Hixson-Lied Graduate Fellows
These prestigious awards are given to a select number of new graduate students in each academic unit in the College. Funding for up to 32 fellowships over the next eight years has been allocated by the Hixson-Lied Advisory Board. Applications undergo rigorous evaluation by members of the graduate faculty, who look for evidence of outstanding past achievement and the potential for excellence in scholarship and creative activity at the highest level.
- Awards range from $3,500 to $4,500 in addition to the graduate assistant stipends already provided by the University, creating nationally competitive stipends in the range of approximately $12,000 to $14,000.
- Individual academic units set additional threshold admissions criteria beyond those that are normally required for graduate assistantships.
- Awards continue for a maximum of three successive years, renewable annually based on performance and fulfillment of assigned duties. Directors recommend renewal based on rigorous assessment of the student's performance by the faculty.
- Students must be pursuing one of the graduate degrees offered by the College.
For information about other fellowships (Departmental and University-wide), contact the respective department within the college and the Office of Graduate Studies.
School of Art, Art History & Design
Eddy Leonel Aldana is a photographer and artist currently based out of Clarksburg, Maryland, and Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a first-generation Guatemalan-American and was born in 1995. He graduated from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at GWU in 2017 with his BFA in Fine Art Photography. Currently, he is an MFA candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His photographic work is based around the memory of his late father, the acceptance and denial of his passing and the attachment to the memories he has of him. The ideas of home and family also play a big part in his photographic process. Most recently he is exploring the ideas of assimilation and “American-ness” and what it takes for someone to be considered “American.”
Allison Arkush was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, until 2010 when she moved across the country to attend New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. While at NYU she studied studio art, psychology and the intersection of these two disciplines. Allison (and her dog Louise) recently relocated to Lincoln in July 2019 to begin her MFA in Ceramics.
Allison’s practice has included sculpture and pottery. For the past few years her focus has been on mixed-media, three-dimensional sculptural works combining ceramic elements with found objects, painting, soft sculpture, and collage. Experimenting with the effects and reactions between materials, sensations, and memories is central to her practice.
Brennan Booker is a lens-based artist and bookmaker from Columbia, South Carolina. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Fine Arts with a concentration in photography at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art, with a concentration in Photography from the University of South Carolina in 2019. Outside of academia, he is an editor at the online platform Lenscratch and founder of his own platform Cumulus Photo.
Austin Cullen is a photographer and printmaker from Houston, Texas. He recently received his BFA from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2019 and is currently pursuing his MFA in photography at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He grew up constantly being photographed, so he started to develop an interest in taking pictures of his own. The first images he made were in the darkroom at his high school. Quickly realizing how much he enjoyed working with film and the darkroom, Austin decided to pursue photography as a career. Currently, his work explores narratives concerning myths and science, and how those two subjects inform one another. He is also interested in lensless photography, and various other alternative processes.
Dehmie Dehmlow is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from the School of Art, Art History & Design. Dehmie grew up in Denver, Colorado, in a big family. She is hardly without her dog, Hadlee, a trusted companion. She earned her BA in Ceramics and Pre-Medical Sciences from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2014. Dehmie worked as a caregiver for elderly and adults with disabilities while earning her bachelor’s degree and in the years since. From 2017–2018 Dehmie worked as a ceramics intern at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado. In 2018 she was selected as the 2019 Salad Days Artist in Residence at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine. After the summer in Maine making over 550 plates, Dehmie completed a Post-Baccalaureate program at Louisiana State University. She was selected as an Emerging Artist in 2019 at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia.
Her work has been in juried shows and exhibitions nationally. Dehmie enjoys being outside with Hadlee and observing the world around her. She collects chance scenes of what resonates with her in aged dwelling spaces and makes pots as configurations of layers, like paintings. Dehmie creates rhythm through the succession of shapes and color found in the profile, openings and surfaces of the pots. She creates a conversation between layers, edges, and endpoints of soft and hard geometry.
Hannah Demma is an avid outdoorswoman, outdoor educator and lifelong Nebraskan. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2017, with an emphasis on printmaking and drawing and is currently pursuing her Masters in Fine Art at her alma mater. Her mixed-media approach to art speaks to aspects of science and nature both familiar and strange, and mines the environment for inspiration, examining the intersection of the imaginative and the biological, of the creative and the empirical. Her process stirs the imagination and sparks excitement for exploration and adventure.
Since graduation, Hannah received the Kimmel Foundation Emerging Artist Award, and a Mayor’s Art Award in 2018. She completed an artist residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center in Nebraska City, and served as a visiting artist at Maxey Elementary School. Hannah’s passion for art education has taken her to Lincoln, Montana, where she spent a month leading the education programing for an outdoor sculpture park, Blackfoot Pathways Sculpture in the Wild. Hannah has served as coordinator for the Cedar Point Biological Station art program and Art Adventure camp, as well as worked as lead art instructor for the Arts are Basic summer camp at Culler Middle School.
In addition to teaching, Hannah has maintained a busy studio practice and exhibition schedule and looks forward to expanding her studio practice to include new mediums and collaborations within the college and the community at large.
Glenn Korff School of Music
Helena Aung is a pianist from Thailand currently pursuing a doctoral degree in piano performance under the guidance of Dr. Mark Clinton in the Glenn Korff School of Music at University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She recently completed her Master of Music degree in piano performance and pedagogy at the University of Oklahoma. Helena received her Bachelors of Music from the University of Arkansas. When she was in Arkansas, Helena held a Piano Adjunct position at the University of Arkansas for class piano and taught within the Music Outreach program.
Helena has been a F.I.E.S. Scholar, a Yamaha Young Artist Scholar, Princess Galyani Vadhana Classical Music Foundation Scholar, Stella Boyle Smith Scholar, Cronan Catholic Scholar and a Cleo Cross International Scholar.
She has participated in numerous piano competitions and festivals such as the 4th ASEAN International Chopin Piano Competition in 2010 in Malaysia, 1st International Chopin Competition 2010 in Singapore, Bangkok Chopin Piano Competition (awarded Third Prize), OMTA Piano Competition, The International Festival in Freiburg, Germany and also took part in the Yong Siew Toh Piano Workshop.
Taeyeong Jung is a clarinetist pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts at University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Originally from South Korea, he received his Bachelor of Music (B.M.) in clarinet performance at Truman State University and Master of Music (MM) at Illinois State University, where he was awarded Graduate Teaching Assistant position.
Jung was a member of the Honor Band of America and performed as the Principal Clarinet for Missouri All-Collegiate Band, Missouri All-Collegiate Orchestra, and Southeast Iowa Symphony. Keen to chamber music, he served as a Clarinet Chamber Music Coach at the Illinois State University and is a founding member of the new music ensemble Uncommon Practice and Woodwind Choir at Truman State University.
Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film
Hali Liles is a Master of Fine Arts candidate in costume design at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. She received her B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri.
Liles began designing for Culver-Stockton’s theatre department in the third year of her undergraduate career. During that time, she received recognition for her designs at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, one of which was a design of The Addams Family Musical that was featured in the festival’s costume parade in 2018.
After graduation, she traveled back to southern Missouri to design for her community theatre, the Star Dramatic Company, that incited her passion for theatre so many years ago. Liles is excited to be furthering her education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is very thankful for the opportunity to do so through her fellowship with Hixson-Lied.
Nathan alexander is a first-year graduate student in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film with an emphasis in theatrical props and technical direction. He has been the props master for multiple shows in his undergrad career and he is thrilled to be the props master for “The Glass Menagerie” for the Nebraska Repertory Theatre this semester.
Joshua Mullady is a first-year graduate student studying Lighting Design in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. Originally from Iowa, he graduated from Northern Iowa in 2008 as the first student to receive a BA with all three emphases in theatre: Performance; Design and Production; and Drama for Youth. He moved to Omaha in 2008 and started as the Technical Director with the Omaha Theater Company (The Rose), and after two seasons became a freelance artist. He worked on over 100 shows in ten years as an actor, designer, director, and teacher. He’s excited to be at the Carson School and this new opportunity, and appreciates the support from the Fellowship.
School of Art, Art History & Design
Matt Carlson is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from the School of Art, Art History & Design. Carlson is a native of San Diego California and spent his early 20s exploring various areas of the country before settling in North Carolina. Once there, he earned a B.F.A. in sculpture and ceramics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an A.A.S. in Photography from Randolph Community College.
For the past three years, Carlson has been an adjunct instructor at Randolph Community College, where he taught a variety of courses in the photography and graphic design departments. He was the primary instructor of the Youth Photography Collective, a grant-funded photography club, through the Center for Visual Artists in Greensboro, N.C., in which free or partially funded after-school enrichment programming is provided to local middle school students. Carlson was also a member of a The Forge Makerspace in Greensboro, N.C., where he helped create and facilitate the ceramics program.
Prior to his arrival in Lincoln, Carlson spent three and a half years working alongside people with autism and their families. Advocating for people living with disabilities and their families continues to be important to his life and is a driving force behind his work.
Neil Celani is a ceramic artist from Colorado currently living in Lincoln. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado and is pursuing his MFA in ceramics in the School of Art, Art History & Design. In 2016 Celani was selected as a Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist and has participated in many national invitational and juried exhibitions. He is an active member in the Nebraska art community, participating and organizing several events as president of Clay Club. He spends his off hours listening to records and walking his dog, Reggie.
Celani’s work explores the notion of occasion and utility within the framework of communal objects, offering vessels and effigies. His inspirations and references are rooted in ancient art history of the Americas and our world of geologic and biologic wonder. Neil is interested in developing a dialogue between the ancient past and personal experiences living in the modern world. Exploring this relationship through the lens of his ceramic work facilitates connections to the past, revealing universal truths about culture and humanity. Community. Tradition. Ritual. Ceremony. These truths are woven into culture, and objects are made to bring a sense of beauty to communal occasion. He uses his work as a means to tap into the primal spirit of life that is perhaps shared with ancient ancestors, a collective consciousness that facilitates meaningful connections with his audience.
Taylor Sijan graduated Summa Kum Laude with her BFA in ceramics and metalsmithing at Bowling Green State University in 2016. After which, she spent two years in Wichita, Kansas, as a post-bacc student at Wichita State University, studying wood and soda-fired pottery. During her time in Wichita, she was Secretary of the WSU Ceramics Guild while also working private and public events at the Ulrich Museum of Art.
Sijan was active in the community as the Student Volunteer Coordinator for Empty Bowls Wichita, a large, nonprofit fundraiser to benefit those in need through the Kansas Food Bank. She has been recognized in juried exhibitions nationally and has received several notable awards, including the Athena Society Regional Artist Grant, the National 2016 NICHE Award for Student Ceramic Sculpture, and the Arts and Design Advocates Grant from Wichita State. Despite her current emphasis on functional, decorated pottery, she also enjoys small-scale metalsmithing, bookbinding, and drawing as other creative outlets.
Glenn Korff School of Music
Patrick McNally is pursuing a doctorate of musical arts in voice under the instruction of Dr. Bill Shomos.
He came to Nebraska from Resonance Works, where he debuted as the brash Sargent Belcore in Resonance Works innovative L'elisir d'amore. Last season, he premiered the role of Ozzie in the famous Bernstein musical On the Town. McNally has a varied operatic repertoire, from Gianni Schicchi to John in Summer and Smoke. Drawing from his extensive performance experience, he is equally at home on the opera, musical theater and recital stage.
McNally has performed at houses across the United States as well as internationally. Recent highlights include appearances at Des Moines Metro Opera, Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera, The Natchez Festival of Music, Opera North, Dayton Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Opera Louisiane, Bronx Opera, Hubbard Hall Opera, Opera New Jersey, ARE Opera, the Center for Contemporary Opera, New York Opera Exchange, The Long Island Opera, the Boston Lyric Opera, St. Petersburg Opera, and Die Eutiner Festspiele. He has also been a winner of multiple awards including the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation.
Originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Jordan Redd attended the University of North Carolina-Pembroke for two years before transferring to Southeast Missouri State University where he studied with Husker Horn Studio Alumnus Dr. Nicholas Kenney.
While studying at SEMO, Redd was named alternate winner of the 2015 Missouri state round of the MTNA Young Artist Competition and a finalist in the 2015 Southeast Missouri State University Concerto and Aria competition. In 2016 Redd graduated with a B.M. in horn performance and was awarded a Teaching Assistantship in the UNL Husker Horn Studio. Redd won the Nebraska state round of the MTNA Young Artist Competition two years in a row and was a National Finalist in 2018. Additionally, he was awarded first prize in the UNL Graduate Concerto Competition and performed the second movement of the Glière Horn Concerto with the UNL Symphony Orchestra.
Redd has performed with orchestras including the Paducah Symphony Orchestra (KY), the Jackson Symphony Orchestra (TN), the Omaha Symphony (NE), and was a soloist with the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Tour in Sioux City, Iowa. In the summer of 2017 Redd performed at Festival Suoni d’Abruzzo in Guardiagrele, Italy and in 2017 and 2018 he served as Principal Horn of the FOOSA Philharmonia, which included performances in Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California.
Redd earned the M.M. degree from UNL in May of 2018 and is pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Glenn Korff School of Music under the tutelage of Dr. Alan Mattingly. As a Husker and Hixson-Lied Fellow, Redd is dedicated to representing Nebraska in Lincoln and across the globe.
Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film
Samuel Brant came to Lincoln to pursue his Master of Fine Arts degree in costume design from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.
A Nebraska native, Brant is ecstatic for the opportunity to return to his home state while earning his graduate degree. A recent graduate of Evangel University, he received his Bachelor of Arts in theatre/music in May 2018. Upon graduation, he received numerous honors and was recognized as Evangel University’s 2018 Outstanding Graduate in Theatre/Music. His favorite musicals include Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the Roof and Ragtime.
Emma Hoffbauer is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in scenic design at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in design and technology for the theatre from the University of North Georgia as part of the Gainesville Theatre Alliance in December of 2017. Hoffbauer worked as a scenic artist at several professional theatres around the Atlanta area, and took her scenic design work to SETC for which she received an Honorable Mention in the design competition. Hoffbauer is very excited to use her opportunity as a graduate teaching assistant and Hixson-Lied Graduate Fellow to further her skills as a scenic designer and a theatre artist.
School of Art, Art History & Design
Amanda Durig received her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in graphic design and printmaking from Youngstown State University in 2015. During her undergraduate studies, Durig showed work in local galleries, student art exhibitions, Southern Graphics Conference, Mid America Print Conference and through international print exchanges. She has won local printmaking awards as well as having her work a part of permanent collections across the country.
Amanda typically works with wood in varying ways. Pushing the boundaries of the wood block as a matrix has become an important part of her work. In the past year or two, she has become interdisciplinary with printmaking, painting and ceramics. The imagery she creates focuses on her fascination with the turkey tail fungi (trametes versicolor) that depend on the decay of trees to thrive and display their colorful caps.
Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film
Bryce Bassett is pursuing his Masters of Fine Arts in lighting design. Bassett is a 2017 graduate of Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas, with a B.A. in theatre with an emphasis in design. Bassett has worked professionally as an electrician for Music Theatre Wichita, multiple touring productions and has done design work for multiple shows. He has been recognized by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for his work on Oklahoma! and Chess the Musical, which also won first place in the Region V Lighting Design competition.
Bassett is not only interested in design work. He recently received his Bachelors from the International University of Santa Claus. During the Christmas season, he spends his free time as a professional Santa Claus. Visiting homes, city events, and corporate events bringing Christmas cheer to everyone and making wishes come true.
Adam R. Jezl-Sikorski
Adam R. Jezl-Sikorski is an M.F.A. candidate in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film for stage design with an emphasis in lighting design. Fresh from Lewis University, he recently received his Bachelor of Arts in theatre this past May (2017). While an undergraduate, his designs have been recognized by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival on multiple occasions while placing as a KCACTF Region III semi-finalist for his work in 2015. Jezl-Sikorski is an Eagle Scout and has recently been appointed to the Hixson-Lied Graduate Student Advisory Board.
Glenn Korff School of Music
Double Bassist Christian Chesanek is a Doctoral music student pursuing jazz studies at the Glenn Korff School of Music under the direction of Dr. Hans Sturm. He received a Commercial Music Degree at the University of Texas at El Paso in El Paso, Texas. He also earned a Masters in Music Performance at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York.
Chesanek is a freelance musician and composer. His works have been premiered in double bass camps and conventions around the United States. He has had the opportunity to work with Nicholas Walker, Francois Rabbath, Paul Ellison, Joel Quarrington, David Young, Peter Seymour (Project Trio), Mark Dresser, Dr. Willie Hill and Ted Botsford (Los Angeles Philharmonic).
Krista Connelly is a composer of contemporary art music with occasional forays into the jazz realm. Currently entering the Doctoral program at the Glenn Korff School of Music, she spent the past three years in Washington state completing her M.M. in composition from Central Washington University (2016), followed by teaching elementary music and continuing her music directorship at Ellensburg First United Methodist Church.
Raised in western Kansas, Connelly attended Fort Hays State University for her undergraduate degrees in music education and trumpet performance. Afterward, she taught elementary music and band in Hutchinson, Kansas, and applied trumpet at three colleges in the region. While teaching, she was the principal trumpet of the Salina Symphony and Hutchinson Symphony, both of which have premiered her works: Cycles by Salina in 2014 and "Metals" from Symphony No. 1 by Hutchinson in 2016. She has studied composition with Martin Kennedy, Jeff Jordan and Tim Rolls.
Connelly recently made her debut in the world of dance collaboration with her thesis work, Life, After: A Dance Requiem, which premiered in March of 2016 at Central Washington University and featured choreography by Professors Therese Young and Gabrielle McNeillie. Connelly was selected to present over this collaboration at the Women Composers Festival of Hartford in spring 2017. Additionally, she has been a participant in the Quatuor Bozzini Lab 2016 (Vancouver, British Columbia) and the Oregon Bach Festival Composers’ Symposium 2016. Her music has been played on Gathering Her Notes, an online radio based in Ellensburg, Music of Our Mothers, a station that airs in St. Augustine, Florida, and Frostburg, Maryland, and is listed on www.newchambermusic.org.
Rubén Darío Gómez
Rubén Darío Gómez received his Master in Music with emphasis in wind band conducting from Middle Tennessee State University in 2015 where he studied with Dr. Reed Thomas. He also received his Bachelor in Music from Universidad Industrial de Santander-Colombia in 2000 where he founded and conducted the Students Symphonic Band during three years.
Originally from Colombia, he has made a widespread job in his country as a conductor, composer, pedagogue, teacher and arranger. In 2016 the Ministry of Culture awarded him with the National Scholarship to Colombians studying internationally; this institution also awarded him with the National Competition Prize in Composition in 2012. In 2010 he earned the Bicentenary Scholarship “Gobernación de Santander” to compose 10 pieces for concert band. Also many of his pieces and arrangements has been played, awarded and published in Colombia and internationally. As a pianist, arranger, and composer, he also has won the most important contest in his country, both in concert band and folk music fields.
As member of the National Program of Bands in Colombia, he has been advisor in areas such as music theory, pedagogy, arrangements and conducting. In addition he has made a prolific pedagogy labor in his own music school “Mochila Cantora” and at Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga (UNAB) during the last 15 years. Gómez was the founder of UNAB Wind Band that he conducted for more than 10 years and has been guest conductor of Symphonic Band Network of Schools of Music in Medellín, Funza Symphonic Band, Manizales Municipal Band and UNAB Symphony Orchestra.
He is currently pursuing his DMA with emphasis in wind band conducting at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln under the guidance of Dr. Carolyn Barber. At Nebraska he is a graduate assistantship and he was also awarded with the Hixson-Lied Fellowship.
Kevin Madden is a tubist currently pursuing at Doctorate in Performance from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Originally from Hooksett, New Hampshire, Madden has had a wide and varied career, both stylistically and geographically, before coming to Nebraska. He began playing tuba in high school at Manchester Central High School in Manchester, New Hampshire, and was immediately a participant in the local honor bands and the state, regional and super regional level. During high school he was also a member of DCI’s Division II (now Open Class) Spartans Drum and Bugle Corps, with whom he won gold medals in 2004 and 2005. His undergraduate degree is in performance from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Madden was an active performer and recitalist as well as a guest performer in several of the region’s community and part-time orchestras.
After graduating from Ithaca, Madden relocated to Williamsburg, Virginia, where he was a musician and bandleader at the Busch Gardens Europe amusement park. He spent several seasons performing in all manner of ensembles from brass quartets, strolling trios and the 10-piece polka band in the park’s long running This is Oktoberfest show. After several years with Busch Gardens, Madden was hired by Royal Caribbean International to join the house orchestra on the Allure of the Seas, then the world’s largest cruise ship. The Allure Orchestra was primarily responsible for the ship’s production of CHICAGO: The Musical, but Madden also was a regular on 2nd Trombone for the orchestra’s big band jazz sets. After touring the Caribbean for more than four years on the Allure, Madden moved once again to Lincoln to begin Masters studies at Nebraska.
Madden received his M.M. from Nebraska in 2017 and was a GTA for the duration, and is excited to begin a new career as a Doctoral student and Hixson-Lied Fellow. While in Lincoln Madden has built a solid resume, with regular freelance work with Arts, Inc., Thompson Music, Extraspace Music, The Omaha Symphony and most recently as adjunct professor of euphonium at Union College.
Born in 1972 in Nagoya, Japan, Susumu Watanabe is a composer, arranger, conductor and trumpeter.
In January 1999, Watanabe moved to the U.S. He received a B.M. in jazz composition from Berklee College of Music and an M.A. in composition from City University of New York. He has had composition and arranging study with Michael Abene, Jeff Holmes, Greg Hopkins, Hubert Howe, Adam Kolker, Jim McNeely, Jeff Nichols, Frederick Tillis and Phil Wilson. He has had conducting study with David Callahan and George Monseur, and trumpet study with Charles Lewis Jr., Jeff Stout, Mike Price and Toshio Shimada.
Watanabe was music director of Tokyo Brass Art Orchestra (Tokyo, Japan). The TBAO's first CD album “Antiphonemics: TBAO Plays Music of Susumu Watanabe” was released by its independent label “Susmusic Records” in July 2011. He served the Bay Colony Brass (Watertown, Massachusetts) as a music director from Spring 2012. He had served as a music director for Fenway Brass Art Orchestra (Boston), and UMASS Jazz Lab Ensemble (Amherst, Massachusetts), as an assistant director for UMASS Jazz Ensemble I/Studio Orchestra, as a guest conductor for the U.S. Army Field Band “Jazz Ambassadors” (Fort George Meade, Maryland) and Vermont Jazz Center Big Band (Brattleboro, Vermont). Watanabe was a member of BMI Jazz Composers' Workshop in New York City.
Watanabe's works for jazz orchestra are performed in the U.S., Japan and South Korea. He is the first winner of “National Band Association Young Composers Jazz Composition Contest” in 2011. His winning piece “Duodecim” for jazz orchestra was performed by the United States Army Field Band “The Jazz Ambassadors” under the direction of Watanabe at the Midwest Clinic (Chicago, Illinois) in December 2011. His works are not only for jazz ensemble, but also for various chamber ensembles, wind ensemble and symphonic orchestra. Watanabe was given a commission to compose a new music for the Quincy Symphony Orchestra (Massachusetts), and the piece was premiered in April 2012. Most of his chamber music, which includes music for string quartet, were premiered by the Second Instrumental Unit in New York City.
Watanabe is a member of the Jazz Education Network and International Society of Jazz Arrangers & Composers.
Kao Zhou currently is a DMA student of orchestral conducting studying with Dr. Tyler White at Nebraska. He is the music director of both the Sichuan Normal University Symphony Orchestra and Chengdu Huan Hua Symphony Orchestra. He also served as a violin professor at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music. He obtained his master's degree in violin performance from the School of Music, Brandon University, Canada. Before he came to Nebraska, he studied conducting with Dr. Jiang Liu, alumnus of the School of Music at Nebraska.