When the new academic year begins, the Catawba College Music Department will welcome a new Director of Choral Music and an Artist-in-Residence. Justin Hazelgrove will be Catawba's new Director of Choral Music, and Christina Pier, will be a Catawba Artist-in-Residence. College Provost, Dr. Rick Stephens, announced the appointments July 8.
Hazelgrove, a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, currently serves as assistant conductor of both Bel Canto Company and the UNC Greensboro Chamber Singers in Greensboro. He hopes to complete his doctoral work next May.
"We are very fortunate to welcome Justin to our Music Department," Stephens noted. "He is a fine and experienced conductor and an accomplished baritone soloist. He will bring energy, enthusiasm and new ideas to the department. He is also eager to add to the fine choral offerings that Professor Paul Oakley helped us put in place at Catawba over the past four years."
Stephens noted that Oakley had submitted his resignation from Catawba last week, and that students and faculty of the Music Department had been notified. At the same time, Music Department Chair, Dr. David Fish, and Dean of the Shuford School of Performing Arts, Dr. Barry Sang, began an immediate search of Catawba's extensive network of music professionals to seek an interim replacement.
"The speed with which Dr. Fish and Dr. Sang were able to locate and engage Justin is a credit to the overall reputation that Catawba music has achieved in recent years," Stephens said. "Our intent was to have personnel in place before the start of the new academic year, both in the interests of returning students as well as new students arriving in August. I believe we have achieved this in the appointment of Justin."
A native of Mechanicsville, Va., Hazelgrove earned his Bachelor of Music degree, with a concentration in voice and conducting, from The College of William and Mary in 2006. At The College of William and Mary, he was the recipient of numerous scholarships based on his excellent academic record and his excellence in music study and performance. He was awarded his Master of Music degree from UNC Greensboro in 2008, and while there received a competitive tuition waiver and stipend for his doctoral study. Hazelgrove was named a Regionalist in 2010 NCNATS competition.
During a Meet and Greet event on campus July 8, Hazelgrove expressed excitement about his new role at Catawba College and the fact that it will allow him to continue to conduct and teach a wide range of musical genres. "I realize that Catawba offers many diverse types of music – from gospel to contemporary – and I applaud that and welcome the opportunity to be part of the continuing diversity."
Pier is a familiar face to vocal students at Catawba College. She joined the voice faculty at the College in fall of 2008 as an adjunct instructor of music.
An accomplished soprano, Pier continues to enjoy a rich career as a performer. She is the recipient of numerous prestigious honors and awards, including a 2003 Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a George London Award, a Sullivan Award, and two Palm Beach Opera Competition Awards. She received the Anna Case Mackay Grant from the Santa Fe Opera, the Gilbert Artist Award from Florida Grand Opera, a Sosenko Trust Grant and an Ian Gorin Memorial Award. She was a Young American Artist with the Florida Grand Opera in 2004, a Young Artist with the Glimmerglass Opera in 2003, and an Apprentice Artist with the Santa Fe Opera in 2002.
Pier has performed leading roles with the Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, Nashville Opera, Princeton Festival, Eugene Opera, Sarasota Opera, and understudied two roles with Lyric Opera Chicago. A consummate Mozartarian, Pier has been seen as Donna Anna in "Don Giovanni," Pamina in "Die Zauberflöte," Countess in "Le Nozze di Figaro," and Fiordiligi in "Cosi fan tutte." She has also sung Micaëla in "Carmen" and Marguerite in Gounod's "Faust."
Pier performs frequently as a concert soloist. Highlights include performances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra singing Mendelssohn's "Lobgesang" and selections of Beethoven's "Leonore" conducted by Nic McGegan, and previously, Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9" with conductor Roberto Abbado, a recital for the George London Foundation, a concert tour in China, and concerts with the World Youth Orchestra, performing in Italy and at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York. In 2009, she recorded Vaughan Williams' "Dona Nobis Pacem" with David Hill and the BBC Singers, which is available on the Naxos label.
Originally from Flagstaff, Ariz., Pier earned a Bachelor of Music degree and a Master of Music in voice at Indiana University where she studied with distinguished professor, Virginia Zeani.
"Christina has been a wonderful addition to our music faculty since joining the College," Stephens explained. "She is a high-quality, working performer who also happens to be a talented and motivating faculty member. In her new role as an Artist-in-Residence, we hope to better showcase her musical prowess to our students and the community at large."
Pier said she welcomes the new responsibilities associated with her appointment at Catawba. "It has been very rewarding to be a part of the Catawba Music Department over the past three years. Our student body is vastly talented, and has an extraordinary work ethic. Our faculty is world-class, and maintains strong connections to the performing arts world, both nationally and internationally. We are dedicated to furthering Catawba's standard of excellence. I look forward to expanding my participation in the Music Department, and feel privileged to help these bright students as they continue to develop and enhance their musical abilities."