Meet the 2020 Akropolis Mastermind Participants

We are pleased to announce the 10 ensembles, organizations, and soloists selected to participate in our inaugural Akropolis Mastermind! These artists come from all across the country, span numerous genres and styles, and through their applications exhibited an incredibly high level of artistry and drive to build sustainable and vibrant careers. Congratulations to these artists!

2020 Akropolis Mastermind Participants

Akropolis is honored to be at the helm of this Mastermind and is excited to work with all of these talented musicians this summer. We invite you to read more about each of the 2020 Akropolis Mastermind participants below, to visit their websites, listen to their music, and get inspired for what’s to come!

Akropolis Mastermind is our brand new, 1-week, completely online, artistic business intensive to help emerging musicians and ensembles turn their artistry into a thriving business and the career of their dreams. Akropolis Mastermind offers 1 on 1 mentorship sessions, entrepreneurial lectures on a variety of business topics, peer to peer networking, connections to a community of like-minded performers, and unprecedented access to experts within our field who’ve advised leading artists on how to create successful and sustainable careers.

Guest Speakers

Aruna Quartet

Since forming in the Fall of 2015, the Aruna Quartet has made its mission to showcase a wide range of styles and repertoire.

The Aruna Quartet is a prizewinner in national and international competitions including the MTNA National Competition, the Coltman Competition, The American Prize, and the ENKOR competition. Aruna was awarded the Gold Medal and Grand Prize at the 46th Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. The quartet has performed on the Con Spirito Concert Series, the Rieth Recital Series, the Howard Center Presents Series, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, and will perform in the 2021 ​Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy.

An advocate for arts education, the Aruna Quartet regularly performs recitals and presents masterclasses at universities, public schools and conferences including those held by the North American Saxophone Alliance, the Texas Music Educators Association and at the Asia Pacific Saxophone Academy in Bangkok, Thailand.

At Texas Tech University, the quartet was coached and mentored by Professor of Saxophone, David Dees. They received additional instruction by legendary saxophone pedagogue Frederick L. Hemke at the 2018 Snow Pond Music Festival in Sydney, Maine.

Group 2

Stylistically diverse and musically engaging, Group 2 is a saxophone quartet hailing from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. Founded on principles of blend, balance and complete instrumental control, Group 2 takes the listener into soundscapes that are absolutely one-of-a-kind. Each of the members embody diverse backgrounds in classical, jazz, new music, and transcriptive performing. Awards and accolades have not eluded the group, as members have won top prizes in the Yamaha Young Artist Competition, Vandoren Emerging Artist Competition, the Music Teachers National Association solo and chamber competitions, and the North American Saxophone Alliance solo and chamber competitions. Most recently, Group 2 was selected as the grand prize winner of the New Orleans Chamber Festival Competition, and was invited to participate in a master class with the acclaimed Escher String Quartet. Specializing in musical storytelling through a deep knowledge of style, vulnerability, and unique interpersonal connection, Group 2 delivers a fulfilling musical experience to diverse audiences both near and far.

Khemia Ensemble

1. derived from the Ancient Greek word χημεία (​khēmeia​) meaning “cast together”
2. a contemporary concert music ensemble based in the United States

Hailed by the Columbia Daily Tribune as “adding a fresh dimension” to the classical concert music experience, Khemia Ensemble is a contemporary chamber ensemble dedicated to the presentation of contemporary chamber music through diverse programming, collaboration with artists and composers, and vivid, multimedia performances. The members of Khemia Ensemble have come together across four countries from around the world, Argentina, Brazil, China, and the United States, to form an ensemble that seeks to diversify and share the music of living composers.

Khemia has been featured in venues and festivals such as National Sawdust, the Mizzou International Composers Festival, Strange Beautiful Music in Detroit, New Music Gathering, Latin IS America at Michigan State University and the Biennial New Music Festival at the National University of Cordoba. Khemia has held residencies at University of Michigan, Tufts University, Michigan State University, the University of Missouri, the University of Tennessee at Martin, and the National University of Bogota and the National University of Cordoba, as well as two consecutive years at Avaloch Farms.

“Khemia Lights” is a permanent installation for the ensemble and was created in a collaboration between composer, Bret Bohman, and the Cincinnati-based sound and visual production company​ ​Intermedio​. The lights use audio-visual technology that responds live to the rhythm and intensity of the music we are performing, creating an exciting multi-sensory experience for the audience.

Kleine Kammermusik

Kleine Kammermusik is dedicated to bringing to life the wealth of chamber music for winds and continuo. With paired treble instruments (oboes and recorders) and a supportive continuo group of bassoon, cello, viola da gamba, and keyboard, the group comprises a versatile blend of instruments suited to music from a wide range of contexts, from vivid outdoor celebrations and military fanfares to intimate chamber works.

Kleine Kammermusik takes its name from a chamber ensemble at the Dresden court in the early 18th century. It is also the name of a collection of pieces by Telemann that he dedicated to four oboists. Intimate in nature and flexible in instrumentation, these pieces embody our approach to sharing music in a colorful, conversational, and creative way. Kleine Kammermusik’s members are all leading exponents and hold prominent posts in early music groups across the country. Not only are they fine virtuoso players in their own right, but together they have also developed an intuitive feeling for the musical style, and their rapport produces performances full of elegant control and superb artistry. Kleine Kammermusik has performed and given workshops in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, Connecticut, and Washington, DC. Their 2018-19 season included performances on concert series presented by the Cambridge Early Music Society, Pegasus Early Music, New York State Baroque, as well a concert at the library of the University of Pennsylvania and a salon-style event in Philadelphia’s historic Hill-Physick House.

Kleine Kammermusik’s debut recording, Fanfare and Filigree: Chamber Music from Paris and Dresden, was recently released on the Acis label and has received praise from Early Music America Magazine, Colorado Public Radio, and BBC Radio.

Lara Mitofsky Neuss

Lara Mitofsky Neuss is a clarinetist currently based in Tallahassee, Florida. She has performed in a variety of conferences, ensembles, and festivals including Americans for the Arts, American Single Reed Summit, Third Practice Electroacoustic Festival, New York Youth Symphony, Brevard Music Festival, Bang on a Can Music Festival, and Banff Centre for the Arts. Most recently, Lara performed and curated an entire recital showcasing the British clarinet repertoire. As a soloist, Lara was the winner of both the Golden Classical Music Awards Competition and the Eastern Music Festival Concerto Competition, and a semi-finalist in the William C. Byrd International Competition. As a chamber musician and composer, she was the winner of the NolesinNYC Chamber Music Competition and winner of the Colorado State University Composition Competition.

A strong new music advocate, Lara is an active performer and commissioner of today’s composers. She is currently the Clarinet Project Manager of The New Works Project, a consortium project dedicated to lowering the financial barriers that exist in commissioning new music, increasing access to new music, and supporting marginalized voices within the community. She recently went on an educational and performance tour, performing and teaching improvisation at colleges throughout Sweden. Lara is also a member of the Civitasolis Reed Quintet and holds a yearly composition competition for the reed quintet repertoire. In May 2019 the group made their Carnegie Hall Debut as winners of the NolesinNYC Competition.

Equally passionate about the orchestral repertoire, Lara has performed in the Tallahassee Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, New York Youth Symphony, San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra, and on tour with San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. Performances have taken her to halls such as Carnegie Hall, Berlin Philharmonie, Munich Philharmonic, Symphony Space, and Alice Tully Hall. Lara is currently a doctoral teaching assistant at Florida State University and holds degrees from Colorado State University and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She additionally studied at Peabody Conservatory of Music and Mannes College of Music Pre-College Division. Outside of music, she enjoys studying Mindfulness and is certified in Reiki.

Maryland Chamber Winds

Hailed as “musical in every good way and clearly defined in performance,” Maryland Chamber Winds, or MCW, is a modular, professional wind ensemble of fourteen musicians who perform in flexible combinations of instrumentation ranging from small chamber pieces to works for the full ensemble. Founded in 2015, MCW enriches western Maryland through high-quality performances of wind chamber music, educational programming, community engagement, and commissioning projects. MCW aims to develop its community by presenting performances in both traditional and non-traditional spaces. They have received grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, Frederick Arts Council, Washington County Arts Council, The Community Foundation of Washington County, Nora Roberts Foundation, and The Delaplaine Foundation.

Leaders in western Maryland’s chamber music scene, MCW hosts the annual Maryland Wind Festival each June. Performing throughout Frederick and Hagerstown, MCW is able to offer free performances as part of their annual series. Regular partnerships with the Washington County Public Schools and the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts allow them to offer masterclasses and chamber music workshops to area students. MCW has been invited to present storytime concerts at local libraries and provide performances for retirement communities.

In addition to preserving the standard repertoire, MCW aims to support the growth and awareness of new music through engaging with composers. Over the past five years, they have premiered over 15 new compositions, transcriptions, or arrangements for chamber winds. MCW has been fortunate to commission composers Molly Joyce, Kris McCormick, Michael Mogensen, Cassie Wieland, and Theo Chandler as Composer-in-Residence during their annual Festival.

During the summer of 2020, MCW will release their debut album titled ‘Preludes and Recitations’ on the Tonsehen Label featuring world premiere performances of Theo Chandler’s ‘Trailing Wings’ for Saxophone and Winds and ‘Preludes and Recitations’ for wind dectet.

Maryland Chamber Winds is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is generously supported by local corporations and small businesses as well as individuals nationwide. The MCW artists hail from across North America, representing ten different states and Canada.

Pure Winds

Pure Winds is an award-winning woodwind quintet based in Lansing, Michigan that promotes outside-of-the-concert-hall musical experiences. The group engages audiences of all ages through residencies, masterclasses, and performances. Pure Winds consistently brings music to non-traditional venues and strives to create conversations between performers and audiences. Recent engagements have included concerts and clinics at the Kentucky Music Educators Association Conference, Union College, the University of the Cumberlands, The 2019 Midwest Conference, University of Michigan – Flint, a week-long tour throughout western Montana, as well as being the featured guest artist for the “Chamber Music Montana” series at the University of Montana. Pure Winds has recently been named a finalist for the American Prize National Competition. The group creates balanced concerts for audiences by bringing a fresh perspective to standard quintet repertoire while performing new music. Members of the ensemble have performed, taught, and placed in competitions across the U.S. and internationally.


Quintilia is a cutting edge chamber ensemble focused on presenting a wide variety of contemporary and experimental music and celebrating inclusivity through the programming and commission of composers from diverse backgrounds. Deep collaboration and improvisation are at the core of this group, focusing on works for open/flexible instrumentation. Members include Francesca Leo, flute, Thomas Morris, oboe, Tyler Neidermayer, bass clarinet, Yaz Lancaster, violin, and Gramm Drennen, cello. This ensemble is based between New York City, Boston, and Ann Arbor.

Shades Wind Quintet

The Shades Wind Quintet, made up of Columbus State University students and alumni, continues to promote diversity in music through educational outreach, performances, and commissioning projects. Members of the quintet attend Columbus State University, DePaul University, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Florida State University. This quintet maintains an active performance calendar, including numerous woodwind quintet standards, alongside new avant-garde works. Members of the quintet remain active throughout the year, performing in University ensembles, chamber music, recitals, competitions and summer festivals, including the Hot Springs Summer Music Festival, Neif Norf, Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, and Sewanee Summer Music Festival. Some members have also performed internationally, being featured on concerts in Mexico and Belgium. Most recently, the quintet was invited to perform as featured guests at the 2019 Schwob Summer Music Festival. Avid supporters of new music, the Shades Wind Quintet is currently working on a commissioning and recording project, anticipated in 2020.

Third Place [MusicFest]

Third Place [MusicFest] is an annual festival in Ann Arbor, MI that brings together artists and businesses from the region to celebrate the power of the third place. A third place is not your home or place of employment, but rather a neutral, community-centered environment. Through eight concerts over the course of four days, and partnering with six local businesses, Third Place [MusicFest] fosters a thriving and accessible community between performing artists, local businesses, and Ann Arbor residents.

Our team believes that musicians and artists have an integral role in promoting the social and cultural health of our town. People from disparate places are drawn into shared time and place; in so doing, they give life to these spaces, give meaning to each other’s lives. The twenty-first century musician has an obligation to fulfill the role of community builder, and our organization strives to position Ann Arbor and SMTD musicians as leaders in building music that envisions a more connected world.

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