Conrad 'An Itzhak Perlman of the Oboe' Zheng Huang '99
Professor of Oboe James Caldwell jokingly credits his former student, Zheng Huang '99, with teaching him "where the 'Z' is on the typewriter."

More seriously, he also describes Zheng as "one of the very best students I have ever taught."

A Concerto Competition winner at Oberlin in 1998, Zheng has met with considerable success since graduating two years ago. He won first prize the first wind player to do so in 10 years in the grand finals at the Kingsville International Competition for Young Performers, held April 2001 at Texas A&M University (Kingsville Campus). Zheng received a cash award and a solo concerto performance January 19, 2002, with the Corpus Christi Symphony.

April was most certainly not Zheng's cruelest month. An oboist with the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida, he performed Antonio Pasculli's Variations for Oboe and Orchestra as a featured soloist. Miami Herald music critic James Roos described his performance as "breathtaking."

"Huang tossed off the most dizzying passages at phenomenal speed, like an Itzhak Perlman of the oboe. He stunned not only the audience, but even the New World Symphony's new principal guest conductor, Alasdair Neale of the San Francisco Symphony."

Conrad Good Will Jamming
azz trumpeter and composer Kevin Louis '99 ( wasted little time after receiving his Master of Music Degree in June 2001, following studies with Michael Mossman '82 at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. With the Aaron Thurston Trio, in August 2001, he took a two-month tour of Africa under the auspices of the Kennedy Center/U.S. State Department Jazz Ambassadors. Drummer Aaron Thurston attended Oberlin from 1993 to 1994.

Celebrating Louis Armstrong's centennial and featuring modern arrangements of Armstrong's standards, the trio also performed original compositions, including two of Kevin's - "The Arrival" and "You Are My Sunshine."

"The most rewarding thing about the tour was seeing the people's response to our music," says Kevin. "We (also) got a chance to perform with the local musicians."

Only seven Jazz Ambassador trios were selected for the 2000-2001 season from among 75 who auditioned at New York City's Steinway Hall. On the jury were trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, Derek E. Gordon, vice president for education at the Kennedy Center, pianist Junior Mance, and vocalist Vanessa Rubin.

Before leaving for Africa, the trio presented a concert on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage that was broadcast live on the Internet.

A native of New Orleans, Kevin has dedicated much of his work to his family and former teachers; he dedicated his master's recital to Oberlin Professor Wendell Logan and featured Logan compositions almost exclusively. Kevin and Aaron were among more than 30 alumni who returned to campus in November to perform for the Logan Tribute.

The trio's next major Jazz Ambassadors tour is planned for the Middle East in February 2002.

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