UNC Alumnus Part of Tony Award-Winning Musical

University of Northern Colorado alumnus Mike Ruckles is the associate music director and piano/conductor for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, which last week won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical.

Ruckles earned a bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance from UNC in 2002 and a master's in Collaborative Piano in 2009. He also served as musical director and private voice instructor with the School of Theatre Arts and Dance for eight years - music directing over 20 productions.

In the spring of 2013, he was music director and piano/conductor for the Old Globe Theater (San Diego) production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder before it headed to New York to start its Broadway run in November.

More about Mike

UNC Design Students Dominate Competition in Denver

University of Northern Colorado Art and Design students excelled in a prestigious design competition April 26 in Denver, taking four of the top five spots.

"The Review," sponsored by the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Art Directors Club of Denver, is open to college design and advertising students in Colorado and the region. Nearly 100 students competed for scholarships and prizes while receiving professional feedback from local agency designers, business owners and artists from fields such as digital, web and print design, and photography.

Only a few students were recommended for scholarship review, including four UNC seniors:

First Place: Jeremiah Corder, winner of the $1,000 scholarship
Second Place: Amy Langiano
Third Place: Elle Levy
Fourth Place: Melanie Poston

Other schools in attendance included Colorado State University, University of Wyoming, the Art Institute, Metropolitan State College, Rocky Mountain College, Arapahoe Community College and Front Range Community College.

UNC Jazz Band and Quartet to Travel to China May 13-27

The University of Northern Colorado's Jazz Lab Band 1 and Jazz Faculty Quartet will travel to China to give concerts at prestigious venues May 13-27.

Through a coordinated effort by graduate student Chang Su, a Jazz Studies major, and China's Poly Group, which encourages cross-culture and business ventures, the group secured performances at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music, Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Ten graduate students and nine undergraduate students will make the trip along with faculty members Dana Landry (piano), who also serves as the director of Jazz Studies, Jim White (drums), Erik Applegate (bass) and Steve Kovalcheck (guitar).

When not performing, some members of the group will present clinics at conservatories. Time has been set aside for sightseeing, with plans to visit downtown Beijing, the Forbidden City and a Temple of Confucius.

Alumna Joins "The President's Own" Marine Band

Last week, UNC alumna and world-class clarinetist Luci Disano (MM-13) got to fulfill one of her longtime dreams: suiting up in her very own President's Own Marine Band uniform. Since its establishment in 1798, "The President's Own" has been one of America's premier ensembles, performing at every presidential inauguration since Thomas Jefferson and establishing the careers of musical legends like John Philip Sousa. Amidst preparations for her full-time engagement with the Marine Band, Luci took some time to talk with us about her graduate education at UNC and the experiences that prepared her for this next big step in her performance career.

What attracted you to UNC's music program for your graduate studies?

I followed a somewhat unique path to UNC. Though I didn't attend UNC at the time, School of Music Professor Lauren Jacobson was helping me prepare for my Navy Band audition at the end of my senior year. I learned so much for her! I didn't know it then, but that would end up being the first audition where I advanced past the preliminary round. When she invited me to be her teaching assistant at UNC it was a no-brainer. I also thought that it would be a fantastic adventure to move to Colorado, and it certainly was.

I owe so much to Professor Jacobson's guidance during my graduate studies. She really helped me find my voice and always encouraged me to be more musically outgoing. I tend to be very concerned with technical correctness in my playing and she helped me see how important the expressive, musical side is too. I'm also very grateful to Dr. Singleton and Dr. Mayne in the band department for their support while I was at UNC. They were constant champions of my efforts to get into the Marine Band. read more

A Different Spring Break
The School of Music's Chamber Choir has been invited to Italy for a music festival and to sing during a mass in the Vatican..

Not all UNC students will spend spring break on a beach or catching up on their sleep. The School of Music's Chamber Choir has been invited to Italy for a music festival and to sing during a mass in the Vatican, and three other groups of students will perform community service activities in Utah, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Singing in Italy
Members of UNC's Prima Voce Chamber Choir will start their spring break early when they depart March 12 for the Festival of Peace and Brotherhood in Rome. There, they'll perform individually and with local choirs in a variety of historic venues before singing during a St. Patrick's Day mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

According to choir director Jill Burleson Burgett, the group's "audition" to sing during the mass required providing recordings and a list of songs that had to be approved by the Vatican. The group will sing five songs during the mass, including a sacred piece composed by senior Music Composition major Patrick Rooney.

Burgett said she doesn't know if Pope Francis will be part of the mass.

"I've been checking his personal schedule on the Vatican's website, but not every appearance is included there," Burgett said. "Singing in the Vatican is really an honor in and of itself, and the students are thrilled."

Because of scheduling conflicts, 28 of the choir's normal complement of 34 members will make the trip, which will pack in three joint and four individual concerts in addition to tours of many of the area's historic landmarks.

"Because of the nature of music performance programs like ours, it's really not feasible for our majors to study abroad for a semester like students in many other majors do," Burgett said. "Competitions and festivals like this one are a good alternative to give School of Music students an international experience in a compressed timeframe."

The group will leave Rome March 19, giving them a few days to rest while they savor what many consider to be a trip of a lifetime, before classes resume on March 24. read more

The UNC Alumni Association and the College of Performing and Visual Arts host
UNC Community Conversation: Creativity for a Healthy and Balanced Life

Presented by School of Art and Design professor Connie Stewart, Ph.D.
Thursday, March 13 from 5:30-7:00 pm
At the Sol Vista Room,
UNC Centerra Campus in Loveland, Colorado
$5 per person
Follow this link to register on-line

UNC jazz faculty hit Top 50

Last week (Jan 20), the CD "Back When It Was Fun" by the group 7 ON 7 made it to the top 50 on the US national jazz radio airplay chart. The group includes UNC jazz faculty members Erik Applegate on bass, Dana Landry, piano; Jim White, drums; and Steve Kovalcheck on guitar. Rounding out the 7 are Paul McKee, trombone; Clay Jenkins, trumpet and Don Aliquo on saxophone. McKee, Jenkins and Aliquo are frequent UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival after hours performers.

Album notes describe 7 on 7 as "seven friends who have been performing together for years, and have toured the world playing with some of the biggest names in jazz & pop music. The music they make together has a classic quality that comes from seasoned musicians that have developed confidence in what they play. It's modern mainstream acoustic jazz that is lively and engaging - with the focus on strong melodies and infectious grooves that will have you singing along and tapping your feet." Independent online music store cdbaby says, "The music is soulful, grooving, and fun."

"Back When it Was Fun" was recorded in the UNC recording studio under the direction of UNC sound engineer Greg Heimbecker in , and released in December 2013.

The UNC members of the group, aka UNC faculty jazz quartet, is celebrating the release with a live performance that will be broadcast on KUVO at 4pm, Thursday, January 30. read more

UNC Band Director Named to the Colorado Music Educators Association
Hall of Fame

University of Northern Colorado Director of Bands Kenneth Singleton is a 2013 inductee to the Colorado Music Educators Association Hall of Fame.  He was inducted at the CMEA annual state music conference in January, 2014.

Members of the Hall of Fame are chosen based on criteria which include how the individual demonstrates a love for education and for the teaching of students, and acts as a role model to students, colleagues, future teachers, students, parents and community members.  Additionally, inductees have contributed significantly to the betterment of the profession and demonstrated excellence in teaching or administration in music.

Dr. Singleton holds a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida, and two masters degrees from the Yale University School of Music. His doctorate in tuba performance was the first awarded by Yale University in that area.

At UNC, he is professor of music and directs the UNC Wind Ensemble and Concert Band, and is Chair of the Wind Conducting Program. An avid transcriber of brass music (over 1,000 titles) and a music editor for the Charles Ives Society, Singleton has nearly fifty publications to his credit, mainly works for band and wind ensemble. He is also conductor of the Denver Brass, the region's premier brass ensemble.

Previously, Singleton has been recognized as the College of Performing and Visual Arts Scholar of the Year, and has received the Kappa Kappa Psi Distinguished Service to Music Award. Dr. Singleton is an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association, as well as a member of the Colorado Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame.

U.S. News & World Report' Ranks UNC Online Graduate
Program Among Nation's Best

For the second year in a row, U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Northern Colorado's online graduate education program among the nation's best.

In the magazine's annual 2014 rankings, UNC moved up a spot to eighth out of 166 ranked institutions. Once again, UNC's program ranked highest in the state.

U.S. News & World Report arrived at its rankings by evaluating the programs' student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, admissions selectivity, and reputation among peers. read more

Yarn "Bomb"

University of Northern Colorado students in a fall semester Fiber Arts class recently introduced Greeley to yarn bombing, an increasingly popular form of street art that uses yarn to temporarily transform a public space and get people to think about their everyday environment differently.

Fibers instructor Lynn Cornelius' class worked with city of Greeley officials to identify an object to "bomb," developed a theme and spent the remainder of the semester fabricating elements of the yarn bomb.

They then installed the elements over a period of a few hours on a bus stop shelter near the central library in downtown Greeley, giving the winter streetscape a decidedly springtime look.

In addition to learning how to create the unique piece, students also gained experience with setting up collaborative art projects.

UNC Associate Professor of Art Lauren Lipinski Eisen's Wildfire Series quadtych

was awarded Best of Show at the "Square" Juried Exhibition at Core New Art Space in Denver. Eisen has four encaustic paintings from her "Wildfire" series in the current show at the gallery and was awarded best of show at the November 15th opening reception. The pieces, entitled "Containment", "Plume Rise", "Crown Fire", and "Firelight" offer the viewer an interesting composite of materials derived from and encompassing nature. read more

Colorado Piano Festival Nov. 23-24 Includes Free Performances

The University of Northern Colorado's College of Performing and Visual Arts and School of Music will host the sixth annual Colorado Piano Festival Nov. 23-24, featuring performances by the festival's guest artist, faculty and students. All are open to the public free of charge.

The festival's highlights include a solo recital by guest artist Anton Nel, director and professor of Keyboard Studies at the University of Texas, at 8 p.m., Nov. 23 in Milne Auditorium in Kepner Hall. Nel, a Johanesburg, South Africa, native has performed in venues around the world since winning every major piano competition South Africa while in his teens.

The winner of the 1987 Naumburg International Piano Competition also will conduct a master class for UNC piano students during the festival.

The students will perform a program featuring solo pianists and chamber ensembles at 4 p.m. on Nov. 23 in Milne Auditorium. read more

It was just three years ago when Dana Pekarek walked into her house with her arms full of groceries to find both her daughters, Neyla and Romi, bawling and her husband, Rodger, trying to reason with them.

Neyla wanted to go on tour with a band she joined a year ago after answering a Craigslist ad for a singer and a cellist. Dreams were fine, but the problem was, dreams, or the tour, wouldn't pay off the debt Neyla acquired at UNC, where Rodger graduated in 1970. Neyla had just graduated with a degree in Music Education after switching from studying vocal performance and musical theater a few semesters earlier. read more

A Chance at Stardom

UNC Musical Theatre major Jeffrey Zicker put his education on hold last year to join the national tour of the hit Broadway play Shrek: The Musical, filling multiple roles, including an alternating one as Shrek. He's returned to school for his senior year and has no regrets about either of his decisions.

Zicker was asked to audition for Shrek in summer 2012 by a casting director who remembered him from earlier unsuccessful auditions for the national tour of Beauty and the Beast. When the director subsequently called to tell him he needed to fill roles for the Shrektour, Zicker immediately booked a flight to New York City. Three weeks later he landed the roles and began rehearsals in mid-September.

"I almost dropped the phone when I got the call because I was shaking from being so excited and thrilled," said Zicker, who has dreamed of an acting career since middle school.

Ed and Marsha (Taub) Edmunds, who met as students at UNC, have been creating monsters for 35 years.

Tucked away in a nondescript warehouse on 13th Street in Greeley, Distortions Unlimited's scary monster designs include everything from zombies to demonic babies. Yet the most interesting part of the business is its owners.

Their, um, body of work includes designs at amusement parks, haunted houses and retail stores all over the world. Some of their most recognizable creations have appeared in movies (Alien 3 and Batman) and on music sets (Alice Cooper's Brutal Planet tour). read more

30th Annual Western States Orchestra Festival features Violinist Rachel Pine

In both art and life, violinist Rachel Barton Pine has an extraordinary ability to connect with people. Celebrated as a great interpreter of classical works, her performances combine her innate gift for emotional communication and her scholarly fascination with historical research. She plays with passion and conviction across an extensive repertoire. Audiences are thrilled by her dazzling technique, lustrous tone, and infectious joy in music-making.

The Festival runs November 7-9 at the Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley. 130 high school students from throughout the region come to Greeley to study withUNC faculty and guest artists. The award-winning University Symphony Orchestra performs at 7:30 on November 7th. The WSHOF student concert is november 9th at 4pm. Tickets - call 970-351-1921

Opera Theatre Presented the World Premier of "Stonewall"

UNC's Opera Theatre program will present the world premier of David Conte's opera Stonewall, set to a libretto by former UNC student and frequent Conte collaborator, John Stirling Walker, who died in May. Performances were at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, in the Hensel Phelps Theatre at the Union Colony Civic Center.

Focused in and around the pivotal events of June 28, 1969, during a spontaneous response by New York's gay and lesbian community to police harassment, the composer describes the work as a spiritual channel, much of what happens in an otherworldly realm where fictional characters of the revolt meet such entertainment figures as Michael Jackson and Judy Garland. Opera theatre director Brian Ludloff describes the opera as "a very interesting and challenging work."
The performance is a collaboration of the Opera Theatre program, the GLBTA Resource Office and the Women's Studies program.

For ticket information, call 970-351-2200. Please note: The performance contains adult themes and language and is not suitable for young audiences

CPVA in the News

The College of Performing and Visual Arts is often mentioned my various news media. Click on the links below to read more about our college.