Trotter Visiting Professorship connects students with world-class artists

By Kristen Hudgins 

“Come on, more!” Velvet Brown urges a student ensemble to play louder as they workshop a piece during her master class. Brown, an international tuba soloist, implores careful attention to the song’s dynamics, which demand a softer beginning and louder conclusion. “Full!” she continues encouragingly.
In January, the UO School of Music and Dance (SOMD) invited Brown to host two master classes, private lessons, and perform with her Stiletto Brass Quintet ensemble as a Robert M. Trotter Distinguished Professor.
Named in honor of a former SOMD dean, the Trotter program funds opportunities for world-class artists like Brown to actively engage students through lectures, master classes, and more.
“When Velvet Brown walks into a room, the level of musicianship rises exponentially,” Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Mike Grose, who nominated Brown for the Trotter professorship, said. “I am thrilled that our students are exposed to that type of thoughtful artistry.”
In April, Brown returned for a captivating solo recital. Additionally, she taught private lessons, led two master classes, and worked with the Oregon Tuba Ensemble, Eugene’s community tuba band.
Joining Brown on the prestigious roster of 2023-24 Trotter recipients were three other distinguished artists: Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer, choreographer Aysha Upchurch, and French ensemble Le Consort.

Aysha Upchurch  

Aysha Upchurch, nominated for the Trotter professorship by Assistant Professor of Dance Hannah Thomas, is a choreographer, entrepreneur, artist, educator, and consultant. Her engagement with the University of Oregon took place in October 2023, where she conducted workshops, delivered lectures, and choreographed a piece for the SOMD dance company, Student Dance Collective.

“Aysha Upchurch has left an indelible mark on both our music and dance departments,” Thomas said. “Her multifaceted approach to teaching, blending scholarship with practice, has enriched our academic environment and inspired students and faculty across various disciplines.”

Chanticleer and Le Consort

Brought to campus for the Oregon Bach Festival’s Chamber Music at Beall series, Chanticleer and Le Consort received funding through the Trotter professorship to extend their stays on campus following their performances, allowing for meaningful engagement with students.
“Chamber Music at Beall is OBF’s best opportunity to link professional performance activities with the educational activities that are going on all day every day at SOMD because the series takes place when students are here on campus, not during summer when our annual festival occurs,” OBF Director of Programming and Administration James Boyd, who nominated Chanticleer and Le Consort for the Trotter professorship, said. 
In January, Chanticleer led master classes with University Singers and the University of Oregon Chamber Choir.
In March, Le Consort violinist Augusta McKay Lodge conducted an enlightening Q&A session with students. She shared insights into her career as a musician, focusing on historically informed performance. “Listening to somebody who is five to ten years ahead of you in their career and learning how they had been successful is very powerful,” Boyd said.  

2024-25 Recipients

Students can anticipate continued enrichment through the Trotter Distinguished Professorship, with the selection of recipients for the 2024-25 academic year. Grant Zubritsky, nominated by Senior Instructor of Audio Production Dr. Jon Bellona, is a sought-after musician, music director, and producer who has performed or recorded with Grammy Award-winning and nominated artists such as Mitski, Dua Lipa, Lorde, Bebe Rexha, and Maggie Rogers, among others. Zubritsky’s visit promises valuable insights into the life and career of a professional musician, music director, and producer.  
Internationally acclaimed soprano, Tony Arnold, nominated by Professor of Composition and Music Theory Dr. David Crumb, joins the ranks of Trotter Visiting Professors, poised to inspire both composition and performance students alike.
Vincent Thomas, an interdisciplinary artist known for his expertise in humanism, choreography, dance, music, and activism, will visit the Dance Department as a Trotter Visiting Professor. Handpicked by Dance Department Head Christian Cherry, Thomas will come to Eugene for a week-long residency.
Finally, three performance ensembles scheduled to perform in the OBF’s 2024-2025 Chamber Music at Beall series will extend their engagements into multi-day residencies, providing students with opportunities for learning and collaboration.