Eleanor Núñez

Eleanor Núñez is a Spanish-American conductor, pianist, and educator currently based in Southern California. She had her international debut in August 2022 with the Orquesta Sinfónica de la Ciudad de Asunción in Asunción, Paraguay, where she conducted Piano Concerto No. 2 in f minor by F. Chopin with soloist Chiara D’Odorico as well as the debut of Symphony No. I by the prolific composer Daniel Luzko.

Eleanor programs unique concerts that bridge the gap between the audience and musicians on stage. Her belief that music should be accessible to all shines through her creative repertoire programming, enthusiastic rehearsals, and inviting concert environment. Musically, Eleanor loves exploring “the classics” and pairing them with new, modern works. Her conducting experience spans orchestral, wind ensemble, and choral repertoires since she enjoys working with musical groups of all disciplines and genres.

Eleanor graduated from California State University Fullerton with a Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting and a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance.

Carrie Kennedy

Carrie Kennedy has been a featured soloist with orchestras throughout the U.S. and has given recitals in 12 states. She is currently a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Master Chorale Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, and Pasadena Symphony. As a Baroque violinist, she is also a member of Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra. Pursuing her love for chamber music, Ms. Kennedy founded and continues to perform as the first violinist of the Fiato Quartet since 2008. In addition to the concert stage, Ms. Kennedy records music for television, motion pictures, and records on sound stages throughout Los Angeles. She has appeared with popular artists such as Pentatonix, Andrea Bocelli, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Sarah Bareilles, and Earth Wind and Fire. 

Ms. Kennedy holds a Masters degree in violin performance from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she studied with Pamela Frank and Ani Kavafian, and a BM from the University of Southern California with Robert Lipsett. During her studies, she won numerous awards including 1st place in the National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artists Competition with two years of concert engagements and 1st place in the American String Teachers Association Competition. She spent her summers studying at Tanglewood, and abroad in masterclasses with Herman Krebbers, Zakhar Bron, and Gyorgy Pauk. 

She is a member of the American String Teachers’ Association, the Suzuki Association of the Americas, and the Music Teachers Association of California, through which she offers the Certificate of Merit program. She has taken Suzuki teacher training with Sherry Cadow, Liz Arbus, Rick Mooney, Judy Offman, Peggy Ann Crow, Michele Higa George, Cathryn Lee and Charles Krigbaum. In addition to the Colburn School, Carrie teaches with the Pasadena Suzuki Music Program. 

Carrie lives in Altadena, CA with her husband and fellow violinist, Joel Pargman, and her adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Ginger Rogers. 

Colburn Students Win Awards in the YoungArts 2023 National Arts Competition

The Community School of Performing Arts and Music Academy are proud to announce the selection of our students in the YoungArts 2023 National Arts Competition. This year, fourteen Community School students and three Music Academy students have been selected for this prestigious honor. 

Every year thousands of performing, visual and literary artists age 15–18 apply to YoungArts through their national competition. Finalists attend National YoungArts Week to collaborate with peers and develop their crafts with internationally recognized leaders in their fields. Finalists in their senior year are further eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts—one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students. 

All award winners—including Finalist, Merit and Honorable Mention award levels—receive mentorship and financial awards; gain access to a lifetime of creative, professional development, and funding opportunities; and become part of an uplifting, inter-generational community that helps artists connect, create, and collaborate. 

Congratulations to both these students and their respective teachers on this outstanding achievement! 

Finalist 

Nikka Gershman-Pepper, Flute+
Cosmo Lieberman, Jazz Alto Saxophone* 

Honorable Mention 

Arlo Erwin, Jazz Composition*
Anaïs Feller, Violin+
Jack Lieberman, Jazz Alto Saxophone*
Joseph Mintz, Jazz Percussion*
William Schwartzman, Jazz Piano
Kuper Walker, Popular Voice* 

Merit 

Michael Blasi, Jazz Trombone*
Alexis Cai, Classical Flute*
Madeline Cheng, Classical Composition*
Joaquin Garde, Jazz Guitar*
Marvel Roth, Classical Composition*
Luciano Soriano, Jazz Composition and Jazz Trombone*
Stellan Swanlund, Jazz Piano*
Nathaniel Yue, Classical Cello*
Chunyi Zhou, Violin+ 

* Community School of Performing Arts student
+ Music Academy student 

 

Community School Spotlight: Lal Besir

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

How did you start singing?
I’ve been singing pretty much all of my life. When I was younger, I was really extroverted. I would sing in front of people and I would do concerts. I started taking voice lessons with Debbie Lewis when I was doing a lot of musical theater. I sang with 5-Star Theatricals, and I would do theater productions with them as well as perform in their kids’ program. I fell in love with performing; I was obsessed! I just continued doing it and I wanted to grow. I discovered classical opera when I started studying at the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts.

What music do you like to sing?
I love singing classical opera. I’ve kind of stopped with my musical theater singing, but classical music—I love arias. I perform masses with my choir each year during school. I love anything in a higher range, anything challenging.

Has there been a composer that’s found a place in your heart?
Bach, Schubert—I’m working on a piece by him—Bach’s Ave Maria is gorgeous too. And just for fun, Taylor Swift, a hundred percent.

You’ve sung in all kinds of groups; do you have a preference of singing in groups or alone?
I love the harmonizing of a choir. I love how that can sound and give you goosebumps. I think that’s amazing. But I love singing individually because I feel [that enables] you to improve your own technique and figure out what you enjoy. Singing is just really important to me.

Would you talk a little bit about how you came to Colburn?
I believe I started two years ago in 2020. Jim Walker is friends with my dad, who’s a musician and a composer. Jim is a flutist, and he teaches at Colburn and recommended that I begin this journey, and I’m really grateful for that.

How has your experience been here at Colburn?
It’s amazing. I have the best teachers, and from every lesson, I’m improving. I’ve joined the Colburn Concert Choir here too. The people are really nice—everyone sounds amazing and there’s so much talent surrounding me. I just want to keep growing with them.

Would you talk about what it’s like studying with each of your teachers?
Michael Stevens is my vocal teacher; I love him so much. I think he’s one of my favorite teachers just in general, including school, and he is just so diverse and knows so much. He’s so fun, and he  makes me want to keep improving. He’s just a really great teacher. I started studying music theory with Kathy Sawada in 2022, and it feels so good to get her satisfaction—I care about her opinion so much. I’m always wanting to impress her. She’s really sweet too. And then Adrian Dunn the Choral Director is just so fun! Everybody loves him and I love him. He is really upbeat, and he includes everybody. He treats his class like a college-level course. We can just speak out loud, and so it’s so interesting.

Is there anything you’re really looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to improving with my music theory, and singing-wise, improving my technique because my voice is changing. I really want to figure out my favorite genres, as well as what I enjoy singing to start building my repertoire a bit more. I definitely want to perform at the Friday Night Recitals.

What do you hope for your musical future?
I would really like to continue singing classical opera and continue improving my technique. I would like to continue studying [voice] in college, maybe Colburn, maybe Juilliard. And then I want to start entering competitions. I really want to begin doing more performances because that was hard to do at times during COVID. So this year I want to focus on performing. My dad and I were thinking about making something—recording covers of pieces, making an album—for college, but it would also just be for us.

The Herbert Zipper Scholars program offers highly motivated, deserving students the opportunity to engage in comprehensive music education at Colburn, one of the nation’s premier arts organizations. Herbert Zipper Scholars receive instruction in music theory, private lessons, and ensemble participation, among many other academic and performance opportunities. 

Student Accomplishments, June 2022

Community School, Esteban Lindo Benevides, string bass, received scholarship admission to Peabody Conservatory.

Community School, Kristina Brick, piano, received an honorable mention in category I of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers Romantic/Impressionistic Competition. She also was a Southern California Junior Bach Festival Region IV winner.

Conservatory, Isabella Brown, violin, received an honorable mention by the 2022 Yamaha Young Performing Artists program.

Community School, Ryan Chun, piano, Southern California Junior Bach Festival, medal winner.

Community School, Lillian Feng, piano, took first place in category II of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers Romantic/Impressionistic Competition. She also was a Southern California Junior Bach Festival Region IV winner.

Community School, Giovane Quartet (Andres Engleman, violin, Scarlett Chen, violin, Irene Choung, cello, and Yiting Han, piano), a part of the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute of the Community, competed in the Fischoff Competition.

Community School, Sophia Glicklich, piano, is a medal winner at the Southern California Junior Bach Festival and received the Music Teachers’ Association of California Certificate of Merit and earned state honors by passing advanced level.

Conservatory, Victor Díaz Guerra, clarinet, won Principal Clarinet of the Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid, Spain.

Community School, Elysia Han, viola, advanced to compete in the California American Strings Teachers Association state competition after securing the second position in the Bowed Strings Solo Competition Junior I level.

Community School, Elizabeth Johnstone, piano, winner of Southern California Junior Bach Festival regional competition.

Music Academy, Angeline Kiang, cello, won the Pinehurst Bronze Medal with a cash prize in the Stulberg International String Competition and will give a performance with the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra.

Community School, Trevor King, trumpet, was accepted with a scholarship to the Eastman School of Music. Also offered scholarships at New England Conservatory and Arizona State University.

Community School, Olivia Larco, piano, was accepted as a Lang Lang Scholar, a mentorship program for talented young pianists 16 and younger.

Community School, Skyler Lee, violin, was a finalist in the Henry Schwab Violin and Viola Competition.

Conservatory, Ángel Martín Mora, clarinet, is a 2022 Yamaha Young Performing Artists winner.

Conservatory, Gerbrich Meijer, clarinet, received the Buffet Special Prize at the Nielsen International Clarinet Competition.

Community School, Narayan Neti, piano, Music Teachers’ Association of California, certificate of merit, passed level 5 and awarded state honors.

Community School, Amanda Nova, piano, placed second in the Sonata Festival (Category IV), Music Teachers’ Association of California, Los Angeles Branch.

Community School, NTH Trio (Holly Lacey, violin, Nathaniel Yue, cello, and Qiao (Tiger) Zhang, piano) were semi-finalists in the Junior String Division of the Fischoff Competition. The NTH Trio part of the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute of the Community School.

Music Academy, The Olive Trio (Anaïs Feller, violin; Mira Kardan, cello; Daniel Wang, piano) takes the gold medal in the Junior String Division at the Fischoff Competition.

Conservatory, Max Opferkuch, clarinet, won second clarinet in the San Diego Symphony.

Community School, Leilani Patao, voice, received a scholarship Award from Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation for Musical Theater Performance and acceptance and scholarship to NYU-Tish where she will go to pursue musical theater performance and composition.

Community School, Lucas Peters, piano, took second place in category III of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers Romantic/Impressionistic Competition.

Community School, Aviv Pilipski, viola, advanced to compete in the California American Strings Teachers Association state competition after securing the first position in the Bowed Strings Solo Competition, Junior I level.

Community School, Emmanuel Ree, piano, placed second in the Sonata Festival (Category II), Music Teachers’ Association of California, Los Angeles Branch.

Conservatory, Arin Sarkissian, flute, won Principal Flute of the Victoria Symphony and won first place in the San Diego Flute Guild Young Artist Competition. Arin also is a 2022 Yamaha Young Performing Artists winner.

Conservatory, Sonarsix Sextet (Martha Chan, flute; Victor Díaz Guerra, clarinet; Eder Rivera Acosta, oboe; Christopher Chung, bassoon; Elizabeth Linares Montero, horn; Bogang Hwang, piano; received the bronze medal in the Senior Wind Division at the Fischoff Competition.

Community School, Kaito le Tenoux, piano, is a Southern California Junior Bach Festival region IV winner and took third place in the category II of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers Romantic/Impressionistic Competition.

Community School, Ashot Ter-Martirosyan, piano, is Grand (London) prize winner’s rectal at The Edgar’s Room at Albert’s Hall in London, England.

Conservatory, Chi Ting, flute, won third place in the San Diego Flute Guild Young Artist Competition.

Community School, Cassidy Walther, cello, took first place in the 9th/10th Grade Division Kiwanis String Competition.

Community School, GengJin Edward Wu, piano, won second prize in the California Association of Professional Music Teachers Sonata/Sonatina Competition.

Community School, Evan Xiong, piano, winner of Southern California Junior Bach Festival regional competition.

Community School, Iris Xiong, piano, Southern California Junior Bach Festival regional winner.

Community School, Gavin Yang, violin, winner of Southern California Junior Bach Festival for All Branch String Regional 2022.

Community School, Simon Yao, piano, won the Glendale Music Teachers’ Association of California Concerto Competition and will be performing with orchestra on Sunday, June 5.

Community School, Jayden Yeung, violin, Performed Bruch Concerto 3rd movement with Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra in Segerstrom Hall.

Community School, Echo Zhang, piano, took third prize at the California Association of Professional Music Teachers Concerto Competition South.

Community School, Tiger Zhang, piano, won the Glendale Music Teachers’ Association of California Concerto Competition and will be performing with orchestra on Sunday, June 5.

Community School, Iris Zhou, piano, Music Teachers’ Association of California, certificate of merit, passed level 4 and awarded state honors.

Community School, Isabella Zhou, violin, took first prize winner for Music Teachers’ Association of California, Glendale Branch Concerto Competition, and will be performing the Bach Concerto in A Minor with the orchestra on June 5. She is also the winner of the Southern California Junior Bach Festival for All Branch String Regional 2022.

Colburn Students Win Awards in the YoungArts 2022 National Arts Competition

The Community School of Performing Arts is proud to announce the selection of our students in the YoungArts 2022 National Arts Competition. This year, eleven Community School students and three Music Academy students have been selected for this prestigious honor.

Every year thousands of performing, visual and literary artists age 15-18 apply to YoungArts through their national competition. Finalists attend National YoungArts Week to collaborate with peers and develop their crafts with internationally recognized leaders in their fields. Finalists in their senior year are further eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts—one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

All award winners—including Finalist, Merit and Honorable Mention award levels—receive mentorship and financial awards; gain access to a lifetime of creative, professional development, and funding opportunities; and become part of an uplifting, inter-generational community that helps artists connect, create, and collaborate.

Congratulations to both these students and their respective teachers on this remarkable achievement!

Finalists

Evan Dexter, Jazz Trombone *
Fengyang Ju, Oboe +
Noah Jung, Clarinet +

Honorable Mention

Abigail Hong, Oboe *
Angeline Kiang, Cello +
Jack Lieberman, Jazz Alto Saxophone *
Duy Minh Max Nguyen, Jazz Percussion *
William Schwartzman, Jazz Piano *
Adam Zilberman, Jazz Baritone Saxophone *

Merit

Evan Dexter, Jazz Composition *
Brenda Greggio, Jazz Piano *
Apsara Kasiraman, Composition *
Cosmo Lieberman, Jazz Alto Saxophone *
Leilani Patao, Popular Voice & Singer-Songwriter *
William Schwartzman, Jazz Composition *
Luciano Soriano, Jazz Trombone *

* Community School of Performing Arts student
+ Music Academy student

Meet the New Director of Bands: Elizabeth Stoyanovich

The Community School is excited to welcome Elizabeth Stoyanovich to the Colburn community. With ensembles rehearsing and performing in-person once again, we recently spoke with Ms. Stoyanovich to discuss her musical family, her teaching philosophy, and her plans for the coming year.

This interview has been edited for style, content, and clarity.

What attracted you to Colburn?
As a musician, I knew of the reputation of the Colburn School for many years and admired it from afar. I have known many high school students who studied at the Community School and thought highly of their experiences performing and the teachers they had worked with. When I saw the advertisement for the Director of Bands position, I jumped at the opportunity to become “part of the team.”

Outside of the Community School you work with high school and college students as well as professional orchestras. How does your approach change as you work with ensembles at different levels?
My job as a “Maestra” (the Italian word for “female teacher”) is literally to teach, so my approach always begins by building a deep understanding of the repertoire so that I can interpret and then convey the composer’s wishes to the ensemble. With young students especially, I like to meet them where they are—be it technically or musically—and inspire them to go further.

Our bands are made up of students from all over southern California—how do you connect with students from so many backgrounds and experiences?
The draw of performing live music together solidifies our collective goal to work together. In my experience, the variety of cultural experiences that students bring to the ensemble only enhances our relationships. This semester, the bands are performing music from the Western repertoire—some standard, others newly composed. While the language of Western music may differ from that of other parts of the world, all music shares the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, structure, and instrumentation. Ultimately, it is the energy and passion that music excites in us that allows music to communicate with everyone.

Our students have been learning remotely for over a year now. How does it feel to be able to rehearse in-person again?
We are so excited to be back in person and making music together. The ability to listen to someone sitting in the same room as you—to check balance, intonation, phrasing, dynamics, articulation, notes, rhythm—these are all things that can’t be done over Zoom or spliced together in a video. We currently rehearse in a large tent that is set up on the plaza. This gives us the space to socially distance “outdoors” while still having the luxury of good acoustics, lighting, shielding from the wind and cold, and a standard band set-up. The Community School staff have been fantastic with keeping everything set up correctly, taking attendance, and helping out with coaching the students.

What are you most excited for in the coming school year? Any upcoming concerts that you’re looking forward to?
I am very grateful to be rehearsing and performing in person! Having spent the entirety of my life in music, spending the last 18 months in virtual rehearsals has been difficult. There really is no substitute for in-person music-making. We are currently rehearsing outside in a tent, but I am looking forward to using more of Colburn’s outstanding facilities for rehearsals and performances. Our Concert Band and Wind Ensemble are currently preparing for their first concert of the year, which will take place on Saturday, December 4, in Grand Park! We are covering a range of band repertoire, from standards like Dmitri Shostakovich’s Festive Overture to sea shanties and folk songs.

I am also looking forward to promoting the ensembles and watching them grow and develop musically. I have worked with so many young people in the past who have gone on to join world-renowned ensemble, become professors and teachers, and start families of their own. It’s always fun to meet and work with new musicians because I see it as expanding my “musical family” who I will cherish for a lifetime!

Your career has taken you around the world and put you in touch with incredible artists and teachers! What lessons from them do you carry with you in your work today?
I remember the first time I played under Leonard Bernstein as an oboist—we were playing Sibelius’s Second Symphony at Tanglewood. It was an incredible orchestra, and in those days, Tanglewood rehearsals took place in an old wooden shed. Bernstein walked in, and he was wearing a baby blue hoodie and sweatpants. He went on to conduct us using really unusual hand gestures that I hadn’t seen before, but when I watched his eyes and his expressions, I understood exactly what he was conveying musically and emotionally. Later, when I studied conducting under him at Fontainebleau in France, he said “…when you perform, if you’re not feeling nervous or excited, you won’t be able to focus that energy into the music.” I’ve always liked that because it shows that even at the highest levels of performing, you need passion and excitement. We are lucky because performing music is never a boring job; it takes emotional commitment and energy!

Anything else you would like to share with our community?
When I was a kid, I played in my local youth orchestra, the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony, and by the time I was a senior I had been playing first oboe for a couple of years. All of a sudden, the conductor randomly promoted a new member to first chair without an audition, just because he was a friend of the student’s father! I was furious, but I stayed in the group playing second, still loving the music. My friends saw how upset I was and told me that on Sundays they would drive to Ann Arbor to play in the Wind Ensemble there under Carl St. Clair (who later hired me as an Assistant Conductor of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra) and encouraged me to try out for that high school group. I took their advice, and not only was it a great time, it also helped me get a full scholarship to Interlochen Summer Arts Camp. This paved the way for my studies at the University of Michigan, where I received both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Oboe Performance and Conducting. Now I can look back and appreciate how being demoted to second oboe really set my musical life in motion. Some of the repertoire that the Bands are playing this semester brings back memories from my time in those youth orchestras and in the U of M Wind Ensemble. Like I said before, music is family to me!

Learn More

Learn more about the Band Program.

Interested in auditioning for the spring semester? Submit an inquiry today!

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Back at Last! Students Share Their Back to Campus Experiences

With fall semester in full swing, students and faculty are reacquainting themselves with face-to-face instruction and interaction with their friends and teachers. Live performing arts are back on campus, and we asked students from each unit to reflect on their experiences so far.

Kaela Seltzer
I’m most excited to play in the Tuesday night Big Band... I’m really grateful to have a spot in the band this year. Kaela Seltzer

Community School student Kaela Seltzer, flute and saxophone, is a senior at LA County High School for the Arts who is in her fourth year of attending Colburn.

What are you most excited about this fall semester?
I’m most excited to play in the Tuesday night Big Band. Earlier in high school I had the opportunity to sub in the Big Band a couple of times, and each time I left feeling so inspired and eager to practice my instruments. I’m really grateful to have a spot in the band this year.

How has your experience of being back on campus been?
It has been a really positive experience being able to play with musicians I don’t see often at school [LA County High School for the Arts]. The first rehearsal back in person felt very normal and everyone seemed excited to be back and playing together.

What is a specific or personal area of focus for you this semester?
This semester I’m focused on addressing gaps in my playing. For me this includes elements of saxophone technique that I’ve yet to dig into and addressing challenges I have when improvising. My hope is to have improved these areas by early December when college prescreen recordings are due.
 

Sam Portillo
I believe that having the dynamics, clarity, and delicacy in my movement will strengthen me a lot as a dancer. Samuel C. Portillo

Dance Academy student Samuel C. Portillo, ballet, is in his first year with Trudl Zipper Dance Institute.

What are you most excited about this fall semester?
For this fall semester, I am most excited about learning Jerome Robbins’s The Goldberg Variations. While we won’t perform it until spring semester, we will get to learn and practice sections of it throughout this fall semester. I can’t believe we get the opportunity to learn and perform such an amazing piece of work!

How has your experience of being back on campus been?
This semester is my first time on campus, and I have been having an excellent time so far! The campus has great places to hang out, and the Colburn Café provides great food as well. It is very welcoming, and I have enjoyed it a lot here.

What is a specific or personal area of focus for you this semester?
My main area of focus this semester is working on my artistry and musicality in my dancing. I believe that having the dynamics, clarity, and delicacy in my movement will strengthen me a lot as a dancer. I’ve already started working hard at it, and I’m excited to continue throughout this entire year as well!
 

Yirou Ronnie Zhang
Being able to communicate with music spontaneously with my friends and teachers is something that I had been dreaming about ever since March 2020. Yirou Ronnie Zhang

Yirou Ronnie Zhang, violin, is in her third year at the Music Academy, following three years with the Community School.

What are you most excited about this fall semester?
It is really hard to pick which event I am the most excited for since basically everything is so fresh after online learning. One thing that I am totally pumped about is being able to rehearse and perform chamber music with my peers. This also includes our string ensemble—Academy Virtuosi. Being able to communicate with music spontaneously with my friends and teachers is something that I had been dreaming about ever since March 2020.

How has your experience of being back on campus been?
My experience back on campus has never been better. Words cannot describe how delighted I am to be able to watch music-making in action, regardless of the instrument and player. I had also noticed that students, faculties, and staff of our entire school are strictly observing the COVID guidelines. They make me feel safe and secure when it comes to the risk of being exposed to the virus.

What is a specific or personal area of focus for you this semester?
I am a senior this year, so the primary focus would of course be working on my prescreening and live audition repertoire for college applications. Other tasks related to it, such as writing essays and filling out applications, are also priorities that I’d like to focus on. As always, balancing solo repertoire with chamber music, Virtuosi, and keyboard repertoire is definitely a challenge. I’m sure I’ll learn from these experiences as I manage to work through this school year.
 

John Fawcett
Being back at Colburn this year, I am experiencing an overwhelming appreciation for the spark of inspiration that my tremendously talented and hard-working peers bring me. John Fawcett

Conservatory of Music student John Fawcett, violin, is in his fourth year at Colburn.

What are you most excited about this fall semester?
An invaluable element that comes with being at Colburn is the impact that musical excellence—and constant exposure to it—has on your own playing. During the pandemic, I felt a bit deprived of this asset involving a high-level musical training. Although I was still able to work with my teachers and see/hear my colleagues over Zoom, there was some magic that was lost to the whole process away at home.

Being back at Colburn this year, I am experiencing an overwhelming appreciation for the spark of inspiration that my tremendously talented and hard-working peers bring me. It’s almost as if you don’t fully realize how much you have cultivated inside this truly exceptional institution until you leave and interact with others outside of Colburn—then you truly realize how special your education is.

Excellence promotes excellence within this community, and we are all here for each other to demonstrate what this means for each of us and to lift each other up to our highest individual potentials. I believe this may have been a factor provided by Colburn’s education that I may have taken for granted earlier on.

How has your experience of being back on campus been?
Although it can be difficult to admit at times, I think that significant adversity we deal with in our lives always has a counteracting benefit for our future. We learn from struggle and hardship. In many ways, I think returning to Colburn from the adversity of the pandemic quarantine from home embraces this idea. Colburn is a truly unique place which gives the aspiring performing artist the tools needed to have a successful and meaningful career path. However, there are individual struggles that we all face, and inhibit us from following our own track that we intend for ourselves.

During the pandemic, I feel that I was able to discover many things about myself that helped me to build my character and potential to a higher reflection of the person I want to be… and as introspective as I might sound saying this right now, I really think that this time of reflection has helped me to make more use with what Colburn has to offer me than ever before! All that said, it seems to me that my experience on campus has been terrific, full of promise and opportunity, fun, and a positive reflection of any growth I may have attained from adversity I faced during the worst of the pandemic. I’m sure that many of us can share this sentiment.

What is a specific or personal area of focus for you this semester?
This is honestly not a straightforward question. During the past year, I have had so many creative manifestations of what I would like to see myself doing, especially with the extra time that I had to think and plan ahead last year in particular. The great thing about being a musician is that the avenues which I can see myself aspiring toward are almost never-ending. There are so many ways in which I find I might be able to express my passion for musical art. At heart, I am a violinist and in love with the violin’s sound. But I almost equally love the piano, or playing in an orchestra. I also love to write music, and was fortunate enough to record my piece, “Waltz-Fantasy on a Theme of Chopin,” recently.

Speaking of orchestra, I have an immense guilty pleasure for orchestral scores and figuring out how a large ensemble fits together—it’s just like architecture, except it’s aural and not visual! I would love to be a conductor someday; I feel that this job would be an ultimate void in fulfilling my goal to be a true servant of the music. In short, there are SO many things I want to do. For now, I am continuing to focus on my greatest passion, being the violin, and seeing what different directions that could take me (i.e. writing music for violin, meeting composers and conductors or gaining orchestral/other performance experience).

Community School Spotlight: Celine Chen

This interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity.

How long have you been playing the flute and how did you get started?
I started when I was nine, so, that’s eight years. I wanted to play violin at first, but the junior high I was going into didn’t have an orchestra, and I wanted to be part of the music program. It only offered band, so that’s why I chose flute instead of violin.

How did that decision turn out for you? What did you learn about the flute?
I have actually played the piano since I was four, and I think picking up a woodwind instrument was first of all, very different, because I had never really had to think about breathing before. Now that I play a woodwind instrument, I have to think about where exactly I should take a breath. I thought a lot more about the phrasing, because it would matter where I took the breath since it would chop off the music if I took it in the wrong spot. Because of this, I transferred my “music-phrasing analyzing” skills to the piano, and in this way, I was able to grow a lot as a musician.

I also learned a lot about tone because with the piano, if you put your finger on it, it already makes a beautiful sound. But then the flute, the first time I tried playing it, I couldn’t even make a sound. So for the first couple months, all I worked on was my tone; while in my piano lesson, I would already be playing short pieces. Thus, because of the flute, I focused a lot more on my sound and that helped me become more sensitive overall, whether that be playing the flute or the piano.

Do you still play the piano?
Yes.

What’s it like balancing the two?
It’s really hard. It used to be a lot easier before high school, but now that I’m in high school and I’m a senior, I’m taking a lot of hard classes. So it’s hard to balance the time, but I do try to balance it out as best as I can.

What are some of the differences you’ve noticed?
I’m not able to practice the flute as much as the piano because I physically get tired. After a couple of hours, for example, my embouchure starts getting worse because of fatigue. So compared to piano, the amount of time I practice has changed.

Also, the types of exercises I do to warm up have been very different. They’ve been more focused on tone and vibrato, as I’ve hinted at before.

How are you feeling about being back on campus at Colburn?
I’m excited to come back. I haven’t been able to do chamber and orchestra this past year, so I’m really excited to be back in person.

How were the virtual classes you took last year?
I took private lessons last year, and it was really hard, honestly. I think it’s a lot easier with piano. I also have to take virtual lessons for piano, and with woodwind the sound is a lot different. For example, the vibrato sometimes makes the sound cut out completely or the high notes aren’t even picked up. So, that makes it really hard. But I think my teacher made the best out of the situation, and I was still able to learn a lot and grow a lot.

What kinds of things did you learn during that time that you’ll continue to work on?
I practiced a lot for vibrato, and it was really weird practicing vibrato because I never had to do it for piano. I think it really helped my tone for the flute. And I really liked my sound after I did those exercises over and over again. So I think I’ll definitely be continuing those exercises in the future.

How has your time at Colburn been overall?
Colburn has been really great. Before I joined Colburn, I was just with a small music school and there weren’t a lot of performances. I love connecting with the audience, and I love performing. So Colburn really allowed me to foster my passion for performing even more. It was great with all the Friday Night Recitals, the School Recitals, and the Honors Recitals, too.

What were some of your favorite performances?
I only got to do Colburn [Youth] Orchestra for one year. So I think there was only one concert before the pandemic hit. That one will always be a really vivid memory for me. Also because I had the Honors Recital on the same day, so I had two big concerts in one day. It was really jam packed, but it worked out. We performed the Nielsen Flute Concerto with another flutist as the soloist, and I think Beethoven. And for the Honors Recital, I performed Eldin Burton’s Sonatina for Flute and Piano.

You’re in both chamber and orchestra. Do you prefer one over the other?
I think they both have their own perks. I really love both. I can’t really choose. I think orchestra is a little bit harder because you have to listen to so many other instruments.

With chamber, I’m in a woodwind quintet this year, so it’s just woodwinds. And I know the other instruments better because they’re part of the woodwind family. So I’d say orchestra is a little bit harder, but I do love being a part of both.

What do you hope to do with your music in the future?
I definitely plan on continuing to play flute, continuing to play in orchestra and chamber music. It’s been a big part of my life, and with how much it’s impacted me, I don’t think I’ll be able to just quit and not play anymore. So I think I’ll definitely carry it on as I transition to college.

How has music impacted you?
It definitely gave me a community to be in, because I grew up in Indonesia and then moved here. When I was in the US, I had a little bit of a hard time fitting in because I couldn’t exactly speak English. But then being part of band really helped me to make friends, for example, because I was really shy. But yeah, it gave me a community that I could be a part of and that I could be proud of too.

Student Accomplishments, September 2021

Emma Lee (cello, MM ’23), Jonathan Wisner (percussion, PSC ‘23), Cristina Cutts Dougherty (tuba, BM ’19), Javier Morales-Martinez (Community School ’18) were 2021 London Symphony Orchestra Keston MAX Winners at Music Academy of the West. They will have the opportunity to perform with the the opportunity to perform with the London Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Sir Simon Rattle in 2022.

Conservatory violinist Fiona Shea (BM ’22) won the 2022 Dorothy DeLay Fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival and School. She also soloed with the Pacific Symphony in August 2021, performing Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1.

Community School pianist Lillian Feng was selected as a recipient of the 2021 Chopin Foundation Scholarship.

Music Academy pianist Daniel Wang (’23) was selected as a recipient of the 2021 Chopin Foundation Scholarship.

DeVonte’ Tasker (Dance Academy ‘18) will join the faculty of Ballet Arts Tucson, the official school of Ballet Tucson, to teach Modern, Theater Dance, and Hip Hop/Jazz Funk.

Conservatory harpist Anya Garipoli (AD ’23) was appointed Principal Harpist with the Venice Symphony in Venice, Florida.

Music Academy pianist Lindsey Yang (’24) was a finalist in 2021 Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition.

Devan Jaquez (Conservatory ’19) has been named Principal Flute of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

Isabella Bertagni (Dance Academy ’21) has been accepted into the Professional Division of the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Justin Cummings (Conservatory ’18) has been named Principal Bassoon of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

Conservatory cellist Benett Tsai (BM ’24) was a semi-finalist for 2021 ABC’s Young Performers Award, one of Australia’s most prestigious awards for young classical musicians.

As a first prize winner of the International Music Competition “Grand Prize Virtuoso,” Music Academy flutist Nikka Gershman-Pepper (’26) performed in the historic Beethoven House in Bonn. Nikka also performed a solo concert with the LA Jewish Symphony and won first prize of Rising Stars Grand Prix 2021 – International Music Competition Berlin.

PBS SoCal and KCET will broadcast The Music Center’s Spotlight Virtual Grand Finale featuring Grand Prize Finalist and Music Academy student William Ju (oboe, ’22).

Modern dancer Tess McCharen (TZDI ’17) signed a contract with the Limon2 dance company.

Community School cellist Nathaniel Yue received first prize in the Young Artist Category of the Chicago International Music Competition.

Abigail Ullendorff (Dance Academy ’18) has been appointed the President of the student-run ballet company at Duke University, Devils en Pointe.

Music Academy clarinetist Noah Jung (clarinet, ’22) performed in Carnegie Hall with the National Youth Orchestra.