January 22, 2009

Wagner, Davenport lead School of Music

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Jeanine Wagner is the new director of the School of Music at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Susan Davenport is the new assistant director. Both faculty members previously acted as interim director and assistant director respectively.

Wagner, professor of voice, joined the School of Music voice faculty in 1984. Her awards include the Artist Presentation Society Award in 1994 and the Mu Phi International Competition in 1992. She was an International Finalist in the Luciano Pavarotti Competition as well as a Regional Winner in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. She teaches applied voice classes for undergraduate and graduate students.

Davenport, assistant professor, is also director of Choral Activities. She conducts the Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and Choral Union for SIUC. Davenport debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2005 as coordinator of the Texas Women’s University Concert Choir during the Women’s Choral Festival. In addition to conducting the choral groups here, she also teaches choral conducting.

Wagner noted that she herself first came to the School of Music as “a wide-eyed freshman.” She has seen the program from nearly every angle -- as a student, student worker, alumna, program administrator, teacher, ensemble member and soloist. She noted that excellence in teaching is a constant with the School of Music.

“Our current faculty brings an energy and vivacity to the curriculum that allows us to attract some of the finest students in the country,” she said.

She noted some of the recent successes from the School of Music, including the Carnegie Hall debut of the SIUC Wind Ensemble and the SIUC Concert Choir’s invited performance at the Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Conference last year. Upcoming highlights for School of Music students include a performing tour of China for the Wind Ensemble and the Concert Choir, as well as prestigious performance invitations for the SIUC Percussion Ensemble at two major music education conferences.

“I hope international tours such as this may become an annual or biennial occurrence,” she said. “We (in the School of Music) have the advantage of being a unit that can easily serve as public ambassadors of the University. Not only do the student groups and the faculty benefit from the educational experience, but the entire University is showcased in its most positive light.”

Wagner said she hopes to see the School of Music help increase the international presence at SIUC. She also wants to use the advantages offered through technology to broaden the reach of concerts, recitals and master classes.

She hopes, too, to increase visibility for the School of Music faculty, many of whom have outstanding careers as musicians in their own rights as well as professors and instructors on campus.

Davenport is excited at the opportunity to take on more administrative responsibilities.

“I’ve also leaned toward this kind of work, and this will be a great opportunity,” she said. “The School of Music is undertaking some very exciting things, such as international travel with large ensembles, amazing new faculty hires, and events (such as the Southern Illinois Music Festival, Music Outside the Box and summer camps) bringing hundreds of prospective students to the University. This is a great time to be a part of making things happen here.”

“I am thrilled to be trusted with this responsibility,” Wagner said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented students, outstanding faculty members and wonderful administrators anyone could hope for… Our foundation is firm. We have the faculty, the facility and the talent not only to embrace but also to lead the way in an ever-changing educational and musical atmosphere. With continued support from the College of Liberal Arts and the University, truly exciting times lie ahead.”

Wagner replaces former director Robert L. Weiss Jr., who retired in 2007.