peg Roberts (Adjunct Faculty—Strings Technique) served as Artistic Director and faculty in the ASTA/NJ Chamber Music Institute, held at Kean University in August. Several Cali School students assisted as counselors and assistant coaches and performers: Jhi-Eun Gu (BMus, Education ‘15—Violin; ASTA@ MSU student chapter President), Elaine Wisniewski (BMus, Education ‘13—Violin), Eugenia Kim (BMus, Education ‘14—Violin), Chryselle Angdersen (BMus, Education ‘13—Violin),  and Terrence Thornhill (MA, Performance ‘12—Cello). Linda McKnight (Adjunct Faculty—Double Bass), Mary Ann Mumm (Adjunct Faculty—Violin) and Yen Yu (Preparatory Center Faculty—Violin) also taught at the Institute. Guest artists included the Shanghai Quartet (Cali School Artists-in-Residence).

Holli Ross (Adjunct Professor—Vocal Jazz) released a solo recording, You'll See, to great reviews. She performed with jazz master Mark Murphy at the Schroon Lake Jazz Festival. In addition, she was a guest clinician/instructor at Princeton University: Jazz Vocal Collective, presenting clinician for the Amy London Jazz Vocal camp, and performed at the Oscar Schindler Performing Arts Center Jazz Festival

Chia-Ching Shen (Adjunct Faculty—Pianist) gave a solo performance in the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series at the Chicago Cultural Center which was Broadcast live on WFMT 98.7 fm and streamed live at She also performed solo concerts at the Edward Water College (Jacksonville, FL) and Wheaton College (IL). 

Marissa Silverman (Assistant Professor—Music Education) published articles including: “Community music and social justice: Re-claiming love,” in Gary McPherson & Graham Welch (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Music Education; John Dewey and James Mursell: An Introduction. Visions of Research in Music Education; and edited a special Issue of Visions of Research in Music Education. Her presentations at conferences include: “Expanded visions for music and music education” at the Second International Health Humanities Conference, Music Health, and Humanity, Montclair State University; “Educating the ‘whole’ child: Does happiness count?” at the International Society for Music Education, World Conference, Thessaloniki, Greece; “Round-Table – Community Music Today” The International Society for Music Education, Community Music Commission, Corfu, Greece; and “A Conception of ‘Meaningfulness’ in Life and How Music Education Can Help” At the Aims of Music Education. MayDay Group Conference 24 at Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI).

George Spitzer (Adjunct Faculty—Voice) sang in two concerts of Charles Ives Art Songs and Operatic Novelties of the 19th Century in the Lake Champlain area of Vermont. One concert was recorded on Lake Champlain Access Television (LCATV). 

Gwendolyn Toth (Adjunct Faculty—Harpsichord) toured Europe in June and July, performing in the Netherlands, (two concerts near Groningen), Basel, and the Trevi nel Lazio "Trebantiqua" festival. She also released her latest CD, Music on the Arp Schnitger Organ in Noordbroek (Netherlands). She recently gave a CD release concert at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (NY), performing works by Scheidemann, Pachelbel, and J. S. Bach. Gwendolyn Toth and her husband, Dongsok Shin, performed a special Patrons concert at the Metropolitan Museum. They performed music of Mozart for four hands and on and two pianos on two of the antique instruments from the collection, which are rarely allowed to be played in public.

Ensemble Travel

MSU Vocal Accord: 2012 European Tour—The Montclair State University Vocal Accord, a 24-voice extra-curricular chamber choir auditioned from the University Singers, traveled to Europe in June this summer. Conducted by Dr. Heather J. Buchanan and accompanied by Steven W. Ryan, Vocal Accord gave performances at Austrian venues in Vienna, Graz, Gleisdorf, and Ottendorf, and concluded with a concert in the historic Chiesa Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venice, Italy. The primary focus of the tour was a week-long cultural exchange with the University of the Performing Arts (KUG) in Graz, one of MSU’s International exchange sister institutions.

The tour repertoire profiled American composers, and one of the highlights was the European premiere of She Walks in Beauty¸ a University Singers 2011-12 Commission by MSU alumnus Martin Sedek (MA, Composition—’11) who is also currently an adjunct professor at the Cali School. Other tour highlights included overwhelmingly positive audience responses and numerous standing ovations. The hospitality of our friends at the KUG was also outstanding.

A new and exciting dimension to the tour experience was the presence of a film crew from the School of Communication and Media. They recorded the complete tour experience, and are currently working on the production of a documentary film that will be released soon.


Jack Blaszkiewicz (BMus, Performance ’10), a former piano student of Mark Pakman, was accepted as a full scholarship doctoral student in musicology at Eastman School of Music, where he is studying now.

Steve Polanin (BMus, Education ‘11) is the Vocal Music Specialist at Travell Elementary School in Ridgewood, NJ. He teaches general music grades K-5, works with other district music educators on curriculum benchmarks and assessment, and leads students in eight concerts a year. He is pursuing a master's degree in education with a concentration in special education from Walden University, which will be completed in June 2014.