Spring 2018 music graduates

Dr. Rivera with our newest set of pinned teachers. Congrats on completing your internships! Sarah Middleton, Jonathan Arp, and Taylor Hickey


Congratulations to the 21 UNCP Voice Majors from Tracy Thomas’ studio who attended the 2016 NATS Musical Theatre/Contemporary Jazz Vocal Competition at Meredith College during the Fall 2016 semester:

  • Chris Hunter, 1st Place SR MT Men, Ieisha Jones, 1st Place SR MT Women, Taylor Royer, 3rd Place SR MT Women, Jasmine Brown, 1st Place Commercial Women, Caleb Sasser, 1st Place Commercial Men, Dylan Deal, 2nd Place Commercial Men, Brenden Sheard, 3rd Place Commercial Men, Ryan Ransom, 3rd Place MT Men, and Honors for Seniors Hunter Rigsby and Denesha McAllister, Sophomores Emily Ferguson and Deon'ta White, Freshmen Dylan Fisher, Juliet Alfano and Emilee Batten.

All will progress to compete against the 5 Mid-Atlantic states at the Regional level at UNC-Chapel Hill in March.


  • Brian Balmages will conduct the 2017 UNCP High School Honor Band on March 18, 2017


Brian Balmages (b. 1975) is an award-winning composer, conductor, producer, and performer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from James Madison University and a master’s degree from the University of Miami in Florida. His compositions have been performed worldwide at the state, national and international level. His active schedule of commissions and premieres has incorporated groups ranging from elementary schools to professional ensembles, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Miami Symphony Orchestra, University of Miami Wind Ensemble, Boston Brass, and the Dominion Brass Ensemble. In 2012, Mr. Balmages received the prestigious Albert Austin Harding Award from the American School Band Directors Association. He is also a 2010 winner of the Harvey G. Phillips Award for Compositional Excellence, presented by the International Tuba-Euphonium Association.As a conductor, Mr. Balmages enjoys engagements with numerous all-state and regional honor bands and orchestras along with university and professional groups. Notable guest conducting appearances have included the Midwest Clinic, Western International Band Clinic, National Association for Music Educators, American School Band Directors Association, CBDNA, the Kennedy Center, and Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. He has also served as an adjunct professor of instrumental conducting and Acting Symphonic Band Director at Towson University in Maryland.Currently, Mr. Balmages is the Director of Instrumental Publications for The FJH Music Company Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He resides in Baltimore with his wife Lisa and their two sons.Visit Brian's website:

  • UNCP music major Terri Smith received an invitation to perform in the final round of the Rosen-Schaffel Competition for Young and Emerging Artists.  This competition is among all universities in North Carolina (public and private).  She is one of only 10 finalists, and is the first brass player to make it to the finals since 2011. She will play in the live final round at Appalachian State University on July 17.  The judges for the final round are four conductors, including Gerard Schwarz (conductor of the Seattle Symphony and recipient of 14 grammy nominations).

 Faculty News

    Dr. Busman was also invited to participate in the SEMSEC (Society for Ethnomusicology, Southeast and Caribbean Chapter) meeting at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts in San Fernando, Trinidad in March 2016.


  • Dr. Larry Arnold (Music), Professor Margie Labadie (Art) and Dr. John Labadie researched and produced digital video/graphic content for the international debut of \"Ask Your Mama (12 Moods for Jazz)\", a multimedia project based on the epic poem by Langston Hughes. The performance took place during the London Jazz Festival on November 21, 2015 at the Barbican. The musical score was composed by Dr. Ron McCurdy of the University of Southern California and the narration was by rapper Ice-T.


  • Dr. Aaron Vandermeer gave a presentation entitled \"Strategies for Online Instruction: Jazz Appreciation\" at the 7th Annual Jazz Education Network conference, held January 6 - 9 in Louisville, KY. He also acted as a clinician for the JENerations Jazz Festival. Also attending the conference were the students of UNCP Jazz Combo I and Dr. Larry Arnold.


  • Dr. Hersey has recently released her first solo composition, a new work for unaccompanied tuba entitled \"Convent Window.\"  The piece is in homage to the Medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen, and those familiar with Dr. Hersey’s recent recordings know she has included music by Hildegard on both her solo CDs, O quam mirabilis and Zigzags.  This new composition imagines Hildegard pausing for a moment of calm reflection during her hectic day, looking out of her window at the happenings of convent life outside. The work features the lower, most resonant area of the tuba register, with flowing melodic lines and forward motion.  The International Tuba Euphonium Journal has noted the composition is \"a reflective piece not out of character with the ebb and flow of von Bingen's music, and well-executed as a very personal reflective work.” The piece is available from Dr. Hersey, or from Cimarron Music Press.


Dr. Hersey’s newest CD recording Zigzags has received a review in the most recent issue of the International Tuba Euphonium Association Journal.




Review: ZigZags


Solo Compact Disc


Joanna Ross Hersey, Tuba and Euphonium


ITEA Journal, Volume 42, Number 4 (Summer 2015)



            This is the second solo CD recording by Dr. Hersey, the first being O quam mirabilis in 2010. She again teams up with her husband, William Bendrot, in a tuba and electronic music setting for four new original works, Tether, Shatterdome, One, and Kakera. The other works on the program are O Virgo Ac Diadema by Hildegard von Bingen arranged for tuba and electronics, ZigZags for solo tuba by Faye-Ellen Silverman and Hersey's first foray into composition, Convent Window for unaccompanied tuba. Hersey is currently the principal tubist with the Carolina Philharmonic, a member of the Alchemy Tuba-Euphonium Quartet, a Yamaha performing artist, and Associate Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

            Tether is an interesting juxtaposition of the tuba not only in a solo role but also in an accompanying role against the electronic music described in the program notes as \"based on futuristic cyberpunk anime compositional imagery…\" It is quite fascinating to hear the swirling textures, tuba riffs and pedal notes, as well as blending of analog and digital sounds.


            The Covent Window unaccompanied work is described by Hersey as \"Hildegard von Bingen pausing for a moment of calm reflection at her window.\" It is indeed a reflective piece not out of character with the ebb and flow of von Bingen's music and well-executed as a very personal reflective work.


            Shatterdome brings back the electronic music element but with pulsing repetitive rhythms, percussion background, and the tuba acting in an improvisational manner usually slower than the background rhythms but also playing against the rhythms back and forth like jazz improvisation with a Phrygian modality.


            The heart of the CD, ZigZags, is a tour de force by Faye-Ellen Silverman for the solo tuba. It has something of everything including extreme range, tricky rhythms and intervals, multiphonics, and other extended techniques. Hersey really shows off her versatility and mastery of the instrument with this work.


            One brings back the electronics, again with a driving percussive rhythm but also with underlying repetitive harmonic movement. The tuba rides on top of the rhythm slowly changing the melody in contrast to the loop-like accompaniment. I really enjoy this kind of music. Later, Hersey overdubs herself with tuba harmony and countermelodies that takes the music to a new level of interest.


            The O Virgo Ac Diadema adds an undulating electronic background to the actual von Bingen melody played by the tuba. I love the last part of the lyrics of the original music roughly translated as \"O branch God had foreseen your flowering on the first day of his creation and he made you for his word as a golden matrix O praiseworthy Virgin.\"


            The last work on the recording, Kakera, is another reflective tuba and electronics work with lots of low register melodic fragments that repeat against a percussive background. It so reminds me of work common in sequencing software where the interest is not the constant repetition so much as the mutation of the sounds over time while maintaining the same insistent chord progression and rhythmic vitality.


            The entire album is quite different from what we would call mainstream tuba recordings. The original tuba and electronics work, a major unaccompanied tuba work all juxtaposed with Hildegard von Bingen, herself a musical visionary, sets this recording apart from anything else. Brava!



~ Dr. Mark Nelson

2015 “Spirit of the Carolinas” Marching Band invited to participate in the Grand Illumination Parade in Norfolk, VA

The 2015 “Spirit of the Carolinas” Marching Band has been invited to participate in the Grand Illumination Parade in Norfolk, VA on November 21.  The band will spend a day in Washington, DC to take in the historic sites before traveling to Norfolk.  The Grand Illumination Parade is one of several events the city holds to welcome the holiday season, and the parade is unique in that all participants must be lit up in some way; each member of the “Spirit of the Carolinas” will have some element that lights up: fiber optic lights on their hats, light-up rifles, glow-in-the-dark flag poles, etc.  The parade is judged and awards given out at the conclusion.  The band is looking forward to traveling out of NC and hopefully recruiting some new students from the Norfolk area.

UNCP Percussion Ensemble Performing at Percussive Arts Society International Convention

The UNCP Percussion Ensemble will perform at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in San Antonio, Texas on Thursday, November 12. The students received a UNCP PURC Grant to help fund the trip.

UNCP Flute Choir Performing at 2015 UNCP Veteran's Day Ceremony

The Flute Choir will provide prelude and postlude music as well as play the National Anthem as part of the ceremony. The ceremony will be Wednesday, November 11 at 10:00 am at the UNCP water feature/amphitheater.

UNCP Jazz Ensemble Performs the Music of Billy Strayhorn

The UNCP Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Aaron Vandermeer, presents the music of Billy Strayhorn (1915 - 1967) in celebration of his 100th birth anniversary. As a child, Strayhorn spent his summers at the home of his grandmother in Hillsborough, NC, where he played the piano and was exposed to music of all kinds. Although he aspired to be an orchestral pianist, it was not a job available to African-American men at the time. Still, Strayhorn spent his time at the piano — composing and learning every kind of music he could. One momentous day in Pittsburgh (1938), Strayhorn met and performed for the famous composer and bandleader Duke Ellington. Now widely regarded as the greatest arranger in the history of Jazz, Billy Strayhorn became a cornerstone in the decades-long success of the Ellington band and revolutionized the sound of the jazz orchestra by virtue of his pen. Ellington once said, “Billy Strayhorn was my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brainwaves in his head, and his in mine.”

The performance is Tuesday, November 10 at 7:00PM at the Carolina Civic Center, 315 N. Chestnut St, Lumberton, NC

UNCP Percussion Ensemble Performing at 2015 North Carolina Music Educators Association Conference

The UNC Pembroke Percussion Ensemble will perform at the 2015 North Carolina Music Educators Association (NCMEA) conference in Winston-Salem on Sunday, November 8 at Noon. The program consists of works by North Carolina composers, including UNCP faculty member Dr. Larry Arnold. UNCP faculty member Dr. Joanna Hersey will also perform with the ensemble.

UNCP Wind Ensemble Performing at 2014 North Carolina Music Educators Association Conference

The UNC Pembroke Wind Ensemble will perform at the 2014 North Carolina Music Educators Association (NCMEA) conference in Winston-Salem on Monday, November 10 at 3PM.  The wind ensemble had to submit recordings and other application materials to be considered among many other ensembles in the state who would like to perform for all the music teachers in the state.  This great opportunity allows some of the outstanding music students at UNCP to be heard throughout the state. 


The UNCP band first played at a general session of the NCMEA conference in 2005.  They performed again in 2008 under invitation from the North Carolina Bandmasters Association.  That concert featured composer Samuel Hazo and his music.  This year’s invitation is again from the NC Bandmaster’s association. 

UNCP Trumpet Ensemble Performing at International Trumpet Guild Conference

The UNCP Trumpet Ensemble will be performing at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Pennsylvania on May 20th! Congratulations trumpet ensemble!

UNCP Voice Students Place Highly at 2014 NATS Competition

UNCP voice students NATS competition winners: Ally Ivey, First Place, JR/SR Musical Theatre Women, Ieisha Jones, First Place, FR/SO Musical Theatre Women, Nygel Robinson, Second Place, JR/SR Musical Theatre Men (students of Tracy Thomas),  Fabian Griffith, First Place, FR/SO Classical Men (student of Dr. Jaeyoon Kim.). These students will all advance to the national competition in New York!