School of Music

Alumni News, 2000-2009


Larry M. Archibald (BS ’00): Larry is the band director at Pickens County High School in Reform, AL.

Brad Battles (BSE in music education, ’00): Brad is the director of bands at Pickens Academy in Carrollton, AL and the musical director at the First Presbyterian Church in Aliceville, AL. He is married to Christina Battles, office associate at the UA Community Music School.

David Bearden (BS in music education, ’81; MA in school administration, ’00): David is in his 14th year serving as band director at Oneonta High School and 26th year of teaching. He and his wife, Kathy, have three children, Ross, Will, and Reagan.

Lori Grisham Bethea (BS in music education, ’00): Lori and her husband, Britt, moved to Mobile in 2003 where Britt is an attorney with Greene and Phillips. Lori just resigned from her job as an elementary music specialist to stay home with their baby boy, Maddox, born on August 4, 2006.

Larry Bradford (MM, DMA ’00): Larry serves as the assistant director of bands and instructor of percussion at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. Email him at

Addie Argo deHilster (BM in flute performance, ’00): Addie married Mike deHilster in June 2000 after their graduation from UA. They then moved to Norman, OK, where they spent four years in grad school. She earned a master’s degree in flute performance and ethnomusicology, and Mike worked on a DMA in horn. They now live in Long Beach, CA, where Addie works as a development associate for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Mike is pursuing his writing career.

Carla Sanford Durham (BM ’00): Carla married husband Mark in October, 2000. She started a music therapy program in the Decatur City Schools and is the first MT in an Alabama public school system. She is still playing the oboe, too.

Angela Hampton (BS ’00): Angela is assistant band director at Discovery Middle School in Madison, Alabama. She is engaged to Chris Neugent, who is currently completing a B.S. degree as well; the wedding date will be June 8, 2002.

Adam Heidenreich (BS ’00): Adam will be one of two music specialists at Cedar Hill Elementary School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He will also be auditioning to perform with the JSU Centerstage World Winter Guard for the 2004 season.

Leigh Hood Neria (BSE ’00): Leigh currently teaches middle school band at Cypress Middle School for Memphis City schools. Along with teaching the band, she also coaches the girls softball team during the spring. She married Leobardo Neria in September 2003 and currently lives outside of the city limits in Oakland, TN. They have a son, Isaac. She will be completing her master’s degree in School Administration and Supervision in March 2010.

Johnna Jones (BS ’00): Johnna currently is Assistant Band/Chorus Director at Oak Mountain Middle School in Birmingham.

Amy Marable (BM ’00): Amy went back to school to get a degree in nusing. She is now a trauma/emergency nurse with DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa.

Shatisa Pierce (BM in vocal performance, ’00): Shatisa was recently married (July 2004) and is currently enrolled at UA working on her teaching certificate in English Language Arts. She will finish work on her certificate in May.

Loren Snyder (BME vocal/choral, ‘oo): Loren works for the Tuscaloosa City School System. She has taught all grade levels and is currently at Eastwood Middle School. Her daughter will be 12 in October and is now attending EMS in the 6th grade. Loren also completed her Master’s degree in school counseling.

Johnna Stafford (BS in music education, ’00): Johnna moved to Florence in June 2004 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Education Administration at UNA. She maintains a private bassoon studio of 10 students in Birmingham. Jeremy is a professor in the Business Management department at UNA.

Rebecca Taylor (MM ’00): Rebecca is the director of music ministries at the Church of the Ascension (Episcopal) in Montgomery and the artistic director/conductor of the Montgomery Chorale and the Montgomery Youth Chorale.

Wesley Taylor (BA in music administration, ’04): After graduating in 2004 with a BA in Music Administration, Wesley completed an internship with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Vilar Institute for Arts Management in Washington DC. From there, he moved to Providence, RI to work in programming/concert booking for the Providence Performing Arts Center. In 2007, Wes returned to Alabama and currently works as the Program Development Director for the Alabama Dance Council. He lives in Gardendale with his dog, Lego.

Louisa Williams (BS ’00): After graduation Louisa moved to Washington, D.C., to intern in the development department of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Now she has taken a permanent position there and plans to make a career in arts administration.

Jolanta Wilson (BS ’00): Jolanta graduated with an MM in wind conducting from the University of New Orleans in May 2003 and currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is also a trombonist with the “Sign of the Times Big Band,” a professional jazz band based out of Charlotte, NC.


Erika Reed Branch (BM ’01): Erika continued her education at the University of Southern Mississippi, earning a Master of Music in clarinet. She is now director of bands at North Woolmarket and D’Iberville Middle Schools in Biloxi, MS. She also plays as a sub in the Mobile Symphony and Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestras and participates in the Gulf Coast Wind Ensemble regularly. She married Jason Branch in April 2006.

Heather Casson (BS in music education ’01): Heather taught 5 years at Brooks High School in Killen, AL. She is now the Asst Band Director at Oak Mountain Middle School in Birmingham, AL.

Alexis Zeller Clark (BA ’01): Alexis works for Creative Campus, a division of The University of Alabama. She married Phillip Clark, an elementary education major at UA, on June 22, 2002.

Michaela Bice Culpepper (BSW and MSW w/ minor in music, ’00 and ’01): Michaela married Brock Culpepper November 2, 2002, and had a beautiful baby girl named Julia Charleston on May 21, 2005. Their second girl, Elizabeth Brentlee (Ellee) was born on February 28, 2007. Michaela is a church pianist and is enjoying staying home with the kids.

Laura Dunn (BM ’01): Laura married William in 2001. She returned to Tuscaloosa and is music therapist at RISE, the Stallings Center.

Erik Janners (DMA in wind conducting, ’01): Erik is the director of music at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. He conducts the symphonic band, jazz ensemble and pep bands, as well as overseeing the entire music program.

Robert Knupp (BM ’92, MM ’94, DMA ’01): Robert has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor and granted tenure at Mississippi College for the start of the 2007 Academic year. Dr. Knupp has been at MC for seven years, with his main teaching responsibilities organ and music theory. During the last year, Knupp recorded and released his first CD entitled “Shelter from the Storm, Pipe organs that survived Katrina.” All proceeds from the sale of the CD are donated to churches on the Mississippi Gulf Coast that are rebuilding or purchasing organs for their worship spaces. His solo performances have been at such venues as St. Thomas Church in New York City, St. Philip’s Cathedral in Atlanta, St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, and the Washington National Cathedral. Future engagements will take him to Seattle, Boston, Los Angeles, and London U.K. During the summer of 2015, he spent five weeks playing organ recitals across Germany, in locations such as Leipzig, Forchheim, Freiburg, and Bad Salzungen. Robert has a studio of eight organ students at Mississippi College in Clinton.

K.C. Pan (EdD ’01): K.C. is lecturer in music education the University of Malaya. K.C. welcomes everyone from the UA family to visit Malaysia.

Krista Adams Santilli (BM in vocal performance, ’01): After living and working abroad for two years (primarily Italy and Germany), Krista has settled down in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband Stefano and her two children, Luca (born in Sept. 2005) and Isabella (born in Nov. 2007). Krista maintains an active performance career and is currently celebrating the release of her first CD,”Sacrae Notae,” a collection of sacred songs and arias. Krista also teaches Music Together and is a cantor.

John Semingson (DMA in choral conducting, ’01): John has been director of music for the Westminster Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Nashville, TN since 2001. At Westminster, he oversees a large graded choral program involving over 200 singers. He is also Adjunct Associate Professor for Teacher Education at the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, where he mentors students in the Master of Choral Music Education program and is dean of the Nashville chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Jed Smart (BS ’01): Jed is director of bands at Handley High School in Roanoke, AL.

Jamie Thomas (BS ’01): Jamie is band director at Piedmont High School in Piedmont, AL. Jamie married Lynn Green,a 2002 UA grad, in June 2003.

Kevin Thomas (BS in music education ’99 and MA ’05): Kevin recently accepted the position as band director at Fayette High School in Fayette Alabama.

Shelby Walker (BS in music education, ’01): Shelby currently resides in Tuscaloosa, where he is director of bands at Northridge High School. He married Emily Beegle on June 5, 2004.


Erin Maziek Babb (BM in music therapy, ’00; MA in special education, ’02): Erin received her Ed.S. in Special Education Administration from the University of West Georgia in December 2006. Erin works for Marietta City Schools in Marietta, GA, where she holds a lead special education teacher position.

Mandy Moore Broadhurst (BSE in music ed, ’02): Mandy is married to Nathan Broadhurst (former MDB mellophone). They have a son, William, born October 6, 2003. They now reside in Albertville, AL and Mandy is the now band director at New Hope High School in Madison County.

Casey Elliott (BM in music therapy, ’02): Casey is now a board certified music therapist at an acute inpatient psychiatric hospital in South Carolina. She has her own private piano studio with six beginning students, and is the assistant music director for two children’s choirs (ages 5-11) at church.

Jorie Franklin (BM in clarinet performance, ’02): Jorie is married to Chris Franklin (former trumpet player in MDB). They spent 4 years in Denver, Colorado, where Chris worked for Ball Corp. They now live in Olathe, KS and have 2 beautiful boys, Josh and Collin.

Cecelia Hamilton (BS in music education, ’02): After graduating from UA, Cecilia received the MM degree in flute performance from the University of North Texas. She has performed with Sherman Symphony and Metropolitan Winds. She is currently principal flutist with the Flower Mound Symphony Orchestra and she conducts the Flower Mound Progressive Orchestra. She performs with Aria Trio and Tin Roof Tango. Cecilia is the flute instructor for Austin College and maintains a studio of about 40 students in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Joseph Hudson (BSE ’02): Joseph taught choral and general music (6-8) at Brookwood Middle School in the Tuscaloosa County school system for two years before returning to UA in the fall of 2004 to begin a master’s degree in vocal performance. He is now the director of music at Northport First United Methodist Church, where he directs the adult chancel choir, the hand bell choir, and supervises the children’s music program.

Monica Free Mielke (BM ’02): After graduation from UA in 2002, Monica moved to Germany, where she studied clarinet in Osnabrück with Allan Ware, and in Düsseldorf with Ulf Rodenhäuser. She completed a degree in clarinet performance from the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule in 2006. In 2007 she married Falko Mielke. They lived in New York for one year while Falko completed a Master of Laws at NYU, then they returned to Germany, where Monica began teaching music in a German secondary school (Ricarda-Huch-Gymnasium in Gelsenkirchen). Monica is now pursuing a doctoral degree in musicology at the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule parallel to her job as a music teacher. Falko is a judge in Duisburg.

Laura (Martin) Noah (BM 2002): Laura currently lives in Montevallo, AL and is the principal timpanist for the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, principal percussionist for the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra and section percussionist with the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham teaching percussion.

Kyle C. Norris (B.S.Music Education/B.A.Theatre 2002): Kyle is currently the Associate Conductor of Monty Python’s Spamalot at the Wynn Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV. With his wife, Sarah Norris, he has written four children’s musicals which have been produced around the country earning him rave reviews from the New York Times. His fifth children’s show, Treasure Island, opened at the Forestburgh Playhouse in the summer of 2008.

Joey Roberts (BM in vocal performance, ’02): Joey is now a graduate student in Voice at the University of Michigan, studying with Dean Daniel Washington. His roles with the University Opera Theatre include Leporello from Don Giovanni, Simone from Gianni Schicchi, and Figaro in masterclass with Martina Arroyo. He has also performed with the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra as well as the Kirk in the Hills Chancel Choir.

Leah Seng (BS ’02): Leah married Jordan Seng, former MDB trombone player. She finished her M.M.E. at the University of Georgia in 2003 and is the band director at Gresham Middle School in Birmingham, AL.

Mark Tucker (BSE ’02): Mark is currently serving as minister of music and evangelism at First Baptist Church, Killen, Alabama. He married Leah Lane (B.S.Ed, 2001) in November 2002. She works as an elementary music instructor for the Florence, Alabama City school system. Mark is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree through New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. They may be reached by clicking here.


Nicole DeWeese-Helm (BS in music education, ’03): Nicole is the elementary music specialist at Meadow View Elementary in Radcliff, KY. She lives in Elizabethtown, KY with her husband, Derrick. They had their first child in February of 2005.

Joel Henson (BS in music education, ’03): Joel is currently in his 6th year as Director of Bands at Hueytown High School in Hueytown, Alabama.

Robin Ethridge Pentland (MM in musicology, ’03): Robin is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She recently married Ken Pentland of Phoenix and has moved to the Seattle area where Ken will continue school.

LaKeisha Phillips (BS in Vocal Music Education 2003): LaKeisha lives in Birmingham and teaches elementary music at Grantswood and Irondale Community Schools. She also teaches at Birmingham Children’s Choir. She was married on June 11, 2005.

Shelley Gilbert-Tomich (BME ’03): Shelley married Mark Tomich (computer engineer, UA grad ’02) on December 20, 2003. She now teaches elementary band/general music in Alpharetta, GA.

Amanda (Keener) Umphrey (BS Music Education 2003): Amanda was the choral director at Pinson Valley High School for two years before getting her M. S. Ed. in Library Science from Jacksonville State University in 2007. She is currently a library media specialist at Springville High School. She continues to actively participate in music at church and accompanies the SHS choir on piano. Amanda was married to Shane Umphrey in 2004 and they have one son, Caleb, born on April 29, 2008.

Matthew Watts (BM in performance, ’03): Matthew finished his master’s degree in performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at the Johns Hopkins University. He moved back to Atlanta and is currently performing with ensembles like the Atlanta Pops Orchestra.

Gerald Welker (BM in horn performance, ’04; MM ’09): Gerald and Joy Welker moved to Colorado Springs, CO in June 2009 so that Gerald could accept his new position with the United States Air Force Academy Band. They have 3 beautiful daughters, Lauren (7), Emily (5), and Sophie (3).

Ginny White (BSE in music education, ’03): Ginny teaches music in the Tuscaloosa County School System.


Colin Dorman (BM horn performance, ’04): Colin received his MM in horn performance from the University of Louisville. He currently lives in Kentucky and freelances and maintains a private studio. He is engaged to Jessica Litwiniec and they will be getting married in November.

Juan Martinez (BS in commerce and business administration, ’04): Juan currently lives with his wife and daughter and works professionally as a computer programmer for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. He continues to seek out opportunities for participation in performance arts with various local venues.

Josef McClellan (MM vocal performance, ’04): Josef has performed roles with Opera Birmingham and was an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera where he covered the role of Brighella in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. McClellan has appeared in opera, concert, and oratorio in the United States, England, and Germany. He is currently a Hohenberg-Scheidt Young Artist at the University of Memphis where he is pursuing the D.M.A. in Vocal Performance.

Heather Mechler (B.A., Music; 2004): Heather graduated from the University of Alabama with her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in May 2010. She is currently living in Tuscaloosa and teaching classes in the College of Education.

Douglas O’Grady (DMA in composition, ’04): Douglas is currently Assistant Professor of Music in Theory and Composition at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Daniel Seay (BSE instrumental, ’04): Daniel teaches middle and high school band in Virginia. He was married in June 2005 to Amy Muse; they live in Big Stone Gap, VA.

Eric Wiggs (BM in jazz studies, ’04): Eric is currently finishing up his M.M. in Jazz Performance/Pedagogy at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is a freelance musician and teaches privately through the University of Colorado and the Boulder School of Music.


David Caddell (BS in education ’05): David is employed by the Tuscaloosa County Schools as band director at Collins-Riverside Middle School and Echols Middle School.

Lydia Fetner (BM in violin performance ’05): Lydia completed her M.M. in violin performance at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music this year and is currently working on her D.M.A. She  teaches with the Starling Project Foundation and works under Kurt Sassmannshaus as the Starling Chamber Orchestra Librarian. Lydia also teaches at the Immanuel School of the Arts and at the Seven Hills School as a private violin teacher. She currently has 25 violin students. In addition to her musical studies Lydia is excited about her upcoming wedding this summer.

Mark Foster (BS ’90, MA ’96, EdD ’05): Mark has been teaching band in the Birmingham area for 16 years and is currently the band director at Mountain Brook Junior High School.

Jamin McPhetrige (BM ’04, BS ’05): Jamin earned his M.M. in Euphonium Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2007. After completing his first year of teaching at Northridge High School in Tuscaloosa, Jamin has accepted a band and orchestra director position at Palm Harbor University High School in Palm Harbor, Florida. He currently resides in Oldsmar, Florida with his dog, Buddy.


Trey Champion (BM ’97, BS ’06): Trey completed his degree in interior design and art history, and accepted a position with Stanley Beaman and Sears, Architecture and Interiors. His efforts are concentrated on children’s health care facilities.

Brett Hawkins (BM in jazz studies/music media, ’06): Brett began his masters in Fall 2006 as a GTA in the University of Lousiville jazz program.

Melissa Garner Koprowski (BM in performance, ’06): Melissa recently won First Place in the International Clarinet Association Young Artist Competition. She was among 12 people selected to the attend the Semi-Final round held in Austin, TX July 22nd from a large number of applicants in a taped round representing 6 different countries. The Final round was held on July 24th, of which she was the first place recipient winning a prize consisting of $2000 and a new professional clarinet. Melissa studied with Dr. Scott Bridges at the UA for her BM degree. She has since been continuing her education at the University of Southern California, where she is a student of Yehuda Gilad for the duration of her MM, and currently her DMA degree.


Micah Hardwick (BM in performance, ’07): Micah has just accepted the position of battery caption head for the Texas State University marching band. He is also an active teacher/performer in the south central TX area. In addition, he is the snare technician for the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps out of Santa Clara, CA.

Elizabeth “Libby” Richardson Hearn (BS ’03, MA ’07): Elizabeth is in her fifth year as choral director at Hueytown High School in Alabama. She also serves as the color guard/winterguard coordinator for the school. She and her husband Sid currently reside in Vestavia Hills. Sid will complete his Ph.D. in music education from Auburn University in August of 2008.


Jonathan M. Smith (BM in voice ’05, MM voice ’09): After graduating from UA, Jonathan performed for two months with Opera in the Ozarks in Eureka Springs. He performed the roles of the Witch in Hansel and Gretel (including all educational outreach shows around the state) and Guillot in Manon, and was assistant stage manager for Manon and Albert Herring. He has since relocated to Atlanta, GA and hopes to soon begin working with The Atlanta Opera, as well as other regional and national opera houes. He has also been contacted by Opera in Ozarks for their 2010 season where he has been asked to return as stage manager for Tosca and Don Giovanni, and perform with the company in Carmen.