Sherrill Roland ’09, ’17 MFA awarded the Fellowship in Documentary Arts from Duke University

SHERRILL ROLAND has been awarded the Center for Documentary Studies’ 2018-19 Post-MFA Fellowship in the Documentary Arts. He will be in residence at the Center for Documentary Studies for 10 months. He is the founder of the acclaimed Jumpsuit Project, intended to raise awareness around issues related to incarceration. Rolland created the Jumpsuit Project after a wrongful conviction just as he had started his last year of grad school in 2013. He was exonerated of all charges in 2015 and returned to UNCG to complete his degree. For his MFA thesis project, Sherrill wore an orange jumpsuit every day and documented his interactions with the public until his graduation in spring 2017. Rolland has shared The Jumpsuit Project around the country with speaking  engagements and performances at many educational institutions and museums. Read more here.  (image by Todd Turner)

Follow Rolland’s project by visiting the following links:

@JumpsuitProject on Twitter
the.jumpsuit.project on Instagram.


Connie McKoy and Andrew Willis

Drs. Constance McKoy and Andrew Willis Appointed Covington Distinguished Professors in Music

The UNCG School of Music is pleased to announce that Dr. Constance McKoy and Dr. Andrew Willis have been appointed Marion Stedman Covington Distinguished Professors in Music for a five-year term, effective Fall 2019.

Dr. Connie McKoy is Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the UNCG School of Music, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate music education courses. She holds a BM in Music Education from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and MM and PhD degrees from UNCG. She has 19 years of public school teaching experience as a general music teacher, choral director, and band assistant. Her research, which has been presented nationally and internationally, has focused on children’s world music preferences, music teachers’ cross-cultural competence, and culturally responsive pedagogy in music. In 2017, she participated in the Yale Symposium on Music in Schools and contributed to the resulting document, The Declaration on Equity in Music for City Students. Dr. McKoy is co-author of Culturally Responsive Teaching in Music Education: From Understanding to Application, published by Routledge. She is a past president of the North Carolina Music Educators Association, and is the Immediate Past Chair of the Society for Music Teacher Education, an affiliated society of the National Association for Music Education.

For several decades Dr. Andrew Willis has explored the historical development of keyboard instruments and their performance practice while maintaining a commitment to the study, performance, and teaching of the widest possible range of repertoire. Keenly interested in the history of the piano, he participates frequently in conferences, concert series, and festivals. A past president of the Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society and a Trustee of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, he served a finals juror of the Westfield International Fortepiano Competition in 2011. Dr. Willis teaches performance on instruments ranging from harpsichord to modern piano and since 2003 has directed the biennial Focus on Piano Literature symposium, for which he commissioned, premiered, and recorded Martin Amlin’s Sonata No. 7 (2000). He has recorded solo and ensemble music on historically contemporaneous pianos of three centuries for the Albany, Bridge, Claves, Centaur, and CRI labels, with collaborators including Julianne Baird, soprano, Brent Wissick, cello, and Sue Ann Kahn, flute. His recording of Op. 106 for the first complete Beethoven sonata cycle on period instruments was hailed by The New York Times as “a ‘Hammerklavier’ of rare stature.” Willis received the D.M.A. in Historical Performance from Cornell University, where he studied fortepiano with Malcolm Bilson, the M.M. in Accompanying from Temple University under George Sementovsky and Lambert Orkis, and the B.M. in Piano from The Curtis Institute of Music, where his mentor was Mieczyslaw Horszowski.

Marion Stedman Covington was born and raised in Asheboro, North Carolina, where her father was a textile manufacturer and founder of the Stedman Corporation. She spent most of her life in North Carolina, and it is in this area that she focused her generosity. Mrs. Covington had a long history of volunteerism and philanthropy in the fields of the arts, education, and historical preservation. She provided endowments and scholarships to colleges and universities throughout the state of North Carolina.

Teri Bickham

Soprano Theresa Bickham Appointed to School of Music Faculty

The UNCG School of Music is pleased to announce that soprano Theresa Bickham has been appointed to the faculty as Assistant Professor of Voice effective Fall 2019.

Bickham has been praised for her “fine piano nuances” and “expressive legato line.” She made her European debut in 2007 singing scenes from La Traviata under the direction of Maestro Eduardo Müller. Most recently, Ms. Bickham was seen internationally as a semi-finalist in the Concorso Lirico Internazionale per Cantanti lirici Rosa Ponselle in Caiazzo, Italy. She has been seen on the operatic stage as Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Adina in L’Elisir d’amore, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Musetta in La Bohéme, Arminda in La finta giardiniera, Constanza Piccolatura in Impresario, Frasquita in Carmen, Monica in The Medium, and Bessie in Mahagonny Songspiel, Princess in A Bird in Your Ear and Terentia in The Beautiful Bridegroom. No stranger to the musical theatre stage, Ms. Bickham has also performed the roles of The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, Tess in Crazy for You, Nancy in Oliver, and Mrs. Macafee in ByeBye Birdie among others.

A native of Maryland, Ms. Bickham has been a frequent guest artist throughout the United States and Europe. Concert appearances include Orff’s Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, Fauré’s Requiem, Brahms’ Requiem, Vaughn Williams’ Serenade to Music, Bach’s Cantata 25 and Magnificat, Mozart’s RequiemCoronation Mass and Solemn Vespers, and Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat. She has also been the winner of many competitions including: The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions – Mid-Atlantic Regional Finalist, Palm Beach Opera Advanced Division Semi-Finalist, Shreveport Opera Singer of the Year Finalist, MD/DC National Association of Teacher’s of Singing, Henry Sanborn Competition, Peggy Friedman-Gordon Competition, Moores Opera Center Concerto Competition, and the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Houston.

Ms. Bickham earned a Master of Music degree from the Moores Opera Center at the University of Houston and a Bachelor of Music degree from Towson University. She received additional training as a young artist at Opera New Jersey and AIMS in Graz. Ms. Bickham is currently completing the Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Maryland and was most recently the Voice Division Leader and Lecturer in Voice at Towson University.

UNC Greensboro School of Theatre Students Visit the American Shakespeare Center

By UNC Greensboro School of Theatre Student Lexie Simerly

On April 14, 2019 a group of current and former UNCG theatre students traveled up to Staunton, VA, with Associate Professor, John Gulley, to the American Shakespeare Center. They participated in a workshop and saw a production of Henry IV, Part 1. 

 The students who participated in the trip all have an interest in Shakespeare and a curiosity that was piqued when professor John Gulley made the offer to take the students up to see a performance. It’s no secret that Early Modern English is a challenge for many modern readers. Shakespeare wrote these texts not to be read, but to be performed and heard. One of the things that the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) excels at is bringing these classic pieces of literature to life.

One element the ASC uses to make these shows more relatable to a contemporary audience is by playing popular music before the show and during intermission. For Henry IV, they opened the show with the character Prince Hal singing “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan.  Students also heard  Hotspur perform “DNA” by Kendrick Lamar. Both songs were not only perfectly in-tune with the characters that sang them, but they also thrilled the audience members who knew the lyrics and could sing along.

 Jordan Willis, a senior in the Theatre BA program, made this trip because she hopes to one day work at ASC. She has traveled up to Staunton nine times in the last year and has seen over 20 productions.

“I think the ASC is a wonderful organization. I first saw them tour in my hometown four years ago, and I’ve dreamed of working with them ever since. They have an incredible education department that is passionate about teaching about the beauty and life in Shakespeare’s works. That’s a mission I would love to be a part of someday.”

After the show was over, they had a talk-back with ASC actor Benjamin Reed, who played Douglas and other characters in Henry IV. Students were able to ask him questions about life as a professional actor, his experience as a fight choreographer, and more about how the ASC handles Renaissance era staging in their productions.

Shakespeare will never die out or go away. Taking the opportunity to see his work performed live is important as a growing actor, writer, teacher, and director. Seeing the shows performed is the best way to learn; you can sit in a classroom all day long, but it will never be anything like seeing the work of art come to life right in front of you.



UNCG Alumna Beth Leavel nominated for TONY Award

UNC Greensboro Alumna Beth Leavel, MFA ’80 has just received another Tony nomination, this one for her role as Dee Dee Allen in the hit Broadway musical, THE PROMThe nomination was announced this morning by The American Theatre Wing.

Ms. Leavel holds a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for THE DROWSY CHAPERONE in 2006.   THE PROM is her twelfth Broadway show.  She debuted in 42ND STREET in 2001 and other credits include YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, MAMMA MIA, BANDSTAND and ELF.

Beth Leavel attended Meredith for her undergraduate degree in social work, but she had been bitten by the acting bug and decided to pursue graduate work in theatre.  She says her selection of UNCG’s MFA program was a great decision.

A group of UNCG Trustees and supporters saw THE PROM in mid-April and after the show Ms. Leavel joined the group for a private talkback.  She credited UNCG Faculty with helping her find her voice and her passion.   She says it was important to be surrounded by “like minds and supportive teachers”.

In THE PROM,  Ms. Leavel plays one of four fading Broadway stars in desperate need of a new stage.  They travel to a small town in Indiana to help a student bring her girlfriend to the prom, and in hopes of using their involvement in the cause to help jumpstart their careers.

Her show-stopping solo is “The Lady’s Improving”(watch it here),  but it’s almost impossible to imagine Beth Leavel getting any better.  Congratulations Beth!

THE PROM opened at the Longacre Theatre on November 15th, and the show has a total of 7 Tony nominations.  Winners will be announced during the 73rd Annual Tony Awards Presentation on Sunday June 9th, televised on CBS.

Photo credit:  Publicity photo from THE PROM