Alumni News

Latest Alumni News (As of September 2018)

Congratulations to three International Program alumni who participated in the 2018 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis: Stella Chen (’16), Shannon Lee (’16) and Boson Mo (’15). Shannon advanced to the semifinal round and was named the Sixth Place Laureate.

Pianist Kevin Ahfat (International Program ’17) was named one of “Thirty Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under Age Thirty” by CBC Music. Last February, at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Kevin and cellist Juliette Herlin gave the North American premiere of the recently discovered Cello Sonata No. 3 by Saint-Saëns. Another of Kevin’s proudest accomplishments of the past year was restoring an 1895 New York Steinway grand piano that he received from the estate of the late David Charles Oppen, a Canadian-born Stanford researcher and amateur pianist. “It really sounds like a true old-school, American Steinway: a deeply warm, dark, and wholesome sound,” Kevin says.
For now, due to hefty import tariffs, the piano will remain in New York, where Ahfat has spent the past six years completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Juilliard. He recently moved back to his native Toronto to begin a Rebanks Fellowship at the Glenn Gould School, where he has formed a trio with violinist Danny Koo (International Program ’17) and cellist Richard Narroway (International Program ’13).

Isaac Allen and Angela Choong (both alums of the International Program ’08) welcomed their son, Ari Oliver Choong Allen, in late December 2017. Isaac and Angela, along with violinist Bram Goldstein (International Program ’08) are members of the Hausmann Quartet, currently in residence at San Diego State University’s School of Music and Dance.

Pianist Michael Brown (International Program ’10) was named a 2018 Emerging Artist by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Violist DJ Cheek (International Program ’15) was appointed Principal Viola of the Jacksonville Symphony in January 2018.

In July, Brannon Cho (International Program ’17) led a master class and gave a recital at the International Cello Institute at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Violinist Jinjoo Cho (International Program ’14) has joined the prestigious faculty of McGill University’s Schulich School of Music beginning August 2018.

Miki-Sophia Cloud (International Program ’11) has been named as the recipient of the 2018 Eric Sun – Karen Law Vuillaume Fellowship from the Tarisio Trust. For two years, Miki will receive on-loan a violin made by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume previously owned by Silicon Valley engineer and violinist, Eric Sun, who tragically passed away from cancer in November of 2017. It was Eric, and his wife Karen Law’s vision, for the fine violin to be used by young musicians as a means to bring communities together through the performing arts and to leave a legacy. Since 2009, Miki has been a core member of the self-conducted chamber orchestra, A Far Cry, and is a member of the New York-based Solera Quartet. She has also served on the teaching faculty of Dartmouth College.

Jorena de Pedro (Production Intern ’11) is Ticket Services Manager at La Jolla Music Society.

In August, cellist Alexander Hersh (International Program ’17) launched a new concert series entitled Nexus Chamber Music Chicago. Nexus offers first-class musical events in unconventional venues in and around the city of Chicago, with the aim of deconstructing the traditional barrier between audience and performer.

Erin (Shum) Friscia (Student Liaison Intern ’11) has relocated to Sacramento, California as of June 2018, where she is Development and Alumni Relations Coordinator at the UC Davis School of Law.

Violinist/violist Mario Gotoh (International Program ’10), who most recently has been performing on tour with the Grammy-award winning Silk Road Ensemble, received a “Forty Under Forty” award at Stony Brook University, an annual recognition celebrating forty individuals who have made an impact since graduating from Stony Brook University. Mario was invited to teach at the 2018 Youth Music Culture Guangdong workshop in Guangdong Province (China), which took place in January. Presented by the Guangdong Provincial Department of Culture and organized by the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and Xinghai Concert Hall, the project brings together young musicians from across mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau for a two-week workshop that explores the role of the musician as a cultural citizen.

Katie Howard (Publications Intern ’10) is now Director of Regional Marketing at First Republic Bank.

Violist Katharina Kang (International Program ’14) is principal violist of the New York City Ballet Orchestra. Another familiar face in the viola section is that of Katarzyna Bryla-Weiss (International Program ’13).

Henry Kramer was named the L. Rexford Whiddon Distinguished Chair in Piano at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, beginning August 2018. His CD with violinist Jiyoon Lee (concertmaster of the Staatskapelle Berlin) was released on the Champs Hill Label.

Pianist Rachel Kudo (International Program ’12) received First Prize at the Leipzig International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in July. Rachel reports, “The entire experience was so heartwarming, and it only strengthens my belief that music has the most unique ability to console, sustain, and inspire us to grow and bond together.”

Violinist Tessa Lark (International Program ’12) was named a recipient of a 2018 Borletti-Buitoni Fellowship from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. Intended to provide assistance for the advancement of musical careers across a broad range of projects, Tessa is among fifteen exceptional young artists from around the world to receive an award.

Violinists Jennifer Liu (International Program ’12) and Suliman Tekalli (International Program ’15) have joined Ensemble Connect, a program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. The two-year fellowship will end in 2020.

In August, pianist Zhenni Li (International Program ’17) was featured on the list of Best of New Classical Releases on Spotify for her album Melancholié featuring works by Lourié, Bartok, and Schumann.

Beginning with the 2018-19 academic year, violist Matthew Lipman (International Program ’11) is Artist in Residence at Stony Brook University.

Kevin Kwan Loucks (International Program ’03) has been appointed Director of Innovation and Program Development at Music Academy of the West beginning August, 2018. In addition to introducing new outreach and impact programs to the Academy’s operations, Kevin will manage the Music Academy’s Alumni Enterprise Awards and will work closely with the artistic operations and student services departments on a number of new initiatives. Kevin was also named a recipient of the “Forty Under Forty” award at Stony Brook University, an annual recognition celebrating forty individuals who have made an impact since graduating from Stony Brook University.

Emma Merritt-Cuneo (Development Intern ’14) is a Program Writer at the International Center for Transitional Justice in New York City.

Violinist Sean Mori (Young Performers Program ’15) was a semifinalist in the 2018 Yehudi Menuhin Competition which took place in Geneva in April 2018.

Violist Rosemary Nelis (Young Performers Program ’08-’12) is now a graduate student at the Juilliard School, studying with Misha Amory and Roger Tapping.

Shannon Reilly (Stage Manager Intern ’11) was appointed Resident Stage Manager and Associate Producer at the Berkeley Playhouse this past January.

Pianist Mika Sasaki (International Program ’15) has joined Ensemble Mélange, a New York City-based ensemble that performs everything from Classical, Romantic, Jazz, and Broadway to original arrangements, and the audience gets to choose pieces from a “menu” of options. With performances in underprivileged schools and a philosophical focus on outreach, the group is dedicated to bringing in the next generation of music lovers.

Camden Shaw (Young Performers Program ’05 and ’06, International Program ’12) and his colleagues in the Dover Quartet have been named Quartet in Residence at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The three-year residency will include performances on the KC Jukebox series and various educational outreach efforts.

Liza Stepanova (International Program ’08) and her husband, violinist Itamar Zorman, welcomed their daughter, Ella Katherine Zorman, in early April. Liza reports that little Ella was born “with a head full of black hair, just like her papa.” Liza is currently Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Georgia, and along with her husband and cellist Michael Katz (International Program ’13) performs around the world as part of the Lysander Piano Trio.

Cellist Jonathan Swensen (Young Performers Program ’10 and ’11) won First Prize in the Khachaturian International Cello Competition in June, 2018. Jonathan is the son of violinist, conductor and Music@Menlo artist Joseph Swensen.

On Sunday, October 28, pianist Daniel Tan (Young Performers Program ’15, ’18) will perform at Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall on the New York International Artists Competition Winners Showcase event.

In January 2018, violinist Suliman Tekalli (International Program ’15) joined the classical programming committee for the Timucua Arts Foundation, a fast-growing destination and hub for arts and culture in downtown Orlando, Florida.

After completing a five-month internship as Executive Director Intern at Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Lesley Warren (Development Intern ’17) has started a new position as Development Director at Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas.

Violist Cong Wu (International Program ’14) presented a recital in April 2018 on the Stires-Stark Alumni Recital Series at the Perlman Music Program on Shelter Island, New York.

Cellist Han Bin Yoon (International Program ’15) has launched the Brussels Cello Festival in Brussels, Belgium, which will have its first concerts in mid-October of 2018. Han Bin serves as Artistic Director of Belgium Cello Society ASBL, a new initiative to organize, promote, and support cello playing in Belgium. Learn more here.

Areta Zhulla (International Program ’08 and ’09) has joined the Juilliard String Quartet as first violinist as of September 2018. She succeeded violinist Joseph Lin, who stepped down at the end of the 2017-18 season. Along with the other members of the quartet, Areta is also a full-time faculty member at the Juilliard School.

Older