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Press Release for Saturday, March 26, 2016

Music Flagship Program Orchestrates Cultural Excellence, Equips 21st Century Music Professionals

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

The Music Flagship Program at the University of North Florida announces it has now been officially designated a School of Music in the College of Arts and Sciences, expanding its training and equipping of a wide range of music students—jazz studies, performance, music education and conducting as well as music technology and production—in a culture of excellence in order to be relevant 21st century music professionals.

“The recent designation of the UNF Music Flagship Program as the UNF School of Music marks the culmination of years of work, creating a comprehensive program that equips 21st century music professionals,” said Dr. Randall Tinnin, School of Music director and professor of trumpet.

The UNF Department of Music was awarded flagship status in 2011 and as a result of additional financial resources that came with the designation, was able to launch a graduate program and a bachelors program in music technology and production. These programs fit well within the department’s established programs in jazz studies, performance and music education, offering UNF students a diverse and relevant curriculum, making them competitive in the 21st century music industry.

The UNF Music Flagship Program has always provided a culture of excellence and has experienced a 33 percent growth rate in the past year alone, soaring from 176 music students in the spring of 2014 to over 235 students last fall. Also, just in the last year, bachelor of music education and piano pedagogy graduate students had a 100-percent employment rate or graduate school placement.
Additionally, music grads have played with prestigious ensembles like the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra as well as elite Washington D.C. military ensembles and have earned faculty positions at various universities and colleges, including the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, Full Sail University, Jacksonville University and more.

Several UNF music grads have played with Wynton Marsalis, an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American culture. He credits the School of Music for creating high-quality musicians. “To have that many great musicians come from one place is truly astounding…They are deeply soulful and committed to making the highest quality of music,” said Marsalis, who is the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop to modern jazz.

Now with a new name, this musical culture of excellence is expanding. Immediate needs of the program include more endowed scholarships to support the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, additional space—traditional classrooms fitted for music theory, practice rooms, lab/rehearsal space and performance venues, technological support for the piano and technology labs—a professor to serve as an area coordinator for Music Technology, instructors to support core music courses in theory, aural theory, class piano and music history as well as a piano technician and community engagement coordinator to lead the program’s efforts to provide music education for local public school students.

In addition to a culture of excellence, the Music Flagship has always had shown consistent success in the placement of its students. Numerous UNF music graduates have gone on to train at prestigious institutions, such as Julliard, Manhattan School of Music as well as The Boston Conservatory, and countless music graduates have found that the School of Music was that stepping stone to further developing their talents, which were already honed here in their backyard of Northeast Florida.

UNF alumnus Paul Sikivie, a jazz bassist, just won a Grammy last month for playing on the Best Jazz Vocal Album of 2015, “For One to Love” by Cecile McLorin Salvant, while Brian Hogans, saxophonist, has played with the award-winning Sean Jones Quintet. Vocal performance grad Jordan Rutter, a New York City-based countertenor, has received praise from Opera News for his performance as Le fils de Macduff in the American-French language premiere of Ernest Bloch’s “Macbeth.” He currently performs scenes from various operas, like “Serse” and “Rinaldo,” with Met LiveArts in Mingwei Lee’s “Sonic Blossom” in the Big Apple.

Not only are University music graduates finding success, but current students are triumphing as well. UNF junior Anna Mans, a music performance major with a concentration in classical voice, was recently accepted into the Winter Intensive program, OperaWorks, which is based in California and trains/empowers performers to excel personally and artistically. She feels particularly honored to have been a part of this program because of the prestige it holds both at home and abroad. “UNF is a hidden gem. It fosters a community of love, support and personal growth,” said Mans. “It fosters a community that I will be forever grateful to call my alma mater and carry with me as I move forward as a musician.”

Another student Daniel Dickinson, a senior music jazz studies major, has already performed with artists like Ben Folds, Jennifer Holliday and The Spinners. His skills are in composition, arranging and performance on the clarinet, flute and saxophone, both classical and jazz. Dickinson has received numerous honors from organizations at the national, state and local levels, including the 2011 Outstanding Soloist Award from Downbeat magazine and the Jeep McCoy scholarship from the Northeast Florida Jazz Association, to name a few. He has written many pieces, one recorded by a group led by Ulysses Owens Jr. for his album, “Onward & Upward.”

The UNF School of Music brings a focused commitment to excellence as well as the artistic and intellectual preparation of students for the diverse and challenging world in which we live. It aims to provide a high level of professional musical training and a sense of relevance regarding the value of music to our society through an active, pluralistic musical environment, encompassing western European traditional art music through contemporary music, including world music and jazz.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.