Our Faculty & Staff
Musicologist, Associate Professor and Department Chair Nancy Newman joined our faculty in 2005 after teaching appointments at Tufts, Wesleyan, and Clark University. Dr. Newman specializes in European and American musical practices since 1800, with an emphasis on the relationship between art music and popular culture. Her book, Good Music for a Free People: The Germania Musical Society in Nineteenth-Century America, is published in the series, Eastman Studies in Music (University of Rochester Press, 2010). Articles on the orchestra have appeared in the Yearbook of German American Studies (1999) and the Institute for Studies in American Music Newsletter (2003). On 22 April 2014, Dr. Newman will give a talk on the Germanians' piano sheet music at the Library of Congress' historic Coolidge Auditorium (co-sponsored by the American Musicological Society).
A joint faculty member of the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Dr. Newman's other areas of interest include film music and feminist theory. She has given conference papers on Bjork's contribution to Dancer in the Dark, the composer-performer Clara Wieck Schumann, and the voice of actress Judy Holliday. Her essay, “Gender and the Germanians: ‘Art-Loving Ladies’ in 19th-Century Concert Life” was published in American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2012). This book was recently awarded the AMS Ruth Solie Award for Outstanding Essay Collection. An article on the 1950s musical, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, “’We’ll Make a Paderewski of You Yet!’” appears in Lowering the Boom: New Essays on the History, Theory and Practice of Film Sound (University of Illinois Press, 2008). She has contributed to The Grove Dictionary of American Music (Oxford Music Online) and published reviews in Women and Music, American Music, and Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association. Her essay, “A Music Teacher’s Perspective on Savant Skill” appeared in Leon Miller’s Musical Savants: Exceptional Skill in the Mentally Retarded (Erlbaum, 1989).
Fellowships and awards for Dr. Newman’s research have been granted by the AMS, American Antiquarian Society, Music Library Association, AMS-New England, and John Nicholas Brown Center at Brown University. Her education includes degrees from the University of Chicago and Brown University, where she worked with Rose Subotnik, a leading expert on the critical theorist Theodor Adorno. An active performer of electroacoustic music for piano and other keyboards, Dr. Newman has been a member of several West African drumming and Indonesian gamelan ensembles. In June 2011, she gave the U.S. premiere of Matt Malsky’s heterogeneous for toy piano and live-processed sound at Brooklyn’s Bargemusic.
Professor Max Lifchitz is active as a composer, performer, arts administrator and educator. A graduate of The Juilliard School and Harvard University, he was invited to join the University at Albany faculty in 1986. Previously, he held teaching appointments at the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. In addition to teaching a variety of music courses and general education offerings, Lifchitz has served as Chair of both the University's Music Department and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Department, where he holds a joint appointment. In the spring of 2005, he was honored with an Excellence in Research Award. During the fall of 2006 Lifchitz served as the Elena Diaz-Verson Amos Eminent Scholar in Latin American Studies at Columbus State University’s Center for International Education in Columbus, GA.
His creative endeavors have been supported by grants and fellowships from the ASCAP Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; Meet the Composer, Inc.; The University of Michigan Society of Fellows; the CAPS Program of New York State; the Individual Artists program of the New York State Council on the Arts; and the National Endowment for the Arts. As a pianist, Lifchitz was awarded the first prize in the 1976 Gaudeamus Competition for Performers of Contemporary Music held in Holland. His concert appearances throughout Latin America have been underwritten by the Fund for US Artists at International Festivals.
Lifchitz is the founder and artistic director of North/South Consonance, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization based in New York City devoted to the promotion and performance of music by composers from the Americas. Active since 1980, the North/South Consonance Ensemble has received grants from, among others, the Aaron Copland Fund; the Ditson Fund at Columbia University; the Yvar Mikhashoff Fund for New Music; the Cary Charitable Trust; the Virgil Thomson Foundation; New York Women Composers, Inc.; the Zethus Fund for Contemporary Music; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the New York State Council for the Arts; and the National Endowment for the Arts. It has also received contributions from several corporations and numerous individual donors. North/South Consonance, Inc. sponsors an annual concert series in New York City featuring new chamber music from the Americas and has issued over fifty compact discs on the North/South Recordings label.
Lifchitz is represented as composer, pianist, and conductor on several CD and LP albums issued by the Classic Masters, CRI, Finnadar, New World, North/South, Opus One, Philips, RCA Victor, and Vienna Modern Masters labels.
Albin J. Zak III is Professor of Musicology. Prior to coming to the University at Albany, he served for seven years on the faculty of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His scholarly interests include jazz, rock, and concert music of the twentieth century, history and practice of sound recording, and twentieth-century U.S. cultural history. He earned dual Bachelor of Music degrees at the New England Conservatory in Composition and Contemporary Improvisation, and a Master of Music in Composition. He earned the Ph.D. in Musicology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His publications include The Velvet Underground Companion (Schirmer Books), The Poetics of Rock: Cutting Tracks, Making Records (University of California Press), "Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix: Juxtaposition and Transformation 'All along the Watchtower'” (Journal of the American Musicological Society), and the forthcoming “I Don’t Sound Like Nobody”: Remaking Music in 1950s America (University of Michigan Press). Professor Zak is also a songwriter, performer, and record producer. His records include In the Hurricane, Across the Brazos, By the Side of the Road, An Average Day, and the forthcoming Waywardness and Inspiration.
Robert J. Gluck is Associate Professor of Music and Director of the University at Albany Electronic Music Studio. He also teaches in the Africana Studies Department and Judaic Studies Program. Gluck is a pianist, writer, and composer. After years of conservatory training, his musical life changed dramatically after hearing Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and Miles Davis' electric bands. Bob's repertoire spans jazz performance integrating electronics and free improvisation, avant-garde concert music, and music for home designed electronic expansions of acoustical instruments, including the ram's horn, Disklavier (computer-assisted piano), and Turkish baglama saz. He also designs multimedia art exhibits.
Bob Gluck has written numerous articles documenting the international history of electronic music. He is author of “You’ll Know When You Get There: Herbie Hancock and the Mwandishi Band” (University of Chicago Press, 2012) and the forthcoming "Gestures, textures, open spaces: Chick Corea’s Circle, new creative venues and openings to the musical 1970s." His essays have been published in Leonardo Music Journal, Organized Sound, Journal SEAMUS, Leonardo, Living Music Journal, The Reconstructionist, Tav+, the EMF Institute, and in various conference proceedings.
Gluck has released seven recordings and his work appears on several compilations. Among them are three critically acclaimed CDs on the British jazz label, FMR, documenting the work of his two trios, “Something Quiet” with bassist Christopher Dean Sullivan and saxophonist Joe Giardullo, and “Sideways” and “Returning” with bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Dean Sharp. He has performed internationally at, among other places, The Stone (New York City), Le Poisson Rouge (New York City), Spanish Synagogue (Prague, Czech Republic), Connecticut College, Keele University (United Kingdom), Concordia University (Montreal), Middlebury College, University of California at San Diego and Irvine, Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, The Flea Theater (New York City), Mobius Gallery (Boston), Dartmouth College, and Bard College. Gluck's music on tape has been heard in Mexico City, Bucharest, Berlin, and elsewhere.
Gluck's multimedia installation works include "Layered Histories" (2004), an immersive sound and video environment with Cynthia Rubin, shown at SIGGRAPH (Los Angeles), ACM Multimedia (New York City), Emmersive Gallery (Toronto), Prague Jewish Music (Czech Republic), ICMC (Miami), the Fine Family Gallery at the Marcus JCC (Atlanta), Legion Arts Center (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), PhotoStop (White River Junction), Charter Oak Cultural Center (Hartford, CT), Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale University, and Pixilerations (Providence, RI); and "Sounds of a Community" (2001-02), in which visitors trigger and shape pre-recorded sounds by interacting with seven electronic musical sculptures.
Gluck's musical training is from the Juilliard, Manhattan, and Crane Schools of Music, as well as the State University of New York at Albany (B.A., 1977) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (M.F.A., 2001). His primary teacher of piano was Regina Rubinoff (first in the Juilliard Preparatory Division). He is also a rabbi (a 1989 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College), and he holds a Master's in Hebrew Letters from the RRC (1989) and a Master's in Social Work from Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work (1984). He has held various senior leadership positions in the Jewish Reconstructionist movement.
Associate Professor Duncan J. Cumming has performed concertos, recitals, and chamber music concerts in cities across the United States as well as in Europe. The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Merkin Hall and Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City, and the Wallenstein Palace in Prague, Czech Republic are among the concert halls in which he has appeared. Concerts outside of the New York Capital Region this season include a concert tour of the Boston area in March as well as the United Kingdom, France, and Switzerland in May. A recent review describes his playing as “technically flawless… thoughtful, deliberate and balanced, without a wasted gesture or any histrionics, rather like Rachmaninoff.” His new book, The Fountain of Youth: The Artistry of Frank Glazer, came out in 2009.
The year 2011 marks the release of three compact discs. The first is a solo piano CD on the Centaur label (CRC 3125) including music of Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, and Satie. Chamber music of Bill Matthews with the Capital Trio will be released on Albany Records with several premiere recordings; finally, a recording with Christopher Hogwood of the music of Carl Maria von Weber. This is the first recording of Weber’s music on Weber’s own 1812 Brodmann.
Born in Maine, Cumming graduated Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors from Bates College in 1993, where he studied with Frank Glazer. In 1994, he received a full scholarship from the European Mozart Foundation and participated in intense chamber music study and performance at the European Mozart Academy in Prague, where he performed often with the Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena. Upon his return to America, he studied with Patricia Zander at the New England Conservatory, where he received his Master of Music degree in 1996. In May of 2003, he graduated with the Doctor of Music degree from Boston University.
From 2002-2008, Cumming was on the faculty of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute as a teacher, chamber music coach, and performer. He was assistant director of the Young Artists Piano Program for the first six years, and in his final summer he took over as the director when an illness forced the director to leave just days into the program. Before accepting the position at the University at Albany, he was a member of the faculty at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He has lectured, given master classes, and served on juries for competitions, in addition to his performing and teaching. Known for his innovative and carefully constructed programs, Cumming often presents informal commentary to the audience on the music he plays. He has commissioned, premiered, and recorded new works for solo piano, violin and piano, and piano trio. He performs frequently with his wife Hilary, violinist and adjunct professor of violin at the University at Albany. With the cellist Şölen Dikener, they make up the Capital Piano Trio, the new ensemble in residence at the University at Albany. Duncan and Hilary have two daughters, Lucy Rose and Mairi Skye, and a son, William Bear.
Victoria von Arx is associate professor of music at the University at Albany where she teaches music history, music theory, piano and chamber music. She is currently working on a book for publication on the teaching of Claudio Arrau. Her article on the history of the Third Street Music School Settlement is forthcoming. She was recently invited to perform in Weill Recital Hall in New York City in the Annual Recital of the Adamant Music School. Brought up in southeastern Minnesota, she received the B.M. Education from Viterbo University (LaCrosse Wl), a M.M. Performance from Syracuse University, and Ph.D. Musicology from City University of New York. Her major teachers have included Frederick Marvin, Oxana Yablonskaya, Sascha Gorodnitzki, German Diez, and Menahem Pressler. A long-time resident of New York State and New York City, she served on the faculties of Syracuse University, the Metropolitan School for the Arts in Syracuse, the Third Street Music School Settlement in New York City and the Adamant Music School in Vermont. She now serves on the Executive Committee for the Adamant Music School. During a seven-year stint in Michigan, she taught at the Flint School of Performing Arts and the University of Michigan-Flint. She was also Assistant Editor at MUSA (Music in the United States of America), a project of the American Musicological Society in cooperation with the Society for American Music, A-R Editions, and the University of Michigan, and dedicated to the publication of American music. She has been a contributing author to the International Dictionary of Black Composers published by the Center for Black Music Studies at Columbia College in Chicago.
Assistant Professor Rachel Mitchell completed her Ph.D. in Music Theory at the University of Texas-Austin, where she held a Kent Kennan Endowed Graduate Fellowship and was awarded the Herbert Colvin Award for the best student paper at the 2005 Texas Society for Music Theory conference. Prior to joining the UAlbany faculty, Mitchell held positions in music theory at the University of North Texas and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Mitchell's research interests include the music and writings of Roberto Gerhard and other Second Viennese School composers; twentieth-century Mexican composer, Silvestre Revueltas; film music criticism; electroacoustic music; and pop-rock theory. In addition, she is engaged in developing computer-aided instruction software called Harmonia, which combines music notation, automatic music analysis and grading, word processing, and multimedia playback. Dr. Mitchell has presented her research throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Germany, Spain, and the UK. Her work is published by Salem Press and Ashgate.
Of his performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers in San Francisco Heuwell Tircuit of the San Francisco Classical Voice said, “William Jon Gray conducted the combined [Carmel Bach] Festival Chorale and members of the Festival Orchestra in a religious masterpiece, not one of Bach’s but the massive Claudio Monteverdi Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 to the largest packed house I’ve seen at Old First in over 35 years of on-and-off reviewing there. It created a sensation, as indeed it deserves when so ably presented. Fine playing and excellent vocal work littered the evening with one peak experience after another...the applause hit like a prolonged tsunami.”
Conductor William Jon Gray is Director of Choral Studies at the University at Albany. He comes to the University at Albany from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he held the position of chair of the choral department, and where he conducted the Pro Arte Singers, the University’s prestigious chamber choir, and taught graduate-level conducting, choral literature, and score study. Since 2010, he has been chorus director of Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, conducting the fully professional chamber chorus in subscription series concerts and preparing the ensemble for performances with internationally renowned conductors Jane Glover and Nicholas Kraemer. He has been associate conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival in California, leading major choral and orchestral works and preparing performances with conductor Bruno Weil. He has also been assistant conductor of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society.
Dr. Gray has made guest appearances with orchestras and choruses at festivals around the United States, including the Handel and Haydn Society, Princeton Festival, National Chamber Orchestra, Billings Symphony, and the Lafayette Symphony. In August of 2010 and 2012, he prepared the professional Grant Park Music Festival Chorus for performances of Dvořák’s Requiem and The Spectre’s Bride and Haydn’s The Seasons in collaboration with Carlos Kalmar. He has prepared choruses for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the National Chamber Orchestra, and has served as faculty director of opera choruses for the Indiana University Opera Theatre, collaborating with such notable stage directors as Tito Capobianco (La Traviata), Colin Graham (Peter Grimes), Vincent Liotta (A View from the Bridge), and Tomer Zvulun (Faust).
William Jon Gray was artistic director of the Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra of Washington, DC, from 1986 to 1993, and artistic director of the Bach Chorale Singers from 1994 to 2010, conducting more than 100 performances of major choral works. With the Bach Chorale Singers, he received national critical acclaim for the commercially released recording, “In Praise of the Organ: Latin Choral and Organ Music of Zoltán Kodály.” Recent conducting appearances include Handel’s Esther in Charleston with the Pro Arte Singers and Baroque Orchestra, Haydn’s The Creation in Indianapolis and Bloomington, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Metropolitan Opera baritone Timothy Noble and mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson.
William Jon Gray studied at Indiana University, the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, and Boston University. He performed frequently with Robert Shaw as a member of the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, both in recordings and concerts in France and at Carnegie Hall.
(Click links for bios.)
Richard Albagli is the Director of the University Percussion Ensemble.
Ellen Burns is our music librarian. When not shelving books or cataloging CDs and scores, Dr. Burns is actively engaged in research and teaching.
Kevin Champagne is the Director of the University-Community Symphonic Band, the UAlbany Pep Band, and the Marching Great Danes.
Nicholas Conway was born and raised in Albany, NY. He has been teaching Hip Hop Music and Culture, a course he and a colleague devised, since the fall of 2003 at both Trinity College and Yale University. He currently DJs at Noche Lounge in Albany and writes hip hop reviews for undergroundhiphop.com.
Hilary Cumming is our violin instructor.
Kevin Grudecki is our jazz guitar instructor.
David Hosley is the Director of the University Jazz Ensemble.
Christopher David Neubert is the Director of the University-Community Symphony Orchestra.
Mezzo-soprano Frances Pallozzi Wittmann is our vocal instructor.
George Seror III is our classical guitar instructor.
Marcus Schlegel is our piano accompanist.
Kent Shultz is our piano tuner.
Bernadette Socha is our Music secretary. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Socha worked in the Bursar's Office at UAlbany. She earned a B.A. in Music Theory from UAlbany in 2003 and an A.A.S. in Human Services from Schenectady County Community College in 1992. Ms. Socha is also the WEBMASTER for Music.
Professor Joel A. Chadabe, M.M.
Professor James R. Morris, D.M.A.
University of Southern California
Associate Professor R. Findlay Cockrell, M.S. (Collins Fellow)
Juilliard School of Music
Associate Professor Irvin E. Gilman, M.M.
Manhattan School of Music
Associate Professor K. Drew Hartzell Jr., Ph.D.
University of Rochester
Associate Professor Reed Hoyt, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania
FORMER FACULTY (Deceased)
David Griggs-Janower, conductor, was Director of Choral Music and Professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York from 1981 until 2013. He was also the Founding Conductor and Artistic Director of Albany Pro Musica. He was graduated from Cornell University where he studied music theory and music history. He was awarded the Doctor of Music degree in conducting from the Indiana University School of Music where he studied with Dr. Julius Herford, Fiora Contino, and Margaret Hillis. He had been on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and visiting artist/guest conductor at Williams College, Cornell University, and Skidmore College. Dr. Griggs-Janower was a staff member of the Aspen Music Festival Choral Institute for ten seasons and the Oregon Bach Festival under Helmuth Rilling for seven summers.
Dr. Griggs-Janower was also the music director of the Berkshire Bach Society in Great Barrington, the first conductor and a frequent guest conductor of the St. Cecilia Orchestra, and the choir director at First Presbyterian Church of Albany. He had been a guest conductor of the Albany Symphony, the Albany Mendelssohn Club, the Guilderland and Niskayuna High School District Choral Festivals, and the First Reformed Church of Schenectady. Dr. Griggs-Janower appeared as conductor or clinician at eight ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) conventions, two NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) summer conferences, and one NCCO (National Collegiate Choral Organization) conference. He conducted several Area-All State and All-County Choral Festivals throughout New York state and the NYACDA/NYSSMA Directors Chorus.
Troy Chromatics and the Capital Region Center for the Arts each bestowed their annual arts award on Dr. Griggs-Janower in 2009. He was named Outstanding Conductor of the Year by the NYS American Choral Directors Association in 2003. In 2002, he was the first recipient of the University at Albany faculty award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity, and later was given the same award by the statewide University, having been so-distinguished from faculty at all 64 campuses. He received the Albany-Schenectady League of Arts Award for his outstanding contribution to the Capital Region community. With Albany Pro Musica and with his University Chamber Singers, Dr. Griggs-Janower produced numerous CD recordings and led concert tours to Europe, Central America, and Canada. He also led the UAlbany University-Community Chorale.
Working meticulously over several years, David Griggs-Janower undertook the massive task of editing the manuscript of Bristow's Oratorio of Daniel from microfilm, which was tucked away in the New York Public Library, making a modern performing edition. Part I of The Oratorio of Daniel was performed in 1995 at the University at Albany as part of its tricentennial celebrations. Daniel was performed in its entirety for the first time since 1878 by Albany Pro Musica under the direction of Griggs-Janower in 1997. His critical and performing edition of Bristow's 1866 oratorio was published in 1999 by A-R Editions in its prestigious Recent Researches in American Music series. The work received two performances in 2004-2005, one in Germany, and Albany Pro Musica’s CD of the work was aired on Raleigh, North Carolina public radio in February 2004. He was also working on another of Bristow's works, Praise to God.