Department News

(November 3, 2014)

BucsWorth Men's Choir

BucsWorth Men's Choir Performs in Atlanta for

Young Men's Power Sing Festival

BucsWorth Men's Choir from East Tennessee State University was the invited guest ensemble at the Young Men's Power Sing Festival in Atlanta, GA, on November 1, 2014. Dr. Alan Stevens, the ensemble's conductor, was the featured festival clinician. The Young Men's Power Sing is a day-long event hosted by the Atlanta Young Singers and the Atlanta International School. High school and middle school students from these organizations join male singers from all over the Atlanta-metropolitan area for a day of rehearsals, workshops, bonding, and preparation for an evening concert. BucsWorth had the opportunity to work with the festival singers throughout the day. The concert included performances by the Power Sing festival choir, BucsWorth, and collaborations between the ensembles. 

In addition to the Young Men's Power Sing, BucsWorth performed at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, TN, on Friday, October 31, and was the invited guest choir for the Sunday service on November 2 at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Roswell, GA, just outside of Atlanta. Pictures from the various performances are available on the BucsWorth Facebook page: 


(November 3, 2014)
Derrick Epps

Derrick Epps Selected for Scholarship

to National ACDA Conference

Derrick Epps, a junior vocal music education major at East Tennessee State University, was selected as one of only five students from the state of Tennessee to receive a full scholarship to attend the National Conference of the American Choral Director's Association in Salt Lake City, UT, February 25-28, 2015. The scholarship application was open to all music education majors in the state of Tennessee. Gary Wilson, the ACDA representative who oversaw the scholarship decision process, described the field of applicants as "extremely strong." Epps was selected for the scholarship based on his application, academic performance record, and letters of reference from Dr. Matthew Potterton, ETSU Director of Choral and Vocal Activities, and Dr. Alan Stevens, ETSU Associate Director of Choral Activities.

Epps is a native of Travelers Rest, SC, and later moved to Kingsport, TN, where he graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School. He is a member of the ETSU Chorale, Greyscale, and the BucsWorth Men's Choir. He is the President of all three ensembles. Additionally, Epps is the President of the ETSU Collegiate Chapter of ACDA and a member of the ETSU Collegiate National Association for Music Education. He studies voice with Dr. Matthew Potterton. 

Epps was the only student selected from a state-run university in Tennessee. The additional award recipients are Justin Bowen and Jordan Smith from Lipscomb University and Salvador Miranda and William Nichols from Vanderbilt University. 


(October 15, 2014)

Niederberger Album Cover



Compositions of Maria Niederberger Featured at the "femmusicale festival"


Dr. Maria A. Niederberger’s compositions Säntis Thoughts, for violin and piano, and Mountain Visions, for solo violin, will be featured at the “femmusicale festival” in Bern, Switzerland. The festival celebrates women in music and will be held from November 14 through 16, 2014. For more information please see 





(April 14, 2014)

Huayong Sun


ETSU Piano Major Places in International Competition


Huayong Sun earned third place in the Chopin International Piano Competition, which took place in Hartford, CT, March 6-9, 2014. A native of Dalian, China, Huayong Sun is currently a sophomore in piano performance major and studies piano with Dr. Chih-Long Hu.







(April 1, 2014)

Chelseigh Robinson


ETSU Music Student Wins Research Prize

Chelseigh Robinson, an undergraduate student at East Tennessee State University, won first place in her division of the Appalachian Research Forum for her poster presentation "Music and Art: Exploring Cross-Pollination."

Robinson is a member of the Department of Music and the Fine and Performing Arts Scholars program (Honors College). She completed her Honors Senior Thesis under the advisement of Dr. Kenton Coe, Dr. Alison Deadman, and Dr. Scott Contreras-Koterbay. The project consisted of a written document and an original composition for flute choir, "Georges Braque, Homage to J.S. Bach."

Early in 2014, Chelseigh was selected to present her research in Nashville at the annual "Posters at the State Capitol" event; April 1, Chelseigh presented her research at the Boland Symposium for Undergraduate Research.



(January 26, 2014)

Justin Stanton

ETSU Alum Receives 2014 Grammy Award


(Los Angeles)  East Tennessee State University alumnus Justin Stanton, a member of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band Snarky Puppy, which, along with vocalist Lalah Hathaway, took home the 2014 Grammy Award for “Best R&B Performance” for “Something,” a track from the band’s “Family Dinner-Volume One” album on Ropeadope Records. Snarky Puppy plays a mixture of jazz, funk and world music and has earned critical acclaim from the BBC, “Village Voice,” the “Guardian,” the “Boston Herald” and more.  The band has performed at venues and festivals in Asia, Europe, Australia and North America.

Stanton, an Elizabethton native and 2005 graduate of ETSU, went on to earn his master’s degree in jazz studies at the University of North Texas, where Snarky Puppy was formed.  The jazz trumpeter and pianist has also appeared recently with Gin Wigmore on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Jimmie Kimmel Live,” “The Ellen Show” and “Good Morning America.” Stanton began taking trumpet in the sixth grade and piano in the seventh grade, but was primarily a trumpeter during his school years.  However, after their keyboardist left, Snarky Puppy invited him to join the band and play trumpet and keyboard.

At ETSU, Stanton studied extensively under Dr. David Champouillon, a Bach Trumpet Artist/Clinician and professor of trumpet and jazz studies in the ETSU Department of Music.  Champouillon, a former U.S. Air Force solo jazz/classical trumpeter, is leader of The Jazz Doctors, a popular regional ensemble. “Justin Stanton is that kind of student, and now colleague, that every teacher yearns to be privileged to work with – one that comes along very rarely,” Champouillon said.  “Justin was a ‘musical sponge’ in every venue he performed in here – whether it was an ETSU ensemble or the Faculty Brass, the Johnson City Symphony, or as a founding member of the Jazz Doctors. “I congratulate him as he continues to make all of ETSU look good and I am honored to have had any influence on his success. Through hard work and dedication, his future is assured.”



(January 12, 2014)

Tatum Spears

ETSU Vocal Performance Majors Recognized in Metropolitan Opera Competition

Weber City, VA –  Tatum Spears, soprano, received a huge honor on Saturday in Charlotte, NC. She auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera National Council (North Carolina district). The MONC was founded in 1952 on the premise of discovering aspiring young opera singers from around the country. Spears was one of thirty-six hopefuls, in which she was among the youngest contestants. Three winners were chosen, and four more encouragement awards were given. She received the Frances Shafter Recognition award.

"I am honestly in shock," Spears admits. "I was the second-youngest singer in this competition, and after hearing all of the amazing talent, I thought I would walk away empty-handed. I feel so honored and blessed to be chosen for this award. I can't wait to audition again next year."

Spears performed two arias from memory for the three judges: Dominic Cossa, Chair, Opera Voice Division, University of Maryland School of Music; Anthony Dean Griffey, Metropolitan Opera tenor; and Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director, Metropolitan Opera National Council.
Spears is from Weber City, VA. She is currently a senior undergraduate student at East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, TN) where she is studying vocal performance under Dr. Sun-Joo Oh. She will graduate from ETSU in May with a Bachelor of Music degree. Spears is a member and section leader of the ETSU Chorale and the ETSU Opera Workshop. Later this month, she is competing in the MTNA Young Artist Voice Division Competition in Louisville, KY.



(December 2013)

Trifecta Trio Releases New Album

A CD of contemporary music performed by the Trifecta Trio has been released on the Blue Griffin Recording Label. The ensemble consists of current and former ETSU faculty Aryn Sweeney (oboe), Jeffery Whaley (horn), and Chih-Long Hu (piano). The album features first-time recordings of music by Koetsier, Danner, Bowen, and a commissioned work by Maria Niederberger, ETSU professor of music theory and composition.


Trifecta Trio Album Cover


(November 30, 2013)
Frye Album Release

(November 20, 2013)

ETSU Percussion Ensemble Places 4th

at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention

& ETSU Alum's HS Percussion Ensemble Performs!


The Percussive Arts Society held its International Convention in Indianapolis from November 13-16. The ETSU Percussion Ensemble placed 4th out of ten competing international ensembles in the college small ensemble category, with a score of 93.375. The ensemble is directed by Dr. Rande Sanderbeck, who is also the faculty adviser for the ETSU Percussive Arts Society Collegiate Chapter.

Additionally, the Science Hill High School Percussion Ensemble (Johnson City, TN) was selected as one of only two high school ensembles to perform at the Convention. The group is directed by ETSU Alum Daniel McGuire. One of the pieces the ensemble performed was an arrangement of "Song for America" by the band Kansas, arranged by Dr. Sanderbeck. Mr. McGuire also featured Dr. Sanderbeck as the guest soloist with the Science Hill High School Percussion Ensemble!

Pictured below are members of the ETSU Percussion Ensemble in Indianapolis.

PASIC Performers



 (October 20, 2013)

Vocal Performance Majors Perform with Asheville Lyric Opera Company

Vocal performance majors, Tatum Spears, soprano, and Laura Jordan, mezzo-soprano, recently performed in Asheville Lyric Opera's production of I Pagliacci & Suor Angelica. Ms. Spears appeared in the chorus for Pagliacci and Ms. Jordan performed the role of Seconda Sorella Cercatrice as well as singing in the chorus for Suor Angelica. Ms. Spears is a voice student of Dr. Sun-Joo Oh and Ms. Jordan is a voice student of Mrs. Karen Smith. 

The production was presented October 4th and 5th at the Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville, NC. More information about the Asheville Lyric Opera is available at: Asheville Lyric Opera




Dr. Chih-Long Hu

Winner of the

2013 Tennessee Music Teachers Association 

Teacher of the Year Award

Dr. Hu.jpg



And the winner is...

JOHNSON CITY (August 23, 2013) – East Tennessee State University bestowed its highest honors upon three professors today with the presentation of the 2013 Distinguished Faculty Awards for Teaching, Research and Service.

The winners were nominated and selected by their faculty peers. Each received a medallion, a plaque and a check provided by the ETSU Foundation during the annual Faculty Convocation, which marks the beginning of the new academic year and fall semester.

The Distinguished Faculty Award in Teaching was presented to Travis Graves, an associate professor of Art and Design. The Distinguished Faculty Award in Research went to Dr. Gregory A. Ordway, a professor of pharmacology and interim chair for the ETSU Department of Biomedical Sciences in theJames H. Quillen College of Medicine.

Dr. Benjamin Caton received the Distinguished Faculty Award in Service. 

Congratulations to Dr. Caton, winner of this highest ETSU honor!

Caton jpg