Grammy-Nominated Professor

Baylor Associate Professor of Choral Music Brian A. Schmidt and the professional choir he founded are receiving critical acclaim—and Grammy Award nominations—for their efforts to give voice to the music of a long-unknown Holocaust victim.

“Marcel Tyberg is somebody the world needs to know about, and we are honored to play a part in preserving and honoring Marcel Tyberg’s legacy,” Schmidt said. 

Born in 1893 in Vienna, Austria, Marcel Tyberg (pronounced “TEE-burg”) composed symphonies, choral music, piano sonatas, chamber pieces and other works in the neo-Romantic style. Though a practicing Catholic with only one-sixteenth Jewish heritage, he was arrested by the Nazi Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz death camp, where he died in 1944 at age 51. 

Days before his arrest, Tyberg assembled a group of his friends in a local church where they performed some of the composer’s works. He then entrusted his manuscripts to a physician friend, Milan Mihich who later passed the music to his son Enrico. 

Before Enrico Mihich died in 2016, he sought ways to bring Tyberg’s work to light. Over the last five to 10 years, some of Tyberg’s orchestral, chamber and piano works have gained a following, but his sacred compositions—two Catholic masses—remained unexplored until a colleague brought them to Schmidt’s attention. 

In 2009, Schmidt founded Sioux Falls-based South Dakota Chorale as a professional chorus. The Chorale recorded the album under Schmidt’s direction in January 2016 at the First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. The recording was released later that year. 

Schmidt studied choral music at South Dakota State University before earning his master’s and doctorate of music arts in choral conducting at the University of North Texas. At Baylor’s School of Music, he serves as conductor of the A Cappella Choir and Chamber Singers and teaches the graduate choral conducting and literature courses and guides graduate conducting recitals. 

In addition to Schmidt’s and the South Dakota Chorale’s Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance, the Tyberg: Masses album was nominated in the Best Engineered Album–Classical (with Boston-based Sound Mirror), Best Surround Sound Album and Producer of the Year–Classical categories. 

Although the album didn’t win the Grammy, Schmidt is grateful for the recognition and the privilege of bringing Tyberg’s work to the world. 

Mission Waco Honors Six Students and Two Campus Organizations

Mission Waco’s volunteers of the year included six Baylor students and two campus organizations, recognized as Servant Leaders during the Christian nonprofit’s annual banquet in February. 

The Baylor students and organizations honored with awards are: 

  • Emily Neyland, senior Business Fellows major from Houston 
  • Amy Adams, senior Business Fellows major from Southlake, Texas 
  • Lilla Dorvee, senior anthropology major from Roswell, Georgia 
  • Ellen Coulter, senior mechanical engineering major from Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas 
  • Maya Fontenot, senior sociology major from Houston 
  • Bailey Payne, senior communication sciences and disorders major from Victoria, Texas 
  • Baylor Alpha Phi Omega (APO) 
  • Baylor Campus Kitchen 

Jimmy Dorrell, BA ’72, MES ’93, president and founder of Mission Waco, said it was important to honor these students and organizations because of the hard work they put in and transformation that takes place in the students as well as the people of Mission Waco. 

“Having been around the campus and community a long time, I appreciate the incredible gift of Baylor students who come to serve in Waco. At Mission Waco, we have had hundreds, even thousands, of students who invest in our lower-income children, youth, homeless, unemployed, addicted and others who struggle with time and deep compassion,” Dorrell said. “Not only are our participants impacted, but I watch God change the lives of students and begin to genuinely struggle with the issues of poverty, social injustice and how the poor and marginalized can be empowered.

“There are always a few students who rise to the top each year. They give incredible numbers of hours, as well as make our participants a priority in their weeks. Those are the ones we honored at the banquet.” 

Mission Waco started with the initiative to provide Christian-based, holistic, relationship-based programs that empower the poor and marginalized, mobilize middle-class Americans to become more compassionately involved among the poor and seek ways to overcome the systemic issues of social injustice which oppress the poor and marginalized. The organization offers programs for families and adults, youth and children. 

UCLA prof recipient of Baylor’s Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching

Neil K. Garg, professor of chemistry at the University of California at Los Angeles, is the 2018 recipient of the Baylor’s Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, the only national award presented by a college or university recognizing instruction in higher education.

As the 2018 Cherry Award recipient, the innovative instructor receives a $250,000 award. Garg’s academic home, UCLA’s chemistry and biochemistry department, receives an additional $25,000. He is expected to teach in residence at Baylor during the spring 2019 semester.

Along with a record of distinguished scholarship, individuals nominated for the Cherry Award have proven themselves as extraordinary teachers with positive, inspiring and long-lasting effects on students. 

The award program is designed to honor great teachers, stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching and encourage departments and institutions to recognize their own great teachers.

 To hear Garg’s October 2017 finalist lecture, How Organic Chemistry Became One of UCLA’s Most Popular Classes, visit