Shenandoah University Welcomes New Faculty To Conservatory

Shenandoah University Welcomes New Faculty To Conservatory

Shenandoah Conservatory Dean Michael Stepniak has announced four new faculty members who will join Shenandoah University for the upcoming semester.

“It is with great pleasure that I introduce the distinguished scholars and artists who will be joining our Conservatory faculty,” said Stepniak. “We pursue faculty searches intensively with an eye to finding scholars and artists of international or rising national prominence. All four of these faculty bring with them not only exceptional expertise in their field, but also a marked orientation towards mentorship that I know will align with and enrich our educational community.”

Dr. David T. Little will serve as assistant professor of composition and coordinator of new music. His music has been performed throughout the world – including in Dresden, London, Edinburgh, Los Angeles and Montreal, and at the Tanglewood, Aspen, MATA and Cabrillo Festivals – by such performers as the London Sinfonietta, Alarm Will Sound, eighth blackbird, So Percussion, Dither, NOW Ensemble, PRISM Quartet, the New World Symphony, American Opera Projects, the New York City Opera and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini describes Little as a composer showing “real imagination” and demonstrating a “dramatically wild…rustling…and eclectic style.” Little has received awards and recognition from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Meet The Composer, the American Music Center, the Harvey Gaul Competition, BMI and ASCAP, and has received commissions from Carnegie Hall, the Baltimore Symphony, the Albany Symphony, the New World Symphony, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the University of Michigan and Dawn Upshaw’s Vocal Arts program at the Bard Conservatory.

In 2004, Little founded the amplified octet Newspeak, for which he is also the drummer and artistic director.  Hailed as “potent” (, “innovative” (New York Magazine), and “fierce” (Time Out New York), Newspeak explores the relationship of music and politics while confronting head-on the boundaries between classical and rock traditions. Little completed his doctorate in composition at Princeton, and also holds degrees from University of Michigan and Susquehanna University. His primary teachers have included Osvaldo Golijov, Paul Lansky, Steven Mackey, William Bolcom and Michael Daugherty. Most recently, Little served as executive director of New York’s MATA Festival.

The positions of assistant professor of theater and director of the acting program will be filled by J.J. Ruscella, a broadly experienced actor, teacher and independent film director, with expertise ranging from directing plays and film to being an innovator of live action simulations and role play experiences. As a director, Ruscella has won awards for both his feature length and short films, including participation at Festival de Cannes for his short film “Miss Julianne” in 2008. He has received additional awards for various works and acting from Higher Life Publishing, Bronze Telly Award, EPCOT Center, Orlando Film Festival, Cinema City Film Festival and many others. Ruscella taught theatre at the University of Central Florida for 13 years and holds degrees in theatre from Rutgers University (Master of Fine Arts) and the University of South Florida (Bachelor of Arts)
Jonathan Snowden, one of England’s premier flutists and a master teacher in demand around the globe, will serve as professor of flute for Shenandoah University. He has held principal flute positions with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the English National Opera North Orchestra (a position he attained at age 21) and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. Journalist Edward Greenfield has described Snowden in The Guardian as “one of the most brilliant flutists of his generation.”

He has played on dozens of film scores, including “The King’s Speech,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Da Vinci Code. Snowden has recorded with artists as diverse as Bjork, Sting and Martine McCutchion, and has done performance spots with Sir Cliff Richard and Elvis Costello. He has held recitals and master classes in Japan, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, Great Britain (Royal Northern College and Trinity College) and the United States. Snowden has served on the faculty of the Royal College of Music in London, The London College of Music, and has served as a diploma examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. He completed his studies at the Guildhall School of Music in London.

Dr. Daniel B. Tague, who has experience as a teacher, clinician, blogger and researcher in the field of music therapy, will fill the position of assistant professor of music therapy. Tague has quickly emerged as a rising authority within the music therapy field, working within a variety of settings including hospitals, school districts, and rehabilitation units. Hee developed a pilot improvisational drumming curriculum for music therapy and music education students, and researched the effect of music therapy and art therapy on mood in patients with mental health needs.

Tague was the director and lead music therapist at the Music Therapy Services of Texas and also worked at the Brook Mays Music Company as a world music drumming coordinator. He maintains a blog, “Music Makes Sense,” in which he shares ideas for teachers and parents to use music effectively as a therapeutic aid in a variety of settings for people with special needs. Tague holds degrees from The Florida Sate University (Ph.D. in Music Therapy) and The University of Kansas (Master of Music Education with honors in Music Therapy).