search button
newscenter logo
Thursday, December 7, 2023

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

Michael Walk (second from left) was one of four award recipients. Michael Walk (second from left) was one of four award recipients.

Music and Dance Honors Students

Awards included Alumni of the Year and Alumni to Watch.

The annual Honors Convocation from SDSU’s School of Music and Dance was held Sunday, May 15 in the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.

The event recognized Alumni of the Year, which is determined by individuals who meet the criteria of “…alumni whose accomplishments reflect individual distinction in the profession and a record of service and/or leadership in the arts.”

Alumni to Watch honors were also given to students who have won awards, prizes and scholarships in their field of study during the 2010-11 academic year. The honors are based on “…alums who have a growing record of professional accomplishment in their field indicating clear promise for future contribution in the arts.”

This year’s honorees

The following four people were recognized at the convocation:

  • Michael Walk – Alumni of the Year, Music
  • Tamara Saari – Alumni of the Year, Dance
  • Michael Couper – Alumni to Watch, Music
  • Erica Buechner – Alumni to Watch, Dance

About the Alumni of the Year honorees

Walk earned his Bachelor of Music degree in music performance in 1989 and was the Outstanding Graduate in Music that year. He currently performs in the trumpet section of the St. Louis Symphony, and served as second trumpet in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra for more than a decade.

Walk is also a former member of the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, as well as the former principal trumpet of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tucson Pops Orchestra.

“I am thankful for the background SDSU provided me and the opportunities to explore and discover what I wanted and needed,” he said. “I am especially thankful for those faculty who upheld the highest standards, who pushed for continued striving, and wouldn’t accept ‘good enough’ if I could do better.”

Saari earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in dance in 2004 and is the founder of Tamara Saari Dance in New York City, where she is currently teaching and showing her own choreography.

Saari, who was awarded Outstanding Graduate of the Year in 2004, has worked with various artists across the country, including Allyson Green Dance, Inclusion, Patricia Sandback and Dancers, San Diego Alumni Dance Group, Beth Soll and Dancers, Kathryn Wilkening and WNZ Showtime.

“When I got accepted by San Diego State University, my professors encouraged me by saying ‘…yes you can dance and we are going to support you’,” she said. “They provided the tools I needed to succeed as a performer, choreographer, producer and educator.

“I am forever grateful to them and the university for their confidence in me.”

About the School of Music and Dance

SDSU’s School of Music and Dance was created in 1993, when the music and dance departments merged. Currently, the school offers B.M., B.A., M.A. and M.M. degrees in music, and B.A. and B.F.A. degrees in modern dance.

The curriculum includes specialized educational instruction, experiences and career development by creating an artistic environment based on the unique strengths and knowledge of the school's accomplished faculty.

For more information about the school, call 619-594-6031, or send an email to