School of Music & Performing Arts faculty members up for American Prizes


Bravo to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Dr. William Plummer and Brandon Motz, faculty members in the School of Music & Performing Arts.

Each is a semifinalist for The American Prize, awards that single out the nation’s best performing artists, directors, ensembles and composers at professional, university, community and high school levels, according to its website.

Plummer, an associate professor and director of Choral Activities, is among 10 semifinalists from colleges and universities across the country vying for the Dale Warland Award in Choral Conducting. Motz, an adjunct instructor, is among nine semifinalists vying for the Charles Nelson Reilly Prize in Directing in the theater/musical theater division.

The American Prize winners will be announced sometime later this year. Plummer is being considered for his work conducting the Chamber Singers, UL Lafayette’s top vocal ensemble; Motz is being considered for his work directing the school’s production of “Urinetown,” a Tony award-winning satirical play.

Plummer credited students who sing in the vocal ensemble – and his fellow faculty members who also teach and mentor them – for the success of the Chamber Singers. “Our students and faculty members are exceptionally talented and dedicated and this recognition, along with recent international acclaim for the Chamber Singers, reflects how capable they are,” he said.

The Chamber Singers’ international recognition includes, most recently, a Grand Prix award as best overall choir during competition held last year as part of the Michelangelo International Music Festival in Florence, Italy.

Motz said the University production of the musical “Urinetown,” a social and political satire set in the fictional future, included an eight-show run in Burke-Hawthorne Hall. The play leaned on the efforts of many students, he added, including the cast of 21 actors, primarily music performance and performing arts majors. “But we also had a few non-majors since auditions were open to anyone, including a doctoral student studying computer programming.”

Beyond the quality of the production, Motz said the mix of students made “Urinetown” remarkable in that it represented an uncommon, large-scale collaboration between music majors and performing arts majors. “There were a number of people who had never done a musical before, and some of our singers had never read lines. So, everyone on stage was outside their comfort zone in some way – whether it was singing or acting or dancing,” he explained.

“And what ended up happening, the music students lifted up the non-singing students and the theater students did the same for the music students,” Motz added.  

Learn more about The American Prize.

Photo caption: UL Lafayette’s Dr. William Plummer, left, and Brandon Motz, faculty members in the School of Music and Performing Arts, are semifinalists for The American Prize, a national competition for performing artists. Photo credit: Submitted photos