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2014 Alumnus of the Year: Michael Couper (BM ‘07)

Michael_CouperHailed by the New York Times for his “sweet intensity” and “insinuating smoothness,” Michael Couper, saxophone, is a proponent of the advancement of saxophone repertoire to include new music, traditional music reinterpreted, and innovations in pop styles. Under the pseudonym “Shrodinger’s Sax”, Dr. Couper plays soprano saxophone with the highly virtuosic and unique band SWARMIUS, described as a sonic fusion of hip-hop, house-lounge-techno meets modern-classical. Read more on Michael’s website.


2014 Dance Alumnus of the Year: Martita Abril (BFA Dance ‘09)

Martita_AbrilPerformer, choreographer and teaching artist grew up in the border of Tijuana and San Diego CA.
In 2009 she received a Bachelors in Fine Arts in Dance from San Diego State University where she presented the full-length concert “The Art of Time Travel”. That same year she attended the summer dance intensive taught by dancer and choreographer Doug Varone and his company at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance in New York. Upon her return to San Diego, she was invited by Professor Allyson Green to participate in 2009 Cal-Kitchen laboratory at University of California in San Diego, where she collaborated with choreographers from Romania, Latvia, England, Macedonia, and México. Photo by Miriam Rosas DF-MX.  Read more on Martita’s website.


2014 Music Alumnus to Watch: Neil Anderson (BM ‘01)

Nominated for a GRAMMY Music Educator Award for 2014, Neil Anderson received a double Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Woodwind Performance at SDSU.  Neil is currently the Director of Instrumental Music at Murrietta Valley High school.  His groups have received Unanimous Superior ratings at local and regional festivals in each of his previous years. He has served as a clinician and adjudicator for marching competitions and concert festivals for regional and state band organizations throughout the western United States. Read more about Neil.


2014 Dance Alumnus to Watch: Melissa Sanderson (BFA Dance ‘10)

Native of Northern California, Melissa Sanderson, holds a M.F.A. in Dance from Texas Woman’s University, where she worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and the Dance Department’s Digital Media Coordinator. Sanderson also holds a B.F.A. in Dance from San Diego State University. While at SDSU, Melissa performed with the University Dance Company in the greater San Diego area (2007 – 2010), at ACDFA in Tempe, Arizona (2010), Konstanz, Germany (2008, 2009), Lugano and Zürich, Switzerland (2008). 

Anthony Smith (MM ‘10)

Had a release party for “Jazz Queens,” his new CD featuring the Anthony Smith Quartet performing original music composed for the world premiere of Jazz Queens Cast Blue Shadows, a play about the lives of Billie Holliday and Dinah Washington. Quartet members are Richard Sellers, drums, Doug Walker, bass and Peter August, sax.


Hilary Maiberger (BA ‘08)

Currently appears as Jasmine in Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at Disney’s California Adventure where she performs To Be Free, an original song by Alan Menken.


Erica Buechner (BFA Dance ‘06)

Has formed her own dance group entitled Sound Dance Company, which had its debut performance featuring original choreography at the YouTurn Contemporary Arts Exhibition 2011, downtown San Diego. She was also selected as the 2011 Alumni to Watch in Dance and was presented with her award at the annual Honors Convocation on May 15, 2011.


Jeff Eckstein (MM ‘02)

Conducted L’Amico Fritz by Pietro Mascagni at the Miami Lyric Opera.  The work is a rarely performed second opera of a composer who is primarily known for his one-act opera Cavalleria Rusticana. “Conductor Eckstein has a fine sense of dramatic pacing, never letting the tension level flag. His reading of the elegant Intermezzo captured the charm and zest of Mascagni’s scoring.” (Miami Herald)