New Colleagues and New Perspectives

College of Music welcomes accomplished line-up of new faculty.

Walk by the MSU Music Building these days and you're likely to see lots of movement as multiple talented and well-versed musicians step into their posts as new faculty with the College of Music. 

Newcomers include a leading classical pianist, an accomplished voice and opera coach, a gifted harpist, and a versatile performer of clarinet. The college also welcomes two exceptional jazz musicians in an expansion of MSU's jazz studies programs. 

"New colleagues bring new perspectives. They push us, inspire us, and help us change for the better," says James Forger, dean of the College of Music. "These individuals will be able to do just that. They're poised to move their individual areas forward and to make a difference in the lives of students."

College of Music areas and their new faculty include:

Jazz Studies Program

Xavier Davis, associate professor of jazz piano. Davis comes to MSU with six years of teaching experience at the Juilliard School in New York City. Davis has performed and recorded on more than 60 albums with world-famous jazz artists, has released two albums as a band leader, and became the first person to receive the prestigious New Works Grant twice from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Davis is a gifted composer, arranger, and producer of music, and has received high honors from several festivals and DownBeat Magazine.

Randy Napoleon, assistant professor of jazz guitar. Napoleon was born in Brooklyn, raised in Ann Arbor, and comes to MSU as one of the most sought-after guitarists on the New York jazz scene. In addition to backing and recording with the best of the best, Napoleon leads his own bands, an organ trio, a trombone trio, a quartet with piano, and a three-horn sextet. 


String Area

Chen-Yu Huang, assistant professor of harp. A native of Taiwan, Huang is known for her charismatic and earnest musicianship. The winner of numerous awards, competitions, and fellowships, Huang has been appointed to several national and international orchestras and has many professional recordings to her credit. She has taught at Illinois Wesleyan University, the Parkland College, the University of Illinois, and joined the faculty of Blue Lake Fines Arts Camp in 2014.

Piano Area

Zhihua Tang, assistant professor of collaborative piano. Tang has been praised for her extraordinary versatility and profound artistry on piano. She has performed around the world in renowned venues and recital halls, and has collaborated with some of today's leading musicians. A native of Shanghai, China, Tang received numerous fellowships and scholarships, attended major conservatories and universities, and worked with prominent pedagogues. She has taught at Alma College, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, University of North Dakota, and the Summer Music Camp at Bowling Green State University. 

Vocal Arts Area

Elden Little, instructor and vocal coach. Little has served as a pianist and coach in operatic productions that range from the baroque to the contemporary. He has collaborated and worked for a half dozen opera companies around the nation, and has performed and toured internationally. Little's depth as a soloist, master teacher, and collaborative pianist will add to the dimension of MSU's vocal arts instruction while strengthening students' abilities to interpret works. 

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