College of Music in the News

Brad Leali performing on Saxophone

UNT College of Music offers Gospel Meets Jazz concert celebrating Black History Month

DENTON (UNT), Texas - University of North Texas College of Music Professor of Jazz Saxophone, Brad Leali, will conduct his sixth annual “Gospel Meets Jazz” concert celebrating Black History Month and the contributions of African American culture.

“The blues is an integral part of jazz. At an early age my teachers would constantly quote: ‘No blues, No jazz,’” said Leali. “Harmonies that are essential in blues and gospel are interwoven into the foundation of jazz. These chordal structures in tandem with an artist’s creativity have often been the impetus for emotional and soulful performances that are certainly reminiscent of gospel and spiritual music.”

Leali says that jazz evolved from taking the characteristics of gospel outside of the church. Combining the influence of gospel music, classical music, African music and others led to jazz’s expressive and challenging art form and a voice of acceptance, goodness, realism, truth and inclusion.

This year’s performers will include UNT faculty/students, members of the Prairie View A&M University Concert choir under the direction of Dr. Jan Taylor, the Morse St. Baptist Church Gospel choir with Bobby Hicks and UNT graduate jazz studies alumnus, Tito Charneco.

The concert is free to the public and will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17 (Sunday), at the Paul Voertman Concert Hall, 415 S. Ave. C in Denton.

Brandon Hawkins performing in solo recital on Euphonium

STUDENT SUCCESS: UNT euphonium student, Brandon M. Hawkins, wins United States Army Band competition

On Tuesday evening #UNTCoM senior euphonium student, Brandon M. Hawkins, won the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Tuba-Euphonium Workshop Solo Euphonium Competition.

He will be featured soloist, performing Philip Sparke’s Pantomime, with the U.S. Army Band in the gala concert of the 2019 Tuba-Euphonium Workshop, to be held at Brucker Hall, Joint Base Myer, February 2 in Arlington, VA.

Live stream will be available here: Explore what we have to offer at

Brandon Nelson Headshot

Alumni Spotlight: Brandon Nelson

Alumni Spotlight: "School Band and Orchestra" magazine has selected UNT College of Music alumni Brandon Nelson (BME '11) Oak Harbor High School (WA) Band Teacher to be featured in their annual "50 Directors who Make a Difference".

UNT College of Music Logo

UNT alumni nominated for Grammy Awards

DENTON (UNT), Texas –Nominations for the 61st annual Recording Academy Grammy Awards were announced on Dec. 7. Once again, University of North Texas faculty and alumni are part of projects that have received nominations in seven categories.

Since the 1960s, UNT College of Music alumni, faculty and staff have worked on projects nominated for Grammy Awards as well as Grammy-winning projects. Our One O’Clock Lab Band students, composers and arrangers have garnered seven nominations of their own over the years.

College of Music alumni, faculty and staff collaborated in the following nominated projects:

  • Mike Williams (trumpet) for “All About That Basie,” by The Count Basie Orchestra, nominated in the following category:
    • Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
  • Jeff Driskill (saxophone), Jack Wengrosky (trumpet), Derek Pyle (trombone) and Brian McKee (bassoon) for “American Dreamers:  Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom” by the John Daversa Big Band, nominated in the following category:
    • Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
  • Ben Kono (woodwinds) “All Can Work,” by the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, nominated in the following category:
    • Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
  • Michael Mayes (baritone) for “Heggie: Great Scott,” by Jake Heggie, composer; Terrence McNally, librettist; performed by the Dallas Orchestra (including 11 UNT alumni and 6 UNT faculty) and Dallas Opera Chorus (including 18 UNT alumni); conducted by Patrick Summers nominated in the following category:
    • Best Contemporary classical Composition

UNT alumna Maren Morris, is up for five awards:

  • Maren Morris for “The Middle,” nominated in the following categories:
    • Record of the Year
    • Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
  • Maren Morris for “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” nominated in the following category:
    • Best Country Solo Performance
  • Maren Morris for “Dear Hate,” nominated in the following categories:
    • Best Country Duo/Group Performance
    • Best Country Song

Grammy winners will be announced at the Feb. 10 awards ceremony in New York. In 2018, UNT alumni Edward Stephan and Frank Greene were part of projects that earned three Grammy Awards.

Gunnery Sgt. Sara Sheffield portrait

UNT Alumna Gunnery Sgt. Sara Sheffield to perform in Bush State Funeral

WASHINGTONGunnery Sgt. Sara Sheffield, a graduate of the University of North Texas will participate in former President George H. W. Bush’s State Funeral as a vocalist with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Chamber Orchestra. The funeral is to be held on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Washington National Cathedral.

President Bush’s State Funeral marks the 14th such event for which “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band or Marine Chamber Orchestra has performed. “The President’s Own” was present for the State Funerals of the following former Presidents: Gerald Ford in 2007, Ronald Reagan in 2004, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1969, Herbert Hoover in 1964, John F. Kennedy in 1963, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, William Howard Taft in 1930, William McKinley in 1901, Ulysses S. Grant in 1885, James Garfield in 1881, Abraham Lincoln in 1865, Zachary Taylor in 1850, and John Quincy Adams in 1848.

“We have been fortunate to have had wonderful moments with every President we serve, but President and Mrs. Bush’s gratitude for our Marines and for the special music we provide in The People’s House was especially warm and always engaging,” said Marine Band Director Col. Jason K. Fettig. “He never missed an opportunity to connect with those around him and thank them for their contributions, and the men and women in the band who got to know President Bush both during his administration and in the many years beyond will always remember his ever-present appreciation and admiration for all those who served our nation alongside him.”

For more information, contact the Marine Band Office of Communication at (202) 433-5812 or visit

UNT College of Music representatives with Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno and Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic representatives

UNT College of Music Signs Student Exchange Agreements with Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno and Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic

At the third International Festival of Czech Music, the University of North Texas signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno and the Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic. Partnerships among UNT and these two distinguished Czech universities have existed on for some time, but the formalizing of understandings is new and important. Dean John W. Richmond of the UNT College of Music observed that, "These partnerships create important opportunties for faculty and students alike. The initial momentum for these relationships was made possible, in large measure, through the generous support of the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas. We simply could not be more grateful to them for their enthusiasm, encouragement, and generosity."

Next steps in this partnership are likely to focus on opera, chamber music, music education, and composition for media.

Poster for Rhythms of the Arab World

UNT hosts guest artists from Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture and presents Rhythms of the Arab World as part of a cultural and Arabic language enrichment program

What: The University of North Texas College of Music; College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences; Department of World Languages, Literatures & Cultures and Arabic program present “Rhythms of the Arab World,” a concert that culminates a larger project offering students hands-on, authentic experiences of Arab music.


When: 3:30 p.m. Dec. 2 (Sunday)


Where: Recital Hall in the College of Music Building, 415 Avenue C, in Denton.


Cost: Free


Parking: Guests can receive free event parking by contacting Ayesha Bakali at


Background: Sunday’s concert is part of a larger project to introduce Arabic music to UNT classrooms, particularly Arabic language and music classes. Musicians from Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture ensemble have visited Arabic language and music classrooms throughout the semester to offer workshops and introduce students to Darbouke (an Arab percussion instrument) and the Oud (the Arab lute). Al-Bustan, Arabic for “The Garden,” is an organization dedicated to presenting and teaching Arab culture through the arts and language.

Sunday’s concert will feature internationally acclaimed and award winning Arab musicians Hafez Kotain and Issam Rafea. Students from the UNT Arabic language program and ethnomusicology program will join the musicians for a percussion medley. The performance also will feature dabke (Levantine Folkloric dance), a solo performance of an Arab-Andalusian 12th-century song by doctoral musicology student, Júlia Coelho, and improvisation with doctoral enthnomusicology student, Yuxin Mei, on Pipa (Chinese lute).

The project is made possible by a Charn Uswachoke International Development Fund Grant and a grant from the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation.

Poster for UNT International Festival of Czech music, featuring conductor and opera singer

UNT College of Music hosts International Festival of Czech Music celebrating the centennial anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia

What: The University of North Texas College of Music hosts the third International Festival of Czech Music. The program includes an academic conference, concerts, multimedia performances and lectures open to the public. For a full list of events visit


When: Nov. 27 (Tuesday) – Dec. 1 (Saturday)


Where: For conference, performance and lecture times/locations on the UNT campus visit  A post-festival tour of five Texas-Czech communities featuring scenes from Leoš Janáček's Příhody lišky Bystroušky (The Cunning Little Vixen) will take place Dec. 2 (Sunday) – Dec. 8 (Saturday). For a complete list of locations and ticket information visit


Cost: Events are free of charge unless noted:


Parking: For the most up-to-date information on directions to the College of Music and the Murchison Performing Arts Center, construction, and parking, please click here.


Background: The University of North Texas College of Music hosts its third International Festival of Czech Music. This year, the festival helps commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia following the end of World War I. The keynote work of the festival is the Leoš Janáček opera Příhody lišky Bystroušky (The Cunning Little Vixen) directed by Jonathan Eaton, The Margot and Bill Winspear Chair in Opera Studies. The production features UNT opera singers and orchestra under the direction of Maestro David Itkin and includes the talents of children from the Dallas Czech School who portray the opera’s little foxes.


Other festival performance highlights include a production of Vít Zouhar’s “Coronide: A Serious (and yet delightfully comic) Opera about Love and Unverified Information,” the Dvořák “Piano Concerto” featuring internationally renowned Czech pianist Sára Medková, and the multimedia performance “Tastes: A Sound and Video Performance Recalling the Smells and Tastes of the Tea Ceremony in Shanghai.”


The conference will feature a day of composition and multimedia sessions featuring speakers and discussion about topics such as: Adaptive sound design in video games, game programming research and education at the Laboratory for Recreational Computing, and “The Sounds in the Machine: ‘Metroid’s’ Cybernetic Soundscape.” A second day of sessions will focus on general academic and music topics including the conference’s keynote speakers: Jaroslav Miller, rector of Palacký University, who will discuss “The Events of 1918 and the Formation of Czechoslovakia;” and Jaroslav Křivánek, pastor of the Hussite Church, who will present “The Formation of Czechoslovak Hussite Church after 1918.”


The UNT International Festival of Czech Music is co-sponsored by the Janáček Academy of Music and Palacký University Olomouc.


About the UNT College of Music

The College of Music is one of the nation’s largest and most respected comprehensive music schools. It offers fully accredited degrees from the bachelor to doctoral levels and is home to the world’s first jazz studies degree program. Faculty include internationally acclaimed artists and scholars in composition, conducting, ethnomusicology, music education, music entrepreneurship, music history, music theory, performance and performance and performing arts health. The college presents more than 1,100 concerts and recitals annually. UNT music alumni can be found around the globe in impressive, award-winning careers across a wide-range of music professions. Visit the College of Music online calendar at and connect with the College of Music on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @UNTCoM


Jazz Singers - "A Thousand Nights" CD Cover

Jazz Singers release new CD

JAZZ SINGERS NEW CD DROPS: The UNT Jazz Singers newest recording, A Thousand Nights, is released to the public

"A Thousand Nights is the fourth album recorded by UNT Jazz Singers since I began teaching at UNT in Fall 2011, and I was aiming for it to showcase the diverse musical spectrum to which I strive to expose the students for their enjoyment and growth.  For the first time, we asked our guest artists-in-residence who came to UNT during the spring of 2017 and 2018  if they would be willing to be on our album, and we’re honored and delighted that all three of them said “Yes”!  The way that these beautiful artists gave of themselves both musically and personally during the time they were at UNT will leave an indelible mark on all of our lives, and we are confident that you too will feel the joy and passion of their music-making.  In addition to the three guest artist tracks, of course, there are eight others, and I’m most proud of the fact that over half of the music was arranged by our students!" – Jennifer Barnes