Two Cincinnati Middle School Students Win Grants to Attend the CCM Experience Camp

Two Cincinnati students who participated in the Educational Theatre Association’s JumpStart Theatre program will have the opportunity to attend the CCM Experience performing arts camp at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Thanks to a generous gift to CCM from the Cincinnati Symphony Club, JumpStart Theatre students Keyshawn Townsend from Aiken New Tech High School and Tychod “Jay” Smith from Oyler School will each receive a grant that will cover camp tuition for the students to attend July 9-20.

Tychod “Jay” Smith at JumpStart Theatre.

Tychod “Jay” Smith at JumpStart Theatre.

JumpStart Theatre is a three-year scalable program designed to bring musical theatre into schools that currently do not have a performing arts program, created by the Cincinnati-based national association, Educational Theatre Association, in collaboration with New York City-based companies iTheatrics and Music Theatre International (MTI). Townsend and Smith participated in the program during the 2017-18 school year, which culminated in a showcase performance at Memorial Hall in May.

CCM has contributed to JumpStart Theatre by sharing resources of costumes and props for student productions. The two organizations are also connected through CCM Preparatory and Community Engagement (CCM Prep) instructors Becca Kloha Strand and Dee Anne Bryll, who are both program coordinators at JumpStart Theatre. Strand is the director of the musical theatre track at the CCM Experience, where Bryll is a guest artist. CCM Prep Coordinator of Special Projects and Programs Amy Dennison is the director of the summer arts camp.

Keyshawn Townsend at JumpStart Theatre.

Keyshawn Townsend at JumpStart Theatre.

Strand said, “Keyshawn performed the role of Horton the Elephant in Seussical, Jr. last year at Aiken New Tech, as a part of the JumpStart Theatre program. As a leader both on stage and off, he truly embodied the role of Horton. The CCM Experience camp will be a wonderful opportunity for Keyshawn to exercise and grow his talents as a younger performer.”

Tiffaney Hamm, enrichment program manager at Oyler said, “Tychod is a special young man with a lot of talent. We chose him for this camp because his dream is to perform on stage, as he wants to have a life of acting and performing. This was Jay’s first year at Oyler and he came alive, forming great connections with his cast mates and peers. He continues to work hard in school even when obstacles get in the way. He is a really great kid, and I am proud to have him as a student.”

Offered through CCM Prep, the CCM Experience is an exciting new two-week summer program that combines dance, theatre and music for students ages 8-15. Students study at one of the finest performing arts schools in the country and take classes in multiple areas of concentration including instrumental music, acting, musical theatre, voice or dance. Each day students will have the opportunity to try something new, take a tour, make their own props, costumes and instruments, and learn more about how to be a professional artist. The program culminates with a fantastic showcase where students are put front and center on one of CCM’s stages.

“We look forward to our first CCM Experience Camp and are excited to welcome the two Cincinnati Symphony Club scholarship recipients from JumpStart Theatre,” said John Martin, Assistant Dean of CCM Preparatory and Community Engagement. “CCM Prep, the Cincinnati Symphony Club and the Educational Theatre Association share the same goal — to support excellence in the performing arts and provide engaging and accessible arts education to the community at large.”

Learn more about the Educational Theatre Association online at schooltheatre.org/about/mission.

About Jumpstart Theatre
The JumpStart Theatre pilot started in Cincinnati in the 2015-16 school year, and three schools moved to self-sustainability this year after completing three years in the program: Holmes Middle School, Finneytown Middle School, and James N. Gamble Montessori High School. In November 2017, the first expansion to St. Louis and San Diego was announced, and in June, 2018 an expansion to Atlanta for the 2019-20 school year was announced. In total 39 middle schools will have sustainable musical theatre programs where there previously were none.

About CCM Preparatory and Community Engagement
CCM Prep offers a wide variety of programs in music, dance and theatre arts for all ages and levels — pre-professional students preparing for a future in the performing arts and arts enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. Programs are offered throughout the year for youth, teens and adults at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and through numerous satellite locations and community partnerships. We aim to provide excellent and accessible arts opportunities within a highly creative environment that educates and inspires the whole student, serving as a catalyst for transforming and empowering our communities. Learn more at ccm.uc.edu/prep or contact CCM Prep directly by emailing ccmprep@uc.edu or calling 513-556-2595.

CCM News Student Salutes

Sensory Percussion: Q&A with Alumnus Ben Sloan on His Work with The National

Ben Sloan is a musician, producer and teacher who is passionate about making music accessible to all. Last year People’s Liberty awarded the CCM alumnus with a $10,000 grant to build Percussion Park in East Price Hill. This year he’s experimenting with sensory percussion, which led to a performance as Artist-in-Residence at The National’s Homecoming Music Festival in April and a short tour with the rock band.

Ben Sloan. Photo by Ryan Back.

Ben Sloan. Photo by Ryan Back.

Sloan (BM Jazz Studies, 2011) is grateful for the opportunity to tour with The National and thinks they will work together again in the future. He’s now on a two-week tour with local ensemble A Delicate Motor, which releases a new album Fellover My Own on June 29. Later this summer, Sloan will travel to Berlin to participate in an experimental music festival called PEOPLE.

When he isn’t performing, Sloan works as a teaching artist at MYCincinnati, an after school youth orchestra program directed by CCM alumnus Eddy Kwon (BM Jazz Studies, 2011). He teaches the pre-orchestra students, ages 5-10, in a class that combines singing, movement and percussion.

We caught up with the busy alumnus to talk about his work with sensory percussion and his experience with The National.

What is sensory percussion? When did you start working it?
Sensory Percussion is amazing, and that’s about 90% of what you need to know. It was developed by Sunhouse, and though it’s making the rounds with musicians all over, it is still a relatively new technology. Sensory Percussion is essentially a collection of sensors (you can use up to four), which attach to a drum. Using a corresponding software, the sensors analyze the vibrations of the drum to determine where the player is hitting, i.e. the center, the rim, the shell, the edge, etc.

It’s up to the player to “teach” the sensors how and where one prefers to hit the drum — it is a very individualized system. This “mapping” of the drum allows the player to specifically pinpoint quadrants of the drum and assign samples, midi data, effects and a host of other functions. The result is a totally dynamic and fluid interplay between electronic, sample-based sound and acoustic drumming. I’ve had the sensors for about a year now, and over the past few months I’ve been really digging into them. They are so powerful, it’s incredible. I think the open ended nature of the software, makes the sensors so compelling. No one really sounds the same, because it’s up to the player to set the musical palette and craft the sounds.

How do you incorporate sensory percussion in your work with music groups and local projects?
Since they are still a bit new, I haven’t fully utilized them with any projects other than my own. For the longest time I sort of felt that the music I created through recording and manipulating samples wouldn’t or couldn’t be realized in a live context, but with the sensors, I can take a lot of that material and produce it live, or even embellish the sound. They are just really dynamic instruments.

I’ve brought them to MYCincinnati for our students to use, but because this technology is so new and exciting to play it makes normal drums less enticing. I have to win them back over by playing something really fast or loud — it only kind of works.

You also brought this percussion style to the National’s Homecoming Festival. How did you get involved in the festival?
I ended up using sensory percussion pretty heavily at Homecoming. I was working with A Delicate Motor ensemble to write a set of new music, but I knew I wanted to do something entirely on my own, which was impetus for writing some music with the sensors. The process was an endless tweaking of a sound palette until I could improvise an entire piece. From those improvisations, I would distill whatever I thought was good, and cut out the rest.

I got involved with the festival through Bryan Devendorf, drummer of The National. He’s always been inviting, and over the years we’ve gotten to know each other a bit. He reached out to meet while I was touring with the band WHY? and since then we’ve stayed in touch. He asked if I would be interested in being this year’s artist-in-residence at the Homecoming Music Festival, something they hadn’t done in the past, and I said ‘yes, like duh, of course!’

What was performing with The National at the festival like? Any plans to reconnect with The National in the future?
It was affirming. I spend a lot of time being critical of my work and my abilities, but when artists on that level invite me to play, it’s feels like a major validation of the hours put in. It’s also time to step up and not look like a doofus on stage! I mean, I totally ‘look’ like a doofus, cause that’s how drummers look when they play, but I think it sounded good.

Ben Sloan at The National's Homecoming Festival in April 2018.

Ben Sloan at The National’s Homecoming Festival in April 2018.

After the Sunday night show, The National invited me out for a short tour, so I ended up hopping on the bus for a few days with them. It was a treat to spend some time with the band, and see everything behind the scenes — touring on that scale is crazy! They had such a big crew, all of whom were kind and patient. I’m still reflecting on it all. I’m just grateful. I’m not sure how or when, but I think we will work together again!

What else are you working on right now?
A Delicate Motor started a two-week tour on June 18. We have a lot of momentum from the festival, and the record Fellover My Own is due to be released on Sofaburn later this month. Our album release is June 29 at Northside Tavern. I’m trying to invest as much time in my solo project as possible. It’s still so fresh, but I hope to put out an EP in the coming months.

Later this summer, Price Hill Will/MYCincinnati, in collaboration with The Contemporary Arts Center is hosting the third annual Price Hill Creative Community Festival, which is an ever-evolving and beautiful festival. Each year we host artists-in-residence to work collaboratively with MYC students for two very intense weeks. Along with the artists in residence, the festival curates a huge array of great performers to come do their thing. This year we are hosting cellist and composer Tomeka Reid, who has cultivated some powerful momentum in the Chicago improvisation and jazz scene. I strongly encourage you to go check her work immediately! We also have Josiah Wolf (CCM alum), multi-disciplinary arts collective Collaborative, Jarrod Cann and Paradox Teatro. The full list of artists, and their work is listed online at creativecommunityfestival.org/artists.

That Price Hill Creative Community Festival usually consumes me in the best possible way. It’s happening on August 3-4, the performances are unique and sometimes challenging, it’s all ages, we have great local food and admission completely free!

 

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International Trombone Festival Features Performances by CCM Alumni

CCM alumni are preparing to take over that stages at the International Trombone Festival, which features performances and recitals from a number of alums and professor Tim Anderson. Hosted at the University of Iowa, the festival runs July 11-14, 2018.

The Elysian Trombone Consort. From left to right, Chad Arnow, Nate Silar, Brett Shuster and Timothy Anderson.

The Elysian Trombone Consort. From left to right, Chad Arnow, Nate Silar, Brett Shuster and Timothy Anderson.

The festival features a performance by the Elysian Trombone Consort, which includes Nate Siler (DMA Trombone, 2012), Chad Arnow (BM Trombone, 1997; MM Trombone, 1999; DMA Trombone, 2014), Anderson and Brett Shuster. The quartet will give a new music recital at 1:30 p.m. on July 11 at the festival.

Devoted to the development of trombone repertoire, the Elysian Trombone Consort frequently premieres and performs new works including the compositions of David Fetter, Rodney Oakes, Frank Gulino and John Siler. The group also premiered John Crouch’s Concerto for Four Trombones and Wind Ensemble with the Peabody Wind Ensemble and previously with the CCM Wind Symphony and Wind Ensemble in 2012.

On the second day of the International Trombone Festival, alumnus Russ Zokaites (MM Trombone, 2010; DMA Trombone, 2017) presents a lecture on commissioning new music at 9 a.m. and a recital of new works for bass trombone at 11:30 a.m.

Russ Zokaites.

Russ Zokaites.

Zokaites will be assisted by alumna Brianna Matzke (MM Piano Performance, 2011; DMA Piano Performance, 2014) and Anderson. His recital features works by Will Timmons (MM Trombone Performance, 2009), Inez McComas (DMA Composition, 2009) and Carrie Magin (MM Composition, 2010; DMA Composition, 2013).

“I aim to increase appreciation for classical music through education and performance,” Zokaites says. “By creating a community surrounding musical pursuits, we can make music for everyone. Collaboration creates energy and excitement. This enthusiasm is contagious and encourages curiosity in audience members. We create for them.”

Zokaites has commissioned and premiered 19 works that utilize the bass trombone, and he has performed new music at the American Trombone Workshop, the International Horn Symposium, National Sawdust and the ArtSeedZ Festival in the Netherlands. He was a fellow at the 2012 Alessi Seminar and is an artist for Lätzsch custom trombones.

The International Trombone Association, whose mission is to promote the trombone and all trombone-related activities around the world, hosts the annual International Trombone Festival at a different university each year. In addition to the festival, the I.T.A. also produces a quarterly magazine, publishes sheet music, commissions new works for trombone and holds competitions, along with other activities. Visit the festival’s website for more information.

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CCM Sound Design Alumnus Wins Daytime Emmy for Disney’s Broadway Hits Broadcast

Theatre will always be Matt Kraus’ first love, but the CCM alumnus has made a name for himself by taking on diverse sound design opportunities in multiple mediums. He’s worked on theatrical productions with Liza Minelli and Kristen Chenoweth, and has also been involved in many live telecasts such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar live in concert.

Most recently, Kraus (BFA Sound Design, 2001) won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for his work on the TV broadcast of Disney’s Broadway Hits at Royal Albert Hall. Directed by Jeff Lee, the production brought well-known Disney artists and beloved hits to the London stage.

The broadcast featured the BBC orchestra, led by Keith Lockhart, and nine Broadway vocalists including CCM alums Alton Fitzgerald (BFA Musical Theatre, 1986) and Ashley Brown (BFA Musical Theatre, 2004). It also included the West End cast of Aladdin, a children’s choir of 100 singers and award-winning composer Alan Menken. Kraus has worked on similar shows with Disney over the years but says that this production was much larger.

“The logistics were daunting, as we were loading into the iconic venue and performing all in the same day,” he remembers. “We prepared for months to make sure that once we arrived at Royal Albert Hall, we would have all the tools at hand that we’d need to do the show.”

“The hardest part was keeping the audio team on track to make sure that we kept up with the tight schedule and quality of the audio. All that while getting nine primary vocalists and a world-renowned orchestra comfortable and happy with the sound.”

Disney’s Broadway Hits at Royal Albert Hall aired to much acclaim internationally on SKY TV, Broadway HD and BBC Radio. Kraus says he has enjoyed his work with Disney Theatrical because the productions always bring together a talented team of artists, musicians and directors.

Kraus has worked on many live telecasts, including Macy’s July 4th Fireworks, Tony Bennet’s 90th Birthday Celebration at Radio City, The Wiz, Peter Pan, The Sound of Music and the 2016 International Jazz Day broadcast live from the White House. He has also been the audio coordinator on remote shoots of the Tonight Show, which has filmed all over the country. He’s worked on hundreds of high-profile events like iHeart Radio’s annual Music Festival in Las Vegas, a Gucci/H&M Fashion Show featuring Prince and Nicki Minaj, and Elton John’s 60th Birthday Celebration at St. John the Divine.

Kraus is now a nationally-known sound designer, but he still fondly remembers his time as a student at CCM. He recalls countless late nights drafting and finishing CCM tech rehearsals and finishing the long days with “a milkshake at UDF and a high five.” He credits CCM with molding him into the sound designer he is today.

“Current students should be open to all kinds of opportunities that may come their way,” Kraus advises. “It’s normal to be focused on one medium or design aspect, but there are so many rewards to becoming a well-rounded artist with diversified projects.”

“Theatre will always be my first love, but I’ve had some really amazing experiences working on concerts, live events and television.”

Learn more about CCM Sound Design at ccm.uc.edu/theatre/tdp/sound.

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CCM Alumni in 5 Tony-Nominated Productions

Update: Congratulations to CCM alumnus Stephen Flaherty (BM Composition, 1982), who wrote the music for Once On This Island — winner of the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical! Alysha Deslorieux (BFA Musical Theatre, 2012) plays the role of Andrea in the musical and Chris Fenwick (BM Piano, 2001) is the music supervisor.

Tony Awards LogoCCM alumni are involved in at least five productions that have been nominated in the 2018 Tony Awards, which air live on CBS at 8/7 central on Sunday, June 10.

John Riddle (BFA Musical Theatre, 2012) stars as Hans in Disney’s Frozen, the Broadway installment based off the hit animated feature film. Noah Ricketts (BFA Musical Theatre, 2014) also performs in the Frozen‘s ensemble. The musical has received three Tony nominations.

Joe Medeiros (BFA Musical Theatre, 2006) is in the ensemble for Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, which received six Tony nominations.

Christine Cornish Smith (BFA Musical Theatre, 2013) is in the ensemble of the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady, which received 10 Tony nominations.

Alysha Deslorieux (BFA Musical Theatre, 2012) plays the role of Andrea in the Broadway revival of Once On This Island, which was nominated for eight Tony Awards. The musical features music by CCM alumnus Stephen Flaherty (BM Composition, 1982) with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and alumnus Chris Fenwick (BM Piano, 2001) is the music supervisor.

Nick Belton (BFA Musical Theatre, 2002), Garrett Hawe (BFA Musical Theatre, 2009) and Kelly McCormick (MM Theatre Performance and Voice, 1996) are ensemble members in the Broadway revival of Carousel, which received 11 Tony nominations. Belton is also the understudy for the leading role of Billy Bigelow and McCormick is the understudy for the role of Mrs. Mullin.

The Tony Awards, hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, will be broadcast live on CBS at 8/7 central on Sunday, June 10. Find out more by visiting tonyawards.com.

Are you a CCM alum with news? Stay in touch by sharing your story with us!

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Stanley E. Romanstein Named Dean of University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

An accomplished leader in education and the arts as well as a UC alumnus, Romanstein’s appointment follows a national search for CCM’s next dean.

Kristi A. Nelson, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Cincinnati, today announced the appointment of Stanley E. Romanstein, PhD, as Dean of the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Romanstein’s appointment becomes effective July 1, 2018, pending approval of the University’s Board of Trustees.

“I am delighted to welcome Stanley Romanstein back to his alma mater as Dean of UC’s College-Conservatory of Music,” said Nelson. “He is an outstanding organizational leader, entrepreneur and scholar, in addition to being a proud UC alumnus. I was most impressed with his passion for arts advocacy, his engaging interpersonal skills, and his forward-thinking and student-centric approach to education.”

Romanstein is an accomplished nonprofit executive with 22 years of leadership and management experience in education and the arts. He comes to CCM from Georgia State University’s Creative Media Institute, where he has served as a professor of practice/music and the arts for the past four years. He also serves as a principal at BLJackson Associates, a consulting firm that works with arts, humanities and education-focused nonprofits across the country. Romanstein was previously President and CEO of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, President and CEO of the Minnesota Humanities Center, Director of Development at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Executive Director of the Baltimore School for the Arts and Baltimore School for the Arts Foundation, and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Music at St. Lawrence University.

“I have firsthand knowledge of CCM’s excellence in music and arts education and I am a proud beneficiary of those high standards. I am honored to have the opportunity to contribute to my alma mater’s continued success as its next dean,” said Romanstein. “CCM’s reputation as a leading performing and media arts school is 150 years strong, and that reputation continues to grow thanks to the talents and dedication of its faculty, staff, alumni, donors, volunteers and community partners. Working together, we will continue to nurture the talents of our students and inspire future generations of artists, teachers, creative thinkers, innovative problem-solvers and media-savvy arts entrepreneurs.”

Romanstein continued, “I have found ideal partners in President Pinto and Provost Nelson and I look forward to working with them to build on CCM’s history and successes while advancing CCM’s role within the university’s strategic direction, Next Lives Here.”

Romanstein’s appointment follows a national search begun in fall 2017. The search was led by the UC Provost Office and chaired by Greer Glazer, Dean of the College of Nursing.

Nelson expressed her gratitude to bruce mcclung, who has served as CCM’s interim dean since July 2016. “I would like to acknowledge the outstanding service of Dean mcclung,” said Nelson. “UC owes mcclung a huge debt of gratitude for his leadership during the past two academic years, culminating with CCM’s 150th anniversary celebration.”

About Stanley E. Romanstein
Stanley E. Romanstein, PhD, brings to his new role at CCM extensive experience as a visionary leader, entrepreneurial strategist, engaging communicator, passionate fundraiser and successful manager.

In November of 2014, Romanstein began his tenure as professor of practice/music and the arts at Georgia State University’s Creative Media Institute, where his work focused on building music industry collaborations. During this time, he also served as a principal at BLJackson Associates, a consulting firm based in Atlanta that works with arts, humanities and education-focused nonprofits across the country. The firm creates and implements tailored solutions to challenges in organizational strategy, governance and development/ fundraising.

Romanstein has 22 years of leadership and management experience in education and the arts. As President and CEO of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (2010-14), he strengthened the orchestra’s connection to the community through expanded concert offerings and a wide range of impactful education offerings. He also created and implemented a new business model that reversed a 12-year history of financial loss and positioned the orchestra for long-term sustainability and artistic achievement.

As President and CEO of the Minnesota Humanities Center (2001-10), Romanstein transformed the center from a small organization with a local focus to a highly regarded regional and national leader in its field. He also created and distributed acclaimed new media; this included a collection of four Somali folk tales taken from oral tradition and written down for the very first time, as well as an Emmy Award-winning documentary, Iron Range: Minnesota Building America.

Romanstein proved to be an enthusiastic and productive fundraiser at the Minnesota Humanities Center, Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum and the Baltimore School of the Arts. He attracted new local, regional and national funding to support the center’s $4 million annual budget, including support from the Minnesota State Legislature by establishing partnerships with the state’s four ethnic councils: American Indian, African American, Latino and Asian. As Director of Development at the University of Minnesota’s Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum (2000-01), Romanstein led what was, at the time, the highest grossing annual fund drive while laying the groundwork for the museum’s successful capital campaign. As Director of Baltimore School for the Arts (1996-2000), Romanstein positioned the school for a successful capital campaign as well as a facility renovation and expansion.

From 1987-96, Romanstein served as an associate professor and chair of the music department at St. Lawrence University, a highly selective liberal arts institution in New York. He refocused the department’s traditional music curriculum to emphasize interdisciplinary and multicultural perspectives and created meaningful connections with departments and colleagues across the campus.

Romanstein earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree, cum laude, from Carson-Newman College in 1976. He then came to CCM to earn a Master of Music in Choral Conducting in 1980 and a PhD in Music in 1990. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Israel in 1985-86 and in Japan in November-December 1998.

About the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
Declared “one of the nation’s leading conservatories” by the New York Times, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. The school’s educational roots date back to 1867, and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time.

CCM offers nine degree types (BA, BM, BFA, MFA, MM, MA, AD, DMA, PhD) in nearly 120 possible majors. 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 world-class facilities provide a highly creative and multidisciplinary artistic environment. In 2017, the college completed a $15-million renovation of its major performance spaces, ensuring that CCM’s facilities remain state-of-the-art.

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/Theory,
  • Electronic Media,
  • Ensembles and Conducting (Choral Studies, Commercial Music Production, Jazz Studies, Orchestral Studies and Wind Studies),
  • Keyboard Studies (Harpsichord, Organ and Piano),
  • Music Education,
  • Performance Studies (Strings, Voice and Woodwinds/Brass/Percussion) and
  • Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration (Acting, Arts Administration, Dance, Musical Theatre, Opera and Theatre Design and Production).

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).

Learn more by visiting http://ccm.uc.edu.

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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).

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