Eastman graduate alumni are pursuing vibrant careers in a variety of musical settings. The links below offer sample, rotating lists of 50 PhD and 50 DMA alumni from the past 25 years who are helping to shape the field of music through their work and leadership in a wide variety of institutions.
Eastman School of Music PhD Alumni
Eastman School of Music DMA Alumni
Below is an Alumni Gallery of selected alumni from the MM, DMA, and PhD programs that highlights some of the exciting accomplishments and projects of Eastman graduates.
Brent C. Talbot
Brent has been a leading voice for change in the field of music education. A prolific author and frequent presenter, Talbot’s work examines power, discourse, and issues of justice in varied settings for music learning around the globe. He is the editor of C. Talbot one of the best selling books in music education, (Routledge), the curator of an indigenous-centering resource, Marginalized Voices in Music Education Gending Rare: Children’s Songs and Games from Bali (GIA), and a co-author of the acclaimed book (Bloomsbury). Over the past decade, Talbot has published over 25 articles and book chapters with leading journals and publishing companies and has delivered over 125 presentations on topics that promote equity and inclusion and diversify approaches in music learning and teaching. He serves on the steering committees of leading national and international organizations in music education and on multiple research and editorial boards throughout the globe. Since completing his graduate work at Eastman, Talbot has been the coordinator of the highly successful music education program at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College. He also serves as the artistic director of the Education, Music, and the Lives of Undergraduates: Collegiate A Cappella and the Pursuit of Happiness Gettysburg Children’s Choir, a choir serving the populations of South-Central Pennsylvania, and is founding director of Gamelan Gita Semara, an Indonesian instrumental ensemble that is frequently invited to perform at music festivals around the world and regularly booked for artist-in-residency programs at institutions across the mid-Atlantic region. For more information about Talbot and the work he does at the intersections of music education and ethnomusicology, visit his website: www.brentctalbot.com.
“My diverse teaching and research interests were cultivated and encouraged by the excellent advisors and mentors I had at Eastman. I stand on the shoulders of giants like the late Dr. Susan Conkling, Drs. Donna Brink Fox, Ellen Koskoff, Louis Bergonzi, Richard Grunow, and Chris Azzara who all provided a strong foundation for me to help others become great teachers and change agents in the world. During my time as a graduate student I taught choir and general music in the Rochester City and Webster school districts, worked for the Eastman Community Music School, rounded out my education with coursework in Ethnomusicology as well as courses on justice and equity at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, and studied different musical traditions such as Balinese gamelan, Karnatak and Hindustani music, mbira, hammered dulcimer, and shape-note singing. There is no greater place for studying music in North America. I attribute a great deal of my success to the Eastman network and the continued support and mentorship provided by the faculty with whom I collaborated.”
Mezzo-soprano Kate Maroney is in demand for her versatility and keen interpretations of works spanning the Renaissance to the 21st century. Kate believes in the transformative, humanizing power of music and in its ability to foster empathy in the community of performers and listeners alike. She values collaborations with kind and generous colleagues who share this conviction.
Kate has appeared, often on recurring occasions, as a soloist with the American Classical Orchestra, New York City Ballet, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, Musica Sacra, LA Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, Carmel Bach Festival, New York Baroque Incorporated, TENET Vocal Artists, ACRONYM Ensemble, Trinity Wall Street, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Brooklyn Art Song Society, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Boston Chorus Pro Musica, Bard SummerScape Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, Bach Collegium of San Diego, Blue Hill Bach Festival, Portland Bach Experience, Princeton Pro Musica, Mark Morris Dance Group, Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival, Cantata Profana, Ekmeles, American Opera Project, Beth Morrison Projects, Ensemble Signal, Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity, The Folger Consort, and Anonymous 4. Kate is a regular member of professional vocal ensembles around the country including Seraphic Fire, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Spire, Clarion, Yale Choral Artists, Trinity Wall Street, and The Crossing. Kate can be heard as a soloist on Seraphic Fire’s 2021 recording of Hildegard von Bingen’s “Ordo Virtutum,” the first full historically-accurate recording of this 12th-century masterpiece. Kate also became a part-time member of the chorus at the Metropolitan Opera during the 2021-2022 season. Kate was featured worldwide in over 75 performances of
Einstein on the Beach with the Philip Glass Ensemble, for audiences in Montpellier, Paris, London, Brooklyn, Toronto, Reggio Emilia, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Berkeley, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Berlin, and Gwangju, South Korea.
Kate has written articles for
The Washington Post and The Journal of The New York Singing Teachers’ Association. She has been on faculty at the Mannes School of Music since 2015, where she teaches courses in voice pedagogy and performance.
“Eastman prepared me well for an incredibly diverse musical ecosystem that comprises my freelance life. I loved being immersed in a culture where the vast ways one can pursue a life in music were valued and celebrated—the bars for performance, musicianship, scholarship, and education were all set equally high. Through the academic rigor of required musicology and theory seminars, I deepened my practice of preparing and contextualizing the music I perform. Through relationships formed with my teachers, I witnessed the discipline of their own practice, and it inspired me to strive for the same. Ownership over the process of studying and preparing music has served me well and in turn I strive to instill that rigorous practice in my students. I loved the variety of singing experiences I had when I was at Eastman—opera, art song, Renaissance polyphony, Bach motets, minimalist and atonal music. Many of these experiences were new for me during my time as a student and created a foundation for repeat performances (and ability to implement differences in stylistic approach) in my professional life. Most importantly, I learned at Eastman that the *process* is ongoing and is the important part of a life in music—you will always hone technique, seek answers, ask more questions, do more research, and find collaborators willing to travel that path with you. Being prepared as well as you can is your job as a performing musician and teacher. You will wear a different hat day to day (or within one day!) I remember often feeling that way while in the midst of my coursework at Eastman, and I continue to feel that way a decade later. My time at Eastman was one of the great gifts of my life and it enabled me to forge a career that continues to reward and inspire.”
Saxophonist Doug O’Connor is passionate about sharing music that challenges audiences to explore, connect, and grow. His performances push the athletic limits of the saxophone and feature music from all eras and in many styles, including classical, contemporary, jazz, and electronic. He strives to champion new works, present adventurous and innovative chamber music, and perform with an improvisatory command of music from Bach to Coltrane. O’Connor honed his artistic mission while performing on the Astral Artists roster from 2003 to 2013 and completing his training at the Eastman School of Music, where he earned his MM and DMA degrees in 2008 and 2012, and eventually went on to serve as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Saxophone in the fall of 2017. In addition, he served as Associate Lecturer of Saxophone at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire, as a saxophonist with the United States Naval Academy Band, and since 2016 as a saxophonist with the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” He is proud to be a co-founder of the Global Premiere Consortium Commissioning Project, an online platform for instigating the composition, dissemination, and performance of new music worldwide.
“As for my time at Eastman, it was magical. For me this was a time of whirlwind intensity of musical and interpersonal connection, as I found the sense of community and tie between music and human relationships to be quite strong there. This felt especially strong – the sense of family – in Dr. Lin’s saxophone studio, and it has been inspiring to watch it continue to grow and develop. Even Dean Rossi found time to listen to, track concerts on, and stay in touch with students like myself. It is a powerful thing to move about in the post-college world, bump into folks that attended the same program, and have such an instant and powerful connection, a trust borne of shared experience and challenges. Finally, this is a place where lots of disparate and isolated skill sets grew and eventually connected, one informing the other: I matriculated behind the curve in music theory, for example, but thanks to Prof. Steve Laitz this topic eventually became a passion woven tightly into the way that I perform and experience music.”
Known for her verve and sensitivity, Japanese pianist
Futaba Niekawa pushes the boundaries of her artistry as a soloist and collaborative pianist across genres and disciplines. She has performed throughout the United States, Canada, England, Spain, Taiwan, and Japan and to date has released five recordings (PARMA Recordings, Petrichor Records), and her live performances have been recorded for radio broadcast.
In demand as a collaborative pianist, Niekawa has performed with Atar Arad, James Campbell, Charles Castleman, Gabriele Ragghianti, and the members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, among others. She has been engaged as a collaborative pianist at the Banff Centre, New England Conservatory, Meadowmount School of Music, and the IU Summer String Academy. Praised as “a beautifully balanced duo” by
Gramophone Magazine, Niekawa’s long-term duo partnership with violinist Kerry DuWors, duo526, has led to numerous performances, recordings, and artist residencies at the Banff Centre and Avaloch Farm Music Institute. Niekawa’s passion for multi-disciplinary collaboration and performing music of her generation have developed into artistic partnerships with composers, dancers, poets, and visual artists. In her leisure time, she improvises.
Niekawa is currently a Lecturer in Music (Chamber and Collaborative Music) at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Her dedication to pedagogy, mentoring, and performance practice is shown through workshops at duo526’s annual Sonata Seminar, and invitations as a guest teacher at universities across North America.
“Having done both undergraduate and doctoral degrees at Eastman (BM 05’ and DMA 13’), almost half of my adult life is indebted to and wonderfully influenced by my time there. I am thankful for the excellent performance standards and high academic expectations, which trained me in the kind of disciplines that I have called upon in the professional world. However, the best takeaway is the open Eastman spirit and its inviting community. I was and still am constantly inspired by my peers with curiosity, humility, and boundless creativity. I have met friends, collaborators, and mentors for life, and I sincerely think of each of their influences in my musical life very often!”
Ian Quinn is a music theorist studying the cognitive foundations of human music-making, with a particular focus on song. After Eastman he spent time at the University of Chicago’s Department of Music as a postdoc and the University of Oregon’s School of Music as a member of the theory faculty. He joined the Yale faculty in 2004, where he is now Professor and Chair of the Department of Music in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Quinn’s early work with mathematical modeling of equal-tempered pitch structures earned him the Alfred Mann Dissertation Award from Eastman, and later the Emerging Scholar Award and Outstanding Publication Award from the Society for Music Theory. In 2008-09 he spent a year at Stanford as a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, where he developed an abiding interest in the symbol systems used in music teaching and learning, and computational approaches to the analysis of notated repertories. With Daniel Shanahan and J. Ashley Burgoyne, he is an editor of the forthcoming
Oxford Handbook of Corpus Studies in Music.
As a past winner of the University of Rochester’s Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student, Quinn is deeply invested in issues of pedagogy and curriculum for music theory. He led a wholesale revision of the undergraduate curriculum for music majors at Yale, and in 2021 launched a new course in the fundamentals of music theory that incorporates both classical and vernacular teaching modalities representing a diverse range of repertories. Outside of the university classroom, he enjoys teaching singing schools for shape-note singing communities across the United States and Europe.
“When I was graduating from college as a liberal-arts music major and applying to graduate schools, one of my mentors suggested that I should attend a conservatory for graduate school, as a way of becoming deeply immersed in the practice of music. Choosing to come to Eastman for doctoral studies in music theory had a profound impact on my life as a musician and scholar. The opportunity to teach music theory to Eastman’s amazing undergraduates was a centerpiece of my graduate education; we only truly learn something when we have to teach it to gifted students. I have spent the 25 years since my first teaching experience in Old Sibley Library seeking, with occasional success, to recapture the electric atmosphere of that classroom full of talented and intelligent musicians.”
Soprano and arts administrator
Caitleen Kahn is the Executive Director and co-founder of LYNX Project, a nonprofit amplifying diverse voices and connecting communities through art song. She has spearheaded LYNX’s initiatives in performance and arts education, including the Amplify Series, a collaboration between the autism community and classical composers, and Composition of a City, a songwriting curriculum bridging hip hop and art song. Under her leadership, the Amplify Series initiative has commissioned over four hours of new art song from fifteen composers. In addition to building innovative arts programming with LYNX, Caitleen is a passionate advocate for equity in musical education. She has received the Catherine Filene Shouse Fellowship for her work with Musicambia, an organization creating music conservatories in the United States prison system, and was a 2016 Byron Fellow. Caitleen was the 2020 Eastman/ArtistShare grant recipient for the LYNX’s debut album beautiful small things, and was selected to be a member of the 2022 YNPN Leadership Institute. She is a sought-after presenter and clinician whose recent engagements have included the Eastman School of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, University of Illinois, Ohio University, and Ball State University. Outside of arts administration, Caitleen finds joy performing and sharing her love of music as a private teacher.
“Eastman provided an incredible place for me to grow as a musician and explore arts administration and leadership in a way I hadn’t previously considered. It truly changed my career trajectory, and I am fortunate to be able to trace so many of the opportunities and experiences I’ve had thus far back to my days at Eastman. I’m grateful for everything I learned in the Vocal Performance and Arts Leadership programs, but when I think about the best and most impactful part of the Eastman experience, it was definitely the people. Eastman fosters a special community of passionate, thoughtful, and intelligent musical citizens, who inspired me then and continue to inspire me today.”
of Baljinder Sekhon has been presented in over 500 concerts in twenty-six countries. From works for large ensemble to solo works to electronic music, Sekhon’s music demonstrates a wide range of genres and styles. His works have been performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Seoul Arts Center (Korea), and National Recital Hall (Taiwan). Thirteen commercial recordings of his work have been released, with his most recognized output being his contributions to the percussion and saxophone genres. Alchemy, the second full album of Sekhon’s work, features compositions for saxophone and was released on Innova Recordings on 22 October 2021, with the first album (entitled Places & Times) featuring works for percussion.
Sekhon currently serves as Assistant Professor of Composition at Penn State University. He holds the PhD and MA from the Eastman School of Music where he is a three-time recipient of the Howard Hanson Orchestral prize, and holds a BM from the University of South Carolina. His numerous appearances as a percussionist include those at the LA Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series in Walt Disney Hall, Festival Spazio Musica in Cagliari, Italy, and at the Bang On a Can Marathon in New York City.
Townsend Plant has spent over 20 years as an arts administrator, consultant, educator, performer and composer. In 2015 he was appointed Associate Dean for Enrollment Management & Student Life at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he oversees Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar and Student Affairs, and is a member of the executive leadership team. He is also an Associate Consultant for Ruffalo Noel Levitz, where he provides consulting to colleges and universities on student recruitment and enrollment management. Prior to Peabody he served as Assistant Dean for Admissions, Summer and Preparatory Programs for the School of Music at Ithaca College, Assistant Provost for Admissions at Binghamton University (SUNY), Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Director of Music Admissions and Lecturer in Music at Ithaca College, and Director of the Summer Music Festival & Institute at Hartwick College. Plant has performed widely as a guitar soloist and chamber musician.
“I had an incredible experience in the DMA program at Eastman, where I studied with Nicholas Goluses. As a full-time professional pursuing the degree, I was fortunate to work with teachers and advisors who were extremely supportive and provided the flexibility I needed to balance both my full-time work and my studies while providing me the opportunity to take advantage of all that the school has to offer. I will be forever grateful for the guidance and support of my teachers, opportunities for exploration, and the rigorous curriculum that challenged me to achieve new heights as a performer, scholar, and educator.”
Erik Elmgren believes that the role of artists in our society is to stand in the gaps of cultural, social, and ideological differences and create musical experiences that reaffirm our connection to our shared humanity. As an educator, writer, and saxophonist, Erik seeks to create artistic spaces grounded in belonging, trust, and imagination. Erik’s research and writing at the intersection of community arts practice and higher education is an ongoing and deep exploration into the role of community connection in training the musicians of the future. His work touches on elements of social work, nonprofit organization, teaching artistry, and music education to cultivate a holistic artistic practice that prepares musicians to become engaged citizens and transformative advocates for equity, inclusion, and healing within their communities.
Erik currently serves as the Assistant Dean of Community Engagement and Teaching Artistry at the New England Conservatory of Music. In this role, he helps oversee the school’s flagship Community Performances and Partnerships Program which works with conservatory students and community partners to create impactful programming throughout Boston. He is also deeply involved in community arts initiatives across the country, most notably serving as a frequent consultant for the work of Street Symphony in Los Angeles.
As alto saxophonist with the award-winning Fuego Quartet, Erik has performed on chamber music series and conferences around the world and has won top prizes at numerous international chamber music competitions, including the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, Plowman Chamber Music Competition, and the MTNA National Chamber Music Competition. Their debut album, entitled Migration, was released in 2019 under the PARMA Recordings label.
“I look back on my Eastman experience as the foundation for direction my professional and artistic life has taken. I was so fortunate to interact and learn from the students and faculty of the Eastman School during a time when I began to question my purpose as an artist. My studies in the arts leadership program and all the opportunities afforded to me as part of Dr. Lin’s saxophone studio helped me discover my interest in the artist as a catalyst for community change and empowerment. I am grateful for the Eastman Community, a group of learners and creative thinkers that persists even after you graduate, for supporting me during my time of exploration and their constant inspiration to find creative solutions to the challenges facing artists in our society today.”
Emlyn J is a flutist and project leader dedicated to bringing music to the ears of new audiences. Johnson is the co-director of Music in the American Wild, an initiative that celebrates American people, places, and stories through the commission and performance of new music. Since 2016 she has commissioned more than 30 new thematic works for the American Wild Ensemble and premiered them at national parks, historic sites, and other unconventional venues across the country in collaboration with an ever-evolving roster of community partners. Recent projects have found the ensemble in Hawaiian lava fields, 30 stories underground in Kentucky caves, and many nontraditional spaces in between. Johnson’s work with American Wild Ensemble has been recognized with grants from organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and Mid-America Arts Alliance. ohnson
Johnson has also served as flutist with Ensemble Signal, the Slee Sinfonietta, and Alla Balena Ensemble. Additionally, she performs regularly with her husband, cellist and fellow Eastman alumnus Daniel Ketter, as tuo duo, which aims to develop new flute and cello duo repertoire, including concert music for youth audiences.
In addition to her work as a performer, Johnson is the Executive Director of Pro Musica Joplin, a chamber music series that has presented outstanding classical music in southwest Missouri for over four decades.
As an educator, Johnson has served as a flute instructor in the State University of New York system and as Career Advisor at Eastman School of Music’s Institute for Music Leadership. She currently teaches in the music department at Missouri State University and presents nationwide on community-centered music programming and project development.
“I could go on for days about Eastman’s influence on my the course of my life, but what it boils down to is this: Eastman is my musical home. I felt an immediate connection with the community as soon as I arrived on campus as a freshman that grew even stronger when I returned to Eastman for my DMA, and that undoubtedly continues to shape my path as a professional musician. I met my dearest friends there, I worked with amazing faculty, and I had the unique opportunity to participate in and witness music making at the highest level.
What I did not expect were the ways in which my relationship with Eastman would expand and develop since I completed my degree. Not only have those original bonds endured, but I am also constantly finding new opportunities to collaborate with classmates, alumni from different eras, and faculty I may not have even engaged with while I was a student. Eastman connections turn up in every corner of the music industry, and it is a great joy, both professionally and personally, to collaborate with other musicians who are part of the legacy of this special place.”
Johannes Müller Stosch
Johannes Müller Stosch serves as conductor of the Bob Cole Conservatory Symphony at California State University, Long Beach as well as Associate Dean for the College of the Arts. In 2017 the Bob Cole Conservatory Symphony played in Germany and the Czech Republic for sold-out venues and toured South Korea in 2013. Stosch also serves as Music Director and Conductor of the Holland Symphony, a professional regional orchestra in West Michigan. During his tenure, the Holland Symphony has seen unprecedented growth in the size and quality of its performances, as well as record numbers of season subscriptions.
Johannes Müller Stosch keeps an active guest-conducting schedule both internationally and nationally. His most recent engagements include concerts with the Kunming Philharmonic in China, Long Beach Symphony, Eastman School of Music, College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati (CCM), UBC Symphony in Vancouver, Canada, and at the University of Oregon in Eugene. In 2009, Stosch was a featured guest conductor with the Busan Sinfonietta in Korea in a concert was broadcast on national TV (KBS).
He has been a frequent guest conductor for new opera productions at CCM, including the main-stage production of Britten’s
Owen Wingrave. Previous engagements include Mozart’s Così fan Tutte, the world premiere of Joel Hoffman’s The Memory Game, Dvořák’s Rusalka, and Virgil Thomson’s The Mother Of Us All.
In Germany, he worked with Hannover’s L’Arco, Bremer Ratsmusik, and Concerto Brandenburg. He also had frequent appearances on organ and harpsichord with the Pacific Symphony in Orange County. Concert tours as a soloist and collaborative artist have taken him throughout the US, Germany, Italy, Korea, Chile, and Japan. Stosch has several commercial recordings to his credit, all of which have been played on public radio.
“My time at Eastman was one of the most important periods of my education. Prof. Neil Varon and the access to the Philharmonia, Eastman Symphony, and conducting-lab orchestras shaped and polished my ideas about conducting and craft of rehearsing tremendously. I enjoyed my classes, especially with Paul O’Dette and Dr. Marie Rolf, who inspired me to expand my view of musical practice and analysis. I was also lucky enough to further my organ study with private lessons with Hans Davidson and seminars with David Higgs. After graduation and a round of auditions, I received four conducting job offers and have enjoyed a privileged career in music since.”
Originally from Toronto,
Michael Unger holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts with Performers’ Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, where he was a student and teaching assistant of David Higgs and William Porter, and recipient of the school’s Jerald C. Graue Musicology Fellowship. He is a multiple award-winning performer who appears as a soloist and chamber musician in North America, Europe, Japan and South Korea. He is a First Prize and Audience Prize winner of the National Young Artists’ Competition of the American Guild of Organists (NYACOP), a First Prize winner of the International Organ Competition Musashino-Tokyo, and a Second Prize and Audience Award winner of the International Schnitger Organ Competition on the historic organs of Alkmaar, the Netherlands. Recent solo recitals include performances for national conventions of the American Guild of Organists, Organ Historical Society and Historical Keyboard Society of North America, ‘Five Continents – Five Organists’ Festival at Seoul’s Sejong Center, Internationale Orgelwoche Nürnberg – Musica Sacra, and numerous international and regional recital series. Recent harpsichord collaborations include Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Collegium Cincinnati, Catacoustic Consort, and Publick Musick. He received favorable international reviews for his debut solo recordings under the Naxos and Pro Organo labels, and his performances have been broadcast on North American and European radio, including syndicated programs Pipedreams and With Heart and Voice.
Unger was a guest faculty at the 2015 and 2016 Smarano International Academies in Trentino, Italy, the 2019 Colorado State University Organ Week, and has given masterclasses at several North American universities and conservatories. He is Associate Professor of Organ and Harpsichord at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and also serves as organist of Cincinnati’s historic Isaac M. Wise – Plum Street Temple.