Leo De La Cruz

CCM student oboist wins NFMC’s prestigious Carolyn Nelson Double Reed Award

Leo De La Cruz

CCM graduate student Leo De La Cruz turned heads in a variety of competitions during the 2019-20 season. Most recently, he won the National Federation of Music Clubs’ Carolyn Nelson Double Reed Award, which includes a $1,250 cash prize.

Leo De La Cruz rehearsing with CCM Chamber Winds. Photo/Provided.

Leo De La Cruz rehearsing with CCM Chamber Winds. Photo/Provided.

De La Cruz also won the CCM Wind Studies concerto competition, which culminated in a performance of Weber’s Concertino for Oboe and Wind Band with the CCM Chamber Winds on February 9, and he achieved an honorable mention at the 2020 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition.

To apply for the Carolyn Nelson Double Reed Award, De La Cruz submitted a 15-minute performance video, including the Weber Concertino he performed in February. His other selections were Dutilleux’s Oboe Sonata and Robert Schumann’s Three Romances, which he performed in chamber music recitals at CCM.

“I think the part that I’m most proud of about those recordings isn’t necessarily my own playing, but rather the back and forth between my partners and me,” De La Cruz says. “Both of them were fantastic collaborators and musicians, and I’m positive that my own playing improved drastically just through the work we did together.”

Before coming to CCM, De La Cruz attended high school in Spring, Texas (a suburb of Houston) and earned bachelor’s degrees in oboe performance and music theory from Furman University.

“I gravitated toward the oboe because it was unique; I was the only one in my middle school band who played it,” he remembers. “I never really planned on making music for a living, so I didn’t really take it very seriously until the end of high school, when I took a music theory class and really fell in love with the orchestral repertoire.”

De La Cruz is also working on two degrees at CCM — master’s degrees in oboe performance and music theory. In his oboe studies, he receives guidance from both of CCM’s oboe faculty, Professor of Oboe Mark Ostoich and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Oboe Dwight Parry, principal oboe at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

“I’m not quite sure what I want to do in the future quite honestly, because both of my interests bring me so much satisfaction,” De La Cruz says. “I can’t get enough of making music with other people, so if I could find a way to incorporate both chamber music and music theory into a career, I’d be happy.”


Story by CCM Graduate Student Alexandra Doyle

Featured Image at top: Leo De La Cruz. Photo/Provided.

CCM News Student Salutes

Kevin Michael Holzman Joins CCM Faculty as Assistant Director of Wind Studies

CCM Interim Dean bruce d. mcclung has announced the appointment of the dynamic conductor and educator Kevin Michael Holzman as the college’s new Visiting Professor/Assistant Director of Wind Studies. Holzman’s appointment begins on August 15, 2017.

Holzman earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting at the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Music Director of the Eastman Wind Ensemble, Dr. Mark Scatterday. As the Frederick Fennell Conducting Fellow and 2016 recipient of the prestigious Walter Hagen Prize for Excellence in Conducting, Holzman served as Associate Conductor of the world-renowned Eastman Wind Ensemble and Eastman Wind Orchestra. He regularly appeared as a conductor for OSSIA New Music, including the world premieres of Jo Kondo’s Variations (Triskelion) and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s Welcome Jo! He also studied with Professor Neil Varon, Director of Eastman Orchestras.

In summer 2016, Holzman was invited to serve as an associate conductor on the Eastman Wind Ensemble’s first tour in Europe, where he conducted the Eastman Harmonie in Salzburg, Vienna and Prague. He also collaborated with prominent composers David Maslanka and Bert Appermont for the “Celebration of the Symphony” concert with the Eastman Wind Ensemble. The performance was Eastman’s first live-streamed large ensemble concert, which included the North American premiere of Appermont’s Symphony No. 2 The Golden Age. He also served as an Assistant Producer for the Eastman Wind Ensemble’s recent release Sierra Live and upcoming album featuring the music of Jeff Tyzik.

Beyond Eastman, Holzman has worked with professional ensembles including the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. In April 2017, he was appointed conductor of the Music in the American Wild ensemble, a National Endowment for the Arts grant-funded ensemble that commissioned eleven new works in celebration of the 2016 U.S. National Parks Centennial. Holzman recently completed a studio-recording project of commissioned compositions, set for release this fall. In 2016 Holzman formed and began serving as Music Director of the Upstate Brass Band — an exciting brass ensemble that performs in upstate New York and was commissioned to record a series of new brass band arrangements by renowned composer/trombonist Bill Reichenbach.

Holzman became the founding Music Director and conductor of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Wind Ensemble in fall 2016. He successfully recruited and led the ensemble’s inaugural year, and it is now the college’s largest instrumental ensemble. While pursuing his MM in conducting at the University of Arizona (UA), Holzman had the opportunity to teach and conduct as Interim Principal Conductor for the Wind Symphony at UA’s Fred Fox School of Music during the director’s extended absence from 2012 to 2014. He also served as the Director and Coordinator of the UA Symphonic Band and High School Honor Band, where he collaborated with local and regional music teachers to provide the experience of college-level ensemble training to talented young musicians.

In his six years of teaching university-level instrumental conducting, Holzman has designed innovative curriculum and course materials for beginning and intermediate conducting courses as part of undergraduate music performance and education curricula. Holzman is a passionate advocate for access to music in all schools. He recently served as Volunteer Coordinator for ROCmusic, an El Sistema-inspired community music program in Rochester, New York, and he assisted with the UA Outreach Honor Band during his tenure in Tucson, Arizona. He is an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha, Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi music fraternities.

Please join us in welcoming Holzman to the CCM family this fall!

Learn more about CCM’s illustrious faculty by visiting ccm.uc.edu/about/villagenews/faculty.

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