Alumni profiles

Julie Bernard '07 works for Chicago Entertainment Agency, a talent production company in Chicago.

Bob Birch '80 was the bassist in Elton John's band for two decades. He has also worked with artists such as Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Cher, B.B. King, and Tina Turner.

Kenny Burrell '55 is a famous jazz guitarist. He has worked with famous musicians such as Miles Davis, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, James Brown, and John Coltrane. Duke Ellington once singled out Burrell as his favorite guitarist. In 1988, his piece "Dear Ella" won a Grammy. He went on to found and direct the Jazz Studies program at UCLA. In 2005 he was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts and Jazz Educator of the Year.

Donald Byrd is a professional jazz trumpeter and returned to his home town in April to perform in the 70th anniversary concert of Baker's Keyboard Lounge in northwest Detroit.

Audrey Ekdahl Davidson '61, '64, a Western Michigan University professor emerita, was honored at a special Collegium Musicum concert at WSU last November. The concert was a tribute to her scholarship and musicianship.

Scott Davidson '01 works as a Film Mixer for Loduca Music.

Jeff Dittenber '08 is a Commercial Sound Designer at Yessian Music, a full service music/sound design/mix/post house with six full service recording studios in Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles.

Norah Duncan IV '86 is a professor of vocal music at WSU and serves as chair of the Department of Music. In 2007, Duncan retired as director of the Archdiocesan Chorus in Detroit.

Max Effort B.M., 1971; M.M.,1972 performs as a solo keyboard musician, with an extensive playlist which encompasses music from the Great American Songbook, from the 1920's to the present. Using an electronic keyboard, he overlays the sound of an electronic organ over the sound of an electric piano while splitting the keyboard to include the sound of an upright or electronic bass. Performances of Max's music have been uploaded to YouTube. For work samples, enter "Max Effort at the keyboard" in the search window at

Brandy Nicole Ellis '04 held a benefit concert in May in support of her residency at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz. The concert featured Wayne State vocal music students Elizabeth Gray, '04, and Allyson Hansen, '04.

Ryan Enderle '08 is a professional bassist who, in addition to performing as the principal bassist for the United States Marine Corps Band, performs in Detroit venues and jazz festivals worldwide.

William Foster '51 was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in August, 2003. Foster was director of the Florida A&M University Marching Band for 52 years.

Scott Gatainio '00 works as a Sound Engineer for Yessian Music, a full service music/sound design/mix/post house with six full service recording studios in Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles.

Jason Gittinger '99 plays drums for popular area tribute band the Mega '80s and is proprietor of Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music in Royal Oak, MI. The school, located at 1109 S. Washington, is a full-service recording studio with seven private lesson rooms. Students (mainly kids) audition and are put into classes that match their skills with other players of the same aptitude and experience. They are then organized into bands that decide, democratically, what material they want to learn.

Pamela Glasser '76 is a music teacher in the public school system in Dubois, WY . Glasser also is principal French horn player with the Wyoming Symphony. Previously, she performed with the Orchestra of the Michigan Opera Theatre, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Israel Sinfonietta and the Mantovani Orchestra of London

Augustus Hill '85, '92, contributed a composition titled Exegesis for tenor, chorus and orchestra to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's 30th anniversary Classical Roots concert, an annual celebration of African American composers and performers in February, 2008.

Patrick Jensen '08, '10 is an adjunct faculty member at Henry Ford College and conductor of the Downriver Community Band.

Yan Jin '03 won a position with the Ann Arbor Symphony and was a finalist for the assistant principal cello post with the San Antonio Symphony.

Yusuf Lateef was a successful tenor sax player in the Detroit jazz club scene in the 50's. According to the New York Times, he "played world music before world music had a name." He spent four years teaching in Nigeria in the 80's, and in 1987 his piece "Yusuf Lateef's Little Symphony" won a Grammy for Best New Age Album. In 2007 he was presented with the Detroit International Jazz Festival Jazz Guardian Award for Artistry. In 2010, the National Endowment for the Arts named him an American Jazz Master.

Edward (Ted) McDonald '10 is an orchestra director at Walled Lake Consolidated Schools.

Anthony Messina '08 is Director of Bands at Georgetown Middle High School in Georgetown Massachusetts.

Victoria Miller '74, '78, is band teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Detroit. The band was selected to play at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, for several performances.

Zeljko Milicevic '90 was appointed music director of the St. Clair Shores (MI) Symphony and was hired as orchestra director at Utica (MI) High School.

Shantanique Moore '13, '15, is a flutist with the Michigan Philharmonic and a private teacher.

Nicole New was hired as Artistic Coordinator for Non-Classical Programming at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2008.

Damani Phillips '02 is an assistant professor of jazz studies at Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA. Phillips is completing work on a doctor of musical arts degree in jazz studies at University of Colorado, Boulder.

Alberto Rosal is a professional drummer in the SE Michigan region and performed with the band Jazzhead.

Vincent Rubino '15 is Assistant Director of Bands at Center High and Middle School in Kansas City, Missouri.

Paul Schreiber '03 is assistant professor of music composition and theory at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, MS.

Dr. Joy Schroeder '06 is professor and Chair of Organ and Harpsichord at Flint School of Performing Arts in Flint, MI.

George Shirley '55 is a world renowned operatic tenor. Shirley was the first African American to teach music in Detroit high schools, the first African American to sing with the U.S. Army Chorus, and the first African American to perform a leading role at the Met. He performed there for 11 years, playing major roles in over 20 productions. He also won a Grammy award for his performance of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte. Upon retirement in 2007, Shirley was named the Joseph Edgar Maddy Distinguished University Emeritus Professor of Voice for his work teaching at the University of Maryland and the University of Michigan.

John Stewart is a Michigan State Representative based in Plymouth, MI. Stewart visited WSU in November to serve as guest conductor of the WSU orchestra and chorus in the Department of Music's annual Salute Concert to Downtown Detroit at Old St. Mary's cathedral in Greektown.

Jason Tanksley '13 is a Master of Music candidate in Tuba Performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Justin Umbarger '11, '15 is Director of Music and Worship for St. Malachy Catholic Church in Sterling Heights, Artistic Director of the Symphonia Chorale, and Associate Conductor for the Langsford Men's Chorus.

Mark Verstraete '07 works as a Web Audio Flash Engineer for Yessian Music, a full service music/sound design/mix/post house with six full service recording studios in Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles.

Wanda Wilk '43 is an award winning music teacher and widely published author on the history of Polish music.

Deborah Joy Winans '06 appeared in the 2008 music video Languid Libretto by recording artist Carl Hancock Rux.

Brian Yessian '00 is a producer for Yessian Music. He was listed among Crain's Detroit Business magazine's "40 Under 40," a list of business high-achievers under the age of 40.

Department of Music alumni, please submit your biographical information and profile updates by sending an e-mail to Danny DeRose at