MSU Honors Outstanding Work and Excellence

Vocal arts faculty member and graduate student acknowledged at annual University awards ceremony.

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs June Pierce Youatt addresses attendees of the annual MSU awards ceremony. Photo by Greg Kohuth.
Professor of Voice (tenor) and Chair of the Vocal Arts Area Richard Fracker at right poses with MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. Photo by Greg Kohuth.
Doctoral student in orchestral conducting Mathew Forte, at right, poses with MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. Photo by Greg Kohuth.


A faculty member and graduate student from the MSU College of Music were honored for their dedication and contributions to excellence and innovation in teaching, research and service at the annual MSU Awards Convocation Ceremony in early February.

Richard Fracker, professor of voice and chair of the vocal arts area, received the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award for his commitment to music education and advancing MSU’s vocal performance program. Fracker—a renowned and versatile tenor—has performed in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world, including 160 performances at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. A committed music educator, Fracker has helped transform the College of Music vocal area into a world-class program filled with talented, award-winning students on par with peers across the country. Fracker has presented vocal master classes and judged performance competitions through the U.S., China and South Korea, and has been an active presenter, adjudicator and clinician for the Michigan Vocal Music Association. In 2010, Fracker received the Dortha J. and John D. Withrow Excellence in Teaching Award—the College of Music’s highest honor.

“Receiving this award affirms that those whom I most admire both academically and professionally believe I have achieved the highest level of excellence and production,” says Fracker. “When I look in particular at the list of my music colleagues who have previously won this award, I feel a great responsibility to prove as strong a link in the chain as they have been for the College of Music and MSU. I am incredibly honored.”

Matthew Forte, doctoral student in orchestral conducting, received the Excellence-in-Teaching Citation for his transformative work with the Concert Orchestra. Forte led the charge in rebuilding the group of primarily non-music majors by being a great teacher, leader and role model. Forte also fostered collaborations between the orchestra and other departments, community groups and art organizations. In the course of nearly five years, the orchestra has grown both in size and attendance, and into an inclusive, culture-building, participatory group. Forte has been invited twice to attend the prestigious Aspen Festival of Music as a conducting fellow. His dissertation focuses on the development of a interdisciplinary undergraduate class on musical interpretation and score study, bringing together threads of knowledge from the areas of music history, theory, and conducting. Forte has also received the prestigious Rasmussen Fellowship in 2014.

“For a while, and especially recently, I’ve been thinking about whether my primary activities, musically, would take place professionally or in an academic setting. And while my professional work means a lot to me, I have always returned to thinking of teaching as the center of what I do,” says Forte. “To be recognized by MSU for that teaching is an honor, and reassures me that I am on a path on which I can make valuable and lasting contributions to my community.”

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