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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 2015


'48 Rosie Irene (Maiden) Bolstad, BA, Bremerton, WA, wrote in with a “hello!” for all music alumni and reported that she is continuing work on her upcoming release “Remembering Bernie” in honor of her late husband, as well as two other recording projects.


'53 Shirley (Anfinson) Collins, BA, Decorah, IA, is excited to have the third generation in their family attending UNI!

'56 Jerald Graetz, BA, MA '68, Burnsville, MN, retired in 1996 after teaching music for 40 years in Iowa, and now works summers at Crystal Lake Golf Course. He is a member of the Minnesota Valley Men's Chorale and vocal and hand bell choirs at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville. His late wife, Laurette Brunsvold Graetz, BA '57, an Iowa Choral Directors Association and north central district president, died in June of 2011.


'69 John Steffa, BA, MM '78, Mars Hill, NC, climbed to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2000 and to base camp of Mt. Everest in 2003. Other adventures have included skydiving in 2015, which was on his bucket list! Steffa has also celebrated numerous musical achievements in recent years including chamber music concerts at Carnegie Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, and a new music premiere in 2015 at Columbus State University.


'70 Linda Bayliss, BA, Iowa City, IA, is Guidance Counselor at Tri-County School in Thornburg. Linda also serves as organist at Geneso (Illinois) Congregational Church.

'72 Tom Sandholm, BA, Grinnell, IA, retired in 2012 following 40 years of teaching instrumental music at Bennett, Montezuma and Grinnell.

'74 Mary (Heffner) Oelmann, BA, MA '91, Greene, IA, retired from North Butler CSD as elementary principal. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her grandchildren.

'75 David Poggenklass, BA, Guttenberg, IA, currently entertains at 35-40 retirement homes, assisted living facilities and care centers each month. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family (including five grandchildren), golfing and fishing.

'76 James Aagaard, MA, Richland Center, WI, retired in spring 2014 after 38 years as music director at the University of Wisconsin‑Richland.

'76 Harlan Gillespie, BA, Webster City, IA, became superintendent of the North Central District of the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) on 7/1/2014. He now works with more than 100 UMC congregations.

'77 Gregory Lauterbach, BA, Jackson Heights, NY, was a soloist in several recent concerts ‑ Brahms German Requiem at New York's Symphony Space with the Dessoff Choirs under conductor Christopher Shepard; Haydn Mass in Time of War with Sound Shore Chorale in New Rochelle under conductor Richard Slade; and Rossini Petite messe solennelle with both Worchester (MA) and Dessoff (NYC) Choirs under conductor Christopher Shepard.

'78 John Cole, BM, Clermont, FL, celebrated 25 years with Walt Disney World in July 2015. For the past ten years he has been responsible for operations of Disney PhotoPass photographers at US and international sites.

'78 Terry Hancox, BM, Cleveland Heights, OH, received the Professional Excellence Award from Cuyahoga Community College, where he currently serves as Assistant Dean, and was a winner of the Buckeye Chamber Music Competition with the Black Swamp Trio.

'79 Diane (Dewall) Ballard, BM, Columbus, OH, conducted the Scarlet Honor Band at The Ohio State University Middle School Honor Band Festival in February 2015.

'79 James Fritz, BM, MA '85, Decorah, IA, retired as director of bands for the Decorah School District after 28 years of service.


'80 Russell Alexander, BM, Fairview Heights, IL, is now Reverend Alexander and has been a pastor since July 2014.

'80 Pat (Cahoy) Cunningham, BM, Auburn, NH, was awarded the 2014 New Hampshire Band Director of the Year by NH Band Directors' Association, and is in her 30th year as principal clarinetist of the New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra.

'81 Ellen Dostal, BM, Los Angeles, CA, is the director of arts and communication for Mount Wilson FM Broadcasters in Los Angeles.

'82 Les Aldrich, BM, Evansdale, IA, retired as band director at Oelwein Community Schools in June 2014 and will concentrate on composing and arranging, especially jazz music. His oldest son, Tony, is a current music composition major at UNI, and his younger son will be a UNI student in spring 2015, after finishing his military police deployment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

'83 Randy Atkinson, BM, MM '89, Cedar Rapids, IA, was named the 2015 Karl L. King Distinguished Service Award recipient by the Iowa Bandmasters Association.

'83 Bret Lee, BM, Marshalltown, IA, recently completed his 32nd year as a band director.

'84 Anne Healy, BFA, Mansfield, TX, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Texas at Arlington. Healy is the Director of the new BFA Musical Theatre program and has served as stage director and music director for multiple full-scale productions at University of Texas and for the Dallas Theatre Center.

'85 Debra Hedden, MA, EdD '97, Lawrence, KS, is Professor and Director of Music Education at the University of Kansas. She received the prestigious Byron T. Shutz Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of Kansas in 2011, was promoted to full professor in 2014 and published "Threading the Concept," a text for general music methods courses (2010).

'85 Wanda Reece, BA, Waterloo, IA, has taught piano lessons since 1962. She has recently reduced her private piano studio roster to allow more time for travel with her husband.

'85 Melody (Turnquist) Steed, BM, Lindsborg, KS, recently completed her first year as the assistant academic dean of Bethany College. In addition, she continues to serve as the college organist and director of the hand bell ensembles.

'88 Janelle Kimpston, BA, Waterloo, IA, received the 2015 Gold Star Award for Outstanding Teaching.


'90 Jody (Ploeger) Ingwersen, BM, Spirit Lake, IA, currently serves as middle school band director for grades 5-8 at Spirit Lake Community Schools.

'92 Ann McCalley, BM, Denver, CO, earned a PhD in leadership for higher education and Noel‑Levitz Certificate in enrollment management from Capella University in August 2014.

'94 Tim Crumley, BA, Marion, IA, is a freelance drummer and percussionist. He has recently performed with numerous ensembles throughout Iowa including an appearance with Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack at the Gallagher Bluedorn.

'96 Rae‑Myra Hilliard, MM, Deerfield, IL, sang in an improvised opera with Renee Baker and her Chicago Modern Orchestra Project at the Museum of Contemporary Art in May 2015. She also recorded her first CD, which will be all works by Black‑American composers and will be released 9/8/2015.

'96, Jeffrey Dennis Smith, BM, New York, NY, celebrated a development workshops performance of his new one-act opera “Why is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me?” at the American Lyric Theater in New York. The workshop was met with high praise and critical acclaim. For more on Smith, visit

'97 Rakhee Kripfgans, BA, Ann Arbor, MI, was a 2015 LSO concerto competition winner and will perform Poulenc's Organ Concerto at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, MI on 1/24/2016.

'98 Linda (Reines) Ferjak, MM, Forest City, IA, was honored with the Outstanding High School Teacher award at the Wartburg College commencement ceremony. She is currently with Bishop Garrigan Schools in Algona.

'98 Brian Kiser, BM, Youngstown, OH, is the associate professor of Tuba at Youngstown State University and this marks his tenth year teaching there. He maintains an active performing schedule with the Mr. Jack Daniel's Original Silver Cornet Band, River City Brass, and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. As an active studio musician, Kiser regularly records diverse musical projects in Indianapolis and Cleveland area studios, including projects for the Hal Leonard Corporation, De Haske Music Publications, FJH Music Company and Ludwig Music Publishers. He can be heard performing on more than one thousand Hal Leonard demo recordings since 2002.

'98 Dave Lisik, MM, Wellington, New Zealand, was promoted to senior lecturer (associate professor in U.S.) at the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. 

'99 Kathleen (Sander) Basi, MM, Columbia, MO, published a collection of intermediate/advancing flute duets titled "Childhood: Six Progressive Duets for Flute." This adds to three existing collections for flute and piano.


'00 Amanda Schroder, BA, Minneapolis, MN, currently serves as Manager of Individual Giving for the Minnesota Orchestra.

'01 Suzanne Hendrix, BM, MM '06, Overland Park, KS, performed with Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) in April 2015, covering a variety of roles including, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Larina in Eugene Onegin, and Fenena in Nabucco. In fall 2015, she will return to Lyric Opera of Chicago to cover in Le Nozze di Figaro and Wozzeck.

'02 Cory Mixdorf, BA, Fayetteville, AR, is an assistant professor of trombone at the University of Arkansas.

'02 Amber (Seemann) Youngblut, BA, MBA '05, Jesup, IA, was named one of the Cedar Valley's 20 under 40 by the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier for 2014. She is currently in executive development with Veridian Credit Union.

'03 Jennifer Betts, BA '09, Des Moines, IA, opened Fresh Mediterranean Express in Waukee in May 2014 with husband Hassan Atarmal BA'09. The restaurant offers a variety of Mediterranean fare and nine homemade sauces and dressings.

'04 Benjamin Klemme, BM, Davenport, IA, has earned the promotion to Associate Conductor at the Quad City Symphony Orchestra beginning with the 2015-2016 season (he previously served the orchestra as Assistant Conductor). In this role, he will conduct pops, family and education concerts, and has been invited to lead the QCSO's subscription concerts in March 2016, which will feature the world premiere of a new work for solo bassoon and orchestra by Jacob Bancks. He will continue to lead the Quad City Symphony Youth Ensembles as Music Director. Klemme also serves the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies as Concert Orchestra Conductor.

'04 Go Yamamoto, MM, Cologne, Germany, plays as a core member of the critically acclaimed early music ensemble l'arte del mondo in the vibrant German scene.

'05 Eliza Bangert, BM, Chicago, IL, is an active freelance flute and piccolo player in Chicago, performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera, Milwaukee Symphony, Grant Park Symphony and others as a substitute musician. This is her second season as librarian of the Illinois Philharmonic. She also works in the library at Grant Park Symphony and AWR Music.

'06, Christian Anderson, BM, Chicago, IL, enjoys a busy performance calendar each year, including performing with the Milwaukee Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, South Bend Symphony and numerous regional and Chicago-land orchestras.

'06 Brenda Liddle, BM, Waterloo, IA, is orchestra teacher at Carver Academy middle school in Waterloo.

'06 Brooke Stevens, BM, Arlington, VA, completed her DMA in trumpet at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in December 2014. She also serves as bugler in the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps in Washington DC.

'07 Jennifer (Nebraska) Tiede, BM, Marion, IA, is band director at Lisbon Community Schools, whose class 1A high school concert band was featured at the Iowa Bandmasters Conference.

'09, Kati Cox, BM, recently wrapped up her work at Centralia High School in Illinois, where the music program grew substantially under her direction, in order to pursue a doctoral program at the University of Texas.

'09 Angela Staron, BM, Marshalltown, IA, is teaching lower school music at the Shanghai Community International School in China.


'11 Jenny (Peters) Adam, BM, New Hampton, IA, is entering her fourth year of teaching. She is the band teacher at the beginning/middle school level and feels fortunate to be able to collaborate with her husband, who is the high school band teacher, and build a program from the ground up.

'11 Michael Conrad, BM, Greeley, CO, is starting his doctorate in jazz studies at the University of Northern Colorado, and recently received the ASCAP’s 2015 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award.

'11 Jeremiah Landon, BM, Fort Madison, IA, is choir director at Fort Madison High School.

'11 Hannah Leffler, MM, Denton, TX, and '12, Samantha Kantak, BM, MM '14, Webster City, IA, announced that they had both won the University of North Texas Concerto Competition. As competition winners, they both performed with the UNT Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 2015.

'11 Allison Offerman, BA, Coralville, IA, completed her Master's degree in oboe performance at the University of Nebraska‑Lincoln in 2013 and is now finishing her last year of DMA coursework at the University of Iowa. She has taught at the Five Season Chamber Music Festival in Cedar Rapids for two years, and teaches weekly woodwind lessons at the Marion Music Academy in addition to her private studio.

'12 Isaac Brockshus, BM, Charlotte, NC, traveled to Maccagno, Italy in the summer of 2015 for the premiere of his piece “Cognates for Trumpet and Marimba”.

'12 James Healy, BM, Jefferson, IA, currently serves as 9-12 Vocal Music Director at Waterloo West High School.

'12 Spencer Walrath, BA, Arlington, VA, is now a consultant in the energy and natural resources practice of FTI Consulting's strategic communications division.

'13 Jordan Leckband, BM, Guthrie Center, IA, is choral director at Guthrie Center. He teaches high school choir, junior high choir, show choir, music theory, and K-6 general music. The GCHS Choir returned to Des Moines in December to perform the National Anthem at the Iowa Wild hockey game.

'13 Xingzimin Pan, MM, Salt Lake City, UT, earned 3rd Place at the 4th China‑ASEAN Music Festival Composition Competition, hosted by Guangxi Arts Institute, and celebrated numerous performances of original compositions in China, Germany, Australia and throughout the United States

'14 Olivia Randolph, BA, Cedar Falls, IA, works in Human Resources and as Administrative Assistant for the UNI Culture and Intensive English Program while also serving as assistant and the Hearst Center for the Arts. She recently launched the “Lunchtime Concert Series” at the Hearst Center, featuring UNI student musicians, and raises funds for music student scholarships.

'14 Claudia Restrepo, MM, Salt Lake City, UT, recently conducted the Utah Philharmonic in their spring 2015 performances of Prokofiev’s Cinderella. Restrepo is currently pursuing her doctorate of musical arts at University of Utah and was accepted into a competitive conducting competition in London, summer 2015.


'11 Jenny (Peters) Adam, BM, married Justin Adam, BM '12, on 6/28/2014.

'11 Jeremiah Landon, BM, married Reba (Jongeling) Landon on 6/7/2014.

'12 Spencer Walrath, BA, married EmilyAnn (Brueck) Walrath, BA '13, on 6/7/2014.


'99 Amanda (Post) Lee, BM, and Paul Lee, Cedar Falls, IA, daughter Josephine Rose Lee born 10/6/2014, joining brothers Jordan, age 16, and Noah, age 5.

'07 Dave Tiede, BA, and Jennifer (Nebraska) Tiede, BM '07, Marion, IA, daughter Isla Marie Tiede born 7/19/2014.

'12 Matt Harken, BA, and Kirsten (Hayes) Harken, Waterloo, IA, son Gideon born 3/11/2015.


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!