Featured Alumni

Our graduates have excelled in a wide range of musical careers. They have become highly acclaimed composers, published music historians, professional orchestral musicians, recorded songwriters, film music arrangers, presidents of major arts organizations, choir directors, recording engineers, conductors, and (yes) even rock stars.

Here is a small sample of our many alumni who have pursued musical careers.

Douglas Boyce ’92

Boyce majored in Physics and Music at Williams and earned his M.M. from the University of Oregon and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His work has been awarded the League of Composers ISCM Composers Award (2005), the Salvatore Martirano Prize (2006), and the Robert Avalon Prize (2010). He is Associate Professor and Chair of Music at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and is a founding member of the New York new music collective counter)induction.

Amy Champagne ’87

After Williams, mezzo-soprano Amy Champagne went on to earn a Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan. Since then, she has performed as a soloist with the Hartford Symphony, Connecticut Opera, Opera Express, Greater New Britain Opera, CONCORA, and Simsbury Light Opera. She joined the Hartt School of Music faculty in 1994. Champagne received the D.H. Baldwin Fellowship for Excellence in Piano Teaching, awarded by the Baldwin Piano and Organ Company.

Brian Coughlin ’95

A composer and bassist, Brian was a founding member and director of the new music Fireworks Ensemble. Brian has performed hundreds of concerts throughout the United States in venues ranging from venerable classical music institutions such as the Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, to prominent jazz venues such as the Saratoga Jazz Festival, to major rock clubs such as Toad’s Place in New Haven.

Anthony Cummings ’73

Cummings is a Professor of Music at Lafayette University where he has also served as Provost and Dean of the Faculty. He earned his Ph.D. in historical musicology from Princeton University and is a specialist in European music of the medieval and early-modern periods and in early jazz.

Richard Giarusso ’00

After undergraduate study in music and English at Williams College, Giarusso earned a Ph.D. in historical musicology from Harvard University. He then joined the department of musicology at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in the fall of 2007. His research has since focused on the music of Schubert, Bruckner, Mahler, and Vaughan Williams. In addition to academic work, Giarusso maintains an active career as a singer and conductor throughout the Northeast.

John Graham ’83

John Graham has written scores for over a dozen feature films, video games, television series, documentaries, and trailers for movies and video games. He scored the epic Japanese series, “Kirin Ga Kuru,” or “Awaiting Kirin,” for NHK in Japan. Films include “Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV” starring Sean Bean, Aaron Paul, and Lena Headey. He has also provided music for Square Enix, The Creative Assembly, Disney, LucasArts, Universal, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, ABC, CBS and many others.

Judd Greenstein ’01

Judd attended the Yale School of Music and Princeton University after graduating from Williams. He has been a key figure in the new music scene and has written for soloists such as violist Nadia Sirota, soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird, and percussionist Samuel Solon. His work has been heard at festivals around the country, including the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, MusicNow, Southern Exposure, and the Grand Canyon Music Festival. In addition, Judd is the co-director of New Amsterdam Records and the curator of the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York’s Merkin Hall.

Jason Howland ’93

Grammy Award winning producer and Emmy Award winning arranger Jason Howland has also been nominated for a Tony as a producer. He is the composer of Broadway’s 2005 TONY nominated Little Women – The Musical. Howland was nominated for a Tony Award in 1999 for co-producing the The Lonesome West, and won an Emmy Award in 2007 for creating and composing the Christmas special Handel’s Messiah Rocks for the Boston Pops. He arranged and supervised The Carole King Musical for which he won a Grammy Award, among his many other credits.

Lisa Kable-Blanchard ’91

A long-time stage manager for the Los Angeles Opera Lisa has amassed experience in her field with Opera Colorado, Opera Pacific, Utah Symphony & Opera, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

Art Lande ’69

A Grammy-nominated jazz musician, Lande is an internationally known pianist, composer, improviser, drummer, and educator who has performed with a long list of the Who’s Who in jazz. His band, Rubisa Patrol, was formed in the mid 70’s and worked through 1983, traveling to Europe often and recording with ECM Records.

Paul LaRosa ’02

Baritone Paul LaRosa graduated from Williams College with majors in English and Philosophy. LaRosa then attended Juilliard. He has since been heard as Junius in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia for the Chateauville Foundation, as Achilla in Handel’s Guilio Cesare at Glimmerglass Opera as a member of their Young American Artists Program, and as Dandini in Rossini’s La cenerentola during a summer residency with the San Francisco Opera Merola Program. LaRosa has also been a member of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

James O’Leary ’04

Jamie is the Frederick R. Selch Assistant Professor of Musicology at Oberlin College, having earned his Masters degree at Oxford University and Ph.D. at Yale. As a specialist in popular music and opera, he has focussed his research on Broadway musicals of the 1940s. O’Leary has lectured for the Metropolitan Opera and has worked as a pianist, music director, and arranger for the Yale School of Drama, the American Repertory Theater Oberon Stage, and the Williamstown Theater Festival.

Carl Leafstedt ’86

After graduating from Williams, Carl went on to receive a Ph.D. in music history from Harvard University. He has taught at Southwestern University, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Duke University and has been on the faculty at Trinity University since 2001, where he served as Chair of the Music Department from 2006-12. His research interests center on music of the 20th century, with emphasis on the music of Béla Bartók.

Chris Lightcap ’93

Chris is a professional jazz bassist and composer. In addition to his work as a sideman, he has led a variety of bands since 2000 and has produced three critically acclaimed albums of original music. In 2011 Chamber Music America awarded Lightcap a “New Jazz Works” commission grant.

Allegra Martin ’99

After earning her DMA in Choral Music from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a dissertation focused on the cantatas of Margaret Bonds and Langston Hughes, Allegra Martin, , a recognized performer and educator, was named Director of College Choirs at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Andrea Mazzariello ’00

Composer, performer, writer, and teacher Andrea Mazzariello has counted among his musical practices writing songs, making electronic music, and working in notated traditions. He has taught composition and music technology at Carleton College since 2015, and has directed the composition program at the Sō Percussion Summer Institute.

Richard J. Miller, Jr. ’86

A highly successful New York attorney, Rich has also maintained an active career as a tenor, performing in many of the works of Gilbert & Sullivan and Victor Herbert, with professional and amateur companies, international festivals, and college organizations. In 2003, Mr. Miller was designated “Best Male Voice” at the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Buxton, England. In 2013, he was the tenor soloist in the Williams College Choir performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Rich has served as the President of the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

Adam Mirza ’00

As a professor in composition at Emory University in Atlanta Adam Mirza’s research interests include experimental and electronic music, immersive music theater, critical approaches to music technology, avant-garde aesthetics, and DIY concert organizing. Among his many credits he has worked closely with new music performers and ensembles such as the International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet, Argento Ensemble, New Thread Quartet, and the Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble.

Jeffrey Perry ’82

In addition to a B.A. from Williams College, Perry holds an M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts and a Ph.D. from Princeton University. In August 1994, Perry joined the faculty of Louisiana State University. Perry was previously a member of the Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill music faculties. He has been a Fellow of the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory in both 2004 and 2006. His work has been published in College Music Symposium, Perspectives of New Music, Indiana Theory Review, Journal of Musicology, 19th-Century Music, Music Theory Online, and Music Theory Spectrum.

Greg Pliska ’84

Greg Pliska has been recognized as a composer, conductor, and orchestrator whose diverse career includes award-winning work in theater, film, television and other media. Greg was the music director for the Tony-winning play War Horse for which he also won a web award for Best Musical Direction of a Play and has also served on the faculty of the Screen Scoring Program at NYU’s Steinhardt School as well as Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at New York University, and as a teaching artist for the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan School of Music.

Paul Rardin ’87

Paul Rardin joined the faculty of Temple University as director of choral activities in 2011. He has conducted the Concert Choir, while teaching graduate conducting, and overseeing the six-choir program at Temple’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. He previously taught at the University of Michigan and Towson University, where his choirs appeared with the Kirov Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Baltimore Choral Arts Society. Rardin has served as a guest conductor for all-state choirs in twelve states, for divisional honor choirs for the ACDA and Music Educators National Conference, and for Manhattan Concert Productions at Lincoln Center.

John Morris Russell ’82

Russell earned his Master of Music degree in conducting from the University of Southern California. In December 2010, Russell was named conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Russell has since consistently won international praise for music-making and leadership. As Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Russell fostered a decade of artistic growth in the region. In May 2011, the University of Windsor announced that Russell would receive an honorary degree during its spring convocation for his invigoration of musical life in Windsor, Ontario. In 2015 he was named Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Nicolas Schidlovsky ’76

Nicolas received his Ph.D. in Music from Princeton University and has been active as a pianist, historical ethnomusicologist, composer, and vocal (liturgical) collegium director. He has taught at Westminster Choir College and Westminster Conservatory of Rider University and has delivered public lectures at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Smithsonian Institution. After graduating from Williams, he was a participant in a premier exchange as an American music student at the Moscow Conservatory, U.S.S.R., 1978-80.

Vivien Shotwell ’03

Canadian-American mezzo-soprano Vivien Shotwell performed the title role in Britten’s Rape of Lucretia and Romeo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e I Montechhi with the Yale Opera. Vivian has been a soloist with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra New England. She was the 2012 recipient of the David L. Kasdon Memorial Prize for an outstanding singer in the Yale School of Music, and was twice a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In addition to her musical career, Shotwell published Vienna Nocturne in Spring 2014 with Ballantine Books and Doubleday Canada.

Stephen Sondheim ’50

Sondheim received the Hutchinson Prize for Music Competition at Williams College. After graduating magna cum laude in 1950, Sondheim went on to study composition with composer Milton Babbitt. Sondheim is widely considered to be one of the most important composers and lyricists in the history of musical theatre. In addition to music for movies, including Dick Tracy (1990), he received an Academy Award for Best Song. Sondheim was president of the Dramatists Guild from 1973 to 1981. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for “Sunday in the Park with George” in 1985 and received the Kennedy Center Honors, Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. On September 15, 2010, the BBC Proms staged a concert in his honor.

Raymond Sprague ’69

Sprague retired from Davidson College after serving at the University of New Orleans as the Virginia Koch Professor of Music, associate chair of the Music Department, and director of choral activities. He also founded the Louisiana Vocal Arts Chorale and served as artistic director for seven years.

Marica Tacconi ’92

Marica Tacconi joined the faculty in 1998 at the Penn State School of Music as Professor of Musicology. She pursued graduate studies at Yale after graduating from Williams and her dissertation (“Liturgy and Chant at the Cathedral of Florence: A Survey of the Pre-Tridentine Sources”) was supported by an AMS 50 Fellowship from the American Musicological Society. Tacconi is also the recipient of the 2001 Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching from the College of Arts and Architecture. From 2005 to 2010, Tacconi served as director of the Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities. She was then elected as a member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and served as the Faculty Leader for Curricular and Academic Programs for the Penn State Center for the Performing Arts’ Classical Music Project.

Amaranta Viera ’96

Soprano Amaranta Viera is in demand as a soloist and collaborative artist, performing with ensembles ranging from the Choir of Trinity Wall Street to the New York Philharmonic. She has performed works for symphonic choir with the Concert Chorale of New York, and New York Choral Artists in collaboration with the Mostly Mozart Festival.

Wang Leehom ’98

After graduating with honors from Williams, Wang Leehom studied at the Berklee College of Music. Since the late 1990s, he has been one of the most popular musicians in Taiwan and throughout East Asia.  He has released over a dozen albums and was the youngest artist in his categories to win two Golden Melody Awards, the “Grammys” of Taiwanese music. Leehom released his best-selling album in 2009, selling over one million copies. Leehom’s musical style is known for fusing Chinese elements with hip-hop and R&B. In 2007 he was named “one of the 100 most inspiring Asian Americans of all time” by Goldsea Asian American Daily. Wang has also acted in several films, performed in the Olympics’ closing ceremony in Beijing, and is a longtime ambassador for World Vision Taiwan.

Brian Wecht ’97

Brian Wecht, whose official title is, “Ninja Sex Party Band Member and Internet Personality,” has distinguished himself as a musician, comedian, and theoretical physicist. As a Ninja Sex Party keyboardist and performer, Brian has toured the world, releasing five original albums, three cover albums, and nearly 50 music videos.

Recent Alumni

  • Stephen Tian-You Ai ’18: pursuing PhD in Music Theory at Harvard University as a Presidential Scholar of the GSAS
  • Leonard Bopp ’19: founder and Artistic Director the BlackBox Ensemble
  • Andres Carrizo ’04: composer, Ph.D. at University of Chicago
  • Liliana Goldman Carrizo ’03: Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at University of Illinois
  • Augusta Caso ’09: mezzo-soprano, M.M. University of Oklahoma, Metropolitan Opera debut 2018
  • Alicia Choi ’09: violinist, M.M. Juilliard, member Larchmere Quartet, teaching at University of Evansville
  • Rebecca Christainsen ’21: violist with the Rochester Philharmonic
  • Leslie Cochran ’05: Vocal Arts Coordinator at Temple University Boyer College of Music and Dance
  • Scott Daniel ’17: violinist with Chicago-based Classical Blast
  • Brittany Duncan ’05: Programs Director at the Houston Grand Opera (HGOco); founder of the OperaHub company in Boston; MBA from the University of Oxford
  • Brandon Hilfer ’20: composer active in New York City
  • Erin Kennedy ’19: soprano active in opera and musical theater
  • Gef Fisher ’18: classical guitarist and luthier with Chapman Fisher Guitars
  • Eric Kang ’09: freelance pianist and musical theater director, Masters from NYU, active in NYC
  • Woo Chan “Chaz” Lee ’11: pursuing Ph.D. in musicology at University of Chicago
  • Claire Leyden ’16: soprano active in opera and musical theater
  • Noah Lindquist ’08: Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Lyric Opera, Masters from Mannes
  • Melody Marchman Schade ’06: Ph.D from SUNY Buffalo in Musicology
  • Sato Matsui ’14: composer, Doctorate from Juilliard
  • Ben Mygatt ’20: violinist with the Syracuse Symphony
  • Christine Pash ’18: MA/PhD student in Critical Music Studies at Stony Brook University
  • Daniel Potter ’16: advisor, music and math teacher at Princeton Friends School
  • Sarah Riskind ’09: Masters at University of Wisconsin—Madison, choral conductor in Boston area
  • Jonathan Salter ’02: clarinetist, DMA from University of North Carolina—Greensboro
  • Katherine Saxon ’03: composer, Masters from University of Oregon, director of New Century Voices
  • Daniel Schreiner ’14: pianist and interdisciplinary artist
  • Alec Schumacker ’08: choral conductor/composer at Sacred Hearts Academy in Honolulu, earned DMA in Choral Conducting at the University of Miami
  • Brian Simalchik ’10: composer, Masters from Hartt School, active performer
  • Stephen Spinelli ’07: choral conductor, teaching at Abington Friends School, MM from Temple University
  • Zachary Stewart ’15: Ph.D. candidate in music history at Yale University
  • Laone Thekiso ’12: Music Teacher/Marimba Band Director in Gaborone, Botswana
  • Jaz Thomasian ’15: Ph.D candidate Northwestern University and composer