Two K-State alumni recognized for musical talent

K-State Alumni Communications

Bryan Pinkall ’07, ’10 is a music professor at Kansas State University and recently won a Grammy award. (Photo:

On the night of the Grammys, Bryan Pinkall ’07, ’10 waited in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, holding his breath. The Kansas State University music professor had been nominated for two Grammy awards for his performance on an album, along with the Kansas City Chorale and Phoenix Chorale. The group erupted into cheers as their name was called for Best Choral Performance.

“It's always exciting and scary to be a part of an award ceremony, and personally, I never thought that we would win going into it,” Pinkall said. “I held my breath, and when they read our name, I yelled as loud as I could and hugged all the people around me. It was great fun. This year, especially, the nominated ensembles were great, and it was an honor just to be nominated with them.”

Since Pinkall joined the Kansas City Chorale in 2012, the ensemble and its conductor, Charles Bruffy, have earned four Grammy nominations and three Grammy wins. Their recent winning album, Rachmaninoff: All Night Vespers, was released in March 2015 and debuted at No. 1 on the Classical Billboard and Traditional Classical Billboard charts. 

Pinkall isn’t the only K-State alumnus who is using his experience as a Wildcat to build a successful career in the arts. Bryce Craig ’13 recently was invited to perform in the annual New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, which features works by composers, performers and sound artists from around the world.

Electroacoustic music combines acoustic instruments with pre-recorded and live electronics. For his piece, The Crystal Ballet, Craig will be playing multiple percussion instruments live, then processing the audio output live with software, along with a pre-made background track. The Crystal Ballet was made in collaboration with Laura Donnelly ’79, a former dance instructor at K-State, and Amit Chakrabarti, head of physics at K-State and current interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The work’s three movements thematically correspond to the solid, liquid and glass forms a crystal takes at various temperatures and the music represents the molecular motion occurring in each form, as well as abstract social-cultural themes that relate to the crystal’s forms.

Bryce Craig ’13 has been invited to perform ​The Crystal Ballet in the annual New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, which features works by composers, performers and sound artists from around the world. (Photo: David Mayes '96)
Craig recently started a job as a music editor and audio specialist for C. Alan Publications in Greensboro, North Carolina, and he also hopes to continue advancing his career as freelance composer and percussionist. He said part of the magic of a career in music is that everyone takes away something different from a piece. 

“The beauty of music, and art in general, is that once a work is ‘out in the open,’ anything can happen to it,” Craig said. “The Crystal Ballet took on a life of its own over time, and I’m frankly still going on the ride to see how it ends, if ever!”

Pinkall said he also feels fortunate he was able to turn his passion for music into a career and to spend every day doing what he loves. 

“I look forward to even the smallest of concerts and to every voice lesson,” he said. “I feed off of my students’ enthusiasm, and hopefully they find some encouragement to continue pursuing what they are passionate about.”

Both Pinkall and Craig said they were thankful they got their start at K-State. 

“My time at K-State, in particular the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, made me aware of not only the importance of developing one’s creative self, but also the necessity of working and collaborating with others,” Craig said. “I’m grateful for all the opportunities my instructors and fellow students gave me to work together for something greater than myself. It has made me a better musician as well as given me a more flexible outlook on my artistic and creative future.”

Pinkall agreed. “Frankly, I wouldn't be where I am today without my education at K-State,” he said. “I studied with many folks who still teach here and some are also my best friends. I think the world of our music educators, and with the number of opportunities we have to perform, it was a unique and perfect place to be a music student.”

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