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Top of Their Class

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has announced the 2014 valedictorian, Sierra Ventura of Belfast, Maine, and salutatorian Jennifer Chalmers of Foxborough, Mass.

Both will receive their degrees at UMaine’s 212th Commencement ceremonies in Harold Alfond Sports Arena May 10.

“Sierra and Jenn personify the best of the University of Maine undergraduate experience in their academic excellence, community engagement, and dedication to research and scholarship,” says President Ferguson. “We are proud of their achievements and their leadership in the UMaine community.”

Ventura will receive a bachelor’s degree in music education. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has been active in UMaine’s chapter of the National Association of Music Education, including two years as treasurer, and she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her leadership roles on campus include serving as assistant conductor of the University of Maine Singers and of Euphony, the Orono-based chamber choir, both in 2013–14. The previous year, Ventura was the assistant accompanist of Collegiate Chorale.

Ventura also was a member of other musical ensembles in the UMaine School of Performing Arts, including Opera Workshop, Concert Band and Athena Consort, and she worked on the technical and events crews. Since 2009, she has had her own business, S.J. Ventura Music Instruction, teaching 35 students in piano, voice, flute, clarinet and saxophone. Ventura plans to pursue a graduate degree in music education at the University of Maine.

“UMaine has helped me shape my pursuits in the music education field,” Ventura says. “UMaine has also provided me the opportunity to connect with many veteran teachers and other professionals in my field throughout my undergraduate career, as well as give me tools to become a better private music teacher for my students. During my undergraduate career, I was also blessed to have met my fiancé during my time in University Singers.”

Chalmers will receive two bachelor’s degrees in English and in history. She has majored in English and history, with minors in education and Spanish, and received highest honors for her honors thesis, a historical and literary research project, entitled “Teaching Literature in America: Demonstrating Relevance in the Early Cold War (1945–1963).”

Chalmers is a member of multiple honor societies, including All Maine Women, Sophomore Eagles and Phi Beta Kappa. The UMaine Presidential Scholar Award recipient received Roger B. Hill Scholarships in both history and English, and the Ellis Prize in English. She also received a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

While at UMaine, Chalmers had two internships that advanced her professional writing skills. She was a human resources intern with the Massachusetts State Police in Framingham, Mass., and an English editorial intern with Pearson Higher Education in Boston, Mass. She was a journalist for the Maine Journal and a tutor for UMaine’s Writing Center. In addition, Chalmers was a student supervisor for Black Bear Dining concessions and a clarinetist in the UMaine Symphonic and Pep bands. Her community service activities included volunteering, serving as a note taker for UMaine Disability Support Services, and being involved in Autism at UMaine and the History Club.

“Since the moment I first visited UMaine, I have always felt at home,” Chalmers says. “I’m particularly appreciative of the way my professors have been so willing to help me achieve my goals and have always been on the lookout for opportunities that might be beneficial for me. I also really appreciate the wealth of opportunities that UMaine has provided outside the classroom. I have had so many opportunities to join organizations that I genuinely care about, gain leadership experience and make lasting friendships. My coursework, jobs and activities at UMaine have provided me with the experience that I have needed to get scholarships, internships and jobs, both inside and outside UMaine. The people, the organizations, and the generally encouraging atmosphere at UMaine have been invaluable to my personal, professional and intellectual growth during college, and I know that taking advantage of the opportunities that UMaine has to offer has allowed and prepared me to achieve my goals.”

Chalmers has accepted a position with Teach for America. For the next two years, she will teach secondary special education English in southern New Jersey and then will pursue graduate school.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Image Description: Ventura

Image Description: Chalmers

David Wells Featured Soloist for Jazz Ensemble Concert

The University of Maine Jazz Ensemble will perform in concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at Minsky Recital Hall.

Associate professor of trumpet Jack Burt directs the 20-piece big band, which performs music from all periods of jazz, including swing band music, bebop, fusion and funk.

David Wells will be the featured soloist on saxophone. The Maine-based jazz saxophonist teaches at Bates College and the University of Maine at Augusta. He has recorded or performed with Rosemary Clooney, funk pioneer Zigaboo Modeliste and comedian Don Rickles, as well as many Maine jazz musicians and ensembles.

Tickets are $9 or free with a student MaineCard. For tickets, call 207.581.4721. For disability accommodations, call 207.581.1755.

‘Worst One Ever’ to be Performed at Opera Workshop

The University of Maine School of Performing Arts’ Opera Workshop will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 19, in Minsky Recital Hall.

A feature of the evening will be the modern one-act opera “The Worst One Ever,” written by Gary Belshaw and directed by Christian Giddings. It takes place in a college dorm where three female students express their frustrations.

Nancy Ogle directs the remainder of the workshop, which includes excerpts from “The Mikado” and “Yeoman of the Guard” by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Also included will be “The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Albert Herring” by Benjamin Britten and “Der Freischutz” by Carl Maria von Weber.

“The Opera Workshop involves students in all aspects of musical theater production. Admission is $9, or free with a student MaineCard. For tickets or disability accommodations, call the Collins Center for the Arts, 207.581.1755.

Hallman, Cox Featured in BDN Article

The Bangor Daily News reported two music professors at the University of Maine — Ludlow Hallman and Dennis Cox — will retire at the end of the semester, and the upcoming Bangor Symphony Orchestra concert will be their last time working with the UMaine vocal groups they’ve led for decades. Hallman has conducted the Oratorio Society since he began teaching at UMaine in 1970, and Cox has led the University Singers for more than 30 years. Hallman said the two have been through a lot together and have become “very good friends.” Both men spoke highly of UMaine’s music program, facilities and students. “We have great students right now, and I mean that sincerely,” said Cox. “It’s always about the students. It’s always the most rewarding part of any day,” added Hallman.

Symphonic, Concert Bands to Perform at CCA

The University of Maine Symphonic and Concert bands will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 17, at the Collins Center for the Arts.

The 45-member Symphonic Band, directed by Christopher White, recently wrapped up a four-day, nine-performance spring coastal tour. Nine times on the tour, music performance major Blake Peachey of Augusta, Maine, performed “Concerto for Bb Cornet or Trumpet” by Franz J. Haydn. Peachey, winner of the 2014 UMaine Student Concerto Competition, will again play the trumpet solo at this concert. The program will also include two Percy Grainger folk songs as well as “Fantasia in G Major” by J.S. Bach and “Parkour” by Samuel R. Hazo.

The 54-member Concert Band, directed by Dana Ross, will play five selections, including “An Irish Rhapsody” by Clare Grundman, “Amazing Grace for Concert Band” by Frank Ticheli and “Prairie Songs” by Pierre LaPlante.

Tickets are $12 or free with a student MaineCard. For tickets, call 207.581.4721. For disability accommodations, call 207.581.1755.

UMaine Officials, Faculty Interviewed for BDN Article on Professor Pay

The Bangor Daily News spoke with several University of Maine officials and faculty members for the the article “UMaine relying more on lower-paid professors as budget shrinks.” Jason Canniff, a part-time faculty member who teaches English and Honors College courses, spoke about his typical work week. Pat Burnes, coordinator of UMaine’s First Year Writing Program, and Ludlow Hallman, chairman of the Music Department, spoke about hiring more adjuncts to replace retiring professors. Jeff Hecker, UMaine’s executive vice president of academic affairs and provost, said the university’s plan to pass a balanced budget for FY 2015 was an attempt to “meet our needs and commitments, while we develop a more thoughtful, longer-range plan.”

BDN, Pen Bay Pilot Report on UMaine Symphonic Band’s Vinalhaven Concert

The Bangor Daily News and Penobscot Bay Pilot reported on the University of Maine Symphonic Band’s trip to Vinalhaven to perform two concerts. The 45-member instrumental ensemble, which includes music majors and students pursuing a variety of academic disciplines, traveled to the island by ferry as part of their four-day, nine-performance spring tour. Christopher White, who conducts the group, said the trip marks the first time one of UMaine’s top performance ensembles has gone to an outer island to hold a concert. “So many of our kids have never done anything like this,” he said, adding that the annual tour is part of the group’s community service.

SPA Celebrates Musical Vision of Don Stratton

The University of Maine School of Performing Arts celebrates the musical vision of composer, jazz trumpeter and Maine educator Don Stratton during a two-part concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 11, at Minsky Recital Hall.

The concert, titled “Pythagoreanism and the Music of Don Stratton,” will feature Stratton’s multifaceted music. A jam session and refreshments will follow.

The first piece is “Ktaadn, The Highest Land,” directed by Dan Barrett. Rich Tozier of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network will narrate passages from Henry David Thoreau’s “The Maine Woods.” Tozier will be accompanied by a brass ensemble, woodwind trio and singers. The second set will showcase some of Stratton’s jazz compositions.

Tickets are $9, or free with a student MaineCard. For tickets or disability accommodations, call the Collins Center for the Arts, 207.581.1755.

Chamber Music Concert Slated for April 8

The University of Maine School of Performing Arts presents its Chamber Music concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, in Minsky Recital Hall.

Noreen Silver, music professor and cellist in Silver Duo, has put together a program of chamber works performed by student ensembles. Faculty members Phillip Silver, Eric Thomas and Liz Downing have provided coaching for the two- to eight-member groups.

The concert opens with W.A. Mozart’s “Trio in E flat K. 498,” performed by Benjamin McNaboe (clarinet), Olivia Bean (viola) and Abigail Gower (piano). Later, cellist Noreen Silver joins students Perla Fernandez, Gabrielle Price and Norah Bird for Antonin Dvořák’s “String Quartet Op. 96,” also known as the “American” Quartet. A sensuous arrangement of Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess” will be presented, as will the seldom-heard “Romance” by Sergei Rachmaninov. The University of Maine flute ensemble will complete the program with “Prelude and Rondo,” by Anne McGinty.

Admission is $9, or free with a student MaineCard. For tickets, call 207.581.4721. For disability accommodations, call 207.581.1755.

WVII Covers UMaine Symphonic Band’s Spring Tour Concert in Bucksport

WVII (Channel 7) reported on the first concert of the University of Maine Symphonic Band’s annual spring tour. The 45-member instrumental ensemble, which includes music majors and students pursuing a variety of academic disciplines, kicked off a four-day, nine-performance state tour at Bucksport High School. Christopher White, who conducts the group, said unique parts of the tour include hearing other local bands play and giving the students an opportunity to visit communities they may end up working in someday. Katie DeRoche, a senior who plays clarinet in the band, said what she enjoys most about the tour is interacting with children and community members. “It’s nice to see that people appreciate music and all the work we put into it,” she said.


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UMaine News
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1110
A Member of the University of Maine System