Music Alumni News

June 7, 2017

Matthew Palazzolo, BM Cello '17, just won a position with Orchestra Iowa.

May 18, 2017

Alumnus and composer Mahir Cetiz has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Ceitz earned his MM degree at the University of Memphis. He currently teaches at Columbia University.

Kevin Sütterlin won third place in The American Prize in Conducting 2016-17. Kevin is director of orchestral activities at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Jazz alumnus Dave Lisik just published 50 Years at the Village Vanguard with co-author Eric Allen. 325 pages chock full of everything you've ever wanted to know about the most important big band in modern jazz. Dave teaches jazz composition at the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Adrian Davis, a teacher in Minneapolis, was the 2017 finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year and
quarterfinalist for Grammy Music Educator of the Year 2014 and 2016.

Jeremy Grall, who earned a BM in guitar performance from the School of Music in the 1990s and a DMA  in guitar, from the School in the early 2000s has finished a second doctorate, a PhD in musicology, also from the UofM.

Emanuel Serra (2012, MM Composition) has composed a new version of "The Lord's Prayer" which won semi-finalist in the Canadian Songwriting Competition, Gospel/Inspirational category.

NOVEMBER 30, 2016

I Can Do All Things is the premiere recording from jazz artist, composer, and UofM alumnus, Jeremy Warren. The album features prominent performers and composers such as Andy Milne, Lenny Pickett, Leon Marin, and Jack Cooper.The music captures the jazz art form with the elements of contemporary popular music and is a personal journey of overcoming life's obstacles through music.

UofM jazz alumnus Benny Reiner is currently a member of the orchestra for the Broadway hit, "Hamilton the Musical." He was recommended by a renowned drummer in the Broadway community, Sean McDaniel, to Alex Lacamoire, orchestrator and music supervisor of the show.  Benny sent over a few recordings and was soon offered the position.  Reiner says "Having the opportunity to be a part of something so influential is something we all dream about as creators.  It is easily the most challenging gig I've ever done, but also the most inspiring."

NOVEMBER 29, 2016

Alumna Delara Hashemi (MM '16, flute performance) continues to perform regularly as a substitute flutist for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

2016 music education graduates received teaching jobs in the area. Kinsey Moline (choral music education major, 2016) – Colonial Middle School choir director. Chris Weiner (instrumental music education major, 2016) – Millington Elementary music teacher. PhD music education graduate, Cheryl Kelley-Henderson (Class of 2016), was named Upper School Assistant Principal of KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools.

Garrett Nichols (MM clarinet performance) competed in the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. In November he performed at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro in New Orleans, with Robyn Jones' clarinet trio Threed, and jazz clarinetist Evan Christopher.

NOVEMBER 7, 2016

Benny Reiner, who was a student at the School of Music 2008-2010 is now the percussionist for "Hamilton" in NYC. Read more at and

OCTOBER 19, 2016

Moriah Drinkard (Music Business, 2015) – Director of the Talent Development ComplexMoriah Drinkard is the Director of the Talent Development Complex. Born in Memphis and raised in Hernando, Mississippi, Moriah was anxious to return to the Bluff City and pursue a degree in music business at the University of Memphis. While earning her bachelor's in music, she was blessed with many vast and wonderful opportunities to work within the music community doing everything from local festivals to freelance artist management. She spent the early part of her career blogging about music, coordinating live events, and volunteering for GRAMMY U. Before joining the team at TCMMT, she spent most of the past year managing crowdfunding projects, co-producing and marketing an album and developing an online presence for local artists. More highlights from Moriah's career include working alongside Director Martin Shore of the Memphis based documentary, "Take Me to the River" during its showcase at the 2014 South by Southwest Conference.  In addition she has had the opportunity to work with esteemed artists and industry professionals such as Drake, Director X, and the Mitchell family of Royal Studios on the making of the 2014 BET Best Hip Hop Award winning music video, "Worst Behavior". Moriah feels privileged and honored to have met and worked with so many of Memphis' most passionate music industry players and continues to do so today as part of The Consortium MMT.

MAY 13, 2016

Matthew Grant, (2008, music education), was instrumental in acquiring a $4,000 grant that will support the Alberta Violin Project in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The funds have been used to purchase 11 new violins for students of The Alberta School of Performing Arts, a prekindergarten through 8th grade school.

APRIL 19, 2016

In February, 2017, the Fort Worth Symphony will perform Victor Agudelo's (DMA, 2008) newest composition, La Madre de Agua. In addition, his works have been performed by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra, the Medellín Philharmonic Orchestra, Cuba Symphony Orchestra, Castilla y León Symphony Orchestra (Spain), the Maderurgia wind quintet (Costa Rica) Montecino piano trio (Chile), and others. His music has been published by Filarmonika Music Publishing (Texas), Periferia (Spain), Ediciones Musicales (Colombia) and has been recorded by Eroica Records (Chile) and Harmonia Mundi.

APRIL 19, 2016

Scheidt School of Music alumnus Matthew Grant, (2008, music education), was instrumental in acquiring a $4,000 grant that will support the Alberta Violin Project in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The funds have been used to purchase 11 new violins for students of The Alberta School of Performing Arts, a prekindergarten through 8th grade school.

FEBRUARY  26, 2016

In case you didn't see it on our home page, check out the new video about the School of Music.  We will be using this for recruitment and special events.  Be sure to share it with your friends!

DECEMBER 16, 2015

D. Riley Nicholson (2014, percussion performance and psychology) is currently in San Francisco, in his last year studying at the SF Conservatory of Music pursuing masters in composition. He recently finished his 30 min large string orchestra piece entitled One, which he is excited to announce will be the headliner for Hot Air Music Festival in March.  The work explores the individual amongst the collective, rethinking the voice of the single musician and the voice of the ensemble simultaneously. He is also running a fundraising campaign (via indiegogo) fiscally sponsored by the non-profit Fractured Atlas to pay the musicians. 

Matt Suitt, violin, a former student of Soh-Hyun Altino,  was hired by classical music distributor Naxos of America as a musicologist. He is now working with Naxos in Franklin, TN to provide quality control for the metadata found on digital releases that Naxos distributes.

Analisa Leaming, who studied voice with Pam Gaston for two years before transferring to Eastman, made her Broadway debut in a revival of On the Twentieth Century starring Kristin Chenoweth in March 2015.

Watch and listen as the UofM Tuba Quartet performs "Whirlwind" written by recent School of Music alumnus, Kevin McKenzie.

Congratulations to former D.M.A. student Natalie Bergeron, soprano, who made her debut with Theatro de São Paulo in the role of Elsa von Brabant in Wagner's Lohengrin. Natalie is a recent grant recipient from the Wagner Society of New York and a winner in the Liederkranz Wagner Division, which included a debut at Carnegie Hall in Weill auditorium. Most recently she was seen as Maddalena opposite Marcello Giordani as Andrea Chenier with the Orchestra La Verdi Milano.

UofM Music grad LaNita Smith recently won a national songwriting competition which has propelled her career forward in LA. LaNita was a music ed major here at UofM. Just last week she was in town and gave an inspiring lecture for Music Industry students