Teachers/Speakers


Deborah Moriarty

Deborah Moriarty is professor of piano and chair of the piano area at the Michigan State University College of Music, where she is a recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award.  A Massachusetts native, she made her debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age 11. She has served on the piano faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Lowell. Moriarty attended the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the New England Conservatory of Music, where she received her Master of Music degree with honors. Major teachers include: Russell Sherman, Theodore Lettvin, and Beveridge Webster. A medal winner in the “Concours Debussy,” she is an active recitalist and soloist with orchestras throughout the eastern United States. She has also performed in Belgium, Japan, Colombia, Mexico, China, Italy, and the former Soviet Union. Moriarty is a founding member of the Fontana Ensemble of Michigan, and as an advocate of new music, has participated in numerous premiere performances including Milton Babbitt’s “Whirled Series” at Merkin Hall in New York City. She has recordings on the Crystal, CRI, Blue Griffin and Centaur labels.


Derek Kealii Polischuk

Derek Kealii Polischuk is associate professor of piano and director of piano pedagogy at the Michigan State University College of Music.  Polischuk received the Doctor of Music Arts Degree from the University of Southern California where he studied with Daniel Pollack.  Polischuk has worked extensively with pianists on the Autism Spectrum for ten years, and has published articles on the subject in the MTNA e-Journal and American Music Teacher.  At MSU, Polischuk has been the recipient of the Curricular Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Award and the Teacher-Scholar Award.  In 2013, “Terra Incognita” Polischuk’s recording of Impromptus by Franz Schubert and Thomas Osborne was described in a review as a “thought-provoking mix of sensual pleasure and deep reflection.”


Randy Napoleon Born in Brooklyn and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Randy Napoleon began his journey in jazz immediately after finishing his studies at the University of Michigan. Jeff Hamilton of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra invited the young Napoleon to do a series of performances with them at the Hollywood Bowl. From there, Napoleon's career took off, first touring with pianist Benny Green nationally and internationally for a year, and then full time with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. A three-year stint with crooner Michael Buble followed; Napoleon is featured on Buble's Grammy-nominated CD “Caught in the Act.”

Guitarist George Benson calls Napoleon “sensational.” Detroit Free Press critic Mark Stryker says Napoleon “plays with a gentle, purring tone that makes you lean in close to hear its range of color and articulation.” Washington Post critic Mike Joyce praises his “exceptionally nimble finger-style technique.” Comparing him to Wes Montgomery, music critic Michael G. Nastos says, “he displays an even balance of swing, soul, and single-line or chord elements that mark an emerging voice dedicated to tradition and universally accessible jazz values.”

Today, Napoleon is one of the most sought-after guitarists in New York, where he is known as a forward-thinking musician with a passion for the jazz guitar tradition. In addition to backing the best, he leads his own bands, an organ trio, a trombone trio, a quartet with piano, and a three-horn sextet that includes organ, drums, trumpet, tenor sax, and trombone. He joined the MSU College of Music faculty in fall 2014.


Lauren Julius Harris is a Chicago native and was educated in its public schools. His belief that music matters, the topic of his presentation for this program, grows out of a love for music first nurtured by his parents, his best teachers. Thanks to them, he had the good fortune to begin learning about and enjoying music and other art forms while still a child, starting with piano lessons on his mother’s Baldwin grand. These were precious gifts and enriched his life. He also was lucky to attend public schools at a time when the arts were deemed worthy of support, and to grow up in Chicago, with its great orchestra, architecture, museums, festivals, and other cultural and educational programs and institutions. After high school, where he played cello in the orchestra, he enrolled at the University of Illinois to study psychology. Most of his coursework was at its main campus in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, the rest at its Chicago campus on Navy Pier. That gave him the chance to work as an usher for the Chicago Symphony at $5/concert. The "Pier" is now an amusement park, and the site of his classes is now a Ferris wheel. At Urbana-Champaign, a course in child psychology taught by a post-doc from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis led to graduate study in child psychology. There, along with coursework and research, he spent many hours watching small children in the Laboratory Preschool. In winter, he helped them put on and take off their coats, leggings, sweaters, scarves, boots, mittens, earmuffs, and hats — and learned a lesson never taught in class: before putting on all this stuff, ask them, "Do you have to go?" and if they say no, ask again. At Minnesota, he also studied philosophy of science and took a memorable course on the mind-body problem taught by the philosopher Herbert Feigl and the psychologist Paul Meehl. When not studying, he took advantage of the rich variety of arts in the city, including attendance at concerts by the Minneapolis Symphony (now the Minnesota Symphony), which, conveniently, were held in an auditorium on campus. They were wonderful. In the long winter, he also played games of broom hockey. They were awful.

In 1965, he joined the faculty in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University, where, except for sabbaticals, he's been ever since. He’s a member of the program in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience and teaches courses in developmental psychology, history of psychology, and neuropsychology. His research has ranged from laboratory studies of cognition, emotion, and laterality of function, to studies in the history of psychology and neuroscience. Throughout, he's been fortunate to have outstanding colleagues and students. He's served on the editorial board of Developmental Psychology and the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, and currently is on the editorial boards of Developmental Neuropsychology, Laterality, and Brain and Cognition. His office radio is always tuned to WKAR-FM, one of the last remaining classical music stations in Michigan. He feels lucky to be at MSU where he can enjoy and learn from the superb musicians in its College of Music, and he attends campus recitals and concerts as often as possible, and encourages his students to do the same.


Michael Largey is professor of musicology at the Michigan State University College of Music. He is an ethnomusicologist and folklorist who writes about the music and culture of Haiti, specifically Haitian classical and religious music. He teaches courses in Caribbean music, South Asian music, East Asian music, ethnographic fieldwork, world music, and historical musicology. He taught previously at Columbia University in New York. He is a core faculty member in the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Asian Studies Center at Michigan State. 

Largey received the MSU Excellence in Diversity Award for Advancing Global Competency in 2018, the Fintz Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts and Humanities from MSU in 2012, the Dortha J. and John D. Withrow Award for Excellence in Teaching from the MSU College of Music in 2010, and the MSU Teacher-Scholar Award for outstanding teaching and research in 1998. Largey received an AB in history and music at Bowdoin College (cum laude, magna cum laude in music), and MA and PhD degrees in folklore and ethnomusicology from Indiana University.


Patrick Johnson is instructor of music theory at the Michigan State University College of Music.He utilizes his dual expertise as a concert pianist and a music theorist to engage his students artistically and intellectually, striving to enrich students’ aural and expressive understanding of music while helping them to analyze and to think critically about it. He was selected to be one of fifteen members of MSU’s 2016-17 Walter and Pauline Adams Academy for Instructional Excellence and Innovation. This annual program allows instructors to enhance their development as excellent teachers and deepen their understanding of principles in teaching and learning. He has also been the recipient of MSU’s Excellence-in-Teaching Citation (2013), awarded to six teaching assistants university-wide and the highest honor for instructors of that rank.

As a pianist, Johnson performs regularly throughout the Midwest as a solo, chamber, and orchestral pianist. An avid orchestral musician, he is principal pianist for the Michigan Philharmonic and the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. Johnson received a Bachelor of Musical Arts in piano performance, with high honors, from the University of Michigan. He holds a Master of Music degree in music theory, and both a Master of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from Michigan State University