More from this department:

Stephen Bowden: Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance

Walker Hans: Bachelor of Music Education

Quinn Hudson: Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Music Performance

Estefania Reyes: Bachelor of Music Education

Miguel Rodriguez: Bachelor of Music in Commercial Music Performance

Ashley Stitt: Bachelor of Music in Composition; Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, minors in Computer Science and Sustainability Studies

Riley Williams: Bachelor of Music in Jazz & American Improvised Music Performance, Drums

Lauren Zukowski: Bachelor of Music Education


Congratulations to all of our Spring 2023 Graduates!

Gavin Worland

Gavin Worland conducting big bandDegree:
Bachelor of Music in Jazz & American Improvised Music Performance, Trumpet

Gavin Worland is an internationally acclaimed trumpeter, flugelhornist, composer, arranger, copyist, producer, and educator based in Denver, Colorado. The bandleader of one of the hottest new big bands, The Gavin Worland Big Band is a driving force in the newest generation of musicians and writers. He has recently completed his B.M. in Jazz Trumpet Performance from Metropolitan State University of Denver where he studied under Shane Endsley, Dawn Clement, Dru Heller, Ron Miles and many more of Denver’s finest musicians and writers. Gavin is now continuing his education at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver studying with professors such as Annie Booth, Remy LeBoeuf, Peter Stoltzman, & Art Bouton.

As a performer, Gavin has been a featured lead trumpet player on several big band records in studios around the nation and was a featured performer in a film score written by Jacob Montano. He has performed as a leader and sideman at many of Colorado’s major music performance venues such as Dazzle, Nissi’s, Boettcher Hall, The Muse Performance Space, and Mercury Café among others playing many different styles of bands & ensembles ranging from big bands to mariachi, quintets, sound painting, & tribute bands. Notable performers Gavin has played alongside with include Dave Devine, Greg Gisbert, Tenia Nelson, Parris Fleming, Dzirae Gold, & Nate Miller.

Gavin has a wide variety of inspirations for his wide variety of skills. Playing wise, Philip Dizak, Shane Endsley, Greg Gisbert, and John Raymond inspire him but, the renowned cornetist & composer Ron Miles is one of his biggest influences since he was a mentor and teacher for Gavin during his to at MSU Denver. Writing and arranging styles of people such as Remy LeBeouf, Annie Booth, & Woody Herman inspire Gavin’s progressive ingenious sounds being produced by his big band.

In addition to being a Louis Armstrong Jazz Award Winner & recipient of the Gerald R. Endsley Endowment Scholarship, Gavin has received multiple soloist awards at jazz festivals such as the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Festival & the Skyline Jazz Festival.

Gavin is a member of American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), The International Trumpet Guild (ITG), Jazz Education Network (JEN), National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), Chamber Music America (CMA), National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Jazz Education Network (JEN), & the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers (ISJAC).

Future Career Goals:
After graduating from MSU Denver, Gavin will be attending the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver to pursue his masters in Jazz Trumpet performance while continuing to study jazz composition with faculty members such as Annie Booth, Zach Rich, and Remy LeBoeuf. In the future, Gavin intends on being a collegiate jazz professor while continuing to push his skills as a writer, performer, bandleader, and educator. Some random big goals he looks forward to achieving are being a Grammy-nominated artist and writer, recording albums with his big band and smaller jazz ensembles with some tours, residencies of performances while being able to collaborate with other factions of the arts, and being able to give back, and do what his professors did for him, to motivate and bring the best out of the next generations.

Favorite Moments from MSU Denver:
Dr. Macy’s Professional Development class helped me become more confident in knowing how to handle the less artistic side of being a musician in the 21st century. Almost every encounter with Dawn Clement has given me more insight, passion, and appreciation for jazz as a whole. Whether it was performing at venues such as the Mercury Cafe, KUVO, or CMEA no matter what, Dawn has always made sure we focus on having fun while creating music. Not to mention, if it weren’t for Dawn, I would not have my own big band! Lessons with Shane has given me a greater appreciation for improvising and playing the trumpet in general. The way he can maneuver most instruments but especially the trumpet continues to motivate and push me to become better in all facets of playing music. Everyone here has made me realize how blessed I have been to be a student here at MSU Denver. Yes, it was harder some days to commute to campus from Longmont on public transit but, even on the days that should have been snow days and weren’t classes like Theory Lab with Keelan or Jazz History with Carmen (to name a few) have helped me so much. One thing is for sure…I will not be missing 8am Music Theory Lectures!

Thank you to all of my peers that have taught me so much on top of what professors have given, while collaborating together whether it’s just jamming or writing music with one another moments like playing after rehearsals with folks like Johnny and Tyler, freely improvising with Rio, Logan and Alex, and writing music for my big band with Paloma are just a few of the many. Lastly, all of the times we’ve driven to and from the Kalamath building with one another or going to concerts/ jams with Gavin have been some of the most memorable (mostly because we share the same brain cell) but also for the incredible conversations, sharing music (mostly fast swing), and all the jokes and dumb things we do together are some of the best and most memorable because the little things like that have given me a greater appreciation for human connection with one another while helping my brain recover or prepare for a brain bending class/ rehearsal.

Thank you MSU Denver and the entire MSU Denver Music program for helping me become the trumpeter, writer, arranger, producer, educator, and man I am today.

Elisa Dean

Elisa Dean headshotDegree:
Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance, Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance

I began playing the piano at the age of 5 and have been singing since I can remember. I studied under Dr. Jooeun Pak, Michelle Thompson, and Dr. Bradley Thompson during my time at MSU Denver. In addition to music I played on the Varsity Women’s Soccer team. In my spare time I enjoy coaching tennis and soccer, snowboarding, traveling, and spending time with my five siblings.

Future Career Goals:
My future goals are to continue sharing my love of classical music with a wider range of audiences. I am hoping to continue my education with a masters in piano performance beginning in the Fall of 2024.

Favorite Moments from MSU Denver:
Some of my favorite classes included theory with Cherise and Keelan, choir with MB, conducting with Dr. Matthews, Colorado Wind Ensemble with Dr. Kish, vocal diction with Dr. T., and collaborative piano with Dr. Pak. I also enjoyed performing Schumann’s piano concerto with the orchestra in the Fall of 2021.

Junelle Gabrielle Flores

Junelle Gabrielle Flores headshotDegree:
Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance

I was born in the Philippines, where music and singing is heavily influential on our culture, so I’ve been performing my entire life. In elementary school, my music teacher was really big on performance–she produced musicals, was the choir director, created a show choir, and overall encouraged me to continue with music. But the musician that I am today didn’t actually come about until I was around 14, when I was a lead singer in a rock band; I ended up leaving because I realized that the style just didn’t fit my voice as much as I and my bandmates wanted. By that time, I just really wanted to get to know my voice and see what I could do with it, so I started private voice lessons when I was 15, and didn’t know that I was a soprano until then, which is crazy, because my soprano range has just become a large part of my identity as an individual and as a musician. During that private training, I just fell in love with honing in on my voice and the capabilities of the general human voice; because come on, isn’t it cool that the human body is actually capable of producing that kind of sound? And though I wanted to go to school for musical theatre, I fell in love with arias and the potential versatile capabilities of my voice, so I wanted to focus on my instrument and try to learn all that I can.

Future Career Goals:
My overall career goal is to be truly happy with what I do, and go home at the end of each day exhausted but fulfilled. With all that I’ve learned, I hope to perform as much as I can, in as many places as I can, and bring joy to as many people as I can.

Favorite Moments from MSU Denver:
When I started at MSU Denver, it was brought to my attention by Dr. Bradley Thompson that his wife, Professor Michelle Thompson’s mother was from the Philippines. He even laughed and made the joke that we could be related. The next semester, I started lessons with her, and got to know each other more, and I found out that her mother is not only from the same province as my parents, but also the same city. She eventually introduced my parents to some of her relatives, and it turns out that we are related from my father’s side! It just made my experience much more personal, knowing that my professor and I had this unspoken bond, and therefore had commonalities in habits and attitudes, which sometimes felt like we shared the same mind.

Also, at the start of opera scenes this semester, the stepsisters in Cendrillon are called “Armelinde” and “Maguelonne,” but upon first glance, Jordan Ortman had called them “Armageddon” and “Megalodon.” I just think it’s funny because those names stuck.

Brianna Mauricio-Perez

Brianna Mauricio-Perez headshotDegree:
Bachelor of Music Education

I have always had a natural passion for music. I began playing the flute in middle school, and never stopped. In high school, I participated in band, orchestra, two choirs, and musical theatre. I also had the pleasure of being drum major for pep band, and president of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. I went on to study music at MSU Denver as a flautist, and was fortunate enough to be vice president of NAfME. This semester, I had the privilege of student teaching at Sabin World School and Vista Peak Preparatory. I am excited to graduate and begin my journey as a music teacher.

Future Career Goals:
I am excited to say that I will be working as a teacher in the Cherry Creek School District starting this fall!

Favorite Moments from MSU Denver:
I want to thank Dr. Kish, Prof. Leiter, and Prof. Keelan. During my hardest moments, especially the music theory depression, they always offered their help, time, and resources to ensure that I would get to the finish line. I also want to give a special thanks to Dr. Aguilar. I always say that I would love to have the same hours in my day as she does. Dr. Aguilar has been there for me from the beginning of “Foundations of Music Ed” to the end of my student teaching. She is the most wonderful and helpful person, and I have learned so much from her. These few years have been full of laughter, tears, pandemics, and such beautiful music. I will cherish it all.

Geoffrey Banninger

Geoffrey Banninger playing saxophoneDegree:
Bachelor of Music in Jazz & American Improvised Music Performance, Saxophone
Bachelor of Music in Composition

Before beginning my journey as a music student at MSU Denver, I tried my hand at a couple different majors. I was first studying physics at CCD, then Game Design/Computer Science at RRCC. Both of which were super intriguing to me, but I could never put my whole heart into it, which is when I realized I should be studying music and decided to transfer here to MSU Denver where I rediscovered my love for playing Jazz, and stumbled into a new-found love of composing.

Future Career Goals:
In the future, I hope to pick back up where I left off learning about game design, and combine my knowledge and love for music and video games to compose game scores. Eventually, I plan on putting together a small group of close friends with similar passions and building a game all our own, bottom to top.

Favorite Moments from MSU Denver:
The most special moment I had while at MSU Denver, which ended up guiding me on my course, was when I wrote my first composition. I brought it in to my combo which was led by Ron Miles and he helped me reharmonize it and adapt it for us to perform. This piece, Shower Thoughts, is what sparked my love of writing and prompted Cherise to invite me to audition for the composition program.

Will Kuepper

Will Kuepper playing double bassDegree: 
Bachelor of Music in Jazz & American Improvised Music Performance, Bass

I’m from Nederland, Colorado, and have been playing music all my life. I started school a little bit later, at age 26, after spending many years working in the coffee industry as a roaster, cupper, and green coffee sourcer. I played a lot of music at that time, but eventually decided I needed to dedicate a new chapter of my life to my musical development, and I’m so glad I did!

Future Career Goals:

For the next several years, I’m going to continue playing and touring in the several exciting projects that have sprouted over the past several years. Down the road, I plan to return to graduate school, but I’m going to spend some years working and playing first.

Favorite Moments from MSU Denver:
My first semester at MSU Denver was also Professor Dawn Clement’s first semester teaching at the university, and I got to be a part of her first ensemble. I made some longtime friends from that first group at the university, and was exposed to some music that is still dear to me 5 years later.

Ethan Tatreau

Ethan Tatreau playing guitarDegree: 
Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance

I have always loved music since I can remember, but growing up in Vail it always came second to snowboarding until high school. I originally started playing guitar in the rock style before I came to college, and it was not until the summer before my first semester that I started playing classically. Professor Alex Komodore took me under his wing, and I quickly fell in love with the style.

Future Career Goals:
In Fall 2023, I will be attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to pursue a masters degree. I will be studying with Marc Teicholz. I hope to collaborate and create new music to be played on the guitar.

Favorite Moments from MSU Denver:
Lessons with Alex Komodore, Playing Mahler and Beethoven with our guitar quartet, Being able to perform all the music I have.

Tucker Smidt

Tucker Smidt headshotDegree: 
Bachelor of Music in Jazz & American Improvised Music Performance, Guitar

I don’t think I quite understood when I was little that my dad actually had a job besides playing music. My earliest memories are of sleeping in his guitar case, sitting on his lap tucked between his belly and the neck of his guitar, and singing into the unplugged golden mic he brought to gigs just for me. As early as I knew anything, I knew what I wanted to spend my life doing. As soon as I learned my first chord when I was nine years old, I started trying to write my own songs, and all I wanted in the whole world was to be a great singer-songwriter like the musicians my dad admired. However, through the educational experiences I was blessed to receive in my early teens, a new love called to me, jazz music, and I began to focus more seriously on the craft of guitar playing. A lot has happened since then; I went to college, I dropped out, I only played bass for at least a year, I fell in love with the guitar again, and decided to go back to school to study with my absolute favorite musician: Ron Miles. At Metro, I got to learn from some of my heroes, and in the process, I have become the best version of myself that has existed yet. It has been hard for me to get to this moment of graduation, especially since 2021, knowing that I couldn’t celebrate it with my dad. Almost exactly a year after losing my dad, we lost Ron. By achieving this accomplishment, which I did once think I couldn’t, I hope to honor them both and the lessons they have taught me.

Future Career Goals:
I love to teach, and I hope to continue to do so, perhaps at the college level one day. Of course, my biggest goal is to, in some way, make my mark on music through my playing, composition, and/or teaching.

Favorite Moments from MSU Denver:
I often say that I can’t believe I didn’t just go to Metro the first time I tried college. Here were my favorite composer, trumpet player, and guitarist (Ron Miles, Shane Endsley, Dave Devine) all in the same school. I am extremely grateful for every single opportunity I received to learn from these titans of music, alongside the great composer and arranger Adam Bartczak, the wizards of music Dru Heller, Mark Simon, and Patrick McDevitt, and of course, Dawn Clement, whose teaching, playing, and presence have been beyond inspirational for me. I would be remiss if I also did not thank Putu Tangkas Adi Hiranmayena, Ade Wijaya, and Dr. Liz Macy for my incredibly enriching time as a member of Gamelan Manik Kusuma.

Francisco Martinez Avila Jr.

Francisco Martinez headshotDegree: 
Bachelor of Music in Composition

I was born and raised in Colorado, my interest in music began in my senior year of high school when I joined the school’s Jazz band. Since then I’ve been studying composition under the guide of David Farrell and Cherise Leiter, as well as performance under Dawn Clement and Carmen Sandim.

Future Career Goals:
My future goal is to keep studying at MSU Denver as a performance major.

Favorite Moments from MSU Denver:
A special moment for me was at the end of the composition class of Fall 2020, when I got to hear a professional group of musician do a reading of a piece I composed for the class, it was my first time having a piece played by a group of musician, and the experience of getting to hear what my music sounded like in the real world, opened my eyes to see just how fulling it can be to be a composer.

Addy Himle

Addy Himle playing keyboard onstageDegree: 
Bachelor of Music in Jazz and American Improvised Music Performance, Piano

I started at MSU Denver in 2016 as a theatre major, with a Spanish minor. I played in some jazz ensembles for fun, but wasn’t seeking a degree in music. After getting some combo credits I decided to get a music minor, and then later on I switched to being a music major.

Future Career Goals:
I plan on moving to Spain in October to teach music and English. In addition to teaching I want to keep making all types of music with people I love.

Favorite Moments from MSU Denver:
One class that really made an impact on me was the Jazz Styles class taught by Ron Miles. I am also extremely grateful for my lessons with Dawn Clement, Justin Adams, and Ron Miles.