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School of Music, Dance and Theatre announces 1-year faculty appointments


Collage of headshots of seven ASU faculty members on a yellow background.

Clockwise from top left: Erik Flatmo, Ri Lindegren, Ethan Steimel, Jayson Davis, Julie Desbordes, Spencer Arias and Viviana Cumplido Wilson.

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August 31, 2023

The School of Music, Dance and Theatre at Arizona State University is pleased to announce several one-year faculty appointments for this upcoming academic year. 

“We are thrilled to have identified these exceptional artists to teach in the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre this year,” said Heather Landes, director of the school. “These faculty bring a wealth of professional experience and exceptional research and creative activity to our curriculum and will enhance the learning opportunities for all of our students.” 

Ethan Steimel has been named a visiting assistant professor of lighting design. Steimel has worked as a lighting designer for more than a decade in New York City theaters, television studios and regional theaters. He holds an MFA in stage design, among other credits. Steimel is also the host of the "Artistic Finance" podcast, where his guests range from entertainment professionals, including Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Drama Desk award winners, to underrepresented theater workers. He said he enjoys preparing students for careers in entertainment by helping them develop both technical skills and industry connections. 

“Through my nationwide professional relationships, I can prepare students for careers in entertainment by honing industry skills, organizing career trajectories and providing a nationwide professional network,” Steimel said.

Erik Flatmo has been named a visiting assistant professor of scenic design. Flatmo is a professional scenic designer with more than 18 years of teaching experience at prominent universities, including 15 years at Stanford University. He received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree from the Yale School of Drama. As a stage designer, he is known for his international work with American choreographer Trajal Harrell. His projects with Harrell include numerous world premiere productions presented at theaters, festivals, museums and galleries around the world. Within the American regional theater system, Flatmo has a longstanding artistic partnership with San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, where he has designed the scenery for more than 20 original productions.

“I hope to develop design courses focused on visual aesthetics, contemporary culture and design history in addition to the traditional aspects of a theatrical design curriculum,” Flatmo said. “I am particularly (drawn to ASU) for its diverse student body and cultural uniqueness.”

Ri Lindegren, a filmmaker, dancer and educator, will be working with dance students as a visiting assistant teaching professor of dance and media design. An alumnus of the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, Lindegren has experience in immersive theater, interactive media and game design. She brings both community connections and teaching experience to this position. Lindegren said she enjoys classroom structures that are interactive, open, creative and collaborative.

“My perspective as an educator in dance and media is firmly rooted in deep curiosity and in the art of asking thoughtful questions that evoke dialogue,” Lindegren said. “I ask students to reflect on the historical, contextual and current trends that make media so powerful.”

Spencer Arias, a recently named visiting assistant teaching professor of music theory and composition, received a doctorate in music composition with a master’s degree in music theory pedagogy at Michigan State University. An active composer, improviser and music theory pedagogue, Arias is also a music composition alumnus of ASU (‘13 BM). He recently presented his upcoming album “Oceans of Time,” a collaborative avant-pop album, at the 2023 New Music Gathering in Portland, Oregon.

Arias said he cares deeply that all music majors get something positive out of their theory coursework regardless of their major or cultural background, and said he takes a highly student-centered approach. When possible, he includes discussions of classical, popular music, non-Western, jazz and units in film, video games and electronic music.

Viviana Cumplido Wilson will serve as a sabbatical replacement for Elizabeth Buck. Cumplido Wilson has been principal flute of The Phoenix Symphony since 2006 and the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder since 2010. Cumplido Wilson is a member of Urban Nocturnes in Phoenix as well as the Iris Collective in Memphis, Tennessee. She has also performed with the Detroit Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Chamber Music Charleston, Olmos Ensemble, Oregon Symphony and Britt Festival Orchestra. Cumplido Wilson has appeared as concerto soloist with the orchestras of Phoenix and Tucson, and at the Colorado Music Festival in works of Nielsen, Ibert, Corigliano, Reinecke, Mozart, Bach and Chaminade, as well as the North American premiere of the brilliant Flute Concerto No. 1 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg. 

“I'm looking forward to so many things about my time at ASU, but I'm especially excited about the vibrant educational atmosphere and the chance to share what my mentors gave to me in a new way, with a new community,” Cumplido Wilson said.

Jayson Davis will be an instructor of musicology this academic year. An alumnus of the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre (‘23 PhD), Davis has taught courses in music history, jazz repertory, musical geography and popular music. He previously worked as adjunct professor of trumpet and jazz studies at South Mountain Community College. He is a professional trumpet player and is regularly seen in venues around the Valley. 

“I look forward to inviting students to consider what music has meant to different groups of people at different moments in history,” Davis said. “As a music history instructor, I draw on my experience as an improvising jazz musician in order to create fluid, spontaneous learning opportunities for my students." 

Julie Desbordes, current music director of the ASU Philharmonia Orchestra and conducting faculty associate, will serve as an instructor for the conducting program. As both a conductor and an educator, Desbordes has extensive experience developing new audiences for classical music. Previously based in New York and Baltimore, she led two orchestras in New York City: the Queer Urban Orchestra and the Turtle Bay Youth Orchestra. With those ensembles, she presented innovative programs of traditional and new repertoire. In Taiwan during the summer, multigenerational audiences attend her concerts at the Tainan Kaoshung Orchestra Festival. 

“I am looking forward to a superb, inspiring and well-crafted season which represents the rich diversity and history of our communities and explores an astounding variety of musical genres,” Desbordes said. “I cannot wait to start working with ASU students in co-creating a beautiful season together.”

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