Sunday, May 6, 2012

Demondrae Thurman - WAA Forward under 40

Demondrae Thurman MMusic '98, Sotto Voce Center Stage
UW Major: Music Performance
Age: 37 | Tuscaloosa, AL
Associate Professor of Music at the University of Alabama
Demondrae Thurman hits so many notes in his busy life that the cadence belies the mellow tones of his horn, the euphonium. A brass instrument smaller than a tuba, the euphonium is rarely called upon in a symphony orchestra's repertoire, but Thurman's solo and quartet prowess has brought the instrument onto center stage. Its sound has taken him across the world for performances and clinics: France, Germany, England, Norway, Hungary, and China.

From backing up the Temptations to performing at Madison's Chazen Art Museum, Thurman acts as a role model for young African-American musicians, keeps a busy teaching schedule, and recently became director of the University of Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Thurman also excels at the trombone, baritone, and bass trumpet.

Thurman is a founding member and musical leader of the internationally acclaimed Sotto Voce Quartet, which features two euphoniums and two tubas. The group has three recordings on a major brass recording label with Thurman featured on two solo efforts. (Hear him play at

Thurman's teaching is renowned, and his students in low brass performance have been nationally recognized. John Stevens, UW professor of music and a mentor to Thurman, says his former student is highly regarded internationally as a performer and teacher: "In reality, he has occupied a position of extremely high esteem in the field since his mid-twenties," Stevens says.

Thurman has been a leading advocate for the euphonium and its increasing popularity through commissioning or premiering more than ten new works for solo euphonium or euphonium in a chamber setting.

The musician's ties to Madison, his colleagues, and teachers is tight, despite the fact that he had never visited Madison or even spent more than two weeks outside of his hometown of Tuscaloosa before his graduate studies began. His former classmates are now his musical collaborators. Stevens, whom Thurman says "is like a father to me," wrote the music for Sotto Voce's first CD and Thurman's first solo CD. The Alabama professor's most recent CD features Martha Fischer, UW associate professor of collaborative piano.

"The same people who have had such a great impact on my professional life have also become some of my dearest friends," Thurman says.

In his words...
What is the one thing every UW student must do?
Every UW student must go to the farmers' market at the Capitol on Saturday mornings in fall. There is nothing like that anywhere!

What do you do in your free time?
I wish I had free time, but when I carve it out, I tend to watch or play sports. I'm fond of boxing, basketball and football.

What was your first job?
Picking up trash from major highways as a 15-year-old.

What's your guilty pleasure?
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES! Warm them, please.

If you could trade places with any person for a week, with whom would it be?
Mike Tyson — I would like to have offered his mind and body the notion that with hard work, dedication, and a good environment along with his talent, he could have been the greatest boxer and one of the greatest ambassadors the world has seen.

Matthew Annin - Principal Horn, Milwaukee Symphony

Matthew Annin is currently Principal Horn of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.  A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, Matthew previously held the position of Assistant Principal Horn of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.  Under the direction of Paavo Jarvi, Matthew performed on several tours with the CSO, including tours to Japan and Carnegie Hall, as well as several recordings.  Matthew has also been a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Louisville Orchestra.  He has also performed with the Saint Louis Symphony, the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, and Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, and has served as guest Principal Horn of the Buffalo Philharmonic.  Matthew was a fellow at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida.
Matthew received a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Matthew has been a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and the Music Academy of the West, where he performed Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 2, K. 417 as a Concerto Competition winner.  He has also participated in the Sarasota and Aspen Music Festivals, in addition to the Henry Mancini Institute.  In his spare time, Matthew enjoys spending time with his wife, Christine, and spoiling their cat, Zoe.

Isaac Roang - The Business Journal "Forty under 40"

Isaac Roang is 34 years old and has a library named after him.
The addition to a school in the bush country of Kenya was built on his resolve to do something important during his time on earth and the unique talents Roang applies to that goal.
As a Peace Corps volunteer teaching math and physics, he saw a problem — only five books in a classroom of 50 students — and built a solution.
Those who work with Roang in Milwaukee have become familiar with his sincere, understated approach.
It extends across his professional work as a real estate attorney, to his pro bono services at Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity and the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic, and his devotion to his wife and two daughters.
"You see no ego here," said Ann Murphy, managing partner at Quarles & Brady. "He wants to really give back in a way to make our community a better place."
The only child of a musical and creative couple, Roang grew up in Madison. He helped out at his father's fruit stand, and traveled with his mother to sell clothing at art fairs.
From elementary school to the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Georgetown University, he developed interests in classical music, math and physics, and tai chi.
His legal work crafting real estate transactions exercises his intellect. Playing French horn in Milwaukee's Concord Chamber Orchestra releases his emotions.
Roang uses the metaphor of a single butterfly creating great change by flapping its wings to express his mind-set about his volunteer work, helping low-income people find affordable housing or answers to their legal problems.
"It's what I tried to do in the Peace Corps," he said. "You're not going to change the world, but to the extent you can help one person take one step in the right direction, you're doing something."
If Roang has a selfish motive, it's the near universal desire to see and touch the fruits of his labor.
Even in doing that, he keeps the butterfly wings beating.
When he and his wife traveled 8,000 miles to visit the Isaac John Roang Library two years ago, they delivered 15 boxes of books.

Read more: Isaac Roang - The Business Journal of Milwaukee