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Air Force’s ‘Shades of Blue’ brings free jazz concert to MTSU this Sunday

Audiences in MTSU’s Hinton Hall will be flying high this Sunday afternoon, Feb. 19, when “Shades of Blue,” the U.S. Air Force Jazz Ensemble, takes the stage for a free public concert.

Shades of Blue concert poster webSet for 3 p.m. inside the university’s Wright Music Building, the 18 professional musicians — who also are active-duty airmen and women — have a repertoire ranging from traditional jazz and big band to bebop, swing and modern jazz.

A searchable campus map for parking is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

“This is one of my favorite bands, especially as one of my former students, David Gonzalez, is the lead trombonist,” said Dr. Michael Parkinson, director of the MTSU School of Music.

The band has backed many jazz greats, including Tex Benecke, Denis DiBlasio, Jamey Aebersold, Steve Houghton, Walt Levinsky and more. The group often performs the classic sounds of Count Basie and Glenn Miller along with music by contemporary composers.

“The best way to describe their style is Basie, bebop, ballads and blues — something for everyone to enjoy,” said Parkinson.

The Shades of Blue have performed the national anthem for Chicago White Sox baseball games and for Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks NBA games. The group also collaborated with actor Wilford Brimley on a highly acclaimed salute to Miller’s music. You can get a preview of their MTSU concert in the video below, captured at the 2016 Glenn Miller Festival in Clarinda, Iowa.

For details on more MTSU School of Music concerts, call 615-898-2493 or visit the concert calendar at www.mtsu.edu/music/calendar.php.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Feb. 20 Honors open house targets high-ability prospective students

Most public and private secondary schools are closed for the Presidents’ Day Holiday. MTSU happens to be open.

That’s why the University Honors College and the Office of Admissions host public, private and homeschool students for the annual Presidents’ Day Open House.

John Vile, standing right, the Honors College dean, visits with incoming Buchanan Fellows and their families during the Honors College Presidents' Day Open House in this February 2016 file photo. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

John Vile, standing right, the Honors College dean, visits with incoming Buchanan Fellows and their families during the Honors College Presidents’ Day Open House in this February 2016 file photo. (MTSU file photos by Andy Heidt)

More than 500 prospective students and their parents will be attending the open house from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, all across the MTSU campus.

For more information about the open house, including the full schedule, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/honors/open-house.php. To register, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/schedule-a-visit/special-events.php. Parking is available in the Rutherford Lot (http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap), where visitors will be shuttled to campus.

The Honors College offers personalized teaching, smaller classes and a competitive edge in a more interactive learning environment for high-ability scholars. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet people who can answer questions and show you the campus and academic departments, including honors students, financial aid and scholarship staff and academic advisers.

“This has been one of our most popular events during the past few years,” said Honors College Dean John Vile.

Vile said the open house comes early enough for “high school sophomores and juniors to get an idea of MTSU before they begin applying for colleges and universities and late enough for seniors who are trying to decide which of the colleges or universities that have accepted them are the best fit.”

Honors College logoFor Vile, who is a political scientist and presidential historian, the open house provides the opportunity “to give my famous Presidents’ Day Quiz,” he added.

Optional events for attendees include a demonstration by the MTSU Mock Trial team, a “mad science” demonstration by physics and astronomy professor Eric Klumpe and tours of campus housing, recording industry, the Center for Innovation in Media, the Mobile Production Lab, Walker Library and aerospace’s air traffic control lab.

Attendees also are welcome to take in the 3 p.m. Honors Lecture Series led by Nashville’s Keel Hunt with The Strategy Group.

For more information, call 615-898-2152.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Dr. Eric Klumpe performs a physics demonstration for an audience attending the Honors College Presidents’ Day Open House in this February 2016 file photo.

Dr. Eric Klumpe performs a physics demonstration for an audience attending the Honors College Presidents’ Day Open House in this February 2016 file photo.

Register now for MTSU’s upcoming accelerated Spanish course


MTSU is again offering a breakthrough learning experience during spring break with its accelerated language program that will get participants excited and confident about speaking Spanish.

Registration is open for the five-day program, which will run from 6-9 p.m. March 6-10 at the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.

The course is offered by the Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition at MTSU. CALA Spanish instructor Brian Roberts said that the course structure is based on brain research to give learners a special interactive experience that results in accelerated knowledge of the language.

Click the image to see class offerings and to register for the 2016 Summer Language Institute.

Click the image to see class offerings and to register for the upcoming five-day accelerated Spanish class.

“The course aims to develop conversational abilities in a fun, low-stress classroom, and you will use movement, songs, games and stories to acquire the language naturally,” Roberts said.

“CALA courses develop participants’ abilities in some of the most commonly used communicative tools. At the end of the course, participants are able to recognize the rhythm of the language and are capable of producing enough language to compose basic communicative needs in Spanish.”

One student who took the course last semester shared this feedback with course organizers: “What I liked most was the laughter and high energy through storytelling. Everyone seemed to build off each other, and we were all excited about learning, which got me excited.”

Discounts are available for MTSU students, alumni, faculty and staff. To register or for more information, including course fees, visit www.mtsu.edu/cala or contact Roberts at brian.roberts@mtsu.edu.

— Faith Few, student writer (news@mtsu.edu)

Weekend of ‘Dragon Harmony’ awaits audiences in Nashville and Murfreesboro

Traditional and contemporary Eastern and Western music will come together in two family-friendly concerts in Nashville and Murfreesboro this weekend.

Dragon Harmony graphic webMTSU’s Center for Chinese Music and Culture will present “Dragon Harmony,” two concerts featuring the center’s Chinese Ensemble and a Nashville-based musical group, Intersection.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, the ensembles will perform at Green Door Gourmet, 7007 River Road Pike in Nashville. Preconcert activities will include a dragon dance, a traditional Chinese performance usually performed during Chinese New Year festivities, and an explanation of various musical instruments.

Zhou Long

Zhou Long

Chen Yi

Chen Yi

At 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, the ensembles will perform in Suite 1600 of the Andrew Woodfin Miller Sr. Education Center, 503A Bell St. in Murfreesboro.

Tea and other refreshments will be served at the Center for Chinese Music and Culture beginning at 12:30 p.m. At 1 p.m., students from local and regional schools will provide musical entertainment prior to the professional ensembles’ concert.

The concert programs will explore the music of China, including works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Zhou Long, distinguished composer Chen Yi and the world premiere performance of a newly commissioned work by Wu Fei.

Wu Fei

Wu Fei

Dr. Mei Han

Dr. Mei Han

A composition by Dr. Mei Han, director of the Center for Chinese Music and Culture, and Randy Raine-Reusch also will be performed. All composers will be present at the concerts.

MTSU’s Confucius Institute and the MTSU Distinguished Lecture Fund sponsor Zhou Long and Chen Yi’s appearances.

The Center for Chinese Music and Culture exhibits Chinese musical instruments, hosts visiting scholars and artists, presents concerts, lectures and workshops and offers outreach programs for schools and community groups in Middle Tennessee.

Center for Chinese Music logo webIntersection is a contemporary nonprofit music ensemble dedicated to challenging the traditional concert experience, exploring music of the 20th and 21st centuries, supporting living composers and embracing collaboration, technology and the avant-garde.

Tickets for each concert range from $7.50 to $35 and are available for purchase at www.intersectionmusic.org.

For more information, contact Han at 615-898-5718 or mei.han@mtsu.edu or visit http://mtsu.edu/chinesemusic.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Blackman students listen, learn, produce during MTSU visit

Working in pairs of two, 10 Blackman High School students tackled an assignment from Dr. William McDowell, professor and holder of the Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at MTSU.

McDowell gave the students, part of a group of nearly 70 Blackman Collegiate Academy sophomores on campus Thursday, Feb. 2, a limited time to “come up with an amazing new product.”

Students from the Blackman Collegiate Academy view samples of a Department of Sociology and Anthropology collection during a Feb. 2 campus visit. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

Students from the Blackman Collegiate Academy view samples of a Department of Sociology and Anthropology collection during a Feb. 2 campus visit. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

The students completed their task, and one pair — Landon Fowler and Sarah Oppmann — stood out with their design of a hallway crossing guard that potentially could be implemented at their school.

The MTSU-Blackman partnership is one of several arranged each semester during the academic year. It allows freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors opportunities to spend time on the college campus, meeting MTSU students, faculty and administrators and learning about the university’s 140-plus programs.

Fowler, 16, said it was “really interesting to learn how entrepreneurship works … to make designs and make it happen.”

Oppmann, 15, said she found it “nice to learn about all the different jobs. I never had been interested (in entrepreneurship), but now I am.”

McDowell said the Blackman students did a great job of developing an idea, creating a rapid prototype and presenting their project to the others in the session. He added that it was exciting to see their enthusiasm and innovation at work.

“The time constraint sort of stressed them out, but they did come up with clever ideas,” Blackman geometry teacher Ginna Hamby said of the entrepreneurship session.

Other business classes included the insurance profession with Dave Wood and a web development demonstration with Dr. Charles Apigian.

The Blackman students gained insight into all of MTSU’s colleges within the university. They honed in on programs and potential careers in the fields of geosciences with professors Melissa Lobegeier and Henrique Momm, hands-on science with the Department of Engineering Technology’s Dr. Walter Boles and Dr. Saeed Foroudastan, Dr. Ron Henderson of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and more.

“We have good luck with the Blackman kids. They’re focused,” said Dr. Heather Brown, director of the School of Concrete and Construction Management.

While on campus, among the nearly 20 activities during their four hours, the Blackman students:

  • Heard about a typical day in the life of a college student from the MTSU Student Ambassadors.
  • Learned about paths to success in communications, news and marketing from Jimmy Hart, director of the Office of News and Media Relations, and Kara Hooper, director of the Office of Creative and Visual Services.
  • Took a Department of Recording Industry tour with professors Stacy Merida and John Merchant and visited the Center for Innovation in Media with Journalist-in-Residence Whitney Matheson.
  • Discovered the Model U.N. at MTSU, a realistic simulation of the actual United Nations, with Dr. Vanessa Lefler in the Department of Political Science.
  • Learned about research opportunities for biology majors with Dr. Lynn Boyd, the department chair.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU mechatronics engineering senior Bryan York, left, talks to Blackman Collegiate Academy students visiting campus Feb. 2.

MTSU mechatronics engineering senior Bryan York, left, talks to Blackman Collegiate Academy students visiting the university’s campus Feb. 2.

As part of the group of nearly 70 Blackman Collegiate Academy students listen, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee reflects on the programs and opportunities the university has to offer.

As members of a group of nearly 70 Blackman Collegiate Academy students listen, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee discusses the university’s programs and opportunities.

Students from the Blackman Collegiate Academy pose for a group photo with MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, center in the second row, during their Feb. 2 stop in the Student Services and Admissions Center tour room.

Students from the Blackman Collegiate Academy pose for a group photo with MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, center in the second row, during their Feb. 2 stop in the Student Services and Admissions Center tour room.

60 places remain for Feb. 24 MTSU ‘Girl Day’ for aspiring engineers

Only 60 openings are available for the 2017 MTSU “Girl Day,” part of the worldwide campaign to introduce high school girls to the world of engineering.

MTSU’s free event will be held Friday, Feb. 24, in the Voorhies Engineering Technology and Davis Science buildings and Wiser-Patten Science Hall, organizers said. Girl Day is held during Engineers Week, Feb. 19-25.

Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross

Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross

Girl-Day-logo-webGirls will attend two workshops, have lunch sponsored by Texas Instruments and participate in a panel discussion.

Attendees should register through their high schools. For more information, visit http://mtsu.edu/et/includes/GirlDay.pdf

“At MTSU, we want to encourage girls to explore engineering and technical careers,” said Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross, an award-winning chemistry professor and director of the campus’s Women in STEM (WISTEM) Center, a sponsor along with the Department of Engineering Technology.

MTSU has opportunities for girls in engineering technology, mechatronics engineering, aerospace and computer science, Iriarte-Gross added.

To learn more about Girl Day on a national level, visit www.discovere.org/our-programs/girl-day.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Oakland High School students Megan Carmichael, left, and Reagan Ross make connections with wires used to create a cellphone charger in a metal mint canister at MTSU in this February 2014 file photo,. The hands-on project was one of two they performed during Girl Day to promote engineering and tech-driven careers. (MTSU file photo by Randy Weiler)

Oakland High School students Megan Carmichael, left, and Reagan Ross make connections with wires used to create a cellphone charger in a metal mint canister at MTSU in this February 2014 file photo,. The hands-on project was one of two they performed during Girl Day to promote engineering and tech-driven careers. (MTSU file photo by Randy Weiler)

Violin/piano duo bring talents to Hinton Hall for free Feb. 6 concert

An Arkansas music duo will bring their classical talents to MTSU’s School of Music Monday, Feb. 6, for a free public concert featuring works by Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms.

Naoki Hakutani

Naoki Hakutani

Meredith Maddox Hicks

Meredith Maddox Hicks

Violinist Meredith Maddox Hicks and pianist Naoki Hakutani, both faculty members at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will perform at 8 p.m. Feb. 6 in Hinton Hall inside the Wright Music Building, presenting Beethoven’s “Sonata No. 8 in G major,” Brahms’ “Sonata No. 2 in A major” and movements from “Histoire du Tango” by Ástor Piazzolla.

A searchable campus map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Violinist Hicks is a graduate of Belmont University and has a master’s in music from Florida State University. She won the 2016 Belmont Encore Award for outstanding alumni in classical music and is a member of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

Originally from Kent, Ohio, pianist Hakutani holds degrees in piano performance from Northwestern University, Indiana University at Bloomington and the University of Texas at Austin. He’s a member of UALR’s Albani Piano Trio and makes frequent joint appearances with his wife, pianist Jaeyeon Park, and with Collage Piano, which performs frequently throughout Asia.

Dr. Adam Clark, a professor of piano at MTSU, described what audiences can expect to hear at the pair’s program.

“The Beethoven sonata is known for its lively figuration and astonishing inventiveness,” Clark said. “Attesting to its appeal, the work was once recorded by the great Fritz Kreisler with none other than Sergei Rachmaninoff at the piano.

School of Music new logo web“‘Histoire du Tango’ is one of Piazzolla’s most famous compositions, originally written for flute and guitar. Like many of his works, it has been transcribed for other instruments to play — in this case, of course, for violin and piano.

“Brahms’ second violin sonata showcases some of the composer’s most beautiful and soulful melodies,” Clark continued. “It is quintessential Brahms, containing everything audiences have come to know and love about the composer. It will be a wonderful piece to end the recital.”

For details on more MTSU School of Music concerts, call 615-898-2493 or visit the MTSU School of Music “Concert Calendar” link.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU Chinese music center hosts free ‘dueling dulcimers’ concert Jan. 27

Who is the ultimate master of the hammered dulcimer — a national champion from Tennessee or a Fulbright scholar from China?

Click on the poster to see a larger PDF version.

Click on the poster to see a larger PDF version.

They won’t actually compete, but two of the world’s best hammered dulcimer players will perform in concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, in Hinton Hall inside MTSU’s Wright Music Building.

The event, which is presented by the MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture, will feature Yuening Liu, a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and U.S. national dulcimer champion David Mahler.

The event is free and open to the public. A printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

The American hammered dulcimer, a trapezoid-shaped stringed instrument, is struck with spoon-shaped mallets. It’s traditionally used in American folk music.

Mahler, a Nashville-based composer and instrumentalist, holds the record as the youngest musician to capture the Walnut Valley National Hammered Dulcimer Championship in Winfield, Kansas. He won the title in 2004 at the age of 14.

Dr. Mei Han, director of the MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture, poses with a zheng, the 21-string instrument that she'll play during a performance in MTSU's Wright Music Building Friday, Jan. 27.

Dr. Mei Han, director of the MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture, poses with a zheng, the 21-string instrument that she’ll play during a performance in MTSU’s Wright Music Building Friday, Jan. 27.

He plays the instrument in traditional Appalachian, European folk and classical style as well as with contemporary folk-rock and pop bands.

“The neat thing about the dulcimer is that it kind of has a clean slate,” Mahler wrote on his Facebook page. “There is minimal music written on it, and everyone varies on which techniques are best. For me, that means the sky is the limit. Anything is possible on this instrument, and I seek to explore all the intricacies that God created it with.”

Liu, who has served as a visiting professor at universities in the United States, Ukraine and the Czech Republic, is a 2016 Fulbright Program research scholar.

In 2008, she founded Jasmine Ensemble, the first group in China to perform classic Chinese and international musical works with the yangqin, or Chinese hammered dulcimer, in an ensemble format.

“Don’t expect just ‘pretty mountain music’ as they pound every bit of music out of their strings,” Dr. Mei Han, director of the MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture, said of the guest performers.

Han will join Liu and Mahler on stage to play the zheng, a 21-stringed instrument with a long rectangular sound box that’s also known as an Asian long zither. Other performers who will join Liu and Mahler on stage include hammered dulcimer artist Mi Xuanye and Dong Nan, who will play the pipa, a four-stringed lute.

For more information, contact Han at 615-898-5118 or mei.han@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Jan. 29-31 Tennessee Guitar Festival features acclaimed alumnus

An acclaimed MTSU alumnus and a Peruvian-American virtuoso will perform in free concerts and present free master classes for music aficionados when MTSU celebrates the 16th annual Tennessee Guitar Festival Jan. 29-31 on campus.

Jorge Caballero

Jorge Caballero

Matt Palmer (photo courtesy of Mamta Popat)

Matt Palmer

Headlining this year’s festival are Matt Palmer, the MTSU alumnus who debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2014 in that venue’s D’Addario Performance Series, and Peruvian-American guitarist Jorge Caballero.

Palmer will present the MTSU festival’s Sunday, Jan. 29, concert at 8 p.m. on the Hinton Music Hall stage inside the university’s Wright Music Building, and Caballero will perform at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30.

A searchable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap. Off-campus visitors attending the master classes can obtain a special one-day permit at www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php.

A Tennessee native and 2003 magna cum laude graduate of MTSU who is now director of guitar studies at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, and coordinator of the Eastern Shore Guitar Festival and Workshop, Palmer has received rave reviews at international performances.

Guitar International Magazine described his work as having “the soul of an artist, with the technical virtuosity of the highest caliber and a heightened sense of musicality.”

You can get a preview of Palmer’s MTSU appearance by watching a video of his performance of Sergei Rudnev’s “Night” below.

Caballero is renowned for his historic recordings, including Antonín Dvorâk’s “New World” Symphony transcribed for solo guitar, making him one of only two guitarists in the world to perform and record the monumental work.

He’s performed as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the New York Chamber Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic and the Presidential Symphony of Ankara, Turkey, among others.

You can preview Caballero’s MTSU visit by watching a video of his performance last year of Modest Mussorgsky’s “The Great Gate of Kiev” from “Pictures at an Exhibition” below.

Palmer’s master class is set for Jan. 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Hinton Hall. Caballero will present his master class Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Hinton Hall.

“We have been doing this festival for many years, and I can attest that these two performers are of the best we’ve ever had,” said Dr. William Yelverton, festival director and a professor of music at MTSU. “This is a unique opportunity to hear truly two of the finest guitarists in the world today.”

More information is available at www.TennesseeGuitarFestival.com.

For details on more MTSU School of Music events, call 615-898-2493 or visit the MTSU School of Music “Concert Calendar” link.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

‘Eminent’ pianist Asche performs Jan. 29 in ‘Keyboard Artist Series’

Internationally acclaimed pianist Charles Asche will bring the works of Beethoven and Chopin to life in the third public concert of MTSU’s 2016-17 Keyboard Artist Series, set Sunday, Jan. 29, in the Wright Building’s Hinton Music Hall.

A searchable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Charles Asche

Dr. Charles Asche

Asche, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will present a 3 p.m. program that includes Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata and Chopin’s “Sonata No. 3 in B Minor,” along with a shorter Beethoven standalone work, “Andante favori in F Major.”

Click on the poster to see a larger version.

Click on the poster to see a larger version.

“The ‘Appasionata’ will be familiar to many people, containing some of Beethoven’s most memorable themes and technically demanding passages,” said Adam Clark, a professor of piano in MTSU’s School of Music and one of Asche’s former students.

“The Chopin sonata presents the composer at the height of his compositional powers. The work contains some of his most beautiful and characteristic melodies, as well as moments of virtuosity that one might expect to find in his etudes.”

Asche has performed as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, South America, Russia and Asia in venues that include the renowned Rachmaninoff Hall at the Moscow Conservatory, Taiwan’s National Recital Hall in Taipei, the Sala America in the National Library in Santiago, Chile, and the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.

Originally from Miami, Florida, Asche, a product of the prestigious National Music Camp at Interlochen and a winner in the camp’s Concerto Competition, earned his doctoral degree at the University of Texas at Austin with one of the first comprehensive studies of the piano works of Cuban composers Amadeo Roldan and Alejandro Garcia Caturla.

Dr. Adam Clark

Dr. Adam Clark

“We are very excited to present this eminent pianist and teacher,” said Clark. “He has performed and taught all over the world, and will bring a wealth of insight, artistry and experience to our stage. I know that I would not be where I am today had it not for the gift of being able to study with him.

“It is an honor to present him at MTSU, and I’m hopeful that many people from our community will come out to hear him.”

There is no public admission charge for Asche’s concert or any of the Keyboard Artist Series performances, but organizers suggest a $10 donation for non-MTSU students and faculty.

The 2016-17 Keyboard Artist Series, which features MTSU faculty and distinguished guest artists from around the world, concludes Monday, Feb. 27, with a concert by Dr. Arunesh Nadgir, coordinator of keyboard studies for MTSU’s School of Music.

For more information on the Keyboard Artist Series at MTSU, visit www.mtsu.edu/music/keyboardseries.php.

For details on more MTSU School of Music concerts, call 615-898-2493 or visit the MTSU School of Music “Concert Calendar” link.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

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