slide2

The College of Arts and Humanities (fresnostate.edu/artshum/) at Fresno State is the largest college on campus, encompassing nine departments, and the Armenian Studies program. Of the 69 new faculty members at Fresno State this fall, about 20% of the new hires are in the College of Arts and Humanities. These new faculty bring innovative research, diverse disciplines and technical expertise to our college, strengthening our programs across many of our disciplines.

Over the next few weeks, we will introduce you to these new faces, by department. Last week, we featured our two new Philosophy professors (fresnostatecah.com/2016/09/06/new-faces-philosophy-department/). Today we bring you two new faces in the Music Department (fresnostate.edu/artshum/music/).

Music Department

Music has hired two new professors. Dr. Cari Earnhart has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of North Texas and comes to Fresno State from the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Her areas of research include Arabic Choral Music and Vocal Epidemiology, and she maintains an active conducting and singing career in the US and abroad. Dr. Maria Briggs, an operatic soprano, has sung with Opera Australia, Pacific Opera, Lyric Opera Weimar and Glyndebourne Opera Festival, UK. She is a recipient of many Australian operatic awards and scholarships, including MIETTA award for best Australian vocal recital performance, and she has recorded numerous recitals and appeared in live broadcasts for Australian Broadcast Corporation.

cari-earnhart-s16Dr. Cari Earnhart, Director of Choral ActivitiesDr. Cari Earnhart combines careers as conductor, teacher and singer. Earnhart, a mezzo-soprano, began her professional singing career in New York City and has performed professionally as a soloist in the US, throughout the Tuscany region of Italy and in Istanbul, Turkey. Notable presentations include the Performing Arts Medicine Association (2014) and the Texas Choral Directors Association (2016).

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: I am looking forward to being a part of a growing program. One of the things that attracted me to this position were the faculty and students and their desire to continue growing in their musical presence throughout the Valley,  California and the United States. I look forward to being a part of that growth and helping the students develop their skills at a high level and achieve their musical goals, so that one day that will help young musicians realize their musical dreams.

Q: How did you became involved in your specialty area?

A: I have loved to sing since a very early age, though my family was skeptical that I really could sing because none of them did. When I had the opportunity to join the choir in the sixth grade it changed my life.  Joining choir in middle school gave me a place where I belonged; I was a part of a team and I was allowed to express myself in a new way for the first time and find my own voice in the world. While I continue to have great opportunities as a solo singer, it is being a part of a choir that I love most. I love watching choirs come together and become a family; a system of support for one another and seeing students transform before my eyes by being apart of something bigger than themselves. Music has the ability to transform you and draw you together with others in a way that nothing else can. That is what I love about choir.

Q: What will your distinctive background do to elevate the Music Department offerings here at Fresno State?

A: I think the varied musical experiences I have living in different countries (Italy, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates) and traveling extensively abroad for most of the last 8 years, helps me to better connect with my students and by sharing those experiences I am able to expose them to new perspectives which helps to inform the music we make together.

I also think that my eclectic experience as a soloist (in several genres), a conductor and a teacher will help to show students that there is not just one road in life, but many options and opportunities out there and they have the ability to chart their own course as I have.

Q: What are you reading?

A: “Teaching Plato in Palestine” by Carlos Fraenkel.

Q: What is a book you think everyone should read?

A: “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke; “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach; and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss.

Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve in the classroom or a big mistake students tend to make?

A: Students playing with cell phones. Students not believing in themselves…selling themselves short.

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A: I am an avid college sports fan, especially when it comes to my alma mater, Oklahoma State – GO POKES, (and now I will also cheer on the Bulldogs)! I can converse in several languages (at least enough to stay out of trouble) and I love being an aunt to my beautiful nephews – they are my world!

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for the Music Department and the choral program at Fresno State. This is a great school and I look forward to the great things we will do together! Go Dogs!

Q: What are your office hours?

A: Noon to 1 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, 10-11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by appointment

 briggs2016Dr. Maria Briggs, Assistant Professor of VoiceBorn in Moscow, Russia where she received her initial music training in piano and choral conducting, Maria Briggs moved to Australia at the age of 14. It is there that she completed her studies in piano and vocal performance. She completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Sydney in 2015. She researched opera training in Australia and the UK. Dr. Briggs is a passionate music educator, having directed the Australian Youth Choir for 5 years.

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: I look forward to working with talented young singers and many performance opportunities that will constitute a part of my research.

Q: How did you became involved in your specialty area?

A: I’ve always done music and sang in the choir. It was a natural progression from piano lessons as a child to higher degree in music. I was also really encouraged by my parents.

Q: What will your distinctive background do to elevate the Music Department offerings here at Fresno State?

A: I have a very different perspective to offer on performance and music industry since most of my own work as a singer was in Australia and Europe. Many young American singers travel to Europe to start their careers. I will be able to offer them significant practical help and make sure that they have the edge and avoid the pitfalls.

Having done part of my Doctoral research in UK, I also have a unique perspective on music education and research. I guess my greatest strength is that I have done performance, teaching and research at the highest international level. This included international opera competitions in Japan and Australia. I believe this international experience provides me with a useful perspective and vision for the music department here at Fresno State.

Q: What are you reading?

A: I am reading picture books for my 16-month-old and text books for my classes.

Q: What is a book you think everyone should read?

A: Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” – the best historical novel ever written.

Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve in the classroom or a big mistake students tend to make?

A: The only thing that really bothers me is students who do not make an effort. I do not tolerate laziness.

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A: I am a huge Sci-fi fan and a pretty devout viewer of Star Trek

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: I am really excited to be here and hope to become a positive force in the vocal school, music department and the university. I will start by inviting everyone to my upcoming concert with Fresno State Symphony Orchestra on Saturday November 12, 8pm at the Music Building Concert Hall. The program will included Richard Strauss’s “Four Last Songs”

Q: What are your office hours?

A: 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, or any time I am in, which is always. I have an open-door policy.