Careers in Music | Webster University

Alumni Spotlight - Careers in Music


Department of Music alumni live, work, and create in towns and cities around the world. Here's a look at a few of our alumni:

Douglas Major received his Bachelor of Arts degree in organ performance in 1974. An active composer and organist, he spent the next three decades at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where he headed the music program at one of the most important churches in the country. A world-traveling recitalist, Doug focuses today on concert work on both organ and piano. He is the 2013 Outstanding Alumnus of the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts.

Jennifer Johnson CanoJennifer Johnson Cano is a rising star in the world of opera, art song, and oratorio.  After completing her undergrad degree at Webster, she went on to graduate school in Texas and then directly into the Lindemann Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera. She's now a Met artist, appearing on international telecasts and singing a variety of roles.  She has appeared in recital at Carnegie Hall, and sings frequently as a concert soloist with the New York Philharmonic. 

James Sedares has led many important orchestras throughout the US, the Pacific Rim, and Europe, with special affiliations with the Phoenix Symphony and with orchestras in New Zealand. A Chicago native with an undergraduate degree from Webster, Sedares' recordings are available on major labels such as Naxos and Deutsche Grammophon. He continues an active conducting career around the globe.

John Zorn is a multi-faceted composer and performer, now based in New York City. His college study at Webster focused on music composition, leading him to a reputation as a major avant-garde composer and arranger. He received the American Academy of Arts and Letter 2012 Arts and Letters Awards in Music. Notably, he received a 2006 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the so-called "Genius Grant."

Don Diekneite has developed a significant career as a composer of music for video games. His undergraduate degree in music composition morphed into the new world of Atari soundscapes, and eventually to life as an audio designer and producer. Don also has a doctorate in music from Indiana University.

Erin Bode is a leading jazz artist, performing worldwide from her base in Saint Louis. The Erin Bode Group creates music forged from the Americana of its members' Midwestern roots, infused with jazz grooves and made magic by Bode's bell-like voice. Sophisticated arrangements and attention to phrasing further distinguish the band's fresh sound.

Other outstanding alumni include:

  • Sandra Levy-Smith, Emmy®-winning composer, Saint Louis
  • Peter Mayer, vocalist/guitarist/composer with Jimmy Buffett
  • Robert Power, Grammy®-winning producer, New York
  • Mona Bagasso-Crane, contemporary Christian performer
  • Butch Thomas, saxophonist with Sting, New York
  • Nicolai Bica, violin, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Carol Chapman, professor, Missouri State University
  • Linda Presgrave, jazz pianist, New York
  • Rie Suzuki, clarinet faculty, Peabody Conservatory
  • Dave Boonshoft, president, Aguilar Amplification, New York





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