Concerts & Events

VCUarts Music sponsors and hosts over 200 concerts and events on campus and around Richmond each year. Sign up for our mailing list to get the latest department news and information on upcoming events from VCU Music.


VCUarts Music COVID-19 Event Cancellations

In response to the spread of COVID-19, Virginia Commonwealth University has moved all classes online and the university is operating with mandatory telework in place for most employees.

VCUarts facilities are closed effective Friday, March 20. All scheduled department events for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester are canceled. Ticket holders for Department of Music events and Rennolds Series subscribers will be contacted via email with more information.

The Menuhin Competition has been postponed until May 13-23, 2021. Any tickets purchased for Menuhin Competition events will be honored for the 2021 Competition.

If you wish to receive a ticket refund, please contact musictix@vcu.edu with your order number(s) and the first and last name associated with the order(s).

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we adapt to new operating procedures under COVID-19. The university will continue to post updates at alert.vcu.edu. VCUarts will post updates at blogs.vcu.edu/artsdean.

Music alumni pay it forward

Since graduating from the VCUarts music education program in 1965, Emerson and Kathy Hughes have devoted much of their lives supporting the students in their classrooms. Now, they’re turning their attention back to the students at VCUarts through a $345,000 gift to the Music department.

The funds will provide scholarships for music education students, support the opera program, and offset the cost of hiring accompanists for student performances. It’s also a chance for the Hugheses to express their deep appreciation for the music community that supported them.

“We believe in the idea of paying back for something that was gifted to us,” Kathy says. “Having observed and participated in the music program for many years, we recognize areas that need financial support in order to make students more successful. We look forward to seeing the department’s continued success and even more growth in the years to come.”

Emerson and Kathy met as college students in the early 1960s. After graduation, they pursued careers as music teachers in Henrico County. In 1972, they decided to follow their dream of entrepreneurship and founded Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. The business has since expanded to two locations with 125 employees, and even appeared on the Travel Channel as one of the “10 best places to pamper a pooch.”

Despite the career change, the Hugheses have maintained friendships with many faculty members, such as Wayne Batty, professor emeritus. Their affection for the Music department inspired their daughter Bekah to obtain her Bachelor of Music degree at VCUarts.

That lifelong connection is what inspired Emerson and Kathy as they looked to pay their success forward—and they hope their action encourages others to do the same.

“Having the Hughes family appreciate what we do so much that they would provide this support means more to us than we can articulate,” says Terry Austin, interim chair of music. “In addition to the financial assistance it provides, it is an affirmation of the wonderful work that our faculty and students do every day. We are so happy to have enjoyed the friendship and support of this great family for many years.”


This article originally appeared on the VCUarts blog. 

The passing of retired professor Francile Bilyeu

We are saddened to announce the passing of another member of our vast VCU Music family. Francile Bilyeu, retired professor of flute, passed away at her home on July 29, 2018. Bilyeu taught at VCU for 34 years and retired in 2008. We will always remember her joyful enthusiasm, enduring kindness, dedication to her students, sense of humor, and her immense talent as a flutist and an educator. She will be greatly missed by all of her students, colleagues, friends and family.

Below is the obituary from Richmond Times-Dispatch, which includes details about a memorial service. A celebration of Francile’s life will also be held at VCU this fall, with details to be announced.

BILYEU, Francile Madeline, of Richmond, died at home on Sunday, July 29, 2018. She was preceded in death by her husband of 46 years, Landon A. Bilyeu; and infant daughter, Maura Elizabeth. She is survived by her daughters, Lana Bilyeu (Margaret Collins) and Janice Delong (Henry); grandchildren, Alan (Catherine Pelletier) and Marina Chavez, Fuller and Joanna Collins-Bilyeu and Madeline and Moira Delong; great-grandson, Landon; sister, Janice James; sister-in-law, Karen Bilyeu Smith; and brothers-in-law, Dennis, Jerry and Ron Bilyeu. Francile was a beloved faculty member of the VCU School of Music for 34 years. The family will receive friends 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, August 3, at Bliley’s-Central, 3801 Augusta Ave. A memorial service in celebration of Francile’s life will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, August 4, at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, 4207 Springhill Ave., Richmond, Va. 23225, with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her memory to Good Shepherd Episcopal Church or a charity of your choice.


Terry Austin appointed Interim Chair of VCU Music

Terry Austin, Director of Bands and Professor of Instrumental Music Education, has been appointed the new Interim Chair of the VCU Department of Music.

Under his leadership as Director of Bands and Professor of Music, VCU’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble has earned a reputation for musical excellence and been invited to perform at many professional conferences including the American Bandmasters Association, MENC, the College Band Directors National Association, and the Virginia Music Educators Association. Terry was the recipient of the 2005 Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts Distinguished Achievement Award of Excellence. This academic year marks his 33rd at VCU.

“I am grateful for his commitment to our school and the music department, as well as his willingness to lead through this time of transition,” said Shawn Brixey, Dean of VCU’s School of the Arts. “His experience and commitment to excellence in teaching, research and service will serve us well.”

James Wiznerowicz, previous Interim Chair, has been promoted to Interim Senior Associate Dean in the School of the Arts.

The passing of Assistant Professor Rebecca Tyree

Letter from VCU Arts Dean, Shawn Brixey
May 25, 2018  

Dear faculty, staff and students,

It is with profound sadness that I share with you the tragic news of Rebecca Tyree’s death from a bicycle injury yesterday. She passed away at the hospital last evening in the presence of family and friends.

Faculty members are on campus today to meet with students, including the music department’s interim chair James Wiznerowicz and director of choral activities Erin Freeman.

Becky was a vital and beloved part of our VCUarts community. As assistant professor of choral music education and choral ensembles, she inspired the next generation of choral educators and believed in the transformative power of choral singing. She was deeply devoted to service learning through projects such as SPARC’s Live Art, which trains kids to sing, act, and dance, and the RVA Street Singers, which serves people affected by homelessness in the Richmond community.

Becky was extremely accomplished, dedicated, and decorated as a public school music educator with 25 years of experience prior to joining our faculty in 2000. That dedication continued with her work here, where she was profoundly committed to our music students and to the art of choral singing.

She was adored by her colleagues, students, friends, and family. Her unexpected death comes as a shock to us all.

Our thoughts are with her family. We will pass along information about arrangements when they are known.

With heartfelt sorrow,

Shawn Brixey
Dean | School of the Arts
Special Assistant to the Provost for the School of the Arts in Qatar
Professor | School of the Arts
Affiliate Professor | College of Engineering

A video of Professor Rebecca Tyree’s memorial service can be viewed here and is also available for download through the Second Presbyterian Church’s website.

Rebecca Tyree’s obituary from The Richmond Times Dispatch can be viewed here.

Music senior talks about being first in family to graduate from college

As commencement weekend approaches, VCUarts seniors have plenty to celebrate. For Ricardo Rodriguez, a music education major, the milestone is also an important one for his family, as he becomes the first person in his family to graduate from college.

Rodriguez enrolled at VCU undeclared. He thought about becoming a computer programmer. He considered majoring in business. He kept coming back to music.

He befriended Justin Alexander, Ph.D., director of percussion studies, and Alexander became his mentor. By the time Rodriguez began his practicum, just before he started student teaching, he knew he had made the right decision.

“That’s when I was like, ‘All right, this is becoming a thing — this is awesome, I get to do what I want to do,’” he said. “The first two years are spent learning how to play these instruments and learning how to teach, not actually being in front of the students. When I started my practicum that’s when I was like, ‘This is great. I’m loving this.’”

“I feel very blessed,” he said. “My parents didn’t have any of this. They had to leave school to work for their families. They put in the time to give me something they weren’t able to get.”

Read the full article at VCU News.

Congratulations VCU Music Graduates!

Congratulations to our VCU Music Graduates:

Daniel Adams
Jake Adams
Chris Baker
Taylor Bendus
Matthew Benson
John Bradberry
Georgia Cotter
Colton Dodd
Tristan Dougherty
Minh Vy Duong
Madison Erskine
Kirsten Ferguson
Quinton Folks
Cleandre Foster
Noah Fotis
Chet Frierson
Jason Garland
Alexis Gruber
Samantha Hoster
Jason Kincy
Sean King
Brian Larson
Michelle Lightfoot
Eric Liverman
Randall Mailand
Byron Maldonado
Alexandra Mattson
Phillip McIntosh
Aaron McNair
Ella Mort
Jeromy Myers
Alanna North
Tess Ottinger
Caleb Paxton
Taylor Ramirez
Cody Reifsteck
David Roberts
Ricardo Rodriguez
Alfred Crespo Santiago
Ryne Siesky
Ryan Stubbs
Nathaniel Talbert
Jason Tyler
Jaylen Veal
Peter Vincenti
Scott Waterland
Ashley Weitzel
Savannah Whittenburg
Hayleigh Wilson
Derneeshia Winston

We wish each of you all the best in your future endeavors! Stay in touch and keep VCU Music posted on your great accomplishments!

Congratulations to our 2018 Award Winners:

Outstanding Achievement in Performance
Caleb Paxton
Outstanding Service
Minh Vy Duong
Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship
Alexandra Mattson
Outstanding Achievement in Music Education
Kirsten Ferguson
Award of Excellence in Music
Jason Garland and Alexandra Mattson

From left: Dr. James Wiznerowicz, Caleb Paxton, Minh Vy Duong, Alexandra Mattson, Kirsten Ferguson

Professor Doug Richards Retires After 39 Years at VCU

Professor Doug Richards

After nearly 40 incredible years, professor Doug Richards is retiring from VCU.

Richards joined the VCU faculty in 1979, and founded its Jazz Studies program in 1980. He is regarded as one of the finest jazz composers in the world, as well as a legendary educator and band leader. Richards is the recipient of VCU’s 1997 Outstanding Teaching Award and numerous grants from VCU toward the creation of musical works.

The Classicalite referred to Richards as “one of the most respected composers/arrangers you’ve never heard of” in their review of his 2016 album, “It’s All in the GAME.”

During his time at VCU, Richards has had an incredible impact on the lives of students and faculty alike.

“Doug Richards is the greatest educator I have ever known. He wields passion, honesty, and knowledge like no other. I am a better musician and better person for having had the privilege of learning from this living legend,” stated Pete Anderson, one of Richard’s former students.

Richard’s former students have performed and recorded with many of the world’s leading jazz organizations including the Count Basie Orchestra, the Ray Charles Orchestra, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Village Vanguard Orchestra, as well as with groups led by such major figures as Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Horace Silver, Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln, Cyrus Chestnut, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, James Carter, the Brecker Brothers and many others.

Read more »

Saxophone Instructor Al Regni Retires from VCU

VCU Music’s saxophone instructor, Al Regni, is retiring after 16 years.

Since his start at VCU in 2002, Regni has graced the Department of Music with exceptional teaching and remarkable musical skill. He taught private lessons and led saxophone ensembles, performed as a soloist with the VCU Symphonic Wind Ensemble among other ensembles, and brought stellar performances by his quartet, The American Saxophone Quartet, to VCU.

Regni’s music career has been nothing short of incredible. He began playing the clarinet at age 9 and was introduced to the saxophone at the age of 12. By the time Regni was 16 years old he had performed with with the Rochester (New York) Philharmonic Orchestra, where he worked with renowned conductors, Erich Leinsdor and José Iturbi, launching the start of his career in music. Regni graduated from the Eastman School of Music and Manhattan School of Music, where he majored in clarinet.

In 1963 Regni was asked to become principal saxophonist of the highly esteemed New York Philharmonic, where he continued to perform until 2013. During those years he also served as the principal saxophonist for the New York City Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestras. Regni has appeared as solo saxophonist with the National Symphony, American Symphony, New York Philharmonic, The American Composer’s Orchestra and The Little Orchestra of New York under a number of luminary conductors including Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, Leonard Slatkin, David Gilbert and Dennis Russell Davies.

Read more »

Music Alumna Continues Fulbright in Indonesia

Hannah Standiford (BA ’11) was named a Fulbright scholar in 2017 and continues her studies by documenting traditional forms of Indonesian music.

“It took me all summer to write the two-page proposal, but it was worth it,” Standiford said. “I’m really grateful for the [National Scholarship Office] at VCU. Having somebody to help me through the steps and take me through a mock Fulbright panel was a huge help.”

Standiford is currently living on the island of Medanau in Belitung, Indonesia. She is documenting the stambul fajar through recordings, writing and interviews with the island’s only veteran of the music, Achmadi, and another local, Jabing, who recently received funding from the local government to preserve the music.

“[Stambul fajar] music is extremely endangered,” Standiford said. “What we’re hoping to do is preserve a facet of human expression that is specific to the people on this island and nowhere else in the world.”

Read the full article in VCU News.

Image: Hannah Standiford, left front, performing at the Pasar Keroncong Kotagede, an annual keroncong festival held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Image credit via Hannah Standiford for VCU News.