Alumni Connections
Symphonies in Seattle: Joe Jaxson (‘22)

Joe JaxsonAn accomplished composer and alum of James Madison University, Joe Jaxson (Bachelor of Music in Composition '22) is pursuing a master's degree in composition at the University of Texas at Austin. Jaxson’s creative endeavors span a variety of mediums, from orchestral compositions to concert band arrangements. His portfolio reflects a rich diversity of genres and styles, often underscored by themes of worldbuilding that infuse depth and a connection with the audience into his works.

During his time at JMU, Jaxson was a founding member and president of the Composition Club, and with fellow JMU alumni, he established the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Music.

Jaxson emphasizes the importance of living in the present moment and embracing unexpected opportunities. Immersed in a vibrant musical scene, he prioritizes networking and learning from esteemed mentors such as professors Omar Thomas and Donald Grantham. Particularly, Thomas has played a significant role in Jaxson’s artistic development, encouraging him to draw inspiration from personal experiences and infuse his compositions with genuine emotion.

Recently, Jaxson unveiled his latest work, Through the Bay, inspired by his transformative trip to Seattle in the summer of 2022. Captivated by his first ferry boat ride, Jaxson found himself entranced by the city's beauty and narrative potential, inspiring him to infuse his work with the sense of wonder and curiosity he experienced. Next year, he will be presenting a commission with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra.

Art History in Williamsburg: Katie McKinney (‘11)

Katie McKinneyKatie McKinney (B.A. art history '11) received a master’s degree from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware in 2015. Her research has been published in the Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts and the American Philosophical Society, and she has held positions with Monticello and Sotheby’s, and she has participated in a variety of enriching programs, such as the Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship, The Classical Institute of the South’s Summer Field Study, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts Summer Institute, and the Attingham Summer School. 

Currently, McKinney is the Margaret Beck Pritchard Associate Curator of Maps and Prints at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, overseeing the museum’s print, map and natural history collections. 

Passion and Performance: Marion Grey (‘17)

Marion GreyA dynamic alum making waves in the world of film and theater, Marion Grey (B.A. theatre '17) followed graduation by touring with the esteemed National Players Tour 67, showcasing her wide range of skills in productions such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, and A Tale of Two Cities. She earned a master's degree from The Julliard School in 2023, performing in productions of Troilus and Cressida, How to Catch Creation, Bulrusher, and Hamlet..

With a vision to inspire and provoke thought, Grey infuses her art with themes from her own identity, encouraging audiences to contemplate the importance of self-discovery and human connection. Grey’s talent extends beyond acting; she's a multi-faceted artist, having taken on roles as creator, director, composer, and video/sound editor for her project, Black Women and Love. She recently released her EP, Strings of My Heart (available on all major streaming platforms), which combines original music with poignant poetry.

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