Conservatory Student Sam Glicklich Performs at the Festival Musique et Vin au Clos Vougeot

It’s hard to imagine more idyllic settings for live performance than the stunning wineries, abbey, and historic chapel that were home to this year’s Festival Musique et Vin au Clos Vougeot, held every summer in Burgundy, France. Helmed by Colburn’s Artist-in-Residence Jean-Yves Thibaudet and festival Co-Artistic Director Gautier Capuçon, this weeklong festival boasts international stars and the very best wine that Burgundy has to offer. Each evening, guests enjoy a wine tasting featuring upwards of 20 different regional labels, with the winemakers themselves often pouring. Then on to a concert, perhaps in a sprawling garden or cobblestone courtyard, featuring superstars from around the world. The evening concludes with a truly spectacular dinner prepared by some of the world’s finest chefs, and, of course, more wine. It’s a special festival, to be sure.

This year, it was made even more special by Colburn Conservatory student Sam Glicklich who was the Festival’s Young Talent scholarship recipient, and invited guest artist. Sam performed on three programs throughout the week as a soloist, as well as with Gautier Capuçon and with two vocalists. His performances were simply outstanding, met with immense appreciation from the sophisticated audience. The proverbial cherry on top of this incredible week for Sam was turning 22 and hearing 200 people sing Happy Birthday to him in the expansive dining room of the Château du Clos de Vougeot. Even he admits, it will be very hard to top that celebration or the entire experience.

Everyone has been so incredible and so generous with their time and their talents. It’s a completely unique community, and you can tell how much people love and care about this Festival. It’s really magical to be a part of it. I feel so honored just to be here! Conservatory student Sam Glicklich

Sam is a student of Fabio Bidini and is mentored by Jean-Yves Thibaudet as Colburn’s Artist-in-Residence. Now in its fourteenth year, the Festival has welcomed leading artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Menahem Pressler, Lisa Batiashvilli, and many others. The prestigious Young Talent scholarship is awarded to college-age students studying music and is generously supported by individual donors and the annual wine auction held after the closing concert of each Festival. Colburn is immensely grateful to Jean-Yves Thibaudet for his tireless advocacy for our students and for his personal commitment to their artistic development.

Congratulations to Sam on a memorable, remarkable, and thrilling week.

Colburn School Appoints Acclaimed Violist Tatjana Masurenko to Faculty

The Colburn School is pleased to announce that Tatjana Masurenko, one of today’s foremost violists and pedagogues, will join the Colburn School faculty, beginning July 2022. Masurenko will teach viola and coach chamber music in the Colburn School’s renowned full scholarship diploma- and degree-granting Conservatory of Music as well as its Music Academy for gifted pre-college musicians.

The Conservatory of Music and Music Academy are among the most important and selective global performance training programs for classical musicians. Graduates pursue careers at the highest levels of accomplishment as soloists, chamber musicians, orchestral musicians, conductors, and teachers. The small program size and unique resident faculty model create a tailored educational experience, allowing each student to reach their fullest potential.

“Teaching excellence has been a hallmark of the Colburn School since our founding.” stated Colburn School President and CEO, Sel Kardan. “Following an extensive international search, we are delighted to have Tatjana Masurenko, one of the world’s greatest violists, join our artist faculty of virtuoso performers and pedagogues.”

Conservatory Dean Lee Cioppa added: “It is a tremendous pleasure to welcome Tatjana Masurenko to the Colburn School. She models extraordinary artistry as a soloist and chamber musician, as well as a dedication to teaching and fostering future generations of transformative artists. Her presence on the faculty will enrich not just her students, but the entire Colburn School community.”

“To join the Colburn School is to be a part of a passionate and nurturing community,” says Masurenko. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity. I cannot wait to work with the school’s exceptional students and collaborate alongside the school’s esteemed faculty.”

Tatjana Masurenko is one of the leading viola players of our time. Her distinctive style is shaped by her expressive playing and her thorough and intensive musical studies. Dedicated to promoting young musicians, she has been professor of viola at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” Leipzig since 2002, and in the same position at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne in Sion, Switzerland, since 2019. She gives master classes in Europe and America and is artistic director of the International Viola Camp in Iznik (Turkey).

Masurenko grew up in a family of Russian academics and jazz musicians. Her musical path began in St. Petersburg where she was able to benefit from the traditional St Petersburg school with the best teachers of her time. She continued her musical studies in Germany with Kim Kashkashian and Nobuko Imai. Her search for new forms of expression on the viola and new techniques and tonal concepts were encouraged and influenced by encounters with figures including Boris Pergamenschikow, György Kurtág, Brigitte Fassbaender and Herbert Blomstedt.

For some years now, Tatjana Masurenko’s major objective in her musical career has been the further development of the viola as a solo instrument which also explains her commitment to contemporary music. She has given numerous first performances of new compositions, many of which are dedicated to her and originated on her initiative. She has worked with composers such as the recently deceased Gladys Krenek, Moritz von Gagern, Dimitri Terzakis, Wolfgang Rihm, Hans-Christian Bartel, Luca Lombardi and Nejat Başeğmezler. She is also intensively dedicated to historical performance practice and especially to 19th century playing and the romantic repertoire.

Many of Masurenko’s students have built successful careers and travel the world as soloists, professors, principal violists in major orchestras and as chamber musicians.

Her teaching style is built on the St. Petersburg tradition of the 19th/early 20th century and merges with the new ideas and sensibilities of the 20th/21st century, especially in the interpretation of Baroque and Classical music.

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.

Tap Fest Guest Artists and Curators Share Their Love of Tap

Colburn celebrates the dance genre of tap at Tap Fest this weekend when guest artists Sam Weber, Joseph Wiggan, and Josette Wiggan take the stage in a curated performance by Colburn faculty, Johnnie Hobbs III and Denise Scheerer. Tap students and enthusiasts are also invited to attend five master classes being held on Sunday, March 6.

Colburn loves tap, and we asked our Tap Fest performers to share their own reasons for why the genre of tap is so special to them.

Sam Weber
Tap dance was my first dance experience and, at the same time, my first experience of making music, because tap is both a dance and a musical form. I started when I was three and felt totally committed to tap dance by the time I was five! I’ve done other kinds of dance, theater dance and ballet, to name just two, and my connection to every form was primarily musical. For that reason, tap has always felt the most natural to me; it’s “home.” Sam Weber, Tap Fest Guest Artist
Joseph Wiggan
Tap dance is special to me because it is an oral tradition rooted in African culture. Tap dance is 100% dance and 100% music at all times. Joseph Wiggan, Tap Fest Guest Artist
Josette Wiggan-Freund
The fact that tap dance today is a continuum of a legacy that inspires both the partaker and the onlooker alike. That the levity and weight of its history carve out space for true freedom and escape. That it breaks all barriers, connects and heals, and through transcendence, is the sum total of joy at its highest level. Josette Wiggan, Tap Fest Guest Artist
Johnnie Hobbs III
What is special about the tap dance form to me is its unconditional love for anybody that puts on its shoes and explores its history with genuine curiosity. Tap dance demands respect for its part in American dance culture. In turn, it will show you the world. Johnnie Hobbs III, Tap Fest Co-Curator, Colburn Faculty–Tap Dance Instructor
Denise Scheerer headshot
Tap dance is a unique art form that combines music and dance. Excellent tap dancers can not only play their rhythms accurately, but present the dance visually. The dancer becomes the musician. Denise Scheerer, Tap Fest Co-Curator, Colburn Faculty–Chair, Tap and Musical Theater

Winter Countdown 2021: Students Share Fall Reflections

As part of our Winter Countdown 2021 series, we reached out to some of our students to reflect on their semester experiences and hopes for the spring semester.

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

As the fall semester comes to a close, would you reflect back on the past few months and share a particular memorable moment or personal triumph?
This semester here at Colburn has been an amazing experience. I felt like I have grown a lot as a person and a dancer while I have been here, and I have had many good memories made so far. A particularly memorable moment for me this semester was when the Dance Academy went to see Alonzo King LINES Ballet at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The performance was breathtaking, and a performance that I will always remember.

What are you looking forward to in the spring semester?
I am personally looking forward to performing Jerome Robbins’ The Goldberg Variations in the spring semester. I can’t wait for the opportunity to perform a piece such as this!

How are you spending your winter break?
Over winter break, I will be going back home to Colorado to spend Christmas and the New Year with my family and friends that live there. I will be resting, watching movies, and getting my wisdom teeth removed, haha!

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

As the fall semester comes to a close, would you reflect back on the past few months and share a particular memorable moment or personal triumph?
This past semester was even crazier than I thought. While balancing my practicing, recordings, college essays, and academic school work, the unique pandemic precautions atmosphere was also something that had always been hanging over my head. I am beyond grateful, of course, that we can safely return to in person studies. Without face-to-face interactions with my peers and teachers, I would not have the strength to cope through these challenges.

Over the past semester, my biggest accomplishment would be completing my college applications. Many friends of mine had also undergone this process, and I am extremely proud of every one of us. For myself, though, I wished I could do better for my prescreening videos. I could have been more persistent with goals that I set for myself and also have more fun with the music itself.

What are you looking forward to in the spring semester?
In the spring semester, I look forward to the new round of challenges that comes with live auditions. Preparing repertoire for that will be even more difficult because of the nature of live performances and exhaustion from traveling. I am sure, however, that things I have learned about my repertoire as well as myself during this past semester will be a great help in this process. I will also treasure with my heart the support and advice from all my teachers.

Another event I am excited for is the senior concert. I hope I will have a chance to perform then, because it would be significant for me as a violinist and as a person. That performance would mark the end of my high school experience and help me dive into more challenges in the upcoming school year.

How are you spending your winter break?
For winter break, I will stay in the Los Angeles area with my parents. I will enjoy time alone with myself and my family. I will have to keep working on my live audition repertoire so that they are prepared enough for recordings and performances once the spring semester starts. During these three weeks, I will sure miss Colburn—my friends, teachers, classes, and the campus. I will be grateful for all the time I spend at home, while at the same time be very excited for the new semester!

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

As the fall semester comes to a close, would you reflect back on the past few months and share a particular memorable moment or personal triumph?
In October, I was extremely happy to be hired as Concertmaster for a new promising orchestra here in Los Angeles, called the “California Young Artists Symphony.” It’s not the LA Phil, but through the organization, in which we have just had our inaugural concert, I have met so many more wonderful people and musicians from the larger artistic community in Los Angeles. It has helped me form a more accurate picture of what the music scene looks like here and how our art is best used to contribute to the community in creating an organization like this. I look forward to several more concerts with this community, and to see it grow in what is likely to be a beautiful addition to the arts in classical music here in Los Angeles and beyond.

Aside from this opportunity I have been given, I have finished with applications to study within masters programs throughout the United States. The process of recording, applying, and reaching out to teachers, etc.… took certainly a lot of preparation, and I feel that I was able to grow significantly as a player. I feel generally happy with how I am sounding, as perhaps I am getting closer to my own conceptualization of how I would like to sound on my instrument. I have a whole world of thanks to give to my teacher here [at Colburn], Robert Lipsett, for challenging me to be at my best so that I may accomplish these goals in my playing.

What are you looking forward to in the spring semester?
One of the best things that I can do for my own future is to put a lot of time and effort into my own craft as a violinist, and I certainly intend to work a lot in this regard so that I can reach my potential as a violinist. I would also like to start thinking about my future career; I plan to apply for the Concert Artists Guild, in which the final recipients receive Concert Management. As I would certainly be incredibly honored to receive an award, my goal is simply to add to my experiences in whatever way possible. Tying into career building and professional studies, I am much looking forward to giving recitals here at the Colburn School, as is required for students throughout their time studying. I have been thinking about my program and am certainly motivated not only to share what I have to say through my music in this regard next semester, but also to come up with an engaging program for everyone that displays a wide variety of musical ideas.

How are you spending your winter break?
This break, I will be going back home to Central Oregon to spend time with my family, my two rambunctious dogs (they need exercise!!), and friends that I have not seen in too long. I will also be heading to New York with several wonderful colleagues here at the Colburn School, as we will be participating in the annual New York String Orchestra Seminar that takes place over the holidays with the violinist superstar, Jaime Laredo. But aside from this very exciting obligation and visiting my home, I also would like to spend time playing the piano and composing over the break.

Conservatory Spotlight: Adam Millstein

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

How did you start playing the violin?
When I started, I was actually living in Florida at the time. I was there for a couple years because of my dad’s work. One of my earliest memories is a music class when I was four years old. I was super drawn to the violin in particular; I don’t really know why. And I remember being seven, I was like, yeah, I would love to do this. My school offered it and it just developed from there.

As you started playing, what did you love about the violin?
I was so obsessed with the repertoire of the instrument in particular. From a very young age, I would listen to CDs on end of all the great violin masters. We became so obsessed with the different concerti and the sonatas in the repertoire. I always had this goal of being able to play the violin well enough to play some of the things that I loved listening to so much and loved seeing on stage. So falling in love with the repertoire in particular was something that kept fueling the fire, wanting to learn how to play better and better so I could actually conquer some of this music eventually or at least attempt to in my life.

When did you realize that you wanted to do it professionally?
When I was 12 years old, I went to Interlochen. That was a very formative experience for me, going there for three weeks, my first sleepaway camp, and then being exposed to all these other amazing young, talented musicians. I was just so inspired by that environment and playing with an orchestra for the first time. I think I played Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture. It was my first time playing with a full string section, full winds and brass, full percussion. I remember going home being like, “I really want to do this. I really want to go for it.” So that’s what started it, and I was very fortunate to have parents who to this day support my musical pursuits.

Is that around when you started studying at the Community School?
I started Colburn a year after that. My parents and I started looking into, okay, where could we go to foster a potential professional development? And we found the Community School.

What was your Community School experience like?
I had an amazing Community School experience. It was really inspiring—not only my lessons with my teacher Danielle Belen, who I ended up studying with in Michigan as well, but also my orchestral experience there. I still have friends today that I met when I was in ninth grade and that I hang out with to this day. It’s pretty cool because of the way classical music works too, especially if you stay in the field, you just keep running into people that you met years and years ago through all these different music festivals and schools and stuff like that.

I also worked with Maxim Eshkenazy a lot. He was my conductor back then. He made a very profound impression on me when I was younger and concertmaster of those orchestras. And then later in life, we went on tour in Bulgaria together multiple times.

Another big thing for me was working with Ida Levin when she was alive. She was just such an intelligent and sensitive and wonderful musician and teacher. I worked with her for three years as part of the Honors Quartet in the Community School.

So between private lessons and orchestra and chamber, it was a really cool experience to have in between my pretty rigorous, academic high school experience. So yeah, it was very formative actually, now that I look back on it with 20/20 hindsight.

What brought you back to Colburn after undergrad?
It was always a goal of mine to come to Colburn for graduate school. I always had the idea that I would do a university for my undergraduate and then go to a conservatory for graduate school, preferably Colburn. My teacher in high school and then at Michigan, Danielle Belen, was a former student of Mr. Lipsett and was his assistant. So there was always this idea I had in mind that it’d be really great to work with him in particular and go to Colburn with the environment which I had been exposed to at the Community School, and just the intensity and the high level of performance that exists uniquely at Colburn.

What are some of the things that led into your professional development as a Conservatory student?
Well first and foremost, my studies with Mr. Lipsett were really important, especially the studio class experience and the environment that he fosters amongst the studio. There’s this expectation of excellence which is just felt by everyone, not in a top-down enforced way, but everyone intrinsically wants to play their best and are palpably inspired by Mr. Lipsett’s incredible teaching. My studio mates are all amazing and it’s super inspiring to see how they perform and to observe their world-class technical and musical abilities. It inspires me a lot being there and then also playing for them. The high intensity of Studio Class in particular has been a really integral part of my development that supplements of course my one-on-one lessons with Mr. Lipsett.

And then, the chamber music at Colburn has been outstanding. I’ve had wonderful groups and wonderful coaches and the [Colburn Chamber Music Society] experience of playing with [Conservatory faculty] Martin Beaver doing a late Beethoven quartet. And then over the pandemic, I played the remarkable Weinberg piano trio with [Conservatory faculty] Clive Greensmith and Dominic Cheli, alumnus of Colburn.

Of course, orchestra has been incredible at Colburn too. Working with Yehuda Gilad, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and many other renowned conductors that are brought in—it’s just an amazing environment. Being exposed to all of these different elements of world-class performance prepares you for the professional world. Having all those performance elements in a place like Colburn definitely helps you propel to the next level.

Recently, you’ve been working on the Recovered Voices 2021: Schulhoff and More project. What has that been like?
The Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices is a fascinating program I want to bring attention to that I believe is integral in creating the whole Colburn environment. It’s been a really life-changing and career shifting thing for me actually. I was exposed to the Recovered Voices Initiative when I played on a concert with the former director of chamber music, Scott St. John, and another student at the Thomas Mann House. We played a concert there and I remember James Conlon spoke and he really unpacked what the mission of the Recovered Voices Initiative is, which is to perform and promote the music of composers who were suppressed as a result of Nazi policies from 1933 to 1945.

I was so inspired by that particular event that it just wedged into my mind. And when the pandemic hit, I found myself with more time to actually explore this body of work and this area of musical history. I got really deep into the Recovered Voices composers, and as a result I was connected with Bob Elias, who is a fountain of knowledge. He has become a profoundly important person in my life also and has assumed a wonderful role as a mentor in exploring these composers and helping me with different ideas that I have of performing this music. In this past year, we worked on a lot of the music of Erwin Schulhoff and recorded eight of his works, which is all coming out this year, and that’s been amazing.

It’s been wonderful too because not only have I been working so much with Bob Elias, but I’ve also been put into direct contact with James Conlon which has been truly life-changing for me. I’ve been learning so much from him about this body of work. We’ve been collaborating on repertoire and artistic choices for programming with Recovered Voices this upcoming year and we recorded multiple pieces together last year. It’s been a very important thing for me working with James Conlon who has inspired me so much, just being able to experience his tremendous artistry and intellect first hand.

What’s the personal significance of the project for you?
These composers deserve to be heard and they deserve to be known because I think there is so much amazing music that they wrote. It’s a lost treasure trove of music from the 20th century. It feels like you are uncovering works by your favorite composers that you never found before. So it’s like playing new music but it’s in the style of the greatest composers of the 20th century. They act as this missing link and this conduit between all these different aesthetic styles in Western art music.

It’s so unbelievable to me that we don’t know who they are, but this is because of the actions of the Nazis in the 1930s and 40s. They tried to wipe these composers off the face of the earth and also their legacies, and they destroyed the cultural gardens in which they flourished in Europe at the time. And so we now don’t know who a lot of them are, like Schulhoff or Weinberg or Schreker or Zemlinsky, and they aren’t part of the canon. That’s something that I feel very strongly about undoing because I think it’s necessary when there’s injustice for it to be corrected, of course.

And then also fundamentally, I aesthetically believe in this music very, very strongly after going through it and listening to it and playing it so much. I really believe in these composers and I want to get them onto the concert stage and accepted as part of the canon as much as possible. So it’s held that kind of significance for me as an artist and also as someone who’s so passionate about music.

You mentioned that the project has been career shifting. What has that shift been?
Recovered Voices has shown me how much I want to pursue a deeper study of these composers and to become truly an expert as much as I can in this area. And potentially in my dream of dreams, I’m thinking about maybe pursuing a DMA or a doctorate with a performance focus in these composers.

I could see myself hopefully in the future incorporating a multifaceted career, not only with the traditional kind of performance avenues which I need to have in my life, but also doing more things like I’m doing right now with Recovered Voices, which is more curatorial. I would also love to get into academic research and potentially even teaching in this field of the Recovered Voices composers.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve felt a lot of support at Colburn from all levels of the School which I think is really unique. So I love all my colleagues at the School, my teacher, all the other teachers at the School too. There’s a very nurturing environment too, of musicianship.

I’ve also found, especially with my passion for Recovered Voices, it’s been amazing to see how much the teachers and my colleagues at the School have been so receptive to it. Working with Bob Elias and James Conlon has just been amazing, and Annie Wickert, [Vice President of Advancement], has been an incredible person to get to know and to work with as well. It’s been a really exciting thing to experience this kind of support as I continue to develop as a professional.

Special appreciation goes to the Colburn Society members whose support makes the Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices possible. To learn more, contact

Geraldine Walther Joins Colburn as Interim Director of Chamber Music

This fall, violist Geraldine Walther joined the Colburn faculty as Interim Director of Chamber Music for the Conservatory. She oversees strings and piano chamber music, and she was also featured in October on the Colburn Chamber Music Society series. We sat down with Geraldine to discuss the Colburn Chamber Music Society concert, her work at Colburn, and how her career is helping her work with Conservatory students.

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

How has it been going at Colburn so far?
Oh, it’s just been great. This last week has been especially great working with the [ten students on the Colburn Chamber Music Society concert]. They’re practically not students anymore, because they are such mature young adults and musicians. But we are all life-long students.

There was a wonderful back and forth. Sometimes I would insist on some things or point out things, but lots of times I was listening to their suggestions and their ideas on how to play a certain phrase. And that is what it is all about: getting everybody thinking and contributing and trying people’s ideas. It makes us all feel ownership if everyone can contribute and we are not just doing something that somebody is telling us. And it makes it much more gratifying if you are all invested in the same way. So, they were all wonderful.

Tell us about the program for your Colburn Chamber Music Society concert.
We did the Debussy Sonata for Flute, Harp, and Viola. And I had the pleasure of working with Anya [Garipoli, Harp] and Austin [Brown, Flute]. They were so aware of each part and very astute and demanding. We were real colleagues, but I felt that way about each group. Austin said it was his first time playing it, but I would not have known because it sounded to me as if he had played it 20 previous times. I have played that piece a few times in my life, and this was a fun performance because when you are playing with someone who has not played the piece a lot, you look at it with their new eyes and new ears, and I enjoy that experience.

And then we played the Amy Beach Piano Quintet, which she wrote in 1907. She was a wonderful pianist and an entirely American trained composer, and she wrote the first symphony ever published by an American woman, “The Gaelic.” The Piano Quintet is a real homage to Brahms, but also very uniquely Mrs. Beach. She composed quite a bit of chamber music, which we all should try to investigate. This is a wonderful piece, and it is deeply passionate. She admired Brahms, so she refers to the Brahms Piano Quintet quite a bit.

I only learned this piece in the last few years, and I am so glad that I did. It’s wonderful that women composers are getting exposure now, because there are some very imaginative and original pieces written by women that really deserve to be heard, performed, and enjoyed. We had an all-ladies group, and they were fantastic: Tiffany [Kang, Violin I], Yu Kai [Sun, Violin II], Emma [Lee, Cello], and HyeJin [Park, Piano].

After intermission, we played the Mozart G Minor Viola Quintet with entirely new personnel: Julia [Angelov, Violin I], Hanna [Zhdan, Violin II], Abby [Smith, Viola I], Yejin [Hong, Cello]. We had a wonderful time working on that too. It is one of the greatest works of chamber music that exists, and again it was the first time out for some of our terrific musicians, so now they have this performance to refer to. Everyone in the group was thrilled to be involved, as I know I was.

It was a wonderful week for me because I got to meet and work with all the different young artists and their different temperaments and different personalities. I wish we could do it every week! Each and every one played superbly, and I was so pleased and proud to have been onstage with them all.

It is also a wonderful feeling to know that these musicians are the musicians of the future. They are just tremendous, just on the cusp of going out and being our new performing artists. You suggest something and right away; they just get it. They embrace it and run with it, which is so wonderful to experience as a teacher.

What is involved in your role as Interim Director of Chamber Music?
My job is to put together chamber groups. I have help from Chris Cho, who is the Interim Manager of Ensemble Activities. He is helping me put together the right personnel for groups and pieces. It is like a big puzzle at first. There are usually 13-15 groups that we organize, and we try to involve all the pianists because they want to learn the quintet literature for piano and strings. It is a backbone of chamber music for piano and strings, and they need to learn those works because they get programmed often. I am talking about the quintets of Brahms, Dvořák, Franck, and Schumann. They come up at every chamber music festival, so if you can learn them at school with a group, it is to one’s advantage. And so, we want to provide that opportunity.

I also get a lot of help from the other faculty: from Martin Beaver, Paul Coletti, Clive Greensmith, and Fabio Bidini. They each help us at every step in which pieces should be played and with whom. But I have to say this first time putting things together was hard, because I had never done it before. I have taught, of course, chamber music. I was in the Takács Quartet, and I taught viola and chamber music for 15 years at the University of Colorado. But I had not organized it. And until you do that, you don’t really have the experience. I think it will be a whole lot easier this next time. I know I will get great support from the other faculty.

I also coach chamber groups. I had around 10, and the other teachers—Mr. Beaver, Mr. Greensmith, Mr. Coletti—had two or three, besides their full studio classes, which was great for me, because I needed some help. I coached my groups, and I tried to get them to play for the other wonderful faculty who would have different ears to gain the experience of playing for other people, as well as their insight. I sent many groups with piano to Mr. Bidini, I am afraid!

How has your previous experience performing and teaching helped in this role?
Every way. Especially having been in the Takács Quartet for 15 years. I don’t think I would be as valuable a teacher without that experience. And then the orchestral playing I’ve done and the solo playing I have done just adds to one’s vocabulary. I remember John [Fawcett] and Rachel [Call], who were working on the Prokofiev Sonata for Two Violins, definitely were thinking of orchestral and emotional colors in their brilliant playing on the Showcase Concert last week. One gains so much from orchestral experience.

I certainly never regret having been in the San Francisco Symphony. Orchestral repertoire is great, and if you are lucky enough to get one of those jobs, enjoy it. I never ever thought that was any less of a career than being a soloist or chamber musician. It is simply different, and you can do them all. I hope the students at Colburn can do them all and enjoy putting together their special careers in music.

How do you see the role of chamber music in students’ education?
They learn to listen, and that is the most important skill of all. Learning to listen to others besides yourself and relating to it. Then you can be very flexible, and you can change what you are doing. If someone else takes time or sings in a different color or dynamic, then you adjust too, because you are listening, responding, and reacting. And if you become more sensitive and aware, that is just going to serve you whether you are in an orchestra or in chamber music.

I always thought of orchestra as big chamber music, frankly, I really did. I thought this was just big chamber music, and you want to play with the cellists here, and the violins here. And even if you are playing a concerto, as soloist, there are times when you are accompanying the orchestra, and you should know that so you can play in a different way.

Is it true that you are the first ever Primrose Competition winner?
Yes, that was a long time ago. It was 1979, in Snowbird, Utah, and Mr. Primrose was there. That really helped me a lot and gave me a lot of confidence. I really appreciated the opportunity, and it was just a wonderful experience. It is terrific that the Competition is coming to Colburn in December. We have some talented players in this class of violas that I hope will compete.

What is the significance of the Primrose Competition for violists?
It was the very first one when I competed and won, so there are many more opportunities now. It has become much more renowned and accepted as one of the big competitions for violists. You get opportunities, and that is always good. You receive chances to play with other people and just to grow and get better.

The Primrose Competition is coming up in December, and then there’s another round of Chamber Forum in the spring.
Yes, Chamber Forum is in the spring. We have two chunks of time where everything gets intense, and we put all the groups together again. I hope we finish some of these pieces we have begun this semester, because I would love to hear the whole works played. We had some fabulous sounding groups who really worked well together and seemed to really enjoy themselves. And I would like to get more input from the students who are going to be playing. The more everybody thinks about what they want to play and with whom, the better.

Are you just at Colburn for this year?
I’m just here for a year, and it’s been great. I came out of retirement to do this, and yes, I am having a wonderful time. It is a tremendous experience for me.

Symphonic Homecomings at The Soraya

Esa-Pekka Salonen, a classical-music superstar who led the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1992 to 2009 and is the newly appointed music director of San Francisco Symphony, will soon take to the stage in his third appearance at The Soraya. On Saturday, November 13, Salonen will guest-conduct the Colburn Orchestra in a weighty evening of music. The concert, offered free to the public, promises a welcome reunion for Soraya patrons with live symphonic sound—for the first time in over a year and a half.

The ever-youthful Salonen, who is deeply committed to music education, provides a stimulating tutor and role model for the Colburn’s pre-professional musicians. After completing more than a dozen concerts in San Francisco this fall, he will hold rehearsals at the renowned academy in downtown Los Angeles for the ambitious program slated for The Soraya, a double-header of vast and panoramic works: Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6.

“Esa-Pekka is quite strict,” says the Colburn Orchestra’s longtime music director Yehuda Gilad, adding that, “I love it. It’s the old way … he doesn’t let anything get by.” For the student players to perform these epic scores, Gilad supervises a careful plan in which they work individually on their parts with their teachers, break into sectional rehearsals, and then reassemble the music in a “rough state, perhaps utilizing one of the assistant conductors,” he explains.

“When Salonen arrives, he usually gets started by reading through the music from beginning to end, or to the end of a movement. Then he dissects. If there are issues, he works on solutions. And he does not conduct them like students, imparting his wisdom. He just says, ‘Let’s do this. It will accomplish this and this and this.'”

Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony, written in 1881, is among the composer’s most immediately enjoyable works. Salonen’s refreshingly urgent take on it was described by Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times, as “rooted in sheer joyous ecstasy.” The Austrian composer’s hour-long Sixth, with the first movement’s iconic opening triplets, the majesty of white-hot brass, great slow movement, magical colors of the Trio, and grandeur of the Finale, has been an important oeuvre in Salonen’s development as a conductor. His performance in 2008 while music director of the LA Phil showed, as Swed wrote, that Salonen “has absorbed Bruckner into his own thinking.” After his performance with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2019, music critic Jari Kallio wrote that Salonen “unleashed a tremendous burst of symphonic energy in the finale, with the hall of the Helsinki Music Centre vibrating with sonic joy.”

Gilad points out that the Colburn Orchestra concerts at The Soraya reflect what the school has been about, emphasizing a balance of solo, chamber music and orchestra. “We only do six or seven concerts a year so for them to do a major work like the Bruckner with one of its foremost proponents is going to be fantastic.”

Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto, written in 1948 when the composer was under great political duress, requires genius bow control and left-hand dexterity; a wide range of tone colors; and a sense of sardonic Russian soul. Hometown-hero Hao Zhou, who entered Colburn’s Community School at just thirteen years old, will solo in the work.

According to Lee Cioppa, the Dean of Colburn’s Conservatory, Hao was slated to play the Shostakovich last year when he was still a student. “The performance cancellation due to COVID was devastating for him, as it was for the whole orchestra,” she said, “so it was really important that we could offer him that same opportunity, even though he has since graduated. It makes his appearance on the re-opening even more of a celebration.”

Contacted by email after a prestigious tour with his Viano String Quartet, traversing Heidelberg, Hanover, Cologne, Budapest and Zurich, Hao said it was going to be “an absolute thrill to return. When I was a student, my most memorable performance in the Orchestra was when Maestro Salonen led Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra at The Soraya. It will be an honor to perform the Shostakovich with him as well as with my brilliant colleagues in the orchestra. I’m looking forward to coming home!”

That evening was memorable for Cioppa as well. “When we did the big Strauss program with Esa-Pekka two years ago at the Soraya,” she recalls, “it was amazing to hear them play these incredibly difficult, difficult works and hear every note so well.”

The Soraya’s 10th anniversary season for which the Colburn Orchestra was long since booked “had been planned as a homecoming for beloved and familiar artists who once graced our stage,” according to The Soraya’s Executive Director Thor Steingraber. “Reopening The Soraya,” says Steingraber, “is more than lighting the lights and unlocking the doors. It’s our invitation to open hearts, minds, eyes, and ears.”

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Hao Zhou plays on a 1783 Gagliani Violin on generous loan from the Aftergood Family.

Meet the Conducting Fellows: Emerging Artists Join Colburn and the San Francisco Symphony

Two exciting young conductors have joined the Colburn student body—and the San Francisco Symphony. Kyle Dickson and Molly Turner were named Salonen Fellows for the 2021–22 school year, joining Ross Jamie Collins in the Negaunee Conducting Program. Led by world-renowned composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Negaunee Conducting Program offers emerging conductors the opportunity to hone their craft and gain significant real-world podium experience on and off campus.

All three Salonen Fellows were recently added to the conducting staff of the San Francisco Symphony, where they will serve as an assistant conductor to Esa-Pekka Salonen for each of his programs during the 2021–22 season. We caught up with all three fellows recently to find out what brought them to Colburn, what they’re especially looking forward to this year, and their hopes for the future.

Kyle Dickson
I can't wait to start forging bonds and making music with such a dynamic group of players [at Colburn]. Kyle Dickson

Kyle is the Assistant Conductor of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and previously served as Music Director of Chicago’s South Loop Symphony. He fosters an ardent passion for music education and has regularly coached many youth ensembles including the Chicago Youth Symphony Ensembles, the Sphinx Organization’s Overture program, New Music School, and the Hyde Park Youth Symphony.

Please share your background personally and musically.
I grew up in Detroit! Even though I loved singing in my elementary general music class, I didn’t get my real start in music until much later. I had considered being a teacher, heart surgeon, or a politician before I saw a Winans Academy of Performing Arts Orchestra concert and fell in love with music. I begged my parents to enroll me the next year, and it was there that I learned theory, piano, violin, and viola.

What were you doing prior to joining the Conducting Fellows Program?
I was finishing my MM at Northwestern in Chicago and conducting two orchestras: the South Loop Symphony and South Side Chicago Youth Orchestra. I was also working with Mei-Ann Chen and the Chicago Sinfonietta as a PIE Conducting Fellow. I had a pretty eclectic season as a freelance violinist at the same time; playing in chamber groups, subbing with several local orchestras, doing some studio work and remote recordings, and coaching youth ensembles!

Why are you pursuing conducting?
I was drawn to conducting as a teenager. I tried cello, viola, piano, voice, and considered conducting before settling on violin. I’d even put on imaginary concerts in our living room and conduct along to recordings with only my parents in the “audience.”

Connecting people and collaborating with others has always been important to me as an artist, so when I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder that could affect my playing, I was forced to reevaluate my future as an instrumentalist, and I returned to conducting as a way of engaging with my passion. I know how important representation is, and I know first-hand how impactful representation can be in my community to see someone like me on the podium, so I’m pursuing conducting because this is the most
meaningful way for me to continue to create musical experiences with others while being an advocate for our art in all communities.

What are you looking forward to this season?
I’m really looking forward to working closely with and learning from Maestro Salonen! I’m excited to get to know the amazing musicians that comprise the orchestras I’ll be meeting this season, and also to be connecting with the artistic community at Colburn. There’s so much to learn from both the faculty and students. I’m inspired by the level of musicianship here, and I can’t wait to start forging bonds and making music with such a dynamic group of players.

What piece would you love to conduct someday and why?
If I have to narrow it down to one piece it’d be Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”! It was one of the first pieces I performed in undergrad, and it made a huge impression on me. It’s animalistic and visceral, and at the same time mystic and plaintive in parts. It was a huge achievement in rhythm and orchestral texture, and it’s a tour de force for any conductor. On top of that it’s just a lot of fun!

What’s on the horizon for you?
Right now, I’m preparing to make my Chicago Sinfonietta debut this season with works by composers Jessie Montgomery and Florence Price! I’ll be covering concerts for Maestro Salonen with the NDR Philharmonie, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, San Francisco Symphony, and Chicago Symphony. I’m also looking forward to working with the Colburn Academy Virtuosi this fall on a great program that includes Walker’s “Lyric for Strings” and Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” for string orchestra!

Kyle began his career as a violinist and earned his Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting at Northwestern University.

Molly Turner
Ultimately, it is a miracle how an orchestra can play completely different parts in a way that makes any sense. I conduct because I want to make sense of this crazy world. Molly Turner

Molly conducts, plays, and writes music. Recently, she was featured conducting the Dallas Opera Orchestra, the Juilliard Orchestra, Rice Campanile Orchestra, and the Eastern Festival Orchestra. She was selected as one of six participants for the Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors.

Please share your background personally and musically.
Starting from a young age, I always had a strong affinity for improvisation and this ultimately led me to study music composition as an undergraduate. During my first year in college, I also pursued pre-medical studies. This scientific coursework actually helped me later in my analytical score study as a conductor! As a composer, I found myself in orchestra rehearsal all the time, listening for new sounds and techniques. I soon began a study of orchestral conducting and got most of my early opportunities conducting my own and fellow composers’ works. I was lucky to study with David Robertson at Juilliard to receive my formal conducting training.

Why are you pursuing conducting?
Conducting for me is a whole world. There is first and foremost the score. But there is also the context in which that score was written. There are original manuscripts, score revisions, subtext, and sometimes programmes written by the composer. There is the architecture and pace of a performance. There is the relationship between the audience and the performers. There is the psychology of an orchestra—how they listen to each other, watch the conductor, and watch each other. Ultimately, it is a miracle how an orchestra can play completely different parts in a way that makes any sense. I conduct because I want to make sense of this crazy world. And as a composer myself, I feel a deep duty to fulfill the ultimate intention of a composer.

What are you looking forward to this season?
Sounds oddly specific, but I am looking forward to watching Esa-Pekka Salonen work with different orchestras on the same piece. When I studied conducting at Juilliard, our program was structured around Lab Orchestra. Lab Orchestra is exactly what it sounds like—a fairly controlled environment and dedicated to learning how to conduct. This was exactly what I needed to start my study of conducting. I could learn the precise effects of my gestures in that environment. However, Lab Orchestra is just one environment. It is a group of very talented students, but not every orchestra is the same. That is the beauty of working with different orchestras. Some play quiet sections beautifully, some play behind the beat ever so slightly, and each orchestra balances out in different ways. Hearing rehearsal with the same piece with different orchestras is a really unique learning opportunity, akin to twin studies in science. And, of course, I am looking forward to Salonen’s mentorship and guidance.

What piece would you love to conduct someday and why?
“The Rite of Spring.” It is primal, beautiful, supple, a dance to the death, and revolutionary—all in the span of a half an hour. This piece has a great significance to me as a composer because when I first came across it when I was in high school, I simply did not know what to make of it. It broke so many “rules” that I had read in books and opened so many doors. It continues to be an immensely important piece for me.

What’s on the horizon for you?
Well first I am getting settled into Los Angeles! I grew up in Seattle, so it’s great to be back on the west coast. I look forward to conducting Lou Harrison’s Violin Concerto with Fiona Shea and the Colburn Contemporary Ensemble as well as performances of Stravinsky L’Histoire du Soldat and Marsalis A Fiddler’s Tale in October. I will also be doing the first rehearsal of Bruckner Symphony No. 6 for Salonen’s concert with the Colburn Orchestra this fall. I also look forward to returning to composing.

Molly studied with David Robertson at the Juilliard School for her master’s degree and received a bachelor in music composition from Rice University.

Ross Jamie Collins
It’s fantastic to be back at Colburn. As well as spending time with friends, I’m really looking forward to creating music with ensembles, rehearsing with the Colburn Orchestra, and conducting the Concerto Forum. Ross Jamie Collins

As a student of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Ross has travelled and assisted him at the Philharmonia, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony. In the 2021–22 concert season, he will make his debut with the Turku Philharmonic, Finland’s oldest orchestra, where he will be leading them alongside the classic British animated film The Snowman.

What are you looking forward to this season?
It’s fantastic to be back at Colburn. As well as spending time with friends, I’m really looking forward to creating music with ensembles, rehearsing with the Colburn Orchestra, and conducting the Concerto Forum. It’s great to have Molly and Kyle form a bigger conducting class this year where we can share our experiences. This fall I have a couple of trips to San Francisco to assist Esa-Pekka Salonen with the San Francisco Symphony. In the spring, I’m thrilled to conduct London’s Philharmonia Orchestra with Randall Goosby as a soloist.

What piece would you love to conduct someday and why?
There are so many pieces that I would love to conduct. But if you asked me today, it would have to be Mahler’s 9th Symphony. As for why? I love how the emotional tension is sustained throughout the work. Despite the giant orchestration, the spirit of the work is kept contained and sustained for the duration of over an hour. It travels through high, low, and the playful, to the heart-wrenching last movement where even singular notes can make you cry. It has a special place in my heart.

What’s on the horizon for you?
While enjoying my time at Colburn, I’m looking to mature as a conductor. I am excited about an upcoming “Film to Live Orchestra” engagement in Finland with the Turku Philharmonic. It is a chance to see my friends back at home and spend Christmas with my family in England.

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).