Department of Music sings the praises of its students

The University of Nevada, Reno Department of Music reflects on the Spring 2023 semester, recognizing the notable achievements of its students

hands hold flute during recital

Department of Music sings the praises of its students

The University of Nevada, Reno Department of Music reflects on the Spring 2023 semester, recognizing the notable achievements of its students

hands hold flute during recital

The University of Nevada, Reno Music Department is singing the praises of current undergrads, graduates and advanced degree candidates.

“It’s been a busy year, with so much to report!” Reed Chamberlin, chair of the Department of Music, said. “We also asked students to weigh in on the University of Nevada, Reno experience, and what has made their time here so special.”

Notable Student Accomplishments for Spring 2023

Danielle Brown

Danielle Brown, an international Master of Music in Vocal Performance student, was accepted into Opera Seme, a young artist program based in Tuscany with faculty from Yale University, Opernhaus Zurich and Spazio Seme. She has accepted her contract with Opera Seme where she will play La Zelatrice in their production Suor Angelica, as well as featured participation in opera scenes program and in Jazz and Broadway Concert with the Orchestra Instabile di Arezzo at Arezzo’s Fortezza Medicea.


Brown was also accepted into the American Institute of Dramatic Studies in Graz, Austria and a National Semi-Finalist with the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition this past spring.  She will be completing her degree in December after she presents her lecture recital on the art song of Jamaican composer Andrew Marshall.

“My time here at the University has offered me opportunities to learn from some of the most excellent professors and performers in the musical field,” Brown said. “I have gained so much experience in performing and working with those who are of high stature. I have also faced some challenges, which I’ve met as opportunities in pushing me to achieve great things. I mark my success by my repeated perseverance through adversity, and with this I will continue being a successful musician. I highly recommend the music program for those who are passionate about music and need to be at a place that gives them a sense of belonging, motivation, self-esteem, confidence and purpose.”

Randy Smith

Graduate Master of Music student Randy Smith has been accepted into the Institute for Dramatic Voices this summer. This is a young artist program that is highly selective and described as a "boot camp for big voices." The University is fortunate enough to host the program here on campus in July. It is directed by opera legend mezzo soprano Dolora Zajick, who happens to live in Reno. Singers spend three weeks working with coaches, directors and voice teachers from the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Deutscheoper Opera Berlin and Julliard. 

Smith is also one of the only voice students to complete two master’s degrees simultaneously. He has finished his coursework for the Master of Choral Conducting degree and is well on his way to working through his degree plan for the Master of Vocal Performance degree, which he expects to complete in Spring 2024.

Shailynn Winter, JC Palmaira, Magen Gauthier, Danielle Brown, Alexander Fanetti, Xander Holcomb, Sophia Florez, Amber Hurtado, Taytem McCluney, Juliana Carmona

These vocal students advanced to the semi-finals of the CM Music Classical Singer final competition in San Francisco over Memorial Day weekend, several in both Musical Theatre and Classical categories.

“My experience at the University over the year has been filled with kindness and new and exciting opportunities,” Hurtado said. “Specifically, within the voice department, everyone is friendly and tries their best to help you succeed. I’ve been able to find people I really connect with and can see myself being longtime friends with. The University has been a great backdrop for my story of growth and improvement. Spending time with the best people around me makes the mundane feel like an adventure!”

“I’d love to add that I’ve was born and raised in Reno, so I’ve gotten to grow up walking on the University campus,” McCluney said. “It’s been wonderful watching the campus grow and change and it’s been even more fun to get to participate in things like watching football games, and my personal favorite singing with the choir! It’s such a privilege to work in our new music building and even more with our lovely music community here.”


“What makes the University so special is how accessible the professors are,” Florez said. “I am a very shy person and am terrified of asking for help, but I knew it would only help me. If you make time for them, they will make time for you. They genuinely want to see students succeed, especially when you want to go into the same or similar field as them. The University offers almost all, if not all, of the resources you need to succeed, you just have to utilize them.”

“My experience here at the University has been short so far, but truly telling for how the rest of my undergrad will go,” Holcomb said. “I wouldn't be able to participate in this competition without our amazing voice faculty and the incredibly supportive environment created by them and other students. I think I've made a lot of progress in my first year singing at the University and I'm confidently going into this competition knowing that I've had some incredible training here.”

Adea Baivuku

Pianist Adea Baivuku received the Outstanding International Graduate Student Award from the College of Liberal Arts.

"My experience at the University has been truly special due to the exceptional faculty, the collaborative musical community, the outstanding facilities, and the overall supportive and nurturing environment,” Baivuki said. “The DMA in Piano Performance program stood out for its emphasis on both theory and practice, providing a comprehensive and in-depth exploration of music. This institution has given me the tools, opportunities and inspiration to develop my musical skills and artistic voice.”

Nicole Gianna Molino Pajarillo

Cellist Nicole Gianna Molino Pajarillo was named the College of Liberal Art’s Winter 2022 Senior Scholar.

“Being surrounded by outstanding musicians and professors made me become the best musician and music teacher I am today,” Pajarillo said. “Ever since I graduated, I look back at all the people who helped me with my orchestra profession. The constant support of my music career from my cello professor and my ensemble colleagues made me grow into a strong musician, and I am forever grateful for these experiences.”

Jack Whitehouse and Alexander Fanetti

Trombonist Jake Whitehouse auditioned and was accepted into the 2023 Fresno Orchestra and Opera Summer Academy orchestra. This is his second year in a row.

Additionally, hornist Alexander Fanetti received a scholarship to attend FOOSA.

FOOSA Philharmonic is a pre-professional orchestra that allows advanced musicians of college and high school age to enjoy a side-by-side performance experience with faculty members. This year’s program features Joan Tower’s Sequoia, Alexander Scriabin’s The Poem of Ecstasy, and Dmitri Shostokovich’s Symphony No. 11 “The Year 1905.”

Adalynn Wells

Bachelor of Music Education graduate Adalynn Wells just accepted a full-time position as Director of Choirs at Ida B. Ranch Middle School. She also graduated with a 4.0 from the University.

Graduating Seniors and Graduate Student Placements

Alexandra Gordon

Oboist Alexandra Gordon earned Masters of Music in Oboe Performance this spring from the University. Gordon played principal oboe in the University’s orchestra and Nevada Wind Ensemble. Gordon also performed with the Reno Philharmonic and Reno Chamber Orchestra. Gordon will begin Doctorate of Musical Arts this fall at the University of Southern Mississippi as well as begin teaching at Jackson State University as adjunct oboe faculty. Gordon also attended the MahlerFest this May and was a fellow at Mostly Modern Festival the summer of 2022.

“The University gave me the tools and initiative to pursue opportunities that have helped me make a difference in the music field,” Gordon said. “I hope to use these skills to make the oboe an accessible instrument for all young people, especially those living in rural areas.”

Emily Johns

Hornist Emily Johns received a graduate assistantship to the University of Alabama for her doctoral studies. She also was admitted into the Round Top Festival, a highly prestigious honor, with all participants attending for free.  

“I have received a Graduate Teaching Assistantship from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa where I will be assisting the professor and working in the music department,” Johns said. “I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to teach applied lessons and to continue working towards my career goals. I will be pursuing my Doctorate of Musical Arts in the hopes of becoming a university professor.”

Ethan Swanson

Jazz trombonist Ethan Swanson was accepted to the master’s program at CU Boulder.

Zach Howarth

Jazz percussionist Zack Howarth accepted a Doctor of Musical Arts Teaching Assistantship at CU Boulder.

DJ Saycich

DJ Saycich was accepted into the Masters of Music at CU Boulder and is attending.

Dexter Hidalgo

Clarinetist Dexter Hidalgo was accepted to the Masters of Music program at the University of Oregon on a graduate assistantship.

Aliyah Saldarriaga

Flutist Aliyah Saldarriaga was accepted to the Masters of Music program at the University of Oregon on a graduate assistantship.

Jason Frogget

Hornist Jason Frogget, a 2022 graduate, was admitted to the Masters of Music program at the University of Arizona on Horn with an assistantship.

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