The halls of the Westbrook Music Building are busy with activity, but our faculty, staff, alumni and students are out in the world doing amazing things too! Read about all of their activities here.

Kayla Wilkens

Kayla Wilkens

Alum Kayla Wilkens is one of fifteen young singer/actors named as a finalist for the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition. Selected from thirty-one semifinalists, this year’s finalists represent a diverse range of performers, ages 21 to 31, from across the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel. All will sing repertoire from the operatic, golden age and contemporary musical stages, and of course, the music of Kurt Weill.

Brian Jeffers

Brian Jeffers

Alum Brian Jeffers (BM ’14) has been invited to perform at the Aspen Music Festival this summer. Jeffers is currently completing his MM at Arizona State University. Casting will be done when Jeffers arrives in Aspen. The season includes Bolcom’s A Wedding, Puccini’s La Boheme, and Berlioz's Beatrice et Benedict. There is also a concert series.

His own personal page is:


Kayla Wilkens & Anna DeGraff

This Sunday (February 28) alums soprano Kayla Wilkens and mezzo-soprano Anna DeGraff with Denis Plutalov at the piano will be performing at the First Plymouth Chapel, 20th and D Streets, in Lincoln at 2 p.m. They are presenting French duets and premiering some new duets in English that were written for this recital! Free Admission.

Kayla Wilkens Jeremy Brown

Kayla Wilkens & Jeremy Brown

Master of Music in Vocal Performance alum Kayla Wilkens is a semifinalist in the Lotte Lenya competition. She will be traveling to NYC to compete in early March. She was one of 31 semifinalists selected from over 200 entering singer/actors, ages 19 to 32 years old, from eleven countries.

Current Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance senior Jeremy Brown was awarded one of only 8 Emerging Artist Awards of $500 as encouragement to enter the competition again in the future. Brown was one of the younger contestants entered this year.

Both students currently study with Alisa Belflower, UNL's Coordinator of Musical Theatre Studies.

Kim Kowalke, President and CEO of the Kurt Weill Foundation, announced the semifinalists for the 19th annual Lotte Lenya Competition. The singers/actors submitted audition videos, performing diverse repertoire ranging from the operatic to golden age and contemporary musical theater stage, and of course, the music of Kurt Weill. Thirty-one semifinalists will travel to New York City from across the US, Germany, Austria and Canada, to perform at the semifinals on March 10 and 11.

Semifinalists will be adjudicated and then coached by two Tony-Award-winners: Broadway, film and television actress Victoria Clark (Titanic, Light in the Piazza, GIGI The Musical, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella) and composer Jeanine Tesori (Violet, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Fun Home, Shrek the Musical). The top performers will then proceed to the competition finals on April 16 in Rochester, NY, where they will sing for another star-studded jury comprised of international opera legend Teresa Stratas, Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization President and former American Theater Wing Chairman Theodore S. Chapin, and Broadway music director, conductor and accompanist Andy Einhorn. All semifinalists receive a cash award of $500. Those who move onto the finals will receive a minimum of $1,000, with top prizes ranging from $3,500 to $15,000.

More than a vocal competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Prizes will exceed $60,000, including First, Second and Third prizes and additional discretionary awards recognizing emerging talent and outstanding performances of individual numbers. Past prize winners have gone on to appear on major theater, opera and concert stages around the world. Don’t miss the competition described by Opera News as “target[ing] today's total-package talents, unearthing up-and-coming singers who are ready for their close-ups.”


The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc. ( is dedicated to promoting understanding of the life and works of composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950) and preserving the legacies of Weill and his wife, actress-singer Lotte Lenya (1898-1981). The Foundation administers the Weill-Lenya Research Center, a Grant Program, the Kurt Weill Book Prize and the Lotte Lenya Competition, and publishes the Kurt Weill Edition and the Kurt Weill Newsletter.

Emily Freeman performing on stage at the Kia convention

Emily Freeman

Sophomore Music Education Major Emily Freeman had the opportunity to record a song she wrote with a Kansas City Kia employee over last summer. "We were notified in August that we won the Kia Music Video competition and would have the opportunity to go to Las Vegas to perform the song for Kia Corporate employees at their annual convention. Kia flew me out to Las Vegas on September 20, and we were able to rehearse for around an hour, and then performed the following morning. There were probably around 400 people in attendance, and they recorded a "music video" to put on their website to promote the opening of the new plant in Mexico."

Portrait of Nathaniel Sullivan

Nathaniel Sullivan

UNL Glenn Korff School of Music alumnus Nathaniel Sullivan will be starring as the affable bird catcher Papageno in the Bard College Conservatory of Music’s opera production, a double bill of a condensed reimagining of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Oliver Knussen’s Higglety Pigglety Pop! This innovative double bill will be produced in the acclaimed Sosnoff Theater at Bard College’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts (designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry) on March 4th at 7:00 PM and March 6th at 2:00 PM. Bard College is located in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York.

At UNL’s Glenn Korff School of Music, Sullivan studied with Alisa Belflower, who fostered in him a love for opera, art song, and musical theatre. Sullivan was the recipient of the Donald Walter Miller Scholarship, the Presser Foundation Scholarship, and the first-ever Don & Carole Burt Scholarship for Vocal Excellence. He was also awarded two recognitions from the Nebraska District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, as well as the Orpheus Vocal Competition’s 2014 Bizet Award. In the summer of 2013, he received a Hixson-Lied International Study Grant, enabling him to attend the opera intensive summer program at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. Upon graduating from UNL in 2014, Sullivan was subsequently awarded first place in the college musical theatre men’s division of the inaugural National NATS Student Competition in Boston. He has since been accepted into the Bard College Conservatory of Music, where he is currently pursuing his master’s of music degree in vocal arts and has recently performed as the baritone soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass. For more information on Sullivan and his upcoming engagements, please visit

Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum

Composer and Chamber Music Institute (2008) Alum Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Classical. 

"Ask Your Mama," Leslie Ann Jones, John Kilgore, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, and Justin Merrill, engineers; Patricia Sullivan, mastering engineer (George Manahan and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra)

Here is a link to more information about the Album:

Brian Jeffers & Carey Brant

Brian Jeffers (student of Jamie Reimer, ’14) and Carey Brant (student of Kevin Hanrahan, ’13) are double cast as Nemorino in Arizona State University’s production of L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love) that runs February 25-27 at 7:30pm and February 28 at 2pm in the Evelyn Smith Music Theatre.

Michael Reichman

Michael Reichman

Michael Reichman was recently appointmented as General Manager of the York (PA) Symphony Orchestra.

An accomplished flutist and conductor, Reichman holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and a master’s degree in music with a focus on conducting from the New England Conservatory in Boston.

Donna Harler

Donna Harler

A member of the Texas Tenors, John Hagen, who was a UNL Master of Music student of Professor of Voice Donna Harler, gave a special thank you to Harler during the group's sold-out performance Thursday night at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

Hagen taught voice at Wartburg College and Northern Iowa University.  He has sung many Verdi Requiems and Beethoven 9th symphony performances nationally.  He received rave reviews for his performance of a Mascagni opera at Lincoln Center in his New York debut.  He was a Metropolitan Opera Regional Finalist and has won numerous awards in NATS competitions.