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UNI School of Music

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Alumni & Friends

UNI School of Music always loves to hear from alumni and friends. Have you been performing, educating, traveling, composing, conducting or otherwise involved in your community since graduating? Contact Us and let us know! Or fill out our online Alumni Response Form and keep us posted on your newest projects. And when you’re in the Cedar Falls area, there is always an opportunity for you to visit and show your school spirit by supporting an event or stopping by to say hello.

Alumni News 2014

'50 Ted Herbst, BA, Germantown, WI, is retired and enjoying golf, travel and a summer home on Lake Thompson in Rhinelander, WI.

'53 Ray Holtz, BA, MA '60, Ashland, OR, was a member of UNI Jazz I, taught instrumental music for 29 years and was a certified financial planner for 21 years. He recently formed and conducts a 17-piece jazz orchestra, performing in many venues and backing Frank Ricci, who sang in Las Vegas for many years.

'54 Wanda (Zahnen) Larson, BA, Sturgis, SD, has retired from teaching private voice and piano lessons, but stays active in music by serving as pianist for church services in Sturgis, SD. She spends her free time traveling to visit her children and grandchildren.

'56 Patricia Peterson, BA, Fort Collins, CO, is retired from piano teaching, daycare and raising five children.

'59 Chuck Mandernach, BA, Dallas, TX, recently attended a reunion of Iowa State Teachers College (ISTC, now UNI) graduates from the 1950’s and 1960’s. The group met up in Boone, IA, and included Mandernach, Homer Gartz  '62, Dave Richardson  '62, Hal Holmstrom  '60, Warren Erickson  '59, Arlene (Dighton) Williams  '60 and former UNI faculty member Jon Hansen, '61, MA  '65 (photo below).


'70 Charles Bissinger, BA, ‘71, has maintained an active musical life since graduation. He recently appeared as soloist at March Chapel, Boston University, and has performed in several local theatre and choral productions. He is retired and living in Phoenix, AZ, and sends warm wishes to his fellow UNI Concert Choir members from 1966-1970.

'71 Steven Ainsworth, BA, MA '75, Wilson, NC, is beginning his 43rd year of teaching. He is assistant administrator and band director at Wilson Christian Academy.

'74 Mary (Heffner) Oelmann, BA, MA '91, Greene, IA, retired after 15 years as elementary principal and curriculum director at North Butler Community School District.

'77 Scott Davis, BA, Des Moines, IA, retired June 2012 after 32 years in public education, finishing at East High School in Des Moines. He is an active musician in the Des Moines area with Freestyle Variety Band and the Scott Davis Jazz Quartet, and was inducted into the Community Jazz Center Hall of Fame in October 2012.

'77 Gayle Rose, BA, Memphis, TN, appeared with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in fall 2013. Rose performed as narrator in Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” at a September Masterworks concert. Rose also serves as chairwoman of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra board of directors.

'78 Dalene (Smith) O'Brien, BM, Boone, IA, retired from Boone Middle School in 2013 after a 34-year teaching career as a band director. She will continue to be active with church music and the Iowa Bandmasters, having served as a mentor, judge, honor band conductor and Major Landers Scholarship coordinator.


'85 Debra (Bruhn) Hedden, MA, EdD '97, Lawrence, KS, was selected for the prestigious Fulbright Specialist Roster. She is currently director of music education and associate professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas.

 '88 Mark Walters, BA, Jacksonville, NC, appeared in opera productions in Arizona, Alabama, Idaho, Wisconsin and Toronto, Canada. Walter was featured as soloist with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the Lima (OH) Symphony Orchestra and at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. He will appear with Seattle Opera in the title role of Don Giovanni in fall 2014.


'91 Carson Holloway, BA, Omaha, NE, is currently serving as an associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Holloway received the 2013 Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award.

'94 J C Sanford, BA, Decorah, IA, released a CD titled "Views from the Inside" with his 15-piece orchestra, JC Sanford Orchestra. Sanford is a trombonist, composer and conductor and received an Aaron Copland Fund 2014 Recording Program grant.

'98 Larry Telkamp, BM, Britton, SD, has enjoyed 15 years of teaching since graduation. His students inducted him into the Who's Who Among America's Teachers in 2004 and his bands have earned numerous awards and accolades both during his 12 years in Iowa and now in South Dakota.


'01 Nicole (Birkland) Long, BM, MM '06, Pleasant Hill, CA, recently completed a 2-year residency at Opera San Jose where she performed a total of 8 roles in the last two seasons. She also signed with Uzan International Artists of New York City and placed 3rd in the Irene Dalis Competition in May 2014 in San Jose, California. Nicole will be covering three roles at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in the 2014-15 season: Sonyetka in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Shostakovich; Giulietta in Les contes d'Hoffmann by Offenbach and Baba the Turk in The Rake's Progress by Stravinsky.

'03 Carmelita (Tyson) Guse, MA, MM '08, Minneapolis, MN, is an adjunct voice professor at North Central University. She is also a member of the Bravo Singers, a group that performs opera education programs for elementary schools in the Twin Cities area.

'04 Dale Bazan, MM, Lincoln, NE, was promoted to associate professor of practice in music education at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He has published research and is also a reviewer for several peer reviewed journals. In July 2014 he presented several papers at the Biennial World Conference of the International Society for Music Education in Brazil.

'04 Benjamin Klemme, BM, Saint Paul, MN, was appointed assistant conductor by the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. His duties include serving as music director of the Quad City Symphony Youth Ensembles and bringing classical music to young audiences as director of educational engagement. He will conduct pops and family concerts, and serve as cover conductor for all subscription programs. He will continue to serve as Concert Orchestra Conductor for the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies.

'06 Brenda Liddle, BM, Waterloo, IA, teaches Zumba at the YMCA as well as full-time orchestra in the Waterloo Community School District.

'08 Stephen Fish, BM, Mercer Island, WA, made his role debut with Seattle Opera in November 2013. In fall 2014, he will appear in Les Contes D'Hoffmann with the Seattle Opera Company.

'08 Jenny (Thompson) Poehls, MM, Fargo, ND, has served as lecturer of flute at North Dakota State University since 2010 and performs with the NDSU Faculty Woodwind Quintet. She is also a collaborative pianist for both student and professional musicians and maintains a private piano and flute studio in the Fargo Moorhead area.

'08 Ryan Middagh, BM, Nashville, TN, was recently appointed Director of Jazz Studies at Vanderbilt University. In 2013, Middagh performed with the Cab Calloway Orchestra and released the album “Colorado Brew: featuring Jeff Coffin and Tom Giampietro”. Middagh toured China in 2014 with the Downbeat award-winning UNC Jazz Lab Band One and is endorsed by Conn-Selmer as a Yanagisawa artist.

'09 Renée Rapier, BM, MM '11, San Francisco, CA, appeared at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago twice in August 2014 and has an extensive upcoming performance season in 2014-15. For more information, visit

'09 Danny White, BM, Bettendorf, IA, served as the associate conductor for the national tour of Beauty and the Beast in 2013-14. White was also invited to conduct the international tour of the production, but declined in order to attend the Cincinnati Conservatory Masters in Orchestral Conducting program. White will focus on Musical Theatre conducting during his studies in the highly competitive masters program.

'11 Michael Conrad, BM, Waterloo, IA, became co-director of bands at Waterloo West High School in 2013, after receiving an MM in Jazz Composition and Arranging from Eastman School of Music in May 2013, where he was nominated for the Teaching Assistantship Prize, and received the Ray Wright Prize and the Jack L. Frank Teaching Award. In addition to performances and presentations, he was commissioned by West Point Army Jazz Knights, Penfield Music Commission Project, CNY Jazz, and the New York Youth Symphony Jazz Band Classic, and released a CD entitled COLOSSUS in June 2013.

'12 Isaac Brockshus, BM, Columbia, SC, served as composer for original music used in a promotional video recorded and developed for the University of South Carolina.

'12 James Healy, BM, Dunkerton, IA, is director of vocal music for grades 5-12 in Dunkerton Schools. He recently returned to campus with his students for the fall 2013 UNI Vocal Arts Festival.

'13 Ashley Smith, MM, Iowa City, IA, is Band Director at West Liberty High School. Under her direction, the West Liberty marching band earned a Division 1 rating at the Iowa High School Music Association (IHSMA) Marching Band Contest in October 2013.

'13 Alexander Steines, BM, Albia, IA, is choral director at Albia Community Schools, directing junior high and high school choirs and teaching 5th and 6th grade general music. On October 12, 2013 his concert choir sang the national anthem for the season home opener of the Iowa Wild Hockey at Wells Fargo Arena.

'01 Nicole (Birkland) Long, BM, MM '06, married Gary Long on July 12, 2014.
'10 Tracy (Chapman) Reif, BM, married Andrew "Bill" Reif, BM '10, on May 24, 2013.

Do you have some notable news that you'd like to share with the UNI School of Music and your fellow alumni? Contact us to let us know!