Andrew M. Bliss, DMA - Festival Director / Percussion Faculty
Andrew Bliss is a versatile percussionist, specializing in the performance and education of contemporary solo and chamber music. His work has been heard at theBanff Centre for the Arts (Canada), the SEAMUS National Conference (IN), the LiveWire Festival (Baltimore, MD), the Intermedia Festival (Indianapolis, IN), and at multiplePercussive Arts Society International Conventions. A devotee of commissioning and creating new works involving percussion, Bliss regularly works with composers such as John Supko, Christopher Adler, Mark Applebaum, and John Luther Adams.
Andrew is the Artistic Director of the nief-norf Summer Festival and co-founder of the nief-norf Project, the organization’s performance ensemble which is currently preparing commissioned works by Michael Gordon, James Wood, and Martin Bresnick. He also regularly appears with pianist Mabel Kwan as Nothing in Common, works with multi-media artist John Pobojewski, and was a founding member of the Base4 Percussion Quartet.
Equally committed to education, Andrew is the Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Tennessee, where he serves as Director of Percussion Studies. He has been featured at the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic, the National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy (NCPP), and at the Association for Technology in Music Instruction’s (ATMI) National Conference. He has held faculty positions at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Centre College, and the University of Kentucky, and has also taught at the Music for All Summer Symposium, served as front ensemble caption head for the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps, and has given a variety of masterclasses throughout the U.S. as well as in Bangkok, Thailand and Stockholm, Sweden.
His research interests involve music and number as well as the trajectory of the percussion repertoire within sociological, historic, and cultural contexts. As such, the findings of his DMA document, which surrounded the music of David Lang, have been presented at the the 2nd International Conference on Music and Minimalism (Kansas City, MO) and in Zagreb, Croatia at the CMS International Conference.
Andrew received his DMA and MM in percussion performance from the University of Kentucky and his Bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University. He is proud to be a Yamaha Performing Artist and to have the generous support of Innovative Percussion, Evans Drumheads, and Black Swamp Percussion Instruments and Accessories. His primary teachers include James Campbell, Rich Holly, Robert Chappell, Orlando Cotto, and Liam Teague. A native of Illinois, Andrew currently resides in Knoxville, TN with his lovely wife Erin, their son Donovan, their dog Chloe, and their three cats Bo, Dora, and Fiona.
R. Andrew Lee, DMA - Piano Faculty
Pianist R. Andrew Lee, DMA is emerging as one of the foremost interpreters of minimal music. He has been described having “control, elegance of touch, and enormous stamina” by Robert Carl in Fanfare Magazine, and his CD of William Duckworth’s The Time Curve Preludes was chosen as a 2012 Critics’ Choice by Gramophone. In his tenure with the Irritable Hedgehog label, he has recorded five albums, including the first perfectly-timed recording of Tom Johnson’s An Hour for Piano and the premiere recording of Dennis Johnson’s 5-hour minimalist epic, November. Lee is currently embarking on a prodigious recital tour called Minimalism in Twelve Parts, which consists of over twenty hours of minimalist-inspired programs to be performed across the US, UK, and Canada, including such notable venues as Café OTO in London and ISSUE Project Room in New York.
Dr. Lee currently teaches at Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and was most recently Artist-in-Residence at Avila University. In addition to performances across the US, he as performed in Canada, England, France, Belgium, and Italy. He received his D.M.A. in Piano Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music, where he studied under the direction of Prof. John McIntyre. His research concerns the intersection of minimalist and postminimalist compositions and temporality. He has also earned a masters in piano performance from UMKC and a bachelors in piano performance from Truman State University, where he studied under Dr. David McKamie.
While not working, writing or practicing, Dr. Lee enjoys spending time with his wife, herself a violinist, and his young daughters. He also enjoys a variety of computer-related activities, such as making new connections on twitter (@andyleedma), and thinks more minimalists would enjoy long distance running and biking if they gave it a chance.
Ashley Walters, Cello Faculty
Cellist Ashley Walters, known for her “knockout” performances (LA Times) has gained attention as an interpreter of new music, a prodigious performer in chamber music, and a dedicated teacher. After a performance in Los Angeles, Mark Swed of the LA Times wrote: "Ashley Walters, a cellist finishing her doctorate at UCSD, played Berio's late Sequenza XIV with the kind of brilliance that beckons a major new performer on the new music scene."
A native of Oak Hill, Virginia, Ashley is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Contemporary Cello Performance as a fellow at the University of California, San Diego, where she has been twice awarded for excellence in teaching for her work with undergraduate students. She graduated from California Institute of the Arts with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Cello Performance. In 2005, Ashley graduated from Vanderbilt University, Magna Cum Laude. She had her solo debut in 2006 performing Sciarrino’s ‘Melencolia I’ at the REDCAT hall in Los Angeles. In the summer of 2008, Ashley worked with the great Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho performing her work ‘Spins and Spells’ as part of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Ashley is a founding member of the Formalist Quartet, a Los Angeles based new music string quartet that tours in the U.S. and internationally and that focuses on adventurous contemporary repertoire. In addition, she is a member of inauthenita and the Los Angles based chamber orchestra, wild Up. Her recordings include Harold Budd, Bandits of Stature, Rosenboom and Tenney on Cold Blue Two, a live performance on Johann Johannsson’s Transcendentalism EP, two string quartets on Nicholas Deyoe’s With Throbbing Eyes, Henry Wolfe’s Wolfe Sings Field, Arthur Jarvinen’s 100 Cadences with Four Melodies, A Chorale, and Coda (With Bells on!), as well as recordings on Stanford’s <541> label, and various rock and pop albums.
Ashley has served on the cello faculty of the California State Summer School, and currently serves as faculty at the Oakwood School, the Academy of Creative Education, the Academy at Harmony Project, and as an Associate-in-Music at UCSD. Ashley's primary teachers have been Charles Curtis, Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, Felix Wang, John Kochanowski, and Barbara Van Patten. Ashley will defend her dissertation and graduate from University of California, San Diego this June. She is currently working on a solo CD, which includes Sequenza XIV by Luciano Berio, Plainsound-Litany by Wolfgang von Schweinitz, Another Secular Calvinist Creed by Andrew McIntosh, For Stephanie on our Wedding Day and another anxiety by Nicholas Deyoe and Sweet Bay Magnolia and Barry Clusters by Wadada Leo Smith. Upcoming performances include concerts with wild Up and the Formalist Quartet, performances in NYC and Chicago with Wadada Leo Smith, a solo recital, a performance of music by Tom Johnson, and performances in Austria with the Formalist Quartet. Ashley is thrilled to be joining the nief-norf faculty for the 2013 Summer Festival!
Omar Carmenates, DM - Host
Omar Carmenates is currently the Assistant Professor of Percussion at Furman University in Greenville, SC where he oversees all aspects of the percussion program including classical, jazz, and world percussion studies. In addition to his duties at Furman, Dr. Carmenates was also the Percussion Caption Head and Arranger for the internationally-renowned Boston Crusaders Drum & Bugle Corps from 2007-2009. While at the Crusaders, Dr. Carmenates was also a member design team and oversaw all aspects of the percussion program. Omar’s teaching and writing credits in the marching percussion idiom also include arrangements and original works for groups such as the Beatrix Drum and Bugle Corps from Hilversum, Holland, Infinity Indoor Percussion, Timber Creek Independent, the Florida State University Marching Chiefs, the Furman University Paladin Regiment, and numerous other high school programs across the United States. As an adjudicator, clinician and lecturer, Carmenates has also appeared at various festivals and events throughout the world including the Yogyakarta Marching Band Camp in Indonesia and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. Carmenates is a proud endorser/clinician for Vic Firth, Inc. Remo Drumheads, Sabian Cymbals, and Pearl Corporation/Adams Musical Instruments.
As a freelance musician, Dr. Carmenates is a versatile performer, having played in many groups in various genres. His interest in contemporary chamber and solo music has led to commissions and collaborations with such notable composers as John Luther Adams, John Psathas, David Skidmore, Christopher Deane, and Brian Nozny. He has been a percussionist with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Greenville Pops Orchestra, the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, and the Las Colinas and Garland Symphony Orchestras. In addition, he has been a featured performer with the Monroe Symphony Orchestra, the Carolina Youth Symphony, and the Furman University Wind Ensemble.
For five years, Carmenates was a musician at Walt Disney World holding positions such as a percussionist with the Village Beatniks in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Omar is also an active scholar having published articles in Percussive Notes and Drum Corps International Magazine, among others. He holds a Doctor of Music degree from Florida State University, a Master of Music Degree in Percussion Performance from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Central Florida. He has studied with Dr. John W. Parks IV, Mark Ford, Christopher Deane, Ed Soph, Ed Smith, Dr. Robert Schietroma, and Jeff Moore. He resides in Greenville, SC with his wife Nicole, their children Maya and Isaac, and their two basset hounds, Ripley and Maggie.
Mike Truesdell - Percussion Faculty
Mike Truesdell, a Madison, WI native, began playing percussion at age 13. Mike received a Bachelor’s Degree in Percussion Performance from Lawrence University in June 2007. At Lawrence, he was awarded the distinguished Trustee's Scholarship, as well as the Fred Schroeder Prize in Wind Performance.
Mike’s endeavors as a solo and chamber musician, has brought him throughout the United States as well as Europe and Japan. In October 2009, he received acclaim in The New York Times for his performance of Tan Dun’s Silk Road in New York’s Alice Tulley Hall, saying “Michael Truesdell…played with sensitivity and dexterity.”
In January 2008, he performed with Pierre Boulez and the Lucerne Festival Academy chamber ensemble to critical acclaim. In November 2007, Mike was awarded 3rd prize in the Percussive Arts Society’s International Marimba Competition in Columbus, OH. He has been twice featured in recital as Showcase Artist at the internationally attended Zeltsman Marimba Festival, and in 2007 was added as faculty. In the Summer of 2009, Mike was again featured as Associate Faculty, as well as co-producer of the ZMF New Music double-disc release by Bridge Records, Intermediate Masterworks for Marimba, featuring Nancy Zeltsman, Jack Van Geem, Ivana Bilic, Thomas Burritt, Jean Geoffroy, Beverley Johnston, William Moersch, and Gordon Stout. As winner of the 2006 Wisconsin Public Radio’s Neale Silva Competition, he participated in a solo marimba recital broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio. Other radio credits include a solo appearance on WGBH-Boston, and a live duo performance on the Chicago-area public radio station WFMT with his former teacher, Dane Richeson.
Active in non-western styles of music, Mike feels equally comfortable performing the traditional music of Ghana, Brazil and Cuba. Recently he has co-founded Spectrum Trio, a percussion trio dedicated to creating new works for percussion trio, based in music of the African diaspora. Spectrum Trio released their first album, Spectrum Trio, in May of 2009 to critical acclaim. In November 2009, Spectrum Trio performed masterclasses at University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Michigan and the 2009 Percussive Arts Society’s International Convention.
He has performed with a variety of groups including Chicago’s CUBE contemporary ensemble, Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps, The Juilliard Orchestra under Bernard Haitink and James DePreist, Juilliard’s New Juilliard Ensemble and Axiom new music ensemble, Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra, Present Music, various jazz ensembles on drum set, vibraphone and percussion, salsa group Vale Todo, West African Dance of Madison, and the National Wind Ensemble, under H. Robert Reynolds, which culminated in his first performance in Carnegie Hall.
In addition to performing, Mike’s heart lies in teaching. In 2007, he founded the Savanna Oaks Percusion Ensemble in Verona, WI, and also maintains a private studio. In 2009, Mike created the Wildcat Percussion Camp, a week-long percussive opportunity for students entering 7th-12th grades.
Mike spent the fall of 2006 studying at the Conservatory van Amsterdam with Nick Woud (timpani, Concertgebouw Orchestra), and Victor Oskam. Mike's teachers in the U.S. have included Vicki Peterson Jenks, Jamie V. Ryan, and Dane Maxim Richeson and Daniel Druckman. He is currently a student of Mr. Druckman and a candidate for a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School in New York City.