We are pleased to announce the 10 ensembles, organizations, and soloists selected to participate in our 2023 Akropolis Mastermind! These artists come from all across the United States, 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!
The Mastermind is made possible thanks to support from The University of Michigan EXCEL program and Fischoff National Chamber Music Association.
2023 Akropolis Mastermind Cohort
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 2023 Akropolis Mastermind participants below, to visit their websites, listen to their music, and get inspired for what’s to come!
Black Cat Ensemble
Black Cat Ensemble‘s mission offers accessible community performances and educational outreach opportunities both in-person and virtually. Founded in 2019, BCE has served hundreds of students and counting in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin community, offering storybook presentations, Meet the Instrument demonstrations, and traditional chamber performances that engage with each audience. An advocate of supporting the local community, BCE has held yearly “Black Cat Gives Back” fundraiser concerts, raising money for local organizations such as Street Angels of Milwaukee and Hope House Milwaukee. Black Cat Ensemble aims to provide inclusive and representational repertoire selection, working with living composers and emphasizing repertoire by underrepresented composers. Efforts to fulfill these goals include utilizing storybooks focused on cultural diversity and education, as well as performing in non-traditional venues to defy the hierarchical stigma of elitism in classical music.
Eric Whitmer is a percussionist, musicologist, arts administrator and photographer. Growing up in rural northern California, they got their start in music taking piano lessons from their grandmother. When that didn’t stick, Eric began playing percussion through the Orff approach to music education at Redding School of the Arts. As a percussionist, Eric has played all over the country including Tanglewood, the National Museum of African American Music, the National Gallery of Arts, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, and in a canoe in the middle of Lake Dunmore. Specializing in contemporary chamber music, Eric has worked with a wide variety of ensembles, including as an ensemble-in-residence at the Cortona Sessions for New Music at Florida State University. Additionally they have performed as a soloist with the SF Girls’ Chorus, the North State Symphony and the Shasta Symphony Orchestra. A frequent commissioner and performer of new works, Eric has commissioned works by Kristian de Leon, Stan Link, Josh McGuire, Brian Ellis, and Madeline Merwin.Eric is a profound believer in the power of music to tell stories and create empathy between disparate groups of people. They work to curate and perform events that put music and topics of social justice on the same stage including projects such as the commissioning of We Breathe Together by Kristian de Leon, a piece in memory of victims of conversion therapy, the curation of a series of events surrounding the history of HIV/AIDS to coincide with the Vanderbilt Orchestra’s performance of John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1. They initiated a PrEP drive in partnership with Music City PrEP and a panel discussion bringing together experts in queer history, doctors, and ethicists to discuss HIV/AIDS (2022).Within their work in arts administration, Eric has worked for organizations like Sō Percussion, the Engine for Art, Democracy, and Justice, Southern California Marimba, North State Symphony, Vanderbilt University, the Redding Performing Arts Society, and Susie Ibarra’s studio. Upcoming projects include a recital documenting and performing queer contributions to dance music and a recording of “Life Sentences” a work written for Eric by Stan Link. Eric graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Percussion Performance, minoring in Business with a concentration in Musicology. While at Vanderbilt, Eric was recognized as a Dean’s Honor Scholar and has received the Littlejohn Research Fellowship for their research about the American Orchestra. They are also the inaugural research fellow and ambassador for the Engine for Art, Democracy, and Justice. Currently Eric is pursuing their Ph.D. in Musicology at the University of Michigan. Eric’s teachers and mentors include Jake Nissly, Jon Bisessi, Ji Hye Jung, Dr. Dwayne Corbin, Dr. Melanie Lowe, Dr. Robert Fry, Dr. Rebecca Epstein-Levi, Mitchell Korn, and Robin Fountain, amongst many others.
Described as the “Rampal from Brasilia” by Maestro and composer Júlio Medaglia, Guilherme Andreas has become one of the most prominent flutists of his generation. Andreas is a multifaceted flutist, music educator, vocalist and music director/arranger. One of his first musical memories was showing up at choir rehearsals conducted by his father, where he learned the soprano and alto parts on his own, and according to his mother, sang louder than everyone else. Andreas is an active performer and educator throughout the U-S. He is currently based in New York, dedicating his time to discovering lesser-known composers whose music expresses extreme ranges of emotions and demands tremendous virtuosity, in addition to teaching flute, chamber and general music, band and choir to students of all ages.
Her Music Academia
Her Music Academia: The Podcast (HMA) is a music research podcast project that I began in 2021. The show functions as a public platform for my current research interests and as a space for public conversations between musicians. With an emphasis on presenting marginalized perspectives in music, the podcast features not only my perspective as a Black woman, but a wide array of topics and guests. From popular music to classical music, performance to education, the podcast showcases valuable research happening in the field. Specifically, I aim to highlight the music of Black women, featuring episodes on Florence Price and Margaret Bonds. My hope for the podcast is to create a community around the process of inquiry, specifically centering the voices, research, and music of women and femmes of color.In spring of 2021, as I was preparing to begin my PhD in music theory at the University of Michigan, I was shaken by the scholarship of music theorist Philip Ewell. His work brought the intersection of race scholarship and music theory to the forefront of the field. Ewell points out that the membership of the Society for Music Theory—the main professional organization for scholars and professors in the field—is only around 1% Black, and two-thirds male; as a result, the intersection of race and gender in music remains woefully unexplored. Inspired by Ewell’s public blog posts, I decided that I, too, wanted to use my research to dismantle racism and sexism in music theory, as well as make the books, resources, and methods that I was exploring more accessible to the public. Thus, I launched my podcast and my website, Her Music Academia, in 2021.I was drawn to podcasting because it is a unique medium that can heavily feature music, making it the perfect avenue to feature music research. At the time, there were very few music theory podcasts, so I sought to fill that gap. Podcasting is also a great way to present research to the public in an accessible format. HMA strives to present accurate and relevant information in an engaging way for a wide audience of musicians, non-musicians, academics, students, and anyone else who wants to learn more about music. Through disrupting the whiteness and maleness of music research with my own voice, the show invites the audience to similarly consider their own identity when it comes to the music they perform, research, and consume.
IGNIS is an award winning ensemble committed to unlocking the expressive potential of the wind quintet medium by “taking what is an inherently unmatched ensemble and not trying to compensate for it.” Whether through the music of Mozart or music of the 21st century, IGNIS creates memorable, impactful performances by highlighting the “multi-layered, complex musical personalities” of its five members and celebrating the ways these distinct voices combine and interact. The ensemble was founded in 2021 as the University of Maryland’s sixth graduate fellowship woodwind quintet and served as the ensemble in residence at the 2022 Maine Chamber Music Seminar. During their fellowship at the University of Maryland, IGNIS was awarded first prize in the 2023 NOLA Chamberfest Emerging Artists competition and was a top
As devotees to the music of today, IGNIS focuses on presenting works by a diverse array of living composers and seeking expressive opportunities beyond the canonic wind quintet repertoire. In 2022, the ensemble was awarded an M-Cubator grant that financed the commissioning of Shivering by Ancel Neely, an innovative work for wind quintet with live electronic manipulation. IGNIS has also premiered the chamber symphony Desire Paths by William Kenlon.
As educators, IGNIS has taught at elementary, middle, high school, and collegiate levels. For the 2021-2022 season, IGNIS partnered with the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra, leading sectionals and teaching student masterclasses. IGNIS has worked with schools in the Prince George’s County public school system, leading assemblies and classes in addition to leading small scale chamber music coachings for advanced students. At the collegiate level, members of IGNIS coached undergraduate music major chamber ensembles at the University of Maryland.
IGNIS currently consists of members Lisa Choi (flute), Nathaniel Wolff (oboe), Kyle Glasgow (clarinet), Molly Flanagan (horn) and Christian Whitacre (bassoon).
Kodachrome is a saxophone quartet of four graduate students from Arizona State University where they are under the tutelage of Dr. Christopher Creviston. Kodachrome has won First Prize awards at the 10th Plowman Chamber Music Competition and the 10th Coltman Chamber Music Competition and has also premiered several new works by Jenni Watson, Hendel Almétus and Eduardo Orea. Kodachrome is comprised of Calvin Wong (soprano), Jade Deatherage (alto), Siobhan Plouffe (tenor) and Bonson Lee (baritone). As individuals, members have competed and performed extensively in the United States as well as internationally and have studied with artists such as Otis Murphy, Kenneth Tse, Vincent David and Chien-Kwan Lin. One of the primary goals of Kodachrome is to promote contemporary underrepresented composers and provoke the general public’s interest in concert music.
Masso Quartet is a Chicago-based saxophone quartet dedicated to the commissioning, performance, and democratization of contemporary classical music. While embracing the study and presentation of the classical repertoire, masso is equally committed to the advancement of New music and the creation of relevant, moving, and accessible artistic experiences for audiences.
As a young quartet, Masso was awarded third prize in the 2022 North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition, was named finalist for the 2023 Fletcher Prize for Outstanding Research (recognizing their study of the legibility of New music), and is currently in residency at the 2023 Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, where they hold the Emerging Artist Fellowship.
In their 2022-2023 season, Masso gave over two dozen performances throughout seven cities and five states, with venues ranging from contemporary art galleries and middle schools to peer universities and national conferences. Throughout this season, Masso completed inter-acts, a year-long project examining how compositional narratives can increase legibility in New music— featuring five commissioned works by Midwest-based composers that explored how music can reflect identities, interests, and experiences.
In their pursuit of developing and interacting with culturally and socially relevant art, Masso has commissioned and collaborated with composers such as Wan Heo, Dave Dagta, Leo Discenza, Shi-An Costello, and Mya Vandegrift, and the ensemble is now developing a new project, to be seen not heard: music about roots, featuring 3-5 new commissioned works, that is anticipated in early 2024.
The New Consort
Winners of the American Prize in Chamber Music, THE NEW CONSORT is a vocal chamber ensemble dedicated to exploring the roles that musical ritual and community can play in 21st-century lives. We program historical works for voices, then recontextualize them for a modern audience; we commission and highlight significant new works that think deeply about vocal music’s legacy and future; and we forge rituals and stories out of our performances, marrying old and new wisdom about inspiring empathy, community, and awe. We bring the unique emotive power of vocal ensemble music out of its historical place in religious ceremony, using it instead to humanize the marginalized and illuminate thematic connections among creators in many genres of musical expression.
Founded by baritone & Artistic Director Brian Mummert, The New Consort has been presented by organizations including Trinity College, Cambridge; Tippet Rise Art Center; Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue; The Walters Art Museum’s First Fridays series; The Bach Store, an NYC pop-up concert hall; Gotham Early Music Scene’s Midtown Concerts Series; Pegasus Early Music and New York State Baroque; Spectrum NYC; and at concert halls, churches, and schools throughout the Northeast United States. Recent and upcoming commissions include projects by Rossa Crean, Jonathan Woody, Simon Frisch, Hope Littwin, Niccolo Seligmann, Ethan McGrath, and Sarah Meneely-Kyder. Members of The New Consort have appeared as soloists, choristers, and conductors with some of the world’s best-respected ensembles, but relish the opportunity to collaborate as chamber musicians.
The Colorwash Quintet
The Colorwash Quintet is dedicated to education, outreach, and stellar performance. The five of us strive to share the colors and timbres of each instrument with the world and discover new ways to make music. Josean Delgado, flute | John DeBiase, oboe | Andrew Buckley, clarinet | Becca Frederick, horn | Erika Clippinger, bassoon
Watch This Space / Joseph Palazzolo
Started private piano lessons in 1961. Won competitions. BA in Piano Performance–Oakland Univ, Rochester, MI. Studied under Flavio Varani. Studied voice, organ, conducting, orchestration, and composition. Appeared as piano soloist with the St. Clair Shores, Warren, and Pontiac-Oakland Symphony Orchestras. Directed church choirs and community choruses for 54 years. Performed on piano, and to a lesser extent, organ since 1968. Fair amount of musical theatre experience, acting, singing, dancing, including male lead in Kiss Me Kate at a Macomb Community College. Pianist for Broadway productions of Forbidden Broadway and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at the Gem Theatre, Detroit, as well as for numerous high school and community theatre productions. Composed music for choirs, and for different instrumental combinations including string quartet and orchestra—receiving a few commissions. Much experience in concert piano performance, both solo and in ensemble. In 2000 I began a quest of performing lecture concerts as I would give verbal program notes to audiences about the composer I was about to play as well as the zeitgeist, political climate, and private lives of the composers. Currently Music Director/Pianist/Vocalist for both Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church and for Congregation for Humanistic Judaism. My professional mission statement: To Create A World of Classical Music Lovers through Performance and Education. I strive to fulfill this goal in every concert I present. Average about 2 concerts per year I produce and perform in since 2010. Concert entitled Warsaw Concerto told the story through music of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising for which I wrote a script, hired a violinist and actress, and played piano and declaimed. After performing to an audience of about 100 at GPUC, presented it to an enthusiastic crowd of over 300 at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Have been music director/accompanit for many different churches and synagogues from 1968 to 2022. May 7, 2023 presented a piano trio concert at CHJ entitled Struck, Bowed, and Plucked with Eliot Heaton Violin, and Nathaniel Pierce, cello. Single movements only of trios by Ravel, Mendelssohn, Piazzolla, and the world premiere of a Will Rowe arrangement of Django Reinhardt’s Minor Swing.Feedback I get most commonly is “There’s so much VARIETY in your programming!” and “I just LOVE those stories!” or “I didn’t KNOW that about Tchaikovsky!”