Meet the 13 Artists Attending the Akropolis Chamber Music Institute

Congratulations to these 9 instrumentalists and 4 composers on being selected to attend our first Akropolis Chamber Music Institute at Bay View this summer!

The Akropolis Chamber Music Institute (ACMI) is a 10-day summer festival designed to bring together talented emerging composers with innovative chamber performers located in the picturesque lake shore town of Petoskey, Michigan.

After receiving over 50 submissions from a highly competitive pool of applicants, Akropolis is pleased to introduce you to the artists attending the first inaugural Akropolis Chamber Music Institute! For 10 days, the 9 instrumentalists and 4 composers selected will work intensely with Akropolis: living, working, playing, and relaxing together as an artistic collective. The 4 composers will each have a world premiere given by the collective during the festival, in addition to writing a new reed quintet work that Akropolis will premiere during their 22/23 touring season.

Learn more about each of these artists below. Stay tuned for more information about when and where you’ll be able to hear these artists perform alongside Akropolis in Northern Michigan this August. Read more about the Akropolis Chamber Music Institute here.

2022 Composers

Brittney Benton, Composer

“Driven by storytelling and imagery, Brittney Benton’s music takes you on a journey through a lush melodic and harmonic soundscape, filled with personality at every turn.

Brittney holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Composition from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and is looking forward to attending graduate school in the future. With her experience as a pianist, she has explored writing for a variety of instruments and musical styles. She has a strong interest in working outside of the concert hall, especially in the realm of video game music.

Benton was recently awarded a Composer’s Showcase Scholarship for undergraduate composers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In 2020, she was named the winner of PARMA Recordings Summer 2020 Call For Scores, and the winner of the Bellevue Chamber Chorus’ “Emerging Composer Competition” in 2021.

Recent summer festivals include the 2020 Charlotte New Music Festival and Connecticut Summerfest 2021. Her principal teachers include Cynthia Wong, Diego Vega, Jennifer Bellor, and Viet Cuong. She has attended masterclasses with Richard Danielpour, Michael Torke, Marc Mellits, Juan Pablo Contreras, and David Conte. Brittney is currently working on a song cycle for mezzo-soprano and piano based on the theme of “dreams”.”

Aaron Hendrix, Composer

A Houston native, Aaron recently completed his Masters degree in composition from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Michael Daugherty and Evan Chambers.  He completed his undergraduate studies at Houston Baptist University, where he graduated first in his class with a double major in composition and piano performance.

His portfolio includes commissions and performances by various Houston-based ensembles, including the Scordatura New Music Society, the Fidelis String Quartet, and HBU’s Schola Cantorum.  More recently, his music has been performed by Michigan’s University Symphony Orchestra, the University of Arizona Percussion Ensemble, and Front Porch.

While at Michigan, he co-founded //meridian, an eight-voice, new-music chorale.  His orchestral work “Night Train” was selected for the 2018 Cone Emerging Composers Institute with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Aaron currently teaches music theory and aural skills at Siena Heights University and serves as music director for Commerce United Methodist Church.  He lives in Ann Arbor with his brilliant and endlessly supportive wife, Emily, and the best-dog-in-the-world, Cooper.

Oswald Huỳnh, Composer

Oswald Huỳnh is a composer and bassoonist from Portland, Oregon. His works navigate Vietnamese aesthetics and tradition, language and translation, and the relationship between heritage and identity. Huỳnh writes music extensively for instrumental forces to create evocative soundscapes that convey underlying narratives and emotions. His orchestral work Gia Đình calls to this by exploring the impact of intergenerational trauma, cultural inheritance, and what is lost between eras.

As a composer, Huỳnh has collaborated with artists such as the Akropolis Reed Quintet, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Tacet(i) Ensemble, Fear No Music, Del Sol String Quartet, [Switch~ Ensemble], deaf rabbit duo, percussionist Payton MacDonald, and composer/clarinetist Yoshiaki Onishi. Huỳnh’s music has been presented at the New Music on the Bayou Festival, Powell Hall, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, International Composition Institute of Thailand, Arts Letters & Numbers, Ear Taxi Festival, Constellation, Oregon Bach Festival, Northwestern University New Music Conference, The Sheldon Concert Hall, and Wintergreen Music Festival. Additionally, Huỳnh is a resident composer for the 2022 Mizzou International Composers Festival and a fellow for the inaugural Akropolis Chamber Music Institute.

Huỳnh holds a Bachelor of Arts from Lewis & Clark College and is currently pursuing a Master of Music at the University of Missouri. During his time at Lewis & Clark, Huỳnh was presented the Rena J. Ratte Memorial Award, the highest academic honor given to students, for his compositional work at the college. His principal teachers include Stefan Freund, Carolina Heredia, Texu Kim, and Michael Johanson.

Ryan Lindveit, Composer 

Ryan Lindveit is a composer, conductor, and educator who takes inspiration from literature, art, science, technology, and personal experience in order to craft colorful and emotionally vivid musical journeys. He holds degrees from the University of Southern California and Yale University and is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Michigan. His orchestral work Close Up at a Distance, inspired by an imagined travelog in Google Earth between northern Michigan and New York City, was commissioned by the New York Youth Symphony and Interlochen’s World Youth Symphony Orchestra and was recently performed by the Minnesota Orchestra under the baton of Osmo Vänskä.

Pray Away, an orchestral exploration of overcoming closet trauma on the path to personal authenticity, was workshopped at the Aspen Music Festival, premiered by the Yale Philharmonia, and subsequently performed by Symphony in C and the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra. Like an Altar with 9,000 Robot Attendants, inspired by a gleefully apocalyptic Ray Bradbury short story, was premiered by the USC Thornton Symphony and later performed by the American Composers Orchestra. A wind ensemble version of this piece was commissioned by H. Robert Reynolds and a consortium of thirty university bands. Lindveit also created two versions of Mysterious Butterflies, based on a journal entry by neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal—one for voices and chamber ensemble, premiered at the Yale School of Music, and one for wind ensemble, commissioned by the Big 12 Band Directors Association and premiered at UT Austin. Mysterious Butterflies will also be performed by the US Navy Band at the Texas Bandmasters Association (TBA) Convention in July 2022.

Other significant collaborators include Alarm Will Sound, cellist Ashley Bathgate, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Sinta Quartet, FearNoMusic, and the City of Tomorrow. In 2020, Lindveit composed the score for the Sam Elliott-narrated docuseries Honor Guard, released on Amazon Prime. He has earned awards from BMI, ASCAP, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and many others. He is thrilled to be a participant in the inaugural Akropolis Chamber Music Institute and cannot wait to spend time making music Up North.

2022 Instrumentalists

Kristen Diederichs

Based in Bloomington, IN, Kristen Diederichs is an oboist and private music instructor passionate about chamber music and interdisciplinary collaboration. She is currently pursuing her Performer’s Diploma at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and has performed with such ensembles as the Indiana University Concert Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Plexus Woodwind Quintet, and the St. Olaf Orchestra and St. Olaf Band.

Performance highlights include international tours with the St. Olaf Band and Orchestra, performing throughout Australia and New Zealand and then Norway, respectively. Kristen was also a featured soloist on the St. Olaf Band’s 2020 tour to California, presenting Jonathan Bartz’s “Diary of Private Lives” alongside her colleague Ansley Morris.

Kristen enjoys an active performing life, freelancing as a soloist and with chamber ensembles in assorted schools, churches, and community events, and teaching a small studio of students. She has recently attended summer festivals including Rocky Ridge Summer Music, Domaine Forget, Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, and Hidden Valley Music Seminars.

Kristen’s primary oboe instructors include Linda Strommen, Roger Roe, and Dana Maeda. She received her Master’s degree in Oboe Performance and Literature from Indiana University, and dual Bachelor’s degrees from St. Olaf College in Oboe Performance and Psychology/Neuroscience. Her broad background in varying academic fields, extracurricular interests, and musical experiences have led Kristen to further appreciate the opportunities for originality and innovation in the music field, as well as for interdisciplinary engagement.

Taylor Francis, Flute

Taylor Francis is a Pittsburgh based flutist and is originally from Dallas, Texas. Prior to the global pandemic in 2020, Taylor gave many notable performances, including Carl Nielsen’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra alongside the Bowling Green Philharmonia. Additionally, Taylor won first prize in Bowling Green State University’s 53rd Competition in Musical Performance and was selected as a finalist for the Central Ohio Flute Association competition. Additionally, Taylor has performed in masterclasses all across the country for world-renowned musicians such as Amy Porter, Sarah Jackson, Leone Buyse, Alberto Almarza, and Mario Caroli.

Chamber music also plays a large role in Taylor’s career. As a member of the Borderlines Trio, the trio won first prize in the Douglas Wayland Chamber Music competition, and they were also selected as a finalist for the Coleman Chamber Music Competition. In May 2019, Taylor played a crucial role in planning a tour Michigan that allowed him and his trio to perform and educate hundreds of middle and high school students. He is also a member of the Verismo Wind Duo. Along with clarinetist Gretchen Hill, this ensemble regularly holds summer community outreach performances at nursing homes and senior living facilities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

As an educator, Taylor has served as the advanced flute mentor for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Youth Ensembles. Through this organization, he helped to train the Detroit area’s top high school aged flutists in orchestral performance. Taylor has additionally taught private lessons to flute students of all ability levels.

Outside of music, Taylor enjoys spending time hiking and trail running as well as brewing and drinking coffee. He also enjoys cooking, reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with his partner Gretchen Hill. His four dogs and one cat also keep him very busy!

Taylor has earned his Master of Music in flute performance from Carnegie Mellon University and his Bachelor of Music in flute performance from Bowling Green State University. Taylor’s primary teachers include Lorna McGhee, Alberto Almarza, Conor Nelson, and Donald Bohannon-Gauthier. He will begin studying with Terri Sundberg at the University of North Texas in pursuit of a Graduate Artist Certificate in the fall.

Max Hammond, Piano

I am a solo and collaborative pianist whose passion lies in new music. I have been in the winner’s circle of many local, regional, national, and international piano competitions, with top finishes that include 1st place awards in the Lansum International Open Piano Competition, in the California Association of Professional Music Teachers (CAPMT) statewide Honors Competition, in the Glendale Piano Competition, and in the Alice Frazier Kitchen Memorial Scholarship competition. In addition, I have performed as a soloist with the Pasadena Community Orchestra, with the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra, with the SYMF Orchestra, with the Bellflower Symphony, and with Yale Symphony Orchestra. I am an avid player of contemporary music, and I’ve premiered works by composers like Fran Trester, Carlos Simon, and Harold Meltzer. Away from the piano, my academic work considers deconstructions of the classical canon. I ask: is there a queer future for classical music, and how might we pursue it? I am influenced by postcolonial, marxist, and queer thought in music, and am especially drawn to thinkers and performers who combine deconstruct the hegemonic systems of power that govern concert music and queer life from the inside out. Some favorites include: historian Saidiya Hartman, sex-theorist Tim Dean, music theorist Philip Ewell, singer Tinashe, artist Will Wood, musicologist Susan McClary, and composer/pianist Frederic Rzewski. As musicians, in performing, we participate in a perverse power dynamic when we ask to be (ritualistically) watched. I am thus inspired by queer performers who bring out the playful farce of performative interaction; I am inspired by drag of all kinds, and I aspire to the dissolution of genre. Though I grew up living with and through the world of canonical classical music, I sometimes feel stifled, and unseen, by its limitations. To be able to keep doing what I love to do, I aspire to reimagine what classical music can be, and who it’s for.  I currently study with Elizabeth Parisot at the Yale School of Music and Lisa Moore. I study math at Yale College, where I am the most recent recipient of the Terry E. and Irene A. Sharp Prize for most outstanding performer in the junior class. At Yale, I am also the managing director of the Opera Theatre of Yale College, and the co-artistic director of Yale’s only new music focused chamber orchestra, YUCO.

Rachel Hertz, Clarinet

Rachel Hertz, clarinetist, works and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. They study at UMass Amherst, pursuing a degree in Music Education and Clarinet Performance. At UMass, they participate in a wide variety of performing ensembles and academic organizations. They are involved with the UMass Wind Ensemble, chamber ensembles, and also performs frequently in recital hour. They are the President of UMass Amherst chapter of NAfME Collegiate and a founding/active member of the Music Department Equity Group. Outside of UMass they frequently gig with community orchestras, Five College orchestras, and musical theatre pits. They are actively striving to center anti-racism and abolition in all of their work. They work as a docent at the Yiddish Book Center and are fueled by coffee, espresso sodas, spring weather, diverse fiction books, and alternative music.

Gretchen Hill, Clarinet

Gretchen Hill is a first year MM student in clarinet performance at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Mead Witter School of Music, where she is a recipient of the Paul J. Collins Distinguished Graduate Fellowship. She is a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University, Ohio (2016-2020), where she completed a bachelor’s degree in music performance and music education.

As an avid chamber musician, she has given performances across the United States and in Tainan, Taiwan with groups such as The Borderlines Trio, The Djinn and Autumn Trios, Trio Modelo, The Verismo Wind Duo, and The Driftless Reed Quintet (as bass clarinetist).

Her dedicated collaborative experiences have led to winning prizes at the Douglas Wayland Chamber Music Competition, being a finalist for the MTNA National Chamber Music – Strings Competition, placing as a finalist in the Coltman Chamber Music Competition, and serving as part of a fellowship ensemble for the Cincinnati Young Artist Chamber Music Festival.

In addition to chamber music, she performs regularly as principal clarinet of the UW – Madison Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. She has also appeared with the Lima Symphony during their 2019-2020 season. Gretchen also enjoys playing for opera productions and has recently performed Jake Heggie’s Out of Darkness: Two Remain.

As a soloist, Gretchen has won the Ohio, MTNA, Young Artist Competition, and received honorable mention in the BGSU Concerto Competition.

As an advocate for new music, through the Hansen Fellowship at BGSU, Gretchen has had the incredible opportunity of working with renowned composer Eric Mandat on a commission for clarinet/violin duo titled Songs from Afar.

When not performing or teaching, Gretchen enjoys spending time with her family and partner Taylor Francis, flutist. She loves, hiking, reading, board games, yoga, trying all types of food, and exploring her new hometown of Madison, Wisconsin.

Gretchen is originally from Flint, Michigan, and her primary teachers include Alicia Lee (present), JJ Koh, Kevin Schempf, and Dr. Spencer Prewitt.

Gretchen helped to create and maintains a comprehensive database of flute, clarinet, and piano trio repertoire which can be found here:

Noel Holloway, Percussion

Noel Holloway is a Miami-based percussionist whose goal is to perform within a diverse and accessible setting for contemporary music through collaborating with a wide array of musicians and artists. Noel is a recent graduate of the Frost School of Music, completing their master’s degree in percussion performance under the tutelage of Svet Stoyanov. They are also a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where they received a certificate in Arts Leadership alongside their bachelor’s degree in 2019.

In Miami, Noel has performed with the Nu Deco Ensemble and the New World Symphony. In addition to freelancing in Miami, Noel is also passionate about collaborating with non-musical artists. In April of this year, Noel performed alongside painter Lexi Hannah, hailed as one of Vanity Fair’s A-List Artists of 2022. In their performance, Noel played solo marimba set to a new watercolor work by Ms. Hannah. Noel’s passion for contemporary art and chamber music has also led them to premiere works by leading modern composers such as Augusta Read Thomas, Charles Wourinen, and Maria Schneider.

Noel has also been recognized at an international level, with performances in Italy, Taiwan, and most recently, Mexico. In May of 2022, they performed the opera Ella-Miau in Guadalajara as part of the 25th Annual Festival de Mayo.

Starting in August of 2022, Noel will continue their studies at the University of Miami as a doctoral candidate in percussion performance. The focus of their doctoral studies is utilize multimedia collaboration to marry sonic arts and visual artistry inspired by queer culture.

Gabrielle Hsu, Bassoon

Gabrielle Hsu is a bassoonist currently based in Miami, Florida. She is an active freelance musician and regularly performs with local orchestras such as the South Florida Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Miami. As a chamber musician, she is especially interested in performing contemporary works by composers who challenge tradition. Her recent recitals featured several world premieres by living composers, including Fantasy for Bassoon and Marimba by Ben Montgomery and Unknown Circuitry for bassoon and contrabassoon by Eric Delgado, as well as one of the first live performances of Kaghondi wamwa Mwanga’s A Nightmare for bassoon and ankle bells.

Gabrielle is a native of Seattle, Washington, where she was first introduced to the bassoon by Francine Peterson. She subsequently earned her Bachelor of Music at the Arizona State University School of Music with Dr. Albie Micklich and completed her graduate studies at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami under the guidance of Gabriel Beavers, earning a Master of Music in 2020 and an Artist Diploma in 2021. During this time, she performed with the Frost Wind Ensemble, the Frost Repertory Orchestra, and the Frost Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Gerard Schwarz, as well as serving as a fellow in the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra.

Zachary Robarge, Saxophone

Zach Robarge is a New England based woodwind doubler, specializing in saxophones, flute/piccolo, clarinets, and oboe. Zach holds a bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance and music education, as well as a performance certificate in flute and oboe studies, all from The University of Massachusetts. In the spring of 2022, Zach graduated with his masters in classical saxophone performance, also from The University of Massachusetts.

Zach has a wide variety of performance experience in many different ensembles. Out of school, he has performed extensively with theatre companies such as, Barrington Stage Co and the Berkshire Theatre Group, as well as The Valley Winds, an award-winning community wind band based out of the pioneer valley.

Recently, in his two-year master’s program, Zach has played with a wide variety of different ensembles at The University of Massachusetts. He played lead alto in Jazz Ensemble 1, the universities top big band, as well as multiple woodwinds in the jazz graduate composers’ ensemble. On the classical side, Zach played bass clarinet with the wind ensemble and in a reed quintet he helped create. He has also played soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones in a wide array of saxophone trios and quartets.

In addition to his studies and performing, Zach also teaches privately at the Community Music School of Springfield, and in the Belchertown School District. He has a studio of over 25 students ranging in ages from 4th grade through adulthood and on all saxophones, clarinets, flute and piccolo, and oboe. Zach’s students are regularly accepted to the Massachusetts Districts Bands in both the junior and senior divisions. Zach is also very proud to say he has two former students currently in the saxophone studio at The University of Massachusetts.

Jacob Wolf, Clarinet

Jacob Wolf is a current Clarinet Performance and Music Education major at Bowling Green State University studying with Kevin Schempf and Georg Klaas. Jacob is an avid performer of multiple genres including (but not limited to): Classical, Contemporary, Klezmer, jazz, and pop. Across all of these genres, his collaborations with fellow composers and performers are highly emphasized along with the music produced. Some notable collaborations Jacob has done with composers and other performers include: commissioning works for solo Clarinet and Bass Clarinet, playing on various composer’s forum concerts/reading sessions of works, playing in several different types of large ensembles (Early music, new music, orchestra, concert and jazz bands), and work with various chamber ensemble combinations on a variety of repertoire.

He is also a very active orchestral player where he played Co-principal in the BGSU Philharmonia and currently subs/plays for orchestras in Toledo, Lima, Columbus, Perrysburg, and across the greater Midwest. In addition to a potential orchestral career, Jacob would love the opportunity to continue with career options in Solo and Chamber music as a part of his lifelong musical career. Solo wise, Jacob has performed various recitals, premiered/commissioned various works, and placed in many competitions where the most notable placement currently is the Grand Prix/Overall Winner of the Global Genius International Competition.

In terms of chamber music collaborations, Jacob has collaborated in various chamber ensembles and small ensembles that have played works across various musical eras and styles with a variety of instrumentations. In 2022, Jacob formed the Kairos Reed Quintet with fellow BGSU colleagues where he plays clarinet and organizes performances. Kairos has recently won the undergraduate division of the BGSU chamber competition, will be participating in a college consortium on the BGSU New Music Festival this October, and continues to perform in various concerts.

Leave a Reply