The College of Music Distinguished Alumni Award

The College of Music Alumni Association annually seeks and accepts nominations for the College of Music Distinguished Alumni Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize a graduate of the college who is making, or has made, an outstanding contribution to the music profession.

To nominate someone for this award, please download an application here [PDF].

Past Award Winners

Bethany Beardslee
B.M. ('46), Music Performance

Having been referred to as “the young woman from East Lansing who could sing anything,” the soprano is noted for her collaborations with prominent mid-century composers. She was universally praised for her impeccably accurate performances, her singing defined by the effortless quality with which she sang seemingly impossible rhythms and phrases. Many contemporary composers regarded her as the go-to singer for their complex works that challenged classical music audiences. 

Jennifer Heemstra
B.M., Music Performance, with honors

Professional pianist, entrepreneur and Rotarian, received the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad from John Kerry. She is the founder of the Kolkata Classics Trust in India and the Pitch Pipe Foundation 501(c)(3), which links great artists to great need. Heemstra also earned her Master of Music from The Cleveland Institute of Music.

James Roe

B.M., Applied Music

James Roe is an accomplished musician, arts administrator, and president and executive director of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City.  He has served as president and CEO of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, executive and artistic director of The Helicon Foundation, and as acting principal oboe of the NJSO. Roe earned his master’s from The Juilliard School.

Nancy Faber
B.M., Music Theory and Composition

Nancy Faber is a well-known composer of the bestselling Piano Adventures® method. She received the “Distinguished Composer of the Year” award from the Music Teachers National Association. Faber is revered for applying both her composing and business talents to create comprehensive materials for piano pedagogy in partnership with her spouse Randall. She studied at Michigan State University with Charles Ruggiero.

Robert Stroker
B.M. Music Education; B.M., Music Performance; PhD Music Education

Stroker is the dean of Boyer College of Music and Dance and School of Theater and vice provost for the arts at Temple University. He also serves as dean of the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts.
Warrick Carter
MM ('66), Music Education; PhD ('71) Music Education

Carter, educator, composer, and performer, was president of Columbia College Chicago from 2000 to 2013. He held academic appointments at Berklee, Governors State, and Maryland before serving as the director of entertainment arts for Walt Disney Entertainment for four years.
Kathryn Brown 2011-12
Kathryn Brown
BM ('84), Piano Performance

Kathryn Brown is the associate head of the Piano Department at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She performs internationally as a recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist.
Janet Williams 2010-11
Janet Williams
BM ('82), Vocal Performance and Music Education

Janet Williams is a vocalist, educator, and author of Nail Your Next Audition: The Ultimate 30-Day Guide for Singers.
Anton Armstrong 2009-10
Anton E. Armstrong
DMA ('87), Choral Conducting

Anton Armstrong is the Harry R. and Thora H. Tosdal Professor of Music at St. Olaf College and conductor of the St. Olaf Choir. 
H. Warren Henry 2008-09
H. Warren Henry
PhD ('95), Music Education

H. Warren Henry is the associate dean for academic affairs and former chair of music education at the University of North Texas.
Henry Butler 2008
Henry Butler
MM ('74), Vocal Performance

Henry Butler is a musician, composer, and jazz pianist.
William D. Brohn 2007-08
William D. Brohn
BM ('55), Music Theory

William Brohn won a Tony Award in 1998 for Best Orchestration (Ragtime) and was nominated for the same award in 2002 for Sweet Smell of Success and in 2004 for Wicked.
Tage Larsen 2004
Tage Larsen
BM ('92), Trumpet Performance

In 2002, Tage Larsen became the first African-American instrumentalist appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He is currently on the trumpet faculty at the DePaul University School of Music.