816 North

Park University and William Jewell College bring in musical talent from around the world

If you’re musically inclined and want to take the international stage by storm, then look to the Northland.

That’s where you’ll find two outstanding liberal arts institutions to help you fulfill your dreams: Park University and William Jewell College.

The proof is in their programs — programs that attract students from all over the world, and programs that send Kansas City-based students out into the world.

Park’s International Center for Music has earned a reputation for drawing talent from abroad for its personalized studies, and William Jewell is known for sending its elite singers to perform in great cathedrals.

Ingrid Stölzel, the director of the International Center for Music at the Parkville university, gives credit to world-renowned pianist Stanislav Ioudenitch for founding the center.

“The program was his vision,” Stölzel said. “He wanted a small program with personalized attention, sort of an apprenticeship.”

Ioudenitch, who is from the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, was a gold medalist at the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001. He went on to found the center 10 years ago.

Ioudenitch still works closely with his students. Last week he was in Boston with his protege Behzod Abduraimov, who was performing Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” in his debut as a piano soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Stölzel said it was “easy to fall in love with the program because of the level of musicianship.”

Stölzel, a contemporary composer, is a model of international collaboration. She is from Germany, adding to Park’s international appeal. But she has been in the American Heartland for many years and considers Kansas City her hometown. She received her doctorate in music composition from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

She had the premiere of her piece “In the Midst” on April 4 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City as part of the Van Cliburn Tribute Concert at Helzberg Hall. Stölzel wrote the music for Ioudenitch, who performed it at the concert.

And on Saturday a free Young Artist Showcase concert in the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel at Park highlighted the talents of several musicians at the International Center for Music. Among the featured musicians were cellists Sunnat Ibragimov and Mansur Kadirov, both from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and pianist Artem Kuznetsov, who was born into a musical family in Maikop, Russia.

Musicians at Park and William Jewell in Liberty cooperate to hone their art.

Stölzel and Ian Coleman, William Jewell’s English-born professor of music theory and composition, worked together on a composition project called Art Local, run by the eight-voice vocal group Octarium.

Coleman grew up in Bristol, England, and earned his bachelor’s degree in music composition at Bath Spa University in England. He took a postgraduate certificate in elementary education at the University of Exeter and then came to the Heartland to stay.

At the University of Kansas, Coleman received a master’s degree in music and a doctorate music composition. He took a post as a music professor at Manhattan Christian College in Kansas. In 2002 he moved to William Jewell. There he writes choral music and compositions, and serves part-time as a teacher, composer and administrator.

“I want this school to be great, to have an important role in the Kansas City music-making landscape,” Coleman said.

William Jewell takes that role seriously. On Thursday the college’s Five Choirs Festival brought together more than 270 choir students from Liberty, Liberty North, Blue Springs, Blue Springs South and Rockhurst high schools to perform Faure’s “Requiem.” William Jewell’s Concert Choir also performed.

Besides work in our community, William Jewell also sends its artists far into the world. Once every three years the Concert Choir, led by Anthony Maglione, travels to Scotland and England to perform in the great cathedrals the music that was composed for those hallowed halls.

The broader world has an effect at William Jewell, too. Selene Hernandez, an instrumental music education major from Raytown, wants to bring a little bit of Los Angeles to Kansas City, Coleman said, inspired by a program that links the Youth Orchestra LA and a youth charity called the Heart of Los Angeles.

“Her goal is to bring the YOLA at HOLA system to Kansas City,” Coleman said, maybe by offering free music classes to young people to create good citizens through art.

“She wants to give back to the community,” Coleman said.

And then there’s Tianyi “Tony” Wang, a senior and music theory/composition and mathematics major from Jilin, China.

“Wang is truly an international student,” Coleman said. “He is a Chinese citizen studying in Liberty, and he’s interested in taking his skills back to China. He went back to China and worked with a film crew. He composed for a movie being shot in China.”

Some musicians at William Jewell benefit from the Choral Scholar program, which operates on a British model of providing scholarships even to some students who aren’t majoring in music.

“The choral program attracts really fine singers,” Coleman said.

“The elite singers on campus are really great when they graduate, even if they don’t have a career in music. And some don’t want a career. They major in something else.”

Coleman said the Choral Scholars program “develops talent when we see it and puts it out to the world when that output warrants that.”

Daniel Belcher is one of those William Jewell musicians whose output warranted a broad audience. Belcher has a busy performing career, and he recently accepted a position on the voice faculty at Florida State University, where he will start teaching this fall.

“I will greatly miss the Liberty area, but once again my alma mater has prepared me for the next journey,” Belcher said.

Belcher is departing after holding the title of Harriman-Jewell Artist in Residence at the college for the 2013-14 academic year.

“I have been looking for ways to do some more structured teaching, and my colleagues at Jewell jumped on board with this idea. Over the course of the year I will have taught 10 one-hour vocal seminars,” Belcher said.

He also invited local high school students to a public class, held a performance and discussion at Liberty North High School, and coached vocalists in diction and interpretation.

“I hope the students feel they have gained some new perspective to augment their already excellent training they are receiving,” Belcher said.

Hearing Belcher describe it, the work has been a continuation of the community and school support from which he benefited before he became a professional musician.

“When I was a student at Jewell, I used to stand in line to get the student comp tickets to hear such artists as Marilyn Horne, Luciano Pavarotti, Itzhak Perlman, and the list goes on and on,” Belcher said. “I will never forget what they have given to me. It was my time to give back and say a small thank you. It was good timing.”