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June 7, 2013

ULM professor chosen as semi-finalist for American Prize in Conducting

The American Prize, a series of national competitions in the performing arts, recently chose ULM professor Dr. Jason Rinehart as a semi-finalist for the American Prize in Conducting in the University/College division.

Rinehart joins 13 other conductors nationwide in receiving this honor.

"It is an honor to think about how many other college conductors there are," said Rinehart, "and then to be chosen by a panel of judges based on my conducting abilities. This accomplishment not only means that I 'must be doing something right,' but it also boosts my reputation in the field of music, putting ULM on the map in one more way."

To be considered for this award, applicants must first provide The American Prize with their background, experiences, and other criteria. Next, applicants submit a video of themselves conducting in order for the judges to evaluate their work.

"Everyone is awarded based on the videos they submit," said Rinehart, "so you have to make sure they are top notch."

After receiving all submissions, the judges meet to decide who will advance to the next round of competition. Finalists should be announced in the coming weeks, and the winners should be announced by the end of July.

Rinehart's dedication to his craft clearly sets him apart.

Having just finished his sixth year of teaching at ULM, he said, "On average, I spend about 10 hours a day on the ULM campus," teaching students, rehearsing with ULM marching band The Sound of Today, and attending various performances of students and other local musicians.

"I also host a one-hour radio show four times a week at KEDM Public Radio on the ULM campus," he said.

Rinehart grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and from his junior year of high school, he recognized music as his passion.

"I could tell I was a bit different than the other musicians in our band program," he said, "and I wanted to pursue that profession."

It was during his undergraduate career, however, that his interest in music became the drive that would eventually bring him to ULM.

While at Texas Tech University, Rinehart bonded with his conducting professor, who became ill due to cancer. During those years, he repeatedly asked Rinehart to take his place conducting.

"He did this because he trusted me to do a good job with his ensemble," said Rinehart.

"Having that experience, even though it was very scary at first, pushed me to be a better communicator through conducting and to become comfortable standing in front of an ensemble, leading them along the journey of the literature we were about to perform."

Aside from conducting, Rinehart's principal instrument is the French horn, which he has played since middle school.

He currently plays with the Monroe Symphony Orchestra as Third Horn in addition to being the Assistant Conductor.

His favorite professional moment has been playing the French horn with his college wind ensemble in Carnegie Hall.

"It was a great way to end my undergraduate years with the teacher that inspired me so much to pursue conducting as a career," said Rinehart.

In the music program, Rinehart supports the growing importance of technology as a performance medium.

"I see lots of use of technology being integrated not only into practice sessions, but concert experiences for the audience," he said. "I have tried to incorporate a little bit of that here in ULM performances, with videos or projections of works of art that go along with the music we are performing."

Most of all, however, Rinehart values passion.

He begs of all students, "Don't be afraid to be passionate about what you do in life. If you aren't passionate about it, you probably shouldn't be doing it."

Rinehart earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Texas Tech University in 1997, a Master of Music in Conducting from Southern Methodist University in 2000, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory in 2005.

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