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Conservatory Graduates Shine on Broadway in Baz Luhrmann's La Bohème
Fly away Home
Playing Outside the Bachs: Amy Guitry and Debra Nagy Take First Prizes
Musicians Without Borders


Julia VielandJulia Vieland '45, a pianist and scholarship student of former Conservatory Dean Frank Shaw, produced her first solo compact disc recording, Julia's Gift. A collection of classics from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, and others, the recording was spurred by Julia's desire to create a musical keepsake for her five grandchildren. She has taught piano from her home in Philadelphia for nearly 30 years and has given concerts there and in New York. Julia's Gift sells on Amazon.com and in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Center gift shop and Tower Records.

Bernard Baskin '48 majored in composition and piano at Oberlin, studying with Arthur Dann, Herbert Ellwell, Frank Shaw, and former College Presi-dent Emil Danenberg. An active pianist and composer in Las Vegas, where he gave two concerts last year, Bernard is the First Vice President of the city's Music Teachers Association. He can be reached at vegas maestrobb@aol.com or at (702) 255-9850.

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Herbert Henke '53, Emeritus Professor of Eurhythmics and Music Education at the Conservatory, was presented with Oberlin's first Music Education Distinguished Alumnus Award in November. An internationally respected lecturer and clinician, Herbert served as a faculty member at the National Conference of the Dalcroze Society of America in Minneapolis in June and at the 27th Summer Dalcroze Eurhythmics Work-shops at Carnegie Mellon University in July. In August he conducted a workshop for the Virginia Symphony Chorus in Norfolk, and in October served as the eurhythmics presenter at the International Conference of Music Education in Monterrey, Mexico. Herbert rounded out the year as a guest instructor at Gettysburg College at the invitation of Sharon Davis Gratto '66.

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Brian Jones '65, Director of Music at Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston, directed the Trinity Choir in its most recent CD, A Choral Christmas, on the Dorian label. Michael Kleinschmidt '87, Associate Director of Music at Trinity, accompanied the choir on the recording, which was among the top 25 best sellers on Amazon.com in December 2001. In its review of the CD, Gramophone magazine wrote, "we hear sweetness, purity, and serenity throughout this recording, certainly an example of American choral music at its height."

Recent CD release from Brian Jones' 65Harpsichord recitalist Nanette Gomory Lunde '65 released a two-CD set, Complete Seventeenth-Century French Unmeasured Preludes, available at skylinestudio.com/CD.html. A pro-fessor of music at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, Nanette teaches harpsichord, piano, baroque performance practices, basso continuo, and a course titled Women in Music. She also coordinates the university's resident period instrument ensemble, Les Favorites. Nanette has performed on harpsichords in European museums, appeared as a soloist with orchestras in the United States, and performed in live broadcast over Minnesota and Wisconsin Public Radio. She is the past president and founder of the Mid- western Historical Keyboard Society.

After 29 years of teaching, Lunetta Bennett Knowlton '69 retired as district music coordinator of the Mamaroneck, N.Y., schools last January. She says a wonderful surprise was planned to coincide with her final winter concert: many former students, friends, and relatives joined with her current students, parents, and colleagues to dedicate the concert to her. Among those in attendance was Christie Seltzer Fountain '69. Lunetta now spends more time with her granddaughter ("preschool music education has become very important in our house again," she says), while husband Michael Knowlton '68 is relieved that Lunetta no longer has such a long daily commute to work - the family lives in Summit, N.J.

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Peter Marshall '77, Music Director of the Opera Theater Workshop at Georgia State University in Atlanta, conducted the premiere of The Bronze Mirror, an opera by Milton Granger, last April. In attendance were Jeanne Larsen '71, author of the book that inspired the opera, and Stuart Gerber '96, percussion coordinator at Georgia State, who played in the pit. Peter, who serves also as the principal keyboardist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) under the direction of Robert Spano '83, spent a busy season as piano soloist in Messiaen's Trois Petites Liturgies de la presence divine, as celesta soloist in The Nutcracker, and as organist in Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony, which was recorded and released by Telarc last summer and which won three Grammy Awards in February. Peter also played harpsichordist with the ASO in all six Brandenburg concerti. Peter's wife, Allison Vulgamore '80, a member of the Oberlin Board of Trustees, is president of the ASO.

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Rachel Abelson Hickson '80 reports "a veritable confluence" of Oberlin-ians at the University of Maryland's choral music department this year. Rachel and her husband, David Hickson '82, are singing in the Maryland Chorus, headed by former Oberlin Conservatory Associate Pro-fessor of Choral Conducting Edward Maclary, while Bill Culverhouse '94 is pursuing his master's degree in choral conducting. Rachel, a College music major who sang with the Oberlin College Choir for three years, is a social scientist evaluating instructional programs for the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. David is head of the upper school at Sandy Spring Friends School. The couple has two musical daughters.

Ellyn Kusmin '82 has worked in the management side of the music business in New York City for the past 20 years. Her positions have included artists manager (she served as the first manager for Michael Morgan '79 and Robert Spano '83), operations manager of both the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony, and her current post as personal manager to Maestro Andre Previn.

Betsy StartWith master's degrees in cello and theory/composition from Northern Illinois University and a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Chicago, Elizabeth (Betsy) Start '82 spent 10 years a freelance cellist, composer, and music teacher in the Chicago area. As a performer, she has premiered more than 60 works, and her composition work in acoustic, electronic, and mixed media has led to many commissions and performances worldwide. Betsy joined the Kalamazoo College faculty and the Kalamazoo Symphony, and she con-tinues her activities with the Elgin Symphony in Illinois, Symphony II, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, and the CUBE Contemporary Ensemble. She is National Secretary for the Regional Orchestra Players' Association, a conference of the American Federation of Musicians. She returned to Oberlin in September to give a guest recital.

Saxophonist David Stambler '85 has recently accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies and Director of Jazz Studies at Towson University in Baltimore. He continues to perform extensively as a recital soloist with the Baltimore Symphony and with the Capitol Quartet (CapitolQuartet.com). David's wife of 13 years, Margot Bos Stambler '84, died of breast cancer in June 2000. In her honor, David has created the Margot Music Fund, a 501-c-3 nonprofit arts organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of classical and jazz music through performance sponsorship, scholarships, and commissions. Most recently the fund commissioned the 2001-02 Aaron Copland Composition award winner, James Grant. Fellow Oberlinians Chuck Bos '62, Marilyn Whitney Bos '62, Bert Davis '84, Jed Gaylin '85, and Lia Purpura '86 serve on the Board of Directors. Inquiries about and donations for the Margot Music Fund may be directed to: Margot Music Fund, 12 Sherwood Avenue, Pikesville, MD 21208.
Phone: (410) 653-7757. An endowed vocal scholarship at Oberlin is also in development.

Robert SimsBaritone Robert Sims '88 appeared on the Chicago classical music station WFMT 98.7-FM in September in a live broadcast of the world premiere of Robert Kritz's Lamentations for the 21st Century with the Orion Ensemble and Tony Arnold '89. Hailed by critics for his "rich luxuriant tone" and "energetic performances," Robert is noted for his interpretations of African

American spirituals. As the gold medal winner of the Enmark American Traditions Competition and the recipient of the Friedrich Schorr Opera Award, he has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, and is featured on three CDs produced by Canti Classics: Soul of a Singer, Sims Sings Copland and Spirituals, and Three Generations. For more information, visit RobertSims.com.

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Jennifer Carsillo '90 is a violinist with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, which kicked off its season with a six-week summer music festival in Pittsburgh and Toronto. Included was a commissioned piece by Pierre Jalbert '89. Cellist Jakub Omsky '95 is also a member of the group.

After completing a freelance communications project in Washington, D.C., Chris Pinelo '94 joined the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra staff as the May Festival Marketing and Development Manager in October 2001. The May Festival is the oldest continuous choral festival in the Western Hemisphere, and the May Festival Chorus performs and records year-round with the Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati Pops orchestras. Also a freelance composer, arranger, keyboardist, singer, and actor in the greater Cincinnati area, Chris appeared in a series of humorous television commercials for Clear Channel radio stations in 2001, sang with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops in the summer of 2002, and performed in a children's Halloween concert with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Associate Conductor John Morris Russell. He serves on the Oberlin Alumni Association Executive Board and chairs the Career Services Advisory Committee. Chris is married to Christine Anne (Duque) Pinelo '01.

Percussionist Justin Hines '95 says he continued his musical life in New York City and Japan last year with performances at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall, the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, Tokyo Bunka-kaikan in Tokyo, and Salon Corrina in Kanagawa. He continues his work as both a teaching artist for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and a percussion instructor for Project Arts, and he represented the New York Philharmonic as a percussion coach at Long Island University. This year he plans to join the music staff at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City. Justin lives in Manhattan with his roommate, Toyin Spellman '95, and can be reached at Justinjayhines@hotmail.com.

Award-winning cellist Jakub Omsky '95 composed and performed the musical score for The Prisoner, a play based on the diary of Maria Koper, a young Jewish woman hidden by a Christian Polish family during the Holocaust. The monodrama was staged in June 2002 at the Mazer Theater in Manhattan and in October in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. The Santa Barbara News-Press wrote: "This haunting music, inspired by Yiddish folk melodies, is such an integral part of The Prisoner that one could call the piece a sonata for cello and actor." Following a summer concert tour with the Pittsburgh New Musical Ensemble and Chautauqua Symphony, Jakub
premiered his composition, Meditation on Compassion, on September 14, 2002, at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Santa Barbara. Jacob wrote the piece immediately after the events of September 11, 2001.

Tenor and classical guitarist Matthew Hinsley '96 is pursuing a doctorate of musical arts at the University of Texas at Austin. A recipient of numerous performance-based awards, including the Gibson Collegiate Artist Guitar Competition of the Music Teacher's National Association, which he won in 2000, he is an active performer, giving concerts throughout the United States and Italy. He has premiered many new works, including compositions by David Ludwig, Johann Othman, and Jefferson Rabb. He has also received private support and many grants to fund concert series of international performing artists as well as extensive community outreach programs. In November 2002 he presented a guest recital at Oberlin, performing pieces by John Dowland, Jonathan Kulp, Federico Moretti, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Matthew has two CDs available on Amazon.com: his solo CD Live, in Austin, and a new CD, Two Muses, with flutist Jennifer Rhyne '96.

Carmen MakCritically acclaimed pianist Carmen Ka-Man Mak '98 gave a successful New York solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall recently, and she performs frequently throughout the United States, Canada, and China. Carmen, who received her artist diploma from Oberlin, holds a master's of music degree from Juilliard and is often invited to appear on radio and television broadcasts. Her recent engagements have included solo recitals at Lincoln Center in New York and at Steinway Hall in Akron, Ohio. Carmen offered a guest recital at Oberlin in November with cellist Timothy John Smith, performing selections by Beethoven, Brahms, George Crumb, and Sergei Prokofiev.

Andrew shapiro's debut recordingComposer Andrew Shapiro '98 re-leased his debut recording, Invisible Days EP, in October 2002 on the Airbox Music label, which describes the four-song collection as "synthy-electronic-pop using flutes and vocals along with ambient streams and pulsations." The CD features vocalist Keisha Hutchins '98 and flutist Peter Hess '97 and was recorded and mixed by Jacob Weber '99. Andrew's com-positions, which draw from his training in classical music and his love of popular music, have been featured in the SF Gate (the online San Francisco Chronicle) and in 21st Century Music magazine. His full-length follow-up to Invisible Days EP will be recorded and produced in Los Angeles this year. Additional information about Andrew's projects can be found at

Oberlin trumpet major Kyle Lane '99 and French horn major Amber J. Chisholm '00 were married last June at Fairchild Chapel in Oberlin. Both received master's of music degrees from the Mannes College of Music and are freelancing in the New York City area. Kyle plays in several groups, including the Queens Festival Band, the Princeton Symphony, the Norwalk Symphony, and the Ureuk Chamber Symphony. Amber, who plays in many of the same ensembles, is the assistant to the director of the Henry Street Music School.

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Kristin Ditlow (seocnd from right)Kristin Ditlow '01, a piano performance and vocal accompanying major, serves on the piano faculty at Settlement Music School in Philadelphia and at the Community Music School in Trappe, Pa., where she performs in its ensemble-in-residence, the Mühlenberg Piano Quartet. A classical chamber ensemble, the group's current repertoire includes works by Brahms, Fauré, Foote, Mozart, Schumann, and Turina. Kristin can be reached at kditlow@hotmail.com or at (215) 527-4237.

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Conservatory Graduates Shine on Broadway in Baz Luhrmann's La Bohème

Viva, la vie bohème!

Baz Luhrmann's production of Puccini's La Bohème opened on Broadway the first weekend in December to wide acclaim, and sharing in the limelight are two recent Conservatory graduates.

The visage of David Miller '95, one of the three singers performing the role of Rodolfo, has appeared not only in Vogue and other publications, but also has been forever preserved in caricature by the legendary Al Hirschfeld. His performance has captivated critics from the Associated Press: "Miller heartbreakingly captures a boyish fellow suddenly turned grown-up in grief."

Ben Brantley, writing in The New York Times, says that although "the stars of this Bohème may be as pretty as Calvin Klein models photographed by Avedon," there is no cause for concern: "their voices, for the most part, match their faces." He later adds: "I have never seen an opera in which movement seems so spontaneous or so particular to each individual."

Daniel Okulitch (2nd from right)
photo: Sue Adler
Daniel Okulitch '99 is Schaunard, one of the gang of bohemians whose "bawdy, exuberant horseplay" also impressed Brantley.

Both Okulitch and Miller studied with Professor of Singing Richard Miller (no relation). David Miller was his student for five years as a voice performance major in the bachelor of music program and as a master's of opera student, and he assisted Professor Miller in the Otto B. Schoepfle Vocal Arts Center.

"David was a pleasure to teach," says Professor Miller. "His growth during his Oberlin years brought me much personal satisfaction. He has the essential parts of the professional performance package: excellent voice, fine technique, interpretative and stage abilities, and solid musicianship. He always has known how to take full advantage of every learning experience, which has led to a number of highly deserved, early performance successes. He will certainly make a splendid Rodolfo in the Broadway La Bohème. It is very gratifying to watch the continuance of his flourishing career."

Okulitch also logged time in the Vocal Arts Center. "Dan is a wonderful young musician," says Professor Miller. "His voice has developed into an impressive vocal instrument. He was a marvelous student, fully committed and dedicated to his work."

Both keep in touch with their former professor: they called him from California during the show's out-of-town run and have invited him to see La Bohème on Broadway. "They told me how wonderful it is to be working with such an imaginative director" as Luhrmann, says Miller. "I am certain they and the production will enjoy a long, successful run."

To read more about La Bohème, visit www.bohemeonbroadway.com. -MJ

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Fly Away Home

The acclaimed contemporary-music ensemble eighth blackbird returned to the nest in December 2001 to donate a performance in a benefit presented by Classical Action Oberlin, a collegiate branch of the New York-based organization Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS. Among the works the ensemble performed was Professor of Composition and Music Theory Randolph Coleman's Portals . . . where birds fly still, which it commissioned. Eighth blackbird flies home again in 2004 to perform on the 125th anniversary season of the Artist Recital Series; by then its first commercial CD, Thirteen Ways, will have been released by Cedille Records. The disc will include Variations, a piece by David Schober '97. All members of the ensemble, which was formed at Oberlin in 1996, are Conservatory graduates. For more news about the flock, visit eighthblackbird.com.

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Playing Outside the Bachs:Playing Outside the Bachs:
Amy Guitry and Debra Nagy Take First Prizes

ABach's set of winners? Bach to the future? With three consecutive top prizes for Oberlin-trained musicians at the American Bach Soloists' (ABS) competition, the puns are irresistible.

Last June, baroque flutist Amy Guitry '98 and baroque oboist Debra Nagy '00, MM '02, (below) shared the top prize at the ABS' International Oboe and Flute competition. The competition is held biennially at the Berkeley Festival and Exhibition in Berkeley, California.

"Having our students win the top prizes in this competition each time it has been held is extremely exciting for us," says Associate Dean of the Con-servatory and Professor of Recorder and Baroque Flute Michael Lynn. "The fact that we have now won in harpsichord, violin, flute, and oboe shows the breadth of our program and the excellence of our students."

For those who have not been keeping score, here is a brief history of Oberlin's participation: In 2000, Oberlin violinists Simos Papanas '99, Heidi Powell MM '01, and Emily Fowler '01, MM '02, won the three top prizes in the ABS' International Violin Competition. Harpsichordist Michael Sponseller '97, AD '00 won the top prize two years earlier.

Amy Guitry, one of the 2002 cowinners, studied recorder with Pro-fessor Lynn and flute with professor of Flute Michel Debost. A Fulbright Scholarship recipient, she is studying baroque flute with Stephen Preston at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama this year.

Debra Nagy, who shares the 2002 prize, was a student of Professor of Oboe James Caldwell. She began her studies of baroque oboe at Oberlin's Baroque Performance Institute with Gonzalo Ruiz. She received a Belgian American Educational Foundation Grant to study shawm, recorder, and Renaissance performance practice in Brussels. -MJ

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Musicians Without Borders
by Mark Satola

It's a long way from the subtropical paradise of Hainan Island off the southern coast of China to the gray, wintry environs of New York City. But 26-year-old composer Huang Ruo '00 has taken the journey easily in stride, and the rising young star has incorporated the idea of crossing boundaries into the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the music group he cofounded with fellow Oberlin graduate Claire Chase '00.

Illustration of Huang Ruo"The reason we call it the International Contemporary Ensemble is that we bring fine musicians together, no matter where they are from," says Huang. "We are a collective of musicians and performers dedicated to playing and promoting the music of our time."

One aspect of ICE that makes it different from other ensembles is that it's not located in one city. Some ICE members (or "icicles," as they whimsically call themselves) are based in New York City, others are in Boston, still more are to be found in Chicago, where cofounder Chase lives.

In November 2002, ICE was in Chicago to give the United States premiere of Luciano Berio's 1985 dance score Naturale, for viola, percussion, and tape, with choreography by Juliana F. May.

"Every seat was sold out," says Huang. "We had a very good audience, and people liked what we did. We had the music of Berio, stage design, light ing, and choreography." As a result of the Chicago concert, ICE has been invited to be one of the guest ensembles at the Chicago Cultural Center later this year.

ICE is different from other ensembles in another aspect - its shifting lineup.

"There are two types of music groups," says Huang. "Ones like eighth blackbird or Musica Pacifica have five or six players in a lineup that doesn't change. Our group has 25 performers, with more joining as we need them. It's a unique arrangement."

ICE's most recent concert, of four concertos by Huang, took place this past February as part of the innovative Composer Series at Columbia University's Miller Theatre, and represents something of a crowning achievement for Huang, whose recent awards include the 2002 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composers Award for Three Pieces for Orchestra, and the 2002 Israel Prize. Huang is the youngest composer on the Miller season's showcase of works by Elliott Carter, Gerard Grisey, Lee Hyla, György Kurtág, David Lang, Oberlin Assistant Professor of Composition Jeffrey Mumford, Tristan Murail, Ezequiel Viñao, and Charles Wuorinen.

Huang's success at such an early age comes as no surprise. He's just one member of an accomplished musical family.

"My father is a composer," Huang says. "When I was little, I listened to his piano playing. He'd play his music to the whole family."

Huang and his family moved from Hainan, where he was born, to main land China when he was a year old. They settled in Guangzhou in the Canton province, where his father, Huang Yingsen, became a professor at the Guangzhou Conservatory of Music. "My father has a unique style," Huang notes. "He wrote music for both western orchestras and Chinese orchestras, and for film and television."

At the age of 12 Huang entered the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, studying piano and composition. More than once, the composer in Huang influenced the pianist in him.

"I would get nervous playing on stage, or for juries," he admits. "If I forgot where I was in a piece, I would improvise in the style of the composer I was playing." Huang's improvisations were so idiomatic that a competition juror once complimented him on a performance and was more than a little surprised when Huang confessed that he'd improvised to cover up a memory lapse.

The desire to expand his education beyond what China offered brought Huang to the United States and Oberlin College. "In China, we didn't have very good libraries where we could listen to western music," he says. "Oberlin has a wonderful library of recordings and scores. I got to know the music of John Cage, chance music, avant-garde, hardcore European modernism, and American serialism. It really challenged me.

"If I hadn't gone to Oberlin, maybe to someplace where only one style was taught, I wouldn't have become the composer I am, using many different styles."

That eclectic outlook is reflected in the programs of ICE. "We dare to put different things on the same program," Huang says. "You have to have variety. Even the best food, if you eat it 10 hours a day, you'd get sick of it." At a Chicago ICE concert in January 2002, for example, works by John Cage, Steve Reich, Huang Ruo, and J.S. Bach inhabited a peaceable musical kingdom.

ICE set Chicago buzzing with its First Annual Chicago ICE-Fest in June 2002. Over the course of three imaginatively themed concerts, ICE presented works by George Crumb, Olivier Messiaen, Sofia Gubaidulina, Aaron Copland, Jacob Druckman, and Steve Reich. They also played works by Huang and fellow ICE composer, Boston-based Du Yun '99, and gave world premieres of ICE commissions from Erik Spangler and Rob Reich.

Huang returned to China over the holidays this past December, giving a series of lectures at Guangzhou Conservatory. One of them, aimed at a general audience, outlined new music trends around the world. Another discussed the use of new and often organic forms in new music. A third lecture focused on the Renaissance Mass and the rendering of early-music scoring into modern notation, a skill not generally taught, Huang says, in Chinese conservatories.

As for the future, Huang hopes to extend the inter-city model established by ICE. "We hope to have different chapters around the country," he says, "maybe even expand across the world."

But however far Huang and his "icicles" spread their unique purpose, his years at Oberlin will continue to resonate for him. "Being at Oberlin really opened up my personal tastes," he says. "It was good preparation for being
a composer, conductor, artist, and director.

"Oberlin has always been a special place, and still is, even after coming to New York. I liked the commitment and passion of the students there. We had the freedom to write what we dream of."

Mark Satola is an announcer and producer with WCLV-FM, Cleveland's classical music radio station. He frequently writes about classical music for Cleveland-area publications.

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