ASU music students see success in top national chamber music competitions

May 2, 2017

Six School of Music students in Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts are finding success by coming together as the Eos Sextet.

The group was selected to compete in the semi-finals in the M-Prize Senior Winds Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, both top chamber music competitions in the world, according to Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. Earlier this year the group won the MTNA National Chamber Music Wind Competition and was awarded first prize in the ENKOR Chamber Music Competition, Category B. Eos Sextet Eos Sextet Download Full Image

“Being exposed to the high level of musicianship that our competitors brought to the table each round inspired us to raise our own expectations for Eos,” said Andrew Lammly, a second-year graduate student in the group, about one of the group’s recent competitions.

In addition to Lammly, the Eos Sextet includes junior music education major Grace Chen, second-year graduate students Curren Myers and Fangyi Niu, and third-year doctoral students Sam Detweiler and Justin Rollefson.

"Throughout this process, I have learned a lot about the characteristics one needs to be a member of a happily functioning ensemble,” Chen said. “One of my favorite characteristics of our group is our ability to be extremely flexible and receptive to any adjustments suggested by any member of the group. We all work together collectively to make improvements based on the different things we each hear, and our different musical backgrounds and experiences give us a wide range of musical input. Our rehearsals are a lot more fun and effective than any other ensembles I’ve been in because everyone contributes.”

Other group members agree that working together is one of the keys to success, and Lammly encourages students who are interested in competing to record rehearsals and listen together as often as possible.

Rollefson said it’s also important to put in work outside of the ensemble.

"In order to be successful in national chamber competitions, you must be willing to put in a lot of hours rehearsing with one another as well as many hours preparing your individual part so that when the ensemble meets they can focus on making musical choices together as opposed to an individual struggling with their own part,” he said.

The group also credits its success to their coach, Christopher Creviston, associate professor of saxophone in the School of Music.

Chen called Creviston a “tremendous teacher and musical guide for this ensemble” and said he was crucial to the group’s development.

"Dr. Creviston gave us critical feedback that we needed in order to perform the music with excellence,” Detweiler said. “He coached us through our musical ideas and he helped us shape and reshape our group sound to be the best it could be."

While Eos enjoys its success, the members of the group said they gain much more than awards by participating in competitions and playing with the each other.

“There is something to be relished about being engrossed in the exact same musical moment as someone else and feeling the synergy of communication between six different voices,” Lammly said. “It is in this way that I learned more about myself as a chamber musician and how I can better communicate with my musical partners. I have never been in a chamber ensemble that musically communicates as well as Eos.” 

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


Nudged by dad’s advice, full-time staffer persevered

May 2, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

Many ASU students, families, faculty, staff and community members know Susan Foley as the friendly face at the information desk in the two-story atrium of “UCENT,” the building that is home to a number of programs, schools and colleges that have a presence on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, including the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, where Foley is an office assistant/receptionist.     ASU's Sue Foley earns interdisciplinary studies degree while being point of help for Downtown Phoenix campus students, families at Info Desk Susan Foley, who staffs the information desk in the University Center building as office assistant in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, helps students and families year-round find their way at ASUs Downtown Phoenix campus. Next week she earns a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now. Download Full Image

Not so many know that Foley has been a student herself for the last six years. Next week she graduates with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, with concentrations in health innovation and social welfare. And if you’re looking for her at commencement and convocation, she’ll be wearing a mortar board decorated with “persevere” — if she can find the time to get crafty, between her major kitchen remodel and the end-of-semester responsibilities of a full-time staff member and a graduating senior.

“I had always wanted to complete my degree,” explained Foley, who first attended ASU in the early ’80s and left after a year to work and travel. 

“I then became a stay-at-home mom to my three sons and, eventually, explaining to them how important education was when I didn’t have my degree was an interesting dance,” she noted. “I started working here at ASU in August 2010, and going to school seemed like a normal progression.”

She started to take a couple of classes the following fall and soon found out that she loved being challenged on a daily basis.

Foley said coming back to college was both exciting and scary: “But as my 90-year-old father said when I was contemplating returning to school and told him how long it would take me, ‘So what if it takes you 10 years? Those 10 years are still going to go by; perseverance is the key.’ So I persevered, and it only took me six.”

For her directed study project in interdisciplinary studies, she researched and suggested strategies for getting even more college students to participate in student success and tutoring programs: “There’s a barrier there, and just getting students to cross over that threshold to go in for the free help that’s available to them is so important.”   

Foley answered some additional questions about her experience as a returning student at ASU.

Question:  Why did you choose this particular major?

Answer:  The bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies was the perfect fit. I had an interest in the health care industry and also in community or social welfare, so the ability to have both was very rewarding.

Q:  What’s something you learned while studying at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A:  I learned how much I really love sleep, also how many creative, innovative and genuinely caring students we have here at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

Q:  What are your plans after graduation?

A:  I will travel, read interesting books that I don’t have to read, and continue to work at the information desk. I love talking to the students, prospective students, and watching as they come in as nervous freshmen—too shy to come up to the information desk themselves — and leave as confident graduates.

Q:  If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A:  I would buy two of the old rundown motels on Van Buren Street and have many skilled trades-people teach the homeless youth how to renovate them. Homeless youth would learn a skill and have a place to live; tradesmen would be paid for their time. I would also buy a food truck that I would stock with PB&J sandwiches, fruit and milk to give to anyone who was hungry. When you are hungry, that’s all you think about; I would want to change that in the world.

Q: When you think of your time studying with ASU, is there an interesting moment, experience story or accomplishment that stands out for you? 

A:  I have had so many great moments. Every class was an experience, learning all the technology and, as soon as I understood it, it updated and changed. I had to do a cultural food video for one class and it took me three takes; my kids were so happy — we had German dessert for days. My biggest accomplishment was passing Math 142. I really did believe I would be taking it over and over and over. Fortunately for me, I found the Student Success Center; between the tutors and my professor, they were able to help me pass.  

Q:  Anything else you’d like to share?

A:  Exciting, scary, nerve-racking, adventurous, exhausting, accepting, and accomplished — those are some of the words to describe my experience here at ASU!

Maureen Roen

Manager, Creative Services, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts