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.

rose fingered dawn cover

Hans Sturm and Tom Larson

Over a career spanning more than 30 years, vocalist and songwriter JACKIE ALLEN has produced 11 CDs that have garnered accolades from fans and critics alike. Now with ROSE FINGERED DAWN, her 12th release, the Chicago-based veteran ventures into new territory with an album featuring 10 original tunes all written specifically for her by the formidable bass player and Glenn Korff School of Music professor HANS STURM. Allen and Sturm are not only musical partners, they’re a husband and wife team who met in college and have been working both together and apart since the early 1980s when they began performing as a voice/bass duo act. Glenn Korff School of Music's Tom Larson joins them on keyboard. 

Allen has a smoky, expressive voice that’s instantly recognizable. She’s very musical and innovative, yet she eschews vocal pyrotechnics to express the story of a song with a directness that seems to emanate directly from her core. Allen’s repertoire has never been focused on a single genre of music. Throughout her career, she’s incorporated a range of styles, including folk and pop, that she transforms into the jazz idiom through her own unique approach.

ROSE FINGERED DAWN is a stylistically eclectic outing that draws on Allen’s skills as a natural storyteller. According the Allen, “Obviously, Hans knows me very well. I’m lucky to have a collaborator who can compose in so many different styles, as well create such poetic, sensitive imagery. His music can be so light and beautiful and romantic.” To which Sturm adds, “Jackie is my muse, and all these songs are ultimately her interpretations of my music. If she doesn’t connect with a particular lyric, I go back and rework it until she’s satisfied. I try to write to Jackie’s strengths, like her ability to convey lyrics naturally and honestly.”

ROSE FINGERED DAWN takes you on a journey across different geographical and emotional landscapes. Indeed, the eponymous title track is a nod to Homer’s Odyssey in which Odysseus invokes Eos, the goddess of dawn, as he sets out on his wanderings. The tune opens with a Ghanaian Islamic chant of welcome by drummer DANE RICHESON, who brings to the group his vast knowledge of musical cultures from around the world.

“NOLA Love Song” is a tune inspired by Allen’s and Sturm’s love of New Orleans, which they visited almost accidentally when they tried to escape a brutal Chicago winter. Their flight to the Caribbean was cancelled, so they hopped on the next available flight out, which happened to be going to The Big Easy. Hans had written the melody shortly after the trip, but he was inspired to write the lyrics after Hurricane Katrina.

Sturm, a poet at heart, loves wordplay and wrote “Time” using a series of clichés that all add up to the message that time flies and should be used wisely. The song has a moody jazz-rock feel that features a smoldering solo by the versatile guitarist JOHN MOULDER. “Dark Butterflies” is slow bossa that’s one of the earliest tunes that Sturm wrote for Jackie. It’s an abstract love song with lovely lyrics like “Lilies, from stem to blossom / Sliding out of the green silence / Suddenly biding their own time / Through sweet chocolate / Earth and are gone / With riots of color left behind.”

“Bel Air BBQ” is a funky homage to the great food and ambience of Kansas City, where they often travel to play music and enjoy the local cuisine. Chicago phenom VICTOR GARCIA tears it up on the tune with a burning trumpet solo. “The Laugh That Is You” is about their son’s infectious laugh. The tune is a swinger that sounds like a big band number from the Great American Songbook. On “The Moon’s on the Rise,” Allen’s sultry vocals raise the temperature of Sturm’s suggestive lyrics.

“Holy Man” switches gears with a get down blues about the hypocrisy of TV evangelists. “Sweet Dreams” is a tune that invites us “to find respite from the stress of modern life and the obstacles we each face.” Allen’s whispery vocals take on the dreamy quality one feels while slowly sliding into sleep. The CD fittingly closes with “Steal the Night,” a song inspired by Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle” about the ultimate end of all our journeys.

Allen and Sturm are joined on ROSE FINGERED DAWN by old friends and musical compatriots who have recorded and performed with the duo for many years. Besides the aforementioned guitarist John Moulder, trumpeter Victor Garcia, and drummer Dane Richeson, they’re accompanied by TOM LARSON on keyboards, reedman GEOFF BRADFIELD, and ANDY BAKER on trombone. Each of these stellar musicians has extensive performing and recording careers.

ROSE FINGERED DAWN is available in stores and online everywhere. Listen on Soundcloud to the title track, “Rose Fingered Dawn”:

Andrew Paulson

Alum Andrew Paulson is currently the Director of Music Ministries at Westwood Lutheran Church (ELCA) in St. Louis Park, MN. Westwood is an open, affirming, and inclusive church in the Twin Cities area, and is locally and nationally known for its historic music program.

Christian Johnson

Graduate student Christian Johnson was selected as a contestant for Celebration of Music! The show will take place this coming Sunday at the Rococo Theater at 3 p.m.

If he wins (by voting online here: ), he will have the opportunity to be locked-in for a spot in the Los Angeles TV showing of this event.

The show stars the PBS national artist, Ethan Bortnick, who will be advising and judging talent to see who will win. The winner will get to perform Live with Ethan in concert and record a single. 

Kelli Bomberger

Graduate student Kelli Bomberger was one of 18 students internationally selected for a student research panel for the International Society for Music Theory conference in Washington DC.

Bomberger is participating in Frank Samarotto’s workshop, “The Craft of Musical Analysis”.

Snook Sendoff Snook Sendoff

Sendoff with UNL Opera

We had an amazing opportunity to share our love of music with others that love music in a special way late Tuesday afternoon.

Ann Marie Snook, who is the chair of the music department at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and classically trained in opera, suffered a massive stroke on August 18 and has been rehabbing at Madonna Rehabilation Hospitals in Lincoln. Her husband, Lee, is also a professor of music at Washburn.

UNL Opera's William Shomos and Jared Hiscock along with pianist Denis Plutalov provided an amazing sendoff for Snook, who was having her final day at the hospital. They performed a duet from Don Pasquale. 10/11 news was also there to capture the event.

Thanks everyone for bringing all of this together so quickly and the smile on Ann's face spoke volumes.

Paul Haar

The modern saxophonist has a wonderful new tool at their disposal,
WWW.THESAXOPHONIST.ORG was created by university professor and performer, Dr. Paul Haar. Haar is currently the Associate Professor of Saxophone and Director of Jazz Studies at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Noticing a void in the saxophone community, Haar created “The Saxophonist” as a resource that would serve students, performers and educators alike.

“The saxophone has blessed my life by taking me places that I used to dream of and to make music with people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds. “The Saxophonist” is created to give back to the instrument I love!” -Paul Haar, Editor-in-Chief

The site, which launched in late August, offers informative articles, interviews with leading performers and teachers in the field and product reviews. In less than a week of its launch the site welcomed nearly 3,000 visitors from such locations as Brazil, Peru, Vietnam, Russia, Germany, England and Iceland. The inaugural issue showcases a review of the Retro Revival saxophone mouthpiece line and a featured article with tenor saxophonist, Lew Tabackin. The site is offered as a resource and is presented in a format that anyone, from any country, can access. In addition to Dr. Haar, The Saxophonist welcomes educators from around the world as reviewers, authors and advisors, making this venture truly “global”.

Julie Grives

Student Julie Grives presented at the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Stockholm, Sweden. Her presentation was titled, "Neuroplasticity and the Singing Brain" and she presented it to a standing room only audience. "It was a great experience, supported in part by the Hixson-Lied Student Grant program," she said. 

Emily Freeman

Emily Freeman

Student Emily Freeman submitted a video of her singing a song she wrote and was selected as one of two winners by Lucas Hoge and a panel of judges from his record label in Nashville. She will perform a short set to open up for him on August 19th at Byron Bash (a small town festival in Byron, Nebraska.)

Here is a link to Hoge's announcement:

Karen Becker

Karen Becker

Professor of Cello Karen Becker is having a piece rebroadcast today on Performance Today. The piece premiered in January 2015 in Kimball Recital Hall but the performance was recorded at the Red Lodge Music Festival -- Laurence Sherr's Sonata for cello and piano, "Mir Zaynen do!"

Greg Simon

Greg Simon

Assistant Professor of Composition Greg Simon is currently in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains for the 2017 season of the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute. Founded in 1936, the Brevard Music Center attracts over 400 music students from around the world for its six-week summer season. Greg serves on the composition faculty, working with student composers from as far away as China and attending schools such as Indiana University, the Boston Conservatory, and Oberlin College. This is his third consecutive year on the BMC faculty.