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:: Core Values: The Chamber Musician as Community Activist
:: Opera Director Delights in Proving People Wrong

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Margaret Brouwer ’62 was honored in April 2004 with a Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition. According to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, “Guggenheim Fellows are appointed on the basis of unusually impressive achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.” Margaret was one of 185 fellows chosen from among 3,268 applicants in a wide variety of creative and scientific fields.

Joyce Wilson ’63 received the 2004 Caleb Mills Distinguished Teaching Award from Indiana State University, Terre Haute, where she has taught flute performance and music literature since 1970. During the commencement ceremony presentation, Joyce was recognized for her outstanding achievements as an educator and her commitment to both studio and classroom students. She holds master of music and doctor of musical arts degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and performs in the Faculty Wind Quintet and the Terre Haute Symphony.

Edward Swenson ’63 was the subject of a feature story in the Ithaca Journal (N.Y.) in August, in which he was identified as one of only four or five piano restoration specialists in the United States with expertise in restoring 18th-century Viennese pianos. Edward told reporter Adam Wilson that he began learning his skill at Oberlin. He has been restoring and reselling pianos out of his home workshop in Trumansburg, N.Y., ever since, while maintaining a full-time career as a professor in the music department at Ithaca College.

Clyde “Tom” Shaw ’71 has been appointed associate professor of cello at the Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va. He is celebrating his 30th anniversary as cellist and co-founder of the internationally acclaimed Audubon Quartet, which recently recorded a new collection of arrangements for string quartet based on music by Jerome Kern. Contact Tom at cshaw2@su.edu or visit the AQ web site at www.audubon4tet.com.



Organist and composer Calvin Taylor ’70 was the featured soloist in Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3 with the Bowling Green Western Symphony Orchestra in Kentucky last September. The concert took place at the First Baptist Church, where he is also the organist. Calvin told the Bowling Green Daily News that the church’s organ, built in the French tradition and installed in 1994, is “undoubtedly one of the finest instruments in Kentucky.” Taylor is a prolific composer; his Choral Fantasia on Deep River was commissioned in observance of the 50 years of black presence at the University of Kentucky.

Sylvia Kahan ’73 has received much favorable media attention since the publication of her book, Music’s Modern Muse: A Life of Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac (University of Rochester Press, 2003). The Times of London called it a “superb new biography,” and Sylvia was interviewed on British Broadcasting Company Radio 3 in March 2004. The same month, she appeared at a reading and book signing at the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble in New York and appeared in a special feature about Winnaretta on A&E-TV as part of a celebration of Women’s History Month. Another laudatory review appeared this January in the Times Literary Supplement: “[Sylvia] has scored a coup in at last gaining untrammeled access to the Polignac archives.”

Jillon Stoppels Dupree ’79 and her new double-manual harpsichord, a replica of a Flemish instrument made by Joannes Ruckers in 1624 and built by Kevin Fryer of San Francisco, were featured in the Seattle Times in January 2004. The occasion was Jillon’s first public performance on the instrument, presented by Gallery Concerts, a chamber music series that she co-directs with pianist George Bozarth. She plays frequently with other groups in the Seattle area as well, including the Seattle Symphony and the Early Music Guild. Her repertoire also includes contemporary music; she premiered a Philip Glass concerto for harpsichord in September 2002 with the Northwest Chamber Orchestra.

Angela Kraft Cross ’80 balances her life between ophthalmic surgery at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, Calif., and a concert career in organ and piano. In 2003, she played organ concerts in London and at St. Clotilde and the American Church in Paris. She also performed her composition Symphony of Peace at the American Cathedral in Paris, where Ned Tipton ’81 is director of music and organist. In 2004, she performed concerts at All Hallows by the Tower and Southwark Cathedral in London and St. Bonaventure in Lyon, France. She has released three CDs on Arkay Records: French Romantic Organ Favorites, Stylus Fantasticus: North German Baroque Favorites, and a piano recording, The Elegance of Vienna, featuring piano sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Contact her at krftcrss@pacbell.net.

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) music critic Donald Rosenberg profiled harpists Nancy Lendrim ’80 and Jody Guinn last July upon the release of their “enchanting” first recording, Short Stories: Music for Harp Duos by Carlos Salzedo (Azica Records). Nancy studied at Oberlin with Salzedo protégé and former principal harpist of the Cleveland Orchestra Alice Chalifoux. Principal harpist of the Toledo Symphony, Nancy also performed with Guinn at the Geneva World Harp Congress in 2002.

Paul Griffiths wrote in the New York Times that countertenor Derek Lee Ragin ’80 “lent his intelligence, vocal charm, and smile” to the roles of Mr. Lies, the imaginary angel, and the nurse Belize in the Paris production of Peter Eotvos’ opera Angels in America, based on the multiple-award-winning play by Tony Kushner. The production, commissioned by the Théâtre du Châtelet, was staged last November.

Marta Schworm Weldon ’81 became executive director of the Fox Valley (Wis.) Symphony last June. She has earned both a master of music degree from the University of Michigan and a graduate certificate in non-profit management from Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to her new appointment, she was director of education for the Richmond (Va.) Symphony, in which she performed as second and E-flat clarinetist for many years.

Turkish American composer Kamran Ince ’82 was profiled in the July 2004 issue of BBC Music Magazine as one of the musicians showcased at Türkfest, a festival held last summer in London that threw a spotlight on Turkish classical, folk, and pop music. The festival’s program notes that Kamran, whose music incorporates Turkish instruments, ethnic voices, and evocative titles, “leads the new generation of Turkish composers.” Türkfest featured several of his pieces, including Symphony No. 2 (The Fall of Constantinople); Turquoise and Flight Box, with the Michael Nyman Band; and Fantasie of a Sudden Turtle, a piano quartet performed by the composer with the Vellinger String Quartet. The last three works were United Kingdom premieres. Kamran divides his time between the United States and Turkey; he is professor of composition at the University of Memphis and co-director of the advanced studies
in music program at the Istanbul Technical University. His web site is www.kamranince.com.

Scott Lawton ’82, principal conductor of the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg, led the first-ever orchestra project by Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club in a live concert in Berlin, Germany, last July. About 6,500 people came to hear Omara Portuondo and Ibrahim Ferrer, the two most prominent presently active Buena Vista stars, accompanied by the orchestra and Portuondo’s band. Scott has recorded many soundtracks for feature and television films with the orchestra and has conducted concerts throughout Germany. He regularly leads performances of silent films, such as Charlie Chaplin’s Goldrush, with synchronized orchestral accompaniment. Scott lives in Berlin and can be reached at scottlawton@web.de.

Andrew Taylor ’82 played Leo Bloom in the national tour of Mel Brooks’ Broadway hit The Producers last year, earning critical praise for his comic ability, singing, and dancing. He has appeared in leading roles in several Broadway shows, including Moon over Buffalo and Titanic, the national touring company of Cabaret, and as a guest on numerous television series, including CSI, Law and Order, and the soap opera As the World Turns.

Pianist Teresa McCollough ’83 commissioned composers Alvin Singleton, Alex Shapiro, Belinda Reynolds, and Zhou Long to create new works exploring the sound combinations of piano and other percussion instruments. The result was Music for Hammers and Sticks: New Music for Piano and Percussion. Teresa and percussionists Peggy Benkeser and Tom Burritt premiered the works at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in April 2004 and recorded them last summer for Innova Recordings. Teresa lives in the San Francisco Bay area and has developed an international reputation as a leading interpreter and advocate for contemporary music. Her web site is www.teresamccollough.com.

Baritone Todd Thomas ’84 made his Opera Hong Kong debut as Germont in La Traviata in December and, in the same role, made his New Orleans Opera debut earlier in the season. This April he made his debut with New York City Opera, singing Sonora while covering Jack Rance in La Fanciulla del West. Todd sang several new music concerts for the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, S.C., last summer; John Kennedy ’82 was the conductor.

Rebecca Henderson ’85 has a CD, ... Is but a Dream, a collection of rarely heard 20th-century music for solo and accompanied oboe, released in 2003 by Boston Records. Gramophone called it an “exquisite recital” and referred to Rebecca as “a master of romantic feeling in an American context.” Rebecca is associate professor of oboe at the University of Texas at Austin, teaches and performs at the International Festival- Institute at Round Top (the Texas summer series), and is on the faculty of the Marrowstone Music Festival in Bellingham, Wash. The Austin Chronicle noted that she has “the kind of command and expressiveness on her instrument that makes an oboe the favorite instrument you never knew you had.”

Since joining the Oregon Symphony’s first violin section in 1990, Ron Blessinger ’87 has been concertmaster of both the Peter Britt Festival Orchestra in Jacksonville (Ore.) and the Cascade Music Festival, as well as principal second violin of the American Institute of Musical Studies Orchestra in Graz, Austria. As artistic director of the Third Angle New Music Ensemble (www.thirdangle.org), he produced the group’s first CD recording, Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale for Gagliano. Third Angle now has five chamber music CDs available on Gagliano and on Koch International Classics.

Striking a pose for Prometheus: from left,
Derek Lee Ragin ’80, Catherine Turocy, and Jonathan Dawe ’87.

Composer Jonathan Dawe ’87 continues to receive important commissions and premieres. James Levine has asked him to write a large piece for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to be performed in 2006 in honor of the orchestra’s 150th anniversary. His new opera Prometheus, featuring countertenor Derek Lee Ragin ’80 in the title role and the New York Baroque Dance Company with Catherine Turocy, was performed in February as part of the “Works and Process Series” at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Prometheus was commissioned by the Cygnus Ensemble; Jeffrey Milarsky conducted.

Violist Nancy Buck ’88 and her identical twin, Elizabeth, were featured in the Arizona Republic last October; each teaches music at Arizona State University, each was hired independently of one another in 2002, and each performed recitals two weeks apart. Other twin moments are also cited in the article. Prior to joining the faculty at Arizona State, Nancy taught at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Ariane Sletner ’88 is an adjunct instructor of violin at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where she gave a recital in January 2004. Also in Ohio, she plays with the Columbus Symphony and the Dublin Chamber Music Society, and last June was soloist with the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, playing Chausson’s Poeme and Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy.

Tenor Joel Sorensen ’89 sang the role of Goro, the marriage broker, in the Metropolitan Opera broadcast performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in January 2004. The previous fall, he appeared as Curley in the New York City Opera revival of Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men. Reviewer Joshua Rosenblum, writing in the January 2004 issue of Opera News, credited Joel with “a powerful, danger-laced performance ... intimidating an entire roomful of burly men just by showing up.” In the same issue of the magazine, critic Leighton Kerner praised soprano Lisa Saffer ’82 for her performance as the Marchesa Violante in the New York City Opera production of Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, staged in September 2003.

Soprano and contemporary music champion Tony Arnold ’90, a.k.a. Screecher, joined several Conservatory alumni and faculty members in a cross-country celebration of composer George Crumb’s 75th birthday last year. The festivities, which ran from October 15 through November 6, began with a concert at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia in New York City that featured Tony along with David Bowlin ’00, violin; Kivie Cahn-Lipman ’00, cello; Claire Chase ’01, flute; Phyllis Chen ’99, piano; Jacob Greenberg ’97, piano, and Joshua Rubin ’99, clarinet. Professor of Piano Robert Shannon ’71 joined the tour in select cities, and James Keller ’75 gave a keynote address at Colorado College’s Packard Hall. For further updates on Screecher’s career, visit www.screecher.com.

Last May, Jeannette Sorrell ’92 received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Case Western Reserve University that recognizes her work as founder and music director of the Cleveland-based baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire. The award cited her “unusual background as both orchestral conductor and early music performer.”

Pianist and photographer Mark Thomas ’90 has gained substantial long-distance media attention from the New York Times, the St. Petersburg Times (Fla.), TimeOut New York, and Public Radio International’s Whad’Ya Know for his Payphone Project, a web site (www.payphone-project.com) originally intended to promote random contacts among strangers. The project grew out of his teenage hobby of calling pay phones and playing recorded classical piano music for the unknown person who picked up the phone. Mark also pursues the random and unusual on his other web site, www.sorabji.com (named for composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji), in which he has recorded pieces by many composers as well as his own improvisations. Mark performs professionally with the Astoria Music Society and as a soloist.

Arlene Sierra (photo
by Chris McMahon)

Composer Garrett Fisher ’91 and his Seattle-based Fisher Ensemble collaborated with New York artist and sculptor Louise McCagg and Seattle choreographer A.C. Petersen to present voICE, an interdisciplinary work combining music, voice, recorded sounds, and movement at the A.I.R. Gallery in New York City last September. The piece, part of a solo exhibit by McCagg titled Face Prints, incorporated her frozen face masks, which melt, crack, and shatter as the production progresses. The work is based on postcards that Hungarian Jews imprisoned in Auschwitz were forced to send to their families during World War II. The postcards, dictated by the SS, masked the reality of the concentration camp. voICE employs an eclectic ensemble of voice, English horn, Indian harmonium, and percussion partnered with the dancers’ pedestrian style of movement. Garrett has evolved a collaborative compositional style, working closely with singers, musicians, directors, choreographers, dancers, designers, and actors.

Avian Music, founded and directed by composer Peter Flint ’92, presented a concert, the Sweet Sounds of Politics, that featured the Avian Orchestra last October at Loft 343 in New York City. The program of contemporary music inspired by the political process included a political campaign opera, Photo-Op, by Conrad Cummings, former composition professor at the Conservatory, as well as works by Peter and other composers. Other Oberlin musicians involved in the program included Professor of Violin Gregory Fulkerson ’71, violinist Sarah Schwartz ’92, and pianist Blair McMillen ’93. The New York City-based Avian Orchestra is a contemporary music ensemble dedicated to building bridges between composers, performers, and audiences. Its themed concerts give emerging composers the opportunity to have their work performed alongside that of more established composers. To learn more, visit www.avianmusic.com.

Karl Lutgens ’92 was appointed to the board of the Florida Flute Association in 2004 and performed as a soloist and conducted master classes for the organization’s state conference. Karl lives in Fort Lauderdale and performs with the Miami, Hollywood (Fla.), Broward, Federation, and Florida Wind symphonies and is a former member of the New World Symphony.

Violinist Ari Pelto ’92 is living in New York City and working as a freelance conductor. He made two tours with the San Francisco Opera’s national touring company, performing Puccini’s La Bohème in 20 states in 2002 and Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte in 21 states in 2001. He has traveled to Japan as guest faculty and conductor at the New National Theatre in Tokyo and has led performances with the Atlanta Ballet, the Florida Orchestra, San Francisco Conservatory, New York City Opera, and the Spoleto Festival USA (including chamber music, symphonic programs, and opera). His web site is www.aripelto.com.

Composer Arlene Sierra ’92 divides her time between the United States and Great Britain. She has been appointed lecturer in composition at Britain’s Cardiff University School of Music. She previously taught composition at Cambridge University, where she will remain as a composer in residence through summer 2005. Her works are regularly commissioned and performed in cities throughout the world, including Hamburg, London, Vienna, San Francisco, and New York, where she makes her U.S. home. Performers of her music include the American Composers Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Albany (N.Y.) Symphony, the Schubert Ensemble of London, and the Tokyo Philharmonic. In 2001, Arlene won the Takemitsu Prize for Orchestral Composition, one of the most prestigious international competitions for new orchestral music.

Luke Housner ’93, a faculty member at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA), single-handedly prepared, musically directed, and performed on the piano without a conductor a fully staged production of Strauss’ Elektra as part of AVA’s 2003-04 opera season. Robert Baxter wrote in the British publication Opera: “Housner suggested much of the instrumental detail in Strauss’ score. Playing with unfailing beauty of tone and astonishing stamina throughout the 95-minute performance, [he] supported the singers and guided them from one magnificent musical climax to another.” Kristin Leich ’02, a resident artist at AVA, was one of the singers; she was cast as the Confidante and a maiden. Also in AVA’s resident artist program is Ellie Dehn ’02. When he’s not teaching German lieder or master classes, Luke and his wife, Carmelita Chu-Housner ’94 are busy gardening, cooking, and playing four-hand piano in accompaniment to their children, Simon, 4, and Faustina, 3, as they “imitate opera singers in dulcet tones.” Obies visiting Philly are welcome to drop them a line; they can be reached at 40fingers@verizon.net.

Blair McMillen
(photo by Bob London)

In February 2004, pianist Blair McMillen ’93 played music by two 20th-century Italian masters, Luciano Berio and Giacinto Scelsi, in the Piano Revolution Series at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. John Hammel, writing in WNTI radio’s e-zine Public Arts, called Blair’s technique “outright formidable. Dazzling and virtuosic ... always with a sensitivity that brings illumination to the knottiest music.” Allan Kozinn of the New York Times concurred: “McMillen showed both the technique to negotiate this music and the imagination to find its heart.” Dedicated to new and groundbreaking projects, Blair is a founding member of counter)induction, the New York-based composers’ and performers’ collective, and is pianist for the Da Capo Chamber Players.

Rebecca Edelson ’95 became personnel manager of the San Francisco Symphony in January 2004. She previously served in that capacity for the Columbus (Ohio) and Honolulu symphony orchestras and has been assistant to the orchestra personnel manager of the New York Philharmonic.

Percussionist Justin Hines ’95 and violinist Machiko Ozawa are JUSTADUO, presenting original contemporary chamber music inspired by world music, jazz, and the avant garde. Since 2001, they have performed several times in New York venues, including Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, HERE performance space, and Riverside Church. They have also performed in Japan at the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan. During the 2003-04 season, JUSTADUO was chosen to represent Lincoln Center in a series of outreach performances in children’s hospitals and senior homes. Syrenes, JUSTADUO’s concerto for violin, percussion, and orchestra, was commissioned by the North Shore Symphony Orchestra (Plainview, N.Y.) and premiered in spring 2004.

Jazz trumpeter Erik Jekabson ’95 moved to San Francisco in July 2003 to study music composition at the San Francisco Conservatory. His first solo album, Intersection, was released on the Fresh Sound/New Talent label that September. He toured in the summer of 2004 with singer-songwriter John Mayer. For more information, visit www.erikjekabson.com.

Michael Christie ’96 is music director designate of the Phoenix (Ariz.) Symphony; in September he will become the symphony’s Virginia G. Piper Music Director. In October 2004, he concluded his third season as director of the Queensland Orchestra (Australia), and he will remain as director of the Colorado Music Festival at least through the 2005 summer season. Michael was featured in the 2004 issue of Oberlin Conservatory in Heidi Waleson’s article Shaping the Sound. For more information about Michael, visit www.phoenixsymphony.org.

Jonathan Handman ’96 is the orchestra director at Marist College and is also in his eighth year of teaching strings for the Spackenkill School District in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. During his tenure, the grades 3 through 12 string program has grown from 75 students to more than 250, and he is now music coordinator and string teacher for grades 6 through 12. His school ensembles consistently earn gold ratings at state festivals. He is also codirector of Stringendo, the orchestra school of the Hudson Valley. Jonathan conducts Vivace, the most advanced Stringendo orchestra, composed of 25 high school students from various area schools, which presented a program at the National Association for Music Education (MENC) conference, held in Minneapolis last April. Jonathan earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting at the State University of New York, Fredonia, in 2002.

Michael Sponseller

Thanks to his experience with French baroque opera repertoire, harpsichordist Michael Sponseller ’97 was called, at the last minute, to step in for a performance and recording of Rameau’s Castor et Pollux with conductor Kevin Mallon’s Aradia Ensemble in Toronto last year. The resulting CD, on Naxos, was released last April; Michael recommends it for “some fantastic singing.” He took part in three more CDs released in 2004: Laurenti’s Suonate da camera per violoncello e basso, on which he plays both harpsichord and baroque cello (Centaur Records), and, with the American Bach Soloists, J.S. Bach’s Harpsichord Concertos and Corelli’s Six Concerti Grossi (Koch).

Soprano Rebecca Garcia ’98 made her debut with the Festival Opera (Walnut Creek, Calif.), last August as Juliette in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette. According to Georgia Rowe of the Contra Costa Times, “The soprano radiated freshness and innocence, and she met the vocal demands of the role head-on. Bright tone, agile phrasing, and secure coloratura marked her Act I Je veux vivre ... her performance in Act IV was nothing short of triumphant.” As for conductor Michael Morgan ’79, Rowe wrote that he “led a beautifully nuanced performance.”

Arden Kaywin ’99 writes that after spending two summer seasons with St. Louis Opera Theater and the winter of 2003 with the San Francisco Opera Center, she “decided to take a break from the opera world.” Now living in Los Angeles, she has recorded an EP of original songs “in the brave new world of pop music” that can be heard on her web site, www.ardenkaywin.com. She is a 2005 nominee in the Los Angeles Music Awards female vocalist of the year category; the ceremony will be held in November. Arden has signed Grammy-nominated engineer and mixer Rob Jacobs (who worked with Alanis Morissette and Sheryl Crowe) to mix her debut album, Quarter Life Crisis, which was released in April.

Trumpeter Kyle Lane ’99 was commissioned to write a piece for the Borealis Brass Trio that received its premiere in Fairbanks, Alaska, in April 2004. This composition, a book of trumpet duets, and several other works for brass have been published by Peak View Music (www.peakviewmusic.com).

Jazz trumpeter and composer Kevin Louis ’99 returned to Oberlin in April 2004, under the auspices of the Conservatory and the Black Musicians’ Guild, to play and work with students in the Jazz Studies Program. He gave a jazz improvisation workshop, a forum, and a free concert at the Cat in the Cream, assisted by Kassa Overall ’06 (drums), Courtney Bryan ’04 (piano), and Andrae Murchison ’04 (trombone). Kevin recently released a CD, Kevin Louis: Loved Ones. More information is available at www.kevinlouis.com.



CD release by Andrea Lindborg ’00.
(Courtesy FM Groove)

Jazz trumpeter and vocalist Andrea Lindborg ’00 has just completed her debut CD, Boro Song, under the stage name Solade for FM Groove. The label’s web site (www.fmgroove.com) describes her style as a blend of island and jazz and notes that her collaboration with FM Groove’s founder, Francis Mbappe, provides a musical texture rooted in traditional and original African rhythms. Andrea has performed at Lincoln Center’s “Night of the Cookers” and has toured extensively with jazz and Afro-beat bands in the U.S. and abroad. With her trio, she frequently performs at CAVO Lounge in New York. Andrea would like to find other Oberlin graduates in the music business; contact her at andrea_lindborg@yahoo.com.

Huang Ruo ’00
, composer, conductor, and artistic director of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) shared with Claire Chase ’01, ICE’s executive director, a Chamber Music America/ASCAP award for adventurous programming. Huang had two world premieres of his music performed last March: Omnipresence: Concerto No. 1 for Solo Violin, Off-stage Ensemble, and Orchestra featured violinist Cho-Liang Lin and the Queens (N.Y.) Symphony Orchestra; and Leaving Sao: for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra was performed by the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s Dogs of Desire Ensemble, with David Alan Miller conducting. In May, violinist David Bowlin ’00 played a revised version of Omnipresence for solo violin and chamber ensemble at the third annual ICE Fest at Columbia College, Chicago. Huang and Claire brought back to campus many of the Oberlin alumni who make up ICE for an Artist Recital Series concert in February. To keep up with their activities, visit www.iceorg.org.

Lydia Steier ’00 and her experimental performance group cellarDoor Berlin made their New York debut last August at the SoHo Playhouse as part of the city’s International Fringe Festival, performing Howard Brenton’s Plays for the Poor Theatre. The company reprised the show at Dublin’s Fringe Festival in October. Founded by Lydia in 2002 after she moved to Berlin on a Fulbright, cellarDoor Berlin draws together international composers, painters, sculptors, choreographers, and writers living in Berlin. The resulting collaborations (called jams) blend visual and performance art with music, literature, dance, technology, and other “creative subspecies;” the SoHo production received particular notice for its bizarre and hyper-stylized aesthetics. Choreographic and intensely sculptural, the style has been likened to both modern dance and shadow-puppetry. Lydia directed Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King for the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) in New York last March and again in an Oberlin Artist Recital Series concert, featuring Peter Tantsits ’02, in February.

Demosthenes Dimitrakoulakos ’01 earned a master of art degree in teaching, specializing in music education, from the Indiana University School of Music in 2003. That year he also graduated from the U.S. Armed Forces School of Music in Little Creek, Va., and he is now a bass trombonist and sound engineer for the U.S. Army’s First Armored Division Band in Wiesbaden, Germany. He is also pursuing conducting studies and taking part in the National Band Association’s mentor program. Demos can be reached at demosthenes.dimitrakoulakos @us.army.mil.

Tenor Scott Mello ’01 and soprano Malia Bendi Merad ’03 were soloists in Mozart’s Coronation Mass in an Akron Symphony concert led by guest conductor Jeannette Sorrell ’92 in November. The all-Mozart program also featured Malia in the cantata Exsultate, jubilate. All three Oberlin musicians received praise in the Akron Beacon Journal’s review.

Bassoonist Edward Parsons ’01 landed a job playing with the New York City Ballet Orchestra in January 2004. He also works as orchestra office assistant at the Juilliard School.

Violinist and violist Heidi Powell ’01 was featured in the Ellsworth American (Ellsworth, Maine) on the occasion of her return to native ground from New York City, where her chamber ensemble, Woo, is based. The trio, which includes Heidi’s husband, violinist Richard Hsu, and oboist Gerry Reuter, was formed in 2002. Heidi continues to play baroque violin with such ensembles as the Smithsonian Chamber Players, New York Collegium, and the American Classical Orchestra.

Percussionist Adam Sliwinski ’01 and his quartet, So Percussion, received
the 2004 Chamber Music America/ ASCAP award for adventurous programming and, in February 2005, second prize in the Luxembourg International Percussion Competition. The ensemble has performed in such venues as the Miller Theatre, Merkin Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Their debut at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in January premiered a concerto for percussion quartet and orchestra by Carlos Carillo; New York Times’ critic Anthony Tommasini called the ensemble “brilliant.” Adam is studying in the DMA program at Yale, where the group was formed in 1999. The quartet’s second CD, Steve Reich’s Drumming, was released by Cantaloupe Music in March and is available at many record outlets as well as on the group’s web site: www.sopercussion.com. Adam can be reached at adam@sopercussion.com.

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Core Values: The Chamber Musician as Community Activist

The Providence String Quartet includes, from left, Sebastian Ruth, Jessie Montgomery, Sara Stalnaker ’98, and Jesse Holstein ’96.
(photo by John Foraste)

Cellist Sara Stalnaker ’98 expected that she would make a living as an orchestral musician. And although she plays in the Rhode Island Philharmonic at night, something else forms the core of her musical life.

Stalnaker is a member of the Providence String Quartet (PSQ), in which being a musician is inextricably bound up with a social mission. The quartet is the resident ensemble and centerpiece of Community MusicWorks in Providence, Rhode Island, a neighborhood-based organization that gives music and musicians a vital role in transforming urban communities.

Founded in 1997 by violinist Sebastian Ruth, Community MusicWorks provides weekly violin, viola, and cello lessons to 65 children in a low-income Providence community. The program also includes regular workshops, performances, concert trips, and a discussion group for older students—all free of charge.

Stalnaker’s ensemble mates include Jesse Holstein ’96, who trades violin and viola responsibilities with Ruth, and violinist Jessie Montgomery, who joined the PSQ last year. For these individuals, teaching and playing are two sides of the same coin.

“We look at it as a quartet residency that is entrenched in a neighborhood,” says Stalnaker. “The core is the quartet and the relationship we have with one another. We take the inspiration that the quartet brings to our lives, and give it to the families, building relationships out in the neighborhood. For me, the kids and the quartet are really equal. I have a lot of four-year-old relationships with kids and families, and that takes up a huge space in my life.

“It took a while to accept that it was really happening, that I have a job that expresses all parts of my self—love of kids, a desire to improve the world, love of chamber music.”

Stalnaker has 19 students. “The kids can pick up cellos, read music, and like it. We don’t necessarily turn the kids into conservatory students. We teach them what it is to have discipline and a large group of caring adults around them. In the teen group, they are interested in issues like how to change their community.”

There is no question that, for Stalnaker, who studied with Professor of Cello Peter Rejto, her Oberlin experience informed her perception of herself as a musician as much as it informed her view of the world. She chose Oberlin because it felt “like a place where I could make my own way. There weren’t boxes to be fit into. I could become who I needed to become.”

The quartet rehearses in Community MusicWorks’ storefront office, which is open to anyone who cares to walk in and which serves as a model and inspiration. The teenage students are now starting to play together and form their own ensembles.

The PSQ does plenty of performing in Providence and has taken on other dates in New England as well. Stalnaker has no regrets about not having a conventional touring career. “I would miss the kids too much. Continuity with them is at the heart of the program, and with lessons, performance parties, concert trips, and teen groups, I see them several times a week. If we’re gone—even for our one-week, paid practice retreat, which is lovely—I feel I’ve missed something.”

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Opera Director Delights in Proving People Wrong

Eric Einhorn ’02, at left, directing Brundibar.
(photo by Richard Termine)

Here’s what Eric Einhorn ’02 loves about directing opera: “I get to work with great music. And, given the right circumstances, I get the chance to prove people wrong. So many people think opera is stodgy and boring,” Einhorn explains. “When it works, you hear people leaving the theater saying ‘Wow, I didn’t realize that’s what opera was.’”

In 2003, just nine months after graduation, Einhorn was working in Manhattan, where he staged New York City’s professional premiere of Brundibar, a chamber opera written in 1938 by Czech composer Hans Krasa and performed in 1944 by children in the “model” concentration camp at Terezin, near Prague. Einhorn’s production was presented by the City University of New York’s (CUNY’s) Great Music for a Great City series.

Einhorn also understands how opera can make people forget their present circumstances in the way Brundibar did, however fleetingly, for the people imprisoned at Theresienstadt. “It was inspiring to me to see that this opera can still provide respite and escape.”

The genesis of Einhorn’s Brundibar odyssey began during a winter-term project when he met Caroline Stoessinger, artistic director of the CUNY series, and discussed his concept for staging the opera. Stoessinger liked his ideas, and ultimately Einhorn became CUNY’s resident stage director.

He hasn’t been idle since. He has assisted on operas at Glimmerglass and other companies throughout the U.S., and directed operas at Tel Aviv’s Israel Vocal Arts Institute. This past season, he became resident assistant director of Pittsburgh Opera, giving him a chance to settle down—literally. He married Lauren Cohen ’02 last year.

Stage directing wasn’t always in Einhorn’s plan. Initially a voice major, he was not cast for the spring opera his freshman year so he assisted offstage. His interest soon shifted, and he added another, self-designed major to his curriculum—operatic stage directing. “I don’t believe I would have been able to do this at any other school,” he said. “Everybody on the faculty was encouraging and supportive.”

When the Metropolitan Opera offered him a job at the same time as his wedding, he feared he’d never be asked again when he had to decline. His fears were unfounded. He landed a job as assistant director for the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy at the Met this coming December.

Einhorn proved himself wrong. But he doesn’t mind.

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