In the 2012 – 2013 academic year, the director of the American University’s Music Program, Nancy Snider, established the Director’s Musicians of Accomplishment (DMAs) as a way to celebrate excellence in the AU music program. Honorees are undergraduate music students who are ambassadors for the Department of Performing Arts and exhibit exemplary musicianship and leadership skills while maintaining a high academic average. The DMAs are winners of numerous scholarships, awards and competitions and consistently present innovative and collaborative performances. These students have performed extensively in the D.C. area as well as abroad, and are pursuing musical careers. These inaugural members will be presenting a varied program of classical and contemporary music, as well as two new works, one composed by a member of the group, Helen West, and the other by Dr. Matthew Heap, a professorial lecturer at American University.
Carley DeFranco, soprano, has recently graduated from the American University magna cum laude, earning a degree in vocal performance with interests in choral conducting and piano. Carley is an Evelyn Swarthout Hayes Award winner and one of five founding nominees to the Directors' Musicians of Accomplishment. As a principal soloist and section leader within the AU Chamber Singers, Carley has performed throughout Spain, Portugal and, most recently, as the soprano soloist in Handel’s Dixit Dominus on the Singer’s tour to Russia. Carley has been a frequent soloist with the American University Chorus, Chamber and Symphony Orchestras, having sung J.S. Bach’s Christ lag in Todes banden, BWV 151, John Corigliano’s Fern Hill, Kódaly’s Budavari Te Deum and more. Carley enjoys presenting new works and has recently premiered Rush Hour from The Diurnal Cycle by Dr. Matthew Heap and a new arrangement of Joaquín Rodrigo’s Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios for combined strings by Andrew Maskiell, among many works by student-composers. She has been featured in master classes with Elizabeth Bishop, Ken Weiss, the Linden Quartet and George Gibson. This Fall, Carley begins graduate studies in vocal performance at the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, where she studies with Carol Mastrodomenico.
Allie Martin, violin, is a senior at American University. She is double majoring in Violin Performance and Audio Production. She currently serves as concertmaster of the American University Symphony Orchestra and first violinist of the American University String Quartet. Allie was a National Finalist in the Music Teachers National Association 2013 Young Artist String Competition held in Anaheim, California. She won first place in both the 2012 American University Concerto and Aria Competition and the 2012 National Association of Negro Musicians Local Competition. Allie has performed at the Kennedy Center, the White House, the State Department, Strathmore, the Austrian Embassy, the Organization of American States, THEARC, and various churches in the area. She teaches violin at the Sitar Arts Center as well as privately around the DC area. She was an assistant chamber coach at the National Philharmonic Summer String Institute in 2013. Allie has been playing the violin for 15 years and is a student of Teri Lazar. In addition to being a violinist, Allie is also pursuing ethnomusicology. She was the recipient of a 2013 American University Summer Scholars and Artists Fellowship to study gentrification and go-go music in Washington, D.C.
Katherine Riddle, soprano, recently graduated magna cum laude and with University Honors from American University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music concentrating in Vocal Performance. During her undergraduate studies, Katherine studied voice with Dr. Linda Allison, piano with Yuliya Gorenman, and classical guitar with Larry Snitzler. As part of AU’s study abroad program, Katherine spent a semester studying music at King’s College London and voice at the Royal Academy of music. Katherine is a recipient of the David W. Wainhouse Scholarship, a winner of the 2013 American University Concerto and Aria Competition as well as the winner of MD/D.C. NATS competition in both musical theater and classical voice. Katherine has performed as a soloist with the American University Symphony Orchestra, the Fairfax Symphony, the B-A-C-H Orchestra in Yekaterinburg, Russia and the Vladimir Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Katherine has appeared in numerous musical theater and operetta productions. Favorite roles include: HMS Pinafore (Josephine), The Sound of Music (Lisel), and A Little Night Music (Fredericka). Katherine also has been trained in ballet, tap, jazz and modern dance. Later this fall, Katherine will premiere the role of Porrima in A Fire in Water, a new opera by Michael Oberhauser and Terry Johns, and will play the role of Sarah Brown in Rockville Musical Theatre’s production of Guys and Dolls.
Andrew Welch has worked as a pianist and conductor at many notable venues in Washington including the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, Millennium Stage, the Washington National Opera, the Smithsonian, the Lyceum and the State Department. An avid supporter of new music, Andrew has premiered compositions by Amy Williams, Fernando Benadon and Dmitri Tymoczsko. Andrew graduated with full honors from American University and was hailed as "one of the most talented students ever to graduate from AU". While at American, Andrew won the university-wide concerto competition and assisted in founding the new music ensemble. Now a master's student of Mikhail Volchok at University of Maryland's prestigious School of Music, Andrew has also studied piano with Yuliya Gorenman and Ivo Kaltchev and coached voice with Elizabeth Daniels. Andrew also serves as organist and choirmaster at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bethesda, Maryland.
Helen Tuliene West is a contemporary classical saxophonist based in the Washington D.C. area. She has performed throughout the Maryland/ DC area, including the John Hopkins Peabody Conservatory of Music where she premiered Out of the Darkness, and the Kennedy Center, as well as throughout her home state of Alaska. Helen is passionate about creating new music and furthering the scope of musical expression through the use of electronic instruments and manipulation of sound and eager to showcase contemporary saxophone repertoire. Her senior recital featured all contemporary works as well as premiers of Saxophone Quartet by Aaron Brooks and Kushnakoo, an original composition for quartet and electronics by West. A dedicated and enthusiastic educator, Helen teaches saxophone at Janney Elementary School and Middle C Music in Northwest D.C. She also maintains an active teaching studio in D.C., and has saxophone for the Levine School of Music saxophone summer camp and gives demonstrations to the school’s Early Childhood Music classes. Originally from Sitka, Alaska Helen graduated from American University in May and continues to study saxophone with Dr. Noah Getz and electronic composition with Dr. William Brent.