Alumni Spotlight: Adam Hucke

Adam Hucke is an Assistant Professor of Music at Southwestern Illinois College. He is the director of the SWIC Jazz Band and teaches music theory and history classes. Adam performs regularly in the St. Louis area and is a member of many bands including The Funky Butt Brass Band, The Blu City All-Stars, Musica SLESA, Sophisticated Babies, Street Fighting Band, and The Circus Harmony Orchestra.


The SIUE Music Dept. was the perfect size for a student like me. SIUE gave me the opportunity to learn and perform a wide variety of musical styles, and the resources and skills to focus on my individual musical growth.


Alumni Spotlight: Chelsea Silvermintz

csilvermintzChelsea Silvermintz has been a band director in the Lindbergh School District (St. Louis, Missouri) since 2008. At Lindbergh, she instructs 6th through 12th grade band, including the “Spirit of St. Louis” Marching Band, the Concert Band, the Freshman Band, Woodwind Choir, 6th grade clarinets, and 7th grade woodwinds. She and her six colleagues team-teach a total of approximately 800 band students on a daily basis. Prior to teaching at Lindbergh, Mrs. Silvermintz taught band at McDowell Middle School in Hondo, Texas and worked previously with the Racine Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps as a brass and visual instructor.

A Texas native, Chelsea received her Bachelor of Music in Music Studies from the SIUE in 2010 while working full time as a band director. She felt that the ability to pursue this degree while working in the field enhanced her educational experience and made her a better teacher. Chelsea graduated from SIUE with her Master of Music in Music Education in 2014 and was the recipient of the Kurt W. Engbretson Music Education Award.

Chelsea Silvermintz studied in the trumpet studios of Ray Crisara, Ray Sasaki and John Korak and has been a member of the St. Louis Brass Band since 2009, performing on both cornet and baritone. While studying at the University of Texas, Chelsea traveled the country as a member of the Longhorn Marching Band and the Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps.

Chelsea Silvermintz is an active member of the Music Educators National Conference, Missouri Bandmasters Association, Phi Kappa Phi, and the National Education Association. Chelsea also currently serves as the band vice president for the St. Louis Suburban Music Educators Association. She lives in St. Louis with her husband Ben Silvermintz, a music teacher in the Parkway School District, and her sons Sawyer and Conrad.

Statement Regarding SIUE Education

The opportunity to conduct graduate work at SIUE while teaching full time increased my effectiveness in the classroom. Whether through content-specific action research projects or the deep study of music history and educational theory, I gained insights and fostered new understandings that directly impacted student learning on a daily basis.


Alumni Spotlight: Erika Lord-Castillo

2016-02-18 09.07.31.jpgErika has been a full time faculty member and Assistant Administrator in the SIUE Suzuki Program since 2012. She also serves as the co-director of the SIUE Suzuki Tour Group. This group travels and performs internationally, most recently visiting the Baltic Countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in summer 2016.

Erika’s undergraduate degrees include a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance and a Bachelor of Literature, Sciences, and Arts from the University of Iowa in 2005. As a violinist and violist, she earned her Master’s in Music Education with an emphasis in Suzuki Pedagogy from SIUE in 2010. Erika pursued intensive Suzuki training before coming to SIUE, studying with renowned Suzuki teacher trainers Michelle Higa George, Moshe Neumann, Judy Bossuat, Nancy Jackson, Christie Felsing, and William Preucil, Sr. These training opportunities led her to seek out in-depth Suzuki pedagogy training with Vera McCoy-Sulentic at SIUE.

Erika taught in the Corvallis, Oregon public schools through the Corvallis Youth Symphony’s Elementary Strings Program, and after her graduate degree, taught for three years as a 4th-12th grade orchestra director in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in North St. Louis County.

Soon after graduating from SIUE, she was honored to be selected to present her Master’s Thesis “John Kendall’s Early Contributions to Suzuki Education in the United States” at the American String Teachers Association National Conference. In 2015, the Suzuki Association of the Americas awarded her the prestigious Certificate of Achievement. Her articles “John Kendall’s Early Contributions to Suzuki Education in the United States” and “Imposter Syndrome: What it is, Why Suzuki Teachers May Be Susceptible, and How to Overcome It” have been published in the American Suzuki Journal.


 I chose to attend SIUE because of the reputation of the Suzuki pedagogy program, which was established by John Kendall in 1965. As the first long term Suzuki training program in the United States in a university setting, the program is now celebrating fifty years! The opportunity to teach young students in the Suzuki program, while earning an assistantship, made this program my first choice and allowed me to gain practical experience from the very start. The sense of community within the SIUE Suzuki Program creates a distinct environment where the director, faculty teachers, graduate assistants, parents, and children all work together and learn from one another.

Many SIUE Suzuki Master’s Degree Graduates have gone on to become well known leaders in the worldwide Suzuki community. I am astounded by the immediate connection I have had with so many people at Suzuki Conferences, Leadership Retreats, and other string teaching events, simply because of a shared background at SIUE.

Although I attended SIUE because of the Suzuki Pedagogy program, my music education degree gave me ample opportunity to work on solo repertoire, become an accomplished orchestral and chamber musician, and to increase my experience in and knowledge of teaching and education in general. I feel grateful to have become a well-rounded teacher and musician.

After finishing my Master’s degree, but before returning to work at SIUE, I got the opportunity to work as a Cooperating Teacher with a Student Teacher in my orchestra classroom in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. I discovered a whole new aspect of teaching that I never realized I would enjoy; helping a new teacher learn to be a teacher. I value very much being able to continue this relationship at SIUE through my interactions as a faculty teacher with the current group of graduate students. I am working toward becoming a Suzuki Teacher Trainer so that I can continue teaching teachers in a more formal setting.

As somebody who would probably love to be in school my entire life, if it was feasible, I found my classes and degree in general to be really satisfying. When I finished my degree, I was admittedly a little sad. I was delighted when there was the chance to return to SIUE and to teach in the Suzuki program where I studied

Alumni Spotlight: Josh Williamson

image1After graduating from SIUE in the fall of 2009 with my Bachelor of Music in Performance and Composition, I went to Butler University as the Graduate Assistant in Percussion. I graduated in 2012 from Butler with my Master of Music in Percussion Performance. There, I was deeply involved with the Butler Community Arts School which brought me to different public schools to teach all areas of percussion in Indianapolis.

In the summer of 2011, I helped my good friend Katie Ammann open the Music School of Roanoke Rapids in Roanoke Rapids, NC. I have returned multiple times as a guest clinician.

After that, I moved to Chicago in 2012 to work for Apple and to continue my music career. I currently teach percussion at Quinlan And Fabish Music in Arlington Heights. During the day, I work at Astellas Pharma, managing technology in their live training rooms and administering and producing Adobe Connect virtual sessions for their distance learning initiatives.

Now I am the Principal Percussionist with the FullScore Chamber Orchestra and Principal Percussionist with the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra. Recently, I have been a part of new music premiers with the FullScore Chamber Orchestra as well as the UIC Percussion Ensemble. I am currently working on commissioning a percussion concerto with composer Donny Walker to be premiered in February 2017 with the FullScore Chamber Orchestra.

In February, I got engaged to my girlfriend Jackie Gredell after 5+ years (we met at Butler). Jackie and I live in Wood Dale, IL with our miniature dachshund Appa (from Avatar The Last Airbender).

Alumni Spotlight: Cody Kauhl


Cody Kauhl is a composer and multimedia artist that pairs found sound and video with the intimacy of the human voice. His work has been performed at international and national festivals and conferences including the International Computer Music Conference and Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States. He is currently artist-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation Studio Residency Program. Cody graduated in 2011 with a B.M. in Music Theory/Composition at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and received his M.M. in Music Composition at the University of Missouri – Kansas City in 2015.

Cody regularly collaborates with choreographers and visual, spoken word, and performing artists. He has had his work played at the Florida State University Festival of New Music, Center of Cypriot Composers, MUSLAB, Sacramento State Festival of New American Music, Metanast, Hot Air Music Festival, New Horizons Music Festival, Gallery MC, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City Art Institute, Electronic Music Midwest, Bang! Festival, Noisefloor, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, Animation Block Party, Great Plains Regional Tuba and Euphonium Conference, Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance, and Kansas City Fringe Festival. As a composer, Cody has worked with a variety of ensembles including the PRISM Quartet, the Boston New Music Initiative, the Black House Collective, UMKC Musica Nova, SIUE Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, and Percussion Ensemble, and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Donald A. Lentz Concert Band. He has studied under Kimberly Archer, Rome Prize winners James Mobberley and Paul Rudy, and Charles Ives Living Award winner Chen Yi. Cody acted as composer-in-residence at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in February 2014 and at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in February 2015. His work can be found on Ablaze Records.

Of his time at SIUE, Cody says,

It can often be difficult to asses the quality of a product, service, or education without means to compare it. Years ago, I completed my undergraduate music degree at SIUE but I had no clue if I was prepared for my impeding graduate work. However, after passing all of my entrance exams at UMKC, I became confident that I received a quality education at SIUE.

Although immediate accomplishments are critical, I believe the best judgment of a quality education lies in the current success of the graduate. I am fortunate enough to be a prime example as I recently returned from a business trip to Greece. There, in Athens, I presented one of my compositions at the International Computer Music Conference, the top academic gathering for electronic music in the world. Earlier that summer, I traveled to Bangkok, Thailand for the Thailand International Composition Festival. In the past two years, I attended various festivals and conferences across the U.S. as my compositions garnered increasing accolades.

My graduation from SIUE seems far removed in time but I know my education there has had a direct effect on my current success. After traveling to and becoming acquainted with many different universities, I feel confident that my instruction at SIUE is one to be truly proud of.








Alumni Spotlight: Mike Engelhardt


Michael Engelhardt is a freelance choral composer, conductor, clinician, singer, and producer based out of St. Louis, Missouri. In 2015, he had original compositions premiered at the Minnesota All-State, Kansas All-State, and ACDA National conferences. Much of his work is published by Walton Music and Hinshaw Music, and he has several self-published works available at As a clinician and guest conductor, Michael will appear with the West Virginia ACDA Honors Choir, at the Millikin Vocal Jazz Festival, Oklahoma All-State Jazz Choir, and several other festivals and competitions. He has had the great fortune to collaborate with artists such as Ben Folds (from NBC’s The Sing Off), Abraham Laboriel (bass player for Michael Jackson, Elton John, Madonna, and Quincy Jones), Patti Austin (Grammy award-winning vocalist), and the Kansas City Chorale (Grammy award-winning choral ensemble). Michael is most recognized for merging refined choral art together with contemporary elements of groove, electronica, and video production. Michael is also the founder of Beer Choir, an Oktoberfest-style sing along hosted in pubs and craft breweries throughout the USA and Canada. More info available at A native of Woodstock, Illinois, he holds degrees from Millikin University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Michael currently lives in St. Louis with his wife Meg, son Leo, and a daughter due to arrive in May 2015!

SIUe provided a HUGE boost to my career as a composer, conductor, and singer. The faculty invested in me on a personal level and gave me more opportunities than I could have imagined. Most valuable of all, I was given the freedom and encouragement to develop my own creative voice as well as the confidence to share that voice with others. The nurturing of my artistic identity has led directly to the success I am enjoying today. Currently, I am composing choral works that will be premiered at upcoming All-State and ACDA conferences, I am in demand as a regional and All-State conductor, and I have an active professional singing schedule, occasionally singing background vocals for pop artist Ben Folds. I owe big thanks to the great faculty at SIUe for their instruction, mentoring, and continuous support!


Alumni Spotlight: Heather Baxter


Heather Baxter is a 2007 graduate of SIUE with a Bachelor of Music Performance on oboe. While at SIUE, Heather studied with Illinois Symphony oboist Ann Homann Mottl and performed with the University Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and was a proud member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. She obtained her Master of Music in Oboe Performance in 2009 from The Hartt School in West Hartford, CT where she studied with world-renowned oboist Humbert Lucarelli.

Currently, Heather is pursuing a Doctorate in Oboe Performance with a minor in Arts Administration at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati, studying with Dr. Mark Ostoich. She has performed with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dayton Philharmonic, the Kentucky Symphony, Orchestra Kentucky of Bowling Green, and the Richmond (IN) Symphony among others, and was a 2012 Fellow at the Texas Music Festival.

On the administrative side, Heather spent Summer 2015 completing an internship in marketing with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Between her Master’s and Doctorate, Heather was back in Southern Illinois freelancing, teaching a private studio of young oboists, and studying English horn with Cally Banham of the St. Louis Symphony. Heather recently won the position of Assistant Principal/2nd Oboe/English horn with the Omaha Symphony and began performing there in October 2015.