The magazine for the Department of Music & Theatre at
Iowa State University

A note from the department chair

It was a challenging spring, but I am so proud of the Department of Music and Theatre. Our students, faculty and staff have handled the many changes with spirits “true and valiant.”

Music and Theatre are interactive experiences, and with one or two exceptions, our department typically does not offer online courses. With heroic effort and creative solutions, our faculty moved all our classes, continuation exams, studios and performance juries online this March. Our students rose to the occasion in every way, from interacting with accompanists through recordings to performing recitals via webcast. I am especially proud of our graduating seniors. Their resilience and flexibility during their last college semester will show up in their long-term success, and I believe they will help lead the arts in adapting to new environments.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 required us to postpone some incredible global learning opportunities — a Wind Ensemble tour in Japan, a Cantamus tour in Bulgaria and an Opera Studio outreach trip to Vancouver. We hope to reschedule next year or provide other opportunities.

Despite those disappointments, there were many causes for celebration this year: the ISUCF’V’MB performed beautifully at the Alamo Bowl — with new uniforms and sousaphones, thanks to generous donor support. Our music and theatre programs partnered on programs for ISU Theatre’s “HERoic” season. We honored our Outstanding Alumnus in Music, Adam McDonald (‘05 music), at the LAS Honors and Awards Ceremony. Adam was the conductor of the national tour of “Wicked” for eight years. Jonathan Govias, director of orchestral activities, brought the “Symphony of Diversity” to Iowa State. And most visibly, we joyfully celebrated a new chapter for a campus building that holds dear memories for many of you — the naming of Simon Estes Music Hall.

We applauded the promotions of several faculty this spring: Christopher Hopkins, professor of music; Amanda Petefish-Schrag, associate professor of theatre; Julie Sturm, professor of teaching; Mike Giles, professor of teaching; and Christian Carichner, associate professor of teaching. We say thank you to Kathleen Rodde, associate teaching professor of music and conductor of Cantamus and Lyrica, who is retiring after 20 years of dedicated service. We welcome Sara Compton (’80 music), new administrative assistant for ensembles and the chair.

Music, as you know, has the power to inspire, to comfort, to heal and to give great joy. As we all continue to navigate challenging times, I wish you and your families the very best — with much music to help guide your way.

Donald Simonson
Chair of the Department of Music and Theatre