Category Archives: Faculty

Rose Gifford

  • Master of Music, Piano Performance and Pedagogy; University of Oklahoma
  • Bachelor of Music, Keyboard Performance; Western Michigan University

From Portage, Michigan, Rose Gifford graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Keyboard Performance from Western Michigan University in 2015.  While at WMU, she held the Gilmore Piano Scholarship for four years. She studied applied piano under Dr. Silvia Roederer and collaborative piano with Lori Sims, and also served on the board for the WMU MTNA Collegiate Chapter under the direction of Jeremy Siskind.

Rose graduated from the University of Oklahoma in May 2017, with her Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy.  While at OU, she worked as a graduate assistant serving as instructor of record for various group piano classes and secondary applied piano lessons.  In addition to her teaching duties, she also was assistant to Dr. Jane Magrath.  At OU, Rose studied applied piano under Dr. Jeongwon Ham and Dr. Ed Gates, and piano pedagogy under Dr. Barbara Fast and Dr. Jane Magrath.  She was awarded the Martha M. Boucher Piano Scholarship in 2016, as well as the Alice and Albert Kirkpatrick Scholarship and the Genevieve Vliet Piano Scholarship in 2017.  She served on the board of the MTNA Collegiate Chapter at OU during the 2016-17 school year, during which time it won the Collegiate Chapter of the Year Award.

Rose has presented at the MTNA National Conference in 2017, and has participated in the Interharmony International Music Festival in Arcidosso, Italy, as well as the Classical Music Festival in Eisensdat, Austria. Most recently, she taught functional piano classes as Visiting Assistant Professor of Keyboard at the Crane School of Music at SUNY-Potsdam. Rose currently teaches private lessons at the Ada Conservatory of Music in Ada, MI, as well as the Crescendo Academy of Music in Kalamazoo, MI.

Also posted in Accompanist, Piano | Comments closed

Rufus Ferguson

  • Master of Music, Piano Performance; Western Michigan University
  • Bachelor of Music, Jazz Studies; Western Michigan University

Rufus Ferguson is a jazz pianist based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Western Michigan University under the mentorship of Jeremy Siskind. During his tenure at WMU he has studied with artists such as Scott Cowan, Andrew Rathbun, Edward Simon, Frank Carlberg and participated in exclusive masterclasses with artists such as Fred Hersch, Kenny Barron, Barry Harris and more. He is an experienced performer, arranger, composer and teacher, specifically in the jazz genre.

Rufus got his start studying classical piano at the age of five. He became a gospel church organist at a young age and later began playing jazz piano at age 13. His dedication to being equally well-versed in multiple genres of music has afforded him many unique opportunities such as playing with Grammy-nominated and award-winning artists and groups of all genres.

Rufus arrangements and compositions has been played by many artist and groups such as, WMU Advanced Jazz Ensemble, the Rufus Ferguson Ensemble, the Nashon Holloway Band. These collaborative experiences led to opportunities to teach at The Keith Hall Summer Drum Intensive in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Showchoir Camps of America at Heidelburg University in Tiffin, Ohio.

He has performed at several festivals such as the Notre Dame Jazz Festival, Elmhurst Jazz Festival, Flint Jazz Festival and the Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. In May 2016, Rufus became a piano instructor at Western Michigan University where he also directs the University Jazz Lab Band.  In addition to his position at WMU, Rufus is a piano instructor for the Suzuki Academy of Kalamazoo, Crescendo Academy of Music and Gilmore Education Department. He is also the Jazz Band Director at Portage Northern High School and rhythm section coach for the Kalamazoo Youth Jazz Orchestra.

To see Rufus in action, visit his website.

Also posted in Piano | Comments closed

Zoe Schlussel

  • Master of Music, Violin Performance, Western Michigan University
  • Bachelor of Music, Violin Performance, University of the Pacific

Zoe began playing violin at age 9 in Grass Valley, CA where she studied both classical violin and Scottish Fiddle. In 2015 she received her Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music where she studied under scholarship with professor Igor Veligan. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Violin Performance at Western Michigan University’s School of Music as the violin Graduate Assistant where she studies with Renata Artman Knific.

She is an Artist Scholar and substitute musician with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and held the position of concertmaster at WMU in 2017. In addition, she is a substitute musician with Southwest Michigan and Holland Symphonies and has attended the Hawaii Performing Arts and Opera Maya summer festivals.

Zoe has been teaching privately since 2008 with a Suzuki-based curriculum supplemented by folk and Scottish fiddle music to provide a diversified musical education. She has taught at Western Michigan University as Graduate Assistant to the violin studio from 2016 to present and was a teaching assistant for Sierra Strings from 2006-2009. Zoe has also worked with violinists such as the soloist Chee-Yun Kim, Clara Takarabe, Francois Henkins, Eugene Chukhlov, and Zino Bogachek. In addition to her classical education and career, Zoe attended Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp from 2008-2010, recorded on Della Saldoli’s Album “Seasons”, and was a member of Current Personae Chamber Orchestra.

Also posted in Violin | Comments closed

Scott Robbins

  • Master of Music, Music Education, VanderCook School of Music, Chicago
  • Bachelor of Music, Music Education, Western Michigan University

Scott Robbins has nearly 30 years as a music teacher at Kalamazoo Public Schools. He has also taught at Chamber Music Workshop, Birch Creek Music Performance Camp, and KPS Summer Band and Orchestra. He has performed with the WMU Symphonic Band, Orchestra, and Jazz Orchestra; the Otsego Jazz Ensemble; the St. Joseph Community Band; West Shore Symphony; and Grand Rapid Symphony.

Also posted in Saxophone | Comments closed

Alfredo Balcacer

 

  • Master of Music, Music Performance/Jazz studies Western Michigan University (expected graduation December 2017)
  • Bachelor of Music, Music Performance with a certificate in guitar pedagogy, Utah State University
  • Studies in Music Performance, National Conservatory of Music, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Alfredo Balcacer is a guitarist and educator from the Dominican Republic, currently living in Kalamazoo, MI. He graduated with a degree in Music Performance from Utah State University, and is currently finishing his masters degree in Music Performance at Western Michigan University. After coming to the United States, he has studied with Corey and Mike Christiansen, Fareed Haque, Tom Knific, Pat Martino, Bryan Baker, Fred Hamilton, Ed Simon, among others.

Alfredo has performed in the USA, Brazil, Canada and the Dominican Republic, and taught guitar privately for 8 years back in his home country, both in high-schools and at his private studio. Besides being a former member of the award-winning groups such a Gold Company Vocal Ensemble, USU Jazz Orchestra, WMU Jazz Orchestra and Mas Que Nada Latin Group, Alfredo is also a recipient of scholarships by the Dominican Republic Government, Utah State Caine College of the Arts and WMU Department of Music.

For the past 10 years, Alfredo has performed and collaborated with many artists such as Peter Erskine, Randy Brecker, Corey Christiansen, George Garzone, Peter Eldridge, Cedric Dent, Jeremy Siskind, Deborah Brown, and Tom Knific, among others. As attendee to many masterclasses, he has performed with John Scofield, Chico Pinheiro, Julian Lage, Peter Bernstein, Steve Kovalcheck and Philip Catherine.

You can see Alfredo perform here and here.

Also posted in Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar | Comments closed
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