Montana Rep brings classic 'Mockingbird' to China

Acting Studends in

Since 1997, "To Kill A Mockingbird" has been the Montana Repertory Theatre's signature play.

The professional theater-in-residence at the University of Montana took it on a national tour that broke it into bigger markets and established its reputation as a company that specialized in great American stories.

Now the Rep is taking Harper Lee's classic tale of racism and justice in the American South to China for a three-week, two-city tour.

Read the rest of the article on the Missoulian here.

Glacier Dance

WEST GLACIER – Admit it.

If someone suggested you watch artists perform an hour-long dance about climate change, you might shoot them your best “have-you-lost-your-mind” look.

But your curiosity level might be raised, too.

When Karen Kaufmann’s phone rang in February 2015 and the caller asked her about putting together just such a production, her reaction, although certainly not the same, at least followed a similar arc.

“I grappled with it,” says Kaufmann, artistic director at the University of Montana’s CoMotion Dance Project. “The topic overwhelmed me. It was not immediately intuitive” how one would go about choreographing climate change.

The person on the other end of the line – Melissa Sladek of the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center – had seen what Kaufmann and CoMotion had accomplished with “Fire Speaks the Land,” an interpretive dance that tackled the ecology of fire.

That was different, Kaufmann felt. Flames from a fire all but dance above the materials they are burning.

Dancing to the tune of a mass of ice slowly melting away was another story.
Read the rest of the article on the Missoulian here.

Lily Gladstone is a star on the rise, but her Blackfeet identity and UM roots keep her grounded

Last February, Rene Haynes was standing in line at a Los Angeles Costco when her phone buzzed. She didn’t recognize the number, but as a Hollywood casting director, she’s used to urgent calls from strange numbers at all hours of the day. This one was from a fellow casting director, Mark Bennett. He was looking for Native actors to audition for a lead role in an independent film set in Montana.

The cashier scanned Haynes’ groceries as Bennett described the character—a reclusive ranch hand, the strong, silent type, grounded. Haynes, a UM theatre and dance alumna whose casting credits include Dances with Wolves, the Twilight series, and The Revenant, knew the perfect person. The conversation was over before she pushed her cart into the parking lot. She’d given Bennett only one name: Lily Gladstone, a relatively unknown young actor from Montana’s Blackfeet Reservation.

At the time, Gladstone was between acting jobs and wondering about her future. When her agent called, she quickly recognized the scale of the opportunity.
“It was a dream role,” she says. “I’ve always been drawn to quiet films, subtlety, what is not said. I couldn’t believe I was auditioning for it.”

She spent two weeks learning about the role. First she bought a pair of work boots and a flannel shirt. She wore them every day to get comfortable in her character’s wardrobe. She studied the script. Her character had broken bones, so she practiced moving with creaks. Finally, she drove to tiny Belfry, the town where the story was set. She wanted to feel her character’s landscape. After all that, two friends helped her film some scenes, which she sent to the director, Kelly Reichardt.

Three days later, she got the call: The role was hers. She screamed. She paced. She called her mother. And then, shortly thereafter, she spent almost six weeks on set near Livingston, acting across from Kristen Stewart in Certain Women, a feature film based on three short stories by Helena native Maile Meloy.

“It’s pretty revolutionary that part went to an almost total unknown and that it went to me, a Native actress, without it being a trope,” Gladstone says.
When Certain Women premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this January, Gladstone’s performance was singled out for praise. Rolling Stone heralded her a “breakout star” with “greater depths of feeling than many performers could ever hope to show.” A writer for Variety called her “luminous” and said a sustained close-up of Gladstone’s subtly expressive face was “the best single minute of acting this critic saw all festival.”

“It was really validating and exciting,” Gladstone says, “but something in there is terrifying. It’s a lot to live up to.”

For a future movie star, Gladstone had a suitably cinematic birth. Her parents lived on the Blackfeet Reservation, and when her mother went into labor early one August morning, no one was available at Indian Health Service in Browning to give her a caesarian. So an emergency helicopter flew her to Kalispell Regional Medical Center just as the sun crested the Rocky Mountain Front. Lily’s father told her she didn’t cry when she was born. She just looked around the room and smiled. It was her first audience.

Growing up as an ethnically mixed kid on the Blackfeet Reservation wasn’t always easy. Her father is Nez Perce and Blackfeet, and her mother is Dutch and Cajun. Because she was a light-skinned Native girl, Gladstone often found herself in an awkward middle ground between her Native and non-Native classmates. She shrugged off the teasing—mostly from mixed kids like her—and tried to make people laugh with her goofball antics in class.

“I had a lot of energy I didn’t know what to do with,” she says.

Gladstone found her outlet when the Missoula Children’s Theatre came to East Glacier to put on Cinderella. She was cast as one of the evil stepsisters.

“It was the first time that I felt cool,” she says. “I think I just loved attention.”

When she acquired a videotape of The Nutcracker ballet, she watched it every day, marveling over the dancing and drama. She started seriously pursuing ballet herself, first in the basement of a Browning church. Her parents encouraged her, their only child, even driving Gladstone to Columbia Falls for lessons.

Eventually, Gladstone’s family moved to Seattle, in part to give her more performance opportunities. Her mother got a teaching job as an early childhood specialist. Her father found work as a boilermaker in a shipyard. Gladstone joined a ballet troupe and honed her practice until age fifteen, when her passion became self-destructive. She developed an eating disorder. Her self-esteem plummeted.

“In ballet, you get so involved in perfectionism that you hate yourself and what you’re not able to do,” she says.

Gladstone fled ballet for theater, which restored her self-confidence and allowed her to use her body in different ways. She performed Shakespeare, contemporary drama, and fairy tales in high school productions and in a small community theater.

“As a teenager, I was someone who didn’t keep a lot of friends,” she says. “Theater and acting changed that. I loved being on stage.”

Gladstone chats on the stage of the Dennison Theatre.Gladstone chats on the stage of the Dennison Theatre.

Gladstone enrolled at the University of Montana’s Davidson Honors College in 2004, where she was the first Native American to earn a prestigious Presidential Leadership Scholarship. She got her B.F.A. in acting, with a minor in Native American studies. And she performed every chance she got—in campus plays and in student films.

“There are a lot of talented kids at UM, but she’s always been a standout,” says Greg Johnson, who taught and directed her in Montana Repertory Theatre productions. “She’s absolutely a transcendent actress. We were lucky to have her.”

Johnson watched Gladstone transform from a “wide-eyed freshman” into a “thorough professional.” He says her focus, keen insight, and work ethic elevated her acting above her peers. She was punctual. When she got on set, she was usually “off-book,” meaning she’d memorized her lines. She instilled her characters with emotional depth. She paid attention and took notes.

As a longtime Broadway performer, Johnson knows that professional actors are beset with extreme highs and lows. Great achievement can be followed by spells of professional drought.

“Whether you’ve done fifty films or two films, you never know what tomorrow will bring,” he says. “You have to be strong of mind and spirit to succeed.”

But Johnson predicts a bright career for a grounded actor like Gladstone.

“I think she’s going to weather the slings and arrows of the profession very well,” he says. “She’s centered. She knows who she is.”

Gladstone graduated from UM in 2008 and went on a yearlong national tour with a Montana Rep production of To Kill a Mockingbird. She found work with a project called Living Voices, in which she traveled and performed one-woman plays about Native American boarding schools, Japanese internment camps, and migrant farmworkers.

Gladstone toured again with the Montana Rep for The Miracle Worker, in which she played Helen Keller’s mother. She wrote a play with a friend. And she directed children’s theater in Seattle with a group called Red Eagle Soaring.

She picked up local film work, too, first as an assistant for Montana filmmaking brothers Alex and Andrew Smith. The brothers were assembling a cast for their production of Winter in the Blood, the novel by Blackfeet author James Welch. Gladstone loved the book as a teenager. During the casting process, she read parts off-camera for hundreds of auditioning actors.

“We kept noticing no matter who we put in there, she was better,” says Andrew Smith. “We knew way before she did that we wanted her in the film.”

Eventually they cast Gladstone as Marlene, a woman who meets the main character just as his life is spiraling out of control. Smith says Gladstone worked hard to develop Marlene, while also contributing valuable cultural insight on the Blackfeet spiritual entities behind the other characters.

“She never stops thinking about the role,” says Smith, a professor in UM’s School of Media Arts. “I would like to put her in every film I make. She makes films better.”

Her success in Winter in the Blood soon led to other work. She played a minor speaking role opposite Oscar-winning star Benicio del Toro in Jimmy P. She acted in a short called Universal VIP and in a microbudget feature called Subterranea, which was made by UM media arts alumni.
But Smith says as a Native actor in an industry that is being skewered for its lack of diversity, Gladstone faces challenges other performers don’t.

“It’s more difficult if you’re an actor of color to get roles that are multidimensional,” Smith says, “because so few of those roles are written. But I think her talent will transcend the racial and ethnic pigeonholing. And as long as interesting roles get to her, she’ll have a damn good chance of getting them.”

Gladstone’s black hair, high cheeks, and transporting brown eyes are all products of her Native heritage. But her mixed genes lend Gladstone a look that many find hard to place.

“People see me and they know I’m something,” she says. “They think I’m Latina, or Japanese-American, but not Native American. We’re still a myth as a people.”

So Gladstone spends a lot of time explaining herself.

“Yes, I’m mixed,” she says. “Yes, I’m light. Yes, I’m Native.”

Her appearance is important, because it determines the roles she gets. Gladstone suspects she’s too fair to play a Native American in a historical movie like The Revenant. But she’s not fair enough to play the more plentiful roles written for white actors.

“That’s the industry,” she says. “It’s built around pigeonholing you based on appearance and type. You have to be confident in who you are. Otherwise it’s easy to get offended.”

To a casting director, Gladstone is “ethnically ambiguous,” meaning she could fit a variety of roles. And sometimes her characters reflect that ambiguity. In Certain Women, Gladstone’s character isn’t explicitly Native. Gladstone is proud of parts like these, because when Native actors play rounded, non-stereotypical roles, it helps demythologize the Native experience.

Independent movies are doing better at this than Hollywood. Gladstone says Native filmmakers Sydney Freeland and Nanobah Becker are telling modern Native stories, as is the sketch comedy group the 1491s. And she is encouraged by the success of Native actors like Q’orianka Kilcher and Chaske Spencer.

But when it comes to building a career as a professional actor, Gladstone is aware that being Native is a mixed bag.

“It helps and it hurts,” she says. “My identity has got me in the door for a lot of fantastic projects, but it’s not what ultimately landed me the role.”

On a recent Wednesday morning, I meet Gladstone in a café near campus. It’s unseasonably sunny, and she walks in wearing calf-length jeans, black Dr. Martens, a heather sweater, and a mustard-colored beanie.

She’s on time, and she holds the door for a stranger. Newfound fame hasn’t robbed her of any Montana decency. She’s confident, but considerate, too. She orders coffee and eggs.

Gladstone is twenty-nine years old. But at a time when many in her position would be fleeing for L.A. or New York, she just moved into a modest apartment near UM.

“I’m never going to fully leave Montana,” she says. “I like being in a place where I can work with Native communities. And Missoula’s a really nice place to be grounded when you’re a working, traveling artist.”

Gladstone did spend a week in L.A. during spring pilot season. She auditioned for sixteen roles, including a gypsy assassin, Nancy Drew, a lost millennial nanny, a hippy-dippy psychic who’s actually a witch, and a futuristic Marine sergeant on Mars. She’s waiting to hear back on some, but she’s not holding her breath.

“Sometimes you know you’re right for something,” she says. Other times, you’re just introducing yourself to a casting director.

It’s been four months since Sundance, enough time for the buzz to fade and questions to creep in about her future as an actor. She doesn’t have any definite acting work lined up. As for Certain Women, it won’t even hit theaters until the end of the year. Patience is part of the process.

“Even when you get something enormously exciting, it takes a long damn time,” Gladstone says. “It’s a lot of hoping and wishing. You have to learn to let go.”

Gladstone knows the phone could ring any minute, like it did with Certain Women. But in the meantime, she’s pursuing her own film ideas and working with kids. She’s helping produce a friend’s first feature. She thinks about grad school.

“I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do next,” she says, “but it’s going to be something unconventional.”

For now, Gladstone is heeding some advice from a former professor to never stop growing as a person, because character is the only thing with a shelf life in a business that can make you disposable.

“People want to work with good actors,” she says, “but they also want to work with good human beings.”

It bodes well for Hollywood and for the rest of us, then, that Gladstone is equally prepared for both of those roles.

UMArts Alum, Arlynn Fishbaugh, recieves Distinguished Alumni Award


MISSOULA – Four outstanding University of Montana graduates will receive 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards during Homecoming weekend festivities on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. The awards are the highest honor presented by UM’s Alumni Association.

This year’s distinguished alumni are Darrel Choate ’65, M.A. ’67, of Bozeman; Timothy Conver ’66 of Chatsworth, California, Arlynn Fishbaugh ’74 of Helena; and Tom Seekins ’74 of Missoula.

Choate, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics at UM, was instrumental in coordinating Boeing Co.’s efforts in the Strategic Defense Initiative – also known as Star Wars – for which he performed sensitive trade studies and analysis that have influenced the current U.S. ballistic missile defense architecture. He also served as the systems engineering manager for the development of Sea Launch, a program in cooperation with Russian, Ukrainian and Norwegian companies to launch commercial satellites from one of the world’s largest self-propelled, semisubmersible platforms. He is a member of the Boeing Company’s Technical Fellowship program, placing him among the top 1 percent of Boeing engineers who demonstrate technical leadership across the industry and who make a significant difference in U.S. and global engineering excellence. Choate began his career with the Aerospace Corporation and continued with the Kaman Science Corporation, eventually retiring from the Boeing Company. Upon retirement, he adapted his technical and personal skills to assist the development of infrastructure in Mexico, Honduras and Haiti, and made significant contributions to the Japan International Project, a tsunami rebuilding effort.

Sound inspires dedicated musician born with severe hearing impairment

Emily Silks, a University of Montana percussion performance major, talks recently at her home in Missoula about her career as a musician and the paths that led her there. Silks was born with a rare condition that left her 95 percent hearing impaired, and she couldn't fully hear until she was 7 years old, after two risky surgeries.

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CVPA Summer 2016

CVPA Summer 2016

UM Media Arts Students Gain Professional Film Experience

UM Professor Thinks Big with Quarter-ton Ceramic Sculptures

Missoula Piano Trio Triumphs in MTNA Divisional Competition – Heading for National Finals

UM music majors Adam Sears, piano, and Sarah Harmsworth, violin, along with Hellgate High School cellist David Harmsworth

Missoula Piano Trio Triumphs in MTNA Divisional Competition – Heading for National Finals

By Steven Hesla

The “Missoula Piano Trio”, comprised of UM music majors Adam Sears, piano, and Sarah Harmsworth, violin, along with Hellgate High School cellist David Harmsworth, recently won the Music Teachers National Association’s Northwest Division Young Artist String Chamber Music Competition.  

This six-state competition was held on the UM campus on January 18th. The MTNA Northwest Division includes the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

The trio will now advance to national finals in San Antonio, Texas on April 2nd. The MTNA National Competition finals in solo piano, voice, brass, winds, strings, and chamber music will all take place during the MTNA National Conference, April 2-6, 2016 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Antonio.

Following the Northwest Division Competition, the judge complimented the Missoula Piano Trio’s success in conveying the meaning of each piece, which included Shostakovich’s Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 8 and Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1 (“Ghost”).  “Every phrase was beautifully conceived and performed,” the adjudicator shared with the trio and the trio’s coach, Professor Steven Hesla, after the winners had been announced. Now Professor Hesla and the trio are ratcheting up for an even more thrilling performance in San Antonio.

UM Professor Wins Annual Composers’ Competition

Emilie LeBel looks away from the camera while touching her hair with her left hand

MISSOULA – Emilie LeBel, assistant professor of composition at the University of Montana School of Music, became the first woman to win the Land’s End Ensemble’s Composer Competition.

The Land's End Ensemble, dedicated to excellence in performance and recording of new music, as well as to enriching collaborations with eminent composers and artists, holds an annual national composer competition in Canada. This year’s competition was March 6 at the University of Calgary.

LeBel responded to a call for piano trio works in 2015. She was among three finalists selected by a blind jury who were flown to Calgary, Alberta, to participate in the competition concert. Each finalist presented their piece during the concert, the jury deliberated, and the winner was announced. LeBel won with her piece “Oranda.” She will receive a $1,500 commissioning prize after composing a new piece for a piano trio that will be premiered next season by the Land’s End Ensemble.

UM Student Documentary Wins Big at Utah Film Festival

Read the full story here.


Ivan Morrison in his studio

Ivan Morrison (MFA ‘67) considers the community of inspiring friends and mentors he found as a graduate student in the School of Art to be one of the greatest gifts of his UM education. However, it’s a story he hadn’t shared that inspired his generous gift to establish a new scholarship for UMArts students in need.


Ivan grew up near the Mississippi River on a dairy farm outside of Ellsworth, Wisconsin; art and music were part of his life from an early age. It was an easy decision to pursue an undergraduate degree in art. Joining the Marine Corps meant that art would have to wait. Ivan served and completed his duty just ahead of the Viet Nam War, as his base in Okinawa was placed on red alert for transfer to Laos. His service provided him with his degree through the GI Bill; however, it also set him further apart from his high school peers—“I was a freshman when everybody else was a senior.” It was a productive, if solitary, time.

Ivan persevered and completed his degree, then taught for a year before realizing that teaching was not his path. He was accepted to the MFA program at UM, and again was making his way alone. “I didn’t know a single person in Montana; I came to the Art Department by myself. Then, walking up the steps to the Fine Arts building, the first person I met asked if he could help me …”


The person at the top of the stairs was Rudy Autio, the renowned professor who drew many students

to UM’s Art program though his artistry and charismatic style. Later, Rudy asked Ivan what brought him to UM, and Ivan simply said, “the mountains.” He chuckles now, “I

think most people, at that time, came to UM for him. I wish I’d been just 2% smarter about my answer.”

Autio became one of Ivan’s most influential professors, along with Don Bunce, Walter Hook, and James Dew. He remembers Hook and Dew: “They made all the difference; they always involved me, checked on me to see if I was getting on all right.” Ivan laughs, “I had to get used to that kind of personal attention.”

When asked to reflect on the highlights of his time at UM, Ivan answers, “The precious friends I made … always including me, always inviting me along. It was more precious than anything. Nancy Erickson had two small children and she always invited me on picnics … Dana Boussard, Brian Persha, Brenda Persha, Marty Holt, Jackie McElroy. There are so many, I don’t want to forget anyone. They all made an indelible impression on me. I knew I had connected with something special.”


In this supportive environment, Ivan flourished, developing his artistic skill and unique style in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Yet no one knew that his experience nearly ended in the second quarter of his first year; “I checked my bank account, and I was down to $25. I never told anyone about that … I was $25 from the door.”

Fortunately, the next day, a check arrived in the mail for a painting sold in the Midwest, then he got a sculpture commission. In his second year, with an assistantship in the Art Department and support from the GI Bill, Ivan was able to complete his degree. Still, he never forgot the feeling of being so close to losing a cherished dream, and pledged to someday help others avoid that precipice.


Ivan is quick to say that his career has not been one of fortune or fame; but it has been deeply satisfying. After graduating with his MFA, Ivan’s abstract impressionist paintings and drawings landed him

prestigious exhibitions across the West Coast. He branched into sculpture as soon as his supply budget allowed. His work can be seen in diverse venues, including the permanent collection of the Coos Bay Art Museum. His striking, massive sculpture Untitled (1977) is displayed as part of the TriMet Public Art program in Portland, Oregon. Today, Ivan and Mary Morrison live north of Seattle, and he continues to create sculpture in his private studio and to compose and play music.

Many would be happy with this culmination of a life well-lived, but for Ivan there was something still undone. Recalling his experience as a student, inspired by his faith and a lifelong passion for social justice, Ivan decided to create a scholarship for UMArts students. He began by making a series of gifts to create the Ivan Morrison Scholarship in the Arts, which benefits students who demonstrate financial need and rotates annually among the Schools of Art, Music and Theatre & Dance.

Initially, Ivan made annual gifts to set up the scholarship award, and after years of thoughtful saving, he made a major gift which was invested; a portion of the interest earned will fund his scholarship in perpetuity. Further, Ivan and Mary set up an estate plan to add to the endowment principal after their lifetimes.

“This was a stretch for me, it took a while to save it up … I know there are people who have a lot more money than me, of course, but certainly we have to do what we can. I believe we’re called to share our wealth, from a spiritual standpoint. You give because of love. Love for others and for those less fortunate.”

School of Theatre & Dance Alum Selected for Leadership Program

Lily Gladstone

Lily Gladstone, School of Theatre & Dance, BFA 2008, was selected to participate in the 2015 Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) Emerging Leaders of Color Professional Development Program to be held in Denver Colorado on October 26-28, 2015.

WESTAF is a regional non-profit arts service organization whose mission is to strengthen the financial, organizational, and policy infrastructure of the arts in the western United States. In its work, WESTAF strives to reflect the values, insights, spirit and knowledge of communities of color, indigenous peoples and other marginalized ethnic communities in the west.

WESTAF established its emerging Leaders of Color Professional Development Program by: Building a Cohort of cultural leaders of color in the western United States. Engaging diverse emerging leaders in coursework and activities designed to strengthen competencies and prepare participants for leadership in the field. They establish networks; deepen understanding of the arts in the United States; and examine how public support sustains the vibrancy of the sector.

Lily Gladstone is an actress, theatrical artist, workshop facilitator and educator. Born and raised in Montana, Lily is of Native American/First Nations heritage, from the Amskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet), Kainaiwa (Blood) and Niimipoo (Nez Perce) nations. Lily grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, primarily in Browning and East Glacier. In 1997, her family moved to Seattle, WA.

By 2004, Lily returned to Big Sky country to attend the University of Montana. In 2008, Lily graduated with high honors. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre with an Acting focus, as well as a minor in Native American Studies.   

Since graduating from UM, she has worked professionally on stages and screens around the United States. 

She is a company member with Living Voices, a touring educational theatre based in Seattle, WA. Lily has also performed with The Montana Rep and Native Voices at the Autry.  She is soon to begin work with the inimitable Red Eagle Soaring – a Native American Youth theatre program based in Seattle.  

25 Under 25 – Congratulations Michael T. Workman

Michael Workman

Michael T. Workman, School of Art BFA and Media Arts BA 2015, and Odyssey of the Stars Student honoree, was recently named one of Forward Montana’s 25 Under 25. 25 Under 25 is an award that recognizes 25 Montanans under the age of 25, who are shaping Montana through their work, while leading social change.

Michael is an artist working in film, installation, performance, and sculpture.  His art deals with the ritual of consumption, the artificiality of value, social inequalities and superficialities. Workman’s first documentary, An Anonymous Rebellion, premiered at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in 2010. In 2015 his short documentary, Constructed Situations, won the Best Film Grand Jury Award at the Audience Awards Art Montana competition.

Michael’s solo art exhibition, Masses, at the Real Good Art Space in August 2015, was featured on the front page of the Missoulian Entertainer and a live interview was broadcast from outside the art building on ABC/Fox Missoula on Tuesday, August 25.

As the Associate Programmer/Festival Coordinator of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Michael mentors high school students interested in making documentary films.

He has taught teen and adult art workshops at the Missoula Art Museum and the Zootown Arts Community Center, and works to promote and educate students not only to get them excited and build confidence, but to help the next generation of Montana artists and filmmakers gain the knowledge and skills needed to be competitive in the field and share the issues of Montana with the world.

UMArts congratulates Michael T. Workman on his recent success and look forward to following his career in art and film.

Royce McIntosh – A Story of Persistence

Royce McIntosh with a group of performers

Royce McIntosh enjoyed singing at a young age. At age 12, he was performing in summer stock shows at Weathervane Theatre, New Hampshire. His supportive parents never pushed him to perform, he simply enjoyed it. Being around the equity professionals at the Weathervane had a big influence on his path as a singer. Many had performed on Broadway or at the Metropolitan Opera. After graduating high school, he decided to attend college and focus on singing. McIntosh started a voice performance/pedagogy degree at Plymouth State College. By his third year, he was giving private voice lessons and singing in groups and shows and traveling in Eastern Europe performing concerts in venues one only dreams about.  He was an all-New England NATS winner for musical theater and placed second in the classical division.

McIntosh took time away from college to audition in NYC.  During auditions, he was often told “You have a beautiful baritone voice but your looks need to age before you can be cast in productions such as these. Come back in ten years and keep up your voice.”  Disappointed, he chose to work building houses, resurfaced clay tennis courts and working at Cannon Mountain ski area, as a snowmaker in the winter and trail worker in the summer. McIntosh practiced singing under the stars at 3am while moving snowguns, flying down the mountain on a shovel, or running a chainsaw clearing the way for more ski lifts and trails.

After calling a childhood friend to ask about Montana, McIntosh came out west. He landed a job at Snowbowl, and was put at head of snowmaking. Some of his colleagues were musically involved in the community. Owner Ronnie Morse was on the board at Missoula Children’s Theater and her son Andrew has been involved with the orchestra for years. I inquired about the University of Montana music program and heard rave reviews. After singing a couple of songs at Snowbowl parties and gatherings, he decided to check out the program. According to McIntosh, “I never let my voice go and I know deep down I really wanted to continue my education and pursue my real talent. I got asked to give a couple voice lessons to people and my motivation really changed.”

He started the music program in fall 2005, studying with the then head of the School of Music, Dr. Stephen Kalm. It was a fresh look at voice and he learned a lot. Having a pedagogy background, he was able to apply new things learned from Dr. Kalm, which helped his singing and furthered his knowledge. McIntosh decided to take a hiatus from UM and traveled to Connecticut. While there he played Billy Lawlor in a community production of 42nd Street. McIntosh eventually returned to UM, and started working with Dr. David Cody. Dr. Cody brought more knowledge and function to his voice. McIntosh played the role of Count Almavita in The Marriage of Figaro at UM and the role of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at the Missoula Children’s theater. McIntosh also spent a summer working in Virginia City, MT at the Virginia City Players under the direction of Stacey Gordon and Gregory Johnson.  

McIntosh took another break in his studies and went back east. When he returned to Connecticut, he was offered a job at Theater by the Sea in Rhode Island, an equity/non-equity theater. I played the role of Dr. Carasco and understudied Don Quiote in a production of Man a la Mancha. Just prior to starting his first big break came, the new Lincoln Center Version, National Tour of South Pacific. He was in the ensemble, had the bass solo in Nothing like a Dame and understudied Stewpot, Captain Bracket and Emile de Becque for South Pacific.

Eventually, McIntosh landed his longest tour, Mamma Mia! playing the role of the Priest Father Alexandrios, was in the ensemble, and covered two of the three dads. When we were done we performed more than 500 times, in over one hundred cities and 40 states, Bogota, Columbia, and throughout Canada.

Now, McIntosh is returning to the University of Montana to start a Masters in Music with a focus in musical theater. With a background in a large variety of styles and experiences in music and theater, he is looking forward to gaining more knowledge, and to continue teaching. As McIntosh points out, “Montana and the university hold a very special place in my heart and I'm thrilled to be back!”

UM Chamber Chorale Invited to Perform at Seattle Conference

The University of Montana Chamber Chorale has been honored by the American Choral Directors Association with an invitation to perform at the association’s 2016 northwest conference March 3-6 in Seattle. 

It is UM’s first ACDA invitation and follows the choir’s recent invitational performance at the National Association for Music Education’s Northwest Conference in February, which also was a first in the choir’s history.

The UM Chamber Chorale is a select choir whose members are chosen by audition at the beginning of each school year. Singers in the choir include music majors as well as students from a variety of majors across campus. As UM’s premier choral ensemble, the Chamber Chorale tours the state and region presenting a repertoire from a variety of genres, historical periods and cultures.

“ACDA is the gold standard when it comes to choral music in the United States,” said David Edmonds, director of choral studies at UM. “While at the conference the Chamber Chorale will perform alongside many of the best choral ensembles from the Northwest at the high school, college and professional levels. So, this is indeed a great honor.  

“The audition process for the ACDA conference is extremely rigorous and requires demonstration of three years of outstanding artistic achievement by each selected choir,” Edmonds said. “Therefore, this is not just an accomplishment of the 2015-16 singers, but of the many students who have participated in the Chamber Chorale since 2012.”



Colonel Timothy J. Holtan recently became the 10th Leader and Commander of The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” Washington, D.C. The change of command ceremony took place on December 12, 2014 at Brucker Hall, Fort Myer, Virginia, which is adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery. Presiding over the ceremony was Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, Commanding General of Joint Force Headquarters-National Capitol Region and U.S. Army Military District of Washington.

Holtan most recently served as Commander of The U.S. Army Field Band (The Musical Ambassadors of the Army) at Fort Meade, Maryland; and was also the 22nd Leader of the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point, New York. Colonel Holtan holds the distinction of being the first officer to command all three of the Army’s premier bands.

While under Col. Holtan’s leadership, The U.S. Army Field Band performed in Belgrade, Great Falls, Conrad, Billings and Glendive as part of their fall tour of 2012.

Tim is a native of Washburn and Bismarck, North Dakota, graduating from Bismarck High School in 1973. He holds music degrees from Bismarck State College (’74), Montana State University (’77) and the University of Montana (’83). He began his teaching career in Montana public schools, first in Superior, and later as Director of Bands at Great Falls High School from 1983 to 1988.

In 1988, at age 33, Col. Holtan entered the U.S. Army and has served as an Army Bands Officer for over 26 years. He has presented concerts and clinics in all 50 states, Canada, Japan, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Europe, and is active as a conductor and clinician.

Col. Holtan’s other military assignments include: Commandant, U.S. Army School of Music, Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he served as the primary proponent for all 100 Army Bands and oversaw the training of over 500 professional musicians annually; Deputy Commander of The U.S. Army Field Band, Fort Meade, Maryland; Department of the Army Staff Bands Officer; tours as Commander and Executive Officer of the U.S. Continental Army Band, Fort Monroe, Virginia; and Executive Officer of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” Washington, DC, where he served in overlapping capacities as Director of the Ceremonial Band, Brass Band, Chorale, and Chorus.

In 2000, Col. Holtan was selected for the Army’s “Training with Industry” program. He served as the Director of Operations and Associate Conductor of the Dallas Winds, while concurrently pursuing doctoral studies at the University of North Texas. Holtan’s ensembles have been seen on many nationally televised broadcasts and diverse stages such as the Kennedy Center, Avery Fisher Hall, DAR Constitution Hall, the Mormon Tabernacle, the Myerson Symphony Center, and the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Under his leadership and after a 44-year absence, the West Point Band reestablished a partnership with the New York Philharmonic, which resulted in five Lincoln Center joint performances. Col. Holtan also led the West Point Band in the Emmy-nominated “Marina at West Point” PBS television production that has reached over 160 million viewers.

In 2001, Col. Holtan was honored as Alumnus of the Year by Bismarck State College, and in 2006, he was inducted into the Bismarck High School Hall of Fame. Col. Holtan serves on the National Band Association (NBA) Board of Directors and has received two NBA Citations of Excellence. In 2011, he was the University of Montana’s School of Visual and Performing Arts “Odyssey of the Stars” honoree, and was inducted into their Hall of Honor. In 2014, Col. Holtan was elected to membership in the American Bandmasters Association. He also serves on the president’s advisory board of the Midwest Clinic – the world’s largest instrumental music education conference.

Tim is married to Laurie Matheson Holtan, a native of Conrad, Montana. She is a UM alumna (’77) and holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Montana State University (’80). She taught choral music in Chinook from 1980-84 and was the Associate Choral Director at Great Falls High School from 1985-89.

The Holtans currently reside in Arlington, Virginia and Sykesville, Maryland, and have two daughters – Elizabeth Holtan of Arlington, Va. and Katherine Holtan of Sound Beach, New York.

Exhibit A: Amy Almquist


UM Theatre & Dance Alumn, Amy Almquist (MFA Directing ‘93), has the national distinction of being the only professional actor working full-time in a prosecutor’s office exclusively to train attorneys in courtroom presentation techniques and persuasive communication strategy. As the Training Supervisor at the Pima County Attorney’s Office in Tucson, AZ, her work has given Pima County a reputation for developing criminal prosecutors with presence and strong trial skills. We asked Amy to tell us more about her creative career and her advice for prospective students and recent graduates in the arts.

UMArts: Amy, you’re breaking ground as a professional actor/director training prosecutors in performance theory for the courtroom. But your work isn’t just limited to Tucson.
Amy: That’s right. I also work with the Pentagon and the U.S. Department of the Army’s JAG Trial Counsel and Defense Counsel Assistance Program. I am honored to travel to military bases around the world training litigators in strategic trial advocacy by immersing them into the world of theatre and the discipline of acting and applying it to their work. As part of my work with lawyers, I authored a manual for effective courtroom trial advocacy called Authentic, Persuasive and Strategic Communication: The Three Keys to Powerful Courtroom Performance. I guest lecture and lead workshops on strategic communication skills at the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council, the University of Arizona’s Graduate College, International Doctoral Program, Eller College of Business and the James E. Rogers College of Law. I’ve presented communication training seminars at the National Advocacy Center in South Carolina and the JAG Criminal Law School for the U.S. Department of the Army.  

UMArts: That’s impressive work–can you tell us more about your career path?  
Amy: I began by studying acting at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago and then UM where I received my MFA in directing and served as a graduate instructor, teaching acting to non-majors. I worked professionally as an actor and director for over 25 years on stage, and in film and commercials, and I am a member of the Screen Actors Guild. For nearly a decade, I traveled internationally with LaughingStock Comedy Company performing customized comedy improv entertainment for Fortune 500 companies. I also served on the faculty at Pima College in Tucson teaching acting, public speaking and interpersonal communication before moving to my current role with the Pima County Attorney’s Office.

UMArts: Why did you choose the University of Montana and the Master of Fine Arts in Theatre?
Amy: I always loved Missoula for its rich arts scene and diverse population. I started my career as an actor and had minimal exposure to the complexities of directing. The UM MFA Theatre degree emphasized blending the discipline of acting with directing. I was able to work on my acting and become a better director because of it. In class I watched the way professors worked with my colleagues and then I applied those techniques with my own actors in rehearsals at night. The directing program at UM was also unique to other programs as it offered numerous opportunities to direct small scenes, fully-staged productions and film projects.

UMArts: How did your UMArts education prepare you for what you do today?
Amy: When I took performance-theory courses in my UM graduate program, I could hardly fathom a situation where I would use the information practically since I wasn’t looking to teach at the university level or pursue a doctorate. Working with lawyers has changed that for me. While actors openly embrace presentation and performance work with feeling, lawyers openly resist it with their intellect. I found myself re-learning how to teach acting from an intellectual perspective and performance theory really became the backbone of my work. I have the pleasure of being able to work with criminal prosecutors and defense attorneys much like a theatre director by helping them feel more comfortable and confident in their work. It’s a joy to workshop one-on-one with an attorney, get to the heart of their discomfort and see them grow and become more self-assured week by week. When I watch attorneys in front of a jury successfully put child molesters and murderers away, it’s tremendously satisfying to know that I played a part in making sure that justice was served.

UMArts: Was there a UM professor who especially influenced you?
Amy: The late Dr. James Kriley left an indelible imprint on me. He had a wonderful way of applying all disciplines of the arts to directing. Anyone who ever had the privilege of taking a directing class with him will never forget the discussion of My Last Duchess by Robert Browning. He taught staging through classical paintings and had an incredible eye for how stage pictures create impact and emotion. He taught me how to approach my work intuitively by listening to the needs of actors and finding a collaborative balance with my directorial vision.

UMArts: What advice do you have for a student considering an arts degree?
Amy: Odds are that you will never become a star or become wealthy by pursing an arts education. The competition is great and rejection is at every turn.  Make sure you are ready for this life before you dive in. The desire to create and perform has to be in your bones from a need to do this work. It is a journey full of struggle and personal growth, but worth it if you are willing to open yourself, dump the ego and learn. With public schools dropping arts programs from lack of funding, the world needs you to remind it that the arts make a difference.

UMArts: Any tips for recent graduates embarking on their career?
Amy: First, keep your mind open. There are myriad ways to apply your training–you may be surprised. Always be open to learning and growing. Never work for free. The most successful people in this business are people that others like to work with. Finally, be memorable off stage–go the extra mile to be helpful, stay late, and get to know the people you are working with. Treat for coffee, buy donuts and show them you are part of the team.

Read our 2014 Magazine ONLINE!

Beth Lo in Korea


Beth lo was one of four american artists invited to create work on the occasion of the 7th annual Gyeonggi International Ceramics Biennale in South Korea held 23 September – 17 November, 2013. The sculptural installation she created, Breath, includes porcelain figures and containers of standing water that gently ripple from blowing fans. The resulting multi-media sculpture shifts between cultural identities, media and artistic disciplines to present a powerful meditation on life and death. Lo says. “I wanted to challenge myself to use other media in this piece and so included light, motion and sound elements.”

At the heart of Lo’s work is her cultural identity as Chinese-American. Like every second-generation child of an immigrant family, Lo strives to reconcile the culture she inherited with the culture into which she was born. The stories of her family – from their origins as wok makers in their ancestral home of Wu Zhen to their immigration to the US – are central to Lo’s work.

Lo, who was born in Lafayette, Indiana, has chronicled her family’s history through her artwork. Her parents were part of a great Chinese exodus tied to the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War between the Communist and Kuomintang armies. It is no accident that her parents moved to the US in 1943. To their delight, they discovered that they loved their new lifestyle and, as their family grew, wanted their children to have the opportunities afforded by the West. Lo’s parents lostKoreacontact with their families for nearly a decade. When communication was reestablished, they were greeted with horror stories of physical abuse, degradation and punishment that affirmed their decision to leave. Given the opportunity to return to China, they chose to remain in the US.

When Lo’s father received a position teaching in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering at Purdue University, the family settled in the Midwest. Facing a new place, they simultaneously sought to blend in and preserve their traditions, as Lo recounts in her book Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic (2012). This is the second autobiographical children’s book, after Mahjong All Day Long (2005) that Lo illustrated in collaboration with her sister, the author Ginnie Lo. Lo also takes inspiration from her mother, Kiahsuang, a nonagenarian who practices traditional Chinese brush painting.

Lo came to Montana in the early 1970s to study with Rudy Autio at the University of Montana. When he retired in 1985, Lo was hired as Professor of Ceramic Art to replace him. She has garnered a series of awards, including the Missoula Cultural Council Individual Artist Award (2014); United States Artists Hoi Fellowship (2009); University of Montana Provost’s Distinguished Lecturer Award (2006); a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Fellowship Grant (1994); the Montana Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship (1989); and an American Craft Museum Design Award (1986).

A functional ceramist by training, she has generated a vast body of sculptural work with an implied narrative throughout her career. Over the years, she has refined her quick-witted, playful works which elegantly blend serious issues with characteristic aplomb and good humour. These include diminutive figures in casual, yet heroic, poses that are reminiscent of propaganda posters from the People’s Republic of China, with hanzi characters encapsulated in talk bubbles floating above their heads, as well as her Fu Dog salt-and-pepper shakers.

While Lo never lived in the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong’s influence has certainly been felt. He began to direct the future direction of the Chinese national character as early as 1917, when his article “A Study of Physical Culture” (Tiyu zhi yanjiu) was published in the influential journal New Youth (Xin Qingnian). This article extolled the benefits of routine exercise as a means to make the Chinese people physically strong. Mao, an ardent swimmer, was an enthusiast whose rising popularity made swimming an accepted physical activity. In 1956, Mao famously swam across the Yangtze (also called Chang Jiang or The Long River) for the first time and was inspired to compose the poem “Swimming” (Youyong) about transformation and progress:

I have just drunk the waters of Changsha

And come to eat the fish of Wuchang.
Now I am swimming across the great Yangtze,
Looking afar to the open sky of Chu.
Let the wind blow and waves beat,
Better far than idly strolling in a courtyard.
Today I am at ease.
“It was by a stream that the Master said –
‘Thus do things flow away’ “
Sails move with the wind.
Tortoise and Snake are still.
Great plans are afoot:
A bridge will fly to span the north and south,
Turning a deep chasm into a thoroughfare;
Walls of stone will stand upstream to the west
To hold back Wushan’s clouds and rain
Till a smooth lake rises in the narrow gorges.
The mountain goddess if she is still there
Will marvel at a world so changed.

On 16 July, 1966 Mao repeated the feat as a calculated political manoeuvre to signal his robust health to critics in the party leadership. Strangely, the photograph from this event (depicting the heads of Mao and his attendant security personnel floating in the Yangtze) finds echoes in Lo’s work for the Gyeonggi International Ceramics Biennale.

Water, floating and bathing are persistent themes in Lo’s work. She consistently incorporates imagery of boats, pails and bathers. Breath strongly relates to a sculpture from 2012 entitled K’an, the Water Hexagram, also from the Good Children series. With Breath, however, Lo engages all the viewer’s senses while using the associations of floating and swimming (passive and active activities) to suggestaltered states of consciousness such as dreaming, even death.

The work, however, is titled Breath, not ‘Swimming’. And it is the breath on which we should focus. The title indicates an inhalation or exhalation of air that can be seen or heard. In this work, white porcelain swimmers are silhouetted against the white gallery wall. Colour is kept to a minimum. The breath of the title is visible (rendered as gold leaf balloons issuing forth from the swimmer’s mouths) as well as felt in the wind from the fan.

For Mao, to swim was to rebel against his father’s Confucian notions of physical reserve. For Lo, swimming is a metaphor for the series of negotiations she makes as a Chinese-American artist and an affirmation of the predominant role that her parents have in her life. Breath is less about Lo’s struggle to balance the cultural dichotomies of tradition and Westernisation, assimilation and resistance, or native language versus translated speech, which are threaded throughout her previous work. Instead, Breath is a reconciliation on the part of the child of traditional parents to understand her role, a theme that resonates in the title of her longstanding series, Good Children.

The figures in Breath are slightly disconcerting, rendered with a sameness that suggests they are siblings or relatives. This is eerie in the way that clones or twins are disturbing, suggesting infinite successive generations of identical genetic material. This odd mirroring recalls Salvador Dalí’s comment about the dead brother after whom he was named, “My brother and I resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections.” The figures, receding infinitely, floating indeterminately and bleached white, are ghostly.

Lo’s newest work is a startling ode to her ancestors, as arresting as a Qing Dynasty memorial portrait of a dead relative, staring back at the viewer from another realm. The figures in Breath come from another place. As the fan stirs the hairs on the back of our necks, Beth Lo reminds us that breath is the thin line of mortality, all that separates swimming from drowning.

Busy Summer for Schools of Music and Theatre & Dance


More than 50 students, alumni, and faculty of the Schools of Music and Theatre & Dance spent the summer working in theatres across Montana and Idaho as actors, designers, musical directors, writers and technicians. Many of these companies have productions running through Labor Day; try to catch UMArts in action soon!

Bigfork Summer Playhouse
Alexa Larson, Designer (recent graduate)
Andy Meyers, Director (alum)
Bryan Kaschube, Designer (alum)
David Cody, Music Director (faculty)
Dwayne Ague, Stage Manager (alum)
Jacob Sefcak, Actor (student)
Lizzie Hatfield, Music Director (adjunct faculty)
Marc McDuff, Musician (student)
Mike Monsos, Designer (faculty)
Alicia Bullock-Muth, Music Director (alum)
Yana Dryden, Designer/Scenic Artist (student)

Brewery Follies
Steve Hodgson, Actor (student)
Mike Verdon, Artistic Director (alum)
Sam Williamson, Actor (recent student)

Cutler Brothers Productions
Marquis Archuleta, Actor (student)
Jessica Goldade, Stage Manager/Scenic artist (recent grad)

Fort Peck Summer Theatre
Zack Aschim, Designer (student)
Sarah Bell, Designer (alum)
Patrick Cook, Actor (alum)
Mike Fink, Designer (student)
Shy Iverson, Designer (recent grad)
John Knipsel, Actor (recent grad)
Gwen Mann, Designer (recent grad)
Paige O’Neill, Stage Manager (student)
Spencer Perry, Designer (recent grad)
Katie Querin, Stage Manager (student)
Aaron Torgerson, Designer (former student)
Annie Rottenbiller, Stage Manager (alum)
Colton Swibold, Actor (student)

Illustrious Virginia City Players
Alyssa Bosch, Actor (recent grad)
Blair Rath, Actor/Technical Director (student)
Stephen Seder, Actor/Stage Manager (recent grad)

Missoula Children’s Theatre
Erik Montague, Tour Actor/Director (recent grad)

Montana Repertory Theatre
Lizzy Bennett, Colony 19 Intern (student)
Shay Fiegi, Carpenter (student)
Mike Fink, Designer/Scenic Painter (student)
Brian Gregoire, Construction Technical Director (student)
Zach Hamersley, Designer/Carpenter (student)
Katt McClaine, Production Assistant (student)
Aaron Mehr, Carpenter (student)
Nikki Nelson, Designer (student)
Bridget Smith, Colony 19 Assistant Producer (alum)
Jadyn Velazquez, Designer/Carpenter (student)

Montana Shakespeare in the Parks
Lindsay Brown, Stage Manager (recent student)
D. Marie Long, Production Coordinator (alum)

Opera House Theatre Company
Hillary Bard, Actor (student)
Thain Bertin, Actor (student)
Adryan Miller-Gorder, Actor (student)
David Mills-Low, Artistic Director (former student) 
Reid Reimers, Actor (alum)
Rebecca Schaffer, Actor (alum)

Playhouse at Mack’s Inn
Hugh Butterfield, Actor (student)

Zootown Improv at Stensrud Playhouse
Sean Kirkpatrick, Cast Member/Writer (student)
Bree Zender, Cast Member/Writer (student)

Vienna – the City of Music


Every night in Vienna about 10,000 music fans are treated to classical music, something that is simply unheard of in any other city in the world!  We invite you to join the fun during our 2015 Vienna Study Abroad, May 26-July 6.

Vienna’s musical life is dominated by four great monumental performance venues.  The Musikverein, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Vienna State Opera House and the cathedral-Stephansdom.  Combined with world-class theatre, art museums, galleries and historic sites that span the ages, there is something for everyone in Vienna!   Field trips to other areas of interest such as Salzburg and Prague!

UM Faculty customized a program with YOU, the Music Student in mind!  Those with a major or interest in music or art will study the  great master works of the ages, perform in historic concert halls, walk  the path of the great composers and artists that lived and worked in Vienna: Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Klimt, Otto Wagner,  Bruckner, Czerny, Haydn, Mahler, Schoenberg, Strauss and many, many more.

Ranked as the “best city in the world to live” Vienna has proven itself to be safe, friendly to Americans and clean.  Students will live in apartments with full kitchens, living rooms or common areas close to classes, transportation, concerts, faculty, top medical facilities, shopping and recreation.

Students enjoy world class concerts, opera and art, such as the Vienna Philharmonic, considered by many to be the best in the world! Students engage in performances and open rehearsals. Vienna State Opera: experience one of the top opera addresses in the world—where you can hear the best in first-class productions.  The famous stage offers a different program every day, with over 50 operas and ballets each season. Chamber Music: hear the leading pianists, violinists, cellists, string quartets, contemporary ensembles, vocalists, wind players, brass ensembles, percussionists and period instrument ensembles in the world.  Attend grand choral concerts and performances by the Vienna Boys Choir who have an enthusiastic international following. They are often called “the youngest Viennese Ambassadors.”  Museum of Fine Arts: built in 1891, near the Imperial Palace, it houses the extensive collections of the imperial family.  With its vast array of eminent works, it is considered one of the most eminent museums in the world. Rembrandt to Monet, it is all there!

The 2015 Vienna program includes 178 miles of walking tours. Participants see the homes of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and more. Visit the graves of these Vienna composers including Mahler and Brahms.  Walk where they walked, listen to concerts in the grand halls that premiered their works.  

To find out more information about the program, including courses, cost, housing and financial assistance, please contact Maxine Ramey at 406.243.6880 or

"Art Montana: Beth Lo" 2014

UM Student and Alumni Win Prestigious Public Broadcast System’s P.O.V. Award


UM College of Visual and Performing Arts students and alumni took home top honors from the Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival in Toronto, Canada. Director Rachel Stevens, a second year MFA student in the School of Media Arts Digital Filmmaking program collaborated with Josef “Tuna” Metesh (BFA Media Arts ’13), Sarah Meismer (BFA Art, Media Arts ’13), and Caitlin Hofmeister (MFA Media Arts ’12) to create the documentary 20/Nothing. The film received the award for Best Experimental Film and the coveted PBS P.O.V. (Point of View) Award, which comes with opportunities for theatrical screenings in major cities and television exposure. POV is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.

The short film was created in just five days as part of the International Documentary Challenge. 20/Nothing was selected as one of twelve finalists from over 100 entries to premiere at the 2014 Hot Docs Festival, North America's largest documentary film festival. The team was encouraged to attend, and began crowdsourcing the funds through to attend. In addition, they received support from the Montana Film Office. 20/Nothing is the second collaboration for this group of intrepid filmmakers. Their first joint effort screened this winter at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula.

“I was blown away as we sat there watching the films from the International Documentary Challenge— they were all incredible,” says Stevens. “I was certain that 20/Nothing's highest award would be showing a film that we made and love at Hot Docs alongside talented filmmakers from all over the world. When they announced 'This year's P.O.V. Award goes to 20/Nothing, directed by Rachel Stevens,' we were absolutely shocked. Throughout the rest of the weekend we learned to trust that strong feeling we had during the making of 20/Nothing, which was this is something good. We want to make more things like that, together. You will see more from us. Guaranteed."

40 Years Later, UM Music Student Returns to Perform his “Senior Recital,” Benefit Scholarships

Neal Lewing

A vocal scholarship brought Neal Lewing to the University of Montana School of Music in 1970. On May 9, 2014, the prolific musician, producer and arts educator will pay-it-forward, presenting a benefit concert in the School of Music Recital Hall at 7:30 pm on the UM campus. The concert is free; in lieu of admission, Lewing encourages friends and fans to make a donation to the School of Music General Scholarship Fund.

Lewing’s performance on the historic Recital Hall stage is especially meaningful; the senior recital in that hall has been a rite of passage for UM Music students since the building was constructed over 60 years ago. But as Neal Lewing entered his junior year at UM, a heart to heart with his advisor, the late Professor George Lewis, changed the course of his career, and interrupted his education before he had a chance to perform on the Recital Hall stage.

Neal was already playing as a professional and business was booming. Struggling to balance his work and academic life, he sought advice from Lewis, who encouraged him to follow his heart and go on the road.  In 1972, Lewing did just that. “I went to UM for four years, and finished in 1974. I never got a degree, though I did get an education. George Lewis taught me how to keep my voice in shape and to follow my star.”

Lewing’s star led to performing on stages around the country and being heard on radio stations around the globe. He toured with the Missoula Children’s Theatre, performed and directed music for the Fort Peck Summer Theatre, and co-founded and directed Deer Lodge’s Old Prison Players. A passionate advocate of arts education, Lewing performs and teaches in schools and communities around Montana.  He was appointed by the governor to serve on the Montana Arts council from 2001-2007. In 2008 the Polson Chamber of Commerce named him the “Polson Ambassador of the Year” in recognition for his contributions to the community as managing director of the Port Polson Players. For over 30 years, Lewing and his wife Karen have led the company, whose multi-level program includes community theatre, children's theatre, summer theatre and other performing arts opportunities.

“What a treasure Neal and Karen have been for the Flathead Valley,” says Linda Bates of Bigfork. “What they have been able to do for the generations of school children and adults (most with no training,) in producing unbelievable productions is genius…  They have been advocates and exceptional role models for young people to pursue their education at UM where Neal, Karen and both their children studied.”

With all his success, one regret remained – never performing on the Recital Hall Stage. After 40 years, the May 9 concert will fulfill that dream. When he returns with his cadre of special guest performers, Lewing will find the historic stage nearly unchanged since his time at UM. Aside from minor equipment upgrades, the Hall and the School of Music have not been renovated since it was built in 1953, a state-of-the art facility at that time.

Though there’s certain to be some nostalgia in the air, Neal Lewing is clear that he devised the feel-good concert with the future in mind: “I've made my life in music and theatre and would like to recognize my roots and give back to promote the same for young people.” He hopes his story will inspire students facing a crossroads as they make career decisions. “Obviously, one does not have to follow any specific roadmap to have a successful and productive life in the arts”. 

To make a gift to the UM School of Music Scholarship Fund, contact Christian Gold Stagg, director of development, UMArts 406-243-4990, or give here


Stephen Kalm Performs at Carnagie Hall on April 22


“Practice … practice …” is the punchline for the old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” That is precisely what Stephen Kalm did in New York City last week in preparation for an April 22 performance at Carnagie Hall.

Kalm is dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the Univeristy of Montana and a music professor. He will perform in the Harry Partch opera “The Wayward” as part of an inventive series titled “collected stories: hero,” which is curated by composer-in-residence David Lang.

For more information about the performance, visit the Carnegie Hall website at

Although this marks his debut in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, Kalm has performed in opera and concert at the Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, throughout the United States and in international festivals in London; Paris; Berlin; Lisbon, Portugal; Copenhagen, Denmark; Avignon, France; and Bern, Switzerland. Next month he will sing the baritone solos in Vaughn Williams’ “A Sea Symphony” with the Glacier Symphony in Kalispell.

Kalm first performed “The Wayward” in 1991 at the “Bang On A Can Festival” at Circle in the Square Theatre in New York’s Greenwhich Village. He also toured “The Wayward” production around the United States and Europe. A recording, available on Amazon, was released in 2002 on Wergo Records. 

“The Wayward” comprises four mini operas: “Barstow,” “San Francisco,” “The Letter” and “US Highball.” The longest opera, “US Highball,” outlines the autobiographical experiences of two hobos on a trancontinental hobo trip from San Francisco to Chicago during the Depression.

Dr. Lori Gray Invited to Present in Brazil

Dr. Lori Gray has been invited to present two internationally peer-reviewed paper sessions and two internationally peer-reviewed poster sessions at the International Society for Music Education (ISME) conference in Brazil this July. ISME is the premiere international organization for Music Education, with members from more than 80 countries. The two selected two papers, Teacher Mobility and Identity: The Lived Experiences of Four Veteran General Music Teachers, and, The Impact of Mobility on General Music Teachers’ Roles and Perceptions of Role Support, were accepted for the World Conference in the ISME commission group "Music in Schools and Teacher Education Commission." The selected poster, Teacher as Explorer, Ambassador, and Role Model: Paul’s Story of Mobility, Identity, and Role as a General Music Teacher, was accepted for both the MISTEC Conference and the World Conference.

In addition to the four presentations, Lori has arranged to visit local universities and public schools (K-12) to network, learn about Music Education in Brazil, and work with teachers and professors on the new government mandated Music Education curriculum in Brazil. She is in contact with former and current UM students from Brazil and also faculty and staff from K-12 schools and universities in Brazil. Lori plans to establish contacts with K-12 and university teachers and professors in Brazil for future collaborations in research in Music Education. These contacts may also help strengthen UM’s relationship with Brazil as we seek to grow our number of Brazilian students. In 2008, the Brazilian government mandated the inclusion of Music Education in public schools (K-12). However, the Brazilian government did not specify that a teacher licensed in Music Education was required for the added music instruction in schools until 2013. Future research projects may include working with K-12 Brazilian teachers and university professors to design Music Education curricula, utilizing U.S. curricula as models while taking into account the musical heritage and cultural differences unique to Brazil. Future research collaborations with K-12 teachers and university professors in Brazil to write articles comparing and contrasting music and Music Education in the U.S. and Brazil are also of interest to Lori.

Dr. Lori Gray is Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Montana. She teaches elementary and secondary music methods courses for undergraduate music education majors and non-majors, and graduate courses in music education. Lori holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, a Master of Arts in Teaching, a Bachelor of Music in Music Education, and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She taught in public and private schools for several years as an elementary and middle school general music specialist in San Antonio and Dallas. Lori’s research interests include music teacher identity, reflection, professional development, mentoring, and the preparation of future music teachers. Lori has presented research and teaching sessions at state and national conferences in Arizona, California, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia.

Music Faculty to Perform & Present in South Korea


Christopher Kirkpatrick and Maxine Ramey have been invited to perform and give master classes and presentations about the University of Montana at several universities in South Korea May 31-June 9, 2014. Invitations have come from Chungnam National University and Dongeui University through Useon Choi, the new principal clarinetist of the Great Falls Symphony. The event is titled “International Clarinet Festival in Concert” and will feature these two UM clarinetists in collaboration with faculty and students from Busan and Seoul, as well as a group of clarinetists, the Kansai Clarinet Quartet from Osaka, Japan. Chris and Maxine will meet with prospective students from South Korea, work with them in master classes, and perform with them in clarinet ensembles. They will perform works by American, French, Japanese, and Korean composers.

The letter of invitation from Dongeui University in Busan states:
“This collaboration will build a creative activity/cultural impact/artistic collaboration between the two universities through the universal language of music.”- Yun Sang un, Professor of Orchestra, Music Department, Dongeui University

The current President of International Clarinet Association, John Cipolla, states:
“Now, more than ever, as peace in our world continues to be challenged, projects like Maxine and Chris are planning, not only make a strong music contribution and positive impact on a region of the world outside America, but also contribute to a broader cultural bonding of various international people.”

Dr. Christopher Kirkpatrick is an assistant professor of music and has been teaching at the University of Montana since 2009. Before arriving in Montana, he was a freelance musician in Michigan, performing with orchestras such as the Detroit Symphony, Lansing Symphony, and the West Michigan Symphony. Christopher has performed at numerous conferences, including the International Clarinet Association’s Clarinetfest© , the North American Saxophone Alliance Conference, the Brandon University Clarinet Festival, World Bass Clarinet Congress in Rotterdam, and the Montana/Idaho Clarinet Festival. During the summers, he is on the faculty of the International Music Camp. He is an active adjudicator both internationally and in the state of Montana. He holds degrees from Michigan State University (DMA), the University of New Mexico (MM) and the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (BM).

Dr. Maxine Ramey is the Director of the UM School of Music and summer study abroad Vienna program. In 2013, she was awarded the Administrator of the Year for the University of Montana and was named a Distinguished Professor for the School of Fine Arts in 2008. An international clarinet performer, she was recently elected as President of the International Clarinet Association. She is a clarinetist with the Sapphire Trio, with UM violin professor Margaret Baldridge. They recently served as U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors in a tour of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. In 2010, 2011, and 2012, they performed in the West Bank, Golan Heights, and Northern Israel and served as judges for Palestinian National Music Competition in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus, and Gaza. They have toured Japan, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Ireland and most regions of the U.S. The Trio were featured guest artists at the Spanish National Clarinet/European Clarinet Association Congress in 2013, and will present at the 37th Annual Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium and International Clarinet Association Clarinetfest© 2014 at LSU this summer.

UM to Offer Online Bachelor’s Degree in Media Arts


Students in Missoula and afar now can take advantage of the University of Montana’s first Bachelor of Arts degree that can be earned fully online. Beginning autumn semester 2014, the UM School of Media Arts will launch its online bachelor’s degree in integrated digital media.

The program will allow students to tap their creative potential through the study and artistic application of emerging digital technologies. Courses will focus on interactive media, the Web and Internet, gaming and digital design applications.

School of Media Arts Director Mark Shogren said the online option also will allow students to pursue their degree or even a double major in a more flexible way. Taking advantage of UM’s flat spot tuition – no increase in tuition costs between 12 and 18 credits – adding a couple of classes from this innovative new program can help a student diversify their education and work around a busy schedule.

“It’s going to be a really dynamic new way to get more bang for your buck,” Shogren said.

Shogren imagines two main types of learners will be drawn to the new online program. One includes on-campus students looking to supplement another major with complementary skills through media arts. Another is the distance learner, who either can’t make it to Missoula or would rather stay in their community or country to take advantage of a completely digital education.

The degree requires 42 core credits and six elective credits, as well as UM’s standard general education credits, which also can be completed online. Distance-learning students will never need to visit campus, but the school will offer a physical connection to the program for local students.

“For students who are here, there will be a lab, opportunities to meet with faculty in person and meet other students,” Shogren said. “They’ll still be part of the media arts family.”

There are no prerequisites for students to enter the program. UM students enrolled in any of the first-year classes can declare the media arts major, and on-campus students are welcome in the online program along with students from across the globe.

“We want to not only create online courses, but online experiences,” Shogren said.

For more information on the School of Media Arts online bachelor’s degree, visit

Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival

The University of Montana Jazz Program and the UM Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival once again welcomes middle school, high school and college jazz combos, choirs and bands from across the Northwest to learn the language of jazz. The NEW DATE for the 34th annual event was Friday & Saturday, March 28-29, 2014. The festival included more than 35 different guest groups from Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon and some of the finest jazz musicians in the business.  

Evening concerts were held at the Dennison Theatre on the Missoula Campus. The UM Jazz Festival brought around 1,500 music students, their directors, jazz lovers and artists to Missoula’s campus and community during the two-day event. The emphasis of this unique instrumental and vocal jazz festival was on education, improvisation and the jazz language. Additionally, there were clinics, ensemble critiques, workshops, open rehearsals and master classes with the guest artists. Guest artists included Clipper Anderson (Bass – Seattle), Vern Sielert (Trumpet – U of Idaho) Dana Landry (Piano – UNC), David Pietro (Saxophone – New York), Jim White (Drum Set – UNC) and much more.

“Our festival offers a truly educational experience for all – middle school, high school and our own college students,” said Rob Tapper, UM Director of Jazz Studies, assistant professor of trombone, and Director of the Festival. “We take pride in considering this one of the best educational festivals in the country.”

In addition to the educational element of the festival, public performances electrified the local jazz community. On Saturday evening after the festival concert the guest artists performed an After Hours’ session at one of Missoula’s musical iconic locations, the Top Hat Lounge. The UM Jazz Program was also proud to partner with yet another wonderful year of Jazzoula events which take place from March 24th to the 27th.

Fire Speaks the Land: An Active Audiences Performance


**Photo by William Munoz

Fire science education for youth merges with the performing arts when The CoMotion Dance Project presents 18 performances of Fire Speaks the Land: An Active Audiences Performance.  Performed for school audiences in Montana and Idaho school gymnasiums and theatres, the 50-minute performance uses original choreography, narration, and music to explore fire science, forest ecology, and traditional Native perspectives on fire. This beautifully crafted live performance has appeal for all ages and is expected to reach over 4,000 children and adults.

Six performances will be held at Missoula elementary and middle schools.  A week-long Idaho tour features eight performances at rural schools.  In the Flathead Valley, three theatre performances will enable 1,268 Flathead Valley students and teachers to bus to the theatre to participate. Participating Flathead schools include: Fair-Mont Egan, Deer Park, Pleasant Valley, West Valley, Trinity Lutheran, Whitefish Middle Schools, Kalispell Montessori, Kalispell Middle School, Helena Flats, Olney-Bissell, and West Glacier.  CoMotion company members will conduct creative dance workshops for Kalispell Montessori students, who will learn choreography about forest regeneration after a fire, to perform live at a Fire Speaks the Land concert.

Designed for K-6 students, Fire Speaks the Land features five dancers, a narrator, unique scenery and lighting, and colorful costumes as well as several opportunities for the audience to participate in the performance, both on and off stage. Students learn about ecological issues relevant to our region through an artistic, narrated performance that both delights and informs.

Karen Kaufmann, 2014 recipient of the Montana Arts Council’s Artist Innovation Award, directs the CoMotion Dance Project, an organization that promotes dance in K-12 education.  Written and produced by Karen Kaufmann and Steve Kalling, the piece features choreography by Karen Kaufmann and Joy French, with live performance by five professional dancers: Allison Herther, Kaitlin Kinsley, Katie McEwen, Ashley Griffith and Joy French. Original music is composed and recorded by Steve Kalling and nine Montana musicians. Blackfeet musician and storyteller Jack Gladstone narrates the sound score.

The Fire Speaks the Land tour is supported in part by The University of Montana, Montana Cultural Trust, Montana Arts Council, Public Value Partnership, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, Flathead Conservation District, Cadeau Foundation, Idaho FireWise, Nez Perce Tribe Forestry and Fire Management Division, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, the North Central Idaho Fire Prevention Cooperative, Whitefish Performing Arts Center, Flathead National Forest, Missoula Fire Sciences Lab, individual schools and private contributors.

Fire Speaks the Land Tour Schedule
Meadow Hill School, Missoula, MT, March 6 at 10am
Washington Middle School, Missoula, MT, March 6 at 1pm
CS Porter Middle School, Missoula, March 7 at 10am
Missoula International School, Missoula, MT, March 7 at 2pm
Clearwater Elementary, Kooskia, ID, March 10th at 1pm
Kamiah Middle School, Kamiah, ID, March 11 at 9am
Timberline School, Kamiah, ID, March 11 at 1pm
Orofino Elementary, Orofino, ID, March 12 at 9am
Deary Elementary, Deary, ID, March 12 at 2pm
Troy Elementary, Troy, ID, March 13 at 9am
Lapwei Elementary, Lapwei, ID, March 13 at 2pm
Grangeville Elementary, Grangeville ID, March 14 at 9am
Hellgate Elementary, Missoula, MT, March 21 at 12:45 and 2pm
Workshops for Kalispell Montessori, Kalispell, MT, March 25th
Whitefish Performing Arts Center, Whitefish, MT, March 26 at 12:45pm (for 6 schools)
Whitefish Performing Arts Center, Whitefish, MT, March 27 at 10am (for 3 schools)
Whitefish Performing Arts Center, Whitefish, MT, March 27 at 1pm (for 5 schools)
Univ of Montana/Missoula, American College Dance Festival/NW Region, April 4 at 10:30am.


Karen Kaufmann

Media Arts Receives Large Software Donation

Korean software development company, “FXGear,” has donated incredible software and plug-ins to the School of Media Arts Animation Program such as Qualoth, FXHair, ezCloth, and FluX. These software products are used by designers and artists at Walt Disney Studios, Blizzard, Dreamworks, and other top VFX and Animation studios. With this software, students are able to create realistic cloth, hair and fluid simulations. In consultation with Professor Heejoo Gwen Kim, our Animation program is the third international and the second US recipient of cutting-edge VFX software. This significant contribution will help our students to expand their creative realm and give them more of a chance to develop their professional careers.

Mr. Chang-Hwan Lee, CEO of FXGear, recognizes the importance continued advances in software development have on the creative process, advising students that “Computer graphics and 3D animation [are] a combination of art and technology … do not forget to embrace the newest technology and use these tools for your creative art.” Mr. Tommy Ryoo, Sale and Marketing Director, said that FXGear was very pleased to donate their products to a renowned university where students have both the talent and the ability to optimize this software. The School of Media Arts is extremely appreciative of FXGear for this significant and meaningful donation, and to Professor Heejoo Gwen Kim for her advocacy of our students and curriculum.

For more information on FXGear and their Qualtoth, FluX and FXHair software, please visit

Fusion V


UM School of Music presents Fusion V the most eclectic and exciting mash up of musical events in the region.  In one 70-minute seamless showcase, the audience will experience highlights of pieces from nearly every area of study in the UM School of Music including orchestra, jazz, choir, string chamber music, band, percussion ensemble, wind chamber music, opera aria, and steel drum music.

“It is like channel surfing for the listener,” says founder and director, Dr. James Smart.  “Each musical ‘act’ is only three minutes long and the lighting is cued to bounce to the next act with no delay in the sound or energy.  We use all of the space in the Dennison Theater including the seating area so don’t be surprised if you have a tuba player in your lap!”    

The event began in the fall semester of 2009 and was patterned after popular concerts at the Eastman School of Music and University of Michigan.  The diversity is not only in the style of music but also in the number of people involved.  This year’s concert will feature pieces by a marimba soloist to a grand finale of over 150 musicians.   

According to Dean Stephen Kalm, “If you could choose just one UM Music concert to attend this year, this would be the one.”

The public is invited to attend the Fusion V in concert on Friday, February 7 at 7:30pm in the George and Jane Dennison Theatre, UM Campus.  Tickets are General Admission, $11 general, $6 seniors, $5 students.  For more information, visit

To learn more about supporting scholarships and the School of Music, contact Christian Gold Stagg, director of development, UMArts, (406) 243-4990,

The Nightingale Soars in Her Final Year at UM


University of Montana senior Arielle Nachtigal is having an extraordinary school year.  She recently advanced to the National Finals of the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition.  This competition recognizes exceptionally talented young artists, and their teachers, in their pursuit of musical excellence.  Nachtigal and five other singers from across the US have been selected for the final stage of the competition, which takes place March 23 in Chicago. 

In addition, Nachtigal won the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions for the third straight year and advanced to the Northwest Regional Finals at Seattle's Benaroya Hall, where she won an Encouragement Award. The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions is a program designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers. 

Nachtigal was also the winner of the Coeur D’Alene Symphony Young Artist Competition.  She will perform with that orchestra in concert March 21. In January 2013, Nachtigal and John Knispel of UM’s Opera Theatre program performed a scene from Strauss’s opera “Die Fledermaus” which won the Collegiate Scenes Competition of the National Opera Association, during the national convention in Portland, Or.

Her singing has captured the attention of opera professionals across the US.  “They are impressed with the beauty and size of her voice, as well as her natural expressive abilities,” says UM voice teacher David Cody.  “And of course, they can’t help telling her she has the perfect name for a singer,” as the word “Nachtigall” is German for nightingale.  “Arielle is someone of whom both the university and community can be proud,” Cody says. She spent much of her youth with the Missoula Children’s Theatre, and has taken advantage of everything UM has to offer, including its study abroad program in Vienna, Austria.”  She has been accepted to audition for the graduate voice programs at the University of Houston, the Eastman School of Music, and the New England Conservatory of Music.

As a senior in vocal performance major in the UM School of Music, Nachtigal has proven a very dedicated and highly motivated student. She has taken advantage of many opportunities to learn by participating in UM Opera Theatre, collaborative musicals at the School of Theatre & Dance, Masterclasses by visiting artists, and MCT productions. Nachtigal will perform during the upcoming UM Opera Theatre and Symphony Orchestra production of “The Legend of Orpheus,” at the MCT Center for Performing Arts Feb. 14-16.

The Legend of Orpheus


MISSOULA, MT— Experience the legendary love story of Orpheus and Eurydice, set to music of the Baroque era in the opera titled The Legend of Orpheus.  The production is a bi-annual collaboration between MCT’s Out of the Box Productions, the University of Montana Opera Theater and the University of Montana Symphony Orchestra.  It will be presented live on stage at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts February 14-16, 2014.  Offering this love story on Valentine’s weekend gives romantics the perfect date night!

As the creative team of David Cody, Anne Basinski, and Luis Millán considered a title for this year’s collaboration, Dr. Millán said, “Let’s do a Baroque pastiche!”  They chose actual, individual numbers by various composers (Handel et al) and put them together, with a new English text, to make their own opera. Adding to the work is a group of talented dancers, choreographed by Joy French.

The Metropolitan Opera’s Baroque pastiche in the 2011-2012 season (The Enchanted Island) was very successful, and that particular production will be repeated this year in New York.  

The Legend of Orpheus is an ambitious collaboration which features an original storyline and lyrics, and a cast of twenty-eight performers from the University of Montana, including singers and dancers.  There are two casts with some members performing in both casts.   MCT provides the technical support, costuming, theatre space, and ticket sales.  The production is being sponsored by Tom Rickard and Cathy Capps.

** Tickets for The Legend of Orpheus are available beginning Monday, January 27th.  The piece  runs approximately 2 ½ hours, including an intermission and plays Friday, February 14th at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, February 15th at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 16th at 2:00 p.m.  Ticket prices range from $15.00-$21.00 and can be purchased at the MCT box office (200 North Adams), online at, or by calling (406) 728-7529.  All seats are reserved.

Media inquiries, please contact Terri Elander at MCT at 728-1911, ext. 232 or

Multimedia Drawing Installation Opens at UM Gallery of Visual Arts


MISSOULA – A new exhibit of large-scale, three-dimensional drawings and installations using nontraditional materials and digital media will be featured at the University of Montana Gallery of Visual Arts. “Phobic” by Denver artist Sarah Rockett, will be on display Feb. 6-March 5 in the gallery, located on the first floor of the Social Science Building.
The artist will present a lecture on her work, sponsored by the UM School of Art Jim and Jane Dew Visiting Artist Fund, on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 5:10 p.m. in Social Science Building Room 356. A reception for the artist will follow the lecture from 6 to 7 p.m. in the gallery. All events and the exhibition are free and open to the public.

“Phobic” explores how fear operates within the relationships between the individual, the collective and others in American culture. The artist states that “fear is perpetuated by routine social interactions that purposely devise invisible barriers, segregating individuals from unknown people, places, and situations.”

Rockett’s multimedia approach to her work can be best characterized as drawings in space that are heavily invested in the formal elements of line and mark-making. Both figurative and abstract forms are created with benign, everyday materials such as wire, hot glue, plastic sheeting, tubes and insulation foam. The juxtaposition of menacing textures along with common materials prompts the viewer to re-examine the validity of fear.

In addition to her exhibition in the Gallery of Visual Arts, the artist will be working with students in the School of Art Student Gallery, located on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building, to create a collaborative installation. Rockett received her M.F.A. from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, and currently is an adjunct instructor at Metropolitan State University of Denver and Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colo.

The Gallery of Visual Arts is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Mondays are available by appointment only. More information about the UM School of Art and the gallery is available online at

Celebrate Piano IV featuring Spencer Myer


When University of Montana piano professors Steven Hesla and Christopher Hahn heard pianist Spencer Myer play the headliner recital for the Montana State Music Teachers Association’s state conference in November 2012, they knew they were hearing one of the nation’s top young musical artists.

“It was one of those ‘pin drop’ musical experiences,” Hesla said. “We simply knew we had to have him play for our Missoula audiences.”

On Sunday, Feb. 9, Myer will perform during UM’s Celebrate Piano Series IV. The performance begins at 3 p.m. in the UM Music Recital Hall and tickets cost $20 for general public, $15 for seniors and $10 students. Proceeds will help support the Keyboard Benefit Fund, which allows students to travel, compete, earn scholarships and allow the School of Music to maintain and improve keyboard inventory. Tickets can be purchased online at, at the UMArts Box Office in the Performing Arts and Radio/TV Center or by calling 406-243-4581. A master class will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, in the Music Recital Hall. It is free and open to the public.

Hailed as “one of the most important American artists of his generation,” Myer graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School. He has been victorious at many important international piano competitions, taking first place in the 10th UNISA International Piano Competition in Pretoria, South Africa, in 2004. That same year, Myer became a laureate of the Montreal International Piano Competition, and further distinguished himself at the prestigious Busoni, Cleveland and William Kapell international piano competitions in 2005 and 2007. He nailed the gold medal at the New Orleans International Piano Competition in 2008.

“These international piano competitions, renowned for their formidable requirements and world-class standards, are undertaken by few, and won by even fewer,” Hahn said.

Myer’s friendly and engaging personality further endears him to musical audiences. “There is something magical that happens when performers and audiences merge,” Hahn said, “And this is certainly the case when Spencer Myer takes command of both the music and the instrument.”

Myer’s recital at UM’s School of Music will feature three sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti; Franz Schubert’s noble “Sonata in A Major, D. 959;” Claude Debussy’s colorful “Images from Book II;” Aaron Copland’s “Piano Variations;” and three pieces from William Bolcom’s cheeky ragtime suite, “Garden of Eden.”

The recital will pair world-class playing with the finest of compositions, and Myer will play the identical program as the headliner recital at the National Conference of the 2014 Music Teachers National Association in Chicago this March. For more information on Myer, visit

It is fitting that an outstanding artist like Myer should take the stage at UM. The Keyboard Division of the School of Music has a long history of excellence, punctuated by increasing acclaim in recent years. UM’s popular “Pianissimo” concert was invited to perform in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in Helena in February 2013. UM’s Keyboard Society, an official student affiliate chapter of the MTNA, is comprised of more than 30 students majoring or minoring in piano. The MTNA Collegiate Chapter of the Year was awarded to UM’s Keyboard Society at the National Conference in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2010. In 2013, “Pianissimo VI” was featured at the Steinway Gallery in Spokane, Wash.

To learn more about the Celebrate Piano Series, call Hesla at 406-243-6055 or email



The University of Montana choral music department represents a dynamic and vibrant community of individuals from colleges across the campus. All three choral ensembles, the University Choir, the Women’s Choir, and the Chamber Chorale owe a great deal of their recent successes and positive trajectories to the numerous collaborative projects in which they each participate.
In April 2014, the Chamber Chorale will travel to Illinois and take part in a performance in one of the grandest concert halls in the country:  Chicago’s own Orchestra Hall in Symphony Center. The group was selected by taped audition to present as part of the Debut Series. The UM singers are excited about traveling and participating in this high-profile performance.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for all of us,” says Music Education major and three-year choir member Elin Peterson of Missoula. “Traveling with Chamber Chorale in the past has, I feel, proven to really bring us together as an ensemble. I think Chicago will bring the group to new levels of excellence!” After presenting their own portion of the performance, the Chamber Chorale will sing alongside the Manhattan Chorale - a professional choral ensemble from New York—providing some of the students a glimpse into what their lives might be like after graduation. “Many of us in this choir are looking forward to careers as professional musicians and trips like this give us an idea of what our lives could be like,” Tenor Ben Fox, Voice Performance major, remarks.
The choir will also work with internationally recognized conductor Dr. Craig Arnold. Arnold, who is also the conductor of the Manhattan Chorale, will lead the UM choir and the Manhattan Chorale in a combined performance of several choral works at the conclusion of the concert. For many of the singers the thought of performing in such a prestigious hall is both nerve-wracking and exhilarating. As junior Caitlin Wallace puts it, “It’s a really great opportunity for all of us to be able to sing in such a renowned place. This choir has really grown as an ensemble in recent years, and this experience will allow us to show how much we’ve improved as a group.”

Gilbert A. Millikan – Generosity in Perpetuity


On Thursday, November 21, 2013, the School of Art formally recognized Gilbert A. Millikan (1936-2003) during the dedication ceremony of the Gilbert Millikan Art Resource Center (Fine Arts Building, room 304). The Millikan Center provides students with access to books, journals, electronic media, and other research materials for the study of art history and criticism and the visual arts. The dedication is a testament to Millikan’s love of art, his legacy to the university, and his generous gift to the School of Art and the Montana Museum of Art & Culture. Millikan’s bequest has enriched the life of the university by enhancing creative research opportunities for its faculty and students, upgrading equipment, and renovating facilities.

Gilbert A. Millikan was a dedicated supporter of the visual arts at the University of Montana.  As an alumnus of the university and a member of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Advisory Council, Millikan was devoted to nurturing young artists in the Missoula community. He cared deeply about the School of Art and participated in many of its activities, taking art history classes, attending exhibitions, openings, and lectures, visiting students in their studios, and collecting their works. At the end of his life, he and life-long partner David Richards made provisions to continue that advocacy and investment through a generous gift from his estate, the single largest gift to the School of Art in its over 100 year history.

Speakers Justin Armintrout, Rafael Chacόn, Julia Galloway, Stephen Kalm, Bob Knight, and Barbara Koostra, addressed the largesse of Gilbert Millikan’s legacy, his passion for art in the community, collecting and museums, his dedication to Montana artists and university students, and his unflagging commitment to professional development and student success. The School of Art, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the University of Montana are better because of Gilbert A. Millikan.

The dedication of the Millikan Center was preceded by the School of Art’s 7th annual Gilbert A. Millikan Faculty Lecture. The series focuses on the creative research activities of the School of Art faculty made possible through funds from the Millikan estate.