Department of Music

News & Events

Teaching Assistant Wins Award

Aaron James

The University Dean of Graduate Students has recognized Aaron James with the 2015 Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student.  This is a competitive award, and, as Dean of Graduate Students Margaret H. Kearney indicated, “the materials submitted on (Mr. James’) behalf clearly demonstrated (his) skill and commitment to the role.”  This is the second year in a row that the Music Department has nominated a winning candidate.  The award includes a monetary prize of $1000.

As teaching assistant for MUR 223, History of Western Music 1750-1850, Prof. Kim Kowalke noted that , “Aaron was an exemplary TA, one of the best I’ve ever had, and that is a select group indeed, with a half dozen winning the Edward Peck Curtis Award during the last three decades.  Aaron deserves to be in that elite company . . “
Aaron James completed an MM in organ performance at Eastman following a BMus at the University of Western Ontario, where he received the Faculty of Music Gold Medal; he is now pursuing a PhD in musicology concurrently with a DMA in organ. His primary research interests involve issues of genre, theology and devotional culture in the sixteenth-century motet. He has presented conference papers at McGill University and the University of Sheffield (UK), and will present his work at the 2014 annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America. His article on polyphonic settings of the Salve Regina was published in the spring 2014 issue of the Journal of the Alamire Foundation.

Hopeman Summer Carillon Recital Series Returns on July 7

The Hopeman Memorial Carillon Summer Recital Series is set to begin on Monday, July 7 on the University of Rochester’s River Campus. The free outdoor concerts on the Eastman Quadrangle are open to the public and continue each Monday in July.

The program will begin at 7 p.m., rain or shine, and last about an hour. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring folding chairs, blankets, snacks or picnics, and relax on the lawn on the west side of Rush Rhees Library. The annual event features carillonneurs who travel throughout the world to perform music specifically written for the instrument of bells. This summer’s programs include Mediterranean folk songs and classical arrangements by Johann Sebastian Bach as well as the familiar medleys of The Sound of Music and Disney’s Cinderella. Following the concerts, attendees are invited to meet the performer on the library steps.

Housed in the upper-most chamber at the top of Rush Rhees tower, the Hopeman Memorial Carillon consists of 50 bells that were cast in bronze by Royal Eijsbouts Bellfoundry of Asten in the Netherlands. Throughout the year, the sounds of the carillon can be heard on campus as the traditional melody known as “Westminster Quarters” marks every quarter hour. One of only seven carillons in New York, the more than three-ton instrument is regularly played by students of the University’s Carillon Society, who perform classic and modern musical compositions for campus events, holidays, and special impromptu concerts. The ringing of the carillon bells also marks special community, state, and national events.

Performer schedule:

  • Monday, July 7
    Vera Wünsche Brink, a native of Berlin, Germany, graduated from Yale University in 2012 with a degree in biology. At Yale, she studied the carillon and became an active member of the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs. Brink currently works in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah School of Medicine and is a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America.
  • Monday, July 14
    Tin-Shi Tam, professor of music and chair of the keyboard division at Iowa State University, has traveled the globe performing at festivals and competitions in Asia, Austria, Canada, Europe, and the United States. Tam released her carillon compact disk, The Bells of Iowa State, in 2004 and represented the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America in performance at the World Carillon Federation Congress in the Netherlands.
  • Monday, July 21
    Laura Ellis, an associate professor of music at the University of Florida, has performed solo carillon recitals in the Netherlands and throughout the United States. Ellis is on the board of directors for the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America and serves as director of the organization’s music and publications committee.
  • Monday, July 28
    Klaas de Haan, an award-wining performer, is a carillonneur in Laren, Rhenen, Bolsward, Slotermeer/Amsterdam and Heerenveen in the Netherlands. 

Brass Choir Presents Dead Man's Party! on Oct. 25

It’s a dance party!  It’s a Halloween party!  It’s a Dead Man’s Party!

The UR Brass Choir, a 45-member ensemble sponsored by the College Music Department, takes the Strong Auditorium stage to present Dead Man’s Party, its 5th anniversary Spooktacular concert extravaganza, on Friday, October 25th at 8:00pm.  The group will present rock, dance, and pop music re-purposed for brass instruments, including works by Daft Punk, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Men Without Hats, and Earth Wind & Fire, among others.  In keeping with tradition, this concert will also feature guest low brass musicians from the Rochester community in a supersized low brass ensemble.  A host of other guest musicians will complete the roster of performers involved in this over-the-top show.  Dramatic lighting, special effects, costumes, and video interlude vignettes will add to the party atmosphere in Strong Auditorium. 

The UR Brass Choir is celebrating its sixth year of existence under founder and director Josef Hanson.  The ensemble has performed in a wide variety of venues, including Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and is dedicated to crafting performances that are a bit out of the ordinary, featuring everything from Renaissance music to fanfares to heavy metal.

The Spooktacular concert is free and open to the public, and no tickets are required.  Parking is free in university lots all day on weekends.  For more information, contact Josef Hanson at 585-273-5157 or

Orientation and Audition Information

- The music theory placement test for incoming freshmen will take place on Wednesday, August 28th at 1:00pm in Lower Strong Auditorium. If you are even considering taking music theory while at UR, you should take this test! Reservations are not required-- simply show up with a pencil.

- After the placement test, a Music Q & A session will be held, with information on lessons, ensembles, courses, practice rooms, and more.  If you are not taking the theory placement test, simply come to Lower Strong at 1:30pm on August 28th.

- Ensemble auditions will take place throughout orientation week and the first week of classes.  Visit the large bulletin board in Dewey Hall to view the options and to sign up.

- Students interested in private lessons at the Eastman School should complete the online application at  For more details, visit the "FAQ" page.

High Voltage Course Profiled by Death Metal Underground

Death Metal Underground recently conducted an interview with Josef Hanson to discuss MUR 145, High Voltage- Heavy Metal Music and its History.  Check it out here!