CCM shares 2023 alumni and distinguished service awards

The college recognizes alumni and community members for their achievements and support

UC's College-Conservatory of Music is proud to present alumni and distinguished service awards to outstanding members of our community at the end of each academic year. The 2023 awards are presented to five accomplished alumni and one dedicated patron in a private virtual event as well as during the CCM's Graduation Convocation Ceremony on Friday, April 28

Our newest graduates join a global network of more than 14,300 living CCM alumni. In addition to our newest degree recipients, CCM also acknowledges this year’s alumni and distinguished service award recipients, read more about each award winner below.

  • CCM Champion Award: David Allen (BM Piano, ’61)
  • Distinguished Service Award: Patti Myers
  • Distinguished Alumni Award: Ricardo Morales (BM Clarinet, '89-'91)
  • Young Alumni Awards: Michael Littig (BFA Drama, ’05), Noah Ricketts (BFA Musical Theatre, ’14), Sarah Ellen Stephens (BFA Drama, ’08)

CCM Champion Award

David Allen (BM Piano, ’61) is the inaugural recipient of the CCM Champion Award, which will be given annually to a local alum who champions CCM and fosters a deep appreciation for the arts within the Cincinnati community. He began his career as the music director at St. William Parish and went on to direct the Glee Club at Elder High School for more than 50 years.

Dave Allen. Photo/provided

Dave Allen. Photo/provided

A new alumni award has been created to acknowledge David Allen’s legacy in Cincinnati: the CCM Champion Award. Alumni will be considered on an annual basis for the award that will be given to a local alumnus/a who champions CCM and fosters a deep appreciation for the arts and within the Cincinnati community.

When CCM Professor of Music Education Eva Floyd began teaching at CCM, there was one question she was repeatedly asked: “Do you know Dave Allen?” And Floyd is not alone in this experience — Michelle Conda, Division Head of Keyboard Studies at CCM, recalls similar interactions.

“Dave Allen is an institution in this town,” Conda says. “He has taught generations of Cincinnatians and with each new student he passes on his love of music and his love of CCM. He’s one of CCM’s best cheerleaders. We are lucky to call him one of our own.”

Originally from Youngstown, Allen arrived in Cincinnati to study at CCM in the late ‘50s. After graduating with his BM in Piano Performance in 1961, he began his career in Cincinnati as music director at St. William Parish. Shortly after starting at St William, he began directing the Glee Club at Elder High School for over 50 years.

Conda elaborates “Elder is an all-boys high school known for athletics and Dave has made singing in Glee Club as popular as playing on the football team. It’s amazing how he has created a culture where music is mainstream, it’s part of his students’ everyday lives, and something they continue to find important after they graduate. His influence keeps Cincinnati’s art scene alive.”

Beyond teaching, Allen has founded the Seton-Elder Performing Arts Series and is the conductor for the Cincinnati Metropolitan Orchestra.

Countless students, families and community members not only love music, but also know about CCM because of Allen. He appreciated his time at CCM saying “I am very grateful for the excellent teachers, the wonderful opportunities afforded to me as a student, the many fun times I had at CCM and most importantly the education I received.”

Spotlight story written by Ellen Stedtefeld, Program Director of Alumni & Donor Experience at CCM and DAAP.


Distinguished Service Award

Patti Myers is a longtime friend and supporter of CCM. She has volunteered her leadership skills, networks and time to students and faculty through her work on the CCMpower Board. Most notably, she served as the President of CCMpower from July 2020-22, supporting three record-breaking special events and fundraising efforts to benefit students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CCMpower Board President Patti Myers smiles on the balcony overlooking the CCM atrium.

Patti Myers. Photo/Andrew Higley.

Patti Myers is a longtime friend and supporter of CCM and this year’s 2023 Distinguished Service Award winner. Her relationship with CCM began as a decades-long subscriber and supporter through her attendance at CCM performances, but Patti has increasingly shown dedication to CCM through her involvement and philanthropy.

Ms. Myers has volunteered her leadership skills, networks and copious amounts of time to benefit the students and faculty of CCM in recent years. Most notably, she has served on the CCMpower Board in a number of volunteer capacities. As the chair of the Liaison and Awards Committee, she used her professional prowess from her time in the publishing industry to examine and implement a more streamlined process and improved application for students and faculty applying to CCMpower for funds to support projects and master classes. This new process allowed the Liaison and Awards committee to award student grants and master class funding with more knowledge of the impact these funds would have for CCM students, while deeply engaging the committee in this important work for CCMpower. This has resulted in a 40% increase in the number of applications and 30% increase in funding from the CCMpower Board to fund these vital projects, which are essential to the overall learning and development of young artists at CCM. In addition, this new reporting process has allowed members of CCMpower more transparency in how their funds support students at CCM and affords them the opportunity to experience their impact several times a year through the presentation of these projects, performances and masterclasses in person.

In addition to her time and work leading the Liaison and Awards committee, Patti has served on the Nominating, Board Development and Special Events Committees.  Most notably, Patti served as the President of CCMpower from July 2020 through June 2022, during the bulk of the Covid-19 pandemic. While her tenure as CCMpower President was made extremely difficult by the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, Patti approached her role as she does with all things, with determination, positivity and hard work. Her leadership of the CCMpower Board during this time resulted in three record breaking special events and increased support for the college to launch CCM OnStage Online – a series of virtual performances to engage audiences and allow CCM to accomplish its educational mission of providing performance opportunities to our students when most arts organizations had completely shuttered their doors.  

CCMpower’s signature event and fundraiser, Moveable Feast, is an integral part of CCM’s fundraising strategy. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Patti’s leadership and support of the CCM Development staff, which was reduced in size by 50% due to pandemic budget woes, allowed for a brand new, virtual re-imagining of this event that connected CCM to audiences nationwide. Not only was the 2021 Moveable Feast viewed over 6,000 times and by patrons and supporters in 10 countries, it also provided the single highest net revenue earned from any Moveable Feast, since its inception in 2002.  In conjunction with the CCM Development Team, Ms. Myers’ visionary leadership and support continued to provide CCM with unique and new ways to engage audiences. The 2022 Moveable Feast saw the inaugural honoring of a CCM Alumnus, Earl Rivers, as the headlining performance for the evening. This new envisioning of Moveable Feast, with alumni as our featured performers, conductors and leaders for the evening has opened the doors to CCM alumni to return to campus. And, most recently, Ms. Myer’s leadership during the second half of her tenure as CCMpower President, allowed the college to work hand in hand with alumni on the creation of a world premiere that happened right on our very own Corbett Auditorium stage. 30 Years of Stephen: The Music of Stephen Flaherty featured the work of CCM alumnus and composer Stephen Flaherty, and brought back over 40 alumni to the CCM campus as performers, directors, producers, designers, stage managers, librettists, conductors and choreographers to work directly with our students. This revolutionary performance reconnected CCM to our alumni in a manner that has resulted in new philanthropy and support for the college, as well as a renewed sense of community between CCM and our alumni. 

It is difficult to find a supporter more dedicated and passionate about CCMpower and CCM than Patti Myers. She has demonstrated incredible grace throughout her involvement with the college, determination to ensure CCM’s success and unmatched dedication to our students, our faculty and our mission. She has demonstrated exemplary leadership and partnership during her time with us and has unselfishly shared herself, her skills and her network to benefit CCM. It is with great pride and gratitude that we present the 2023 Distinguished Service Award to Patti Myers.

Spotlight story written by Sarah Mizelle Miller, Senior Director of Development and Alumni Relations at CCM.


Distinguished Alumni Award

Ricardo Morales (BM Clarinet, '89-'91) is one of the most sought-after clarinetists of today. He has been the principal clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2003, and was previously the principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He regularly appears as a soloist with the world’s major orchestras, including the New York Symphony, Chicago Symphony and Berlin Philharmonic.

Ricardo Morales. Photo/provided

Ricardo Morales. Photo/provided

Ricardo Morales is one of the most sought after clarinetists of today. He joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as principal clarinet in 2003. Prior to this he was principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, a position he assumed at the age of 21. His virtuosity and artistry as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician has been hailed and recognized in concert halls around the world. He has been asked to perform as principal clarinet with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, and at the invitation of Sir Simon Rattle, performed as guest principal clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic. He also performs as principal clarinet with the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra and the Mito Chamber Orchestra, at the invitation of Maestro Seiji Ozawa.

A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mr. Morales began his studies at the Escuela Libre de Musica along with his five siblings, who are all distinguished musicians. He continued his studies at CCM and Indiana University, where he received his Artist Diploma.

Mr. Morales has been a featured soloist with many orchestras, including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Seoul Philharmonic, and the Flemish Radio Symphony. During his tenure with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, he soloed in Carnegie Hall and on two European tours. He made his solo debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2004 and has since performed as soloist on numerous occasions. Ricardo performed the world premiere of the Clarinet Concerto by Jonathan Leshnoff, commissioned for him by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

An active chamber musician, Mr. Morales has performed in the MET Chamber Ensemble series at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Seattle Chamber Music Summer Festival, and the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, on NBC’s The Today Show, and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has performed with many distinguished ensembles, such as the Juilliard Quartet, the Pacifica Quartet, the Miró Quartet, the Leipzig Quartet, and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. He has also collaborated with Christoph Eschenbach, André Watts, Emanuel Ax, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, James Ehnes, Gil Shaham, and Kathleen Battle. Mr. Morales is highly sought after for his recitals and master classes, which have taken him throughout North America, Europe and Asia. In addition, he currently serves on the faculty of Temple University.

Mr. Morales’ performances have been met with critical acclaim. The Philadelphia Inquirer hailed his appointment to the Philadelphia Orchestra, stating that “… in fact, may represent the most salutary personnel event of the orchestra’s last decade.” He was praised by the New York Times as having “ … fleet technique, utterly natural musical grace, and the lyricism and breath control of a fine opera singer.” Mr. Morales was also singled out in the New York Times review of the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Berlioz’s Les Troyens, describing his playing as “exquisite” and declaring that he “deserved a place onstage during curtain calls.”

Mr. Morales’s debut solo recording, French Portraits, is available on the Boston Records label. His recent recordings include performances with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, with the Pacifica Quartet, which was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award, as well as the Mozart Concerto with the Mito Chamber Orchestra for DECCA. Ricardo is a sought after consultant and designer of musical instruments and accessories, and enjoys a musical partnership with F. Arthur Uebel, a world renowned manufacturer of artist level clarinets.

Biography provided by Ricardo Morales.


Young Alumni Awards

Michael Littig (BFA Drama, ’05) is an actor, educator and innovator who has mentored thousands of people worldwide through partnerships with the United Nations and the Office of the Dalai Lama. He is a member of Theater Mitu, one of the world’s leading experimental theater companies, and the co-founder of the Zuckerberg Institute, the Great Globe Foundation and the Patrick Page Acting Studio.

Michael Littig. Photo/provided

Michael Littig. Photo/provided

Michael Littig is a creative who works at the intersection of innovation + the arts to create spaces of belonging. He is a Co-Founder of Zuckerberg Institute, the Great Globe Foundation and the Patrick Page Acting Studio. His work as an educator spans partnerships with the Office of the Dalai Lama to the United Nations as a mentor to thousands of innovators and refugees worldwide.

He is a longtime company member of Theater Mitu — one of the world’s leading experimental theater companies whose work has been produced in New York City at NYTW, BAM, and globally in the UAE, Mexico, Mongolia, Bahrain, Bosnia Herzegovina, Lebanon, Poland, Chile, Egypt and India. Michael is an investor in innovation as a limited partner (LP) in Broadway Beta Ventures (BBV), where he actively supports both theatrical content and early/growth stage tech companies in the entertainment industry. BBV Credits include: The Inheritance (Tony Award for Best Play), Shucked, Freestyle Love Supreme, Parade, among many others. Education: BFA University of Cincinnati (CCM), where he received the distinguished alumnus award for career excellence, and a Fulbright Scholar in Drama (Mongolia).

In celebration of his Young Alumni Award, Public Relations Graduate Assistant Lucy Evans reached out to Michael to chat about his time at CCM.

Share a favorite memory from your time at CCM. Was there a particular instructor, class, production or fellow student that impacted you in a special way? 

Michael Littig: Few specific memories remain of my time at CCM, but the teachings of my professors still live deep in my heart. Rocco Dal Vera's spirit guided my every step as I summited Mt. Kilimnajaro,  k. Jenny Jones' voice was in my head telling me to 'Nike it, write that shit on your forehead,' when I felt doubtful, Michael Burnham's calm presence reminded me to simply 'Write what I know, and write as specifically as possible' when I couldn't find the right words, and finally Richard Hess continually inspired me with the power of one single word - 'YES.'

What advice do you have for current CCM students and the graduating class of 2023? 

Michael Littig: Everything in my career points back to the seeds I planted at CCM. So, do not wait.  Make work now. Find your people now. Live in the questions now. Do the things that scare you...now.

What projects are you currently working on? Is there a recent project you are especially proud of? 

Michael Littig: I'm super proud of the communities I have built as a longtime company member of Theater Mitu, the Director of HUG Studios, and as the co-founder of Zuckerberg Institute, Patrick Page Acting Studio and the Great Globe Foundation working at the intersection of innovation + the arts to create spaces of belonging.


Noah Ricketts (BFA Musical Theatre, ’14) has appeared on Broadway as Kristoff in Disney’s Frozen and Drifter in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Additionally, he can be seen in American Gods (Starz), High Fidelity (Hulu) and the upcoming Showtime series Fellow Travelers.

Noah Ricketts. Photo/provided

Noah Ricketts. Photo/provided

Since graduating with his BFA in Musical Theatre, Noah Ricketts has appeared on Broadway as Kristoff in Disney’s Frozen and as Drifter in Beautiful: the Carole King Musical. He has guest starred in American Gods (Starz) and High Fidelity (Hulu), and is a series regular in the upcoming Fellow Travelers (Showtime).

Through master classes and workshops, Ricketts helps to mentor the next generation of young actors, all while maintaining a busy professional schedule.

In celebration of his Young Alumni Award, Noah chatted with CCM Public Relations GA Lucy Evans about his time at CCM and recent career highlights.

What is a favorite memory from your time at CCM?

Noah Ricketts: My favorite memory from CCM was Freshman year. I was cast in the Main Stage production of EVITA as Eva’s boy. I later found out that part doesn’t exist. It was basically a glorified set mover…but I didn’t care. The set, the costumes and the talent were Broadway quality… and I was just happy to be there. 

Was there a particular instructor, class, production or fellow student that impacted you in a special way?

Noah Ricketts:One instructor that stands out to me is Diane Lala. Dance was not my specialty when I entered CCM … and she made it her mission to change that. She pushed me to be a better dancer and never let me give up. It’s because of her that I had a dance solo on Broadway in Frozen

What advice do you have for current CCM students and the graduating class of 2023?

Noah Ricketts: Embrace your weaknesses, not your strengths. Be honest with yourself about what you need to improve upon and make it happen. 

What projects are you currently working on?

Noah Ricketts: I just wrapped a very special project called “Fellow Travelers” on Showtime/Paramount Plus. It premieres in October and gives a very heartfelt look into LGBTQ+ community throughout multiple decades. I play Frankie, a drag queen and bartender who dares to live out and proud in the 1950s. I start shooting a feature film in the summer called “Friends and Foes." It is a modern day retelling of the French classic “La Piscine." It explores the inner-workings of modern relationships. I play Zaki! And I have a Broadway show slated for 2024 that I can’t say the title of just yet! 


Sarah Ellen Stephens (BFA Drama, ’08) is an actor, writer and producer whose original short Lil’ Benny and Token: The Web Series have won awards at festivals around the country. Her credits include roles in 21 Bridges and Lee Daniels’ Pimp, as well as a recurring role on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU and appearances in Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have it and Amazon’s Z: The Beginning of Everything. Additionally, Sarah regularly gives back to the CCM community through mentorship and master classes.

Sarah Ellen Stevens. Photo/provided

Sarah Ellen Stevens. Photo/provided

Sarah Ellen Stephens (she/her/hers) is honored to receive CCM’s Young Alumni Award, and is grateful to be part of this wonderful community. Sarah starred in and produced the narrative short Lil' Benny which awarded her the Best Actress and First Time Filmmaker awards at the 2016 Uptown Short Film Festival. She also wrote, produced and starred in the multi-festival favorite "Token the Web Series," and is currently in the developing stages of a new television series. Some of her favorite film credits include 21 Bridges (Brian Kirk starring Chadwick Boseman), Here After (Harry Greenberger starring Andy Karl), Lee Daniels' Pimp (Christine Crokos starring Keke Palmer), Fill Your Heart with French Fries (Tamar Glezerman), Hallway (Leah Shore/SXSW premiere), Puss (Lesh Shore/SXSW premiere), Straight Outta Tompkins (Zephyr Benson). On television she’s recurred on Law & Order: SVU (NBC), and appeared in She’s Gotta Have It (Netflix - Spike Lee), Z: The Beginning of Everything (Amazon), Iron Fist (Netflix), and will appear this summer on Evil (Paramount+).

After guest starring in a TV pilot penned by Theresa Rebeck, Sarah went on to join the cast of Theresa’s new play, Dig — world premiering at the Dorset Theatre Festival. Other favorite theater productions include Sheepdog at the Contemporary American Theater Festival, the world premieres of Adam Rapp’s Classic Kitchen Timer and Jonathan Reynolds’ Girls in Trouble (the Flea Theater), the Off-Broadway production of Jupiter (a play about power) (La Mama Experimental Theatre Club) and the regional production of Doubt, A Parable (Human Race Theater Company). In 2022 Sarah was thrilled to begin her journey as a teaching artist with the Roundabout Theatre Company.

To celebrate Sarah's Young Alumni Award, Public Relations GA Lucy Evans reached out to Sarah to chat about her time at CCM and advice to current students.

Share a favorite memory from your time at CCM. Was there a particular instructor, class, production or fellow student that impacted you in a special way?

Sarah Ellen Stephens: We were in our senior year, 'The Elite Eleven' we had dubbed ourselves, and we were taking a more advanced look at the Greek tragedies with Diane Kvapil, and she'd taken us to the stadium to do our monologues. I was working on Antigone, and one-by-one we hit the field of the Bearcat Stadium screaming our monologues into the bleachers to give us a sense of the epic circumstances of 'Grecian Theatre' in its original form. We could barely hear each other, and by the time I was up to bat (sorry I don't have any football references), half the class had stopped paying attention altogether. In this moment I sort of began a real relationship towards how to radiate my intentions, and not only that, but intrinsically kicked off how I might have begun actually crafting the radiation of my intentions and the intentions of my characters. I began to understand that I actually needed to play that stadium more like a black box: I needed to create an intimate space and draw them into it. A couple years later in New York I’d have my first opportunity to perform in a black box and I played it more like a stadium. I’m not sure what Diane intended for us to learn that day, but it certainly was an impactful experience, and I learned quite a lot. 

What advice do you have for current CCM students and the graduating class of 2023?

Sarah Ellen StephensBuild a genuine, loving and reliable support system. Had the stadium experience with Diane been a total disaster, I could always find Richard [Hess] in his office to talk about it, and I could speak on the dynamics of being an actor within this particular program with the understanding that Richard could appreciate all of those nuances. Throughout my journey as an artist and as a human being, my center and my foundation has been fortified by family, chosen family and true blue friendship. So many of your collaborations artistically will come from the same certain network groupings of people anyway, so build and invest in your tribes. They'll hold you through the good, bad, and ugly of it all.

What projects are you currently working on?

Sarah Ellen StephensI just shot something for Paramount+ airing over the summer. I'm in development for an amazing television series, and this fall will be my one year anniversary as a teaching artist for the Roundabout Theatre Company. It's been a tough couple of years I think for us all, and I've been evolving, expanding and changing so much. I'm just really grateful. I've been working really hard, and it hasn't been easy, but at this moment I'm just really grateful and happy.

For more information, visit sarahellenstephens.com


CCM Alumni: Stay Connected

We want to connect with you! Update your contact info and let us know what’s new. Update your information with UC's Alumni Association and join us for upcoming alumni events.

Learn about 2023 UC Alumni Celebration Honorees, including Jim Semmelman (BFA Musical Theatre, '76). Read more.

Headshot of Ellen Stedtefeld

Ellen Stedtefeld

Alumni and Donor Experience Program Director, CCM and DAAP

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