Dave Gerhart Premieres Work with Chicago Youth Symphony

Dave Gerhart will  premiere a piece by Baljinder Sekhon with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra Percussion Ensemble on March 28, 2015. Dave organized a consortium commission to fund the work for steel drum and percussion ensemble.  The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra serves nearly 500 talented Chicago-area musicians ages 6-18 through three full orchestras, three string orchestras, multiple steel orchestras and supplemental programs that include chamber music ensembles, music theory and composition. Alumnus Joshua Simonds is Executive Director.

Alan Shockley Nabs Two Premieres

Trumpeter Joe Drew premiered Alan Shockley’s new miniature for double-bell trumpet, “Taoyuan airport (after Arvo Pärt)” on a Composer’s Voice concert in Manhattan on Oct. 12th. Dr. Shockley’s piece “stone guest” (19 fanfares in open form), received a performance in Bogliasco, Italy by performers of the Conservatorio Nicolò Paganini (Genova).

Graeme Langager Prepares Pårt for Vancouver Symphony

Alumnus Graeme Langager (MM Choral Conducting,1996) prepared the Phoenix Chamber Choir in Vancouver for a performance of Arvo Pärt’s Berliner Mass with the Vancouver Symphony and Maestro Bramwell Tovey.

Dr. Langager also serves as Director of Choral Activities at the University of British Columbia. It is his arrangement of “Irish Blessing” that the Chamber Choir sings to end every choral concert.

Big Brown Music Machine Alumni Band Performs

The Big Brown Music Machine Alumni Band performed their annual show at the CSULB basketball game vs UCSB. The Big Brown Music Machine was CSULB’s marching band. Former Associate Band Director Gordon Norman was guest conductor. The band performed in the 1977 Rose Parade and at the 1980 Edinburgh Tattoo Festival.

The Big Brown Music Machine came to an end in 1990 when funding cuts led to disbanding the Long Beach State football program.


Tyler Alessi in Great Scott

Alumnus Tyler Alessi sang with Opera Fusion: New Works in a performance of excerpts from the new American opera “Great Scott” at Cincinnati’s Memorial Hall. The performance was the culmination of a 10-day workshop with composer Jake Heggie, librettist Terrence McNally, director Jack O’Brien, and conductor Evan Rogister.

John Barcellona runs 25th Fundraising Marathon

On Sunday, February 1, 2015, Dr. John Barcellona will be running the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach on behalf of the University Wind Quintet Scholarship for the 25th year. These contributions have helped raise funds for The Bob Cole Conservatory’s finest woodwind and horn performers, the University Wind Quintet. This year’s quintet members are: Vanessa Fourla—flute, a graduate student from Greece; Spencer Klass—oboe, a sophomore from Agoura Hills, CA; Sarra Hey—clarinet, a graduate student from Los Angeles, CA; Sarah Kreuger—horn, a sophomore from Irvine, CA and Brian Tuley—bassoon, a senior from Manhattan Beach, CA.

KCAL 9 News recently caught up with Dr. Barcellona to discuss the marathon and fundraiser:

Dr. Barcellona asks to pledge your support by making a donation for each mile that he completes (26.2 if he finishes).  After the race, he’ll let you know how he did and you can donate at that time; or simply mail a donation or pledge now, payable to CSULB 49er Foundation.

We are grateful for your continued support, as this event is a major funding source of scholarships for members of the University Wind Quintet.  Anyone who pledges or donates will receive two complimentary tickets to the University Wind Quintet performance, Tuesday, April 28 at 8:00pm in the Daniel Recital Hall.

For further information about making a donation, please contact Dr. John Barcellona at john.barcellona@csulb.edu

Surviving the Spring Slog

For the music student (and faculty) spring semesters are often undermined by stress, sleep depravation, and a feeling of drowning in the vast I Just Can’t Do One More Thing ocean. How to combat that so you’re relatively sane, happy, and productive?


1. Don’t over commit, especially in the last four or five weeks of the semester.
Remember that every performance you agree to has rehearsals and requires practice time; every class you add has homework and papers/exams. Do as much as you can—the opportunities you get at school don’t continue in the same abundance after you graduate—but keep in mind what the commitment truly means in terms of clock hours and mental acuity.

2. Use your time well.
Your calendar is a great friend, but only if you record your actual commitments. Write in your classes and time to study: block off an hour each day several days before a test or paper due date to work in smaller chunks: the quality of your work and your long-term memory need this. When you schedule concerts write in time for rehearsals. Schedule practice time for lessons and ensembles plus add padding to woodshed the music for the extra concerts you agree to.

3. Save at least one day per month for yourself.
Block it off completely. Do it now and don’t schedule over it. Save at least one three-hour block per week for yourself. These are guilt-free times to do as you please to help you retain sanity. Add an extra day off in April if you can.

4. Take a moment every day to remember why you’re doing this in the first place.
Deep down, even when you’re exhausted, there is still a wellspring of love for your art. Keep the channel open (thank you, Martha Graham, for that quote). Listen to something you love on your commute or as you fall asleep or as you trudge to upper campus. The world of music is more amazing than your ideas about how amazing it is.

5. Talk to others.
Be generous with your spirit, time, attention, presence, support, and energy to yourself and others. Your relationships with friends and colleagues are often the touchstone for how you remember college. Talk with each other about music, about the experiences of listening and performing, about concerts that blew you away. It is easy to fall into the vortex of kvetching when you’re stressed but to lighten it, nourish your passion.

6. Reinvigorate your innate curiosity.
If you’re in a class you don’t care for, get curious about what that is really like. Why are you bored? What does boredom feel like? Is it actually apathy? Exhaustion? Can you experiment with ways to finding meaning in what you have to do? Does it relate to playing long tones or scales? Is it possible for something that seems pointless to have significance in a larger context? Have you noticed that you’re suddenly curious about what is going on?

7. Engage with another art form.
For a shot of rejuvenation, do something to get your creative juices flowing. Go to the museum on campus and see the bee exhibit “A Better Nectar” (our Chamber Choir recorded the sounds). See a play or go over to Dance and watch what they can do. Some climate changes are good for you.

8. Consider a form of meditation.
Think of meditation in a broad context: promoting relaxation, building internal energy, or contemplation. It breaks the routine and lets your mind and body recharge. There are many, many ways to do this: yoga, walking, and working out, as well as sound-based and breath-awareness styles. You can listen to a guided meditation, take a hike, or walk the dog. 10 minutes a day makes a big difference.

9. Take refuge in nature.
Your life consists of much more than the practice rooms, classrooms, the library, parking lot, car/bus, and your room. We have the distinct advantage of living near the beach and the mountains. There is a gorgeous Japanese Garden right on campus and El Dorado park has 105 acres of trees, ponds, and a two-mile trail, all about 5 minutes from campus. Go.

10. You’re not studying music, you’re studying you.
Do your best. Let that be enough.

John Putnam at Northeast Horn Workshop

Alumnus John Putnam will be performing Prince Timothy Burns “Sketches for solo horn,” the premier of Mark Taylor “Paladin and the Drunken Cenobite,” and joint lecture with James Hampson on “Practical applications of the natural horn in the 21st century” at the Northeast Horn Workshop at Penn State School of Music at the end of January.


photo credit Mary Pencheff Photography

Yamaha Appoints Dave Gerhart as Product Manager, Percussion Instruments

Dave Gerhart has been appointed Product Manager of Percussion Instruments at Yamaha.

As noted in the Yamaha press release, “Dave brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and education to this position,” said Garth Gilman, general manager, Band & Orchestral Division, Yamaha Corporation of America. “As a music educator and performer, his background helps Yamaha further the goal of spreading the joys and benefits of music education and gives him the ability to talk shop with the most knowledgeable percussionists.”

Whiplash Nominated for Best Picture

Little did we know that when Jazz Studies was contacted by a Hollywood casting agency in the summer of 2013 to hire extras for a feature film about college jazz bands that “Whiplash” would go on to be nominated for an Oscar as Best Picture.

Drew Ninmer, Jason Fabus, Taylor Smith, Patrick Lenertz, and Gary Soland appeared and are credited as members of the conservatory jazz orchestra in the film, which focuses on a drummer in as he struggles to impress a merciless teacher. “Whiplash” received a total of five Oscar nominations; J.K. Simmons, who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the teacher, is nominated for Best Supporting Actor.