The halls of the Westbrook Music Building are quiet as is most of the hustle and bustle in the world during this time. But, our faculty, staff, alumni, and students are still doing amazing things. Read about them here:

Marques L. A. Garrett

Our own Marques L. A. Garrett joined the Music (ed) Matters podcast of Emily Williams Burch recently.

Episode 11 - Repertoire Exploration: The Non-Idiomatic Choral Music of Black Composers with Dr. Marques L.A. Garrett Music (ed) Matters

This repertoire exploration episode is extra special! Today we take a deep dive into the research of non-idiomatic choral music by Black composers with conductor/researcher Dr. Marques Garrett. In our conversation, we talk about how he got interested in this research topic, what he hopes to accomplish with his online database, and what we as singers, conductors, and teachers can learn from the research. As part of the repertoire exploration, Dr. Garrett even gives us a glimpse into a few of his favorite composers and their compositions.


Jennifer Randall and book cover

Jennifer Randall

Thinking about starting a competitive show choir? Hoping to infuse new energy into your current program with fresh ideas? Wondering what all the hype is about? Look no further!

The Art of Competitive Show Choir is the essential how-to guide for building and sustaining a thriving show choir program, perfect for new and seasoned professionals alike. With her hallmark wit and nearly two decades of experience, author Jen Randall offers a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and tools that address every crucial aspect of the show choir world.

Jen Randall is entering her 18th year as a high school choral director. Randall is a graduate of the University of Nebraska (’03, BME) where she was a founding member of Big Red Singers show choir, SAI Kappa Chapter President, and a member of University Singers. In 2016, she moved her family to South Dakota to take over Friend de Coup show choir and vocal music duties in Mitchell. Prior to 2016, Jen spent 11 years teaching in Texas where she started four show choirs; including Central High School's "Voices of Central.” Randall has also been music director for 15 musicals and her concert choirs have garnered regional and state honors in Texas and South Dakota, during her teaching tenure. 2019 saw a move back to Texas to be near family and have the opportunity to work more on Show Collective, her company with which she tours the country doing clinic and consulting work for show choirs, directors, and performance festivals in Texas. Show Collective also provides professional development for show choir professionals. She and her husband Tim (’04, BFA Studio Art) have two sons: Ben and Owen, who can be HUSKER grads in 2030 and 2036, respectively.

Link to the book catalog page:






Future Plans and Updates

We asked all of our students to send us updates on their future plans (and if they are graduating or not, even though not all supplied all of the info). We will post them all to this thread (a few of these were shared pre-COVID shutdown):

Ryan Thomas Martin
Master of Music in Jazz Studies (performance emphasis)
I've just been accepted to the DMA program at UIUC so, depending on the situation with the virus, I'll be starting there in the fall!
Favorite memory: Heading up to the top floor of Westbrook, and hearing the music being made by my fellow students...then finding a room and joining them! There's a real sense of belonging and togetherness in that for me.

Kason Fiedler
Not until 2023, BME
Favorite memory: Being in the marching band

Jacob Hardy
Favorite memory:
Getting to work with such amazing and talented musicians during ensemble work. There’s just something super special about creating music with everybody in the Orchestra.
Summer plans: I will be running my own private studio and working full time at either a daycare or children’s museum in order to get some more hours with children.

Cooper Creal
Graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance
Going to Temple University in Philadelphia for my Master of Music in Vocal Performance
Favorite memory: The community of people in the library between classes. So fun.

Alie Gillespie
Graduating with a BM in Voice Performance
Returning to UNL this fall to get my master's in Leadership Education. I'll be a research and teaching assistant for the ALEC department.
Favorite memory: I enjoyed doing UNL Opera tours most! I love traveling and meeting people and sharing my favorite art!

Gracie Fagan
Favorite memory:
My favorite memory so far has definitely been performing with my best friends in the Jazz Orchestra. We all groove well together and have so much fun when we let go and let the music speak.
Summer plans: I plan on working full time and writing as much music as possible to prepare for the fall semester!
Anything else to add?: So excited to be back on campus in the fall and welcome all of the newcomers to the school! It’s a positive and uplifting environment for sure.

Elaina Matthews
I was going to graduate, but I postponed to December. I will be graduating with a Master of Music in Vocal Performance. Then moving to NYC to audition and get gigs! Hoping to receive gigs in opera and other classical vocal work.
Favorite memory: Performing in the operas.
Summer plans: I will be growing my private studio and teaching this summer (all online).

Eva Shvartcer
Graduating with a Bachelor of Music - Violin
I am moving to Fort Worth, TX in August to pursue a Masters of Music at Texas Christian University, where I got a Graduate Assistantship position.
Favorite memory: Performing at the Honors Chamber Fest with Cascada Piano Quartet for two years has been absolutely delightful! I've learned so much from collaborating with my colleagues, who are also my friends while working on pieces by our favorite composers.

Sasha Schneider Smoot
Graduating with a Bachelor of Music Education
I just accepted a job with OPS to teach at Benson West Elementary teaching general music for the next school year! I am very excited to meet my future students and colleagues.
Favorite memory: There are so many, but one of my favorite memories has to be when my class threw a baby shower for Dr.Gilbert.
Anything else to add?: Go Big Red!

Liam Carroll
Graduating with a BA in music (violin performance)
I will be going to medical school at the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City.
Favorite memory: My favorite memory has been my time with the orchestra and studying with professor Neely.

Katherine Schmit
Favorite memory: 
Marching Pregame with the CMB!
Summer plans: I’m hoping to take and teach lots of lessons!
Anything else to add?: Thanks for a great Freshman year!!

Ross Mosier
Favorite memory: The 150-year celebration for the University when we had that concert in the Lied that involved almost every facet of the GKSOM, I thought it was so cool to have the dancers with us, and the choir and the Orchestra working together.
Summer plans: I will be staying in Lincoln since my summer plans to go to a music institute in Vienna have gotten canceled. I will continue to work at the church I work for and do a lot of practicing to get ahead on my rep to do a recital in the fall.
Anything else to add?: I can’t wait till Westbrook opens again so I can play on a real piano!

Ben Petrmichl
Graduating with Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Education
I will be the 6-12 Instrumental/Vocal Music Director at Shelby-Rising City Schools in the fall.
Favorite memory: Being surrounded by the fantastic staff, traveling to conferences and performing for others around the Midwest, and performing and traveling with the Cornhusker Marching Band where I have served on the leadership team for two years. Also performing in the Misty's Friday Night Pep Band.
Anything else to add?: I cannot thank the staff and everyone involved within the GKSOM for my undergraduate degree. You all have made this the best four years of my life and I'm forever grateful for the skills and relationships I have gained.

Lara Celesky
Favorite memory: Marching Band with my friends!
Summer plans: As of right now, work in Lincoln and at my family business. Otherwise, hopefully once corona ends see my friends.
Anything else to add?: I’d like to thank my professors for being so understanding and supportive through everything this year and providing us with the resources we need. I’d also like to give a shout out to my high school band teacher for helping me or letting me ask him questions throughout this year. I’m beyond excited to come back to UNL in the fall and see everyone!

Jeremy Duck
Favorite memory: Performing Richard Wernick’s Piano Sonata No. 2
Summer plans: I will be purchasing a piano. I will continue teaching my private students. I will be starting at least one of my church jobs back up when it is safe. I will be taking a free music course or two through Harvard. I will be working toward recital goals and continue uploading music onto my YouTube. I will also start managing a TeeSpring. I will otherwise be playing Warcraft (looking forward to their upcoming expansion) and watching thrillers on Netflix.

Allison Tolliver
Favorite memory: When I walked in a minute early for an Aural Skills final and my classmates cheered. I had a tendency of being a minute late.
Summer plans: Practice, practice, practice for my recital in the fall.
Anything else to add?: I miss the school of music and my classmates.

Maddie Pressler
Favorite memory: Participating in the 150th-anniversary celebration this last fall, it was so fun as a vocalist to get to work and perform with members of the dance program and members of the instrumental programs, we don't always get to do that!
Summer plans: I plan on staying here in Lincoln, taking some summer classes, and working! Hopefully, if this whole social isolation thing ends soon, I'll be going on a few trips as well!

Kristen Gorski
Graduating with a degree in Music Education and a minor in mathematics.
As of right now, probably subbing until I get a full-time teaching job as I haven’t been hired yet while I teach lessons at a music store. I’ll still be looking for jobs until I am finally hired.
Favorite memory: My favorite memory was playing Music for Prague on the anniversary with the UNL Wind Ensemble as well as playing in the intercollegiate band.

Alaina Blaker
Favorite memory: I loved when Phantom came to convo. That was super cool. I was also a big fan of when the Blue Men group was here.
Summer plans: I will be going away to basic training this summer for Army National Guard. I am a member of the Army Band here in Lincoln!
Anything else to add?: Overall I love the school of music. It really is like a home especially considering we all pretty much live there.

Robert Woody

Robert Woody

Our own Dr. Robert Woody wrote this for Psychology Today: 

What to Do When You’re Cut Off From Your Musical People
Even the most social musicians can better themselves while distanced.

Joshua Neumann

Alumni Update – Joshua Neumann

MMus - Music History

Lecturer - University of Florida Innovation Academy (Gainesville, FL)
Co-Director, Musicology Colloquium - Vienna Summer Music Festival (Vienna, Austria)

Award: American Musicological Society Thomas Hampson Award for research in classic song for my project “Creating Schubert’s ‘Die Winterreise’ in performance with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau”

Marcelo Lian

Alumni Update – Marcelo Lian


Collaborative pianist at Lincoln Public Schools

Recital tour in Texas with Trio Pampeano (an ensemble of three argentinean pianists championing music from Argentina)

Recital with said ensemble at Concordia University in Nebraska and the Argentinean Consulate in New York City



Richard Fountain

Alumni Update – Richard Fountain

Master of Music - 2005 (Piano Performance); Doctor of Musical Arts - 2008 (Piano Performance)


Professor of Piano, Wayland Baptist University - Plainview, TX

Principal Keyboard, Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra

Principal Keyboard, Lubbock Symphony Orchestra


Early Achiever Award, Nebraska Alumni Association - 2017

Faculty Contribution to the Profession Award, Wayland Baptist University - 2018

Board of Directors, Texas Music Teachers Association - 2017-19

Completing a three-year performance cycle of the Liszt-Beethoven symphony transcriptions for solo piano in the spring of 2020

Anne Madison

Alumni Update – Anne Madison

BM in Piano

Chair of the Piano Department at Omaha Conservatory of Music

Regular faculty member of the Tyrolean International Piano Academy in Innsbruck, Austria

Julie Duensing

Alumni Update – Julie Duensing


Personal Lines Account Manager at Inspro Insurance, Lincoln, NE

Current Board member of the UNL Band Alumni Association

President of the Lincoln Southwest High School Performing Arts Boardroom

Nicholas A. Kenney

Alumni Update – Nicholas A. Kenney

MM, DMA - horn performance

Associate Professor of Horn, Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO

2020 SEMO Horn Day, hosted UNL Alumna Lanette Lopez Compton as guest artist and 57 horn players from the area.

Invited Faculty to Saarburg Music Festival in Saarburg Germany for Summer 2020 and 2021.

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure (2019) in fifth year at Southeast.

Peer Selected performance (Castel Del Monte by Nino Rota) on the opening recital of the Southeast Horn Workshop (2019)

2019 SEMO Horn Day, hosted Joshua Williams as guest artist and 35 horn players from the area.

Guest Artist Recital at SEMO with Dr. Alan Mattingly from UNL (2018)

Performed Schmuann's Konzertstuck with the Jackson (TN) Symphony and the Savannah Philharmonic (2018)

Performed Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with the Duke University Symphony Orchestra (2018)