Home :: Accolades


:: Percussionist Ross Karre Wins Seat in Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra
:: Spencer Myer Wins International Piano Competition in South Africa
:: Pianist Thomas Rosenkranz Wins APA Classical Fellowship Award
:: Also Holding Keys to Success...
:: Winners of the 2003-04 Concerto Competition
:: Violinist David Bowlin Wins 2003 Washington International String Competition
:: Julia Sakharova Captures Top Prize in Montreal
:: Violinist Ui-Youn Hong Wins at Wieniawski and Corpus Christi International Competitions
:: Bel Canto
:: Winning Personalities
:: Obies Win Prestigious Fellowships

Percussionist Ross Karre Wins Seat in Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra

Ross Karre '05
(photo by Al Fuchs)

Ross Karre ’05, a percussion performance major, was selected to participate in the 2004 Lucerne (Switzerland) Festival Academy Orchestra. Acclaimed conductor Pierre Boulez is the festival’s music director as well as principal conductor of the festival academy orchestra.

Karre will be in Lucerne from Aug. 28 to Sept. 17. He was chosen by the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the festival’s ensemble-in-residence.

Karre’s reaction to the good news?

“I am excited because the opportunity is awesome, relieved because I put quite a lot of time and effort into the audition CD, and stunned because the age cut-off is 28, and I’m only 20,” he says.

For the audition recording, Karre played the obligatory repertoire: Jacob Druckman’s Reflections on the Nature of Water, nos. 1 and 4, Philippe Manoury’s Le livre des claviers, no. 4, solo de vibraphone, and Elliott Carter’s Eight Pieces for Timpani, no. 1. Candidates were also allowed one piece composed after 1950 of their choosing. Karre selected Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kontakte for Piano, Percussion, and Electronic Sounds, which he had recorded with pianist Michael Gallope ’03 for an honors recital earlier this year.

“The required pieces were extremely difficult, and in some cases, not pieces commonly performed in America. I spent about three hours a day for three months working on the repertoire, and I recorded the required pieces in Kulas Recital Hall over an 18-hour period Jan. 2 and 3 this year. I then picked the best takes from about 100 complete takes and sent the CD off to Switzerland.”

All Karre’s expenses, including air travel, room, board, and tuition, will be paid by the festival academy.

“I auditioned for Lucerne because I admire Pierre Boulez and I love the complexity and conceptual nature of new music, especially the new music that we will be playing at the festival—a very intense program by such composers as Birtwistle, Boulez,
Berio, Harvey, and Donatoni,” says Karre, who studies with Professor of Percussion Michael Rosen. “I hope to learn about how the new music of Europe is interpreted in Europe. I believe that the proliferation of this music is vital to the advancement of music as an art.”

Karre wrote an article for the April 2003 issue of Percussive Notes about practice techniques using Rosen’s methodology. Rosen has shown him the importance of deeply examining a piece of music, he says.

“Mr. Rosen constantly emphasizes the crucial part of music that is far beyond the notes, rhythms, and dynamics,” he says. “That part of music seems so important to him that he doesn’t even have a single word to describe it. He calls it ‘drama,’ or ‘color,’ or ‘panache.’ Sometimes he just says ‘you know what I mean.’”

And in the intellectual understanding that so many Oberlin teachers have with their students, Karre does.

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Spencer Myer Wins International Piano Competition in South Africa

Spencer Myer '00 (left) and his teacher, Peter Takács (photo by John Seyfried)

Spencer Myer ’00 was the only pianist from the United States selected to compete in the finals round of the 10th Unisa International Piano Com-petition, held in February 2004 in Pretoria, South Africa. He won the first place award.

He also won five of the six special prizes for which he was eligible.

In the final round, Myer played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 4 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 9 with the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa, conducted by David Scarr. He had studied the Mozart at Oberlin with Professor of Piano Peter Takács.

“Peter was definitely with me while I was playing the Mozart,” says Myer. “His most important advice to me was this: Be real and natural. In tone and in phrasing, make the phrase speak and yet have it make sense in the big picture.”

“One of the great rewards of teaching at Oberlin is to watch a student flourish after graduation,” says Takács. “This has certainly been the case with Spencer, who left Oberlin with enormous potential and is now becoming a piano virtuoso who is also an artist. I am following his successes with enormous satisfaction.”

Myer holds a master of music degree from Juilliard and is working toward the DMA at the State University of New York at Stonybrook. Among his other awards is a first
prize medal from the 2002 Heida Hermanns International Piano Competition. The South Africa competition, however, was the first finals round in which he competed that featured a concerto with orchestra, rather than a piano solo.

“Performing with the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa was a huge, huge thrill,” he says.

In addition to the first prize, Myer won awards for best performance of Bach, best performance of the third-round recital, best performance of a commissioned piece, best performance of a classical concerto, and best performance of a Romantic concerto. His treasury was enhanced by $27,000.

“When they began announcing the special awards, I had an inkling that either I had won the whole thing or I was being given consolation prizes. The feeling was overwhelming. What was especially gratifying was that I knew the jury liked me as a musician, since I didn’t play too many slam-bang, showy pieces.”

The competition began in 1982. The winner that year? Marc-André Hamelin.

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Pianist Thomas Rosenkranz Wins APA Classical Fellowship Award

Pianist Thomas Rosenkranz ’99 won the American Pianists Association (APA) Classical Fellowship Award for 2003. The APA selected two fellows from five finalists who participated in its legendary (and grueling) Discovery Week last April, the culmination of a competition that began seven months earlier.

Rosenkranz received a cash prize of $20,000 and two years of performances, master classes, and educational outreach. He also received the APA’s Locke Reynolds Lieder Award.

After performing a solo recital and concerto with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra in Indianapolis earlier in the 2002-03 season, each APA finalist entered the Discovery Week zone. Before a distinguished jury and audience, each pianist performed chamber music with the Pacifica Quartet, solo repertoire at the gala finals concert, and a combination of solo and lieder repertoire in a song recital featuring tenor Steven Stolen and mezzo-soprano Mary Ann Hart.

For his performance with the Pacifica Quartet, two members of which are Conservatory alumni, Rosenkranz played Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G Minor, op. 57. Whitney Smith, music critic for the Indianapolis Star, wrote that the piece “came off sounding fresh,” and praised Rosenkranz as “an impressive communicator.”

“Playing with the Pacifica was pure joy,” says Rosenkranz, who studied with Professor of Pianoforte Robert Shannon. “Their charisma—during rehearsal and in performance—was so inspiring. The spontaneity of their playing made me want to push my musical limits further. Their sense of humor was very engaging in the midst of this competition.”

A sense of humor, it would seem, could prove useful not only during Discovery Week, but throughout the entire seven-month experience, which Rosenkranz described as “nerve racking,” despite his resolve to “go into the process with no expectations, trying to imagine these performances as concerts rather than competitions where I was trying to prove something to the judges.”

“One of the best aspects about this competition is the fact that you become part of the musical community of Indianapolis for a little while,” he says. “I did a residency at an inner-city high school and played with their orchestra. It was so moving to be a part of their energy and enthusiasm for the music we were playing.”

Following his stint in Indianapolis, Rosenkranz returned to Paris, where he has been studying Oliver Messiaen’s Vingt regards sur l’enfant Jesus with the composer’s wife, Yvonne Loriod, on a Presser Foundation grant.

Rosenkranz says that without Shannon’s “patience, guidance, and inspiration,” he would not be where he is today.

“Oberlin is a utopia of creative ideas and creative minds. This energy gave me courage to try and find aspects in music that I can truly love and feel close to.”

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Also Holding Keys to Success...

Corbin Calloway ’04 won first prize (collegiate level) in the 23rd Bartok-Kabalevsky-Prokofiev International Piano Competition, held at Radford University in Radford, Virginia, in April 2003. He shared the top prize with a pianist from Portugal.

Daniela Flonta ’03 won first place (the Yockey Scholarship for Piano) at Akron’s Tuesday Musical Club in May 2003.

Wei-Ya Lai ’03 was a national finalist in the MTNA Collegiate Artist Piano Competition, held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in April 2003.

Svetlana Smolina ’03 won the silver medal and the audience prize at the Shreveport Symphony Wideman Piano Competition, held in Louisiana in March 2003. She performed Rachmaninoff’s Concerto no 3.

Christina Thayer ’03 was one of only eight pianists nationwide chosen as winners of the 2003 Yamaha Young Performing Artist Competition, held at Illinois State University in June 2003.

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Winners of the 2003-04 Concerto Competition

Left to right: Arthur Espiritu,
Taisiya Pushkar, Gared Crawford,
and Scott Meek (photo by John Seyfried)

Prokofiev was the composer of the hour—and the lucky charm—at the 2003 Concerto Competition, held in October in Finney Chapel.

Eighteen finalists competed, and of the four selected as winners, three performed works by the Russian master.

The winners secured spots as soloists in performances with the Oberlin Orchestra and Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Associate Professor of Conducting Steven Smith, during the 2003-04 season.

Tenor and artist diploma candidate Arthur Espiritu ’04, the non-Prokofiev winner, performed Mozart’s aria Misero! O sogno! O son desto, K. 431. He reprised the work in concert with the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra in November. Espiritu studies with Professor of Singing Richard Miller.

Violinist Gared Crawford ’04 performed his winning Prokofiev Violin Concerto in D Major with the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra in December. Crawford studies with Professor of Violin Gregory Fulkerson.

Pianist Scott Meek '05 appeared with the Oberlin Orchestra in March, performing Prokofiev’s Concerto no. 3; Glen Cortese was guest conductor. Meek is a student of Associate Professor of Piano Alvin Chow.

Pianist Taisiya Pushkar ’04 played Prokofiev’s Concerto no. 1 with the Oberlin Orchestra in May. Pushkar studies with Professor of Piano Lydia Frumkin.

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Violinist David Bowlin Wins 2003 Washington Interna-tional String Competition

Violinist David Bowlin ’00 won first prize in the violin division at the 2003 Washington International String Competition. He was awarded $6,000 and a recital at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

Bowlin is a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and an active chamber musician. As a member of the Andros String Quartet, he was a finalist in the 2003 Concert Artists’ Guild competition. Along with flutist Patricia Spencer ’65 and pianist Blair McMillen ’93, he is also a member of the Da Capo Chamber Players.

Bowlin studied at Oberlin with Roland and Almita Vamos. He earned his master’s degree from the Juilliard School in 2002.

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Julia Sakharova Captures Top Prize in Montreal

Julia Sakharova '03
(photo by John Seyfried)

Violinist Julia Sakharova ’03, now an artist diploma student, took the sixth place prize at the Jeunesses Musicales Montreal International Competition, which attracted 154 violinists from 34 different countries. For the finals round, Sakharova performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Asher Fisch.

The event was covered live by Radio-Canada’s Chaîne culturelle, CBC Radio Two, the ARTV speciality channel, on the Internet, and in some 50 countries via the European Broadcasting Union. The Strad also covered the competition, and in its October issue, Naomi Sadler praised the “conviction and intensity” of Sakharova’s Mendelssohn: “She brought the first movement to a rousing conclusion and then displayed a pleasing delicacy of phrasing in the Andante.” As part of her award, Sakharova was featured on a CD recording with the other top winners.

Sakharova studies with Professor of Violin Milan Vitek.

Sakharova’s 2002 recording of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Elegiaque Piano Trios with pianist Yung Wook Yoo and cellist Margret Arnadottir (Tavros Records) rated three stars (“an outstanding performance and recording in every way”) in the 2003-04 edition of The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs & DVDs. “They make a fine team and give performances that are as passionate as they are lyrically spontaneous.”

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Violinist Ui-Youn Hong Wins at Wieniawski and Corpus Christi International Competitions

Ui-Youn Hong '07

Violin performance major Ui-Youn Hong ’07 took third prize in the junior division of the prestigious Henryk Wieniawski International Violin Competition for Young Violinists. The competition took place in Lublin, Poland, in September 2003.

A student of Assistant Professor of Violin Kyung Sun Lee, Hong also won second place in the string division of the Corpus Christi International Competition for Piano and Strings, held in February 2004 at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas.

From ChungJu, Korea, Hong was just 16 at the time of the Wieniawski competition. She played Vieuxtemps’ Concerto no. 5 for the finals, in which she competed with nine violinists. To rise above the preliminary pool of 60 participants, she performed Paganini’s Caprice no. 5, Bach’s Sonata no. 3, and Wieniawski’s Caprice. For the semifinals she played Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy and Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, K. 301.

As a top prizewinner, Hong was invited to perform at the competition’s gala concert, held in Wieniawski Hall. She played the Waxman and the Wieniawski.

“The Wieniawski competition is considered one of the larger and more difficult international violin competitions, especially in the junior division,” says Lee. “Many well-known European violinists—Maxim Vengerov, for example—have won the Wieniawski.”

For the finals round of the Corpus Christi Competition, Hong played Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D Minor. In addition to her second place award, she took home the Howard Beebe String Award for Solo Bach Performance for her interpretation of the Bach Sonata no. 3 (“Fugue”).

Hong and Lee met three years ago in Korea, and Hong began studying with Lee as a private student last year. “She teaches me to find the music in myself,” Hong says of her teacher.

No newcomer to competitions, Hong won first prize in both the 2000 I-Wha National Competition and the 2001 Korean Times National Competition, both held in Seoul. A 2001 graduate of the YeWon School of the Arts, she has performed as a soloist with the Seoul Philharmonic and the Korean Symphony orchestras.

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Bel Canto

Soprano Alyson Cambridge ’02, winner of the 2003 Metropolitan Opera Auditions, won first prize at the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation International Voice Competition, held in April 2003 in New York. Of the five singers awarded first prizes, Cambridge placed the highest. She made her Alice Tully Hall debut in a November 2003 winners’ concert.

Soprano Malia Bendi Merad ’03 won second place in the senior division of the Irma M. Cooper Opera Columbus Vocal Competition, held in March 2003. She also received the Merle McInturff Award for Musical Excellence. In June 2003, Merad sang in concert performances of Verdi’s Don Carlo with the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. The performances also featured basso Samuel Ramey. Plain Dealer music critic Donald Rosenberg wrote that Merad provided “a soaring Voice from Heaven.” Other recent Oberlin graduates in Don Carlo were Rebecca Ringle ’03 as Tebaldo, Eric Owens ’03 as the Old Monk, and Joseph Holmes ’03.

Merad and sopranos Marcy Stonikas ’02 and Ellie Dehn ’02 were joined by mezzos Karen Jesse ’04, Jean Lowe ’04, BA ’04, and Elizabeth DeShong ’02 as the Flowermaidens when the Cleveland Orchestra, under the baton of Pierre Boulez, presented Act II of Wagner’s Parsifal in February 2004 performances at Severance Hall and at Carnegie Hall in New York. Of the Cleveland performance, Donald Rosenberg wrote that they were “persuasive and shining.”

Elizabeth DeShong made her solo debut with the Cleveland Orchestra in performances of Debussy’s La Damoiselle élue in March, under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst. Dame Felicity Lott, wrote Donald Rosenberg, “was joined by a sonorous mezzo-soprano, Elizabeth DeShong, and women of the Oberlin College Choir, who were aptly cherubic.”

From September 2004 to July 2006, visitors to London will find mezzo-soprano Liora Grodnikaite MM ’03 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where she has been accepted to the Vilar Young Artists Program. Grodnikaite spent the past year with the resident artist program of the Minnesota Opera, and she was a first prize winner at the Met District Auditions, held in Minnesota in November 2003. She spent summer 2003 at the Opera Theater of St. Louis, where she caught the ear of F. Paul Driscoll, who wrote in the October 2003 issue of Opera News: “One of the great pleasures of the OTSL season is spotting gold within the young-artist ranks. ...Liora Grodnikaite, Thaïs’s tooth- some Myrtale, was another standout in the class of 2003.”

Tenor Bo Jensen AD ’03 won the Purcell Prize in the Young Artist division of the Orpheus National Music Competition, held in May 2003. The previous month he won first prize in the VARN (Vocal Arts Resource Network) art song competition. A native of Copenhagen, Denmark, he is studying this year at the Royal Danish Opera’s Young Artist Program. Tenor Arthur Espiritu AD ’04 took the Mozart Prize in the Orpheus Competition.

Baritone Daniel Okulitch ’99 was one of six major award winners in the prestigious George London Foundation Competition, held in March 2004 in New York. In the finals round, Okulitch says, competitors sang only one piece, selected by the panel. He was asked to sing The Confession, an aria from Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking; he sang the aria in the preliminary round as well. He performed in the winners’ recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on April 14, 2004.

Baritone Scott Skiba ’03 MM ’03 won first place and Edward Geschke ’04 won second place in the Dayton Opera Guild Competition, held in April 2003. They were the only finalists to win prizes.

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Winning Personalities

Violinist Daniel Austrich ’05 and pianist Michael Bukhman ’05 performed at the prestigious Piano and Friends series at the October 2003 Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. The duo performed again at the Dayton Art Institute’s Vanguard Concert Series in April 2004. Bukhman is the winner of the Conservatory’s 2003 Arthur Dann Piano Competition.

Hannah Shaw (left)
and Molly Gebrian
(photo by John Seyfried)

Violinist Maria Bessmeltseva ’04 won first prize at the Elizabeth Harper Vaughn Concerto Competition, held in Kingsport, Tennessee, in February. In addition to a cash prize of $1,500, she will perform with the Symphony of the Mountains (formerly the Kingsport Symphony Orchestra) in January 2005. Bessmeltseva, who is from St. Petersburg, Russia, studies with Alla Aranovskaya of the St. Petersburg String Quartet. In March 2003, Bessmeltseva won a scholarship prize from the Tuesday Musical Club at its annual competition, held at the University of Akron.

Pianist Lorelei Suzanne Bowman ’05 and flutists Rebecca Davidson ’05 and artist diploma candidate Young-Joo Yoo ’04 also won scholarship prizes at the Tuesday Musical Club in 2003. Bowman also won second place in the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs Student Auditions, held in February 2004.

Violists Molly Gebrian ’04 BA ’04 and Hannah Shaw ’06 won first and second prizes, respectively, in a sweep of the Ohio Viola Society Competition’s collegiate division, held at the Conservatory in March 2004. Gebrian studies with Professor of Viola Peter Slowik, and Shaw studies with Associate Professor of Viola Roger Chase. Both performed Bartok’s Viola Concerto; Gebrian also performed Hindemith’s Solo Sonata, op. 41, no. 4., and Shaw played a viola arrangment of J.S. Bach’s Partita no. 3. Alan De Veritch, professor of viola at Indiana University, and Deborah Price, artistic director of the Chamber Music Connection in Columbus, Ohio, adjudicated the competition.

Music education major Amy Helfer ’04 won the Ohio Music Education Association’s Edith M. Keller Memorial Scholarship for 2002-03. The awards are presented annually to four or five Ohio music education students to assist with expenses incurred during their student teaching term.

Performing as Trio Devoto, cellist Brian Hoffman ’05, violinist Emma Lundgren ’05, and pianist Kyung-Eun Na ’03 won the East Central Division finals in the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Senior Chamber Music Competition, held at the University of Akron in January 2004. The trio is coached by Professor of Violin Milan Vitek.

Performing Vaughan Williams’ Concerto for Bass Tuba, Michael Roest ’06 won the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, held in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in January 2004. He also won the Clarinda Swansen College Division Scholarship. Roest was the featured soloist with the Kenosha Symphony at a youth concert May 7, 2004.

Adiel Shmit ’04 was chosen to perform at the Young Artists International Laureates Festival in Los Angeles in July 2003. The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra invited him to perform Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei for Cello and Orchestra in January 2004. Shmit will return to Israel in January 2005 to perform four concerts with the Ra’anana Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Nir Kabaretti, premiering a new cello concerto by Doron Toister. A student of Assistant Professor of Cello Darrett Adkins, Shmit was part of a select group of young musicians (and one of only two U.S. cellists) to participate in the Artur Balsam Chamber Music Foundation Workshop in Wabash and Bloomington, Indiana, in May 2003.

Fei Xie ’04 auditioned in March 2003 for the seat of associate principal bassoon of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and made it to the final round. This year he made it to the finals in the competition for the position of principal bassoon of the San Diego Symphony. “This is pretty astounding, considering he is an undergraduate,” says Assistant Dean of the Conservatory Marci Alegant. Xie is principal bassoonist in the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra and substitutes for the Canton Symphony. He is a student of Associate Professor of Bassoon George Sakakeeny.

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Obies Win Prestigious Fellowships

Mark Barden Studies Schnittke with Watson Fellowship
A Thomas J. Watson Fellowship transformed a dream into reality for Mark Barden ’03 last August. Barden, who majored in piano performance and composition, is undertaking a yearlong sojourn to study Alfred Schnittke’s music with several of the Russian-born composer’s closest associates.

“I’m awestruck by the possibilities this represents. It will be the most independent year of my life,” Barden says.

Watson Fellowships allow scholars to pursue independent research while traveling for a year outside the United States. During his time away, Barden plans to analyze the structure and performance practice of Schnittke’s music, as well as work on his own composing.

At Oberlin, Barden studied with Professor of Pianoforte Monique Duphil and composition professors Randolph Coleman and Lewis Nielson.

Jill Lichtenwalner Captures Fulbright, Compares Approaches to Music History

Jill Lichtenwalner '04

A Fulbright Scholarship will allow Jill Lichtenwalner ’04, a percussion performance and music history major, to spend a year at the University of Bonn in Germany, where she will study differences in German and American approaches to music history.

“I believe this experience will be invaluable to my development as both a person and a musicologist,” she says. “I am eager to study intensely the repertoire of Beethoven, Schumann, and Mendelssohn. Engaging in these intense studies will make me a stronger candidate for graduate school in the future.”

Working with the music of these masters, Lichtenwalner plans to explore how and why American scholarship—the roots of which were formed by German musicology—has diverged and now encompasses broader fields.

Martha Newland Awarded Duke University Endowment Fellowship
Martha “Marti” Newland ’03 was awarded the Duke University Endowment Fellowship in February 2003. The award funds her tuition and fees and provides a living stipend for her graduate studies at Duke, where she is working toward a PhD in musicology with an emphasis in African American art songs.

In October 2002, Newland re-ceived a fellowship from the American Musicological Society’s Committee on Cultural Diversity to attend its national conference. Her work on African American vocal art music was published in the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Program Journal in fall 2002. She has interned with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, conducted donor research for the Cincinnati Opera, and acted as a cultural authenticity mentor to the Cotton Blossom Singers of the Piney Woods School in Mississippi.

A cofounder of the Oberlin Conservatory Black Musicians Guild, Newland holds degrees in voice performance and African American studies from Oberlin.

Sarah Tiedemann Receives American-Scandinavian Foundation Grant
Flutist Sarah Tiedemann ’02, winner of a Jacob Javits Fellowship in 2002, has received the Thord-Gray Memorial Fund grant from the American-Scandinavian Foundation. The $11,000 award will help support her work in Sweden, where she will study orchestral performance. Tiedemann, who completed her master of music degree at the New England Conservatory in May, also was named an alternate for a Fulbright Scholarship in 2004.

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