Meet the Composition Studio

Meet the Composition Studio

The UNCSA Composition Department has two Master's degree candidates, nine undergraduates and four high school students. 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 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. Drew initially began transcribing orchestral works in late middle school, where he began to learn the rules of orchestration prompted by studying scores. This led to the creation of a continuing cycle of pieces for massive orchestra, Drew's largest and first work. Drew has written pieces for many different types of ensembles, both large and small. His performed works consist of a choral piece, "The Storm," and a large work for wind ensemble, choir and electronics, "Brain of Terrestrials," as well as some arrangements of hymns for brass and organ. Drew is currently studying 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 sophomore at UNCSA in the studio of Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf.

Drew Harris

drew.harrisDrew Harris is a graduate composition student 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. Throughout his undergraduate education, his love for wind band continued to grow, and his love for the orchestra began to blossom. After graduation, Drew decided to continue his composition education at UNCSA in the studio of Dr. Lawrence Dillon, with the goal of growing as a composer, making connections and growing his personal repertoire.

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 andDr. 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 resides in Winston-Salem, NC, and is a second-year Master of Music Composition student at the UNCSA, studying 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 junior at UNCSA School of Music, studying composition under Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf. She especially loves working with string instruments.


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. Connor May is a sophomore 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.

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 inspired to apply to 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 currently studies 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, and she is now enrolled as a high school senior studying composition with Dr. Michael Rothkopf. She loves to expand her understanding of the human experience through the arts, and hopes that her music will reflect this, resonating with audiences from all walks of life. When she is not composing, she can probably be found reading, writing or going for a run.

Ash Paris-Carter

Sasha Paris CarterAsh Paris-Carter is a high school junior from New York. Ash started writing music in fifth grade, around the time that they joined the Manhattan Girls Chorus and began to develop an interest in music theory. Ash was a student of composition and voice at Mannes Pre-College from 2016-18. During this time, Ash became obsessed with music and wrote their second string quartet, while also singing in chorus and chamber singers. For the last six summers Ash has had many chamber pieces premiered as part of class projects and independent studies at the Walden School, including one string quartet, a short SSAA choral work, and a string trio that included spoken word elements. In 2017, Ash won the Irving Berlin Summer Camp Scholarship for their work that summer. They recently had a composition premiered and recorded by the new music ensemble Après Moi. In addition to being a composer, Ash is a prolific singer-songwriter who is currently building a concept album. 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. In sixth grade he joined the concert band, playing clarinet. The following year he switched focus to saxophone, which he would play for the remainder of his time in both middle school and high school. While interested in composition early on, he did not fully pursue this interest until his junior year of high school, while taking an AP Music Theory course. Particularly interested in writing for large ensembles, he wrote a piece that was performed by his high school concert band. Christopher is currently a college junior studying with Lawrence Dillon. His "Transfixation/Transfiguration" will be recorded this season by Eighth Blackbird.

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.

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.  He recently had a work recorded by the Attacca String Quartet and a completed a commissioned installation for Old Salem's 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.

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. 

Charlie Whatley
Charlie began his musical journey when his parents first got him a drumset right before he started middle school. In 6th grade, hje joined his school's band playing percussion. By high school he moved to playing marching snare in his drumline and drumset in the school's jazz band. He started getting an interest in composing original music during his freshman year when he was given a class assignment to write drum cadences in marching band. While Charlie draws elements from many different styles of music, some of his inspirations are from jazz, classic rock, and modern hip-hop. In Fall 2018, he started compositional study at UNCSA in the high school program with Dr. Michael Rothkopf. He is currently a freshman in college.

Ethan B. Wood
Ethan is from Raleigh, NC and has studied piano for over 10 years with his teacher Gerry Diamond. He first began composing in high school in a digital music class where he wrote his first fugue. He then began composing scores for his theater group, Raptor Reparatory, at Research Triangle High School. Through his music he helped tell the story for Shakespeare’s "Twelfth Night"and "The Winter’s Tale" as well as a one act play, "The House of Bernarda Alba." Ethan loves to capture the characters and stories through his music and hopes to continue composing for stage as well as film. He is a freshman undergraduate in Dr. Michael Rothkopf’s studio.

 Christian Wray

Christian WrayChristian Wray is a second-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.