Phoenix Symphony’s Tito Muñoz to conduct ASU Symphony Orchestra in Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’

April 25, 2016

Widely considered to be one of the most influential musical works of the 20th century, Stravinsky's “The Rite of Spring” is a ballet set to orchestral music, telling the story of various primitive rituals celebrating the advent of spring. The musical score has many features that were considered groundbreaking and almost scandalous for its time — it was first performed in Paris in 1913 — including experiments with dissonance, rhythm, tonality and meter. Thanks to this unique sound, it remains one of the most-performed classical masterworks.

The ASU School of Music is honored to welcome Tito Muñoz, music director for the Phoenix Symphony, as he conducts the ASU Symphony Orchestra in the influential musical score of this masterpiece on Wednesday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. at ASU Gammage. Phoenix Symphony Music Director Tito Muñoz will conduct the ASU Symphony Orchestra in Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" at ASU Gammage. Phoenix Symphony Music Director Tito Muñoz will conduct the ASU Symphony Orchestra in Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" at ASU Gammage. Photo by Roger Mastroianni Download Full Image

“The School of Music is very fortunate to have Tito Muñoz as a guest conductor for this final concert of the academic year, as he has been increasingly recognized as one of the most versatile and gifted conductors of his generation,” said Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. “He provides our students with the special opportunity to collaborate with a talented professional conductor who is currently working in the Phoenix community, all the while inspiring them to realize their goals.”

Muñoz has enjoyed his time at ASU this semester and said he is impressed by the level of the School of Music, the dedication of the faculty and the professionalism of the students.

“Working with talented conservatory-level students, like the students at ASU, is a uniquely rewarding experience for me,” said Muñoz. “Their level of ability is nearly at a professional level, but they are still in their early stages of experience, so there’s a wonderful freshness to their music-making.”

The collaboration with the Phoenix Symphony is just one example of how the School of Music encourages student interaction with music professionals in the community.

“It has been thrilling to work with such an accomplished conductor as Muñoz; he knows exactly what he wants in the music and is clear on how to achieve it,” said Chaz Salazar, a master in flute performance student. “For me, it is inspirational to see a fellow young Latino classical musician in such a successful position on the podium; it re-affirms that my dreams are in reach.”

An additional highlight of the evening is a performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto by soloist Steven Moeckel, concertmaster of the Phoenix Symphony. An internationally acclaimed violinist, Moeckel has appeared as a soloist and concert artist throughout the world.

“I am extremely passionate about music being the ultimate form of communication,” said Moeckel. “I think it transcends all boundaries, and through our performance we can make a huge difference in the world. I hope that message comes through in my playing and that it can fuel the students’ passion in music.”

Moeckel will play alongside Vladimir Gebe, a Doctor in Musical Arts in Violin Performance candidate, who is the concertmaster of the ASU Symphony.

“It is a real treat having Moeckel perform one of my favorite concertos literally three feet away from me,” said Gebe. “His sound is a world of color in itself, and the way he leads the orchestra as a soloist is telling of his experience as a concertmaster. He is such a natural violinist and musician, so it is very easy to follow and accompany him.”

This firsthand experience working with local professionals is invaluable for the students, as they will be able to see the dedication and focus it requires to make music-making their life’s work.

“If I could give a piece of advice to young musicians, it would be that it’s important to never lose sight of what being a professional musician really means,” said Munoz. “While we should always strive to keep our music-making fresh and rewarding for ourselves, there’s also a great responsibility to really communicate with our audience and give them an experience that will change them for the better. That’s what art is meant to do, and what we do is art.”

Admission is free. For more information, visit

Heather Beaman

Communications liaison, School of Music


SPJ awards ASU heroin documentary prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award

April 25, 2016

An Arizona State University student-produced documentary on the scourge of heroin that was broadcasted on 93 radio stations statewide has won a top professional honor from one of the nation’s oldest journalism organizations.

“Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona,” produced by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in association with the Arizona Broadcasters Association (ABA), has won the Sigma Delta Chi Award in the radio documentaries category from the Society of Professional Journalists. man in background filming man in foreground “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona,” produced by ASU’s Cronkite School, has won the Sigma Delta Chi Award in the radio documentaries category from the Society of Professional Journalists. Download Full Image

The Sigma Delta Chi Awards date back to 1932 and recognize the best professional journalism in print, radio, television and online. The award in the radio documentaries category honors the top news team that dramatically shows or analyzes a news event in a single broadcast. Past winners have included NPR, the Center for Public Integrity and Public Radio International.

“Hooked” traced the rise of heroin use and its impact on Arizonans through the stories of addicts struggling with sobriety, families grappling for solace, and law-enforcement officials battling on the frontlines. The documentary aired in January 2015 on all 33 Arizona broadcast television and 93 radio stations in both English and Spanish. It made its national broadcast debut on Link TV in February 2016.

Art Brooks, president and CEO of the ABA, developed the idea after learning of the seriousness of the issue and organized the backing of the state’s broadcast industry. More than 70 students and eight faculty members worked on the project, traveling across Arizona to shine a light on this growing epidemic. The project was part of Cronkite News, the student-produced news division of Arizona PBS.

The documentary included an interactive website with more than a dozen in-depth reports and an unprecedented data analysis of more than 10 million Arizona hospital emergency-room cases.

“‘Hooked’ demonstrates the Cronkite School’s commitment to excellence and journalism that matters on all media platforms,” said Cronkite professor of practice Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist who led the project. “We are honored to receive this prestigious award from the SPJ.”

Since airing, the documentary has won numerous awards, including a rare Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, which marked the first time a student project has won the award and just the third time in the 74-year history of the contest that a Phoenix-based news operation has received the honor. Cronkite students joined journalists from CBS News and ABC News, among others, to receive the award in January 2016.

“Hooked” also has received two of the region’s top professional honors at the Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards: an Emmy in the category of Societal Concerns – Program/Special and the Governors’ Award. It also took first place in video storytelling at the Arizona Press Club Awards and the President’s Special Award from the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation. Editor & Publisher magazine awarded the documentary with an EPPY Award for Best College/University Investigative or Documentary Feature.

For more than 100 years, the Society of Professional Journalists has been dedicated to encouraging a climate in which journalism can be practiced more freely and fully, stimulating high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism and perpetuating a free press.