Artists Educators news showcase

Felberg, Leonard

Leonard Felberg ~ Albuquerque

Leonard “Lenny” Felberg (1931-2018), Professor Emeritus at University of New Mexico, esteemed violinist, and internationally known violin pedagogue was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., October 1, 1931 to Russian immigrants, Esther and Philip Felberg. Lenny loved his Brooklyn childhood. He remembered riding the New York subway trains all night on a single ten-cent token, eating favorite knishes at Katz’s Deli, playing stickball in the street and going to Coney Island on hot summer days. He began violin studies at the age of nine and often attended Carnegie Hall concerts, where he was introduced to performances by the great violin masters of the early 20th c. “golden” period. Stickball gave way to practicing, but he still insisted his father carry the violin on the way to lessons, so the other kids wouldn’t tease him.

After receiving B.Mus. and M.Mus. degrees from Yale University, where he studied with Joseph Fuchs and was awarded the distinguished Horatio Parker Fellowship, Lenny joined the 7th Army Symphony, where he was featured soloist performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto on tours of France, Germany, Luxembourg and the British Isles. After Army service, he was accepted into one of the world’s leading orchestras, The Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, serving under legendary conductor Eduard Van Beinum for 3 years.

Returning to the U.S., he began Doctoral studies in Violin Performance and Pedagogy at Indiana University, simultaneously accepting a violin professorship at the University of Georgia. At I.U. he studied with Daniel Guilet, and was mentored by renowned violinist/teacher, Josef Gingold and cellist Janos Starker, with whom he studied chamber music. Prof. Gingold was instrumental in bringing him to perform at the June Music Festival in the summer of 1965, where he became acquainted with New Mexico, his future home. While at I.U., he met and married fellow Doctoral student in Piano Performance, Arlette Zendmeer. The couple joined the faculty of the University of Toledo, during which he performed summers with the Berkshire Quartet, taught at Syracuse University and, as violinist of the Toledo String Quartet, won a medal at the Geneva International Competition.

The Felbergs moved to Albuquerque when he was offered the Violin Professorship at The University of New Mexico. With the formation of The Seraphin Trio came a period of intense concert productivity as well as teaching and performing workshops; he gave master classes throughout the U.S. and Brazil and accepted the post of Concertmaster of The Santa Fe Symphony for 25 years. He appeared as soloist with orchestras throughout the southwestern United States; in chamber concerts, in music festivals and symposiums all over Mexico and New Mexico. He is a 1992 recipient of the “Artist of the Year” Bravos Award, performed for most of his career on a 1740 Stradivarius violin and was known for his warm, rich tone, as well as his flair and virtuosity.

Prof. Felberg has had a revered, distinguished teaching career, and a large diversity of students came to him from all over the world in search of his enormous pedagogical knowledge, disciplined, analytical and innovative technical solutions, and his creative approach towards fingering, which many students now guard sacredly. He taught with great humility and conscience, and was patient and kind in the studio. He influenced and inspired, and many of his students have gone on to careers in major orchestras, major conservatories and universities all over the world, to careers as soloists, chamber musicians, and mentors to the next generation of violinists.

Lenny lived a full, rich life with meaning, he adored his family, his numerous lifelong friends and his students, and had an unrivaled sense of humor, punctuated by his raucous laugh right before the punchline. He loved opera, world travel, reading history books, golf (where he shot a hole-in-one on two separate occasions) and, above all, he worshiped anything to do with his instrument.

source: Albuquerque Journal, from Mr. Felberg’s obituary published November 25, 2018.

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Kempter, Susan

Susan Kempter of Albuquerque is a Senior Lecturer in String Pedagogy, a registered Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas, a specialist in interdisciplinary applications to music teaching and learning, and Founder/Director of the UNM Lab School at the University of New Mexico.

Susan created Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in String Pedagogy at the University of New Mexico. She also has been President of the New Mexico Chapter of The American String Teachers Association and served as Private Teacher’s Forum Editor, Consulting Editor, and Chair of the National Certificate Committee, for The American String Teacher. She also served on the board of the New Mexico Chapter of ASTA for over 17 years, and was editor of the state newsletter for two terms.

In 1998, she was awarded the Citation for Exceptional Leadership and Merit by the American String Teachers Association and was awarded Private Studio Teacher of the Year by the New Mexico Chapter of ASTA in 2006. In 2009, Susan was awarded the prestigious Bravos Award for Excellence in Music by the Albuquerque Arts Alliance.

In addition to her work at the University of New Mexico, Susan founded the Albuquerque Suzuki School, as well as the Suzuki violin program at the College of Santa Fe. She ran student retreats at Hummingbird Music Camp for many years, began a series of student performances at the Rio Grande Zoo and founded the student touring group – Mad About Music, which has performed in Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, California, Florida, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Virginia, Washington DC, Arizona and Texas. Many of her students have won the opportunity to solo with the Albuquerque Youth Symphony. She has also had several younger students solo with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. Her former students are teaching and playing professionally throughout the country.

She has two published books: Between Parent and Teacher: A Teacher’s Guide to Parent Education [SHAR]and How Muscles Learn: Teaching the Violin with the Body in Mind [Alfred]. A third book, Folk Melodies of New Mexico and the Southwest will be published in the near future, and she is beginning a fourth book about human cognition and music teaching and learning.

Susan has presented sessions at many national conferences, including The American String Teachers Association, the Suzuki Association of the Americas, The Music Teachers National Association, National Association of Physical Therapists in 2003, and the Research Symposia at Northern Arizona University, The University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts and SAA Talent Education Research sessions in Minneapolis.

Susan’s education has been eclectic, and has included fields as diverse as nursing, zoology, 17th century literature, cognition, kinesthetics, as well as violin performance and pedagogy. She studied at DePaul University, the University of Utah and the University of New Mexico. She has Bachelors and Masters degrees from UNM. Her violin teachers have included Harold Wolf, Victor Aitay, Sally Peck [violin and viola], and Leonard Felberg. She studied pedagogy with John Kendall and interdisciplinary work with William Seymour.

About the UNM Lab School and its beloved matriarch Susan Kempter.
Video created in 2013 by pedagogy student Crystal Boyack.

for more information: Wikipedia

source: University of New Mexico

Educators Platnum Achievement

Bonnell, Jim

Jim Bonnell ~ Alamogordo | Artesia | Albuquerque

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Jim Bonnell is a 2019 Platinum Music Awards honoree. Jim has spent his entire life selflessly serving as a music educator, professional violist, and promoter of high-quality new music. Jim taught extensively in the Albuquerque Public Schools, retiring after almost thirty years in public music education. His service included both instruction and music administration.

As a professional musician, he performed as a violist in many Southwestern organizations including the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Opera Southwest, the El Paso Symphony, the Roswell Symphony, the Albuquerque Civic Symphony, the New Mexico Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque.  He conducted various orchestras in the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program:  Valley Junior Orchestra, Heights Junior Orchestra, Albuquerque Junior Symphony, and Albuquerque Youth Symphony.

Throughout his career Jim held leadership positions in many community and professional organizations. One notable example is his involvement with the University of New Mexico’s John Donald Robb Musical Trust. The Robb Trust was established in the late 80’s “to support the music and musical legacy of John Donald Robb, to further his inspiring commitment to education and to advance the understanding of music of the Southwest.”

He began his teaching career in Artesia, NM, where he met his lifelong collaborator in music and life, Paula Diane Thompson, from Truman, Arkansas.  They were married in 1964 and recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. 

above: video biopic about Jim Bonnell’s prolific career – premiered August 23, 2019 at the Platinum Music Awards show – created by Bunee Tomlinson of Windswept Media.
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Vigil, Cipriano

Dr. Cipriano Vigil ~ Chamisal | El Rito

Cipriano Vigil is a 2019 New Mexico Music Commission Platinum Music Awards honoree. He was born and raised in the small village of Chamisal, New Mexico. He received his baccalaureate degree in Music Education from Highlands University. Upon completion of his undergraduate work, he received a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in Bilingual Education, also from Highlands University. Another scholarship followed from the Mexican government. In Mexico, he studied at the National Institute of Fine Arts where he obtained a second master’s degree in Ethnomusicology. While studying in Mexico, he would go to every and any place where music was played, including dance halls and bars. From these excursions, he absorbed the knowledge of many different styles of music.

He began his career as a professor at Northern New Mexico College in 1980, and retired from that institution in 2004. It was during this time that he also completed his doctorate in Ethnomusicology, which he received in 1988. This same year he became the Chairperson of the Fine Arts Department, a position he held for ten years. Because of his love for music and teaching, he continues to work at NNMC as a part time instructor in folk music.

His early background and training in music instilled his with a passion for preserving and disseminating the folk music of northern New Mexico. From his several presentations at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C., to elementary school classrooms of New Mexico, and cowboy poetry gatherings in Elko, Nevada, he has presented thousands of performances and workshops. He has brought traditional music to various regions throughout the U.S. and has performed in several states in the country of Mexico. These presentations consist not only of traditional New Mexican folk music but also La Nueva Canción (the new songs), a style that originated in South America.

Cipriano produced a four volume set of traditional New Mexican folk music, with accompanying CDs that he uses with his students at NNMC. Another self published work is a collection of his own compositions written in the traditional style as well as the style of La Nueva Canción. He self published a manuscript of sixty-seven of his compositions for violin and guitar, which he uses with my folk ensemble class. He has written several compositions for theatrical performances and for films. Recently, he composed and recorded several one movement symphonic works named Poemas Musicales (musical poems). UNM Press is currently publishing a book he wrote of the folklore of New Mexico, which will be accompanied by twenty-one long playing CDs.

In his many presentations at local schools, he brings part of his collection of over three hundred musical instruments from around the world. He plays them and gives the students a little history of each instrument.

His presentations and performances have won several prestigious awards. These include being honored as a Living Treasure, the Governor’s Arts Award, and the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities Award. He has been nominated three times for the National Heritage Award for outstanding work in maintaining and preserving traditional folk music.

Cipriano’s son, Cipriano Pablo Vigil, and his daughter, Felicita Vigil Piñón, have performed with him in concerts for over 25 years. Recently, his granddaughter Marisol Vigil, his grandson Mitzael Piñón, and his youngest grandson Alonzo Vigil have been performing with them on stage.

above: video biopic short about Cipriano – premiered August 23, 2019 at the Platinum Music Awards show – created by Bunee Tomlinson of Windswept Media.


for more info: el Rito Studio Tours – Cipriano Vigil

Artists Educators

Stroope, Z. Randall

Z. Randall Stroope ~ Albuquerque


Born in Albuquerque, Stroope is a composer, conductor and lecturer. He has had recent conducting engagements at the Sopra Minerva (Rome), American School in Singapore, Canterbury Cathedral (England), Berliner Dom (Germany), Salzburger Dom (Austria), Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and National Presbyterian Cathedral (Washington, D.C.), Carnegie Hall (New York), and five performances at the Vatican in the past four years. He is also the Artistic Director for two summer music festivals in Europe.

Stroope’s composition teachers were Cecil Effinger and Normand Lockwood, both students of the famous French teacher/composer, Nadia Boulanger (student of Gabriel Fauré). The principal publishers of his 125 publisher works are Alliance Music Publications, Walton Music, Colla Voce and Oxford (England). His shorter choral works — best known of which are Conversion of Saul, Lamentaciones de Jeremias, Magnificat, We Beheld Once Again the Stars (ACDA Raymond Brock Commission), O Magnum Mysterium, The Pasture, Revelation, Homeland, I Am Not Yours, Caritas et Amor, Song to the Moon and Inscription of Hope — have sold over three million copies. His choral cycle — Four Sonnets of Garcilaso (which contains Amor de mi alma) — is based on the poetry of Spanish poet, Garcilaso de la Vega and one of his most performed works. Extended works include Hodie! (This Day) for brass/organ/percussion and mixed/treble choirs, the solo song cycle Love’s Waning Seasons, and American Rhapsody are also very popular. He has published many instrumental works, including Fanfare (brass/percussion/organ) and Amor de mi alma (wind ensemble). Stroope is particularly drawn to the poetry of Sara Teasdale, George Herbert, Rainer Maria Rilke, James Agee and Robert Frost.  He has conducted and produced 28 YouTube recordings of his works.

Dennis Schrock, in his book Choral Repertoire (2009), recognizes Stroope for his compositional output and quality of writing, noting several works that have entered the mainstream of the choral medium. Conducting Women’s Choirs (2012), edited and compiled by Debra Spurgeon, and Composers on Composing for Choir (2007) both have a myriad of quotes and discussion of Dr. Stroope’s compositional output.

His works have been recorded or performed by prestigious ensembles nationally and internationally, including the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Luther Nordic Choir, University of Miami Frost Chorale, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival, Concordia Choir, Oklahoma State University, Prairie Voices (Canada), Oriana Women’s Choir, United States Navy Sea Chanters, Grex Vocalis, NOVA, Bella Voce, Turtle Creek Chorale, Westminster Choir College and University of British Columbia.  His We Beheld Once Again the Stars was recently performed by the Philippine Madrigal Singers in their win of the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing. Stroope’s Revelation was performed by the Ehwa Chamber Choir (South Korea).

Dr. Stroope is the Director of Choral and Vocal Studies at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he conducts the Concert Chorale, Chamber Choir, and Women’s Chorus and coordinates the undergraduate and graduate choral conducting program.  The OSU Concert Chorale recently recorded Stroope’s Song to the Moon, Go Lovely Rose, toured France and England (2013) and plan a tour of Ireland and Scotland in 2015.  Under his direction, the ensemble also presents a seven-concert season each year, which has included works such as Ein Deutsches Requiem (Brahms), Messiah (Handel), Requiem (Verdi) and Rejoice in the Lamb (Britten).

Dr. Stroope has received many awards, including Distinguished Professor of Creative and Scholarly Research (1995–2001), the Douglas R. McEwen Award for National Choral Excellence, Nebraska Choral Director of the Year, Doug and Nickie Burns Endowed Chair in Choral Music (2013), and one of five Oklahoma State University Distinguished Professors (2013-2014), as well as several composition awards.

As a guest conductor, Stroope has directed 38 all-state choirs, and conducted music festivals in 45 states. He has directed 12 summer international music festivals in England, Germany and Italy.

Stroope completed a Master of Music (Voice Performance) degree at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Doctor of Musical Arts (Choral Conducting) degree at Arizona State University.  He did post graduate work with Margaret Hillis, Chorus Master of the Chicago Symphony. As a recipient of the Australian-American Fulbright, he has also done work in western Australia. He and his wife, Cheryl (a junior high choral teacher), love to travel and spend time with their sheltie.

above: Stroope’s “Song to the Moon” performed by the Oklahoma State University Concert Chorale.

for more info:



Clark, William

Dr. William Clark ~ Las Cruces

Dr. William Clark, recipient of the New Mexico Music Commission’s 2018 Platinum Music Award, was director of bands at New Mexico State University (NMSU) from 1985 to 1994 and then became chair of the NMSU Music Department where he is credited with doubling the number of music majors to more than 200 during his 11 years. Clark founded the Mesilla Valley Concert Band in 1986 and has served as conductor and music director for the past 30 years. The band has presented more than 220 free concerts to over 150,000 central and southern New Mexico residents.

In 1990, Clark founded the Las Cruces All-City Middle School Honor Band, which is selected by audition and presents a concert each year in February. In 1994, Clark founded the Las Cruces New Horizons program for seniors who want to play instruments or sing after retirement.

Clark’s honors include: Las Cruces Citizen of the Year in 1988 and New Mexico Music Educator of the Year in 1992. He was inducted into the New Mexico Music Educator’s Hall of Fame in 2007 and in 1993 elected to the American Bandmaster’s Association–the highest honor for international professional bandmasters. Dr. Clark received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2015. He maintains an active private studio and is a freelance tuba player.

Learn more about Dr. Clark

above: Dr. Clark’s tribute video from the 2017 Platinum Music Awards show at the Lensic. Filmed and produced by NMSU’s KRWG.

source: Governor’s Arts Awards