Helen Sung (Instrumental ’89) is now an official Steinway Artist! The accomplished pianist and composer studied classical piano and violin before also pursuing jazz. She has toured all over the world, and taught with Juilliard, the Berklee College of Music, and Columbia University. Learn more about her career here.
Abby Veliz (Vocal ’11), Wiley DeWeese (Instrumental ’10), and Emileigh Vandiver (Instrumental ’06) were all tapped to discuss their experience of the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the arts. Veliz, a music teacher at Garfield Elementary School in Pasadena ISD, said, “We are a team and we work together. We are intimidated; we’re all worried; but we are ready to learn and to basically attack this head on because we want to be reaching out to the kids that we can.”
Though the 2020 Counter Current Festival was canceled, the organizers have found some ways to put the annual “Ten Tiny Dances” program online. You can see a video of the dance choreographed and performed by ‘PVA consultant Laura Gutierrez (Dance ’05), as well as video of ‘PVA faculty Courtney Jones (Dance ’99) performing her original dance at the Festival in 2017.
Shawna Thomas (Theatre) will present for USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, where she previously received her Master’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism. Now a Content Development Executive for Quibi, Thomas was formerly the Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief for Vice News, and before that, she was a Senior Digital Editor and Senior Producer for NBC’s Meet the Press.
Sylvia Saltzstein (Instrumental ’86) has received an Albuquerque Business First Women of Influence award, for her leadership in Sandia National Laboratories’ nuclear energy groups and for her role in the wider community. She was also recognized for being an expert in nuclear energy transportation, especially in terms of safety.
Comedy writer Chandler Dean (Theatre ’14) is regularly published on entertainment news site The Hard Times, and his hilarious pieces — usually about video games — make for great pandemic distractions, in addition to the games themselves. Try “HDMI Cable Seemingly Connected to the Abyss” or “5th Friend Who ‘Doesn’t Mind Watching Everyone Else Play’ Awarded Nobel Peace Prize.”
Audrey Florence St. Germain (Theatre ’04) is a Kindergarten teacher at HISD’s Herod Elementary, and has expanded her YouTube channel with a new series for parents: “A Crash Course in Kindergarten.” Her husband, Evan St. Germain (Dance ’04) is the PE Coach at Herod.
Blair Ault (Theatre ’06), who works for the Montrose main-stay Poison Girl, co-authored this opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle highlighting the pandemic’s effect on individuals: “Now that we know this can happen, how do we prepare if it happens again? Will people care enough about their service workers to support them, or is everyone hurting too much right now? What does ‘support’ even mean?”
Elizabeth Priestly Siffert (Instrumental ’98) is a Principal Oboist for the Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera. During the stay-at-home order, she’s keeping busy with impromptu performances. (See if you can spot her music coach, Valentina, in the video!)
Ebrin Stanley (Theatre ’13) recently finished performing in Chicago’s production of Hamilton in Chicago. He gave a great shout-out and thank-you by way of Teachers Can. to all the teachers he’s had along the way, especially the Kinder HSPVA faculty who helped him on his journey: “I love you guys so much! Thank you! Thank you for everything that you guys have been doing, and everything you continue to do, and that you’ve done for me!”
Matt Mullenweg (Jazz ’02 and former HSPVA Friends Distinguished Alum) was consulted on a Houston Chronicle article about how technology will change life during and after the pandemic. On working from home, he said, “People are going to reexamine the defaults and the things they took for granted before this happened.” The article also mentions how Mullenweg, who founded the company that became WordPress, wrote the first version of WordPress while a student at HSPVA.
Click 2 Houston covered the Kinder HSPVA Staff and Faculty video set to the song “Manic Monday.” Since so many of our faculty are also alumni, we decided this qualifies as Alumni News! Check out the whole video below: