Chancellor Brian Cole has announced two appointments to leadership positions in the School of Music at UNCSA. Associate Professor of Bassoon Saxton Rose will serve as interim dean, and Associate Professor of Voice Steven LaCosse will become the A.J. Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Opera and artistic director of A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute. Both appointments are effective July 1.
One of America’s most recognized bassoon soloists and chamber musicians, Rose has performed in some of the most important concert halls and taught at the most prestigious universities and conservatories throughout the world and is a leading advocate for the performance and commissioning of works by living composers. He has taught at UNCSA since 2008 and is director of the nu ensemble, the School of Music’s contemporary music group. He is also a member of the acclaimed New York-based wind quintet Zéphyros Winds and is principal bassoonist with the Winston-Salem Symphony. Throughout his time at UNCSA Rose has been an active and important leader within the School of Music and the university at large. Over the past four years he has been in leadership positions within the strategic planning and curriculum revision task forces for Music, with a particular focus on technology development and innovative approaches to ensemble training.
“Saxton embodies the two-fold vision of the School of Music: to enable students to attain their highest musical aspirations and to meet the challenge of succeeding in a highly competitive profession,” said Cole, who was dean of the School of Music for three years before serving as interim chancellor, and now chancellor. “In my time working with him, Saxton has shown himself to be an innovative and imaginative artist and leader who I know will be able to lead our music faculty through this time of transition and help propel the school forward as we develop new ways to train and perform in the COVID-19 environment.”
Interim Provost Karin Peterson said, “Saxton Rose has been an outstanding mentor to students across the many disciplines in the School of Music. His vision and commitment will serve the School of Music well as it continues to provide a transformative conservatory experience for talented student artists.”
UNCSA will launch an international search for the next dean this summer.
“I am honored to serve the UNCSA School of Music as interim dean,” Rose said. “I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead as we navigate the new landscape of music performance. I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support, and to the chancellor and provost for the confidence they’ve placed in me.”
Steven LaCosse will become artistic director of UNCSA’s renowned Fletcher Opera program – a tuition-free graduate program that trains highly talented singers for careers in opera – as it approaches its 20th anniversary in 2021-22. LaCosse, who has been managing director of Fletcher Opera for nearly two decades, has directed more than 100 opera productions for UNCSA, Piedmont Opera, the Princeton Festival and Opera Theatre of the Rockies. He is a recipient of Excellence in Teaching Awards from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and UNCSA.
“Steven LaCosse is passionate about teaching, passionate about opera, and passionate about the excellence of the School of Music,” Cole said. “He has been a leader of Fletcher Opera Institute since it was established, and he is uniquely qualified to be assume this role – particularly as we navigate the challenges and opportunities we will face in the near and long term. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Institute, I am excited about the possibilities for this next chapter for operatic training at UNCSA and what Steve and the team are planning for the future.”
Peterson said, “Steven LaCosse’s leadership is acknowledged and appreciated on campus and in the community. He is a capable and creative manager and a top-notch teacher, and will undoubtedly help build awareness of our renowned graduate opera program.”
LaCosse said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to shape the future of Fletcher Institute as we get ready to enter its third decade, and I’m honored to receive to the A. J. Fletcher Distinguished Professorship in Opera. This is a pivotal time in the school’s history, and I look forward to working with the voice and opera faculty to ensure that the institute will flourish after the pandemic crisis has passed.”
Saxton Rose’s virtuosic interpretations of traditional repertoire and his dedication to new music have afforded him a prolific and varied career as a soloist, orchestral and chamber musician. Throughout his career, Rose has worked to expand the repertoire of the bassoon and to redefine its role in contemporary music by collaborating with established and emerging composers to commission new works. He gave the North Carolina premiere of Nico Muhly’s Concerto for Bassoon in 2019 and his recently released recording of Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina’s Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings was met with international praise. He is a member of Rushes Ensemble, formed to record, premiere and perform “Rushes,” Bang on a Can composer Michael Gordon’s concert-length work for seven bassoons. Rose also helped found Dark in the Song, a collective comprised of the most widely known bassoonists in the contemporary music scene.
Saxton Rose performs and teaches throughout the world, with recent performances as concerto soloist with orchestras in Colombia, Panamá, Mexico, and Puerto Rico; with the West Point Band at the Skirball Center in New York City; and with the Fayetteville (N.C.) Symphony Orchestra and Winston-Salem Symphony. A committed teacher, he has given master classes throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia, and at the finest music schools and conservatories in the United States. In 2017, he served as bassoon faculty for the Young Orchestra of the Americas in Chile and was invited to teach at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China.
As principal bassoonist of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2008, Rose performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in the Casals Festival and on tours to Europe and throughout Latin America.
Rose’s training includes courses in Germany, Austria and Italy with some of Europe’s most distinguished bassoonists, including Gustavo Nuñez and Sergio Azzolini. He studied at the University of Cincinnati College, Conservatory of Music; received an Artist Diploma with highest honors from Conservatorio “Agostino Steffani” Castelfranco in Veneto, Italy; a Master of Music from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Colorado.
LaCosse’s recent directing credits for Fletcher Opera include “La Clemenza di Tito,” “Rodelinda,” “Werther,” “La cenerentola” and “Ariadne Auf Naxos.” He has directed many UNCSA undergraduate voice workshops, including the most recent workshop premiere of “Mamma Laudinia.”
For Piedmont Opera, LaCosse has directed “Mary Stuarda,” “La boheme,” “Tosca” and “Rigoletto.” He has also directed “Little Women: The Musical” and “The Wizard of Oz” for the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem.
He serves as associate director of the Vocal Arts Festival for Opera Theatre of the Rockies, where his recent directing credits include “Gianni Schicchi,” “Suor Angelica,” and “Aida.” For the Princeton Festival he has directed “Nixon in China,” “Madama Butterfly” and “Peter Grimes.”
LaCosse previously served the School of Music as assistant dean of enrollment and recruitment for five years, interim assistant dean of graduate studies for two years, and coordinator of the Summer Institute on Manteo Island for three years.
Since 2017, he has been auditions coordinator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the North Carolina District.
LaCosse has a Doctor of Music in voice, a Master of Science in opera direction, and a Bachelor of Music in voice, all from Indiana University; and a Master of Music in voice from the University of North Texas.
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June 29, 2020