'A dream come true': 3 ASU violin students to perform at Carnegie Hall

March 17, 2014

There’s an old joke that goes, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

The answer? ASU School of Music student Clarice Collins Download Full Image


For ASU School of Music students Clarice Collins, Xiangyuan Huang and Shu Liu, who will perform at Carnegie Hall on April 25, practice is exactly how they managed to end up on the famous stage.

The three students, all of whom study with Danwen Jiang, associate professor of violin, were selected to play at the InterHarmony Concert Series: “Rite of String” concert after their performances this summer at the InterHarmony International Music Festival. Collins is originally from Toulouse, France, via Plano, Texas, and Liu and Huang are both from Beijing.

One other student who performed at the festival, a pianist from the University of Tennessee, was also selected to appear at Carnegie Hall in April. In addition, four InterHarmony faculty members will perform at the concert: Ning An, piano; Eugenia Choi, violin; Misha Quint, cello; and Howard Klug, clarinet.

InterHarmony offers educational opportunities and performances for aspiring and established musicians during its summer music festival in Italy and Germany, and its New York Concert Series at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.

In the summer of 2013, there were three sessions of the festival: two in Arcidosso, Tuscany, Italy, and one in Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Bavaria, Germany. Between the three festivals, a total of 250 students from 20 different countries participated, together with 125 artist faculty and guests.

“We choose students to perform in the InterHarmony Concert Series based on their performances at the festival, both solo and chamber music,” said InterHarmony’s Caitlin McConnell. “If they distinguish themselves in concert, we note it and make decisions based on that, and on how the performers can fit in with our concert programming.

“While our level at the festival in 2013 was exceptionally high, Xiangyuan Huang and Clarice Collins played a knock-out Prokofiev Sonata for 2 Violins while at the festival in Germany. Our music director, Misha Quint, was also very impressed by Shu Liu's performance of Ysaye Sonata No. 2.”

Danwen Jiang said that for every aspiring musician, the chance to play in Carnegie Hall “is a symbol of accomplishment and success.” She described Collins and Huang, who are sophomores, and Liu, a junior, as “among the finest music students in the ASU School of Music,” and added, “now they have the opportunity to share their talents with the world.”

In January 2014, Shu Liu also won the Southwest Division of the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition. This month, she travels to Chicago for a chance to win $3,000 at the national competition, which will be held March 22-24.

“That three of the four university students selected by InterHarmony to perform at their Rite of Spring concert in Carnegie Hall are ASU students is a testament to the level of musicianship and excellence found among all our students in the ASU School of Music,” said Heather Landes, interim director of the School of Music. “We are proud of the outstanding and innovative educational opportunities that make us one of the leading institutions for the study of music in the United States.”

Clarice Collins said that the experience of being selected to play Carnegie Hall was slightly “unreal.” She called Huang “the best duo partner I could ever have asked for, and one of the best friends I have had,” and said that although she and Huang had a great time playing in Germany, “we definitely did not expect any of this! To be able to play Carnegie Hall is a dream come true.”

For more about the InterHarmony International Music Festival, visit interharmony.com.

For more about the ASU School of Music, visit music.asu.edu.

Deborah Sussman Susser

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


New ASU degree helps meet critical demand for high school math teachers

March 18, 2014

Arizona State University is gearing up to produce more and better-prepared high school math teachers, addressing a critical need in classrooms around the state and the nation. The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences is offering a new bachelor’s degree in mathematics, with a concentration in secondary education, which will provide a new pathway for teaching careers. The degree allows deeper mastery of mathematics coupled with the ability to handle the challenges of a high school classroom.

Arizona is suffering a teacher crisis. According to a recent Arizona School Administrators survey of district administrators, 62 percent said they have teacher openings, and over 62 percent have teachers leaving already this school year. math on chalkboard Download Full Image

Susan Carlson, executive director of the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, emphasizes that quality teachers are important. “Research says that the quality of teaching is the number one influence on the learning of children, and will either advance them or hold them back,” said Carlson. “There is a growing consensus here in Arizona that teacher talent is the key variable in producing 'A' schools, present and aspiring.”

In the Phoenix Union High School District, math teachers are always high on the list of “must-have” hires. The district had to fill more than 25 math openings, and in some cases had to resort to hiring retired teachers to fill the void.

“Obviously, we are always in need of good math teachers, especially with the state raising the math requirement for graduation to four years,” said district spokesman Craig Pletenik. “We like the idea of bringing individuals with strong content knowledge to the teaching field.”

National education groups echo this sentiment. Change the Equation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, CEO-led initiative that is mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning in the United States.

“Our STEM Vital Signs report for Arizona found that the state needs more teachers with a strong background in STEM content and pedagogy, particularly in math,” stated Linda P. Rosen, chief executive office for Change the Equation. “We recommend strategies that include requiring teachers to demonstrate a stronger grasp of content, while broadening the supply of teachers who can clear the hurdles. Arizona should create more pathways into teaching for STEM majors in college.”

This new bachelor’s degree in mathematics, with a concentration in secondary education, will offer exactly that – a new pathway into teaching for math majors at ASU. “We want to produce expert mathematicians who have the preparation to be excellent teachers,” says Fabio Milner, professor of mathematics and director of mathematics for STEM education.

Pat Thompson, a professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, researches how students learn and how teachers teach mathematics. “A principal problem in the quality of the teachers’ mathematical preparation is that they leave high school with little understanding of the mathematics they studied. The result is that students are ill-prepared to understand university-level mathematics, and they return to high school (as teachers) having never revisited the ideas of high school mathematics that they never understood in the first place.

“The result is a vicious cycle wherein poorly educated high school students return as teachers, who have no greater insight into the secondary mathematics curriculum than when they completed high school.”

The new degree, which is available now, hopes to break this vicious cycle by focusing on teachers’ mathematical preparation for teaching high school mathematics. Professor Marilyn Carlson says the new ASU degree stands out for its sequencing of courses, "which is designed so students will understand the processes of learning, understanding and teaching mathematics, and the intricacies of supporting students to become competent and confident mathematical thinkers. Students will have a coherent set of courses and instructional experiences to assure that they develop the deep understandings and connections needed to be highly effective mathematics teachers. They will emerge from our program equipped to provide mathematics instruction that is coherent, meaningful and challenging."

“The mathematics education faculty members within our school form an extremely talented group with many connections to school districts in Arizona,” stated Al Boggess, director of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. “Working collaboratively with these districts, this degree program will provide the graduates who are needed to improve secondary education in mathematics for Arizona.”

Another advantage of the new degree, according to Thompson, is that students will have all the options that come with a bachelor's in mathematics and a bachelor's in education – graduate school in mathematics or mathematics education, jobs in industry or in industrial education, or teaching high school mathematics.

Admission applications are currently being accepted and will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis. For more information, visit math.asu.edu or call (480) 965-7195.

Rhonda Olson

Manager of Marketing and Communication, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences