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Music professor’s original work highlighted in video

Congratulations to Dr. John Prescott! His work is being featured in the university’s 2017 edition of Mind’s Eye.

Here’s a sneak peek at the story:

Do you consider yourself to be creative? If you said no, you may want to reconsider, Dr. John Prescott said.

“I think everybody is creative to some degree, whether they’re creating artistic products or finding new ways to be an accountant or a building contractor,” said Prescott, professor of music at Missouri State University.

“Creativity is part of the human persona,” he said. “People will say, ‘Well, I’m not creative.’ They just aren’t realizing that creativity lies in a lot of directions, not just the arts.”

Hear his moving 9/11 tribute in the video below.

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John Prescott featured in Mind’s Eye

Congratulations to Dr. John Prescott! His work is being featured in the university’s 2017 edition of Mind’s Eye.

Here’s a sneak peek at the story:

Do you consider yourself to be creative? If you said no, you may want to reconsider, Dr. John Prescott said.

“I think everybody is creative to some degree, whether they’re creating artistic products or finding new ways to be an accountant or a building contractor,” said Prescott, professor of music at Missouri State University.

“Creativity is part of the human persona,” he said. “People will say, ‘Well, I’m not creative.’ They just aren’t realizing that creativity lies in a lot of directions, not just the arts.”

Hear his moving 9/11 tribute in the video below.

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Robert Gibson: Let it shine

Robert T. Gibson, who will graduate in May, is the associate conductor for Missouri State’s Men’s Chorus and the MSU Concert Chorale.

The Chorale, a select choir of about 50 student voices, was selected to perform as the principal musical group during the 58th presidential inauguration ceremony, held Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

The group sang for a live audience of about 1 million people and an internationally televised audience of about 40 million.

The next day, the Chorale held a concert at the National Presbyterian Church. A spiritual composition by Gibson, “Good News,” was part of that show.

“It’s such a big honor,” he said.

Music has led to powerful experiences

Gibson, who was born and raised in Houston, Texas, has participated in choral music since childhood.

“Music touches you. It allows you to express yourself.”

He first met Dr. Cameron LaBarr, Missouri State’s director of choral studies and a 2007 MSU graduate, when both were at the University of North Texas. When LaBarr accepted a position at his alma mater, he reached out to Gibson.

“He said, ‘I would love for you to come to the master’s program here.’ It was difficult at first since my wife and I moved away from family, but being part of the music program made it a smooth transition.”

Gibson has been heavily involved in various MSU musical ensembles, and in spring 2016 went on an 18-day tour of South Africa with the Men’s Chorus. They visited cultural monuments, performed with local choirs and sang in the U.S. Embassy.

“I still can’t put in words the experience that we had because it was so, so powerful.”

Teaching others in a universal language

Gibson wants to teach, and after graduation he plans to move to Pennsylvania with his wife, an actress who has a job there.

He’s glad for the depth of education he received at MSU: “The program hones your craft and holds you to a higher standard.”

He wants his future students to love music as much as he does, and says it’s a universal language that helps people cross lines of background, race, religion, opinions and beliefs.

“Rather than just singing songs, I want to convey a message to all audiences I perform for — instilling hope and trust through music.”

This text was originally written by the Missouri State office of publications for the Graduate College viewbook. 

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Post-graduation experience at Manhattan Opera Studio

Michael Payne
Michael Payne is looking forward to his summer contract with the Manhattan Opera Studio

Singer Michael Payne is looking forward to performing with the Manhattan Opera Studio (MOS) this summer, following his graduation from the Master of Music program.

This post-graduation experience will begin July 17. Michael will perform the role of Zarastro in Die Zauberflote and cover the role of Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro. With other artists from MOS, he’ll also perform in a special concert at Carnegie Hall.

About Manhattan Opera Studio

According to the MOS website, “[The mission of Manhattan Opera Studio] is to help the most talented singers grow and increase their opportunities to become successful professionals.”

Michael calls this opportunity “the perfect way to start my career after finishing my master’s,” and looks forward to working with the diverse and exceptional group of directors, vocal coaches and staging directors at MOS.

Valuable resources

When asked what helped prepare him for this opportunity, Michael immediately mentioned the music department’s voice faculty, particularly his mentor Dr. Chris Thompson. “He’s put so much work and care into my vocal progress and helped me grow in so many facets of my life,” Michael said. “This would not have been possible without him.”

Michael has established a crowdfunding account to raise resources for his tuition, travel and housing costs while he performs with MOS. He shared his gratitude for those who have already contributed to this vital professional experience.

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Piano Trio recognized in regional competition

Missouri State Piano Trio
Pianist Vikki Chen, cellist Caleb Marshall and violinist Karolina Fraczak

The Missouri State Piano Trio was recently recognized by the Music Teachers National Association (MNTA) West-Central Division. The trio competed in the Chamber Music Competition and was named alternate to the First Prize winner.

According to Dr. Michael Murray, professor of music, this accomplishment is particularly impressive “considering the wide ranging competition from Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Colorado and the (number of) graduate-level students who entered.”

Members of the ensemble

The piano trio is made up of three undergraduate students:

  • Pianist Vikki Chen, a piano performance major
  • Cellist Caleb Marshall, a psychology and math major
  • Violinist Karolina Fraczak, a violin performance major

About MTNA

According to the association’s website:

MTNA has cemented its role as an organization essential not only to the professional and individual well-being of music-teaching professionals, but also a vital partner in their growth and development. It provides both a collective voice for teachers worldwide and a powerful alliance with a highly prestigious and influential group.

With nearly 22,000 members in 50 states—and more than 500 local affiliates—MTNA is the preeminent source for music teacher support, where members embody like-minded values and commitment to their students, colleagues and society as a whole, while reaping the rewards of collaboration, continuity and connection throughout the lifetime of their careers.

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Five reasons to choose COAL as your college

They are the storytellers. The creators. The visualizers.

The students who make up Missouri State’s College of Arts and Letters take pride in standing out amongst the crowd and making their Missouri Statement a distinct one. How? Here are five ways COAL is making itself known at MSU.

Giving Voice will open your eyes to oppression


Giving Voice, a theatre troupe housed in the theatre and dance department, puts on an interactive performance that is inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theatre. Their goal is to give a voice to those who are oppressed, underrepresented and marginalized.

The troupe helps many groups tackle topics like gender, racial, political and religious discrimination. This is done through a series of presentations and workshops. The Giving Voice facilitator and actors work with participants to explore how to approach taboo situations in a safe environment.

Student Exhibition Center gives you space to exhibit your creativity


The Student Exhibition Center, or SEC, is a gallery festooned with student artwork and funded through the Student Activity Fee.

Think your art should be featured? All you have to do is fill out a proposal form and you have a chance to have your own artwork on display.

You can even hold a reception there (but it does cost an extra fee, so check out the SEC website for more details).

The SEC is located on Historic Walnut Street at the north end of the Missouri State University campus.

But wait — there’s more! The SEC isn’t the only Missouri State gallery looking to display student artwork. The Brick City Gallery features distinguished, as well as up-and-coming artists, in this urban oasis of creativity. Plus, admission is free and open to the public.

You can immerse yourself in TV industry with ‘Show-Me Chefs’


Imagine a television show run by college students. That’s exactly what “Show-Me Chefs” is!

The show is produced by the department of media, journalism and film as part of a class. Students produce and film the whole series — a reality competitive cooking show that highlights local food producers and chefs.

The show’s second season is about to premier on KOZL-TV, and they are already in pre-production for Season 3. On Oct. 22, the show will host a fundraising gala at Springfield’s 319 Event Center.

Untamed Tongues will empower you to use your voice


Untamed Tongues is a poetry collective dedicated to establishing a place on campus for poets and musicians to share their creative works with others, be active servants to the community and maintain high academic achievement.

The group was co-founded nearly a year ago by Taylor Vinson, an MSU junior in communication. To celebrate this organization’s first birthday, a poetry slam is being held at 7:30 Oct. 3 in Plaster Student Union, room 400. There will be three rounds with three different time limits: Free topic, no props. Everyone with an original poem is welcome to participate

Study Away will take you around the world


We encourage our students to travel the world. There are several COAL faculty-led study away opportunities, including a few listed here:

  • In summer 2016, Dr. Andy Cline, a media, journalism and film associate professor, led a group of students on a 10-day train ride to the Trans-Siberian Railway. The goal was to create a documentary film as they travelled through Moscow, Vladivostok and Lake Baikal.
  • In another summer adventure, Dr. Cameron LaBarr, choral studies director, and the MSU Chorale took an 18-day tour of South Africa. Highlights included performing at the American Embassy, hiking in the mountains and attending a safari ride.
  • Center for Dispute Resolution took a 10-day study away trip to Ireland in June 2015. The program explored the country’s historical and cultural roots of conflict and the subsequent peacemaking processes and reconciliations. This cultural experience toured students around Dublin, Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.
  • For the last several summers, art professor Gwen Walstrand has led students on a trip to Florence, Italy. The courses offered abroad range from drawing, photography and general education options. For more information about the summer 2017 Italy trip, attend one of the info sessions on Oct. 5, Oct. 19, Nov. 14 or Nov. 23, each at 7 p.m. in Brick City, building 1, room 211.
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Join MSU’s journey to become an All-Steinway School

Many changes are on the horizon for students as Missouri State continues its push to overhaul the facilities and accommodations the music department offers. The Steinway Initiative is key to that plan.

What does it mean to be an All-Steinway School?

The Steinway Initiative will pave the way for Missouri State to become an All-Steinway school, a prestigious designation given to those institutions that only carry Steinway & Sons pianos.

This will ensure that music students will have the best pianos at their fingertips to learn and practice. It is an endeavor supported by the university, the Missouri State University Foundation, the College of Arts and Letters and the music department.

How are we able to purchase the pianos?

Music students’ lesson fees have already purchased 10 Steinway-built Boston upright pianos and one Boston 7-foot grand. And thanks to a generous gift by Sam Hamra, chairman of Hamra Enterprises, the university recently purchased its first new Steinway grand piano.

“Mr. Hamra’s generosity will provide the industry standard in grand pianos for not just our piano majors to perform on,” said Dr. Julie Combs, head of the music department. “Every music student who performs a junior degree recital or takes part in a master class will also be accompanied by this instrument.”


Why do we want Steinway?

Combs said becoming an All-Steinway School demonstrates MSU’s dedication to making certain students have the opportunity to learn on the gold standard of instruments. This will help in recruiting efforts, as well.

“Great teachers, facilities, and equipment are major factors in students choosing a music school,” she said. “We have the great teachers; our facilities are going to be renovated, and we are aiming to replace our piano inventory. These steps will help with our recruiting and retention and move the MSU music department to a new and higher level.”

Where can I learn more and play a Steinway?

You can learn more about Steinway’s hand-crafted pianos by playing one and hearing the story of its creation. Come to our exhibition on Sept. 17 and 18. There, you’ll watch a short film to see a Steinway piano disassembled and hear the story of its quality and creation told. You will also be able to play the Steinway L1037 piano.

Piece by Piece: The Secrets of Steinway Exhibition

Date: Sept. 17 & 18
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.
Location: Wehr Band Hall

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