UT choral department welcomes high school choirs

The University of Tennessee choral department continued its 2017-2018 season Feb. 13 showcasing talents to attract prospective students. Four university choirs and three local high school choirs took the Cox Auditorium stage in Alumni Memorial Building for the Choral Arts concert.

“The thought process behind this is to have different high schools from different areas of East Tennessee come together,” Dr. Angela Batey, director of choral activities, said.

Through a wide-range of pieces from various centuries, the UT choirs demonstrated collegiate musicianship. UT Concert Choir and Men’s Chorale performed more traditional choral works under the direction of Dr. Jaclyn Johnson.

L&N Stem Academy, Powell High School and Gibbs High School choirs demonstrated their skills in preparation for a competition later this month.

UT invites anyone, regardless of major, to sing. Some individuals perform in multiple choirs.

“I am also in the Concert Choir so for that just remembering all the pieces and the vowels and mouth shapes you have to make is the hardest part. While for UT Singers combining the music with choreography and timing is challenging,” Katey Hawkins, lead female in UT Singers, said.

UT Singers performed an electric mashup of “Rumor Has It” by Adele and “Natalie” by Bruno Mars. The set became an audience favorite.

The Choral Arts concert also featured the debuts of the first-year choral conducting graduate students.

During the UT Chamber Singers performance, Hannah Berkley, Andrea Markowitz, Jordan Sera, Brett Hopper and David Buchanan took the audience through musical history with pieces ranging from 1539-1978 in their conducting debuts.

Visit  http://www.music.utk.edu/events/  for upcoming UT School of Music events.

Featured photo: TNJN

Edited by Lexie Little

DEA agents to give insight on infamous drug lord

On Tuesday Sept. 12 from 7-9 p.m., The Center for Student Engagement is sponsoring ‘The True Story of Pablo Escobar: Steve Murphy + Javier Pena’ in the Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building.

Due to the Netflix show ‘Narcos,’ infamous Pablo Escobar has resurfaced as a prominent pop-culture figure, even 24 years after his death.

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents Steve Murphy and Javier Pena were assigned as the lead investigators to target Escobar, one of the wealthiest, most violent and most notorious drug lords in history. On Tuesday, they will offer insight into their efforts to bring down Escobar and his organization and the challenges they faced in often hostile environments.

Admission is free for opted-in students. Tickets are $5 for general public and students who opted-out of the Student Services and Program fee. There will also be a Q&A session following the lecture.


Featured Image by Nima Kasraie, obtained through Creative Commons

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

UT bands perform final concert of semester

Thursday, April 13 marked the final performances of the University of Tennessee Concert Band, Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble during the 2016-2017 school year.

Each ensemble honored its seniors in honor of their last performances in Cox Auditorium.

UT’s Concert Band performed first under the direction of Interim Assistant Director of Bands Fuller Lyon. They performed “Shine” by Michael Markowski,  “Sinfonia VI: The Four Elements” by Timothy Broege and “Foundry” by John Mackey. Percussionists played non-traditional instruments such as salad bowls, mixing bowls, and pile of wood in the last piece of their set.

UT’s Symphonic Band continued the evening conducted by Associate Director of Bands Michael Stewart. They performed “Nobles of the Mystic Shrine” by John Philip Sousa, “Incantation and Dance” by John Barnes Chance and “Arabesque” by Samuel Hazo.

Andrew Northcutt, whose brother Aaron plays trumpet in Symphonic Band, believed the first piece “[sounded] kind of like a circus.”

UT’s Wind Ensemble performed last under the direction of Director of Bands Donald Ryder. They performed “ZING!” by Scott McCallister, “Avelynn’s Lullaby” by Joel Puckett and “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” by Richard Wagner.  The last piece made use of the organ fixed in the center left wall of Cox Auditorium.

Images by Alex Overlay

Edited by Lexie Little

Pentatonix’s Avi Kaplan hosts UT a cappella workshop

Students from around the region got the chance to work with a  Grammy-winning artist on Saturday, Jan. 28 in Cox Auditorium on the University of Tennessee campus.

Avi Kaplan, vocal bass for a cappella group Pentatonix, headlined the second annual Contemporary A Cappella Workshop hosted by the UT School of Music.

Work began Friday with rehearsals for UT’s three a cappella ensembles: VOLume, UT Singers and ReVOLution. Kaplan listened to and critiqued their sets. He also chose one song to perform with each group on Saturday.

VOLume performs featuring soloist Dalton Mitchell.
VOLume performs featuring soloist Dalton Mitchell.

“He speaks great knowledge and advice,” VOLume tenor Dalton Mitchell said. “It’s great for us to soak that in. He’s just so down to earth.”

Registration began just before 9 a.m. Saturday. High school students filed in and warmed up with a few UT Singers and Interim Associate Director of Choral Activities Jaclyn Johnson.

Dr. Jaclyn Johnson and Avi Kaplan
Dr. Jaclyn Johnson and Avi Kaplan

Johnson coordinated Kaplan’s visit. The two are friends and alumni of Mt. San Antonio College in California.

All female group ReVOLution performed first with Kaplan joining them for “Cheap Thrills.” Kaplan subsequently lent his talents to VOLume and UT Singers. Between performances, Kaplan held question and answer sessions.

Some students did not know what to expect but were excited to work with a prolific member of the music community.

“I’ve never been to anything like this,” high schooler Raven Woods said.

Her friend Sinceer Truss added she looked forward to “tips on what to do better and the experience.”

This clinic marks only the second for Kaplan.

Kaplan demonstrates transitions within a cappella arrangements.
Kaplan demonstrates transitions within a cappella arrangements.

“I just want to make sure I’m doing everything possible to help [music] grow and flourish. I love to see them excited,” Kaplan said. “I just would hope that they are inspired and that they believe in themselves.”

Some students, including UT Singer Nicole Doyal, will not soon forget his advice.

Featured soloist Nicole Doyal performs with UT Singers
Featured soloist Nicole Doyal performs with UT Singers.

“Halfway through the rehearsal I forgot that he was a famous guy because he was just so talented and knowledgeable and was helping us with our craft,” Doyal said.

But the collegiate singers were not the only performers to closely work with Kaplan. An ensemble from Seymour High School and another from Bearden High School received selections to perform onstage. Kaplan chose each school from YouTube submissions.

“It’s a huge opportunity for them,” Andrea Markowitz, a UT alumna and music director for Seymour High School A Cappella said. “For them to get to do it and only be between 15 and 18-years-old is huge. And it’s with someone who is passionate about the same thing as them.”

Seymour High students work with Kaplan following their performance.

Seymour High performed a Michael Jackson medley. Kaplan then joined them onstage for advice and demonstration.

Choral Director at Seymour High Jean Burkhart hopes students will become interested in all genres of music from all periods by way of a cappella.

“I love the fact that [Kaplan] has a classical vocal background and to see how good vocal technique translates to any genre,” Burkhart said.

Kaplan grew up in choir beginning in middle school. He later majored in opera in college before getting the call to join Pentatonix. The call came just prior to the group’s appearance on NBC’s “The Sing-Off.”

Since then, Pentatonix won multiple Grammy awards and gained international attention with chart-topping tracks and albums on both iTunes and Billboard. Their most recent Grammy nomination comes for “Jolene,” a collaboration with East Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton.

Kaplan works with students from Bearden High School
Kaplan works with students from Bearden High School.

“When you think about a legend, you have a lot of ideas about what you would want them to be. She embodies everything you would want her to,” Kaplan said. “To be able to keep that humble heart is something that speaks volumes and can really set an example for the world.”

Tune in to the 59th Annual Grammy Awards Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. on CBS to see if Kaplan and Pentatonix will take home another award.


Images/Audio by Lexie Little

Edited by Taylor Owens