Wyoming Arts Council

Performing Arts Fellowships



Performing Arts Fellowships are awards of merit that are given in honor of excellence in the artists’ field. They are juried by noted professionals in the field based on appropriate media samples and artist statements. 4 fellowships will be awarded in Music and Theatre and Dance. Artists may only apply in one category (Music or Theatre and Dance).

2019 Performing Arts Fellowship Recipients

Ben Markley, a jazz pianist, has performed with Brian Lynch, Greg Osby, Eddie Henderson, Terell Stafford, George Garzone, and John Fedchock. Markley’s latest recording project is “Clockwise: The Music of Cedar Walton” (OA2 records). Markley, along with special guest trumpeter Terell Stafford, celebrates one of the more influential and beloved figures in jazz through this unique project, showcasing many of the late pianist and composer Cedar Walton’s most revered tunes through new arrangements for big band. Performing iconic compositions such as ‘Hindsight,’ ‘Bolivia,’ and ‘Holy Land,’ Markley brings together fellow faculty members from the University of Wyoming and top-flight Denver-area musicians to produce an honest and swinging recording that honors Cedar Walton while presenting his music in a bright new light. The album received great critical acclaim and was selected as one of the best 4 star rated albums of 2017 by DownBeat magazine

Markley is active as a composer and arranger with many big band and vocal jazz charts published through UNC Jazz Press. Recent arranging commissions include the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia and Wyoming Jazz Educators All-State Jazz Band. Compositions from Markleyʼs first two albums have earned him ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Awards. Markley was selected to participate in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program held at the Kennedy Center.
Markley’s book, “A Practical Approach to Improvisation – The David Hazeltine Method” was published by Jamey Aebersold Jazz in December of 2014. It documents David Hazeltine’s process of creating etudes from transcriptions.

Markley is an active performer in the Denver-metropolitan area and along the front range. He can be seen regularly at in Ft. Collins as part of the Subterranean jazz trio at Ace Gillett’s Lounge. Markley currently serves as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Wyoming where he directs and coaches the Wyoming Jazz Ensemble, and combos. He also teaches applied jazz piano, improvisation and is the director of the UW Jazz Festival.

Leif Routman is a Jackson based composer and multi-instrumentalist. He received his BA in guitar performance while simultaneously studying improvisation, electronic music sequencing, arranging, classical composition and recording technique. He also studied jazz harmony in Chicago post-college with jazz artists Jeff Parker (of Tortoise) and Scott Hesse. Leif’s music has taken him on numerous national tours as the upright bassist and vocalist for Benyaro. He has worked on projects in New York City with acclaimed artist Matthew Day Jackson. Leif is a creative force and founding member behind many Jackson, WY bands including Whiskey Mornin, Freda Felcher, Canyon Kids, The Flannel Attractions/Pat Chadwick, Goldcone & Black Mother Jones, and also works as a first-call player on guitar and bass for recording sessions around the valley. His debut original EP “Human Love” is currently available everywhere music is found and features his original songs and lyrics performed by a large ensemble of top regional musicians. In his spare time Leif teaches music to all ages/instruments and enjoys moving through the mountains summer and winter, cooking elaborate meals, and watching sunrises.

Photo credit: Wayne Reich

Cellist Beth Vanderborgh enjoys a rich and varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, and pedagogue. She serves as Associate Professor of Cello at the University of Wyoming and as principal cellist of the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. She is a founding member of the acclaimed Stanislas Sextet, based in Nancy, France, and tours regularly with Musica Harmonia and the Helios Trio. She has recorded for Naxos, BMI, Centaur and two CDs for Albany Records, both released in 2013: “Chamber Music of Jennifer Higdon” (“Highly recommended!” Fanfare Magazine) and “Salon Music of August Nölck for Cello and Piano.” Strad Magazine described her Nölck recording as “lyrical and technically accomplished… eloquent and persuasive.” Her most recent CD, featurinbg string sextets of Brahms and Dvorak with the Stanislas Sextet was released on Forgotten Records this spring.

Dr. Vanderborgh has collaborated in chamber music performances with Lynn Harrell, Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade Augustin Hadelich, Elmar Oliviera, Yura Lee, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Jon Nakamatsu, Garrick Ohlsson and Bela Davidovich.

Her students have been accepted to such illustrious institutions as the Curtis Institute, Oberlin Conservatory, and the Manhattan School of Music, among others, for further studies. They have won positions in orchestras and academic settings and have been recent regional and national finalists in the MTNA Young Artist Solo Competition in strings.

At the University of Wyoming, Dr. Vanderborgh has received the Top Prof Award, the Extraordinary Merit in Research Award, an Excellence award from the UW Honors program, the Thumbs Up Award, and an Every Student a Person Award. In 2015, Dr. Vanderborgh initiated an innovative outreach program, the Bach Project, through which University cellists perform the music of J.S. Bach for homebound and elderly music lovers. As director of the University of Wyoming Cello Festival, Vanderborgh created and organizes a regional event celebrating the cello. In April of 2019 the festival will feature cellist Lynn Harrell.

Dr. Vanderborgh holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Maryland, where her teachers included David Geber, Evelyn Elsing, and David Soyer. She engaged in intensive chamber music studies with the Guarneri, Juilliard, Cleveland, and American String Quartets and studied Baroque performance practice with Ken Slowick of the Smithsonian Institution.

Double Bassist, composer, and author Dr. Mark Elliot Bergman is the Director of Strings and Orchestral Studies at Sheridan College. He teaches private lessons and directs the Sheridan College Symphony Orchestra, Sheridan College Viol Consort, and Wyoming Baroque, a professional early music ensemble performing regionally. Mark is the former Principal Double Bassist of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, Mato Grosso Chamber Orchestra (Brazil), and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. He spends his summers with the Britt Festival Orchestra in Jacksonville, Oregon and with Assisi Performing Arts in Assisi, Italy. In 2006, Mark founded Virginia Virtuosi, a recipient of the first Yale University Alumni Ventures Award in 2008, and cited by Fairfax Connections for “turning classical music cool.”

The British company “Recital Music” publishes Mark’s compositions. He received the 2011 Strauss Fellowship from the Arts Council of Fairfax County supporting the creation of Shenandoah Suite, a string trio commemorating the 75th anniversary of the founding of Shenandoah National Park. His first book, “In The Groove: Form and Function in Popular Music” was published in 2012 by Cognella Academic Press. His second book, “Get Up, Stand Up! Higher Order Thinking in Popular Music Studies” was published by Scholars Press in 2016. Mark earned his doctorate from George Mason University in 2015. He also holds degrees from Yale University, the Eastman School of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Bunny Sings Wolf from Devils Tower and Kerry Wallace of Pavillion. Submissions are juried anonymously by jurors from outside the state. The jurors for this year’s Performing Arts Fellowships were Deborah Schmit-Lobis and Justin Ross.


Previous Performing Arts Fellowship Recipients

List of Previous Recipients

1990 Beth McIntosh (musician); Lisa Morgan (choreographer); Ron Steger (scenic design); Eugene Zenzen (musician)

1991 Jewel Dirks (composer); Gary Smart (musician); Britton Theurer (musician); Patricia Tate (choreographer)

1992 Chris Kennedy (musician); Randy Milligan (actor); Margaret Stalder (choreographer); Lucy Woodman (composer)

1993 David Dundas (scenic designer); Pamela Glasser (musician); The Grizzlies (musicians); Terry Yazzolino (storyteller)

1994 Tom Empey (theatre director); Kevin S. Hart (musician); Larry Hazlett (light design); Ann Panalsek (choreographer)

1995 Rebecca Hilliker (theatre director); Gary Smart (composer); Theodore Lapina (musician)

1996 Janet Griffith (musician); Jewel Dirks (composer); Patrick Brien (theatre director)

2002 Music Composition: Dave Brinkman (composer), Laramie; Jeff Troxel (composer), Powell

2003 Theatre & Dance Performance: Bob Berky (theatrical clown/mime), Jackson; General McArthur Hambrick (dancer), Laramie

2004 Music Performance: Judd Grossman (singer/guitarist), Jackson; Scott Turpen (saxophonist), Laramie

2005 Theatre Direction, Choreography & Stage Design: Barbara “Babs” Case (choreography), Jackson; Ken George (set design), Casper; Marsha Knight (choreography), Laramie

2006 Music Composition: Christian Erickson (composer), Gillette; Anne Guzzo (composer), Laramie

2007 Theatre & Dance Performance: Kema Jamal (dancer), Cheyenne; Jodeen Tebay (dancer), Jackson

2008 Awards on one-year hiatus

2009 Music Performance: Anne Sibley (singer/musician), Jackson; Theresa Bogard (pianist), Laramie

2010 Theatre Direction, Dance Choroeography and Stage Design: Larry Hazlett  (lighting designer), Laramie; Carrie Noel Richer (film director & choreographer), Jackson; Babs Case (choreographer), Jackson

2011 Music Composition: Anne Marie Guzzo (composer), Laramie; Jeff Troxel (singer/songwriter), Powell

2013 Theatre & Dance Performance: Lawrence Jackson (dancer), Laramie; Natalia Duncan (actor), Jackson. Interview with Natalia Duncan.

2014  Music Performance: Madelaine German, Jackson; Miss “V” the Gypsy Cowbelle, Thermopolis

2017 Music Composition: Ron Coulter, Casper; Theatre & Dance Performance: Rachel Holmes, Jackson;

Grant Information

Deadline: Varies
Amount: $3,000
Contact: Rachel Clifton
Apply Here