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Music Notes: Notable News

Music Students Take Top Honors at CFAC Awards

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Outstanding students: Alicia Davidson, Veena Akama-Makia, Steven Flores, John Vinzant

The College of Fine Arts and Communication held its annual awards banquet Thursday, April 27th at 4:00 pm. The CFAC honored students who were nominated by faculty for the college’s Outstanding Student Award, and the Department of Music was proud to have its students presented with the top three awards.

Senior percussionist and composition/education major, John Vinzant was selected as the Outstanding Student in the entire College of Fine Arts and Communication. Senior vocal performance major, Veena Akama-Makia was chosen as first runner up, and senior vocal music education major, Alicia Kay Davidson was selected as the second runner up for this award. Other music nominees included Allie Perkins and Justin Ryan Gavito. In addition to the college’s Outstanding Student Awards, the Departments of Art, Music, and Film, Theater, and Creative Writing, as well as the School of Communication, presented three awards their own students. Music’s outstanding undergraduate awards were given to Veena Akama Makia and John Vinzant. The Chair’s Award for outstanding work as a graduate music student went to Steven Flores. Congratulations to all of our winners and nominees for representing the music department, and thanks to the many faculty members who nominated students and were in attendance at the ceremony. Read more about these student winners below.

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CFAC Dean Terry Wright, Outstanding CFAC Student John Vinzant, and Music Chair Paige Rose

John Vinzant is one of those rare students who is equally at home performing, composing, and teaching. This past fall, John completed his last year in the UCA Marching Band, serving as drumline section leader. In November, he was selected as the Bear Marching Band Most Valuable Member award by his band peers. John has also been a consistent member of the UCA Wind Ensemble, the premiere concert ensemble directed by Dr. Ricky Brooks. He has performed in numerous percussion masterclasses and workshops and is a member of the UCA Percussion Ensemble directed by Blake Tyson. He also studies percussion under Dr. Tyson and is a member of the chamber group, the UCA Percussion Players, who were recently featured in the April SoundScapes concert. John has performed as a percussionist in venues from UCA Downtown to the Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas. He also studies composition from Dr. Paul Dickinson, and his piece, Bassai, for multi-percussion solo was premiered at Michigan State this April by UCA Alum Moose Davis. John also co-composed and recorded the score for the short film, “Manic,” written and directed by Jack Evans, which was screened at the 2016 UCA Film Festival. John will be student teaching next fall at Greenbrier High School.

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CFAC Dean Terry Wright, Voice Professor Christine Donhue, 1st Runner-up Outstanding Student Veena Akama-Makia, Music Chair Paige Rose

Senior performance major, Veena Akama-Makia recently received the Metropolitan Opera Encouragement Award for her performance at the Metropolitan Opera Auditions this year. She was also the winner of the Audience Choice and Encouragement Award at the Kristin Lewis Foundation Scholarship Audition Competition. In 2015, Veena was the selected recipient of a $2000 scholarship at this same scholarship competition. Last summer, Veena was selected for and completed in a six week program at the preeminent Italian language program for young singers in Italy. She became one of the select few students invited to stay an extra two weeks with all expenses paid. She is now a featured singer on the the printed and social media promotions for “Si parla, si canta.” Veena is from the voice studios of Christine Donahue and Martha Antolik, who retired after last year. She is also a member of the UCA Opera, directed by Rob Holden and Louis Menendez. Veena has sung leading roles in the UCA productions of Suor Angelica, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Marriage of Figaro, Hansel and Gretel, and Hand of Bridge, along with numerous scenes programs. Veena also sings in the UCA Concert and Chamber Choirs directed by John Erwin. After multiple full offers, Veena has chosen to further her career on a full ride to the Eastman School of Music.

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CFAC Dean Terry Wright, 2nd Runner-up Outstanding Student Alicia Davidson, Music Chair Paige Rose

Alicia Davidson is a senior music education major who has studied voice with Dr. Wolf Oeste. She has been a dedicated member of the women’s music fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota, and has served as a president of the organization. Under her leadership, the professional organization undertook numerous projects. One of these was to hold the first UCA/SAI All State Workshop for choral students to prepare their All State music. In its first year, the workshop brought 78 students to campus and was such a success that it continues to be held. Alicia has also been a member of the UCA Concert Choir and Chamber Singers under the direction of Professor John Erwin. With those groups, Alicia has performed in numerous concerts from the UCA Concert Choir’s featured All State performance in front of hundreds of conference attendees, to the choir’s trip to New York to perform near Ground Zero. Throughout her last two years, Alicia served as music librarian of these groups and was frequently heard as a soloist. This semester, Alicia finished a highly successful internship semester, student teaching at Morrilton Junior High School under Tiffanie Manes. As a top academic student, Alicia will graduate with honors this spring.

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Euphonium Professor Gail Robertson, CFAC Dean Terry Wright, Outstanding Music Graduate Student Steven Flores, Music Chair Paige Rose

Steven Flores is a second year graduate student who came to UCA from Florida and studies euphonium performance with Dr. Gail Robertson. He is a member of the UCA Low Brass Choir and the Tuba Euphonium Ensemble, performing multiple concerts and attending numerous workshops and conferences a year. Steven recently performed with the Tuba Euphonium Studio at the University of Kansas and has helped to host the annual UCA Low Brass Day. He is also a member of the UCA BearBones trombone ensemble and is a member of the UCA Wind Ensemble. Recently, he was a winner of the Wind Ensemble’s Spotlight Competition which afforded him the opportunity to perform a solo with the Wind Ensemble last year. As a graduate assistant, Steven serves the low brass area and the Department of Music’s main office. He prepares concert programs for every event and is also responsible for managing and scheduling multiple student workers who operate the front of house for the Recital Hall on virtually every night of the week. As a result, he is constantly and diligently on call for any emergencies or departmental needs. Steven is set to complete his masters degree next fall.