Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and CCM Announce 2018-20 Class of Diversity Fellows

Four outstanding string players have been selected for the next class of the prestigious diversity fellowship program.

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have selected four outstanding musicians for the next class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows. Born out of a mutual desire to make American orchestras more inclusive, this prestigious performance fellowship program launched in 2015 with a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Foundation approved a renewal grant of $850,000 in 2017, providing funding for the innovative program through June 2021.

With this collaborative Fellowship program, CCM and the CSO hope to provide new opportunities for under-served musicians, while simultaneously fostering a more inclusive environment in the orchestral industry.

“Orchestras must better reflect the communities they serve, and this program exemplifies our commitment,” said CSO President Jonathan Martin. “We welcome the new class of Fellows, look forward to the artistic contributions of the continuing class, and congratulate the inaugural Fellows who are now graduating.”

The incoming class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows is Camellia Aftahi, 22 (double bass), Yan Izquierdo, 33 (violin), Arman Nasrinpay, 23 (violin) and Alexis Shambley, 22 (violin).

“Thanks to the generosity and support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we can continue to recruit highly qualified CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows candidates,” said CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung. “In turn, these outstanding early-career musicians are helping inspire the next generation of multicultural young artists, which will allow us to continue making American orchestras better reflect the variety of their communities.”

These four exceptional string players will officially join the two-year fellowship program in August 2018 bringing the total number of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows to eight for the 2018-19 academic year and performance season.

The inaugural class of Diversity Fellows, which is comprised of Emilio Carlo, Diana Flores, Vijeta Sathyaraj and Maurice Todd, have recently graduated.

“I have gained valuable experience through my work with the CSO and my graduate work with CCM,” said Flores. “This has been a wonderful experience, and I am excited for what lies ahead.”

“This program positions musicians for a bright future and wish them every success as their careers advance,” said Martin.

“It is a testament to the program’s success that the inaugural class of Diversity Fellows is moving on to next-step career opportunities,” said mcclung.

HOW THE FELLOWSHIP WORKS
The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Program is open to exceptional violin, viola, cello and double bass players coming from historically underrepresented populations in classical music.

The program’s tagline — “Bravos Without Barriers” — gets to the heart of its mission: eliminating obstacles that can prevent extraordinary musicians from achieving their full potential.

Fellows perform the equivalent of five weeks per season with the CSO while enrolled in a two-year Master of Music (MM) or Artist Diploma (AD) graduate degree program at CCM. Each class of Fellows is selected through a rigorous series of auditions, which saw hundreds of graduate-level musicians audition for CCM faculty members. Nineteen string players were invited back to Cincinnati for a final round of auditions judged by CSO musicians at CCM’s Corbett Auditorium on March 24, 2018.

Each Fellow receives full tuition scholarship support from CCM, in addition to a $10,000 per year graduate stipend and a one-time Graduate School Dean’s Excellence Award of $3,000. Each Fellow also receives compensation of $8,000 per season while performing with the CSO.

MEET THE INCOMING FELLOWS

Camellia Aftahi

Camellia Aftahi, Master of Music, Double Bass
For incoming San Diego participant, Camellia Aftahi, it was the Diversity Fellowship’s aspiration that was part of the appeal. “What drove me to apply for the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship was not only my desire to perform with and learn from a group of high caliber musicians but also to have an opportunity to bring representation to minority groups on stage,” said Aftahi.

Aftahi began playing double bass at the age of 12. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Double Bass Performance at San Diego State University where she studied with Jeremy Kurtz-Harris and Jory Herman.

An avid freelancer, Aftahi has performed with many groups in Southern California, including the San Diego City Ballet, the Opera NEO workshop, the BRAVO Festival and the La Jolla Symphony under the direction of Steve Schick. Aftahi also takes enjoyment in teaching and maintains an active private studio in addition to coaching at local public schools.

Aftahi will begin her master’s degree at CCM in the Fall of 2018 where she will study with CSO Principal Bass and CCM Adjunct Assistant Professor Owen Lee. She hopes that her studies at CCM will allow her to fuse her love for performance and scholarship with her commitment to civic and educational outreach.
Outside of performing music, Aftahi’s interests include reading 20th-century fiction and poetry, going to museums, eating vegetarian food, studying music and its various intersections with social issues, and playing board games.

Yan Izquierdo

Yan Izquierdo, Master of Music, Violin
Born in Havana, Cuba, violinist Yan Izquierdo enjoys an interdisciplinary, cross-genre music career. He has extensive performance experience throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Spain. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the College of Charleston Orchestra. In 2010, he played the national anthem for the NCAA NIT College Basketball Finals game at Madison Square Garden. He has attended the Aspen Music Festival and performed at Spoleto USA with members of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. He was the winner of the 2004 South Carolina MTNA Young Artist Performance Competition in the strings category.

As an orchestral musician, he has performed with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of New York, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas and Symphony in C, with notable appearances at Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall, Kimmel Center, Kennedy Center and Meyerson Symphony Center. He participated in the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas’ “Music Without Borders” North American concert tour, which included educational outreach programs with youth symphonies in Mexico City, culminating in a joint concert televised by the Televisa network.

Equally, at home in non-classical genres, Izquierdo has appeared with Grammy Award-winning Bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs, as well as Clay Aiken and Anne Murray. He was a founding member of Shayna and the Catch, acting as a songwriter, violinist, mandolinist and backing vocalist. The band toured extensively throughout the United States and Canada, including appearances at SXSW, CMJ Music Marathon, Summerfest and Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration. His songs have been featured in TV and film, including an international Ford Edge commercial campaign.

Izquierdo began violin studies at the age of seven in Madrid, Spain. At the age of 14, he received a full scholarship to attend the Idyllwild Arts Academy, where he studied with Todor Pelev. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Charleston, studying with Lee-Chin Siow. Additional mentors include Almita Vamos, Herbert Greenberg, and Garrett Fischbach. He currently resides in New York City.
Izquierdo will begin his master’s degree at CCM in the Fall of 2018 where he will study with Professor Kurt Sassmannshaus, the Dorothy Richard Starling Chair in Classical Violin.

Arman Nasrinpay

Arman Nasrinpay, Master of Music, Violin
Arman Nasrinpay began playing the violin at the age of 10 through the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra Program. He has since performed at venues such as the Kennedy Center Hall and Millennium Stage, Strathmore Music Center, the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and the Shakespeare Theatre for Performing Arts.

He has held many prestigious positions in orchestras, including assistant concertmaster of the McLean Youth Orchestra, assistant principal second violinist of the American Youth Philharmonic, Principal Second of the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Principal Second of the Aspen Philharmonic and Assistant Concertmaster of Indiana University’s Concert Orchestra, among others.

“Since I was a kid, I have always dreamed of playing violin in a professional orchestra, and I couldn’t think of a better way to pursue this than the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship program,” said Nasrinpay.

Nasrinpay has frequently performed — and to great acclaim — in the greater Washington, DC area, and gained recognition by winning top prizes and honors in numerous competitions. Among these are such prestigious contests as the Washington Performing Arts Society’s Feder Competition, the United States Army Young Artists Competition, the Lions of VA Bland Music Competition, the Asian American International Competition and the Gretchen Hood String Competition, among others.

Along with competitions, Nasrinpay has performed in master classes given by Aaron Rosand, Zino Bogachek, Karina Canellakis, Dmitri Berlinsky, Victor Danchenko, Itzhak Rashkovsky and Ani Schnarch.

“In my first year, I hope to continue to improve my craft and successfully compete in several auditions and competitions. I will strive to learn as much as possible and represent the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship honorably every day. I am also hoping to meet many new people, musicians and otherwise, and engage with them and the community as much as possible.”

During the summer, Nasrinpay has participated in various music programs. These have included the Indiana University Summer String Academy, the Summit Music Festival, Kent Blossom Music Festival, Chautauqua Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival and School, as well as the Bowdoin International Music Festival where he received instruction from Almita and Roland Vamos, Victor Danchenko, Itzhak Rashkovsky, David Halen and Cyrus Forough. Most recently, he studied at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as a Premiere Young Artist under pedagogue Simin Ganatra of the Pacifica Quartet.

Nasrinpay will begin his master’s degree at CCM in the Fall of 2018 where he will study with CSO Concertmaster and CCM Adjunct Professor of Violin Timothy Lees.

Alexis Shambley

Alexis Shambley, Master of Music, Violin
A native of Dallas, Texas, Alexis Shambley recently received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from CCM under the tutelage of String Department Chair Won-Bin Yim. Shambley started violin at age four and studied primarily with her mother, Xiao-mei Pelletier of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

She has previously attended the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival and The National Orchestral Institute and Festival as well as performed with local orchestras including Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and Richmond Symphony Orchestra. An avid chamber musician, she enjoys doing outreach performances and participating in chamber music competitions, most recently placing second in CCM’s Annual Chamber Music Competition with her then sextet in 2016.

Shambley will begin her master’s degree at CCM in the Fall of 2018 where she will study with String Department Chair Won-Bin Yim.

“I am so honored to be a CCM/CSO Diversity Fellow and believe the program will help me achieve my goal of winning orchestral auditions,” Shambley said. “This opportunity is also particularly important to me because I aspire to one day create a studio aimed at providing music education to underrepresented youth.”

ENHANCING AND EXPANDING THE EXPERIENCE
Earlier this year, the CSO and CCM expanded the opportunities available to the Diversity Fellowship participants through a new partnership with the Chautauqua Institution of New York. Through this new partnership, as many as five CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows will be selected annually to participate in an eight-week summer residency with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, with frequent performance opportunities in the Institution’s 4,000-seat open-air Amphitheater.

The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows will be mentored by the orchestra’s professional musicians, who come to Chautauqua each summer from a variety of home ensembles around the world. Also, the Fellows will mentor minority student musicians in Chautauqua’s Music School Festival Orchestra, and offer performances designed to engage the broader Chautauqua community. Chautauqua Diversity Fellows will be provided housing and receive a stipend to offset their expenses.

For several members of the CSO and CCM’s graduating class of Diversity Fellows, a residency at Chautauqua during the summer of 2018 will be the next valuable step in their performing careers. Carlo, Flores, and Sathyaraj will spend the summer of 2018 embedded at Chautauqua, along with current Fellows Ian Saunders and Weiyi Shao.

“Inclusiveness — of race, gender, sexuality, ideas — is the Chautauqua ideal. We aim to be a leading force in evolving the field of symphony orchestras by diversifying the makeup of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and investing in inclusion,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, vice president of performing and visual arts at Chautauqua Institution. “By making it a priority to help musicians from underrepresented communities early in their careers, the Institution hopes to be instrumental in their ability to compete for and win jobs in American orchestras. Diversity in the Arts changes lives not only for the artist but also for audiences.”

JOIN OUR NEXT CLASS OF CSO/CCM DIVERSITY FELLOWS
On Sept. 1, CCM and the CSO will begin accepting applications for the 2019-21 class of Fellows. The application deadline is Dec. 1, 2018.

Live auditions with CCM faculty will be held Jan. 18-19, Jan. 25-26 and Feb. 15-16 of 2019.

Finalists will audition for the CSO in Cincinnati in March of 2019.

*Download the Informational Flyer (590.8 KB)

Learn more about the application process by visiting ccm.uc.edu/admissions/application.

About the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which also performs as the Cincinnati Pops, is one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles. With a determination for greatness and a rich tradition that dates back 123 years, the internationally acclaimed CSO has performed the American premieres of works by the likes of Debussy, Mahler, Ravel and Bartók, and commissioned important compositions that have since become mainstays of the classical repertoire including Aaron Copland’s iconic Fanfare for the Common Man. With new commissions and groundbreaking initiatives like the Pelléas Trilogy, LUMENOCITY, and One City, the Orchestra is committed to being a place of experimentation. As Cincinnati’s ambassador, the Orchestra has toured extensively, most recently to Asia and Europe in 2017, and sold millions of recordings around the globe. As Cincinnati’s own, the Orchestra elevates the City’s vibrant cultural scene not only through CSO and Cincinnati Pops performances, but also through an array of education and community engagement programs and by serving as the official orchestra for the Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati May Festival, and Cincinnati Opera.

About the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
Nationally ranked and internationally renowned, CCM is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. CCM’s educational roots date back to 1867, and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time. The synergy created by housing CCM within a comprehensive public university gives the college its unique character and defines its objective: to educate and inspire the whole artist and scholar for positions on the world’s stage.

CCM’s faculty and staff and its state-of-the-art facilities make possible the professional training and exceptional education on which CCM believes the future of the arts relies. The school’s roster of eminent faculty regularly receives distinguished honors for creative and scholarly work, and its alumni have achieved notable success in the performing and media arts. More than 150 internationally recognized faculty members work with students from around the world, specializing in the areas of Composition, Musicology, and Theory; Electronic Media; Ensembles and Conducting; Keyboard Studies; Music Education; Performance Studies and Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration.

The largest single source of performing arts events in the state of Ohio, CCM presents nearly 1,000 major public performances each year, ranging from faculty and guest artist concerts to fully supported acting, dance, musical theatre and opera productions. CCM is an accredited institution of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST), as well as a member of the University/ Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA).

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News Student Salutes
CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Program 2017 banner image featuring Diana Flores with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

CCM and CSO Announce Next Class of Diversity Fellows and Renewal Funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have selected four outstanding musicians for the next class of the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship. Born out of a mutual desire to make American orchestras more inclusive, this groundbreaking fellowship program launched in 2015 with a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In addition, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has approved a generous renewal grant of $850,000, funding two additional classes of Fellows, through June 2021. This ensures the program will continue to develop, as the CSO and CCM strengthen different components and recruit highly qualified candidates who will achieve audition success as they embark on their careers, thus realizing the program’s mission to change the face of American orchestras. The Foundation’s continued support allows the Orchestra and University to create deep connections between students, as well as an alumni network that will impact these graduate-level musicians for years to come.

From left-to-right: CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung, Anita Graef, Weiyi Shao, Ian Saunders, Dan Wang and CSO Concertmaster Timothy Lees. Photo by Stephen Easley.

From left-to-right: CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung, Anita Graef, Weiyi Shao, Ian Saunders, Dan Wang and CSO Concertmaster Timothy Lees. Photo by Stephen Easley.

The next class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows are Anita Graef, 22 (cello); Ian Saunders, 30 (double bass); Weiyi Shao, 24 (violin); and Dan Wang, 31 (viola). These four exceptional string players will officially join the two-year fellowship program in August 2017, bringing the total number of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows to eight for the 2017–18 academic year and performance season. The inaugural class of Diversity Fellows — comprised of Emilio Carlo, Diana Flores, Vijeta Sathyaraj and Maurice Todd — will complete the second year of the program in April 2018. An additional Fellow from the inaugural class, Blake-Anthony Johnson, just accepted a cello position with the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida, and credits the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship with the next step in his professional career:

“As a Fellow I received valuable guidance and support from not only my peers participating in the Fellowship but also from the CSO and CCM conductors, musicians and administrative staff members. The resources and opportunities available to me as a Fellow were crucial in my musical career development, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this great network of people who became family in such short time.”

The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Program is open to exceptional violin, viola, cello and double bass players coming from populations that are historically underrepresented in classical music. The program utilizes a broad definition of diversity that encompasses race and culture while also including underrepresented populations like first-generation college students and individuals who took non-traditional pathways to higher education. The program’s tagline — “Bravos Without Barriers” — gets to the heart of its mission: eliminating obstacles that can prevent extraordinary musicians from achieving their full potential.

“Thanks to the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Diversity Fellowship Program allows us to provide outstanding early-career musicians with access to the combined resources and expertise of the CSO and CCM,” said CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung. “The result is an unparalleled experience-based education that will empower these musicians and prepare them to succeed in their chosen fields. Our hope is that this program will also inspire the next generation of diverse young artists. This will allow us to continue making American orchestras better reflect the diversity of their communities.”

HOW THE FELLOWSHIP WORKS
Fellows perform the equivalent of five weeks per season with the CSO while enrolled in a two-year Master of Music (MM) or Artist Diploma (AD) degree program at CCM. Each class of Fellows is selected through a rigorous series of auditions, which saw hundreds of graduate-level musicians audition for CCM faculty members. Fifteen string players were invited back to Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre for a final round of auditions judged by CSO musicians on March 11, 2017.

Each Fellow receives full tuition scholarship support from CCM, in addition to a $10,000 per year graduate stipend and a one-time Graduate School Dean’s Excellence Award of $3,000. Each Fellow also receives compensation of $8,000 per season while performing with the CSO.

With this collaborative Fellowship program, CCM and the CSO hope to provide new opportunities for underrepresented musicians, while simultaneously fostering a more inclusive environment in the orchestral industry. This mission is part of the appeal for Fellowship participant Anita Graef:

“I believe that adaptability and diversification are crucial to the modern landscape of classical music, and the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship is a pioneering opportunity in that field,” said Graef. “I am excited to further my education and to uphold the standards of this prestigious orchestra. I hope that my work will inspire others and show that when we embrace musicians from all walks of life, we enrich the meaning and purpose of making music.”

“The Diversity Fellowship presents students like me with not only a first-rate education from a great institution like the UC College-Conservatory of Music but also real life on-the-job training with the fantastic Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra,” said Diversity Fellow Weiyi Shao. “I am very grateful that this program offers a generous scholarship, which makes it possible for me to attend. I feel very honored and humbled to be one of the participants.”

“The inaugural class of Fellows played an important role with the Orchestra throughout the 2016–17 season, and not only are we looking forward to their continued artistic contributions, but also we are seeing a very promising future for the next class starting this fall,” said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Vice President and General Manager Robert McGrath. “Through our partnership with CCM and with the extraordinary support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we will continue to provide all of our Fellows with guidance and transformative experiences that ultimately help them achieve their goals as professional musicians.”

MEET THE FELLOWS

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow Anita Graef.

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow Anita Graef.

Anita Graef, Master of Music (MM) student, Cello
A native of Chicago, Anita Graef began her cello studies at age four and made her concerto debut at age 12. She went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance, where she studied with Professor Anthony Elliott. This fall, she will begin pursuing a master’s degree at CCM, under the tutelage of CSO principal cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn. She is thrilled to appear with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as part of the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship.

Previously, she has had the opportunity to work with such cellists as Stephen Geber, Johannes Moser and Felix Wang. Graef has studied with several members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, including Jonathan Pegis, Richard Hirschl and Brant Taylor. She has performed in several orchestras under the baton of maestros such as Leonard Slatkin, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, JoAnn Falletta and Keith Lockhart.

She recently participated in the 79th season of the Brevard Music Festival as principal cellist, as well as Credo Chamber Music Festival at Oberlin Conservatory. She is a proud member of the Juliani Ensemble, where she has collaborated with members of both the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Orchestra, among others. She was recently awarded the Silver Prize with Distinction at the Young Classical Virtuosos of Tomorrow international competition.

Outside of music, she is an avid reader, equestrian and lover of all things fashion. She also enjoys traveling, weight lifting, hiking and quality time with friends and family.

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow Ian Saunders.

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow Ian Saunders.

Ian Saunders, Artist Diploma (AD) student, Double Bass
A multi-faceted musician, Ian Saunders enjoys an exciting career as a sought-after bassist and educator. The Virginia native began his studies with Christopher White, principal bassist of the Virginia Symphony, in his hometown of Norfolk. Within a year he received his first major scholarship from R&B legend Ben E. King. Saunders completed his bachelor’s degree under the tutelage of renowned bassist Robert Nairn at the Pennsylvania State University. As an undergraduate, he took part in several world premieres by the prolific Finnish composer Teppo Hauto-Aho.

Saunders continued his graduate studies under Nairn while fulfilling numerous professional engagements with the Williamsport Symphony, Penn’s Woods Festival Orchestra, Ballet Theatre of Central Pa and Manassas Ballet Theatre bass sections. In addition, he served as principal bassist of the Penn Centre Orchestra, Nittany Valley Symphony and Altoona Symphony.

In 2016, Saunders received his doctorate from the University of Maryland while studying with Robert Oppelt, principal bassist of the National Symphony Orchestra. Saunders is currently in demand within the competitive Baltimore and DC freelance community, most notably as the bassist for the critically acclaimed Post-Classical Ensemble. In addition, he has also performed with the National Philharmonic and the Collaborative Artist of Baltimore. In March 2016, he was featured on WBJC 91.5 Baltimore performing Guillaume Connesson’s Sextuor. Furthermore, he has fulfilled engagements abroad in Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas as well as across America in renowned concert halls including the Kennedy Center, Heinz Hall and Carnegie Hall.

Outside of the classical world, Saunders has been invited to participate in orchestras backing Bootsy Collins, Kansas and hip-hop artist Thee Phantom. He can also be seen in the nationally televised special Cherish the Ladies: An Irish Homecoming, backing the Irish super group Cherish the Ladies. The program was nationally syndicated on PBS in 2013.

As an educator, Saunders recently served as the interim double bass professor at Penn State. In addition, he has taught classes at the University of Maryland, Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Saunders also spends his summers as the Associate Dean of Students at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, NC.

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow Weiyi Shao.

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow Weiyi Shao.

Weiyi Shao, Master of Music (MM) student, Violin
Born in Daqing, China, Weiyi Shao began studying the violin at age five. She attended the Middle School of the Shenyang Conservatory of Music, where she was concertmaster of the school orchestra as a student of Professor Tong Mu. She came to the United States in 2011 with a full scholarship to the Texas Christian University (TCU), where she earned a bachelor’s degree in violin performance under the tutelage of Curt Thompson, Swang Lin and Michael Shih.

During her studies at TCU, Shao received numerous awards and prizes, including the Modena Rogers Clark Spitler Violin Scholarship in 2013 and the Faculty and Friends Chamber Music Society Award in 2014. In 2015, she was a Strings Department Winner of TCU’s annual Concerto Competition. She has also attended the Aspen Music Festival and School as a pupil of Naoko Tanaka, and performed in master classes given by Karen Gomyo, Augustin Hadelich, Gary Levinson and Midori.  Since 2013, she has been a member of the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra in Texas.

Currently, Weiyi is pursuing a Master of Music degree at CCM as a student of Professor Won-Bin Yim.

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow Dan Wang.

CSO/CCM Diversity Fellow Dan Wang.

Dan Wang, Artist Diploma (AD) student, Viola
Dan Wang is a first-year Artist Diploma student in viola performance at CCM. She is currently being mentored by CSO principal violist Christian Colberg and CCM visiting scholar Jan Grüning, violist of CCM’s string quartet-in-residence, the Ariel Quartet. She came to the United States from Shenyang, China to study at CCM in 2009, graduating with a master’s degree in violin performance in 2012. She previously studied at the Shenyang Conservatory of Music and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA). During her previous musical training, she had been mentored by CCM Professor Kurt Sassmannshaus, Professor Michael Ma and Professor Tong Mu.

Wang has also performed with the Shenyang Conservatory of Music Orchestra and HKAPA Symphony Orchestra as concertmaster, and with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta as section/substitute section violin. She has served as concertmaster of the CCM Philharmonia and CCM Concert Orchestra. In 2017, she won a permanent position in the viola section of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.

Wang received a full scholarship from HKAPA and CCM. She has also won several music competitions, most notably fourth prize in the seventh China National Violin Competition.

LEARN MORE
CCM and the CSO will begin accepting applications for the 2018-20 class of Fellows on Aug. 1, 2017. The application deadline is Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

Live auditions with CCM faculty will be held on Jan. 13, Jan. 27 and Feb. 17, 2018Finalists will audition for the CSO at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati in March of 2018. Fellowship decisions will be sent in April of 2018.

Learn more by visiting ccm.uc.edu/chance2perform.

CCM News Student Salutes

CCM and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Announce the Inaugural Class of Diversity Fellows

Following a rigorous application and audition process, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have selected five outstanding string musicians for the inaugural class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows. Born out of a mutual desire to make American orchestras more inclusive, this groundbreaking fellowship program is made possible by a generous $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The inaugural CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows are: Emilio Carlo, 21 (viola); Diana Flores, 26 (cello); Blake-Anthony Johnson, 25 (cello); Vijeta Sathyaraj, 27 (violin); and Maurice Todd, 37 (double bass). The Fellows were selected through a rigorous series of auditions, which saw more than 100 talented musicians audition for CCM faculty members. Twelve string players were invited back to Cincinnati for a final round of auditions for CSO musicians on March 14, 2016.

“For this inaugural class, we have selected a cohort of astonishingly talented musicians, who come to us from a wide variety of backgrounds,” said CCM Dean Peter Landgren. “Our Fellows hail from New York, Georgia, Kentucky, Costa Rica and Hong Kong, and represent the future of American orchestras. Working in close collaboration with our partners at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, we will prepare these Fellows for long and fruitful artistic careers, while challenging the status quo of our industry.”

With this innovative Fellowship program, CCM and the CSO are providing new opportunities for underrepresented musicians, while simultaneously fostering a more inclusive environment in the world of professional orchestras. According to the League of American Orchestras, just over four percent of orchestra musicians are African-American or Latino. With that statistic in mind, the CSO and CCM want to foster an environment that promotes greater diversity on the stages of American orchestras. The program’s tagline – Bravos Without Barriers – gets to the heart of this mission.

This new two-year program, that is already garnering attention among leaders throughout the music world, consists of frequent performances with the CSO, focused mentorship by professional CSO musicians, and simultaneous instruction by CCM’s illustrious faculty.

“The level of musicianship on display during our final round of auditions is a testament to the merit of this program,” said CSO President Trey Devey. “Through our partnership with CCM and with the extraordinary support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we can provide a truly transformative experience for these exceptional performers at a crucial time in their careers. We look forward to welcoming our inaugural Fellows to Cincinnati this fall and we can’t wait to share their talents with the Greater Cincinnati community.”

How the Fellowship works

The inaugural class of Diversity Fellows will officially arrive in Cincinnati this August. CCM and the CSO will welcome a second class of five Diversity Fellows in the fall of 2017, bringing the number of Fellows in the program to ten during the 2017-18 academic year and orchestra season.

Each Fellow receives full tuition scholarship support from CCM, in addition to a $10,000 per year graduate stipend and a one-time Graduate School Dean’s Excellence Award of $3,000. Each Fellow also receives compensation of $8,000 per season while performing with the CSO. They will perform the equivalent of five weeks per season with the CSO in a progressive sequence of concert weeks based on program difficulty, with one week focused on community engagement and educational activities.

This unique educational opportunity is the first of its kind to pair a major conservatory with a major orchestra, bridging the pre-professional gap while also fostering a more inclusive environment within professional orchestras. The Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, will serve as an external evaluator and advisor.

Along with the professional performance experience, Fellows will receive focused mentorship from CSO musicians on top of regular instruction and guidance from CCM’s illustrious faculty. Their mentorship includes coaching sessions before each rehearsal cycle, ongoing stand partner coaching and post-performance feedback. There will also be non- performance related career counseling to prepare the Fellows for their future.

When asked about what made this new program so distinctive, incoming Fellow Emilio Carlo commented:

“Being raised in the Bronx, I would’ve never thought my future would involve classical music. When I attend orchestra concerts, there aren’t many musicians of color seen on stage. In fact, it’s always an ‘aha’ moment when I see a Latino or African American musician playing in a symphony. I knew the Fellowship was my top choice as soon as I read their mission statement: ‘We want to change the face of the American symphony.’”

Meet the Fellows

Emilio Carlo

Emilio Carlo. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Emilio Carlo, Artist Diploma Viola
Emilio Carlo is a native of the Bronx, New York, and currently resides in Washington D.C. He is a first-year Artist Diploma student at CCM and recently graduated from the conservatory with a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance. He previously studied with Catharine Carroll-Lees and Masao Kawasaki and is currently under the tutelage of Jan Grüning of the Ariel Quartet.

In previous years, he has attended the Aspen Music Festival and Japan’s Pacific Music Festival. He was also appointed as Principal Viola for a concert tour under the direction of Maestro Yutaka Sado. Outside of music, his hobbies include attending jazz concerts, cooking and exercising.

Carlo is a 2012 recipient of the Brewster Award for young artists from the John. F Kennedy Center for the performing arts. He is honored to be a member of the inaugural class of the Diversity Fellowship, which he feels will prepare him to win a professional orchestra audition in the near future.

Diana Flores

Diana Flores. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Diana Flores, Artist Diploma Cello
Cellist Diana Flores has performed extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Brazil, China and her home country of Costa Rica. At age nine, she started playing cello at the Instituto Nacional de Musica in San José. Ten years later, Flores moved to Boston to complete her undergraduate studies at the Longy School of Music, where she studied under Mihail Jojatu.

During her years in Boston she performed with the Boston Pops and Boston Philharmonic Orchestras. She was a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in the summers of 2012 and 2013 and is a former member of Youth Orchestra of the Americas. She also traveled to Japan to participate in the Pacific Music Festival.

After moving to Chicago in 2013, she became a member of the Civic Orchestra, a two-year training program with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. While there, she joined the MusiCorps String Quartet, a music education and advocacy program in which she performed in many Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Park Districts. Flores is finishing her Masters Degree at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, studying under Richard Hirschl.

Blake-Anthony Johnson

Blake-Anthony Johnson. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Blake-Anthony Johnson, Artist Diploma Cello
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Blake-Anthony Johnson began playing cello at age 12 and was self-taught until the age of 18. He has performed and recorded works by Richard Danielpour, Claudio Gabriele, Adam Schoenberg and Poul Ruders. As a soloist and guest Principal cellist, he has worked with conductors across the United States including JoAnn Falletta, David S. Wiley and Carl Topilow. Passionate about chamber music, Johnson is a founding member and former cellist in the Läc Quartet. As the recipient of the Vanderbilt Music Académie grant, the quartet received commissions and residency in Festival d’Aix held in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Additional performances include both orchestral and chamber music at the Spoleto Music Festival, Lev Aronson Legacy Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, National Music Festival and Brevard Music Festival. He is the former chair and founding member of the Music Education and Youth Initiative, which served underprivileged children in the greater Metropolitan area of Nashville, Tennessee. Johnson was a prizewinner in the MTNA Young Artist Competition, the World Competition; the Daniel Rains, and Brevard Music Festival Concerto competitions.

Johnson received his Bachelor of Music degree under Felix Wang and Kathryn Plummer at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University and later studied under Bryan Dumm and Alan Harrell of the Cleveland Orchestra for his Master of Music diploma. His most recent education was in the prestigious Orchestral Program at the Manhattan School of Music studying with Alan Stepansky with additional studies under David Geber and Wolfram Koessel.

Vijeta Sathyaraj

Vijeta Sathyaraj. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Vijeta Sathyaraj, Artist Diploma Violin
Born in Macau, China, Vijeta Sathyaraj began violin studies in the Philippines at the age of 3.  By age 6, she was featured on the Philippine National Broadcast and was studying with Basilio Manalo.  She went on to study with Fan Ting at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, and later took lessons from Dennis Kim. Sathyaraj graduated from Idyllwild Arts Academy, where she studied with Vesna Gruppman. She later earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory and her Master of Music degree from Lynn Conservatory.

Sathyaraj has performed solo recitals in Denmark, India, Hong Kong and the United States. In 2001, she was featured in a CNN broadcast, and in 2004, she organized and performed in a piano trio to raise $3,000 for development work in Hanoi, Vietnam. She has performed in the Idyllwild Arts Festival Orchestra and she joined the Oberlin Symphony for a performance in Carnegie Hall under Robert Spano in 2007. She has attended the Meadowmount School of Music, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival.

Sathyaraj recently completed her Professional Performance Certificate at Lynn University where she studies under Carol Cole. Former mentors include Milan Vitek, Andrew Jennings, Sally Thomas, Ann Setzer, and Midori. Sathyaraj’s commitment to outreach and diversifying audiences to Western classical music led her to apply to CCM.

Maurice Todd

Maurice Todd. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Maurice Todd, Artist Diploma Double Bass
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Maurice Todd received his Bachelor of Music in Double Bass Performance from CCM. He is a current section bassist in the Lexington Philharmonic. In addition to being a seven-time Aspen Fellowship recipient, Todd previously won the Dayton Philharmonic Minority Fellowship, was the low string winner of the CCM concerto competition, earned the National Symphony Orchestra League Scholarship and was a fellowship recipient in the Spoleto Italy Opera Festival. Most recently, he received the distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award from the UC Graduate School.

Todd has performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic, Grand Rapids Symphony, Richmond Symphony and Kentucky Symphony. He has been a soloist with the Louisville Orchestra, Seven Hills Sinfonietta, Wired and the CCM Concert Orchestra.

This year, Todd will graduate from CCM with a Master’s Degree in Double Bass Performance, where he serves as the graduate assistant for the double bass studio under the tutelage of Professor Albert Laszlo. His former mentors include Owen Lee, Edgar Meyer, Chris Hanulik, Bruce Bransby, Rob Oppelt, Eugene Levinson and Hal Robinson.

CCM News Student Salutes
Maurice Todd demonstrates scale technique. Photo: Olivia Bruner.

CCM Student Maurice Todd Receives Excellence in Teaching Award from UC Graduate School

Maurice Todd and his double bass. Photo by Olivia Bruner.

Maurice Todd and his double bass. Photo by Olivia Bruner.

We are delighted to report that CCM master’s degree candidate Maurice Todd has received the University of Cincinnati Graduate School‘s prestigious Excellence in Teaching Award in the master’s student category.

This award recognizes one outstanding master’s teaching assistant and one outstanding doctoral teaching assistant for their achievements in the classroom each year. Todd was recognized alongside biological sciences doctoral student Megan Lamkin.

The Excellence in Teaching Award consists of a check for $1,000 for each awardee and a certificate citing the recipient’s outstanding teaching. Both Todd and Lamkin will also be nominated for a Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Excellence in Teaching Award.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Todd currently studies with CCM Associate Professor of Double Bass Albert Laszlo. As a graduate assistant, he is responsible for scale and technique lessons in CCM’s double bass studio. Todd already has extensive professional experience, performing as a section bassist with the Lexington Philharmonic and acting as a regular substitute with many orchestras, including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Grand Rapids Symphony. He completed a one-year fellowship with the Dayton Philharmonic under music director Neal Gittleman during the 2008-09 season.

You can learn more about Maurice Todd and this latest honor by visiting grad.uc.edu/student-life/news/ETA-todd-2016.

CCM News Student Salutes