Philip Sinder is a professor of tuba and euphonium at the Michigan State University College of Music. His students are found in performance and teaching positions throughout the United States and have won awards in numerous performance competitions. Sinder has performed with many leading ensembles, including the Detroit Symphony, Chicago Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Mariinsky Orchestra, and Houston Symphony. He is a founding member of the Brass Band of Battle Creek and also performs frequently with the Lansing Symphony, Michigan Opera Theatre, and the Beaumont Brass Quintet of MSU. His solo tuba recording, “Aerodynamics,” has received strong critical acclaim, and he has performed on over 20 large ensemble and brass quintet recordings. In 2009, Sinder was the recipient of the Withrow Excellence in Teaching Award at Michigan State University, and in 2017 he received the International Tuba Euphonium Association Excellence in Teaching Award. He currently serves as chairman for the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival, and since 2005 has been a Valade Teaching Fellow at the Interlochen Arts Camp. Sinder earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree and Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and a Master of Music degree from Wichita State University.
Derek Kealii Polischuk is professor of piano and director of piano pedagogy at the Michigan State University College of Music. Originally from San Diego, Polischuk studied with Krzysztof Brzuza before attending the University of Southern California, where he received the Doctor of Music Arts degree in Piano Performance with distinction under the tutelage of Daniel Pollack.
Polischuk’s 2013 solo piano recording “Terra Incognita” for the Blue Griffin label has received international critical acclaim. Colin Clark of Fanfare Magazine wrote, “The Schubert receives an excellent performance from Polischuk. Shadings are perfectly judged, and Schubert’s sense of timelessness is superbly judged, finding the pianist testing the boundaries of what constitutes too much without actually transgressing. The playful F-Minor offers pure joy.” Lawrence Consentino wrote, “Polischuk hits every chord with a sweet weight. Every now and then, a set of notes tumbles down like flecks of snow breezed from a crow’s nest, with no evident human touch. With a warm but not ingratiating touch, he lets the music resound as if it were coming from inside your mind… ‘Terra Incognita’ is a thought-provoking mix of sensual pleasure and deep reflection.” Of Polischuk’s recording “Latin American Music for 2 Pianos” with pianist Sarkis Baltaian, James Harrington of American Record Guide wrote, “I cannot imagine anyone listening to this and not being drawn in.”
An enthusiastic supporter of the education of musicians at every age, ability and background, Polischuk has been a clinician at conferences around the world, including the Music Teachers National Association, the National Group Piano and Pedagogy Conference, the Multidisciplinary Research in Music Pedagogy Conference, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, the DOCTRID Conference in Ireland, the ABLE Assembly at Berklee College, and at universities and conservatories across China. Polischuk serves on the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy’s Committee for Teaching Students with Special Needs, the Advisory Board of the Orange County School of the Arts Pianist Program, the Board of Directors of the San Diego Musical Merit Foundation, and is Vice President of the Michigan Music Teachers Association.
Polischuk is a founder and director of the “Celebrating the Spectrum” Piano Festival for advanced pianists on the Autism Spectrum. Polischuk’s book “Transformational Piano Teaching,” described by Dr. Alice M. Hammel of James Madison University as “a world of piano pedagogy where anyone and everyone is welcome and included in the art and joy of playing the piano” and Stewart Gordon of the University of Southern California as “a landmark in the field of piano pedagogy” is available from Oxford University Press. At Michigan State University, Polischuk has been the recipient of the Curricular Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Award, the MSU College of Music Excellence in Diversity Award, and the Teacher-Scholar Award, given in recognition of exceptional skill in teaching.
Dr. Cohen is currently serving as Chair of the Department of Humanities. In addition, he is also Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Concert Ensembles. He directs the Ferris State West Central Concert Band, the Ferris State Symphony Band, the Ferris State Community Summer Band and the Ferris State West Central Chamber Orchestra, and he also teaches courses in music appreciation. Dr. Cohen is a Board Member in the Rotary Club of Big Rapids, and he has partnered concerts with community organizations such as Mecosta County Medical Center Auxiliary, Festival of the Arts, Mecosta-Osceola Area Resource Center, Tuba Bach Chamber Music Series, Canadian Lakes Association, Big Rapids Old Jail and various veterans organizations.
He has also partnered holiday programs with local charities such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Project Starburst Food Pantry, Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army. Dr. Cohen was the 2012 recipient of the MCMC Foundation’s Northern Lights Award for the Arts, having served on the boards of directors of Art Works, the Festival of the Arts, the Tuba Bach Chamber Music Series, the City of Big Rapids Parks and Recreation Board, the Big Rapids Band Shell Development Committee and the Big Rapids Band Shell Programming Committee. A native of Chicago, he is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from the University of Illinois, a doctoral conducting graduate from Northwestern University and a Fulbright Scholar to Spain. Dr. Cohen also remains active as a conductor, trombonist, composer, music adjudicator, researcher, author and lecturer throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
Emily Gradowski is a euphonium player from Central Michigan University, where she studies with Dr. Mark Cox. Originally from Bay City, Michigan, Emily’s extensive musical career began in the 6th grade where she was handed a trombone – only to switch to the euphonium a few short months later. Throughout high school, she took many performance opportunities including solo and ensemble and various honor bands, and realized how important music was to her and how much she wanted to pass the art down to younger generations. Upon this realization that she wanted to become a music teacher later on in life, she applied to Central Michigan University her senior year and was accepted into Dr. Cox’s studio.
Emily Gradowski is now currently a senior at CMU studying to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education where she is involved with many different organizations on campus. She has been a baritone section leader for the Chippewa Marching Band, and has performed with the CMU Wind Symphony, Symphony Band, and Concert Orchestra. This will be Emily’s third year as the principal euphonium player of CMU’s most prestigious band- the Symphonic Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Christopher Chapman, which recently performed at the College Band Directors National Convention in Madison, Wisconsin as well as the Michigan Music Conference. In addition to large ensembles, Emily has been involved with a tuba/ euphonium quartet for a number of years, and outside of performing, she is also a member of a number of educational organizations at CMU. These include the Delta Iota chapter of Delta Omicron professional music fraternity where she has held a number of different leadership positions, and the campus chapter of the National Association for Music Educators. Throughout the summers, Emily teaches marching band camps all around the state of Michigan at schools such as Kalkaska, Bridgman, Breckenridge, Pewamo-Westphalia, and Meridian.
After graduation, Emily hopes to become a music teacher for secondary education in the state of Michigan as well as potentially returning to school later in life to obtain her master’s degree in education. Regardless of where her teaching career takes her, she also wants to stay involved with performing in various ensembles, solo opportunities, or community bands.
Ryan Novak, Tubist from Central Michigan University, first started playing an instrument in the fourth grade. Beginning on Tuba in the sixth grade, Ryan was on a pathway to becoming a great musician. Learning that he wanted to become a music teacher early on in High School, Ryan applied to the music program at Central Michigan University and was accepted to study Tuba with Dr. Mark Cox.
Ryan Novak is currently a senior music student earning a Bachelors in Music Education, as well as a Bachelors in Tuba Performance. He has performed with the Central Michigan Marching Band, the CMU Symphony Band and Wind Symphony, and most recently has performed with the Central Michigan University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Christopher Chapman at the College Band Directors National Association in Madison, Wisconsin in 2022. Along with performing in large ensembles, Ryan has also been involved in a Tuba and Euphonium Quartet, a Brass Quintet, and a Tuba and Euphonium duet during his time at CMU. Along with performing in many ensembles, Ryan has been inducted into the Nu-Pi Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and the Lambda Tau Chapter of Kappa-Kappa Psi to further his musical career to become a performer and educator. Not only has Ryan performed in multiple CMU Ensembles, but he has also spent his summers performing with the Lansing Concert Band, The Saginaw Eddy Concert Band, and has even performed in community orchestras.
In the coming future, Ryan is planning to go to graduate school for Tuba Performance and wants to perform at a professional level. Not only does he want to perform but he would like to become a college director as well.
Patrick Mulligan is a second-year student at the Michigan State University College of Music, where he is studying music performance on the euphonium with Philip Sinder.
Before enrolling at MSU, Patrick studied under Sharon Long while attending Brighton High School: in this time, he won first chair for the Livingston Honors Band 2 years in a row and gained seven superior ratings from the MSBOA State Solo & Ensemble.
Originally from Battle Creek, Michigan, Ben McWilliams is a senior at Michigan State University, working towards his undergraduate degree in tuba performance. He performs with the MSU Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, and tuba-euphonium ensemble. Ben also regularly performs with his brass quintet, Red Cedar Brass. Outside of MSU, he has performed with the Chautauqua Institution Music School Festival Orchestra. He was a member of the 2019 National Youth Orchestra of America, touring Europe with conductor Sir Antonio Pappano. In 2018, Ben was a finalist in the Midwest Regional Tuba-Euphonium Young Artist solo competition, and in 2020, was the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival Tuba Student gold medalist. Ben also participated in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Summer Institute in 2020. During the 2021 season, he was the artistic intern for the Tuba Bach Chamber Music Festival. At MSU, Ben studies with Professor Philip Sinder, and has also studied with Chance Huiet.