Virginia Tech hosts three-day festival of experimental music; more . . .

Here’s a roundup of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside:

Virginia Tech begins music/technology festival

Virginia Tech is hosting a three-day New Music + Technology Festival that will celebrate the conjunction of experimental music and originative technology and will showcase a variety of performance styles from dance to multimedia to live coding. The event runs May 1-3.

An example of what’s happening: Clare Suess, graduate student in music with a focus in creative technologies, designed and fabricated her own instruments that the Virginia Tech New Music Ensemble will use during the performance. Suess made the instruments at the Creativity and Innovation District’s makerspaces using a variety of processes.

She used her skills in welding, laser-cutting, and coding to work the CNC plasma table, which uses a plasma torch to cut out shapes that have been programmed into a computer using numerical codes. The instruments are constructed from a variety of materials including felt, steel, plywood, poplar, aluminum, ceramic, paper, and acrylic.

Other musical performances on Monday include the Virginia Tech Percussion Ensemble and a choreographed work by Scotty Harwig, assistant professor in movement, performance, and integrated media in the School of Performing Arts. The dance will showcase his students’ performance abilities throughout his movement piece.

Tuesday’s performances feature Nadje Noordhuis and Fifth Bridge’s premiere of a new work for five trumpets and electronics. Patti Cudd will premiere a new work for snare drum and electronics by Tiffany M. SkidmoreScott L. MillerShannon Wettstein, and Terry Vermillion will premiere a new work developed last summer during Virginia Tech’s Spatial Music Workshop, a program which Hutchins and Tanner Upthegrove direct through ICAT.

On Wednesday, Miller, Sam Wells, and Hutchins will perform improvisations for saxophone, trumpet, electronics, and video. The performance will coincide with the release of a new album, “Havona,” by Miller and Hutchins on SCARP Records.

The festival begins at 6 p.m. each night and runs Monday through Wednesday. Monday’s performance will be held at the Creativity and Innovation District, and the events on Tuesday and Wednesday will be performed in the Cube at the Moss Arts Center. All of the events are free and open to the public, although registration is required for the May 2 and 3 events in the Cube.

Tickets and more information information are available online.

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Averett names graduation speaker

Former NFL player and nonprofit founder Buddy Curry will deliver the Averett University commencement address on May 6.

The school will graduate about 200 students.

The graduating class of 2023 includes 11 veterans, as well as nine international students from seven countries: Argentina, Bahamas, Belarus, Canada, Finland, Guatemala and Sweden. 

Curry is the co-founder of “Kids & Pros,” a Georgia-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching proper football techniques, safety techniques and life skills to pre-high school youth.

Curry graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he was a four-year football letterman and ACC All-Conference performer at linebacker. He joined the Atlanta Falcons in 1980 and was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Curry played eight seasons with the Falcons and was selected to two Pro Bowls. He led the team in tackles each year, and was named Team Captain.

Following his football career, Curry teamed up with former Falcons teammate Bobby Butler to form Kids & Pros where kids from all socio-economic backgrounds come together at free camps and clinics to play as a team and be coached by current and former NFL players who emphasize the importance of good sportsmanship, excellence, integrity, teamwork and perseverance. Since 2002, Kids & Pros has influenced more than 63,000 young people and conducted 325 events in 13 states plus Canada.

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Virginia Tech launches post-doctoral research program

Six post-doctoral students have been selected to participate in Virginia Tech’s first Research and Innovation Postdoctoral Scholar program.

The cohort, chosen from the larger community of more than 200 postdocs, will join the incoming Presidential Postdoctoral Fellows in what Virginia Tech describes as “a yearlong, community-building experience geared toward building valuable skills, networking with industry partners, and making a positive impact.”

Scholars in the program will attend professional development workshops ranging from grant writing to science communication to leadership and management training.

The six students, their doctoral-granting institution and their Virginia Tech department are:

Maria Amaya, Virginia Tech, Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Giuseppe Cotardo, University College Dublin in Ireland, mathematics.

Muddassar Hameed, Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute in China, biomedical sciences and pathobiology.

Xuansong Mao, University of Missouri-Columbia, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. 

John Muller, University of Oklahoma, entomology

Karthi Sreedevi, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology in India, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. 

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  • Ian Scammell, center, was the winner of a $1,500 Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce Scholarship. He is pictured here with his parents, Chris, right and Chairty Scammell, left.
  • Kaylee Compton, second from left, was the winner of a $1,500 Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce Scholarship. She is pictured here with Chamber Board of Directors member Ryan Clevinger, who made the presentation and her parents, Deana and William Compton.
  • Morgan Blankenship, center, a senior at Hurley High School, was the winner of the $1,000 Kaye Rife-Gellman Scholarship awarded by the Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce. She is pictured here (from left) with Jay and Janice Rife, the scholarship donors; Blankenship; her mother, Luciana Blankenship and her father, Charles Blankenship.

Buchanan County Chamber awards scholarships

 Three scholarships were awarded to Buchanan County high school seniors by the Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce.

Ian Scammell and Kaylee Marie Compton, both of Grundy High School, each won a $1,500 Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce Scholarship; and Morgan Blankenship, of Hurley High School, won the $1,000 Kaye Rife-Gellman scholarship awarded annually through the chamber.

The chamber scholarships are made possible by the chamber’s annual silent auction held in December and through the generosity of chamber member Branch Builds, who matches the amounts of the chamber scholarship to be offered. The Kaye Rife-Gellman scholarship was established by her parents, Jay and Janice Rife in memory of their late daughter.

Scammell plans to attend the University of Virginia at Wise in the fall to pursue a degree in nursing and after completing that program of study, to continue his education to become a nurse practitioner. His goal is to return to Buchanan County to open his own practice to help both children and adults with their medical care needs.

Compton plans to attend the University of Pikeville to earn her bachelor’s degree. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she plans to attend optometry school. 

In the essay accompanying her scholarship application, Compton noted, “There is a shortage of optometrists in Buchanan County and I want to make a difference. I know that I can be someone who goes through school and earns my degree and comes back to Buchanan County to offer something that could help so many.”

Blankenship intends to attend Virginia Tech to pursue a degree in creative writing. She wants to return to Buchanan County to open a bookstore.


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