Music Alum Presses On Toward Doctoral Program

Since finishing at Belhaven in 2012, alumna and violinist Shellie Brown has been studying at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University with Paul Kantor. She has recently been accepted into the doctoral program at Rice and will further her music studies there.

Shellie will also be returning to the Belhaven Concert Hall stage on Tuesday, March 28 as part of the Preston Chamber Music Series: An Evening of Diamonds II.

BU Professors and Students are thrilled and encouraged to see alumni such as Shellie pursuing excellence in the art of music! Congratulations on her achievements!


Graphic Design Hosts Advertising Conference

The Graphic Design Department will be hosting the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Merge Idea Conference this Saturday, March 4. Sponsored by AAF Jackson, MERGE is Mississippi’s only advertising-focused student conference. The conference will host just under 100 graphic design students from universities and colleges in the area for a full  day of creative workshops with graphic design and advertising professionals.

Graphic Design Welcomes New Faculty Member

The Graphic Design Department welcomes Mr. Jon Micah Tyson as their newest full time faculty member. Tyson, a previous faculty member in the Visual Art Department, will join Mrs. Gigi Turner and Mr. Cornelius Denson in teaching various graphic design courses including animation and multi-media courses. He holds a BS from Mississippi College with an emphasis in sculpture and printmaking, and an MED from Mississippi College in Art Education, and currently works with local and global video game studios in the roles of art direction consultant, concept artist, and animation.

Dance Program Ranked on National List

According to, the Belhaven Dance department comes in at 16th amongst 100 schools for “Most Popular Schools for a Dance Major or Degree”. This list represents schools from across the nation that possess a general program that prepares individuals to express ideas, feelings and/or inner visions through the performance of one or more of the dance disciplines, including but not limited to ballet, modern, jazz, ethnic, and folk dance, and that focuses on the study and analysis of dance as a cultural phenomenon. These schools also include instruction in technique, choreography, Laban notation, dance history and criticism, and dance production in their programs. Belhaven comes in just behind schools such as New York University (#1), The Ailey School (#5), and Florida State University (#11), though we rank above many of our competitors, such as Temple University (#19), The Julliard School (#33), and the University of Southern Mississippi (#97).

Spring Semester Dance Highlights

The Dance Department has much going on this semester! Below are a few highlights:

  • The department accepted 31 talented dancers for Fall 2017 enrollment from the auditions held last semester.
  • 18 students and 1 faculty member traveled to the Alabama Dance Festival in January, being invited to present two pieces in the New Works Concert and engage in an audition for prospective students.
  • On February 17, they are hosting an “exchange day” with Ballet Magnificat Trainees, who will share a ballet class with upper level BU dancers and present choreographic works.
  • On Thursday afternoons prior to dance concerts, there will be free Open Dress Rehearsals for dance students from Power APAC, MS School of the Arts, and Hinds Community College to attend.
  • During Spring Break (March 13-17), 21 students and 3 faculty will travel to the American College Dance Association Regional Conference at Auburn University to present 3 dance works as well as take classes and attend performances.
  • For the Spring Dance Concert (March 31, April 7-9), dance students have the opportunity to learn from 3 world-class guest artists who are creating original dance works for the concert.

Dance Professor & Student Recognized as William Winter Scholars

Several dozen outstanding Humanities Division students, faculty members, and professionals from Mississippi’s universities, colleges, and community colleges are honored each year by being named William Winter Scholars at the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. Each is chosen by his or her educational institution as the Humanities Division’s most outstanding student, faculty member, or professional.

This aware allows winners to attend most of the NLCC free of charge. The annual award also carries with it prestige and public acknowledgement of how highly the person is regarded by his or her institution.

Ms. Emily Wright, Associate Professor of Dance, will be recognized and represent Belhaven at this year’s NLCC. The celebration will take place on February 23-25, with the opening ceremony on Friday, February 24th. Ms. Wright was also given the opportunity to nominate an outstanding student to be recognized alongside her, of whom she chose Catherine Hampton, a junior BFA Dance and English double major.

The winners are honored publicly at the opening and closing sessions, in the printed materials, and in publicity. The group is photographed with former Mississippi Governor William F. Winter, after whom the scholarship is named. Winter has served as Director of Proceedings for the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration each year since the event began in 1990.

Arts Administration Chair Pursues New Project

Mr. Jack Kyle, Chair of the Arts Administration department, has been the catalyst for two outstanding exhibitions at Belhaven’s art gallery: “Andrew Bucci: Rediscovered” and “Marie Hull: Visions of Color and Light”. He has also created the Marie Hull Society for the Arts.

After several years of teaching and leading at Belhaven, Mr. Kyle has decided to embark upon a cultural project that has been his passion for many years. He will now be residing in Vicksburg, developing an art exhibition project that will entail building an appropriate world-class art exhibition facility and organizing international art exhibitions including: “Palaces of St. Petersburg: Russian Imperial Style” (1996), “Splendors of Versailles” (1998), “The Majesty of Spain: Royal Collections from the Museo del Prado and Patrimonio Nacional” (2001), and “The Glory of Baroque Dresden” (2004).

Mr. Kyle believes that this project will benefit the people of Mississippi by providing for the educational and cultural enrichment of the citizens and providing a resource for economic development. He also anticipates that it will increase tourism growth and enhance a positive image of Mississippi regionally, nationally, and internationally.

The Arts at BU will feel the absence of Jack Kyle, but we rejoice as he pursues new artistic endeavors.

Guitarists Enriched at Recent Festival

The Mississippi Guitar Festival 2016 had a great turn out with around 30 participants coming from as far as California, Texas, Georgia, and Louisiana in addition to Mississippi. The participants in each category displayed an impressive level of guitar artistry.

Guest Artist Ivan Rijos with Dr. Tanja Miric

Guest Artist Ivan Rijos with Dr. Tanja Miric

Dr. Tanja Miric, coordinator of the festival and Guitar teacher at Belhaven, speaks about the guest artist:

“We were honored to have Ivan Rijos as our guest artist. Rijos presented a wonderful master class in which he challenged us to aim for effortless guitar playing that would serve for expressive music making. As a part of his evening recital, Rijos invited many of the participants to join him on the stage and play solo repertoire while Rijos improvised on it. Sharing the stage with Ivan Rijos was such a memorable and special experience for many of us that we will cherish it for a long time.”

Belhaven Music Succeeds at MMTA Fall Conference

The 62nd Annual Fall Conference of the MMTA was held on November 4-5 at Delta State in Cleveland, MS. Belhaven Music had several students involved in the activities.

Hannah van der Bijl, sophomore music major in piano performance, participated in the Young Artist Competition, playing Beethoven, Chopin, and Debussy. Hannah was selected as first alternate in her category.

Jessica Schmidt also participated in the Young Artist Competition as a violinist and performed a wide variety of pieces – from Bach to Grieg to Prokofiev. Jessica was also selected as first alternate in her category.

One of Belhaven’s two String Quartets participated in the Chamber Music Strings Competition, and were the only contestants in that category. Thus, they will move on to the Southern Division level held at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. The members of the quartet are Jessica Schmidt, violin I, Zakary Joyner, violin II, Thorburn McGee, viola, and Rebekah Miller, cello.

Belhaven Music also had a student presenting at the conference: Dorothy Claire Glover presented on Teaching Technique to Beginners: The Commonalities and Teaching Strategies of Great Teachers. Dorothy Claire is finishing her Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in Organ Performance, and is the organist at First Presbyterian Church in Yazoo City. She has been teaching piano for over seven years and currently teaches piano to over 30 fabulous students in the greater Jackson area.

Congratulations to these students and may the Lord continue to bless their efforts!