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Alumni Profiles

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Daniel de Cranie-Pierre, Class of 2016

Trinidad native Daniel De Cranie-Pierre began his musical journey at Sixth Form Government School/Polytechnic Institute, where, at the age of 18, he had his first experience being part of a choir. It was through the choir director, Rochelle Livingstone-Lewis, that he was introduced to Raymond Edwards who urged Daniel to begin classical vocal training. Skeptical, Daniel halfheartedly accepted the phone number for the recommended coach but eventually, after incessant prodding from his parents, he arranged his first coaching session. In October of 2011, Daniel began formal training under the tutelage of June Nathaniel. Just four months after, at the 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival, Daniel was awarded three titles: Boys 16–19 Vocal Solo overall winner, 16–19 Religious Contemporary solo overall winner, and Male Baritone Solo north zone winner.

While at Plattsburgh, Daniel has been featured as “Curly” in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, “King Melchior” in Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera in one act, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and “Mitch Mahoney” in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Most recently, Daniel was the Richard Maltby, Jr. Award-winner for Musical Theatre Excellence at the Region 1 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. He has received a full scholarship from KCACTF to attend the Broadway Theatre Project Summer Institute 2016, “the world’s most prestigious musical theatre arts education program for college students” (Playbill).

In his own words:

“A few weeks ago I looked at some of my videos from my first ever voice classes at SUNY Plattsburgh. Looking at these videos I was overwhelmed with emotions. I could not believe what I was, had transformed into what I am. SUNY Plattsburgh taught me that to make it you must have confidence and be willing to take risks. We all get too comfortable where we are and forget that we are all destined for greatness but we must take the risk and be willing to toil. I would definitely say that Plattsburgh has made me a better version of myself.”

Yana Avedyan, Class of 2012

Yana Avedyan, pianist, is originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine, where she attended Music School #9 and studied with Glazirina Tatiana majoring in piano performance. She began her studies with Dr. Karen Becker at SUNY Plattsburgh in 2007 and has participated in master classes with Evgenia Tzarov and Helen Huang. In the spring of 2011 Avedyan made her debut as soloist with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 488. She completed her bachelor’s degree with a double major in music and accounting in May 2012, when she graduated summa cum laude. In the spring of 2013, Yana Avedyan and Danielle Breisach (flute) were the winners of the Annual Shain Woodwind-Piano Duo Competition. In the spring 2014, Avedyan was one of the winners of the Annual Beethoven Competition. Avedyan is currently in the DMA program at the University of Wisconsin — Madison, where she is a student of Van Cliburn medal winning pianist Christopher Taylor.

In her own words:

“I think it is important for students to find what they want to do and to work hard to achieve it. I believe the SUNY Plattsburgh Music Department offers a wonderful education in order for their students to succeed. I was so inspired by them that I got to follow my dream and achieve things that I never thought I could.”

Rebecca Pethes, Class of 2009

Rebecca Pethes is a versatile performer whose musical interests have led her to sing repertoire ranging from Renaissance motets to world premieres of new music. She currently resides in Gainesville, Florida, where she teaches private voice lessons at the Academy of Music & Art and sings in a Renaissance motet choir that performs previously unrecorded works. As a member of the ten-voice professional choir at the Historic Mariners Church of Detroit, Rebecca enjoyed singing the early motets of the Anglican Church from 2009 to 2011. She was a featured performer in a concert with the Bowling Green State University Early Music Ensemble that surveyed the music of John Dowland and his contemporaries. Rebecca enjoys the challenge of interpreting contemporary music and performed the leading role in the world premiere of Wearing White, a one-act opera by Jamie Leigh Sampson. She was invited to participate in the SoundSCAPE Composition and Performance Exchange in Maccagno, Italy, where she premiered compositions by up-and-coming composers and sang the role of “Emily” in Edgar and Emily, a chamber opera by Ernst Toch. Pethes performed as “Mrs. Anderssen” in Steven Sondheim’s A Little Night Music with Bowling Green Opera Theater and most recently appeared on stage in Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World with Second Stages Toledo. Rebecca received her master’s degree in vocal performance from Bowling Green State University in 2011.

In her own words:

“I received a fellowship to study at SUNY Plattsburgh for one semester in 2007 and I had intended to return to Canada to finish my degree. However, I liked the music department at SUNY Plattsburgh so much that I decided to transfer. I was given encouragement by the faculty and ample opportunity to enhance my performance skills by participating in recitals and concert performances. The music faculty is caring and supportive of each student’s individual growth. For example, I was able to take independent studies with professors Jo Ellen Miano and Dr. William Pfaff based on my specific interests. I value my experience at SUNY Plattsburgh because I was given the opportunities and guidance that I needed and that I probably would not have received at a larger institution. My applied voice teacher, Timothy Morningstar, helped me to grow in my technique and artistry. Coachings with Dr. Karen Becker gave me a greater awareness of phrasing and style. I credit my experiences with Champlain Valley Voices and Cardinal Singers with helping me to gain the skills to become an effective soloist and ensemble member.”

Michael F. Vincent, Class of 2008

Michael Vincent received a fellowship to study at the University of Florida, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in musicology. His primary research interests are eighteenth-century music in Spain and opera seria. Michael earned his master’s degree in music history from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) in May 2011. He was also an adjunct instructor at Bowling Green, where he taught music history, and at Owens Community College, where he taught applied guitar and directed the guitar ensemble. He has presented his research at academic conferences in Italy, British Columbia, Kansas, Florida and Ontario. Michael played the lute in an early music ensemble in Bowling Green, Ohio and he plays the guitar in a Brazilian music ensemble in Gainesville, Florida. His master’s thesis on Orientalism and the character of Salome in music can be downloaded here:

Contact Michael at [email protected].

In his own words:

“The music program at SUNY Plattsburgh allowed me to identify and develop my interests and strengths as a musician. The faculty gave me practical guidance in my early academic career and has stayed in contact since I graduated. The Bachelor of Arts in Music curriculum allowed me to accumulate a broad knowledge of music, the humanities, arts and sciences, while focusing on my instrument (guitar) and my performing career. Ultimately, the music program laid the foundation for my career as a scholar and musician.”

Craig Bellot, Class of 2007

Craig Bellot is from the Commonwealth of Dominica in the West Indies. After finishing high school, Craig started working as a recording engineer and producer. Because of these interests and skills he chose to double major in music and computer science. During his last semester he combined the two interests again and created a website dedicated to “Delivering Authentic Caribbean Rhythms,” a site which allows users to browse and download music. While a student at Plattsburgh, he worked as a Teacher’s Assistant in the music technology lab and played piano in the jazz ensemble, contemporary combo and the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir. He continues to produce recordings for Afro-Caribbean artists.

In his own words:

“I have always been interested in both computers and music and at SUNY Plattsburgh, I was able to develop my interests in these areas. I received a lot of individual attention from the professors in both programs. They were always available to help. They provided guidance and helped me to define a career direction unique to my interests. The facilities were excellent and the music technology lab was a great place to learn about technology and how it affects music. The campus is also beautiful and the students are nice and friendly.”

Contact Craig for yourself! Contact Craig.

Elizabeth Paccione, Class of 2004

  • Major: B.A. in Music, May, 2004
  • M.A. in Music Therapy, May 2006, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions
  • Currently working at Jawonio, Inc., an agency for individuals with special needs.

In her own words:

"I was impressed with all of the faculty, both inside and outside of my program. Many of my teachers made me conscious of social/cultural issues of which I had never been aware. For that I am grateful, as I believe it has shaped the person I am today. My music professors each had something musically unique to offer their students. Each one always made time for a meeting, whether to chat about a course, my future plans, or busking around Europe! I always felt that when I had a problem about anything, I'd leave someone's office with a solution.

"The music program offers its students a strong general music education that provides many possibilities for future study. The music tech room alone was a great had everything! It was a good place to work on a composition and record, or to just work on some keyboard skills.

"I had great music theory teachers that helped me develop a solid background in theory. These skills are useful in music therapy, as we are often improvising and developing spontaneous tasks with clients. For example, I completed an internship where I was always challenged to integrate the many skills I learned in the music program into my sessions with clients."

Do you have any advice for current or incoming students?

"I suggest you consider taking private lessons. It's a great way to work one to one with a faculty member and keep up with your private studies.

"Buy lots of sweaters. And a warm coat, too!"

Joseph Miller, Class of 1996

Joseph Miller majored in communications with a concentration in music and a minored in Business Administration. He is currently a Fellow of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council in Washington, D.C., the leading national organization representing minority interests in media and telecommunications. There he meets with FCC Commissioners, Congressional Representatives, and policy leaders to promote minority ownership of media outlets and universal service for low-income consumers.

Nothing I Have Done Would Have Been Possible Without Formal Training

"The music program at SUNY Plattsburgh, combined with my training in broadcasting and business, gave me a well-rounded, high touch perspective, rather than one that is only quantitative and analytical.

"For example, in my advocacy work, I am able to understand how stations work from the ground floor, and the creative skills that I honed in the music program provided a foundation that is absolutely necessary in order to see the big picture: just as a single instrument plays a role in an orchestration, a single policy objective plays a role in the overall way in which people will be affected by media."

The Professors and Students Made Me Feel Like a Person, Not a Number

"Who made an impression on me at SUNY Plattsburgh? Marshall Onofrio, my music instructor, is the first person to come to mind. Doug Skopp, Professor of history and Darnay Campbell, one of my fellow students, also played a big role. I have kept in touch with many people from Plattsburgh, students and faculty alike. I liked being a person instead of a number. That is lost on larger campuses, regardless of classroom size."

Joe's Advice for Students

"Get the best grades you can and stay involved but not too involved. It's important to participate in extracurriculars, but don't spread yourself too thin. Something has to give and it shouldn't be your grades."

Mike Farley, Class of 2002

  • Major: B.S. in Computer Science
  • Minors: Music and Math
  • Currently: Living and working in Miami, Florida where he is a computer programmer. In his free time, Mike plays jazz/pop locally.

In his own words:

"The best thing about the music department is the relaxed atmosphere and the willingness for just about anyone to come and join.

"When I came to Plattsburgh, I hadn't played the sax since I was 13 or 14. I had forgotten everything. I got into lessons and started putting in an hour every day and kept practicing more and more. I played a lot during my year abroad in Australia, and when I came back I was practicing six hours a day. And now, my teacher is really stressing bebop licks that demand a lot of technique, which I pretty much have.

"I am very grateful to have gone to a school like Plattsburgh where I had a chance to start from square one. There aren't many colleges that have programs where you can do that."

Advice for new music students: Practice!!! Listen to your teachers and practice!!

Ask Mike about Plattsburgh State.

Tom McNichols, Class of 2002

  • Major: B.A. in Theatre Performance
  • Master of Music in Opera Performance from The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, (May 2004) where he studied with John Shirley-Quirk on a merit scholarship. Tom will be toured full-time with the professional vocal ensemble CANTUS.

In his own words:

"I liked the individual attention that a motivated, hard-working student can receive from everyone in the department, starting with the secretary all the way to the department chair.

"Cardinal Singers provided an amazing variety of standard choral repertoire that any singer will sing again at some point. Minor Adjustments gave me great performance opportunities and led to friendships that continue today. Jazz Band was a good break from classical studies and with the focus on Afro-Cuban and Latin repertoire, it was a wonderful opportunity to explore nonstandard jazz."

Advice for new music students: Whether you're from a small town or large city, if you want to foster your talents in an inspiring and congenial atmosphere, and still have a great, all-around foundation for continued studies or performance, then Plattsburgh State is the place. The entire school community enjoys and appreciates the Music Department.

David Grippo, Class of 1981

  • Major: B.A. in Music Theory and Performance

Currently: Saxophonist and clarinetist David Grippo leads the Giant Country Horns, a five-piece horn section, on tour with the Trey Anastasio Band, and has recorded on 6 Phish CDs. Since 1991 he has recorded and toured with Michael Ray. He has performed on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, and at Radio City Music Hall.

When he is not on the road, Dave directs the instrumental music program and jazz ensembles in grades 6-12 at South Burlington High School and South Burlington Middle School, Vermont. Dave was the lucky recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant for jazz study in 1990.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

If you would like more information about the music program of SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact

Dr. Karen Becker, Chairperson
Phone: (518) 564-2471
Fax: (518) 564-2197
Email: [email protected]

SUNY Plattsburgh
Department of Music
Myers Fine Arts 114
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901