Frost Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

Request Info
The Frost School of Music at the University of Miami is pleased to announce Jorge Mejia, B.M. ’96, has been chosen as the recipient of the school’s most prestigious honor the Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2020.
In 2019, the Multi-Grammy award-winning country music artist Lari White was honored with the award posthumously. It was presented to her husband, Chuck Cannon, by Dean Shelton Berg.

Congratulations to Our Award Recipients!

Congratulations to all of the Frost School of Music alumni who have received Frost Distinguished Alumni Awards to date. Recognized by Frost School of Music faculty, the honorees' professional career accomplishments are an inspiration to those who follow in their footsteps.

2020 - Current

Open All Tabs
  • 2021: Sally K. Albrecht, M.A. '77, M.M. '79

    Sally K. Albrecht is a popular choral composer, conductor, and clinician, especially known for her work with the choral movement. An annual recipient of the ASCAP Special Music Award since 1987, Sally has more than 600 popular choral publications, 75 larger songbooks and musicals, plus 20 instructional choral movement DVDs in print. She has directed and staged the half-time show singers performing during two Florida Citrus Bowls, and has conducted hundreds of honor choir events, including festivals at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and The Kennedy Center. For over three decades, she was the Director of School Choral and Classroom Publications for two major educational music publishing companies, most recently for Alfred Music.

    A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Sally received a B.A. Degree from Rollins College (FL) in 1976 with a double major in Music and Theater. From there she moved to the University of Miami (FL), where she received both an M.A. in Drama (1977) and an M.M. in Accompanying (1979). She was an accompanist for Fred Waring and has taught in the music departments at Oakland University (MI), Jersey City State College (NJ), and Meredith College (NC). Sally has worked with literally thousands of teachers, presenting sessions at music conventions and choral music workshops in over 40 states, Canada, Singapore, and Australia.

    Sally and her husband, composer/arranger Jay Althouse, currently enjoy living in Raleigh, North Carolina. They were thrilled to have their composition I Hear America Singing! performed during the 2009 Presidential Inauguration Ceremonies. More recently, her Domine Deus was sung by the Archdiocesan Children’s Choir as the Pope arrived in Philadelphia, her composition This Is the Day! was premiered by the Texas Choral Directors Association Elementary Honor Choir, her piece I’m Bound for Glory! was premiered under her direction at Carnegie Hall by the WorldStrides OnStage Honors Junior Choir, and her setting of “Tuba Mirum” was performed under her direction by the South Carolina ACDA Elementary All-State Choir. Sally currently serves as the Past Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society and is a proud recipient of their "Pillar of Leadership" award.

  • 2020: Jorge Mejia, B.M. ’96

    Jorge Mejia, B.M. ’96 is President & CEO for Sony Music Publishing Latin America and US Latin, a role in which he is responsible for Sony Music Publishing’s operations across Latin America and the US Latin market, with offices in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Miami.

    During his tenure at Sony Music Publishing, Jorge has been instrumental in guiding Sony Music Publishing Latin to become the leading music publisher in the Latin industry, with a record-setting 17 ASCAP Latin Publisher of the Year wins, multiple Billboard Publishing Corporation of the Year, BMI Latin Publisher of the Year, and SESAC Publisher of the Year awards. In 2016, Sony Music Publishing became the first Latin publisher to win the ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC Publisher of the Year awards in a single year, the ‘Triple Crown of Publishing’, a feat repeated in 2017 and 2018. Sony Music Publishing owns or administers over 3 million copyrights by such artists as The Beatles, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Maluma to name but a very few.

    A Latin GRAMMY® nominated composer and a Steinway Artist, Jorge studied piano at the New World School of the Arts, the New England Conservatory of Music, and finally earned his Piano Performance degree from the University of Miami. His most recent release is An Open Book: A Memoir in Music, a set of 25 Preludes for Piano and Orchestra plus narratives a project which went on to garner a Latin GRAMMY® nomination for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.
    Jorge sits on the advisory board of the University of Miami Frost School of Music, as well as the board of the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame. He has been named to the Latin Power Players list every year it has been published, starting in 2010 and, most recently, in 2020. Jorge is based in Miami where he lives with his wife and two dogs.


Open All Tabs
  • 2019: Raul Midón, B.M. '90

    Raul Midón, B.M. ‘88, was named the Frost School of Music's Distinguished Alumnus of 2019. Midón is a contemporary singer-songwriter whose impassioned acoustic guitar playing – a mix of rock, classical, and flamenco – has received as much attention as his smooth, relaxed voice. Blind since birth, he was born in Embudo, New Mexico, to an Argentine father and American mother. He began playing drums early in his childhood, before switching to guitar and experimenting with flamenco, jazz, and classical styles on his chosen instrument. While attending Frost to pursue a degree in Jazz Performance he moonlighted as a background vocalist for Latin pop recording sessions.  Along with releasing ten studio albums as a solo artist, he has collaborated with such heroes as Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, and Bill Withers, and contributed to recordings by Queen Latifah, Snoop Dogg and the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s “She Hate Me.” 

  • 2018: Lari White, B.M. '88

    Lari White, B.M. ‘88, was named the Frost School of Music's Distinguished Alumnus of 2018 posthumously. Lari White’s music earned three GRAMMY Awards for The Apostle Soundtrack and Amazing Grace 1 and 2: A Country Tribute. Her album Green Eyed Soul (2004), on her own label, Skinny White Girl Records, was hailed by the London Times as the best soul album of the year. She co-produced Toby Keith’s million-selling album White Trash with Money (2006), making Lari one of the first and only women in country music to produce a major label act. Read More>>>

  • 2017: Joshua Henry, B.M. ‘06

    Joshua Henry B.M. ‘06

    Joshua Henry, B.M. ’06, named the Frost School of Music's Distinguished Alumnus of 2017, has earned his third Tony Award nomination for best leading actor as the role of Aaron Burr in the musical Hamilton. His second Tony nomination was obtained for Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his performance as “Flick” in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Violet opposite Sutton Foster. The role also earned him nominations for Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. His turn as Haywood Patterson in The Scottsboro Boys earned Henry his first Tony Award nomination in 2011.  Henry first played the role of “Flick” in a production of Violet at the University of Miami at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, directed by the original Off-Broadway “Flick,” Michael McElroy.

    Henry began his career in Godspell, and quickly moved on to a role in the ensemble and understudied the role of Benny, in an off-Broadway Tony Award-winning premiere run of In the Heights . He followed up his Broadway debut starring as “Favorite Son” in the original Broadway cast of the Green Day musical American Idiot, and more recently starring as “Jake” in the Tony Award winning revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. He also appeared as Jennifer Hudson’s boyfriend in the first Sex and the City movie. A singer, actor, musician, and composer, he has also co-written a new children’s musical, Amigo Duende; and held a concert at 54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club, in New York City entitled “This is the Love,” as a follow-up to his sold out debut “Soul Weakness,” featuring Broadway classics and original songs.

    While attending the University of Miami Frost School of Music, Joshua Henry appeared in many musical theatre productions at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre. He majored in vocal performance.

  • 2016: Cristian Măcelaru, B.M. ‘03

    Cristian Macelaru B.M. ‘03

    Romanian-born conductor Cristian Macelaru, B.M. ’03, is the 2016 Frost School of Music Distinguished Alumnus. He was scheduled to return to the University of Miami campus to conduct the Frost Symphony Orchestra and accept his award. 2016 also marks Macelaru’s inaugural season as music director and conductor of the Cabrillo Festival, America’s longest running festival dedicated to new orchestral music. Executive Director Ellen Primack says, “His curiosity and passion, coupled with his skill and dynamism on the podium, make him a perfect fit.”

    Macelaru, who started his career as a violinist, won the Solti Conducting Award in 2014 and has since established himself as one of the fastest-rising stars of the conducting world. He first led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2012, continuing for three critically acclaimed seasons as a replacement for Pierre Boulez. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “Macelaru is the real thing, displaying confidence without arrogance and offering expressiveness without excess demonstration.”

    Macelaru also conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra annually on subscription programs and other special concerts. “Music as an art form is about bringing people together, to help them dream of better things, to hope of better things, and to understand more beautiful concepts,” he says. Last summer, Macelaru made season debuts at Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony,
    Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Wolf Trap Festival with the National Symphony, Aspen Music Festival, and the Chautauqua Music Festival with Wynton Marsalis.

  • 2015: John Easterlin, B.M. ‘84

    John Easterlin, B.M. '84John Easterlin, B.M. ’84, was named the 2015 University of Miami Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music Distinguished Alumnus. Easterlin was honored during his Festival Miami concert, “What a Character! The Many Faces of John Easterlin.” He is one of international opera’s most compelling performers. He makes regular appearances with America’s leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and more. He performs at top festivals, including Ravinia, Tanglewood, Spoleto USA, and Saito Kinen Festival in Japan.He has worked with famous conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Andrew Davis, Antonio Pappano, James Conlon, Valery Gergiev, and Dennis Russell Davies, and eminent stage directors like Diane Paulus, Richard Jones, Phelim McDermott, Francesca Zambello, and Robert Wilson. Most recently, he performed Andres in Wozzeck at Covent Garden, Monostatos in Julie Taymor’s The Magic Flute at the Met, Nick the Bartender in Fanciulla del West with the Indianapolis Opera, Shuisky in Boris Godunov in Madrid, and Lenia for the North American premiere of Cavalli’s Eliogabalo with the Gotham Chamber Opera. He has also created numerous new roles, including talk show host Larry King in Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Anna Nicole, The Neurologist in Michael Nyman’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, directed by Bill T. Jones, and Andy Warhol for Philip Glass’ The Perfect American, released on DVD on the Opus Arte label.

  • 2014: Steve Bailey, B.M. '85

    Steve Bailey, B.M. '85

    Steve Bailey, B.M. ‘85, bassist and educator, named Frost School of Music 2014 Distinguished Alumnus, is famous for his pioneering work with the six string fretless bass. Bailey is a master of styles, having recorded and toured with such diverse artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Liebman, Paquito D’Rivera, Claudio Roditi, the Rippingtons, David Benoit, Jethro Tull, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson, Larry Carlton, Kitaro, Tab Benoit, Johnny Witherspoon, Mel Tormé, and many more. After earning music degrees from North Texas State University and the University of Miami Frost School of Music, Bailey moved to New York where he joined Paquito D’Rivera’s band, and later, Dizzy Gillespie’s band.

    As a solo artist, Bailey has released three albums, Dichotomy, Evolution, and So Low….Solo. In 1993, he formed Bass Extremes with Victor Wooten, releasing Cookbook and Just Add Water. He performs and tours regularly in the group.

    Bailey is currently chair of the Bass department at Berklee College of Music, with previous appointments at the Bass Institute of Technology and Coastal Carolina University. He teaches as a clinician worldwide, serves on the advisory board and as a columnist for Bass Player magazine, and along with Wooten hosts “Bass on the Beach,” a workshop for bassists of all abilities. His books include the Steve Bailey Bass Guitar Series and Bass Extremes. Bailey’s videos include Advanced Bassix and Bass Extremes: Live.

  • 2013: Elizabeth Caballero, B.M. ‘99

    Elizabeth Caballero, B.M., ‘99

    Cuban American soprano Elizabeth Caballero, B.M. ’99, recipient of the Frost School of Music 2013 Distinguished Alumna award, has performed in many of the great opera houses of North America. Her compelling interpretation of Violetta in La Traviata led to national engagements performing the role for Florentine Opera, Madison Opera, Pacific Symphony, and the Orlando Philharmonic. She performed Musetta in Puccini’s La Bohème for the Metropolitan Opera after garnering attention in the role at New York City Opera. She returned to The Met as Frasquita in their new production of Carmen as part of The Met: Live in HD series.

    Caballero’s European début was as Magda in Puccini’s La rondineat Teatro Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste, Italy. She performed at the Staatsoper Berlin as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra as Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, and the title role in The Merry Widow at Teatro Nacional Santo Domingo.

    A house favorite at Florida Grand Opera, Caballero has dazzled audiences as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Liù in Turandot, Mimì in La Bohème, Micaëla in Carmen, and Magda in La rondine. Other notable engagements include a return to New York City Opera in I Pagliacci and La Bohème, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in the title role of Madama Butterfly, San Antonio Opera as Adina in L’elisir d’amore and Micaëla in Carmen, Central City Opera as Mimì in La Bohème, and the title role in Daniel Catán’s Spanish opera Florencia en el Amazonas with Nashville Opera. Recently, she appeared in concert as soprano soloist with The Florida Orchestra on Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

    Caballero is the recipient of numerous vocal competition awards including a National Grand Finalist for The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and awards from the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation and Gerda Lissner Foundation.

  • 2012: André Raphel, B.M. ‘84

    André Raphel, B.M. ‘84

    André Raphel, B.M. ‘84, named Frost School of Music 2012 Distinguished Alumnus, has established a reputation as an exciting and versatile conductor through innovative programming, a commitment to new music, and fresh interpretations of the standard repertoire. Raphel is Music Director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. He also enjoys an active career as a guest conductor with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, and Oregon Symphony. Additionally, he has served as Assistant Conductor at the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Saint Louis Symphony.

    Raphel has appeared with many of the major American orchestras including Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, Seattle, the National Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. He made his Carnegie Hall debut leading Robert Shaw and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in a concert celebrating the centennial of legendary mezzo-soprano Marian Anderson. He made his European debut with the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie, and has also led the Moravska Philharmonie. Other international engagements include appearances with the Auckland Philharmonia, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Columbia and the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Costa Rica.

    Born André Raphel Smith in Durham, North Carolina, he majored in trombone at The University of Miami. At Yale University, he received his master’s degree and began conducting studies, continuing at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School. Raphel’s commitment to education is reflected in his work at leading conservatories and training programs, having led the Juilliard Orchestra, New World Symphony, Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, and Temple University Orchestra.

  • 2011: Douglas J. Cuomo, B.M. '83

    Douglas Cuomo, B.M. ‘83

    Frost School of Music’s 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Douglas J. Cuomo, B.M. ’83 has written extensively for concert and theatrical stages, television and film. His expressive musical language is a natural outgrowth of his eclectic background and training. While in his teens, Cuomo became a professional jazz guitarist, alternating his time in college with years on the road performing with a host of name acts.

    Cuomo’s first major success as a composer came with his original music for the Peabody Award-winning NBC drama Homicide: Life on the Street, which he scored for seven seasons. Cuomo is known for creating some of the most distinctive theme music on television today including Sex & The City, for which he won three BMI Television Music Awards, Now with Bill Moyers, and Wide Angle. His numerous credits also include series, movies, and documentaries for CBS, NBC, ABC, HBO, and VH1, as well as film scores for Revolution #9, The Terrorist, and Crazy Love.

    Cuomo has received numerous grants and awards including: OPERA America Opera Fund Grant; two National Endowment of the Arts awards for Artistic Excellence in the Creation and Development of New Work; two NYSCA commissioning grants; American Music Center’s Composer Assistance grant; NYSCA recording grant; Argosy Foundation Grant; Mary Flagler Carey Charitable Trust for development, and others.  He continues to perform as a guitarist, playing jazz interpretations of his film and television work, and lectures widely at various educational institutions. Cuomo’s compositions are published by Schott Music.

  • 2010: Sandra Lopez, B.M. ‘96

    Sandra Lopez, B.M. ‘96

    Soprano Sandra Lopez, B.M. ’96, Frost School of Music’s 2010 Distinguished Alumna, has captivated audiences around the world with her critically acclaimed performances in a wide variety of roles. Her performances include the title roles of Tosca and Suor Angelica, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, Nedda in I Pagliacci, Catherine in A View from the Bridge, Liu in Turandot, Micaela in Carmen, Mimi in La Boheme, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, Marguerite in Faust, Violetta in La Traviata, and Aida in concert in Spain.

    She has performed with such renowned companies as the Metropolitan Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera de Oviedo, Palm Beach Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Opera på Skäret, Fort Worth Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Carolina, Nashville Opera, Berkshire Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera, PORT Opera, and Opera North (USA).

    In concert, Lopez has toured with Andrea Bocelli, and performed the Verdi Requiem, Strauss’ Four Last Songs, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Missa Solemnis, Gounod’s Saint Cecilia Mass, and Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5. She has appeared in opera galas and recitals with various Festivals and Symphonies including The Fort Worth Symphony, Madison Symphony, Opera Pacific, Greensboro Symphony, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Puerto Rico Symphony, Queens Symphony Orchestra, Miami Chamber Society, Manchester Music Festival, and the New Choral Society.

    A graduate of the University of Miami Frost School of Music and the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Lopez is the recipient of numerous vocal competition awards including the Metropolitan Opera Competition, the Florida Grand Opera Young Patroness Association, and the Luciano Pavarotti Competition. She is also a Career Grant Recipient from the George London Foundation and the Beau Bogan Foundation.


Open All Tabs
  • 2009: Charles Mason, B.M. ‘77

    Charles Mason, B.M. ‘77

    Charles Mason, B.M.  ‘77, is associate professor and chair of the Department of Theory and Composition at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, where he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2009.

    He has received many awards for his compositions including the American Composers Orchestra “Playing it Unsafe” prize, the 2005 Rome Prize, the Premi Internacional de Composició Musical Ciutat de Tarragona Orchestra Music prize, and a National Endowment of the Arts Individual Artist Award.

    He was named 2009 Distinguished Alumnus by the Frost School of Music. His music has been performed worldwide including the FORO INTERNACIONAL DE MUSICA NUEVA in Mexico City, the Quirinale in Rome, the Aspen Summer Music Festival, and the Nuova Musica Consonante in Romani and broadcast over RAI radio throughout Italy and on NPR’s “Performance Today.” Dr. Mason has received commissions from many top ranked ensembles including American Composers Orchestra, DUO 46, Miami String Quartet, Gregg Smith Singers, Dale Warland Singers, Corona Guitar Kvartet, ONIX (Mexico), Luna Nova, bassist Robert Black, violinist Karen Bentley Pollick, New York Golliard Ensemble, and cellists Madeleine Shapiro, Craig Hultgren, and Jeffrey Solow to name a few. He completed his DMA and MM in composition at the University of Illinois and BM with honors from the University of Miami.

    In 2005 he was a composer in residence at the International Centre for Composers in Visby, Sweden and twice sponsored by the Seaside Institute as an “Escape To Create” composer-in-residence.

  • 2008: Lucy Arner, B.M. ‘86

    Lucy Arner,  B.M. ‘86

    Cuban born conductor, and Frost School of Music 2008 Distinguished Alumna Lucy Arner, B.M. ’86, has an extraordinary list of musical accomplishments. She brings to the podium a special affinity for Italian and French opera, having worked in some of the world’s greatest opera houses including the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and the Metropolitan Opera. She made her professional debut in 1996 conducting Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Menotti’s The Telephone at the Teatro Mancinelli in Orvieto, Italy.

    Arner was the first woman to conduct opera in Mexico City’s historic Palacio de Bellas Artes. She was appointed Artistic Director of the New York Chamber Opera in 2000, making her debut with the company by conducting an exciting and controversial production of Britten’s Rape of Lucretia. She made her South American debut in Lima, Perú in 2001with a new production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, followed by Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Puccini’s Tosca. In 2010, she conducted the Verdi Requiem in Santo Domingo for a nationally televised concert.

    Arner received the Henry C. Clark Conductor Award during her 2011 Florida Grand Opera debut of The Tales of Hoffmann. She conducted scenes from Richard Danielpour’s new opera Margaret Garner with New York City Opera, and led Mozart’s Magic Flute for Mexico’s Festival Internacional Tamaulipas. Other engagements include Teatro de Bellas Artes (Mexico City), Canterbury Opera (New Zealand), Opera Ischia (Italy), and many more.

    An accomplished pianist, Ms. Arner is in great demand as a recital accompanist in the U.S. and Europe. She was a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s music staff, specializing in Italian repertory, and is on the faculty of Mannes College of Music. She also coaches privately in New York City.

  • 2007: David Clemmons, B.M. ‘88

    David Clemmons, B.M. ‘88

    Dave Clemmons, B.M. ‘88, was named Frost School of Music 2007 Distinguished Alumnus. He is an award-winning music supervisor, producer, casting director, and vocal director. He began his career as a performer on Broadway with roles in Les Miserables (Valjean), and the original companies of The Civil War and The Scarlet Pimpernel. He was seen in the national tours of Les Miserables and Jekyll & Hyde, and he appeared onstage at Houston’s Tony-award winning Alley Theatre in As You Like It and Jekyll & Hyde.

    As founder/owner of Dave Clemmons Casting, he cast such Broadway shows as Ring of Fire, In My Life, The Boy from Oz, Wonderland, Dracula, The Civil War, Brooklyn, Cinderella, and Driving Miss Daisy. His off-Broadway shows include national and international tours of Cinderella, Evita, Millie, Cats, Fosse, Jekyll & Hyde, Chicago, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Fiddler on the Roof, The Wizard of Oz, 101 Dalmatians, Saturday Night Fever, Movin’ Out, and the 2000 revival of Godspell. Clemmons served as music and vocal director/supervisor for the Broadway production of The Civil War, and the national tours of Jekyll & Hyde and The Civil War, as well as director/arranger at the Presidential Gala production of The Civil War at The Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C.

    Clemmons is producer/partner with StylesFour Productions, the Tony-Award winning theatrical production firm for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Orphans, Talk Radio, and Spring Awakening. He serves on faculty of The Performing Arts Project and the Broadway Theatre Project, advising faculty at The New York School of Film and Television, and is a visiting professor at Elon University.

  • 2006: Michael Kovins, B.M. ‘70

    Michael Kovins, B.M. ‘70

    Michael Kovins, B.M. ‘70, recipient of the Frost School of Music’s 2006 Distinguished Alumnus award, is a University of Miami Frost School of Music graduate with a degree in business and music. He went on to become one of the leading and most impassioned voices in music retailing and music education.

    Kovins is best known as founding member and President/CEO of Korg USA. During his 26 year tenure, Kovins grew Korg to become one of the country’s largest suppliers of electronic musical instruments to retailers and major artists, introducing the industry’s largest selling music workstation, the Korg M1. Additionally, he oversaw the successful introduction of such products as the Korg TRITON, Marshall MG series, Vox Valvetronix and the Korg OASYS.
    Kovins’ early career began in music products until he joined the supply side of the industry at Tolchin Instruments and M. Hohner. He went on to work at Unicord as product marketing manager and later Vice President of Marketing, helping to develop the Kog Polysix Mono/Poly, GT-6 tuner, and Marshall JCM800 Series.

    Committed to music education, Kovins created Korg USA’s SoundTree educational division, was founder and executive committee member of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, and served as President of the International Association of Electronic Keyboard Manufacturers. He was a board member of Five Towns College, the American Music Conference, and NAMM. In addition, he was recipient of the Berklee College of Music’s Golden Clef Award for a lifetime commitment to music education, and the Julia E. Crane International Medallion for lifetime achievement in the music products industry.

    Kovins lost his battle with leukemia in 2006 at the age of 57.

  • 2005: Joel McNeely, B.M. ‘82

    Joel McNeely, B.M. ‘82

    Frost School of Music’s 2005 Distinguished Alumnus Joel McNeely, B.M. ’82, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, producer and conductor who works with many of Hollywood’s most influential producers and directors including James Cameron, John Lasseter, Seth MacFarlane and George Lucas. McNeely received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition, an ASCAP Film and Television Award, and a Gramophone Magazine Award. He was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction, a Grammy for Outstanding Classical Crossover Album, and an Annie Award for Outstanding Music in an Animated Feature.

    McNeely’s repertoire of major motion picture and television scores include Disney’s Tinkerbell films, A Million Ways To Die in the West, The Last Of The Mohicans, Holes, Mulan 2, Return to Neverland, Wild America, The Avengers, Air Force One, and Terminal Velocity. Some of his television credits include American Dad, James Cameron’s Dark Angel, Sally Hemmings: An American Scandal, and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. A frequent guest lecturer on the subject of film music studies, McNeely has presented at USC’s Thornton School of Music; the American Film Market; the Frost School of Music; James Madison University, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

    As a conductor, McNeely has led the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and London Philharmonic, among others. He has produced and arranged songs for such artists as Carly Simon; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Linda Rondstadt; and Rosemary Clooney. At age 14, McNeely was accepted into the Interlochen Arts Academy studying composition and flute performance. While studying jazz composition and performance at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, he toured the world with legendary performers Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Al Green, Melissa Manchester, Chuck Mangione, Bobby Caldwell, and Jaco Pastorius.

  • 2004: Jim Papoulis, M.M. ‘82

    Jim Papoulis, M.M. ‘82

    Jim Papoulis, M.M. ’82, was named Frost School of Music 2004 Distinguished Alumnus. He composes, orchestrates, and conducts music for dance, film, symphonies, quartets, pop bands, gospel, and choirs. Paploulis’ distinctive style combines contemporary sounds with musical traditions from around the globe. His award-winning compositions are known for exploring new modes of musical communication by connecting classical and traditional forms with non-Western sounds and computer technology.

    Papoulis explores and creates sound for a global community. He has worked with such diverse international artists and ensembles as Tokyo String Quartet, Moscow Philharmonic, and London Philharmonic to Aretha Franklin, Faith Hill, Shania Twain, and Maroon 5. He has created original music for UNICEF, Dance Theater of Harlem, and Alvin Ailey Dance Company. His works have been performed by San Diego Pops Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Blue Man Group, and at Carnegie Hall and Epcot.

    As an orchestrator, Papoulis’ works have been performed by The Paris Opera, Celine Deon, Christina Aguilera, Patti Labelle, Tony Bennett, and Natalie Cole, among others. His work with Martha Wash earned him two top spots on the Billboard Dance charts, with Listen to the People, and Feel the World Dancing.

    Papoulis is founder of Amphion Music in Manhattan, a full service music production company specializing in composing and recording original music and orchestrations for several major corporations in retail, food, auto manufacturing, television, and business. As co-founder of The Foundation for Small Voices music project, Papoulis conducts songwriting workshops with children’s music programs in China, South America, Africa, Russia, Europe, and throughout the U.S.

  • 2003: Carmen Lundy, B.M. ‘80

    Carmen Lundy, B.M. ‘80

    Frost School of Music 2003 Distinguished Alumna Carmen Lundy, B.M. ‘80, is a jazz vocalist, composer and actress celebrated throughout the world for her vocal artistry and jazz innovation. She attended the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami as an Opera major but soon discovered that jazz was her calling. After graduating with a degree in studio music and jazz, she moved to New York where she amassed a devoted following throughout North America, Asia, the UK and Europe. Following her television debut in the starring role of the CBS TV Pilot Special Shangri-La Plaza, Lundy relocated to Los Angeles where she currently resides.

    In 2014, Lundy released her 14th album Soul to Soul, featuring a host of legendary jazz artists. Her full discography includes performances and recordings with such musicians as brother and bassist Curtis Lundy, Ray Barretto, Kenny Barron, Bruce Hornsby, Mulgrew Miller, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Cobb, Ron Carter, Patrice Rushen, and the late Kenny Kirkland. Her 2005 release Jazz and the New Songbook-Live at The Madrid features some of the jazz world’s best known musicians paying tribute to Lundy.

    Lundy has a catalog of over 100 published songs, making her one of the few jazz vocalists in history to accomplish such a distinction. Artists who have recorded her works include Kenny Barron, Ernie Watts, and Straight Ahead.

    Lundy is also an avid educator who is Resident Clinician and guest artist in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She has also worked with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and conducted master classes in Australia, Denmark, Russia, Japan, Switzerland, and throughout North America.

  • 2002: Lewis Cleale, B.M. ‘89

    Lewis Cleale, B.M. ‘89

    Lewis Cleale, B.M. ’89, named University of Miami School of Music 2002 Distinguished Alumnus, is one of the most gifted musical actors on the stage today. He majored in finance at the University of Miami until he picked up a double major in music where he was encouraged to pursue a career in singing. His first big break came when he was cast in a European tour of Oklahoma! He made his Broadway debut in the 1995 Johnny Burke revue Swinging on a Star, for which he received a Drama Desk Award nomination as Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.

    More recently, Cleale delighted and offended Broadway theatre-goers as Joseph Smith, the Mission President, and Jesus in The Book of Mormon. He was also heard as the voice of Cliff the Troll in Disney’s motion picture hit Frozen.

    Broadway audiences applauded Cleale in Spamalot as Sir Galahad, The Black Knight and other zany characters. His many roles on the stages include Michael in I DO! I DO!, James Lapine’s original Sondheim On Sondheim, Bick Benedict in the world premiere of Michael John LaChiusa’s Giant, Lancelot in Camelot, and El Gallo in the New York production of The Fantasticks. Cleale also appeared in Amour and Once Upon A Mattress.

    Lewis Cleale has played leading roles in more that thirty regional productions, winning the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor as Giorgio in Passion. He performed John Adams in the acclaimed production of 1776 at the Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. and Alfie in the Burt Bacharach musical What The World Needs Now.

    Cleale’s collection of recordings and albums include William Finn’s Infinite Joy, Adam Guettel’s Myths and Hymns, the RCA Victor anthology Great Musicals, and the original cast albums of Once Upon a Mattress, Swinging on a Star, Call Me Madam, and Amour.

  • 2001: Rosa Vento, B.M. ‘83

    Rosa Vento, B.M. ‘83

    Soprano Rosa Vento, B.M. ’83, named University of Miami School of Music 2001 Distinguished Alumna, has performed to popular acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Her most notable appearances include the Vienna State Opera as Ilia in Idomeneoconducted by Sir Colin Davis, Silvana in the world premiere of Schnittke’s Gesualdo conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich, Hèléne in Verdi’s Jerusalem conducted by Zubin Mehta, Violetta in La Traviata, Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Giulietta in Les Contes d’Hoffman, Mimi and Musetta in La Boheme, Saffi in Der Zigeunerbaron, Celestial Voice in Don Carlo, and Micaela in Carmen. Elsewhere in Europe, she has appeared in Dusseldorf as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Leonora in Il Trovatore; in Basel, Amsterdam, Innsbruck, and Tokyo as Violetta; and in Nice as Mimi.

    Vento’s noteworthy U.S. appearances include the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Austin Lyric Opera as Elvira and Mimi, Palm Beach Opera as Musetta, Florida Grand Opera as Micaela, and Long Beach Opera as Magda in La rondine.

    As a concert artist, Vento has performed as soprano soloist for the Opera de Nice, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and the Chicago Symphony. She has presented recitals in New York, Miami, Washington, D.C., and at the Teatro Naçional de Santo Domingo. She has recorded Violetta in La Traviata with Marcelo Alvarez and Leo Nucci, and her latest solo CD entitled Perlas Cubanas.

    Vento has won a number of prestigious vocal awards, including the Loren L. Zachary Society competition, Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, Rosa Ponselle International competition, Friday Morning Music Club, Palm Beach Opera auditions, and Liederkranz Foundation competition. She has a private voice studio in New York City and serves as faculty for NYU’s Steinhardt School and AMDA.

  • 2000: Kenneth Fuchs, B.M. ‘79

    Kenneth Fuchs, B.M. ‘79

    University of Miami Frost School of Music 2000 Distinguished Alumnus Kenneth Fuchs, B.M. ‘79, is an acclaimed composer of music for orchestra, band, chorus, and various chamber ensembles. He has received numerous commissions, achieving significant recognition through global media exposure. BBC Music Magazine called Fuchs “a master of orchestral writing.” His music has been performed in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

    With Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson, Fuchs created three chamber musicals, The Great Nebula in Orion, A Betrothal, and Brontosaurus, which were originally presented by Circle Repertory Company in New York City. His operatic monodrama Falling Man (text by Don DeLillo, adapted by J. D. McClatchy) was presented at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of 9/11. The London Symphony Orchestra has recorded four discs of Fuchs’s music for Naxos American Classics. The first, released in 2005, was nominated for two Grammy Awards (Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra and Producer of the Year, Classical). The third disc, recorded in 2011 at London’s historic Abbey Road Studios, was included in the 2012 Grammy Award nominations for the category Producer of the Year, Classical. The fourth disc, recorded at Abbey Road Studios in August 2013, featuring baritone Roderick Williams in a program of vocal music based on texts by Don DeLillo, John Updike, and William Blake, was released in August 2014. Gramophone magazine featured the disc in its Awards Issue (October 2014), stating, “Fuchs claims his own expressive warmth and colour…. The performances are exemplary, from baritone Roderick Williams’s commanding artistry to the bold, fresh playing of the London Symphony Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta’s sensitive direction.”

    Fuchs’s 2013 disc of chamber music includes Falling Canons (Christopher O’Riley, piano), Falling Trio (Trio21), and String Quartet No. 5 American (Delray String Quartet). The highly successful disc Kenneth Fuchs: String Quartets 2, 3, 4 was performed by the American String Quartet and released on Albany Records.

    Fuchs currently serves as Professor of Composition at the University of Connecticut. His music is published by the Hal Leonard Corporation, Edward B. Marks Music Company, Theodore Presser Company, and Yelton Rhodes Music, and has been recorded by Albany, Cala, and Naxos Records.


Open All Tabs
  • 1999: Jon Secada, B.M. ‘83; M.M. ‘86

    Jon Secada, B.M. ‘83; M.M. ‘86
    Jon Secada, B.M. ’83, MM ’86, is a three-time Grammy winner and international superstar.  With sales of more than 20 million albums worldwide, Secada is also a veteran of Broadway, television, and an accomplished producer.

    Secada joined Gloria Estefan’s band as a background singer when he left UM, where he composed several ballads for Estefan, including the number one hit “Coming Out of the Dark.”

    His debut album Jon Secada went triple platinum, and the Spanish-language version was the Number One Latin album of 1992, earning a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album.  Secada’s second album, Heart Soul and Voice, went platinum, and his third album, Amor, earned a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Performance. In 2006, Secada shared a Grammy for Songs From The Neighborhood: The Music of Mister Rogers.  Secada has released numerous top thirty hits and albums since, and in 2010, released his first concert DVD, “Stage Rio” from his 2009 Brazil tour.  Secada has co-written and co-produced songs for Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, and Mandy Moore for their multi-platinum albums.

    Secada has starred on Broadway as Danny Zuko in Grease, as the Emcee in Sam Mendes’ Cabaret, and as Joseph in Lloyd Webber’s & Rice’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  He was a longtime celebrity judge on Latin American Idol.

    Through “Jon Secada Charities,” Secada supports charitable initiatives worldwide, including the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, and “Keeping Music in Schools.”

    He majored in jazz at the Frost School of Music and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999. For more information on Secada visit his website.

    "The education I got from the Frost School of Music has always been the difference maker in my confidence level on stage."

  • 1998: Paul Martin Zonn, B.M. ‘59

    Paul Martin Zonn, B.M. ‘59

    Composer, conductor and clarinetist Paul Martin Zonn, B.M. ’59 is recipient of many professional awards, yet he was reportedly most pleased to have been named University of Miami School of Music Distinguished Alumnus in 1998. Heralded as an innovator both in composition and clarinet performance, Zonn attended the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami on scholarship and later studied clarinet in Baltimore and New York, earning advanced degrees from the University of Iowa. He appeared on stage as clarinet soloist at Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood and Ravinia, and with many different styles of musical artists that include the Lenox String Quartet, country music great Vince Gill, the Miami Philharmonic, the Nashville Jug Band, and the New Orleans Eagle Band.

    Zonn played mandolin at Lincoln Center and at the Library of Congress with Juilliard Quartet cellist Joel Krosnick. He played saxophone and slide saxophone in performances and recordings of avant-garde jazz with Anthony Braxton, and appeared on stage with the Tennessee Dance Theatre and at Opryland playing traditional jazz. He also toured and recorded with fiddle legend Vassar Clements.

    Zonn received honors and awards from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, New York Composers Forum, the Berkshire Music Center, and the Fromm Foundation. His music is published by Media Press, Sonic Arts Editions, and the American Composers Alliance. His compositions are recorded on CRI, UBRES, and Mark, and he can be heard as clarinetist and/or conductor on Advance, Crystal, Orion, CRI and UBRES Records.

    Paul Martin Zonn passed away in 2000 after a long illness.

  • 1997: Curtis Rayam, B.M. ‘73

    Curtis Rayam, B.M. ‘73

    The career of University of Miami Frost School of Music 1997 Distinguished Alumnus Curtis Rayam, B.M. ’73 has taken him through some of Europe’s most venerable opera houses. The American tenor rose to international prominence in 1984 when he substituted for the ailing Luciano Pavarotti and sang the title role of Mozart’s Idomeneo to critical acclaim.

    Rayam made his professional debut with the Miami Opera in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. He established a national reputation with the Houston Grand Opera in the role of Remus in Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, which was recorded on Deutsche Grammophon. He went on to perform in ten HGO productions, including the award-winning tours of Porgy and Bess and Showboat. Rayam made his European debut at the Wexford Festival in Giovanna d’Arco by Verdi, returning as the Sultan in Mozart’s Zaide and as Wilhelm Meister in Thomas’ Mignon.

    Rayam had further engagements at Salzburg, Paris, Frankfurt and Venice. In a 1986 PBS broadcast, he performed in Berlioz’ La damnation de Faust with the Philadelphia Opera.  In 1992, celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German Consulate invited Mr. Rayam as a guest soloist in Handel’s Messiah at the John F. Kennedy Center.  For three decades, Mr. Rayam performed extensively in the United States, Germany, Austria, France, Israel, Vienna, and South Africa with major opera companies and symphony orchestras.

    Ryam is currently on the faculty of Bethune-Cookman University as a voice lecturer. He is a member of the National Opera Association, completing two consecutive terms on their Board of Directors.


  • 1996: Samuel Pilafian, B.M. ‘72

    Samuel Pilafian, B.M. ‘72

    University of Miami Frost School of Music 1996 Distinguished Alumnus Sam Pilafian, B.M. ’72 is a renowned tuba artist versatile in both classical and jazz realms. He has recorded and performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Lionel Hampton, and Pink Floyd. As a solo jazz artist, Pilafian has recorded fifteen CDs. A member of the large brass ensemble Summit Brass, Pilafian is perhaps best known as a founding member of the internationally recognized classical ensemble Empire Brass Quintet. Solo recital and concerto performances during recent seasons have taken him to Canada, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Austria, Germany and England.

    Pilafian is an arranger, composer, recording producer, and co-author with Patrick Sheridan of the best selling pedagogy texts Breathing Gym and Brass Gym. The duo won an Emmy Award in 2009 for an instructional video on their research-based breathing method.

    In addition to his private teaching, Pilafian was the faculty mentor to the Stamps Brass Quintet. He has served on the faculties of The Frost School of Music, ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Boston University, and their summer Tanglewood Institute. He was also a consultant at the Royal Academy of Music in London. A past president and chairman of the board of the International Tuba Euphonium Association, Pilafian was on its honorary advisory board of directors.

  • 1995: Dominique-René de Lerma, B.M. ‘52

    Dominique-René de Lerma, B.M. ‘52

    University of Miami School of Music 1995 Distinguished Alumnus Dominique-René de Lerma, B.M. ‘52 is a highly accomplished oboist, educator, American musicologist, and professor of music history who is considered the world’s foremost authority on black classical composers.

    In 1951, de Lerma became the youngest member ever to join the University of Miami School of Music faculty. He taught classical and general music history, music humanities and symphonic literature, while also coaching oboe and bassoon. Subsequently, he accepted several distinguished appointments at national universities and music conservatories, including Indiana University and Morgan State University. De Lerma is currently Professor Emeritus at Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin. While there, he directed the Ben Holt Memorial Concert Series, dedicated to the presentation of young Latino, Native American, and Black talents of international distinction.

    De Lerma’s more than 1,500 published titles include monographs, liner and program notes, edited music, and articles in all of the leading musicological dictionaries and journals. He has given lectures throughout the U.S. and Europe, and has served as a consultant to national arts organizations, major American orchestras and record labels, and numerous educational institutions. His pioneering work in the field includes founding the former Black Music Center at Indiana University and serving as director of the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago, where he also taught at Columbia College and Northwestern University. He was Chief Consultant to Columbia Records for their award-winning Black Composers Series, serving regularly as a consultant to orchestras, ensembles and concert artists in the United States and Europe.

  • 1994: Dawnn Lewis, B.M. ‘82

    Dawnn Lewis, B.M. ‘82

    University of Miami School of Music 1994 Distinguished Alumna Dawnn Lewis, B.M. ’82 is a triple-threat performer who has more than a hundred theater, film, and television credits.

    The Los Angeles-based actress is best known for her television role as Jaleesa in the hit TV sitcom A Different World, for which she also penned the theme music. In addition, she starred in Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, performing its Season 1 ensemble theme song. Lewis is a Grammy Award-winning singer, a multiple ASCAP and BMI Award-winning songwriter, and an actress who has appeared in such feature films as I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, Dreamgirls, The Preacher’s Kid, and Futurama: Into The Wild Green Yonder. Lewis has enjoyed recurring roles on the TV series One Tree Hill, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Strange Frame, and as Dr. Knapp on Days of our Lives.

    Lewis’ stage credits include appearances as Addapearle in the 2009 NYC City Center “Encore’s” presentation of The Wiz, and as Deloris Van Cartier in Peter Schneider’s 2006 Sister Act: The Musical at the Pasadena Playhouse. She starred in world premieres of Norman’s Ark at the Ford Theatre and Burt Bacharach/Hal David’s musical Love Sweet Love. She received the Best Actress: Fred Award (Los Angeles), the 2008 Intergrity Award from the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, a nomination for 2007 Best Actress: Suzi Award for Sister Act (Atlanta, Alliance Theatre), and the 2000 Best Actress; NAACP Image Award for The Marriage.

    The title song for Lewis’ successful solo CD Worth Waiting For is featured on the Disney movie The Poof Point soundtrack, in which she also starred.

  • 1993: Bruce Ferden, B.M. ‘71

    Bruce Ferden, B.M. ‘71

    University of Miami School of Music 1993 Distinguished Alumnus Bruce Ferden, B.M. ’71 gained international recognition as a conductor and musical director, leading orchestras throughout the United States, Europe and Africa.

    At the age of 25, after working with Peter Herman Adler at the American Opera Center, Ferden was appointed assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He later became music director of the Spokane Symphony for six seasons, the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra for nine years, and general music director of symphony and opera for the city of Aachen in Germany. Ferden’s conducting engagements took him from the Metropolitan Opera, where he led the 1992 world premiere of Philip Glass’ The Voyage, to the Dallas Opera, Pittsburgh Symphony and Kiel (Germany) Symphony. In 1980, Ferden conducted the world premiere of Glass’ Satyagrahaat the Netherlands Opera and later the European premiere of the composer’s The Making of the Representative for Planet 8.

    Ferden made his Seattle Opera debut in 1988 with Rigoletto, followed by Satyagraha, The Tales of Hoffmann, Rusalka, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Aida. He conducted Lucia di Lammermoor for the Dallas Opera, as well as a triple bill of Manuel de Falla operas. He also recorded “The Music of Elinor Remick Warren” with baritone Thomas Hampson, and the Polish Radio and Television Orchestra in Krakow, Poland.

    A popular guest conductor, Ferden led many world premieres as well as works of the standard repertoire with such noted artists as Montserrat Caballé and Marilyn Horne.

    Ferden died of AIDS in 1993 at the age of 44.

  • 1992: Thomas Hilbish, B.M. ‘41

    Thomas Hilbish, B.M. ‘41

    In a career spanning 40 years, University of Miami School of Music 1992 Distinguished Alumnus Thomas Hilbish, B.M. ’41 has established himself as one of America’s leading conductors of choral music, widely recognized for fostering and interpreting 20th century choral repertoire.

    Hilbish attended the University of Miami on music and basketball scholarships, where he was captain of the basketball team, president of the Student Body, and president of Florida Student Government. After graduating, Hilbish served his country during WWII as a naval aviation pilot trainer stationed in Pensacola, Florida. 

    Hilbish’s legacy is among the world’s leading conductors of choral music. He earned his M.M. degree from Westminster Choir College and early in his career, Hilbish served a sixteen-year tenure as supervisor of music for the Princeton Public Schools, where he built the program into a nationally-recognized ensemble, subjects of an article in Time Magazine.. He joined the faculty of The University of Michigan in 1965, serving as Chairman of the Conducting Department for nine years, and Director of Choirs until his retirement in 1987. He founded the University of Michigan Chamber Choir, whose notable accomplishments include performances at Menotti’s Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy; State Department Cultural Exchange tours to the Soviet Union and Poland; the Canary Islands International Opera Festival in Las Palmas, Spain; a U.S. performance (chorus and orchestra) of Schonberg’s oratorio Die Jakobsleiter at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; and participation as Associate Music Director in the 1982 Fifth International Choral Festival in Philadelphia in collaboration with Robert Shaw. Additionally, Hilbish made several recordings with the Chamber Choir including The Manticore, which received a 1981 Grammy nomination.

    Hilbish is also an accomplished orchestral conductor. He conducted the Warsaw Symphony and the Szczecin Philharmonic in Poland, as well as the the Harvard Philharmonic, the Princeton University Orchestra, and the University of Michigan’s Symphony, Philharmonic, and Faculty Orchestras. Hilbish currently serves as visiting professor at several universities including the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China, where he conducted the first performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

    Hilbish retired from the University of Michigan as professor emeritus of conducting in 1988, continuing to hold guest conductorships and visiting professorships at universities across the globe including New York University, Florida State University, UCLA, and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. 

    Hilbish passed away peacefully in February 2015, at the age of 96.

  • 1991: Constance J. Weldon, B.M. ‘53

    Constance J. Weldon, B.M. ‘53

    Florida native Connie Weldon, B.M. ’53, named University of Miami Frost School of Music 1991 Distinguished Alumna, is known as the first professional female tubist in the United States. A former professor and an assistant dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, Weldon performed six years with the North Carolina Symphony and two years with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. She later became the first chair tuba with the Greater Miami Philharmonic.

    While a student at the University of Miami, Weldon was accepted to the Tanglewood Music Festival, playing under the baton of a young Leonard Bernstein. In 1957, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship Award to study in Amsterdam with the Concertgebouw tubist, Adrian Boorsma. She joined the Netherlands Ballet Orkest and was acting principal tuba of the great Concertgebouw Orchestra. Upon returning to the U.S., Weldon joined the Kansas City Philharmonic for two seasons, after which she returned to Florida to join the Miami Philharmonic and teach at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. She quickly established a reputation as an expert brass teacher and coach. As a result of her successful studio building, Weldon formed the University of Miami Tuba Ensemble, the first credited group of its type at any university. This led to her becoming the conductor of the University of Miami Brass Choir.

    From 1972 until her retirement in 1991, Weldon was the assistant dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. She is highly celebrated as a performer and pedagogue, has a music and academic scholarship named after her, and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards.

  • 1990: Gary D. Fry, B.M. ‘76

     Gary D. Fry, B.M. ‘76

    University of Miami Frost School of Music 1990 Distinguished Alumnus Gary D. Fry, B.M. ‘76 is an Emmy-winning Chicago based composer, arranger, producer, and music educator. has a 19-year affiliation with the Chicago Symphony with more than 100 commissions during that span. He is also an artistic consultant and arranger for the Dallas Symphony and Chorus. He is the most-performed living composer with nearly 100 works for the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. His work has also been performed by the Dallas Symphony and Colorado Symphony orchestras, the pops orchestras of Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and New York, and the American Jazz Philharmonic. Fry’s extensive background in choral music has led to several commissions from academic and professional vocal ensembles across the country.

    For more than 20 years, Fry has also been one of the nation’s foremost commercial producers with over 2,500 nationally broadcast radio and television commercials for McDonald’s, Sears, Kellogg’s, United Airlines, and hundreds of other major national advertisers. He won a 2006 Emmy Award for his original work for WBBM-TV (Chicago).

    Fry is passionate about music education and music for children. Since 2012, he has served as Festival Artists Director for the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation “Rhythms of One World,” featuring annual concerts at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, as well as prestigious concert venues.

    Recently, Gary joined the company of Chicago’s Provision Theatre as a composer. He composed music for their Jeff-nominated production of Spoon River Anthology, as well as incidental music for the plays Shaw vs. Chesterton and the 2014 world premiere of Jacob by Timothy Gergory.

    Fry’s resume includes positions on the faculty of the University of Miami, Northwestern University, and Midwest Young Artists, where he conducted vocal ensembles and taught classes in music theory and composition.


Open All Tabs
  • 1989: Bruce Hornsby, B.M. ‘77

    Bruce Hornsby, B.M. ‘77

    Bruce Hornsby, B.M. ’77, University of Miami Frost School of Music 1989 Distinguished Alumnus, is a thirteen-time Grammy Award nominee and three-time winner. He has sold over 11 million records worldwide and collaborated with such artists as Bob Dylan, Sting, Bela Fleck, Stevie Nicks, Branford Marsalis, and The Grateful Dead, among many others. Hornsby is an American singer and keyboardist notorious for the spontaneity and creativity of his live performance. His songwriting and seamless improvisation draws from classical, jazz, bluegrass, folk, Motown, gospel, rock, and blues.

    Hornsby’s Grammy awards include 1987 “Best New Artist” for the debut album The Way It Is; 1989 “Best Bluegrass Recording” for his hit “The Valley Road” from the album Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Volume II; and with Branford Marsalis in 1993 for “Best Pop Instrumental Performance” for their song “Barcelona Mona,” written for the Barcelona Olympics.

    Known in the music industry as a collaborator, Hornsby has been sought after by a veritable “who’s who” of music professionals. He has played on over 100 records and composed the end-title songs for two Spike Lee films, Clockers and Bamboozled, as well as the score for Lee’s 2009 ESPN documentary Kobe Doin’ Work. Hornsby also wrote songs for the 2011 Broadway musical SCKBSTD. His latest CD Bruce Hornsby-Solo Concerts was released in August 2014 on Vanguard Records.

    Outside of music composition and performance, Hornsby endowed The Creative American Music Program at University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, designed to develop the creative skills of talented young artists and songwriters.

  • 1987: Marvis Martin, B.M. ‘77

    Marvis Martin, B.M. ‘77

    Marvis Martin, B.M. ‘77, named University of Miami Frost School of Music 1987 Distinguished Alumna, is an African-American operatic soprano best known for her concert performances and recitals, including her renditions of Joseph Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne, and of Bess in Bobby McFerrin’s touring concert version of Porgy and Bess. Martin is acclaimed for her beauty of voice and sensitive communication, receiving awards, medals and glowing reviews as a song recitalist, concert singer, and opera performer.

    The Florida native was hailed internationally in 1982 when she debuted with The Metropolitan Opera as Pamina in a touring production of The Magic Flute, a role she later reprised for The Greater Miami Opera. During her first season with The Metropolitan Opera, she performed Zenia in Boris Godunov, the Princess in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges, and the Celestial Voice in Don Carlo. Seasons 1983-84 brought major debuts with Netherlands Opera as Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo, and a performance with the New York Philharmonic in Brahm’s Requiem.

    As her career matured, Martin spent more time focusing on recitals and concert performances, including eight of Joseph Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony with The Florida Orchestra, Brahms’s German Requiem with the New York Philharmonic, and on the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Cabaret Corner of New York’s Russian Tea Room, to name a few.

  • 1986: Judith Nelson Drucker, B.M. ‘48

    Judith Nelson Drucker, B.M. ‘48

    Impressaria Judy Drucker, B.M. ‘48 was named the University of Miami Frost School of Music 1986 Distinguished Alumna. She is responsible for establishing the Concert Association of Florida as one of the state’s most formidable artistic presenting organizations. For four decades under her leadership, the Concert Association of Florida never wavered in its mission to present world-class orchestras, classical artists, and dance in South Florida.

    Drucker founded the “Great Artists Series,” presenting a host of internationally eminent classical musicians that included Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Zubin Mehta, Beverly Sills, Cecilia Bartoli, and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, among others. She brought in renowned orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and the Israel Philharmonic. A pioneer in bringing world-class dance companies to South Florida, Drucker presented the American Ballet Theatre, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet of Covent Garden, and the Joffrey Ballet, among others.

    Drucker frequently arranged master classes and performances for young people in the community, working with such artists as Twyla Tharp, James Galway, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, and André Watts. She joined the Florida Grand Opera in 2009 as Senior Artistic Advisor to present their Superstar Concert Series.

    Drucker is a recipient of the Governor’s Award for the Arts and serves on the Florida Fine Arts Council. A musician herself, she studied piano at the New York College of Music, as well as voice at The Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music. Drucker performed on Broadway and with the Greater Miami-Dade Opera (now Florida Grand Opera).


  • 1985: Willie Anthony Waters, B.M. ‘73

    Willie Anthony Waters, B.M. ‘73

    Conductor Willie Anthony Waters, B.M. ‘73, named University of Miami Frost School of Music 1985 Distinguished Alumnus, is a regular guest of opera companies and symphony orchestras in North America, Europe, and Africa. Waters served as General and Artistic Director of the Connecticut Opera for twelve years, conducting more than thirty productions, and as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Greater Miami Opera for seven seasons. During his tenure, Waters led a number of noteworthy productions, including Salome, Manon Lescaut, Die Walküre, Macbeth, Aida, Of Mice and Men, Falsfaff, Bianca e Falliero, Cristoforo Colombo, La Gioconda, Turandot, Tosca, Carmen, Trouble in Tahiti, and Lucia di Lammermoor.

    Waters debuted at New York City Opera in 2002 conducting Rigoletto, returning the following season for Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men. Other notable appearances in North America and abroad include Australian Opera, Arizona Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Cologne Opera (Germany), Opera de Quebec, Edmonton Opera, Kentucky Opera, Michigan Opera, Montreal Opera, Opera Memphis, San Francisco Opera, and Vancouver Opera, among many others.

    On the concert stage, Waters has led the Brucknerhaus Orchestra (Austria), Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Essen Philharmonic (Germany), Florida Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, and Tallahassee Symphony. He has also conducted recordings and concerts for many of opera’s notable artists.

    In 2005, Waters celebrated the 25th anniversary of his conducting debut with Connecticut Opera and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford. He serves as Artistic Director/Opera for the Houston Ebony Opera Guild.

    Water’s is visiting associate professor of music at Binghamton University, New York; a guest lecturer of opera at the President’s College, University of Hartford; and guest conductor, coach, and lecturer at Austin Peay State University. Waters also serves as music director for the Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance Summer Opera Training Institute, and was a featured guest expert during the intermission quiz and discussion of the Metropolitan Opera’s live radio broadcast of Puccini’s La bohème in January 2015.

  • 1984: Johanna Meier, ‘56-‘58

    Johanna Meier, ‘56-‘58

    Johanna Meier, 1956-1958, received the first ever University of Miami School of Music Distinguished Alumni award in 1984. Recognized as one of the foremost Wagnerian sopranos of her era, Meier made her debut with the New York City Opera in 1969, followed by a major international career as a fourteen-year member of the Metropolitan Opera.

    Meier performed with most of the major symphony orchestras in the United States and abroad, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and l’Orchestre de Paris, among many others. Her European appearances included performances at the Vienna Staatsoper, the English National Opera, and with the opera companies of Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Paris, Rome, Venice, Madrid, Barcelona, Zurich, and the Netherlands.

    Meier was the first American ever to sing the role of Isolde in Tristan and Isolde for the Bayreuth Festival in Germany. She also appeared with the Canadian Opera, and at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, as well as in Japan, Mexico City, Israel, and at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. Her major roles encompassed the entire range of opera repertory from the Countess in the Marriage of Figaro to Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

    Meier founded the Johanna Meier Opera Theatre Institute in South Dakota in 1998, serving as Artistic Director. She also taught at the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, and Ithaca College, as well as privately. She regularly judged the Metropolitan Opera Regional Auditions and the Liederkranz Competitions. Meier received the 2014 National Opera Association Lifetime Achievement Award.