UNI School of Music

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Alumni & Friends

UNI School of Music always loves to hear from alumni and friends. Have you been performing, educating, traveling, composing, conducting or otherwise involved in your community since graduating? Contact Us and let us know! Or fill out our online Alumni Response Form and keep us posted on your newest projects. And when you’re in the Cedar Falls area, there is always an opportunity for you to visit and show your school spirit by supporting an event or stopping by to say hello.

Recent Alumni News


'48 Rosie Irene (Maiden) Bolstad, BA, Bremerton, WA, completed and released her original recording project “Remembering Bernie” in honor of her late husband. She also provided all music for her grandson’s wedding in summer 2017.



'55 Laurens Blankers, BA, Owatonna, MN, moved to Minnesota from Nashville, TN in July 2017 and has been enjoying expanding his participation in churches.



'75 David Poggenklass, BA, Guttenberg, IA, retired in 2008 after 33 years teaching elementary and junior high vocal music. He entertains at more than 30 care centers each month and enjoys fishing, golf and his grandchildren. He also still substitute teaches.



'81 Jeffrey Hellmer, BM, Austin, TX, is director of jazz studies and serves as the associate director of the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin. He led the UT Jazz Orchestra on a 2017 European tour that included performances at the Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals. He was awarded the Flawn Regents Professorship in Piano.


'81 Gary Schwartzhoff, MM, Eau Claire, WI, marked his 44th year as a music educator. He has been active throughout his professional career in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and Intercollegiate Male Choruses (IMC). In ACDA, he served as president of the North Central Division from 1992-94 and served as a member of the IMC Executive Board from 1993-2016. The Wisconsin Choral Directors Association (WCDA) presented him the Outstanding Church Musician Award in 2007 and the Morris Hayes Award for lifetime achievement in the choral art in 2010. In 2018, Schwartzhoff was presented the Marshall Bartholomew Award by IMC in Washington D.C. The award is in honor of conductors who have made significant contributions to the field of male chorus music. In 2019, Schwartzhoff will conduct the 75th Anniversary of D Day and the Liberation of France Choral Festival in Paris, France.


'85 Jim Chance, BME, Zearing, IA, was elected President of the United Auto Workers Local 893 in Marshalltown, IA.


'87 Craig Miller, BA, Bernalillo, NM, is campus pastor at Sagebrush Church in Rio Rancho, NM.



'90 Lori (Binkley) Wilson, BM, West Burlington, IA, is artist in residence and adjunct faculty of voice at Southeastern Community College.


'92 Brian Hughes, MM, MM '93, Dubuque, IA, received the 2017 American Prize in Wind Conducting in recognition of his work with the Quad City Wind Ensemble.


'94 JC Sanford, BA, Northfield, MN, received the 2018 McKnight Fellowship for Composers. JC was one of only four selected for this prestigious honor.



'01 Suzanne (Hendrix) Hendrix-Case, BM, MM '06, Sioux City, IA, won second prize in the 2017 Gerda Lissner Competition and first place in the Wagner Society of New York Competition. She also sang in Eugene Onegin at the Hawaii Opera Theatre and L'italiana in Algeri at the Santa Fe Opera.


'03 Jason Danielson, BA, BA '05, Ankeny, IA, is a teacher in the Des Moines Public School system. In recent years, he has performed with Aretha Franklin and Dick Oatts, and received a certificate of recognition from the Des Moines Community Jazz Center.


'03 Greg Simmons, Teaching Certificate, Bondurant, IA, directs the Valley Jazz Orchestra. In 2017, the Valley Jazz Orchestra earned their fifth consecutive first place finish at the Iowa Jazz Championships.


'04 Ben Byersdorfer, BM, Cedar Falls, IA, received a 2018 Cedar Valley Gold Star Award. He is currently a 7th-9th grade band teacher at Peet Junior High School.


'05 Eliza Bangert, BM, Chicago, IL, won the second flute position with the South Bend Symphony and became a performing member of the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. She continues to perform as piccolo player for Southwest Michigan Symphony and serves as librarian at Illinois Philharmonic and Grant Park Symphony.



'11 Mike Conrad, BM, Greeley, CO, released an album called "New Angle" with his group, the All Angles Orchestra, featuring Alex Sipiagin in June 2017. He was recently selected as one of eight participants worldwide for the 2017 Metropole Orkest Arranger's Workshop in the Netherlands. Out of over 100 international submissions, his piece, "Spherical," was selected for one of three finalist spots in the Spheres of a Genius Composition Competition. Mike has been an ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award recipient for four consecutive years and has won three Downbeat Student Music Awards for composition/arranging in the past two years. 


'13 Brian Martin, BM, Norwalk, IA, has been performing frequently in the Des Moines area with various groups, including a jazz group dedicated to performing new music written by three UNI graduates. He was also recently accepted into UMass Amherst's MM program in jazz composing and arranging, which will also include an assistantship.


'16 Hannah (Carr) Carr-Murphy, BA, BM '16, Saint Paul, MN, received her MA in community music from the University of Limerick (Ireland) in 2017. She is currently working at the Center for Irish Music in St. Paul, MN, a nonprofit community music school dedicated to handing down the tradition of Irish music.


'17 Rachel Storlie, MM, Spring Grove, MN, was appointed as an alumni guest lecturer in music at Luther College for the 2017-18 academic year.



'11 Kelley (Raymon) Stoen, BM, MM '13, married Ethan Stoen on 4/1/2017.

'13 Stephanie (Opsal) Hearn, BM, married Sean Hearn on 6/17/2017.



'11 David Hoobler, BM, and Ashley (Williamson) Hoobler, BA '13, Ames, IA, daughter Lily Elizabeth Hoobler born 11/1/2017.




Do you have some notable news that you'd like to share with the UNI School of Music and your fellow alumni? Contact us to let us know!