CCM Flute student wins position with United States Army Fife and Drum Corps

DMA student Vincenzo Volpe joins the prestigious ensemble as fife specialist

Story by CCM Graduate Student Chet Rhodes

CCM congratulates DMA flute student Vincenzo Volpe on his recent appointment to the United States Army Fife and Drum Corps. This historical ensemble is a one-of-a-kind military band that performs in traditional uniforms and is stationed at Fort Myer, Virginia.

After graduating from CCM this spring, Volpe will complete 10 weeks of basic training and will then move to Washington D.C., where he'll begin his appointment as a Fife Specialist with the rank of Staff Sergeant in August.

Vincenzo Volpe. Photo/provided

Vincenzo Volpe. Photo/provided

"This ensemble is the only unit of its kind in the armed forces, and it acts as the Army’s Official Ceremonial Unit and Escort to the President, " Volpe says. " I look forward to starting my career with this incredible ensemble!"

The audition process for the Fife and Drum Corps is demanding and highly competitive. It included a prescreening in March, and a two-day live audition in April with marching assessments, memorized piccolo playing, an interview and mere hours to learn and memorize fife music. “The audition process was easily the most intense experience of my life,” Volpe says, “It felt like such an accomplishment to make it through such a long and challenging process!”

A current member of CCM Professor of Flute Demarre McGill’s studio, Volpe received previous degrees from the University of Toronto and Case Western Reserve University. "Aside from my scholarship offer, my flute professor, Demarre McGill, was a primary reason that I wanted to attend school at CCM," he says. "He is principal flutist of the Seattle Symphony and one of the most inspirational musicians that I know."

"When I auditioned for him in 2019, I was very forthcoming about my research interests in queer musicology, which is a topic that some teachers do not embrace. He could see the personal importance of this research to me and assured me that CCM was a place where queer studies would be welcome."

A self-described "overachiever," Volpe has performed in numerous CCM ensembles, including Philharmonia, Concert Orchestra, Chamber Winds, Chamber Orchestra, and Wind Ensemble. He has also served as a Graduate Assistant in the CCM Admissions Office. Outside of CCM, Volpe has held positions with the Queen City Chamber Orchestra and Orchestra Kentucky Bowling Green, and is a substitute for the New World Symphony and the Canton Symphony Orchestra.

To fulfill the cognate requirement of his degree program, Volpe also took classes in Arts Administration and became the Program Manager of Lives United / Vidas Unidas, a small non-profit in Mount Auburn. Volpe recently organized the Cincinnati Pride Arts Showcase, presented by Lives United/ Vidas Unidas with support from Cincinnati Pride and ArtsWave. The event featured the CCM Flute Studio and alumni performing the Cincinnati premiere of a new flute choir piece by Kei Slaughter, which was commissioned by Volpe with a CCMpower grant as part of CCM’s DEI Committee Initiatives.

Volpe is also the founder and coordinator of the National Flute Association's LGBTQ+ Flute Choir, which made its debut in 2022 and performs at the organization’s convention every summer. A passionate performer, researcher and activist, Volpe spoke on the importance of infusing your identity into your work. 

"The best advice that I can give to any student or professional is to infuse your identity into everything that you do," Volpe says. "As a gay man, I pursue research that focuses on the LGBTQ+ community, stage recitals featuring music written by LGBTQ+ composers, and volunteer my time towards organizing spaces and experiences that make my community stronger. When you see yourself in the work that you do, the work becomes more worthwhile and impactful to you and those around you!"

Vincenzo Volpe (b. 1995) is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate studying with Demarre McGill at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Case Western Reserve University. He completed a semester of his undergraduate degree at the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music in Copenhagen.

A passionate performer, Vincenzo is the visiting principal flutist of Orchestra Kentucky Bowling Green and a flutist of the Queen City Chamber Orchestra in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also a substitute flutist for the New World Symphony and the Canton Symphony Orchestra.

Post-graduation from his doctorate degree, Vincenzo will start a career with the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps in Washington, D.C.

As a competitor, Vincenzo is the winner of the inaugural 2022 William Winstead Competition for Artistry in Wind Playing at the College-Conservatory of Music. Vincenzo has also won concerto competitions with the University of Toronto Hart House Orchestra and the Case Western Reserve University Orchestra.

On the international stage, Vincenzo has performed in Europe, North America, and South America, including appearances at the (American) National Flute Association Convention, Canadian Summer Flute Festival, and the International Festival of Flutists in Lima, Peru. He is a previous fellow of the Miami Classical Music Festival, Lake George Music Festival, Kent/Blossom Music Festival, International Lyric Academy in Vicenza, Italy, and the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Vincenzo also enjoys working as an arts administrator. He is a graduate assistant at the College-Conservatory of Music Admissions Office and the Program Director of a non-profit music and arts organization called Lives United/Vidas Unidas in Mount Auburn, Cincinnati, which provides free piano lessons, a concert series, and a performance space to all interested musicians and community members.

Vincenzo’s academic research focuses on the history of the LGBTQ+ community in classical music. He has staged full recitals of music by queer composers and a lecture-recital about flute music written in reaction to the AIDS epidemic. Vincenzo is the organizer of the National Flute Association’s annual LGBTQ+ Flute Choir, which made its debut in August 2022. Vincenzo aspires to teach flute at a university and continue his LGBTQ+ related research and performance.

Vincenzo’s previous teachers include Nora Shulman (Toronto Symphony Orchestra), Mary Kay Fink (Cleveland Orchestra), Katherine DeJongh (Canton Symphony Orchestra), Ulla Miilmann and Russ Itani (Danish National Symphony Orchestra), and George Pope (Akron Symphony Orchestra).

Featured image at the top: Vincenzo Volpe. Photo/provided

Headshot of Chet Rhodes

Chet Rhodes

CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications

Currently a Bassoon Performance master’s student at CCM, Chet received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Utah. He has held positions with the Salt Lake Symphony and the Utah Philharmonia.

Additional Contacts

Curt Whitacre | Director of Marketing/Communications | UC College-Conservatory of Music

| 513-556-2683

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