Graduating Senior Spotlight – May 2024 : Department of Music and Dance : UMass Amherst


Each year, we ask our faculty to recommend seniors whom they feel have distinguished themselves by virtue of their achievements, by acting as an example for others, or by overcoming challenges. Here are excerpts from those responses – congratulations to these students, and to all of our graduating seniors!

 

Zoe Cohen, Drum Major of the Minuteman Marching Band

Zoe Cohen

At this year’s Commencement, Music Education major Zoe Cohen is one of ten graduating seniors to be honored as 21st Century Leaders, an honor that the university bestows in recognition of students’ strong academic records, exemplary achievements, and intellectual accomplishments. Zoe is a talented trumpeter with the Minuteman Marching Band and vocalist with the Chamber Choir.  She recently completed a conducting internship with the Smith College Wind Ensemble and also conducted the pit orchestra for South Hadley High School’s production of “The Wedding Singer.” Last year, she was co-recipient of the department’s Howard Lebow Memorial Scholarship for achievement in performance, and was also the first recipient of the Jeff Poulton and Suzanne Jessee Scholarship awarded to an outstanding Drum Major in the Marching Band.

 

Madison Giberson

Maddi Giberson

An all-around talent, Music Education major Maddi has proven herself to be a leader as a tuba player in the UMass Wind Ensemble and conducting the Trombone and Brass Choirs as part of her independent study project, an undertaking normally reserved for graduate students. As a conductor, Maddi worked as an intern with the Smith College Wind Ensemble, conducted the a capella vocal group Duly Noted (of which she is a member), and led a wind octet through selections from Mozart’s The Magic Flute during her senior conducting recital.  Maddi has stayed on the Dean’s List for all four years at UMass, and just completed her student teaching practicum at Agawam High School and in the New Salem/Shutesbury Public Schools.

 

Loren Isotalo

Loren Isotalo

Loren’s double major in Music History and Classical Archaeology has enabled him to study ancient Greek music through the cultural lenses of religion, literature, and visual art. In 2022, Loren took part in an archeological excavation in Tuscany, Italy as part of a field research project, and afterwards secured a CHC Research Assistant Fellowship to work with music history professor Evan MacCarthy on exploring 19th-century American musical works inspired by Greek and Roman culture. This spring, Loren presented research on the aulos, an ancient Greek wind instrument, at the annual meeting of the Classical Association of New England. Loren has been accepted to pursue his master’s degree in England at the prestigious University of Oxford.

 

Emma Kucich

Emma Kucich

A double major in Flute Performance & English (Technical Writing), with a minor in Scandinavian Studies, Emma has been recognized by the College of HFA for her graduate-level work in music history, and has been on the Dean’s List all 4 years. Despite her heavy course load, Emma also performs in a wide range of the department’s top ensembles, including Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble I, and the UMass Opera pit orchestra. She is also a leader off-campus through her work as a student intern and engagement officer with the Norfolk County SAFE Coalition. Last summer, Emma’s talents landed her a coveted internship with Azenta Life Sciences in Burlington, Vermont, a company on the cutting-edge of genomic sequencing technology. Following graduation, she will begin work as a Technical Writer with AstroNova, a data visualization technology company based in West Warwick, RI.

 

Maya Powe

Maya Powe

Maya is a Music Education major with a certificate in choral conducting. She has demonstrated her talents as a leader through her work as President and Director of the UMass Gospel Choir, which she led in performance at the department’s annual “Holiday Card to Amherst” concert in December. Prof. Lisa Lehmberg noted Maya’s work in completing her student teaching practicum in the Holyoke Public Schools, and lauded Maya for her commitment to providing “inclusive, engaging, culturally responsive, and equitable music learning experiences for diverse, inner-city youth.” Maya was the recipient of the department’s Falvey Scholarship from 2021-2023;  the award recognizes “excellent academic performance, demonstrated interest in the field of music education, and potential to positively impact the music education of young people.”

 

Rebecca Tobar

Rebecca Tobar

Rebecca is a Trumpet Performance major, Spanish minor, with a certificate in Arts Management. As an honors student, her thesis project has been to organize and promote a tour of Ecuador by the UMass Wind Ensemble, which included online fundraising and assisting students with securing travel visas. Rebecca recently won a scholarship to attend the annual meeting of the International Trumpet Guild, and has also worked to revive the Pioneer Valley Trumpet Guild after years of inactivity. As the PVTG’s president, she has helped to rewrite their bylaws and organize fundraisers. Last summer, Rebecca secured a coveted internship in the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s marketing department, which led to her being hired to work remotely in the BSO’s Ticketing Services office this past semester.

 

 

Zev Barden

Zev Barden

Zev is a Tuba Performance major, and has been an active participant in the UMass Wind Ensemble, Symphony Band, Symphony Orchestra, and numerous chamber groups. His professional career is well underway, as he is currently the Principal Tuba for the Pioneer Valley Symphony and an active substitute with the Cape Ann Symphony, and also performs regularly with numerous community orchestras and wind ensembles. Since last fall, Zev has given lessons at the East Windsor (CT) Middle School; he has also worked as part of the Bezanson stage crew for that past two years. Outside of music, Zev is a Lead Sailing Instructor at the Buzzards Bay Coalition in Wareham, MA, and has also worked as a deckhand and captain on commercial fishing boats.

 

Kat Lopez

Kat Lopez

Kat is a double major in Dance Performance and Psychology. She has choreographed and performed in student and faculty work. She serves as the dance coordinator for the UMass Soul TV Soul Sistas and as choreographer for the UMass Insanely Prestigious Step Team. She choreographed and performed in an opening act for a performance by the Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems and the American rapper, singer, songwriter Jack Harlow at the UMass Spring Concert. Last spring, she received the Lorna Peterson Prize from the Five College Consortium, which is awarded to a student who has demonstrated commitment to collaboration in their academic career. Kat has been signed to Bloc Talent Agency, a major dance-focused company based in New York and Los Angeles.

 

 

Sophie Schilling

Sophie Schilling

Sophie is Dance Performance Major and Education Minor. She has been an active member of the dance program as choreographer and performer in student and faculty work. A member of the Commonwealth Honors College, Sophie has served as fundraiser/treasurer for the student-run Alive With Dance club, and as undergraduate apprentice for the Center for Racial Justice. She has trained at the Dance Education Laboratory in NYC, and began teaching her own classes to adults and children at the Amherst-based Center Dance School. Sophie will be pursuing her master’s in Dance Leadership and Community Practice at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, England.



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