- Three Conservatory Professors Win Class of 1957 Faculty Development Awards
- Assistant Professor of Harp Yolanda Kondonassis Wins Cleveland Arts Prize
- Joseph Barron ’08 Wins Met Opera National Council Auditions
- ICE Receives $340K Mellon Foundation Award
- Julia Dawson ’11 and Roy Hage ’11 Place in Vocal Competition
- Kate Ettinger ’11 Premieres Composition
- Matthew Griswold ’12 Wins Dann Piano Competition
- Yue "Grace" Guo ‘11 Named First Place Winner in Harp at ASTA
- Michael Casimir ’13 Wins Gold Achievement in Sphinx Competition
- Eli Stine ’13 Awarded National Prize for Best Composition at SEAMUS
- Donati String Quartet Wins Parker Quartet Master Class Contest
- Winners of Concerto Competition Perform with Oberlin Orchestras
- Danenberg Recital Highlights Outstanding Student Performers
- Student Awards, Scholarships, and Fellowships
Three recipients of this year’s Class of 1957 Faculty Development Award are from the conservatory: Assistant Professor of Violin David Bowlin, Assistant Professor of Cello Amir Eldan, and Associate Professor of Singing Timothy LeFebvre.
The Class of 1957 Faculty Development Award was established in 2006 as part of its 50th reunion. The award recognizes non-tenured college and conservatory faculty for their outstanding contributions to Oberlin’s undergraduate education. The award comes with a monetary prize to help support activities to further enhance the recipients’ teaching.
David Bowlin graduated from the conservatory in 2000 and went on to study at Juilliard and SUNY Stony Brook. He is a founding member of the world-renowned International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and a former member of the Da Capo Chamber Players.
Amir Eldan trained at the Cleveland Institute of Music and at Juilliard. As a chamber musician, he has performed with luminaries such as Richard Goode, Kim Kashkashian, and Midori. Eldan has been featured as a soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra and with the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra. He was also associate principal cello in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
Before coming to Oberlin, Timothy LeFebvre served on the faculty at Binghamton, Cornell, and Syracuse universities. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon, he has performed with Central City Opera, the American Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, and the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. LeFebvre is also a winner of the New York Liederkranz Vocal Competition.
Assistant Professor of Harp Yolanda Kondonassis was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize for a mid-career artist in the category of Music & Dance. The prize is given to those who inspire the Northeast Ohio community’s participation in the arts and who have helped make the region more hospitable to creative artistic expression.
Celebrated as one of the world’s premiere solo harpists and composers, Kondonassis is widely regarded as today’s most recorded classical harpist.
Since making her debut at age 18 with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, Kondonassis has appeared as soloist with numerous major orchestras in the United States and abroad. She recently released her 15th album on the Telarc label.
Kondonassis also recently appeared on the cover of Cleveland Business Connects Magazine, in a feature story attributing her marketing strengths in the music world.
Bass-baritone Joseph Barron ’08 is among five winners of this year’s Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, one of the most prestigious vocal competitions in North America. Barron beat out nearly 1,500 applicants nationwide to win the $15,000 cash prize and, more importantly, a chance to perform on the Metropolitan Opera stage in front of opera company executives, artist managers, and music critics. He is the fifth Oberlin conservatory graduate in the past decade to win the competition. In reviewing the competition finals for the New York Times, Anthony Tomassini praised Barron as "vocally robust in an aria from Bellini’s Sonnambula and lyrically malevolent in Mephistopheles’s serenade from Gounod’s Faust." Past winners of the Met Auditions include many of today’s leading operatic artists such as Renée Fleming, Nathan Gunn, Ben Heppner, Samuel Ramey, and Deborah Voigt.
The International Contemporary Ensemble, formed at Oberlin in 2001, received a $340,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation, the largest award in ICE’s nine-year history. The grant is for ICElab, an innovative model for commissioning new compositions that encourages performer-composer collaboration. "We are thrilled by this landmark commitment from the Mellon Foundation, which will help ICE pioneer an artist-driven musical model that will shape the future of the art," says Claire Chase ’00, ICE executive director.
ICElab awards six composers paid commissions each year to create a new work with ICE. The work is developed collaboratively with a team of ICE musicians and is given premieres in New York and Chicago. The Mellon grant is expected to lead to 24 world premieres and 60 performances.
Soprano Julia Dawson ’11 and Tenor Roy Hage ’11 (photo by tanya rosen-jones) were awarded second place in the 2011 Franco-American Vocal Academy (FAVA) Grand Concours de Chant. The competition highlights duet performances; the pair sang "A deux genoux" from Massenet’s Cendrillon. The prestigious award comes with a $3,000 cash prize. Dawson was a student of Assistant Professor of Singing Kendra Colton. Hage studied with Associate Professor of Singing Salvatore Champagne. This is the second time in two years that Oberlin has had success in the FAVA competition; two years ago, the honor went to baritone Jeffrey Hill ’09.
Conservatory composition student Kate Ettinger ’11 was selected to premiere her 2011 piece Caedo, Caedere in a performance by the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra in Finney Chapel in April. Mark Russell Smith served as guest conductor.
Each year, the composition faculty invites seniors to submit works to be considered for performance by the Oberlin Orchestra or the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra.
"I am extremely grateful for all the time and energy that has gone into the realization of this piece, and I am honored to have been given such an exciting opportunity," says Ettinger. "Working with the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra has been an invaluable experience. Maestro Mark Russell Smith approached the rehearsal process with contagious enthusiasm, and through him Caedo, Caedere has truly come to life."
In the program notes for Caedo, Caedere, Ettinger expresses her fascination with the "internal melodies" of mechanically produced sound, and describes her exploration of such "found" sound "by way of carefully constructed sonorities and sound masses which were conceived with the aid of spectral analyses." She charges the orchestra with transforming "the device into a living, breathing organism that seems to threaten its own maker with the awesomeness of its destructive potential."
"Kate is a gifted and multitalented composer and musician who is equally at home writing concert works, performing her progressive folk music, and singing in the Collegium Musicum," says Assistant Professor of Composition Josh Levine. "It is to her credit not only that she had the courage to push her boundaries, but that the music turned out so well, offering the listener a strangely beautiful world of sonic color and motion."
A New York City native, Ettinger was a student of Levine, Lewis Nielson, Seung-Ah Oh, and David Lang. Her compositions have been performed by notable ensembles including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Non Sequitur, and the Orfeo Duo. Her 2010 work, Agnus Dei, was featured on Oberlin’s recent DVD project, Sonic Exposures.
Conservatory piano student Matthew Griswold ’12 won the 2011 Arthur Dann Piano Competition, held April 17 in Finney Chapel. The annual competition was created by the Oberlin Conservatory of Music over three decades ago, and is named after the former Oberlin piano professor. Conservatory piano students compete for the chance to win funds from a small endowment in order to arrange performances off campus; Griswold plans to use his prize earnings to perform in venues spanning two continents. His winning program featured a collection of etudes and works by Scriabin including Feuillet d’Album Op. 45, No. 1, and Sonata No. 2, Op. 19, Beethoven’s Rondo e Capriccio Op. 129 ("Rage Over a Lost Penny"), and Griswold’s own 2011 composition titled Seven Novelties.
Yue "Grace" Guo won first place in the senior division of the harp competition at the 2011 American String Teachers Association (ASTA) National Conference in Kansas City in April. She studied under Assistant Professor of Harp Yolanda Kondonassis.
Highlights of Guo’s performance experience include appearances on China Central TV in nationwide broadcasts. She was also the winner of the Ohio String Teacher Association Solo Competitions in 2008 and 2010. In addition, she was one of 39 harpists worldwide invited to compete in the eighth USA International Harp Competition. Guo was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Round Top International Music Festival in 2009 and received an Honorable Mention Prize in the Anne Adams Competition of the American Harp Society in 2008.
When violist Michael Casimir ’13 showed up to perform in a memorial concert at his high school last April, he was in dire need of an accompanist. Fortunately for Casimir, his school had one on hand: world-renowned concert pianist Emanuel Ax. The concert, a memorial for a recently deceased student whose family had donated a grand piano in his honor, was to be headlined by Ax. On the day of the concert, the venerated pianist volunteered to accompany Casimir on the Brahms Viola Sonata, Op. 120. "We played it together with only 30 minutes of practice time," says Casimir.
Casimir was further distinguished this year when he won the Gold Achievement Award in the senior division of the Sphinx Competition, an annual event open to high school and college-aged black and Latino string players. Casimir is a student of Professor of Viola Peter Slowik.
Eli Stine ’13 was awarded a national prize for Best Composition by an Undergraduate Student at the 2011 national conference of the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS). This is the fourth time the prize has been awarded; three of the recipients have been Oberlin students. Stine’s winning piece, Moments, is described in its program notes as "a grouping of diverse textures, held together by their similarities and differences, each contributing to the overall trajectory of their collective form. Pitch develops from noise, and the sound of the human voice evolves as these auditory moments circulate against one another." Stine’s interests include electronic instrument creation, electronic and acoustic composition for concert and dance, and film sound design. He currently studies with Associate Professor of Computer Music and Digital Arts Tom Lopez in the TIMARA program and will be studying with Professor of Composition Lewis Nielson as a composition minor.
The Donati String Quartet, comprising students Holly Jenkins ’12, Lauren Manning ’12, D.J. Cheek ’12, and Mary Auner ’10, won the Parker Quartet Master Class Contest sponsored by American Public Media’s Performance Today classical music radio show. The Grammy-nominated Parker String Quartet selected Oberlin’s Donati String Quartet from a large applicant pool. "We are thrilled that we’ll be working with the Donati String Quartet as the winners," wrote the Parker Quartet. "They showed great musicianship and ability in their recording, and it was clear that they understand the art of string quartet playing." The Donati String Quartet traveled to St. Paul, Minn., to perform in a master class led by the Parker Quartet. Following that, they traveled to Washington, D.C., to perform in the Conservatory Project Concert Series at the Kennedy Center. The group was coached by Associate Professor of Cello Darrett Adkins, Professor of Viola Peter Slowik, and other members of the string faculty.
The conservatory announced the four student winners of its 2010 Concerto Competition in October. They are: Scott Cuellar ’11, a pianist from Minneapolis, Minn.; violinist Dechopol Kowintaweewat ’11, from Bangkok, Thailand; pianist Yida Lin ’11, from Shanghai, China; and Sydney Mancasola ’11, voice, from Redding, Calif. The student laureates performed as soloists with Oberlin’s orchestras in Finney Chapel this past season.
An annual tradition, the Concerto Competition is held every October and is open to conservatory seniors and Artist Diploma students. Five distinguished guests judged this year’s concerto competition, including Lenore Rosenberg ’74, associate artistic administrator of the Metropolitan Opera, and Singaporean violinist Lee-Chin Siow ’95, director of strings and professor of violin at the College of Charleston, S.C.
The full range of musical excellence found at the Oberlin conservatory was on display April 1 at the annual Danenberg Honors Recital in Warner Concert Hall. The concert featured student musicians from every division of the conservatory.
Among the performers were flutist Sarah Pyle and cellist Dylan Messina, performing composition major Andrew Ralston’s piece Moraine. Baritone Austin Bradley sang selections from Schumann’s Liederkreis, accompanied by Siyuan Li. Cellist Mary Auner performed Stroke by Magnus Lindberg. The Oberlin Jazz Septet, the flagship ensemble of the jazz department, presented a piece from their considerable repertoire, and the percussion trio of Niel Ruby, Benjamin Bacon, and Ryan Packard offered a reading of Iannis Xenakis’ Ohko. Historical performance students Patrick Jones, Augusta McKay Lodge, and David Ellis featured a piece by Rameau. Matthew Berliner performed the first movement of Rheinhold Gliere’s Concerto for Horn in B-flat Major on French horn, accompanied by Ran Duan on the piano, while pianist Zhi Qiao presented Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G-sharp Minor and Moszkowski’s Caprice Espagnol. Organist JinHee Kim played Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in G Major, BWV 541, and TIMARA major David Bird performed his composition, Vows, featuring percussionist Christian Smith.
The recital is named in memory of Emil Charles Danenberg, a member of the conservatory piano faculty for 30 years. Danenberg served as dean of the conservatory and the 11th president of the college.
Charlotte Beers ’11, a double-degree student in organ performance and German studies, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to continue her academic endeavors in Germany. Beers completed an honor’s project in German studies at Oberlin, which brought together her two majors. With funding from the Jerome Davis research grant, she explored the use of the organ within the Moravian Church in America. In Germany next year, she will study organ with Johannes Mayr at the Hochschule für Kirchenmusik in Tübingen. She also hopes to study conducting and participate in choral activities.
Katelyn Emerson ’16, an organ performance major, was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Summer Institute for French Organ Studies in France. The institute’s mission is to give a select number of participants an accurate perspective on the French organ and French culture of the 17th through 19th centuries.
Andrew Flachs ’11, a double-degree major in saxophone performance and anthropology, received the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education. Flachs will use his fellowship, worth up to $30,000, to earn a PhD in environmental anthropology at Washington University in Saint Louis. Flachs intends to research small-scale food systems that minimize oil input. He also received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English in Ostrava, Czech Republic, which he had to decline to accept the Javits, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship honorable mention.
Michael Ging ’11, an organ performance major, was awarded a full scholarship and fellowship to pursue his graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame.
James Purcell ’12, a double-degree student majoring in history and bassoon, received the Beinecke Scholarship, awarded to 20 highly motivated college juniors of exceptional promise to pursue graduate study in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Each scholar receives $4,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending. Purcell will undertake an honors project in history next year under the guidance of Assistant Professor of History Ellen Wurtzel. With the award, he hopes to pursue a PhD in medieval history.
Jon Walthausen ’11, an organ performance major, was one of two students accepted by the Paris National Conservatory of Music for fall 2011. The process involved an extremely difficult international entrance competition and an exam.