Dean's Circle 2019/20 Annual Report | SHENANDOAH CONSERVATORY

50 Donors


Raised for Academic Excellence, Special Projects & COVID-19 Response in 2019/20


Year in Review


Student Development Grants

2019/20 Student Development Grant Recipients
  • Marco Bohnett ’20 (B.M. in Performance): Blues International Conference presentation in Mississippi during fall 2019 semester
  • George Bowerman ’20 (M.M. in Performance – Piano): Piano concert featuring music by composer Stephen Dankner in Massachusetts
  • Grace McLaughlin ’20 (B.F.A. in Musical Theatre): Theatre Career Development Grant provided support for travel to New York City for professional headshots and auditions for the Celebrity Cruise Line
  • Alison Dougherty ’20 (B.F.A. in Musical Theatre): Theatre Career Development Grant for travel to Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) auditions in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Edward Shilts ’21 (M.M. in Composition): Summer Student Development Grant to support travel for participation in the New Music Festival in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Jack Murphy ’20 (B.F.A. in Musical Theatre): Theatre Career Development Grant for travel to Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) auditions in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Shaila Murdock ’20 (B.F.A. in Musical Theatre): Theatre Career Development Grant for travel costs associated with A1 Auditions in New York City
  • Reilly Lincavicks ’20, ’21 (B.F.A. in Musical Theatre, M.S. in Performing Arts Leadership & Management): Theatre Career Development Grant for travel to Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC)
  • Brenna Crowgey ’20 (B.M. in Performance – Violin): Supported competition fees for the Ronald Sachs International Music Competition
‘Something Rotten!’ (Fall 2019)

Faculty Initiatives

Director and Associate Professor of Music Production & Recording Technology (MPRT) GOLDER O'NEILL ’92, M.M.E., spent a week at Avid Technology in Burbank, California, where he participated in the Avid West Summit. The summit is a gathering of Avid Learning Partners (ALP) educators and institutions that offer Avid training for Pro Tools, Media Coser and Sibelius software. He also participated along with five other educators in the Sibelius Ultimate Avid Train-the-Trainer workshop to become an Avid Certified Instructor.

Director of Music Education and Professor of Music Education STEPHANIE STANDERFER, Ph.D., hosted a residency with Alice M. Hammel ’87, ’99 (B.M. in Music Education, D.M.A. in Music Education) to help support meeting student needs in the classroom. (Pictured: Alice Hammel)

Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Music Education JEFF MARLATT, Ph.D., participated in the Academic Impressions Workshop: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Assistant Professor of Modern Dance MATT PARDO, M.F.A., led the ShenCoSKILLS (formerly known as CONS 101) Taskforce to design a replacement for Performance Forum.


Director of Music Therapy Studies, Coordinator of Graduate Music Therapy and Associate Professor of Music Therapy ANTHONY MEADOWS, Ph.D., MT-BC, visited Kyoto University in Japan in November to present on music therapy and discuss a joint research project with its neurology department focused on Parkinson’s Disease and dementia. Data collection for the project will occur in 2020.

Assistant Professor of Music Therapy BRONWEN LANDLESS '04, '13, M.M.T., MT-BC and DENVER WALKER ’17, ’21 (M.M. in Performance, D.M.A. in Performance) traveled to Boston and spent time at Harvard visiting with Jeanne Mahon, the Director of Harvard’s Center for Wellness and Health Promotion. They visited as representatives of the conservatory’s Being Well Together Taskforce.

Landless also received additional support to help lead the Being Well Together Taskforce throughout the academic year to design wellness opportunities for faculty, staff and students.

Jason Robert Brown's Residency at Shenandoah Conservatory

Jason Robert Brown Visits Shenandoah

Tony Award-winning Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown visited Shenandoah Conservatory in September 2019. During his visit, Brown was the featured guest at the conservatory’s Performance Forum, an exclusive one-on-one student engagement opportunity with visiting artists for conservatory students. He also hosted a musical theatre vocal masterclass where students performed excerpts from major productions for feedback in a group setting, participated in a rehearsal for “Parade,” directed by Coulson, which will be presented at Shenandoah Conservatory in October and led a cabaret planning seminar for composition students.

There truly aren’t many words to explain this experience other than passionate, inspiring and magical. To be conducted by the man who wrote the music was electrifying and in my opinion the best thing this school has ever given us. To hear this man talk to us on the most down-to-earth level about the show and what we needed to know was again just electrifying and inspiring. – Grace McLaughlin ’20 (B.F.A. in Musical Theatre)

Pianist HIDEMI MINAGAWA ’20 performed at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Sept. 26, in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Minagawa is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma and studies with Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, Chair of Keyboard Division and Professor of Piano John O’Conor, Mus.D. Minagawa was awarded a Student Development Grant to support her opportunity.

Sixty-eight Shenandoah Conservatory music education majors traveled to the 2019 Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA) state conference at the Homestead in November 2019. These students provided support for the conference, including registration and guiding services for school ensembles. The Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Director of Orchestral Studies, Conductor and Professor of Conducting Jan Wagner, Diploma and Korrepetitions Praxis, Academy of Music in Vienna (Austria), helped kick off the conference as the featured ensemble with a special performance.

Additional Special Projects

Dean's Circle funding also supported the work of an opera taskforce, a retreat for conservatory faculty and staff to provide greater support for running studio and instrumental ensembles for undergraduate music performance majors, stipends for ShenCoLAB Taskforce student members as well as media production for ShenCoLAB promotion, recruitment and more.


Shenandoah Conservatory hosted two online sessions of ‘Holding Hope: Finding the Silver Lining in Times of Crisis & Uncertainty’ with Dana Fonteneau to support students at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She shared tools for self-care, mindset and resilience, as well as resources to leave students feeling hopeful, creative and resourceful in order to make the best of difficult and challenges situations.

Shenandoah University Premieres ‘We Will Rise’ to Inspire Hope & Honor Frontline Workers

Singers all over the globe joined together virtually to perform We Will Rise by Stefan Youngblood ’85 (B.M. in Music Education), under the direction of Shenandoah University Director of Choral Activities, Matthew Oltman, D.M.A. This performance features 75 choir participants including members of the Shenandoah Conservatory Choir, the University of Pretoria Camerata from South Africa; the Pacific Youth Choir from Portland, Oregon; and Choral Chameleon and Empire City Men's Chorus from New York, along with a host of stunning individual vocalists.

A Generous Gift Supports Students in Studio Lessons

Thanks to a generous and recent donor gift, 166 Shenandoah Conservatory students (scattered across 18 states and Washington, D.C.) received a Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone to support studio lessons during COVID-19 displacement.

“The microphone was a game changer.” – Dr. Byron Jones, Associate Professor of Voice (Tenor)

Four students also received keyboards to continue their music practice as part of this generous donation.


2019/20 ShenCommUNITY Guest Speakers, Full Credits Provided Below

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and in partnership with select faculty and student leaders, Dean Michael Stepniak launched ShenCommUNITY, a weekly virtual gathering for the Shenandoah Conservatory community. The live stream event featured performances, well-being tips, a reflection led by a guest speaker and more. Featured guest speakers included:

  • President of Trinity College, Oxford, Dame Hilary Boulding
  • President and CEO of Washington Performing Arts Jenny Bilfield
  • Award-winning Broadway, film and television actor and consummate teacher Stephen McKinley Henderson
  • Shenandoah Conservatory Associate Professor of Music Therapy Tony Meadows
  • Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and friend of Shenandoah Conservatory Stephen Adly Guirgis
  • Shenandoah Conservatory Visiting Associate Professor of Theatre Martha Wollner
  • Shenandoah Conservatory Dean Michael Stepniak

Dean's Circle funding provided necessary support for technology and equipment to produce the series each week and creatively connect our artistic community while apart.

Additional COVID-19 Responses

Dean's Circle funding also supported additional related initiatives related to recruitment, new music and theatre summer programs, ShenFlex online conservatory teaching fellows stipends, and more during the pandemic.


On behalf of the students, faculty and staff at Shenandoah Conservatory, we wish to express our sincerest gratitude for the support provided by our Dean's Circle members. You help make these learning opportunities happen and are an essential part of our creative community. We look forward to partnering with you as we press on into the 2020/21 academic year which already promises to be an exciting season of growth, exploration and creativity!

Questions about the Dean's Circle? Contact Melanie Mathewes, Director of Development for the Conservatory, at mmathewe@su.edu for more information.

Shenandoah University is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All gifts are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.


Photos by C. King Photography and courtesy of individuals