Plenary Speakers

Music: A Tool for Good 
Joseph Conyers 
Friday, October 9
12 noon EDT

Conyers, through the telling of his own story, will speak to music's unique role in shaping his life and how that journey inspired him to use music to shape the lives of others.

* Attendees will have an opportunity to meet and interact with Joseph Conyers during a facilitated Q&A forum following his lecture, from 1:15–1:45 pm. 

conyers josephJoseph H. Conyers was appointed assistant principal bassist of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2010 after tenures with the Atlanta Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, and Grand Rapids Symphony where he was principal bass. He has served as acting associate principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2017. Joseph has performed with numerous orchestras as soloist across the USA and is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Recognized both for his artistic and social entrepreneurial endeavors, awards include the Sphinx Organization’s Medal of Excellence (2019) – the organization’s most prestigious recognition; the C. Hartman Kuhn award (2018) – the highest honor bestowed upon a musician of the Philadelphia Orchestra; and Musical America’s 30 Top Professionals – Innovators, Independent Thinkers, and Entrepreneurs (2018). In 2015, Joseph was the inaugural recipient of the 2015 Young Alumni Award from his alma mater, the Curtis Institute of Music, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree. A formidable advocate for music education, Joseph is the executive director of Project 440 – an organization that helps young people use their interest in music to forge new pathways for themselves and ignite change in their communities. Additionally, he is the music director of Philadelphia’s All City Orchestra which showcases the top high school musicians of the School District of Philadelphia. Joseph serves on the double bass faculty of both The Juilliard School and Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and is a frequent guest clinician and speaker presenting across the country from Yale University to The Colburn School.

Toward Equity and Opportunity in Music
Saturday, October 10
12 noon EDT

Join music theorist Philip Ewell, composer, flutist, and Yamaha music educator Valerie Coleman, Director of Talent Management for Yamaha Melanie Nichols, and demographic specialist Nathan Grawe as they share their experiences of creating more equitable spaces in their music disciplines and higher education. Cellist and theorist, Phillip Ewell has received attention for his paper “Music Theory’s White Racial Frame” and a recent BBC Sunday feature “A Racist’s Music.” Performance Today’s 2020 Classical Woman of the Year, Valerie Coleman, combines composition, performance, education and mentorship for emerging ensembles, which includes her highly acclaimed summer program, Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival in New York City. Yamaha education programs have been enabling innovative music instruction for students across America for generations and Nathan Grawe’s 2018 book, Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education, and his forthcoming follow-up The Agile College, provide ideas about how institutions are dealing with demographic change and how they can be proactive in 2020 and beyond. During the session panelists will reflect upon opportunities that arise from creating more diverse and equitable communities of practice and take questions from the audience.

Pamela Pike (Louisiana State University)

Valerie Coleman (Flutist, Composer, & Entrepreneur)
Philip Ewell (Hunter College—CUNY)
Nathan Grawe (Carleton College)
Melanie Nichols (Yamaha Corporation of America)

Valerie ColemanDescribed as one of the "Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music" by critic Anne Midgette of the Washington Post, Valerie Coleman is among the world’s most played composers living today. Whether it be live or via radio, her compositions are easily recognizable for their inspired style and can be throughout venues, institutions and competitions globally. The Boston Globe describes Coleman as a having a “talent for delineating form and emotion with shifts between ingeniously varied instrumental combinations” and The New York Times observes her compositions as “skillfully wrought, buoyant music”.  With works that range from flute sonatas that recount the stories of trafficked humans during Middle Passage and orchestral and chamber works based on nomadic Roma tribes, to scherzos about moonshine in the Mississippi Delta region and motifs based from Morse Code, her body of works have been highly regarded as a deeply relevant contribution to modern music.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Valerie began her music studies at the age of eleven and by the age of fourteen, had written three symphonies and won several local and state performance competitions. She is the founder, creator, and former flutist of the Grammy® nominated Imani Winds, one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Performance, Chamber Music, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Miami. Through her creations and performances, Valerie has carved a unique path for her artistry, while much of her music is considered to be standard repertoire. She is perhaps best known for UMOJA, a composition that is widely recognized and was listed by Chamber Music America one of the “Top 101 Great American Ensemble Works”. Coleman has received commissions from Carnegie Hall, American Composers Orchestra, The Library of Congress, the Collegiate Band Directors National Association, Chamber Music Northwest, Virginia Tech University, Virginia Commonwealth University, National Flute Association, West Michigan Flute Society, Orchestra 2001, The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, The Brooklyn Philharmonic, The Flute/Clarinet Duos Consortium, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Northwest, and the Interlochen Arts Academy to name a few.


ewell philipPhilip Ewell is an associate professor of music theory at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he is the Director of Graduate Studies in the Music Department. In addition to his teaching duties, he is the Institutional Assessment Coordinator for the department, which allows him to interact with other departments at Hunter College and learn about innovative new pedagogical strategies. He received the 2019–2020 “Presidential Award for Excellence in Creative Work” at Hunter, an annual award given to individual faculty in a select few categories. He also was named the “Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellow” of the American Council of Learned Societies for the 2020–2021 academic year for his recent work in critical-race music studies.

Ewell began playing cello at the age of nine. He started an undergraduate degree in physics, but soon switched to his true love, music. His BA in Music is from Stanford University, where he studied cello with Stephen Harrison and music theory and composition with David Rakowski, Ross Bauer, and Leonard Ratner. Philip received an MM in cello performance at Queens College (CUNY), where he studied cello with Barbara Mallow and music theory with Carl Schachter. He also has a certificate in cello performance from the St. Petersburg (Russia) Conservatory and a Ph.D. in music theory from Yale University, where he wrote a dissertation on Alexander Scriabin under Allen Forte. Finally, he studied music theory, as a visiting student, with Yuri Kholopov at the Moscow Conservatory.

Philip’s research specialties include Russian music and music theory, modal theory, critical-race studies, and hiphop and popular music. He has had writings published in many top journals and was the founding editor of Gamut, the journal of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic. He served as the chair of the Committee on Diversity of the Society for Music Theory from 2007 to 2010, and currently serves as Vice President of the Music Theory Society of New York State. 

grawe nathanNathan Grawe is a labor economist with particular interests in how family background shapes educational and employment outcomes.  Many of his works study whether access to financial resources significantly limit these important measures of success.  Nathan’s recent publication, Demographics and The Demand for Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018) examines how recent demographic shifts might affect demand for higher education.  On-going work examines a wide range of responses taken by colleges and universities that are proactively preparing for demographic change.

Nathan has participated in the leadership of Carleton’s Quantitative Inquiry, Reasoning, and Knowledge (QuIRK) initiative and has shared what Carleton has learned through this initiative through invited talks and professional development workshops at dozens of colleges and universities across the US and Canada.

Sunday, October 11
12 noon EDT

Following our opening two plenary sessions by Joseph Conyers (October 9) and by panelists discussing how we move forward in creating opportunities for equity and inclusion in higher education (October 10), members of CMS will facilitate small-group discussion about themes that participants found personally relevant and how we might create equity and opportunity in our own institutions. At the end of the session each break-out group will share highlights of their discussion so that participants may take away ideas for moving for action.

The Game Has Already Changed: What Are the Primary Technology Issues a Music School Should Be Addressing? 
Joseph Abbati 
Friday, October 16
12 noon EDT

The topic of this presentation was chosen before the pandemic predicament that institutes of learning currently find themselves in. The question posed is even more salient now. Issues faced in music pedagogy, in particular areas of performance, are like many facets of society today, looking to technology for answers.

Faculty need a clear understanding of the relationship between fidelity and latency with the digital platforms used in our current teaching modalities. Students' future success requires an understanding of how they can record/produce their own content with the highest possible quality, and how to create an environment that allows them to remotely contribute to an orchestral score or collaborate as seamlessly as possible with fellow musicians.

Imparting foundational knowledge of the intersection of music and technology can help foster equity and opportunity for aspiring musicians. When wise choices are made, even a cell phone or tablet can be a valid starting point for young artists and the amount of free and open-source music software continues to blossom.

My goal is to give you information that can help you and your students make better technical decisions in order to enhance teaching, advance careers and encourage more music creation.

* Attendees will have an opportunity to meet and interact with Joseph Abbati during a facilitated Q&A forum following his lecture, from 1:15–1:45 pm. 

abbati josephJoe Abbati [BM, MFA] is a creative technologist/educator & electronic musician originally from Chicago, now based in Miami. He has been a faculty member in the Music Engineering Technology Program at the highly acclaimed Frost School of Music for more than 21 years. In addition to the constant addition of cutting edge, career focused courses like “Developing XR Audio Applications in Unity/C#”, Joe teaches classes that range  from large scale studio recording/mixing to “in the box” MIDI technology and synthesis, sound design for video/ gaming and video compositing and animation techniques. 

In 2012, Joe co-founded a new principal instrument track in the Frost School of Music: Contemporary Media Performance. As Director of this studio, he teaches private lessons and directs ensembles focused on electronic music creation, and of course performance. The studio aspires to create new frontiers in dynamic improvisation while performing various electronic genres. 

Joe’s philosophy is that in the laptop, the convergence of tools for audio synthesis/signal processing, along with creative multi-touch and gestural interfaces, allows for a new definition of the term "instrument"; one that is an interactive technology ecosystem. A veteran of the computer game industry, in both programming and creative roles, Joe has composed original scores and executed sound design for over 30 published titles. As an electronic music producer/performer, he has played all original live sets at events and festivals both local and International.

Back to the Future: Reflections on Progressive Curricular Change and Music School Redesign 
Saturday, October 17
12 noon EDT

More than five years after the CMS’s Task Force on the Undergraduate Music Major released its Report titled “Transforming Music Study from Its Foundations: A Manifesto for Progressive Change in the Undergraduate Preparation of Music Majors,” the members of this panel reflect on the processes and outcomes of progressive changes on their campuses, with special attention to changes that resonate with the Report’s three pillars: creativity, diversity, and integration. The panelists represent varied disciplinary backgrounds and schools and departments with distinctive challenges and priorities. Collectively, they will show how curricular change and music school redesign demand attention to the circumstances of each individual program, providing a vivid picture of how music programs across the country, two decades into the century, have conjured a more concrete, actionable vision of the 21st-century music school.

Eileen M. Hayes (University of Wisconsin–Whitewater), CMS President

Brian Chin (Seattle Pacific University)

Joyce McCall (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)

Steven Moore (University of Miami)
David Myers (Augsburg University)
Lisa Vest (University of Southern California)

* Attendees will have an opportunity to meet and interact with the panelists during a facilitated open forum following the session, from 1:15–1:45 pm. 

A Conversation with Tania León
Sunday, October 18
12 noon EDT

A moderated discussion with Prof. León and CMS President Eileen M. Hayes, focusing on León's life and compositional work (with special guest speaker Alicia Hall Moran). 

* Attendees will have an opportunity to meet and interact with Tania León during a facilitated Q&A forum following her lecture, from 1:15–1:45 pm. 

leon taniaTania León (b. Havana, Cuba) is a highly regarded composer, conductor, educator and advisor to arts organizations. Recent commissions include works for New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, the Grossman Ensemble and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Appearances as guest conductor include the Symphony Orchestra of Marseille, the Gewandhausorchester Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfonica de Guanajuato, and Orquesta Sinfonica de Cuba.

A founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, she instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, co-founded the American Composers Orchestra “Sonidos de las Americas Festivals,” was New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic, and is the founder/Artistic Director of Composers Now.

Her honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement and the ASCAP Victor Herbert Awards, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Science. She also received a proclamation for Composers Now by New York City Mayor, and the MadWoman Festival Award in Music (Spain).

León has received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Colgate University, Oberlin and SUNY Purchase Colleges. She served as US Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. A CUNY Professor Emerita, she was awarded a 2018 United States Artists Fellowship.

Mezzo-soprano, composer, producer and educator Alicia Hall Moran works the space where sonic worlds combine.  Currently a Jerome Hill Artist fellow, Creative Associate/The Juilliard School, and Chamber Music Artist in Residence/Frost School of Music at University of Miami, Moran writes, records, collaborates, produces and performs across Art, Jazz, Classical, Broadway, Theater, and Film.  Very recent projects include a 4-hour solo vocalise for Lee Mingwei and Bill T. Jones: Our Labryinth at Metropolitan Museum of Art, an upcoming essay on Jessye Norman for Princeton University Press, and her self-generated digital concert the motown project produced by The Holland Festival. Among her next live engagements is Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration for Spoleto Festival 2021 and the premiere of her new song cycle commissioned by flutist Allisin Loggins-Hull.