The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University has hired four important new faculty members for the 2012-13 academic year, including highly prestigious appointments in trombone and bassoon, a new director of choral programs and a newly created position for a second vocal coach.
“We are extremely fortunate that these four outstanding artists are joining the Blair School faculty,” said Blair dean Mark Wait in a released statement. “They will inspire Blair students for generations to come, and will generate the artists of the future.”
Blair has included the following biographical information about the new faculty.
Jeremy Wilson, who will present a solo recital at Blair at 8 p.m. Oct. 23 at Turner Hall, joins Blair’s faculty as Associate Professor of Trombone. He has played in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra since September 2007, where he has been the sole American member, after winning his first-ever orchestral audition.
A native of McMinnville, Tenn., Wilson began playing trombone at the age of 11. At 13 he began studying with Tom Lundberg in Nashville, and was twice ranked the top student trombonist in the state of Tennessee.
Wilson holds a Bachelor of Music degree with honors from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he studied from 2000-2005 under Professor Don Hough. While in Knoxville, he was a four-time consecutive winner of the ETW National Trombone Solo Competition. With his student jazz ensemble, he also won the ETW National Jazz Ensemble Competition and the Kai Winding International Jazz Ensemble Competition of the International Trombone Association (ITA). In 2004, Wilson was named a Presser Scholar for his academic and musical achievements. He also performed regularly with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra.
After graduation, Wilson attended the University of North Texas to pursue a Master of Music degree, where he studied with Vern Kagarice, Jan Kagarice and Tony Baker. While there, he was the winner of the ITA Frank Smith International Solo Competition, and with his trombone quartet won the ETW National Quartet Competition and the ITA International Quartet Competition.
Peter Kolkay, who performs with the Blair Woodwind Quintet at 8 p.m. Oct. 29 at Ingram Hall, joins the Blair faculty as Associate Professor of Bassoon. Kolkay was the first bassoonist to win first prize at the Concert Artists Guild International Competition (2002), the first bassoonist to receive an Avery Fisher Career Grant (2004), and the first on his instrument to become a member of Chamber Music Society Two (2006-09).
Kolkay performs regularly with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In addition, he has appeared as a soloist with the Rochester and Westchester philharmonics in New York, the South Carolina Philharmonic, and the Green Bay and Flint symphonies in Michigan.
As a solo recitalist, he made his international debut at the Teatro Nacional in Panama City, Panama, where he premiered a new work by Katherine Hoover. He has also premiered works by Elliott Carter, Charles Wuorinen, Harold Meltzer, Russell Platt and John Fitz Rogers. He is a frequent performer at many summer festivals, including those of Vail, Colo., Bridgehampton, N.Y., and Angel Fire, N.M.
Kolkay is a member of the IRIS Orchestra and the South Carolina Philharmonic. A native of Naperville, Ill., he holds degrees from Lawrence University, the Eastman School of Music and Yale University, and studied with Frank Morelli, John Hunt, Jean Barr and Monte Perkins.
Tucker Biddlecombe joins the Blair faculty as Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities. His duties include conducting the undergraduate Symphonic and Chamber Choirs, teaching choral conducting, and serving as Artistic Director for the Blair Children’s Chorus program of six graded choirs.
Biddlecombe received his Ph.D. in Music Education from Florida State University in 2012, and was a student of André Thomas. As a graduate student, he served as assistant conductor to the graduate Chamber Choir, the Tallahassee Community Chorus, the Men’s Glee Club, and as a teaching assistant in the graduate music education area. In 2010, he served as music director and conductor for Florida State Opera’s production of Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Biddlecombe also holds a B.M. in Music Education and Performance from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.
A National Board Certified Teacher, Biddlecombe most recently served as the choral director at Lawton Chiles High School in Tallahassee, Fla. There he directed a choral program encompassing more than 200 students in five choirs, and was honored as Teacher of the Year in 2008. Ensembles under his direction have performed at conventions of the American Choral Directors Association at the state and division level. Biddlecombe is a sought-after clinician and adjudicator, and has conducted honor choirs in several states. In 2014, he will conduct the Florida All-State Men’s Chorus.
Biddlecombe is an accomplished tenor, specializing in several different styles and genres. He is also a published composer and arranger, with choral works printed by Alliance, Hinshaw and Walton Music. His newest composition, Somagwaza, was commissioned and premiered by the Men’s Honor Choir at the northwest convention of ACDA in March 2012. A past board member of the Florida Vocal Association, he is an active member of ACDA, Chorus America and NAfME.
Biddlecombe will become a familiar face at Blair, since he’s already slated to lead several performances this fall, including the Blair Chamber Choir at 8 p.m. Sept. 29 at Ingram Hall and Blair Symphonic Choir at 8 p.m. Oct. 1 and 8 p.m. Nov. 15 at Ingram Hall. He will also co-direct a Blair Children’s Chorus Program on Dec. 14.
Ben Harris joins Blair’s faculty as Lecturer in Vocal Music. Harris comes to Blair from Shorter University in Rome, Ga., where he has been an Instructor of Music and Vocal Coach since 2008. Previously he was employed as Staff Accompanist and Vocal Coach at Western Illinois University from 2005-2008.
Harris graduated from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in 2002 with his M.M. in Collaborative Piano, and went on to post-graduate studies in Lieder as a Rotary Scholar at the Konservatorium der Stadt Wien in Vienna, Austria. He received his B.M. in Piano Performance from Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla., in 2002, and an A.A. in Piano and Organ Performance from Frank Phillips College in Borger, Texas, in 1998.