September 27, 2023

Award-winning director and composer becomes Director of new strings ensemble

Members of the music department have advocated to add University Strings to Mount Mercy’s musical offerings for years. Thanks to a generous anonymous donation, this opportunity will be available to current and future musicians on campus.

As a result, Joshua Reznicow, an award-winning director and composer, has been selected as the new Director of Strings. Reznicow brings to the Hill his abundant expertise in composition, conducting, and teaching.

For over 25 years, he has worked locally in the Linn-Mar Community School District teaching middle and high school students. He has led their ensembles to multiple successes both at the state and regional level, earning several Division 1 ratings and twice being named a Grammy Signature Schools music program. Individually, he’s earned multiple awards, including being named the Classroom Teacher of the Year for the state of Iowa (2011), and a distinguished alumni award from his alma mater at the University of Northern Iowa.

Reznicow has had the opportunity to travel around the state and region, guest directing several honor orchestras involving both string and full orchestras while working with multiple age groups. He’s an active composer, writing for professional and young groups alike, including string orchestra, full orchestra, concert bands, film, and chamber ensembles. He has had multiple performances at the International Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, as well as being featured on J.W. Pepper’s “Editor Choice List.” He’s published by many of the major publishers within the United States, selling and distributing many of his compositions to classrooms both nationally and internationally.

“Adding a string program rounds out our music department and provides a comprehensive ensemble experience to current and future music students,” said Steve Stickney, Coordinator of Music Recruitment and Music Travel. “We will likely also gain some outstanding students who might have otherwise looked to another school to continue their involvement in orchestra along with their degree program. Now they can get both at Mount Mercy.”


“The ensemble will hopefully inspire the musical energies and talents within each member,” Reznicow said. “Non-music majors can continue playing their string instrument while exploring additional literature beyond their high school years.”

“For our majors, this ensemble could serve as their primary ensemble, helping them explore orchestral literature, advanced rehearsal procedures, and continue to focus on their string instrument within an orchestral setting,” he added.

As of now, University Strings is opening up recruitment to current students who participated in a high school orchestra program and are interested in joining.

 “This ensemble should grow in stature and maturity, giving everyone an opportunity to play different levels of literature,” Reznicow said. He also hopes that the strings ensemble will be able to collaborate with other ensembles, enhancing everyone’s musical experience.

“Such collaborations will not only offer other literature possibilities, but serve as a way to foster communication and department comradery within the musical context,” he said.

With Reznicow at the forefront in his new role, Stickney anticipates this growth, hoping it will become a larger ensemble comprising violins, violas, cellos, and string basses.

“Our hope is to transition to having ‘University Strings’ included in the course catalogue and offered for academic credit next year–similar to our other university ensembles,” Stickney explained.

 “The more our students can join forces to make music, the better they will feel about their performances, their Mount Mercy experience, and musical journey while at Mount Mercy,” Reznicow added.

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