Meet the Composition Studio

Meet the Composition Studio

The UNCSA Composition Department has twelve to fifteen students each year. The program is led by three Composition Professors: Lawrence Dillon, Kenneth Frazelle and Michael Rothkopf

Caleb Adams

calebadamsCaleb Adams, class of '19, got into music at a young age through playing guitar and songwriting. As his writing became more sophisticated, he became interested in more complex chord structures. In the summer of 2017, Adams attended the Young Composers Program of the Cleveland Institute of Music, after which he enrolled at UNCSA. The following summer he participated in the High School Composition Intensive at the Boston Conservatory.  He is currently enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music in London after studying for two years at UNCSA with Dr. Lawrence Dillon.

Kyrie Antoinette

Kyrie AntoinetteOriginally from Boston, Kyrie Antoinette, class of '18, began arranging and composing for recreation, but decided at the age of 16 to devote her future to composition completely. She enrolled at UNCSA and studied composition for four years with Dr. Lawrence Dillon. At UNCSA, she had several pieces performed, including music for orchestra, a number of chamber works as well as collaborations with the university’s Schools of Design and Production, Drama and Dance.  In 2019 she completed her Master's degree at Berklee Valencia in Spain.

Alicia Bachorik Armstrong

Alicia BachorikAlicia Bachorik Armstrong, class of '18, is a composer whose choral and chamber works have been performed both in the U.S. and in her second home of the Philippines. Her love of reading has grown into a desire to connect language and storytelling to her compositions, as demonstrated in various vocal and choral works. While at UNCSA, Alicia had works premiered by the UNCSA string orchestra, wind ensemble and flute ensemble, as well as the Attacca String Quartet.  In May, her "Tango" was performed by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.   Alicia's principal teacher at UNCSA was Lawrence Dillon.

Drew Banzhoff

banzhoffDrew Banzhoff, from Black Mountain, NC, began studying music at the age of seven with piano lessons and crept his way up through the band and orchestra worlds on instruments such as trombone, tuba, percussion, and french horn. In the ninth grade, he began organ lessons at his church and joined school choir in the eleventh grade. Currently a college sophomore, Drew has already had music premiered by the UNCSA Brass Ensemble and conducted the UNCSA Horn Ensemble in a performance of "The Great Eye." He is currently working on a string quartet and a duo for mezzo and double bass, both due for recording sessions in the spring. Drew studies composition at UNCSA with Dr. Lawrence Dillon.

Jessica Buford

Jessica BufordJessica Buford, class of '18, studied composition for four years with Kenneth Frazelle. Originally from Bluefield, West Virginia, She navigated her way to North Carolina through a large family of musicians. Seeking to incorporate as many influences as possible, she takes inspiration from elements such as gospel, jazz, contemporary classical, and rock. While at UNCSA, she sang with the Winston-Salem Symphony Chorale. She has studied with Hummie Mann at the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Intensive and has received grants to participate in both this intensive and the Siena Summer Music Festival. She enjoys books (writing/editing), the shadows clouds cast on mountains, hats, and professional wrestling. She is currently in the master's degree program at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Peyton Clifford

Peyton Clifford

Peyton Clifford’s, class of '19, interest in blending genres comes from his upbringing in Charlotte, N.C., where he was exposed from an early age to everything from classical opera to The Rolling Stones to punk rock. Throughout high school he developed a serious interest in folk, jazz, and classical music. He is a firm believer in music as both a political/social tool and a basic human necessity. What excites him most about being a 21st-century composer is the ability to constantly explore new sounds, new interactions between acoustic and electronic music, and new ways to collaborate with other artists. Peyton studied composition for four years with Lawrence Dillon.  His music has been recorded by the Attacca String Quartet.  He recently completed a commissioned installation for Old Salem's exploration of racial relationships in its past, "Hidden Town."

Tyson Davis
tysondavisTyson Davis, class of '19, began composing for piano at the age of eight.  His "Delicate Tension" was commissioned to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and premiered in Berlin in August 2019 by the NYO-USA. He is a winner of the MATA Jr. Composition Prize, which led to the NYC premiere of a new work for chamber orchestra in November 2018.  He attended Curtis Summerfest and Interlochen Summer Music Camp, where he had works for chorus and percussion ensemble premiered and earned the Fine Arts Award. Currently, Tyson is enrolled as a Composition major at The Juilliard School.

Tyson studied for four years with Lawrence Dillon. His "String Quartet No. 1" was recorded and premiered in February 2018 by the Attacca String Quartet, going on to win an award from American Composers Forum. His "Another Sky" was performed by UNCSA Cantata Singers two months later, just before the UNCSA Orchestra premiered his "Symphony No. 1."

Dean Deanhardt

allison deanhardtA native of North Carolina, Dean Deanhardt has always had a passion for music. Beginning with the piano privately but then taking on the clarinet principally, she's learned to love the myriad of distinct voices and textures that different instruments bring. She began composing early, creating full band orchestrations at the age of 13. At the same time, her love for the range of voices led her to learn multiple instruments adding the flute, oboe, saxophone, vocals, guitar and more to her repertoire. More recently she has focused on combining different voices in diverse chamber ensembles, enjoying to the challenge that composing for smaller, multilayered group provides. Whether for a concert hall, film, stage or recording studio, Dean likes to bring a depth and breadth to her compositions as she blends each unique voice into a powerful chorus of emotion and sensation. She is currently a junior at UNCSA in the studio of Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf.  Last year, her "Life Goes On" was premiered by the Akropolis Reed Quintet.

Drew Harris

drew.harrisDrew Harris is a graduate composition student in the studio of Dr. Lawrence Dillon who came up through the world of wind band. Inspired by the various voicings of the instruments, he learned woodwind and brass instruments throughout high school, including trumpet, horn, flute, clarinet, oboe, and saxophone. He continued his love of music into college, where he pursued a Bachelor of Music in Film Scoring from Liberty University, in the studio of Dr. David K. Schmal. Drew's "October Nights" was chosen for a premiere by Watson Brass in January 2020; his "The Stars Above" was premiered by the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra a month later.  He is currently working on four chamber pieces slated for premieres in the spring of 2021.  

Jacob Hinson

Jacob HinsonJacob Hinson, from Wingate, N.C., began the formal study of music at at the age of eleven and started composing works for a myriad of ensembles shortly after. 

Hinson holds the Bachelor of Music in Music Education from UNCG where he graduated with honors. There, he was a Trombone student of Dr. Randy Kohlenberg, and studied conducting with Dr. Kevin Geraldi and Dr. John R. Locke. During this time, Hinson composed numerous works including pieces for the UNCG University Band, UNCG Trombone Choir and Charlotte Pride Band.

Notable recent works include a string quartet, "Strung Out," recorded by the Attacca String Quartet, a piece for wind ensemble, "The Fuchsia Dragon," premiered by the UNCSA Wind Ensemble and "Enigma," premiered by the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra. Hinson graduated from UNCSA in May 2020 and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Oregon.  While at UNCSA, he studied with Dr. Lawrence Dillon. 

Sarah Jin

sarah.jinSarah Jin has been involved with music for most of her life. She started piano lessons at five years old, and joined her school's orchestra at 12. In eighth grade, she began to teach herself to play guitar, and in tenth grade she began composing. That summer, she attended the UNCSA summer music composition program. She is now a high school senior at UNCSA School of Music, studying composition under Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf. She especially loves working with string instruments and is working on a full-length musical, "Death Wears a High School Uniform."


Connor May Kelly

Connor May KellyA native of Charlotte, NC, Connor May Kelly has studied and performed as a harpist for 13 years. In middle school she discovered popular music arrangements for the harp, and was fascinated by the instrument’s capabilities to produce a distinct and yet broad range of colors and textures. She began to write her own arrangements, and in high school turned to original solo, chamber, and collaborative compositions. Her "West By Northwest" was recently premiered by the new music ensemble Après Moi. She also had a work recorded by Akropolis Reed Quintet.  Connor May is a junior undergraduate student in Mr. Kenneth Frazelle’s studio.

Gustav Knudson

Gustav KnudsonGustav Edward Knudson is a composer from Chicago, Illinois. He is currently studying at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with Mr. Kenneth Frazelle. His interest in music burgeoned at an early age when listening to bands like "Wilco" and "They Might Be Giants." He began playing music at the age of ten in sixth grade band in Gainesville, Florida, but had attempted playing both the guitar and drums beforehand. He mastered every discipline of high school band percussion and took an interest in composition in his freshman year. He now plays guitar, clarinet, and piano in addition to percussion. Compositionally, Knudson is highly influenced by the sounds of big-band jazz (composers such as Nestico and Gershwin) and 20th- century classical music, taking melodic and harmonic ideas from composers like Stravinsky and Percy A. Grainger. He also has a liking for percussion writing, especially for the vibraphone. He is often inspired by the sounds of nature, such as the arrhythmic sounds of birds chirping, water dripping, or small stones tumbling down a mountain-face.  Gustav's "Guards and Ghosts" was premiered by the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra in February 2020; he has also had works recorded by the Verona String Quartet, Akropolis Winds and soprano Lindsay Kesselman.  He recently completed his second string quartet, commissioned by the Forsyth Audubon Society for their fiftieth anniversary and slated for a premiere in March 2021.

Thomas Little

Thomas LittleThomas Little, class of '19, was identified as a musical prodigy at the age of six and studied piano with Dr. George Kiorpes for twelve years. His improvisations led him to the world of composition, which he studied with Dr. Michael Rothkopf starting in the summer of 2012. Highlights of his prolific and eclectic output include an electronic piece played for multiple years at the Tanglewood Festival of Lights, annually attended by a quarter million people, as well as the humorous musical-theater chamber piece "Overdrive," which has been performed across the country by UNCSA’s own “Low and Lower” cello-bass duo of Brooks Whitehouse and Paul Sharpe.

Mr. Little's music is characterized by the fusion of old and new concepts and techniques, combined with both an affinity for Haydnesque humor and a thorough fascination with music’s unique ability to directly convey the emotions of lived experiences. He performed as pianist and organist at St. Michael Lutheran Church in High Point and as a part of Wake Forest’s Gamelan Giri Murti. He runs the music education series “Classical Nerd” on YouTube, and can passably imitate a kazoo with his mouth. In his spare time, he enjoys going on exorbitantly long road trips. He is currently enrolled in the Master's program at Brandeis University.

Julien Marcellin-Little

marcellin-littleJulien Marcelin-Little has played piano from the age of eight and saxophone from the age of 11, and became interested in piano composition in the 9th grade. Through piano theory and composition lessons at Music Academy South (MAS), Marcellin-Little was inspired to apply to the UNCSA summer composition intensive and was subsequently attended UNCSA for his senior year of high school. Alongside UNCSA and MAS student performances of his pieces, Marcellin-Little has had his work recorded by the Akropolis Reed Quintet. He enjoys classical composition for piano and winds and enjoys learning new ways to craft haunting and memorable melodies. Julien Marcellin-Little is currently a college freshman in the studio of Dr. Michael Rothkopf.

Jasmine Marshall

jasmine.marshallJasmine Marshall, a Winston-Salem native, has had a deep connection to the arts and especially music for practically her entire life. Jasmine has a long-standing history with UNCSA; she took ballet classes in the UNCSA Preparatory Dance Program for five years, and her parents, who both studied music at UNCSA, began to share with her the joy of music from an early age. Her mother has been teaching her piano lessons ever since she was big enough to reach the keys, and her father directs the choir at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church where she sings every Sunday. Not long after starting piano lessons, she began to toy around with creating various melodic and rhythmic ideas, but she did not yet know that this was called “composing.” Most of her early compositions were for solo piano, but in eighth grade she wrote "Serendipity" for string orchestra, and her middle school orchestra performed it at the spring concert. She attended the Young Composers Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music as a rising junior. The following summer she attended the intensive at UNCSA, then enrolled as a high school senior studying composition with Dr. Michael Rothkopf. She graduated from UNCSA in May 2020 and is currently a student at Wake Forest University.

Ash Paris-Carter

Sasha Paris CarterHailing from NYC's East Village, Ash Paris-Carter is a composer-performer and songwriter studying composition at UNCSA's high school program. Inspired by contemporary opera, the riot grrrrl movement, indie graphic novels, the queer rights movement, choral music, and punk, Ash has devoted themself to writing music that is mostly performance based and has a theatrical aspect to it. Ash has written music since they arrived at The Walden School in 2014; at an age when they still firmly believed they were a changeling. To this day, Walden is where Ash is their most authentic self and inspires them to collaborate with teen musicians at their high school and around the country. Ash's music has been performed by Apres Moi, ICE, The Walden School Players, PUBLIQuartet, and other performers at UNCSA and Walden.

Ash was a member of the Manhattan Girls' Chorus from 2013-2016 and had the opportunity to sing at the UN Ambassador's Ball honoring Ban Kee Moon behind Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. They also performed alongside Sting, Idina Menzel, Vittorio Grigolo, James Taylor, and Bruce Springsteen through MGC at Carnegie Hall as well as recording the world premiere of Kim Andre Arnesen's "Love's Onward Journey" among other performances and recordings. Ash was a student of voice at Mannes Prep from 2016-2018 and participated in the vocal chamber ensemble and senior choruses. Through Mannes, Ash sang for Hillary Clinton, Justin Trudeau, and Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon at the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center. In 2020, Ash participated in Curtis Summerfest and Berklee Summer Songwriting Sessions online as a result of the coronavirus.

Ash has produced alternative rock music and released their first EP of demos, "The Ballad," on all streaming platforms. Ash has been the opening act for Left at London on two virtual concerts and their song, "Rose Red," is featured on /@/'s fan album "Tales From Transgender Street."  They are studying composition with Dr. Lawrence Dillon.

K. Christopher Pyle

chrispyleKollen Christopher Pyle has been playing various instruments since age eleven when he began learning guitar by ear, later doing the same with piano, banjo, and several other instruments.  Last year, Christopher's "In Northern Hues" was recorded by the Verona String Quartet and his "Dances With Incandescence" was premiered by the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra.  He has also had recording sessions with Eighth Blackbird and Akropolis Winds.  Christopher is currently a college senior studying with Lawrence Dillon. He recently completed "Journey of the Wood Thrush," a piano trio commissioned by the Forsyth Audubon Society, scheduled for a premiere in March 2021.

Algernon Robinson

Algernon RobinsonAlgernon “AJ” Robinson, class of '19, born in Hartford, Conn., began studying piano at an early age, and picked up the violin and singing in middle school. In high school, AJ played violin with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra (WSO) and the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra (WYSO) under the direction of Dr. Steven Errante in addition to singing with the concert and chamber choirs at UNCW.  

AJ transferred to UNCSA from the Mannes School of Music in NYC, where he studied with Lowell Liebermann. At UNCSA, his composition teacher was Dr. Lawrence Dillon.  He is currently in the graduate program of the University of Michigan.

AJ deeply appreciates the music of 20th century French composers such as Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, and Jean Françaix. While still developing his artistic voice, he enjoys experimenting with tonal ambiguity as a means to musical expression. His "Spring" was recorded by soprano Lindsay Kesselman and Eighth Blackbird in the spring of 2018.  His music was also recorded by the Attacca String Quartet.  In the spring of 2019, he composed and produced the music video "Parapo," commissioned by Old Salem as part of its exploration of racial relationships in its past, "Hidden Town."  

Luis Sanz
Luis SanzIn demand as a composer and cuatro virtuoso, Luis Sanz, class of '19, recently collaborated with Lin Manuel Miranda on a documentary about Puerto Rican culture. Luis was featured in the opening act of the 2018 Latin Grammy Awards.

Born in 1994 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Luis Sanz began playing the Puerto Rican cuatro at the age of four. As a young boy, Luis displayed a great interest in the folkloric music of Puerto Rico and a talent for performing this music on the cuatro. Throughout his formative years he garnered much recognition, recording his first album, "Un legado para la historia," at the age of nine. That same year, Luis was selected by audition to participate as a soloist in the Concerts of the Symphony Orchestra of Puerto Rico by Maestro Roselin Pabon. In addition, in 2005, the Puerto Rican House of Representatives gave him special recognition for his dedication to conserving Puerto Rican folkloric music, and for his talent and success.

Luis’ creative development and talent in improvisation brought him to arranging and composing works for symphony, bands and other groups. He entered the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, where he earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Composition under the tutelage of Professor Alfonso Fuentes. He won first place in a competition, sponsored by Glade for young composers at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, for his composition, “Vuela con Glade.” In April 2015, his composition "Fantasia para Cuatro y Orquestra," was performed by the Symphony Orchestra of the Conservatory of Music, directed by Roselín Pabon. He received his first commission from APAOS, for a symphonic band work, "Emociones del Caribe." It was premiered in May 2015 at El Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferre. At the same time, with a granted scholarship, he also completed a Bachelor Degree at Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico with an emphasis in the area of Popular Music and a minor in Education.

While at UNCSA, Luis studied with Dr. Lawrence Dillon.  He had works recorded by the Attacca String Quartet and Eighth Blackbird, and performed by the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble.  He is currently a professor at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico.

Scott Shea
Scott Shea
Scott Shea, class of '19, is a budding composer with a performance background in French horn and guitar. He began composing his sophomore year of high school, and in Spring 2015 his first orchestral work, "A Pilgrimage," was premiered and recorded by the Greensboro Youth Symphony Orchestra after winning the ensemble’s Young Composers Competition. His style of writing is influenced by the Romantic period, with borrowed elements of jazz and other contemporary styles. He attended the 2014 UNCSA Summer Session for composition, and then enrolled at UNCSA to study composition with Dr. Michael Rothkopf. As a jazz guitarist, he has performed in a variety of big band and chamber settings, as well as participating in the Summer Jazz Workshop at UNC-Wilmington. When he isn’t playing or writing music, Scott likes to read, watch movies and play ping-pong. 

Sterling D. Tilley, III
sterling tilley
Sterling D. Tilley, III, a native of Springfield, VA, began his musical journey as a preschooler, quickly playing tunes by ear, and at seven years old he began formally studying the piano.  Within the initial few weeks of lessons, he composed his first piece, "Bats in the Graveyard." From that moment on, Sterling knew that he wanted to be a composer.  Sterling is an accomplished pianist who has performed in numerous competitions, theater productions, and religious services.  His most recognized composition, "The Rise of Black Diamond," was featured during the awards ceremony for the 2020 National Associastion for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) national Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) Competition.  Sterling continues to write and compose music as a college freshman with Dr. Lawrence Dillon.

 Christian Wray

Christian WrayChristian Wray is a third-year college student studying with Mr. Kenneth Frazelle. He first got into music as a singer-songwriter, studying recording engineering in high school and performing and writing throughout his teenage years. He set out to formally study composition at age 19. Christian has a deep appreciation for the musical tradition that precedes him but also fully embraces the contemporary world. In his music, he loves to twist familiarity and tradition into unexpected shapes. His "Elegy for Motion" was recorded by the Verona String Quartet last spring; his "Shattered Motions" won a competition sponsored by saxophonist Robert Young, who premiered it in November 2020.