Student Recitals & Studio Performances

VCU Music sponsors and hosts over 200 concerts and events on campus and around Richmond each year. Student degree recitals and studio recitals are listed below.

Menuhin Competition Postponed Until 2021

In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and in line with recommendations from both international and U.S. public health officials, the Menuhin Competition Trust and the Richmond Symphony have decided to postpone the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 until May 13-23, 2021.

Participants, jurors and guest artists

All 44 competitors who were selected for the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 have been invited to participate in the rescheduled Competition. The competitors will play the same repertoire and will participate in the same division for which they qualified in 2020, even if they have aged out of this division in the intervening year. Updated information about participating competitors, jurors and guest artists will be released later this spring. Early indications suggest that many of our participants will happily be able to join us in May 2021, including the Sphinx Virtuosi, Mark and Maggie O’Connor, Regina Carter, and Intermission; as well as conductors Jahja Ling and Andrew Litton.

“I look forward to welcoming all the competitors, jurors, artists-in-residence and the audience to the Menuhin Competition next May,” said Gordon Back, Artistic Director of the Menuhin Competition. “Despite the world-wide coronavirus crisis causing us to postpone this year’s event, we are working hard with our partners, who really have made Herculean efforts to reschedule and ensure the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021 is the most successful Competition ever!”

“I am positive that it will be a brilliant success,” Back added, “and as Menuhin himself said, ‘Our young gifted violinists will be the ambassadors of goodwill.’”

Executive Director of the Richmond Symphony, David Fisk, said on behalf of the host consortium of partners, “All of us involved in the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 regret the need to postpone the event, but recognize the imperative to avoid any large gatherings until the COVID-19 danger has lifted. In the meantime, we hope everyone stays safe and healthy; music can be a source of uplift for all of us during this difficult and uncertain time. We look forward with great anticipation to hosting the Menuhin Competition in 2021, eagerly welcoming ‘the Olympics of the Violin’ to Richmond next May instead. The city is ready, our partners are ready, and during the coming year, we’ll work to make next year’s Competition even bigger and better than before.”

Ticketing information

If you purchased tickets to any of the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 events, those tickets will be honored in 2021. You will be contacted by box office staff to confirm your tickets or you can be issued a refund should you be unable to attend the Richmond 2021 Competition.

If you have questions, please contact the VCU Music Box Office at musictix@vcu.edu, or Menuhin Competition Marketing & Sales Coordinator Ashley Davis at 804-788-4717 ext. 124 or adavis@richmondsymphony.com.

Al Petteway and Amy White (July 10)

2020 Guitar and Other Strings Series (28th season)

Friday, July 10, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts

General admission $15
Non-VCU Student $10
Free for VCU students with ID
Click here to purchase tickets.

Al Petteway and Amy White, Grammy Award-Winning Guitarist, Indie Award-Winning DuoAl Petteway and Amy White have long been a favorite, with their eclectic repertoire that includes original, traditional, contemporary Celtic- and Appalachian-influenced music with occasional nods to Blues, New Age, and Jazz. Their performances feature acoustic guitar, mandolin, Celtic harp, piano, banjo, mountain dulcimer, and some of the finest vocals you’ll hear in any genre.

Before moving from the Washington, DC area to the mountains of Western North Carolina, Al & Amy won several Governor’s Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council, and a grand total of 50 WAMMIE Awards from the Washington Area Music Association including “Musician of the Year.” Together, they won an Indie award for Gratitude, their album of original, groove-oriented instrumental guitar duets. Al went on to win a GRAMMY for his contribution to the album “Pink Guitar, The Music of Henry Mancini” and was voted one of the Top 50 Guitarists of all time by the readers of Acoustic Guitar Magazine where he also won Silver and Bronze medals in the magazine’s “Players’ Choice Awards.”

Al and Amy’s music has been featured on a number of Ken Burns documentary films, most notably the soundtrack of the Ken Burns EMMY-winning documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Their album, “Caledon Wood,” (which includes the main theme of the National Parks documentary) was counted among the essential albums of the past 20 years in the Acoustic Guitar Magazine 20th anniversary issue. Al and Amy have released over 20 full-length recordings, and over a dozen instructional DVDs and books. They are visual artists as well, and their photography is represented by NatGeoCreative, the stock photo agency for the National Geographic Society.

“Al and Amy enrapture audiences with elegant musicianship. Their rich melodies and intricately textured arrangements evoke magic and mystery.” Garth Ross, KENNEDY CENTER MILLENNIUM STAGE


Banjo Masters: John Bullard and Adam Larrabee (July 17)

2020 Guitar and Other Strings Series (28th season)

Friday, July 17, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts

General admission $15
Non-VCU Student $10
Free for VCU students with ID
Click here to purchase tickets.

Over the course of his performing and recording career, John Bullard has invited audiences to share in a transformative revelation: to experience the artistic marriage of banjo and classical music. “Absolutely enchanting,” writes critic Graham Rickson of the UK-based The Arts Desk. “A musical education and experience that broke genre barriers,” noted Morgan Morrison, program director for the performance space The Barns of Rose Hill.

With qualities evocative of harpsichord and lute, the banjo makes a natural place for itself in particular within the works of Bach and other composers of the Baroque—and Bullard has established a strong repertoire in the music of that period. Yet he continues as well to expand the banjo’s classical reach, with a growing focus on new commissioned works.

As a classically trained musician and the first graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music to earn a degree in performance with the banjo, Bullard has toured and performed throughout the United States. He has produced three album-length recordings; the most recent, with works by Romantic and Baroque composers, was recorded at the Toronto studios of Canterbury Music, with accompaniment from more than a dozen musicians and an eight-person choir. His recordings have been featured in films including the Dreamworks movie Rise of the Guardians and the award-winning Turkish-German drama The Edge of Heaven. He is the author of Bach for Banjo and Scales and Arpeggios for Classical Banjo, and he has taught classical banjo at workshops and as a faculty member of Cairn University.

“John’s artistry and ability to present the banjo as a classical instrument was amazing.” Music on Market Series, Wilmington, N.C.


Adam Larrabee has appeared as a sideman on Bruce Hornsby’s album Spirit Trail and has involved himself in a wide variety of projects in the past few years from playing banjo in the bluegrass group Joy Kills Sorrow, guitar in the chamber-jazz group Andromeda, classical mandolin with The Richmond Classical Guitar Quartet and mandocello with Enigmatica, recording and performing with rising jazz prodigy Grace Kelly, and his exploration of the music of Central France with Le Bon Vent. In 2006, he won an Independent Music Award for his composition Norwegian Slip in the world/fusion category. Most recently, Adam has released a duo CD with pianist Bob Hallahan entitled The Street Where You Live in addition to a recreation of Duke Ellington’s classic recording Money Jungle recording with his current trio with drummer Brian Jones and bassist Randall Pharr. In October 2009, Adam played banjo with Love Canon, backing up rising pop/folk star Josh Ritter on a sold out two week tour of Ireland. In Oct 2010 Adam traveled to Ankara, Turkey for the Haceteppe Konservatory Jazz Festival and played in the premiere of Ben Seni Variations, a work for Orchestra and Jazz Octet by Doug Richards. Adam taught jazz theory, composition and arranging at The New England Conservatory in Boston for nine years and currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has taught classical and jazz guitar at Virginia Commonwealth University, and banjo and mandolin at the University of Virginia. He currently heads the classical guitar and jazz guitar programs at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

“Adam deploys the full panoply of banjo techniques available to a 21st-century player—rolling, melodic, and single-string—with great facility and musicality.” Banjo Newsletter

Quatro na Bossa (July 24)

2020 Guitar and Other Strings Series (28th season)

Friday, July 24, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts

General admission $15
Non-VCU Student $10
Free for VCU students with ID
Click here to purchase tickets.

Laura Ann Singh and Kevin Harding formed Quatro na Bossa in 2003 from a shared interest in the history of Brazilian popular music. Bassist Rusty Farmer and drummer and composer Scott Clark complete the quartet. Originally exploring compositions from the era of bossa nova (ca. 1960), they now play from a large list of Brazilian songs from different regions and time periods.

Kevin has had lessons with Brazilian guitarists Romero Lubambo and Toninho Horta, and in Rio de Janeiro with choro guitarist Bilinho Teixeira, and Laura Ann has studied with sambista Fabiana Cozza in Sao Paulo.  In addition to gigging in Virginia and the DC area, the quartet has performed many times at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (Jazz at Lincoln Center), with guests Nilson Matta, Maucha Adnet, Romero Lubambo, Rogerio Boccato, and Harry Allen. Also in New York, they recorded their first album Summer Samba for the Japanese label Venus Records, with collaborators Adriano Santos (drums) and Rodrigo Ursaia (saxophone). In the fall of 2012 the quartet released their second CD, Bossa Nossa.

Quatro na Bossa hopes to illuminate the power of Brazilian popular music to traverse boundaries of language and culture, place and time.

“They add the rich and satisfying flavor of Brazil to the Richmond music scene.”


The VCU Community Guitar Ensemble with guest artists (July 26)

Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 4 p.m.
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
Free admission

The VCU Community Guitar Ensemble consists of 25 talented classical guitarists from Central Virginia. Established in 1986 by John Patykula, this ensemble has performed as part of the Richmond International Music Festival and Richmond’s Big Gig summer festival. It is the resident ensemble for VCU’s Guitar and Other Strings Series. The VCU Community Guitar Ensemble has been featured on local television and on WCVE-FM’s An Hour with the Guitar.

Special guests include soprano Lisa Edwards-Burrs, classical banjoist John Bullard, and the Robinson Guitar Duo.

VCUarts Music COVID-19 Updates

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. Music faculty and staff are working remotely and are best reached by email for the foreseeable future. Visit our faculty directory for contact information.

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.

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 due to COVID-19. The university will continue to post updates at alert.vcu.edu. VCUarts will post updates at blogs.vcu.edu/artsdean.

“Show the Love” VCU Jazz Band Documentary

“Show the Love” is a short documentary that was filmed by VCU student Nicholas Smith. The film gives a behind the scenes look into VCU Jazz Orchestra I. The documentary also features VCUarts Music professors Taylor Barnett, J.C. Kuhl, and Antonio García.

Congratulations Virginia NATS Winners 2020

Congratulations to the Virginia NATS Winners 2020!  The students listed below were recognized at the auditions of the Virginia chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) at Old Dominion University on February 14, 2020.  Students who placed earned the top scores in their respective groups, while those who received honors scored at least 90 out of 100 possible points.

Lower College Treble
2nd place – Jhilian Bremby – student of Margaret Woods
Honors – Gemauria Fennell – student of Margaret Woods
Felicia Josey – student of Cynthia Donnell
Katarina Izdepski – student of Kenneth Wood
Allison Yablonski – student of Sarah Walston
Helena Ruiz – student of Michelle Gulick and Melanie Day
Kari Nordvig – student of Margaret Woods
Cvana Clarkson – student of Margaret Woods

Lower College TBB
2nd place – Jaden Brown – student of Kenneth Wood and Melanie Day
Honors – Zachary Short – student of Kenneth Wood
Travis Krickovic – student of Cynthia Donnell

Fourth/Fifth Year Treble
1st place – Jasmin Ward – student of Cynthia Donnell and Melanie Day

Third Year TBB
2nd place – Jonathan Carr – student of Cynthia Donnell and Melanie Day
3rd place – Jared Robles – student of Margaret Woods

Fourth/Fifth Year TBB
1st place – Kevin Mann – student of Kenneth Wood and Melanie Day


Those who scored 90 or above at the chapter level are eligible to compete at the regional level, which comprises South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. This year the regional auditions will take place at the University of South Carolina on March 13-14.

VCU Opera professor Melanie Kohn Day published in Classical Singer Magazine

VCU opera professor, Melanie Kohn Day, recently interviewed prominent Broadway performer and director Dorothy Danner for Classical Singer Magazine. Day has brought Danner to work with her students three times in the past 10 years. Danner talks about her career as a dancer, actress, choreographer, and director.

Will you tell us about your start as a dancer, actress, and choreographer? 

I started dance lessons (ballet and a bit of tap) at 8. I started dancing as an equity union summer stock professional at 15 in St. Louis. I was not even able to attend my own high school graduation ceremony because at 18 I was hired for Broadway’s touring show of Li’l Abner and had to move to New York during the week of my graduation. I had already done 30 shows in St. Louis working 63 hours a week. Of course, in those days, there were no dance departments in colleges, so this was my only option. 

I had my very first vocal solo in this Broadway show. I’d never sung onstage before! Anyhow, I had a solo at the top of the show (she laughs) and it was scary. A few months after it closed, that show led to being hired for Once Upon a Mattress. I learned discipline and courage from the leading master of Broadway George Abbott, clowning from Carol Burnett, and physicalizing and comic dance ideas from Joe Layton. 

Did you have voice and acting lessons at some point? 

When I was 18, I realized what you had to do to stay in this business, so I started taking voice lessons from a teacher I had toured with in Li’l Abner. Someone eventually sent me to a voice teacher named Madame Tweety [laughter]—it was a Broadway style of singing. But she did make me sing Schumann’s “Ich grolle nicht.” I just had minimal talent as a singer. But I didn’t understand that until I started working in opera. 

Then, when I got hired for Once Upon a Mattress, Jane White (who was playing Queen Aggravain and who was a brilliant actress) watched me in rehearsal for two days and said, “You’re coming to my acting classes.” There was no choice with her! She saw some instincts in me, so she felt I should start training right away. She was a very technical teacher. 

I studied with her for years and then had another teacher after that for years as well. If you don’t get to go to university for training, then you have to figure it out yourself and keep your eyes open. Thank goodness I was always lucky enough to be employed, so I saturated myself by learning on the job. 

How did you get your start as a choreographer? 

Well, I fell into it because somebody opened a door and said, “We need your help!” And then I did Broadway show after Broadway show. At 22, I stopped doing it because I wanted to use the acting skills and comedy skills I had learned. So I did tons of industrial shows (they paid well) and then returned to Broadway about three years later.


Read the full article at Classical Singer Magazine.

Music professor’s love-hate relationship with practicing inspires guided practice journal

There’s help for musicians who need a little positive jolt in their practice routine. A Virginia Commonwealth University music professor has written a guided practice journal to help ignite their passion for practicing and help take them to the next level of playing.

“Many musicians feel they have no choice in the matter, they must make music,” said Susanna Klein, assistant professor of violin and coordinator of strings at the VCU School of the Arts. “For us, practicing has become a way of life.”

To help fellow musicians who are also driven to practice — which, she said, includes professionals, students and recreational players — Klein created the “Practizma Practice Journal: 16 weeks of Efficiency, Empowerment & Joy for Musicians.”

The book is a journey in creativity, discipline, courage and grit. It includes prompts for reflections, action challenges and goal-setting exercises. The reflections slow down the process and help connect musicians to what is important. For instance, one prompt asks you to write what makes practicing easy and what makes it difficult. Another asks you to recount your most meaningful experiences in music.

Read the full article at VCU News.