Glenn Korff School of Music Blog

Glenn Korff School of Music Blog

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.

Mike Foley

Music Education senior Mike Foley is music directing "Urinetown" at the Haymarket Theatre, which is running (last weekend and) this weekend, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:00. Tickets are available online at, or by calling the theatre, and of course at the door.

It's Mike's first time directing a Main Stage production.

"It's been such a comprehensively musically demanding experience; I have to wear so many hats - vocal coach, choir teacher, bandleader, conductor, warm-up specialist, and so on. For a music education student, getting to apply my skill set and concept of musicality in so many different capacities has been challenging but very satisfying! It's been an excellent educational and professional experience; I've definitely learned a lot of good lessons and habits I'm glad to be taking forward with me. The best part, though, has been the enjoyment that comes from working with such a talented, passionate, and motivated group of people. Our cast has been just great."

Mike has previously been involved with youth theatre music direction at the Haymarket Theatre, as well as the music direction of the 2014 Penguin Project production of Annie Jr., recipient of the Mayor's Arts Award of Outstanding Cultural Significance.

This  hilarious, satirical musical takes place in a dystopian future, where worldwide water shortages caused local governments to ban private bathrooms - leaving a single monopolizing Corporation in charge of all "Public Facilities". Winner of the 2001 Best Musical Score and Best Musical Book Tony awards, Urinetown pokes fun at capitalism, corruption, populism, and social justice. It also heavily parodies musical theatre as a form of art, and other musicals - with references to Les Miserables and other classics. 

Donna Harler Smith

Donna just finished a sold out run of The Addams Family at TADA in the Haymarket.  She was Grandma Addams.  "We got rave reviews and the experience, though time-consuming - was tremendous fun," she said. "It is so wonderful to allow people to laugh!"

Michael Cotton

Michael Cotton won, for a second time, the "Collaborative Pianist of the Year Award," which is to honor the most professional and artistic performance of a pianist in the NATS concert finals (the final round of competition for seniors and graduate students)

According to UNL's Alisa Belflower, to facilitate scheduling, the competition limits each pianist to a dozen auditions, which is nearly 50 or more songs/arias to master and then perform with the students in three rounds of competition. Cotton divided his availability equally among the faculty's studios and played nearly non-stop for two days. 

"He played magnificently and always let the singers shine, supported by his musical sensitivity and his calm, reassuring presence," she said. "My students love working and performing with Michael. Their best music making is inspired by working with him. He is remarkably patient, in being kind and encouraging to them—always remembering that they are in the middle of learning."

Alisa Belflower

In mid-October UNL's Coordinator of Musical Theatre Studies Alisa Belflower attended the 27th Annual Festival of New Musicals in New York City. The National Alliance for Musical Theatre produces the Festival of New Musicals to create a nurturing environment for discovery, development and advancement of the musical theatre art form. Since the Festival began 432 composers, lyricists and bookwriters creating new musical theatre works have been introduced musical theatre producers. More than 85% of the new musicals featured in the festival have gone on to subsequent readings, workshops, productions and tours, been licensed, and/or recorded on cast albums as a direct result of the Festival! The Festival produces staged readings and cabaret concerts to introduce new musicals in development and their creators to an industry-only audience with the experience and resources to move the work forward. Professor Belflower is honored to have been among the first college professors in the nation to be invited to this event, after which she provided written feedback to each of the writers. UNL's Lied Center for Performing Arts, Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film and the Glenn Korff School of Music have worked together to produce development projects for over 16 new musicals under Prof. Belflower's direction in the last decade or so. All of the new musicals developed at UNL have received further professional development and/or professional productions by some of the nation's most respected professional theatre's including Lincoln Center, Playwrights Horizons, York Theatre Company and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, among others.

The Lied Center for Performing Arts was pleased in early September 2015 to host the ASCAP New Musical Theatre Workshop. This event is hosted in New York City, Los Angeles and in Lincoln on UNL's city campus. Prof. Alisa Belflower was honored to produce and direct one of the two winning submissions, a new musical based on the Greek myth describing Hades' abduction of Persephone. Persephone Unplugged featured a cast of UNL students, alums performing with professional actors under the musical direction of Kurt Knecht. As a part of the festival weekend, Prof. Belflower was honored to create, produce and direct Broadway at the Lied: The Music of Steven Lutvak, a two-act revue hosted by Mr. Lutvak, the composer and co-lyricist of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, winner of 16 awards including the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical. The revue feature performances by guest artist and Broadway veteran Karen Morrow, Steven Lutvak and a company of Glenn Korff School of Music vocal students and alums.

In early November, Belflower was honored to present, give master classes and coach aspiring vocalists and actors as a guest artist in residence at Northern Iowa University. She presented her recent research relating innovating vocal and acting techniques to the performance of opera, art song and musical theatre repertoire.

John W. Richmond

John W. Richmond

John W. Richmond, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Glenn Korff School of Music, will be part of a panel presentation at the annual conference of the National Association of Schools of Music on Monday, November 23rd. Entitled, Think Big! Creating Your Lasting Legacy Through Philanthropy, this session will discuss principles of development for music in higher education.

John Bailey

Dr. John Bailey, Richard H. Larson Distinguished Professor of Music (Flute), recently presented at the College Music Society’s annual national conference in Indianapolis, on his system of “buddy lessons” where one flutist is the note-taker for the other, something he developed long ago, and his students all seem to really like.  Built in second flute for orchestral rep, a complete record of assignments and tips for solving problems, and the buddy learns all the music the lesson student is learning.

Kurt Knecht

It's been a busy couple of months for Kurt Knecht, Lecturer in Composition. 

“Prayer for Peace” for SATB chorus was premiered by multiple grammy award winning conductor Charles Bruffy at the Canta Mara festival in Nova Scotia. The UNL Chamber Singers will give a performance of the work on Dec. 4th at Sheldon.

“Missouri Sonata” for organ has been performed recently in Seattle, Colorado Springs, and Kansas City and will be the title track on Wyatt Smith’s debut album on the Raven label.

“Drop, drop, slow tears” was performed by Sul Ross State University in Texas and has an upcoming performance at the TMEA festival by Rick Bjella and Texas Tech in San Antonio.

“O Great Mystery” commissioned by Marietta College will be premiered in December and broadcast on television over the course of the month in four states.

“Ballad of a Vocal Performance Major” was done at Western Illinois University.

“Manly Men” was on tour throughout Ohio by Bowling Green State University.

Mark Clinton

Mark Clinton was the featured artist for the prestigious Christopher Durant Ballew Memorial Concert held on October 13, 2015 in the Cecil B. Day Chapel on the grounds of the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia in Athens.  He performed a solo recital featuring the works of Schubert, Schoenberg, and Brahms.  The concert was jointly sponsored by the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music and the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia.

He also served as chairman of the jury for the Sixth Seattle International Piano Festival and Competition, which was held at Benaroya Hall in Seattle from October 16-19, 2015.  The distinguished panel of jurors heard more than thirty promising young pianists from around the world competing for significant cash prizes and performance awards.  As chair of the jury, he also was invited to present a masterclass for talented young students performing works by Chopin and Beethoven.

Diane Barger Performance photo

Diane Barger

Diane Barger, Hixson-Lied Professor of Clarinet, performed a recital tour with the Amicitia Duo in early October. She performed recitals and gave master classes at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, and University of Tampa.

On November 23 Barger will present a lecture, "Collaborative Teaching and Learning in the Studio", for the Region 3 Session at the National Association of Schools of Music annual meeting in St. Louis, MO.

UNL Opera: Don Giovanni Live Tweets

A group of us from the Glenn Korff School of Music live tweeted the dress rehearsal on Wednesday night of UNL Opera's Don Giovanni. Here are some of the top tweets from the night (see all of them on Twitter by searching the hashtag #UNLOpera):