Arts & Culture

UK Students in National Spotlight in Conducting, Jazz and Craft

Jonathan Barrett and Ian Cruz present solos with UK Jazz Ensemble at Elmhurst at 0:48 and 18:33, and 8:17 and 12:32 time stamps.

Watch Cameron Weatherford conducting and rehearsing the UK Chorale and Men's Chorus.


LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 24, 2017) For the last three months of the spring semester at the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts, students have brought home some of the biggest awards in their art forms. From the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Student Conducting Awards to the Windgate Fellowship to most recently, the DownBeat magazine’s student music awards, UK students have captured the attention of the arts world.

At the beginning of spring break, UK School of Music doctoral candidate Cameron Weatherford outmatched more than 100 competitors to win first place in the graduate division of the ACDA Student Conducting Awards at the ACDA’s biennial conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ACDA’s Student Conducting Awards recognize and reward outstanding accomplishments by both graduate and undergraduate student conductors, as well as encourage score preparation and advancement of conducting and rehearsal skills. Weatherford, who competed against the best student conductors from the U.S., South Korea, England, Australia, Ireland and Canada, is a student of Professor Jeff Johnson, director of UK Choral Activities

A large contingent of UK choral students attended the finals of the conducting competition to cheer Weatherford on. When he was announced as the winner, the place erupted in cheers and applause.

“It was like winning the national championship! Cameron outperformed all of the other finalists, including conducting students from Yale University, University of Southern California and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music," said Johnson, who went on to explain the magnitude of the win. "This competition is only held every two years and it is the major conducting competition in the world for graduate students in choral music.”

The current assistant director of the UK Chorale and the UK Men's Chorus, Weatherford holds a bachelor's degree in church music from Louisiana College and a master's degree in choral conducting from University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to coming to UK, the native of Pineville, Louisiana, served as the choral director at Alexandria Senior High School in Louisiana and an adjunct professor of choral literature at Louisiana College, where he conducted the Louisiana College Chorale and women's a cappella group, The Grace Notes.

In addition to taking home a $1,000 cash prize, Weatherford’s talents won him an invitation to conduct a performance with the Manhattan Chorale in New York City later this year.

In April, recent art studio graduate Amy Hoagland was named one of this year’s Windgate Fellowship recipients by the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design. The award, which recognizes 10 graduating college seniors with exemplary skill in craft, includes a $15,000 cash award — one of the largest awards offered nationally to art students. Hoagland and the other 2017 Windgate Fellows were selected by a jury from a pool of 110 nominated artists.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Hoagland works in glass, sculpture, paper and extended media. With her Windgate, the artist plans to travel to melting glaciers to take 3-D scans. The glacier scans will be 3-D printed to be cast in glass, which Hoagland plans to learn through workshops at Penland School of Crafts and at Bullseye Glass Co. in San Francisco.

Hoagland is excited to start this new chapter in her career made possible by the Windgate Fellowship. "I am beyond honored to receive a Windgate Fellowship. This award presents me the opportunity to professionally pursue my dream.

“I would not be where I am today without the help of my wonderful professors, and especially my mentor Jim Wade. I am extremely thankful that UK (School of Art and Visual Studies) prepared me to become the artist I am today, and I am thrilled to use this fellowship as a chance to further combine my use of digital and craft processes. I never expected to travel to melting glaciers so soon to create artwork with goals of reaching out to others and challenging ideas of climate change."

This month jazz aficionados are becoming acquainted with the best up-and-coming musicians in the genre as part of the June issue of DownBeat magazine, including two of UK School of Music’s own — Jonathan Barrett and Ian Cruz.

Saxophonist Jonathan Barrett, a 2017 music performance graduate from Georgetown, Kentucky, won an Undergraduate College Outstanding Performance award in the Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist category of the magazine's student music awards program. EWI and soprano saxophonist Ian Cruz, a native of Budd Lake, New Jersey, who just earned his doctoral degree in musical arts this May, was a Graduate College winner in the Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist category.

DownBeat is one of the world’s leading jazz and contemporary music publications. Students and educators can nominate themselves for the magazine's annual awards, and applicants range from junior high to graduate level individuals and ensembles.

The award nomination process involves an online application and submission of audio recordings to be judged by professional musicians and educators from across the country. Judging criteria are based on musicianship, creativity, improvisation, technique, sound quality and balance, excitement and authority.

DownBeat awards are considered the most prestigious awards in jazz education. "These DownBeat awards are an achievement of the highest honor," said Miles Osland, director of UK Jazz Studies and professor of saxophone. "The international competition is fierce across all categories."

And it appears, these winning Wildcats are quite fierce too.

photos of Cameron Weatherford, Amy Hoagland, Jonathan Barrett and Ian Cruz
photo of Cameron Weatherford
photo of Amy Hoagland working on sculpture
photo of "Synthetic Natural" by Amy Hoagland
photo of detail from "Synthetic Natural" by Amy Hoagland
photo of "So It Goes" by Amy Hoagland
photo of detail from "So It Goes" by Amy Hoagland
"Synthetic Geode II" by Amy Hoagland
photo of Jonathan Barrett with saxophone
photo of Ian Cruz with saxophone

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue