SMU Alumni Join Faculty as Artists in Residence

Artists in Residence program welcomes two Meadows alumni in short-term faculty roles, giving students the unique opportunity to learn from professional artists who have been in their shoes.

Michelle Merrill ’06, ’12 and Andrey Ponochevny ’09

Meadows’ Artists in Residence program provides a unique opportunity for students to learn from professional artists who join the school in a short-term faculty role. This academic year, two of these artists are entering their positions with an established special connection to the school. Michelle Merrill ’06, ’12 and Andrey Ponochevny ’09 are alumni of Meadows and will be taking over positions of former faculty members who taught them as students at SMU.

Merrill, who will be serving as conductor of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra, previously served as a guest conductor for a week while Dr. Paul Phillips was on sabbatical. When he made the decision to retire, Dean Holland reached out to Merrill to get her on board as a visiting artist.

“In addition to being one of professor emeritus Paul Phillip’s most accomplished conducting alumni, our current students were enamored with Michelle Merrill when she came to campus as a guest conductor last year,” said Samuel S. Holland, the Algur H. Meadows Dean of the Meadows School of the Arts.

“Meadows has always held its large ensembles to the highest standard, so here I learned how to be a professional musician,” said Merrill. “I also learned the power of inspiration, which I feel is one of the most important jobs as a conductor in order to bring everyone together as a cohesive whole, and I hope my students will be inspired as well.”

Ponochevny, who will be serving as piano faculty, has stayed closely connected to Meadows since he received his Artist Certificate in 2009.

“Andrey Ponochevny is one of Joaquin Achucarro’s most distinguished former students,” said Holland, “having won many prestigious awards including the bronze medal at the 2002 International Tchaikovsky Competition.”

A resident of the Dallas area, Ponochevny has been a guest recitalist at Meadows, as well as serving on the faculty of the SMU Summer Institute for Young Pianists. Meanwhile, the Yamaha Artist remains active as a performer, teacher and adjudicator internationally. 

“I received a phone call from the Meadows' Chair of Piano study, Dr. Carol Leone, who informed me about the possibility of teaching as an interim Artist in Residence during the upcoming academic year and I immediately agreed without hesitation,” explained Ponochevny. “It is an honor and great responsibility to join the faculty of Meadows School of Music.”