The Hartt School Community Division Alumni Newsletter February 2018
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The Compass: February 2018

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February 2018

In this Issue

Our HCD Family:

Recent Events:

Coming Up:

Our HCD Family

Interview with CCC Education Director Vanessa Bond

Vanessa BondVanessa L. Bond, PhD, wears many hats at The Hartt School. She serves as Education Director for HCD's Connecticut Children's Chorus and also conducts the Prelude Choir (grades 3–5). In addition, Bond is Assistant Professor of Music Education at The Hartt School, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music education and serves as the Coordinator of Student Teaching. She specializes in choral music education, world music pedagogy, and early childhood/elementary general music education.

Bond joined the Connecticut Children’s Chorus faculty in 2012. It is Bond’s philosophy that all children are innately musical. She and the other CCC faculty “cultivate that musicality each week by challenging students to use their voices, bodies, and minds to create vibrant choral music," says Bond. She adds, "We hope that through their experiences in CCC, students will be inspired to sing throughout their lifetime and to recognize the power of music in building community.” This focus on community has become the backbone of the CCC ensembles.

Choral singing is an inherently communal experience. Bond seeks to strengthen the sense of community and inclusion in the choral ensembles of CCC. She notes that during her time with CCC, she has “seen the CCC grow into a more inclusive family of choral ensembles. We have striven to welcome children from all over the Hartford-metro area and to encourage participation of our youngest singers, in particular, by removing an audition requirement for students in grade four or below. We know everyone possesses the potential to develop their musicianship, and our Junior Division policies now reflect this belief.” Bond also fosters this sense of community across the CCC ensembles, as a whole. Upcoming CCC concerts will include more collaborative pieces among the ensembles. “Our students learn so much from each other and it is really inspiring for the younger students to get a chance to sing more advanced music with the older choirs.” 

Bond says there is a lot to look forward to from the CCC performances, including the “CCC Through the Years” concert for Alumni Weekend, which will be a celebration of some of the favorite pieces from past CCC seasons. “I think it will be exciting for the alumni to hear many familiar works,” says Bond. She also points out that CCC has become more creative with their programming, having recently performed the folk song "Niska Banja" as part of the 2017 winter concert. Bond personally champions music from around the world. In last year’s Junior Division concert, the choirs taught the audience a Kenyan folk song, “Muyo,” which means “joy.” Bond brings enthusiasm and joy to all of the CCC programming, and passes it on to her singers and audiences. 

Bond has seen countless rewards from this new programming, and this focus on community. “It’s an exciting time to be with CCC! There is nothing better than sharing in music with others and it was rewarding to know everyone felt that sense of joy as audience members and choristers alike were singing on their way out to the parking lot post-concert. If we make singing contagious we have done our job.”

Interview with CCC Alumni Gretchen Upholt

Gretchen Upholt

Connecticut Children’s Chorus alumna Gretchen Upholt continues to keep the arts in her life as a professional. Upholt began in her CCC journey in seventh grade at the suggestion of her school choir teacher (and former CCC conductor) Sallie Ferrebee. She remained in the CCC through several years of high school and has fond memories of her friendships during that time. Upholt remembers enjoying performing African music with the choir at a Hartt School concert that also included dancing. CCC continues to perform music from around the world today and frequently features dancing and other creative movement at performances.

During high school, Upholt had thoughts about pursuing a professional music/singing career but ended up pursuing the field of arts management. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in arts management and began her career as the Chorus Manager for The Choral Arts Society of Washington. During this time, she also continued singing professionally with the St. Alban’s Senior Choir. After living abroad for several years and taking a break from the choir experience, Upholt returned stateside and couldn’t wait to get back to choir. She sang for five years with The New York Choral Society and also served as a member of their Board of Managers.

Upholt is currently a Senior Consultant at FMA in Chicago; where she helps nonprofit organizations (including arts organizations) build their capacity in finance and operations. She continues to sing in an SATB choir in Chicago, Allegrezza, and is a member of Chorus America.

From the time she was a member of CCC as a young student, Gretchen Upholt has remained an enthusiastic singer and supporter of choral singing as well as the arts in general. She believes that CCC first instilled in her a love of choral singing that has carried throughout her life, an activity that helps keep her grounded in her busy professional life. Upholt feels lucky to be able to help the organizations that she is involved with through her profession and looks forward to continuing her support and love of the arts.

One of her favorite pieces, “How Can I Keep From Singing,” has become a tradition for the CCC and will be featured again at this year’s Alumni Weekend concert. Alumni in attendance are invited to join in this final number at the concert Sunday, June 3, at 5 p.m. at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, Belding Theater.

Pictured: Gretchen as a teenager in the CCC (left), and today (right).

Watson Morrison Carries on His Passion for Teaching Classical Piano

Watson Wilbur Morrison’s life profoundly changed in 1945 when he watched a film about the life of composer Frederick Chopin—A Song to Remember. “I was enthralled and fell in love with the music,” says Morrison who was then a teen-aged trumpet player. One day after school, he took a bus from Warwick, R.I., to a Providence movie theater, where says he watched the film “over and over” into the late evening—almost causing his family to conduct a police search for him.

It was then that Morrison, who taught classical piano at The Hartt School and now The Hartt Community Division for more than 60 years, decided to become a classical pianist at the “ripe old age of 18,” since most begin as young as six years old.

Morrison recalls he met his first piano teacher in a local nightclub when he heard the jazz musician play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. But it was two years later when he moved to Boston that he seriously began training with a neighbor who also was a classical pianist. After only two years, the instructor contacted The New England Conservatory to recommend Morrison for an audition. “The Conservatory gave me a chance,” he says. “It was a struggle, but no one in the world worked as hard as I did.”

Morrison acknowledges that he got his drive to succeed in the seventh grade, when he was recovering from a serious brain infection that nearly took his life. “I began to think that life is very important, and as young as I was, that it is so precious to have a life, that I must do something important with it.”

He went on to earn both a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory, where he also won the Conservatory’s Concerto Competition. In 1955, Morrison joined The Hartt School faculty, and later went on to earn a Doctor of Musical Arts from Boston University where he completed his doctoral thesis on the piano sonatas of Hartt composer Arnold Franchetti. He also performed around the world, giving more than 100 recitals at just The Hartt School alone.

Now at 89, Morrison says he still practices an hour a day, first playing scales, and then difficult passages from memory. Since he retired from The Hartt School as professor of piano emeritus in 2001, he’s been teaching classical piano to adults at The Hartt School Community Division. “It’s been my whole life,” he says about the decades he has spent teaching hundreds of Hartt students. “Some students still keep in contact with me, it’s been my joy.”

Recent Events

CCC Winter Concert Recap

By Sarah Marze, member of CCC's Primi Voci choir

Sarah MarzeI remember being in first grade having my first big CCC concert. I remember trying to keep my eyes on the conductor while everyone in the huge church was looking right at me! But I felt more at peace in that moment, making music, than I had expected. Since then, I’ve always looked forward to sharing my musical growth and seeing my peers progress alongside me. I have 11 years of CCC concerts under my belt and have loved every one of them.

This January’s concert was no exception to the fantastic tradition of togetherness and passion for music that CCC inspires. The culmination of our hard work was the song “It Takes a Whole Village,” in which the 200+ students from the Junior and Senior divisions came together to sing. There were at least three people conducting while trying to get first- through third-graders to walk in a straight line down the church aisles. It was the second time CCC had performed the song, and it was no less amazing.

As someone who wants to pursue music education as a career, I can say that the performance experiences like this one are so special to me. The passion that the teachers pour into the program is incredibly inspiring.

By Sophia Maricevic, member of CCC's Primi Voci choir

Sofia M.The CCC concert was full of a variety of different types of choral music. There were traditional songs, but there were also songs that were full of movement and innovation. It was really fun to watch all of the choirs perform this diverse set list. It was fun to see the depth of the music evolve and see how all of the singers had progressed throughout the years with their experience. CCC is a place where everyone from young children to older adults are able to immerse themselves in the music and unite as a community. No matter what the differences, everyone in CCC agrees that they love to sing and it brings us all together to make a powerful, unifying sound.

Coming up

March 16–18: Hartt Suzuki Workshop

Deadline to register: March 1, 2018

Suzuki Workshop ParticipantThe Hartt School Community Division invites Suzuki violinists, violists, cellists, guitarists, and their teachers, to join us for the Hartt Suzuki String Workshop, Friday, March 16–Sunday, March 18, 2018. The workshop includes master classes for intermediate and advanced students led by our guest clinicians. Teacher development is on Sunday with a session by Winifred Crock. Registration is due by March 1. 

Register online.

HarttWorks 2017March 23–24: HarttWorks

Friday, March 23, and Sat. March 24, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Millard Auditorium
$5. Tickets available to the general public at the University box office March 5.

HarttWorks is a multi-genre dance and music production performed by students of The Hartt School Community Division.

Pictured: HarttWorks dancers, March 2017. Photo by John Long.

March 29: Garmany Series and Master Classes

The Attacca QuartetThursday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m.
Location: The Hartt School, Millard Auditorium
Tickets and more information.

The Attacca Quartet performs.

Amy Schroeder, violin
Keiko Tokunaga, violin
Nathan Schram, viola
Andrew Yee, cello

Haydn: String Quartet in C Major, Op. 33, No. 3
Caroline Shaw: Blueprint (2016)
György Ligeti: String Quartet No. 1 – “Métamorphoses Nocturnes” (1953-54)
Schumann: String Quartet No. 3 in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3
Mini-residency: Wednesday, March 28, and Thursday, March 29.

Master Classes for HCD Students

Each member of The Attacca Quartet will be holding a master class for HCD students on Wednesday, March 28, 6:30–7:30 p.m. Five HCD chamber music ensembles and three soloists will have the opportunity to work with a member of the ensemble for up to 30 minutes during these master classes.

April 27: Deadline for Graduating Seniors to Submit Bios and Headshots for the May Issue

Class of 2018We know this is a busy time of year for our high-school seniors, and we want to make sure you are recognized this spring for your achievements at The Hartt School Community Division. We will be publishing your personal biographies and headshots in the May 2018 edition of The Compass (see last year’s edition). Please visit our senior survey to submit your listing by Friday, April 27, 2018.

Headshots in JPEG format should be emailed to  

In addition, please save the date for our annual senior luncheon and recognition ceremony on Sunday, June 3, at 1 p.m. in the 1877 Club at the University of Hartford (near the library). Each HCD senior in attendance will be individually recognized, and Director’s Awards will be presented. We will also take a group photo of our seniors after the event. An invitation and RSVP information are coming soon.

We look forward to celebrating the achievements of our seniors with you! Best of luck with your activities this semester!

June 1–3: Alumni Weekend

Alumni: Join us at J Bar in Hartford on Friday night!

HCD third annual alumni weekend

We are excited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Connecticut Children’s Chorus (CCC). 

The Sunday concert will feature a collaborative piece, Haydn's "Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo," also known as the "Kleine Orgelsolomesse" (Little Organ Mass). The CCC Senior Division will be joined by HCD's Adult Chamber Choir, with Primi Voci's Mark Singleton conducting and Gabriel Löfvall playing the portative organ.

The Men’s Choir will be premiering a work by The Hartt School fellow Joshua Barnett based on early-American shape note music. This piece was composed specifically for our Men’s Choir after Barnett heard them performing the famous shape note song "Wondrous Love." Löfvall will be conducting.

Finally, our the Women's Choir will be performing Abbie Betinis’s "From Behind the Caravan: Songs of Hâfez," a thrilling five-movement setting of 14th-century Persian poetry. Meredith Neumann will be conducting, and various members of the ensemble, including some alumni, will play the string parts.

RSVP online.



6–7 p.m.: Alumni Social Event (off-campus food and fun)
Location: J Bar
Come eat appetizers and socialize with HCD faculty, staff, and alumni!


Connecticut Children's Chorus Junior Division Concert, 3 p.m.
Location: University of Hartford, Lincoln Theater, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford, Conn.


Connecticut Children's Chorus Senior Division Concert, 5 p.m.
Location: The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, Belding Theater

Sing with the CCC!

Alumni are invited to sing the final number at the Sunday concert, "How Can I Keep From Singing?"

Share Your Stories and Photos!

Pictured: CCC year unknown

Whether you were in the CCC when it first launched, or you just graduated, we want to hear from you. We are looking for stories about your experience with the CCC, photos of you and your friends performing with the choir, and updates about what you’re doing now. These stories and photos may be shared in our alumni e-letterThe Compass, or on our social media sites (FacebookTwitterInstagram). Please email to contribute.

Pictured: CCC, year unknown (1999?)