For their fifth album the Detroit-based Akropolis Reed Quintet showcase two works that brilliantly exploit their unique instrumentation – oboe, two clarinets, alto sax and bassoon.
Nico Muhly’s Hymns for Private Use from 2012 is a five-movement song-cycle on what feels like a deeply personal selection of devotional texts drawn from early English sources, commissioned in 2021 by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Wigmore Hall. While soprano Shara Nova’s simplicity rides the emotional currents of the quintet, Muhly catches what each of the instruments likes to do – their plaintive tones, their gurgling, they coolest comfort zones – sometimes with just a hint, sometimes with a riff. The sheer musical imagination of the cycle always illuminates and illustrates the gentle, lyrical poetry. Throughout there is an appealing rhetorical fluency that piques the curiosity.
Annika Socolofsky’s so much more takes Akropolis on a different tack in which snippets from interviews with small business owners including a Kansas farmer, a North Carolina wig-maker and the owner of an LGBTQ+ wellness business in Boulder, Colorado are imprinted on the musical score to the extent that you cannot hear one without the other. The effect is insidiously yet irresistibly disturbing because of the way it lures us into hearing about community and sacrifice. Commissioned by Akropolis and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, and while the audio alone is unexpectedly absorbing, it flares much more dimensionally and poignantly when played alongside the 17-minute fixed-media track created by Socolofsky.
The Akropolis Reed Quintet are at it again. What a terrific ensemble, and what a distinctive blend. Like Ghost Light (reviewed April 2021) this disc responds to the group’s home town, Detroit, in a musical offering giving back to their community.
The material consists of two works, one by celebrated American Nico Muhly and one by Annika Socolofsky. Muhly’s Hymns for Private Use comprises five settings of devotional texts from the 4th century through the 19th. Soprano Shara Nova is a sixth reed in the mix, so well do she and the instrumentalists blend. The texts are haunting, especially when one considers the span of ages through which poets and mystics have addressed verses to an imagined or real creator. Two overtly Christian texts, Virga Rosa Virginum and Sleep address Mary and Jesus respectively. The Holy Spirit, written by Anne Steele (who used the nom de plume Theodosia) in the 18th century is interposed between them. The final two texts (An Autumnal Song and Hark the Vesper Hymn is Stealing) were taken from an American songbook for schoolkids. Muhly gives these two quite a dark treatment; the cycle ends by sowing more doubt than faith. But the performances along this descent are beautiful, especially An Autumnal Song, which starts in a searching a cappella, the winds meeting the voice at the second stanza.
Hymns is followed by an extraordinary piece by Socolofsky on the latter half of the disc. The players accompany a series of personal stories, fragmented and overlayered at first, each detailing in their own voices what it has meant to them (all citizens of Detroit) to open and manage their private businesses. The title – so much more – describes how each has come to feel about their experience, and the context becomes clearer as the five sections unfold. Ultimately not so very much a musical as a textual work, the accompaniment bridging the stories alternately delicate and forceful, although the fourth of five tracks is an instrumental interlude where lyrical lines are stitched through with rapidly repeated notes. As it ends, with the words of the title spoken over gentle chords, one realizes this is also a set of prayers.
The Akropolis reed quintet has rightly won plaudits as a sonically daring ensemble who specialise in performing new works with charisma and integrity. Comprised of oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone and bassoon, the quintet has a wonderfully fresh sound which proves an ideal match here for the mellifluous voice of Shara Nova.
The album’s title work is a five-movement song cycle by Nico Muhly on sacred texts drawn from early English sources. The quintet is well suited to Muhly’s rich score which evokes something of the ancient in among bursts of sensuous harmony and shimmering minimalistic textures. Nova, classically trained but best known as the songwriter and lead singer of the American band My Bright Diamond, gives an entirely credible performance here. Her voice can bloom richly but is often tenderly restrained, while she brings a crystalline clarity to the occasional stratospheric highs of Muhly’s score.
Lauren Kowal is a recent graduate of Western Michigan University where she earned her Bachelor of Music in Oboe Performance and Bachelor of Arts in English. Lauren is currently pursuing her Master of Music in Oboe Performance and Master of Arts in Arts Administration and Policy at The Ohio State University. A Detroit native, Lauren has always been surrounded by diverse sounds and music, and was drawn to the oboe by her first band director. After graduation, Lauren plans to pursue a DMA in oboe performance, then to form a nonprofit chamber ensemble with a mission to make chamber music, more specifically the Reed Quintet genre, more accessible and attainable to beginner/intermediate music students while also elevating composers and performers who have had a more difficult journey to having their voices heard and appreciated in society.
While at WMU, Lauren received from the Lee Honors College the Gwen Frostic Medallion Scholarship, one of the most prestigious merit-based scholarships for undergraduates. She was also awarded the Leonard Meretta Endowed Scholarship for outstanding performance and achievement in the university’s top wind ensemble. During her final year at WMU, Lauren performed with the WMU Graduate Woodwind Quintet and Western Winds, an ensemble consisting of wind, brass and percussion applied faculty and graduate assistants, directed by Dr. Scott Boerma. Lauren was also a member of the first Reed Quintet at WMU, Invictus Winds and is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta and Pi Kappa Lambda honors fraternities.
Beyond her passion for music, Lauren loves antiquing, hiking, reading, running and traveling.
We are pleased to announce the 10 ensembles, organizations, and soloists selected to participate in our 2022 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!
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 2022 Akropolis Mastermind participants below, to visit their websites, listen to their music, and get inspired for what’s to come!
Becca Frederick currently attends the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she is working on her master’s degree in Horn Performance and Literature and serves as a graduate teaching assistant with the athletic bands. Becca earned her Bachelor of Music in Horn Performance from the University of Iowa in the spring of 2020, where she studied with Professor Jeffrey Agrell. At the University of Iowa, Becca was the recipient of the Old Gold Academic Scholarship, the P.A. Music Scholarship, the Future Educator Award, and Iowa’s Hispanic Heritage Scholarship. After many years of observing career-ending hearing loss, Becca has recently taken a special interest in studying hearing conservation in professional musicians as well as finding a way to provide the deaf and hard of hearing community with a new way to enjoy musical performances.
Clarinetist Andrew J. Buckley performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Bach, Brahms, and Mozart, to Stravinsky, Nielsen, and Berio. Buckley’s unique presentation of classical and contemporary works, paired with mixed media elements, is redefining what a classical concert experience is truly about. Recently, Andrew was named the 2021 Krannert Debut Artist, and presented his professional debut recital in the Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Andrew has also performed in notable concert halls around the country such as Hilbert Circle Theatre, Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall, former home of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Bennett Kai Imani
Bennett Kai Imai (he/him), from Mission Viejo, is currently pursuing an M.M. in Oboe Performance. Bennett earned his B.M in Oboe from UCSC, studying with Kyle Bruckmann, with a Minor in Electronic Music. During his time, he served as Principal Oboist for UCSC’s University Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, as well as Chamber Ensembles. He has had the honor of performing Albinoni’s Concerto in D minor (Op. 2, No. 9) with the orchestra and is a winner of the Music Department’s Scholarship Competition.His favorite type of music to play are 20th- and 21st-century works. He advocates for the creation and performance of contemporary pieces and especially for supporting living composers of classical music. He composed a piece for the University Woodwind Quintet and a Musical number which was performed by the student staff of the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival, under the direction of Octavio Más-Arocas. Bennett is interested in finding new ways to integrate modern genres and technology with classical instruments. As a fan of electronic music and production, he composed, filmed, and edited a piece for oboe and electronics for his Senior Recital.
Civitasolis Reed Quintet
Established in 2017 at the Florida State University College of Music, the Civitasolis Reed Quintet is dedicated to engaging, interactive concert experiences. The quintet takes pride in delivering engaging performances through creative programming and compelling stage presence. The diversity of timbre of each instrument is integral to the quintet, which presents music from a wide range of genres that is well informed by all periods of classical music as well as jazz, metal, Latin American music, and other genres.
Guts creates welcoming, powerful, un-stuffy experiences of baroque music played on period instruments, bringing you up close and personal with the music and the juicy stories of the composers and performers behind it. We breathe life into beautiful and unusual music that we love, bringing it from the 17th and 18th centuries to your ears. Come experience the warmth and immediacy of historically-informed chamber music!
Born of a chance meeting in a graduate program ensemble, Guts Baroque blossomed in 2019 and became the primary performance project of Sylvia Schwartz, baroque violinist, and John Ott, viola da gambist, baroque cellist, and scholar. With the good fortune of locking down together in March 2020, Guts was one of the first American early music ensembles to launch a livestream concert series. They have continued livestreaming most months since, building a loyal community of patrons and amassing a sizable repertoire that they look forward to releasing as albums and performing in person.
Benefiting from Artistic Director John Ott’s resesarch and meticulous preparation of performing editions from original editions and manuscripts, Guts builds engaging, thematic programs digging into a particular moment in history or a literary inspiration. Ott brings the audience close to the music with his approachable storytelling from the stage, shining light on the personalities as well as the music itself. The pair’s performances bring all the vibrance of a deep belief in the power of music to heal and nourish those who listen and play, a shared understanding of baroque dance and gesture, and a singular “togetherness” that their audiences often remark upon.
Guts has performed in churches and breweries, from Southern California to Maine, in Groupmuses and their own livestream series, and opened the 2021 Boston Early Music Festival Fringe Festival with their performance of “Rising from the Ashes of Plague: Music for Violin & Basso from 17th-Century Italy”. Currently based in Portland, Maine, Guts is eager to bring the full, in-person experience of their music back to people across New England and beyond, and to continue growing their online music making that has allowed them to bring people together from around the world.
Marie Torres Melgares
Maria Torres Melgares is currently pursuing a Master of Music in saxophone performance at the University of Michigan where she studies with Timothy McAllister. She received her Bachelor of Music in saxophone performance in 2020 from the Fundación Conservatorio Superior del Liceo (Barcelona, Spain) where she studied with Albert Julià. She is a three-time winner of the prestigious Ferrer-Salat Foundation’s Young Promises and Excellence scholarships.
She participated in masterclass with Jean-Marie Londeix, Kenneth Tsé, Lars Mlekusch, Vincent David, Jean-Yves Fourmeau, Christian Lauba, Pawel Gusnar, and Christian Wirth. Maria has won several individual prizes: 2nd Prize of the MTNA Young Artists Competition in Michigan (USA); 1st Prize of the Concorso Internazionale de Filadelfia (Italy); 1st Prize of the Concours de Saxophone Parisien (France); 2nd Prize of the Festival Internacional de Saxofones de Palmela (Portugal); finalist of the Concurso de Juventudes Musicales de España (Spain); and the Hans-Schaeuble Award of the Arosa Music Academy (Switzerland), where she will perform in the 2021 Arosa Klassic Festival with the renowned baroque recorder player, Maurice Steger. She has been selected to perform a concert at the 3rd European Saxophone Congress in Italy in 2022.She is a member of the Fließen Duo with pianist Xavier Ricarte which won the 1st Prize in Chamber Music of the IV Premi de Música Ciutat de Mataró.
They also have performed in the Afinitats concert series at the Sala Parés Concert Hall in Barcelona. In addition, she is a member of the Barcelona Sax Project ensemble. She has toured France, Luxembourg, and Germany as a member of the European Union Young Woodwind Orchestra (EUYWO). She has premiered new works for saxophone quartet and duo, and she collaborated in “Putting Picasso to Music” a project performing new compositions based on Picasso’s works at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona.
Mixed Media saxophone quartet was awarded the Gold Medal in the senior wind division of the 49th Annual Fischoff Competition, held at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN on May 20-22, 2022.
Members of the quartet include Michael Chapa (DMA ‘25), soprano saxophone; Julien Berger (BM performance and composition ‘23), alto saxophone; Lindsey Welp (DMA ‘25), tenor saxophone; and Grace Gelpi (MM ‘22), baritone saxophone. Professor of saxophone Connie Frigo is their primary coach, with support from lecturer of saxophone Brandon Quarles. They have been playing together for less than a year, and their friendships and shared discipline helped fuel their early success.
As Fischoff Gold medalists, Mixed Media was awarded a cash prize sponsored by Ann & Paul Divine and Nancy Hawkins. In addition, they will go on the Winner’s Gold Tour in September 2022, performing concerts and taking part in masterclasses and outreach at venues across the Midwest.
New this year and as the Gold Medalist in the Senior Wind Division of Fischoff, Mixed Media received a full scholarship to participate in Akropolis Mastermind. A big thank you to Fischoff for working with Akropolis to offer this opportunity to Mixed Media this year.
Novus Reed Quintet
Hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Novus Reed Quintet is an emerging ensemble with a desire to share their music making with audiences far and wide. Novus has already received special recognition and acclaim, even since their founding in late 2021 at the University of Michigan.In March of 2022, Novus was invited to the Semi-Finals round of the Coltman Chamber Music Competition, located at the Butler School of Music in Austin, Texas. Here they competed against some of the best collegiate and professional chamber ensembles in the United States. In April of 2022, Novus Performed in the Briggs Chamber Competition, located at the University of Michigan. Here they received an honorable mention award for their performance. Novus Reed Quintet has had the privilege to receive mentorship and musical guidance from world-class musicians, including Professor Bill King of the University of Michigan, and Bassoonist Alban Wesly of Calefax Reed Quintet.
I started playing clarinet in fifth grade, and by the end of middle school I knew that I wanted to make music for a living. In high school, I was very musically involved, playing in the concert and symphonic bands as well as the pit band, pep band and jazz band. As a junior, I learned saxophone and voice to further my musical horizons. I attended Carthage College as a duel clarinet and vocal performance major, studying clarinet with Jennifer Woodrum and voice with Gregory Berg, and was involved in nearly every ensemble on campus: Wind Orchestra, Philharmonic, Chapel Choir, and Carthage Choir. In addition to the flagship school ensembles, I played a significant leadership role in Carthage College’s male acapella group Maximum Capacity. After completing my undergratuate degree, I began graduate school at the University of Delaware where I studied clarinet with Christopher Nichols. Despite the onset of the pandemic, I had a rich musical envolvement on campus, performing in the Wind Ensemble and the pit orchestra, as well as the clarinet studio ensemble and various small groups throughout the year. I currently live and work in Sout Elgin, IL, taking auditions when I can and working as a substitute teacher.
SaxVonix is an experimental duo group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Members include mezzo-soprano and pianist Alexia Benson and saxophonist Jeremy Howell. Currently focused on electroacoustic works, they have recently premiered new pieces with heavy emphasis on improvisation. To further utilize their creative performance potential while promoting up-and-coming composers, SaxVonix is hosting a yearly competition for new works for voice and saxophone. Both members are currently pursuing their Master’s in Composition at the University of Michigan where they study with composer Kristin Kuster. Alexia holds a Bachelor Degree in Composition and Voice Performance from the University of Redlands, where she studied with Marco Schindelmann and Anthony Suter. Jeremy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Saxophone Performance from the Eastman School of Music and completed his Master’s in Saxophone Performance with Timothy McAllister at the University of Michigan.
The Simian Duo is a midwest based, contemporary chamber ensemble dedicated to creating connections through music. Friends since attending the Interlochen Arts Camp in the summer of 2019, saxophonist and pianist, Laura Ramsay, and saxophonist, Noah Stoker work together to champion new works by young composers and create concert atmospheres that will allow audiences of all backgrounds to experience the joy of new music. Since the duo’s inception in the summer of 2021, they have commissioned seven new works by six young, midwestern composers to write pieces for saxophone duo, saxophone and piano, and saxophone duo with piano. They are set to concertize these works in a summer tour that will take them from Kansas City, MO to New York City.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This was one of the first pieces we learned as a young reed quintet, and we’re excited to be sharing it once again here in this video in addition to touring it during our 2022 season. Thanks for watching!
Video by Sly Pup Productions
Audio by Dave Schall Acoustic
Filmed at the Russel Industrial Center in Detroit, MI
This rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Toccata from Le Tombeau de Couperin was arranged by Raaf Hekkema of the Calefax Reed Quintet.
Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, composed between 1914 and 1917, pays homage to the Baroque tradition of François Couperin (1668-1733) and his contemporaries. During those years Ravel joined the French military and dedicated each movement of the piano suite to the memory of a friend who died in World War I.
The final movement, Toccata, was dedicated to Joseph de Marliave, a French musicologist known for his work on Beethoven’s string quartets. Marliave was a captain in the French army and was killed in the first weeks of the war. Despite being written while Ravel witnessed the horrors of war and endured the death of his mother, Le Tombeau de Couperin has been considered a light-hearted, reflective work rather than a somber one. Ravel agreed, observing, “The dead are sad enough, in their eternal silence.”
Akropolis is represented by Ariel Artists. For booking contact Matthew Kulas: email@example.com
NARAS friends, we respectfully invite you to consider Akropolis’ album as you review your Grammy nomination entry list.
Ghost Light features new reed quintet works by Stacy Garrop, Michael Gilbertson, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Theo Chandler, and Jeff Scott with the poetry of Marsha Music. It also landed on the traditional classical Billboard Charts at #14 and has been lauded for its “range, agility, and grace” (The Whole Note), by “exploring everything from the Egyptian Book of the Dead to racial violence in their native Detroit” (AnEarfull).
We are deeply proud of this album, what it stands for, and have loved collaborating with so many talented composers and creators to make this album a reality.
If you are a voting member we would be honored if you’d consider voting for our album and thank you for listening!
It feels like ages ago, but our last indoor concert for a live audience was in March of 2020. Many outdoor venues and live streams later, we’re excited to be back touring again! Starting this fall, we’ll be everywhere from New York to Washington, and we’d love to see you once again in our audience. To see our full lineup of concerts and events, click below! We’re also going to be announcing more concerts and exciting projects as the year continues, so keep coming back to our calendar for even more Akropolis as the season continues.
Celebrating our 13th year together, we’re going to be touring more new music than ever before! This year, our programs will feature a new 17 minute work by Annika Socolofsky titled so much more for reed quintet and fixed media, which features interviews from 7 small business owners in America that Akropolis, Annika and filmmaker XUAN collected. so much more will also be accompanied by XUAN’s live projection to further celebrate these individuals’ experiences and share what it means to be a small business owner today in America. To read more about this project, click here.
In addition to Annika Socolofsky, Akropolis will premiere a new reed quintet by composer and saxophonist Corey Dundee and new works by dozens of Detroit high school students as a part of their year-long residency for the 6th year running at Cass Tech, M.L.K. Jr. Sr. High School, and Detroit School of the Arts.
In collaboration with Brooklyn-based pianist, composer, and arranger Dan Schlosberg, and University of Michigan professor, pianist, and scholar John Ellis, Akropolis will be unveiling a custom arrangement of Harlem Suite during our 21-22 season performances, a 20-minute work for piano by Arthur Cunningham composed in 1970.
Utilizing Professor Ellis’ first hand relationships with Cunningham and his family (including taking lessons from Cunningham as a youth), as well as Ellis’ work unearthing, recording, and studying Harlem Suite, Akropolis is working with arranger Dan Schlosberg to create a tour de force, reimagined reed quintet version of Cunningham’s wide ranging suite, including 9 movements inspired by Cunningham’s everyday experiences with gospel, blues, church music, funk, the music of Fats Waller, and more.
The season will also feature multiple concerto performances of both Roshanne Etezady‘s Storm Warning and Peter Terry‘s Dawn to Dance for reed quintet and high school band. Plus, we’ll finally be able to tour our recently released 4th album, Ghost Light, lauded for its “range, agility, and grace” (The Whole Note), by “exploring everything from the Egyptian Book of the Dead to racial violence in their native Detroit” (AnEarfull).
Akropolis is excited to be once again returning to Chamber Music Northwest to team up with Portland’s own BodyVox contemporary dance company to perform NINETEEN • TWENTY, originally set to premiere in March 2020. A celebration of the music and dance of the Roaring Twenties, NINETEEN • TWENTY will be the sixth collaboration between Chamber Music Northwest and BodyVox that combines Chamber Music Northwest’s world-class music and BodyVox’s unique athleticism, humor, and rich imagery. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, we’d love to see you at this long-awaited premiere as one of the very first performances in Beaverton’s stunning new Reser Center for the Arts!
Filmed back in 2019 and premiered online last summer during our Club Paradise Virtual Soirée, we are excited to be publicly releasing this video of Jeff Scott’s 25-minute masterwork for reed quintet.
This piece (and video) are near and dear to our hearts. We were so happy we were able to showcase the work and its historical inspiration in such depth alongside the original poetry of Marsha Music during these soirées last summer. Thank you all who attended.
Beyond this Web Premiere performance, you can hear Homage to Paradise Valley alongside Marsha Music’s poetry on our recently released 4th album, Ghost Light.
Homage to Paradise Valley was commissioned by Akropolis and Chamber Music America, made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
About Homage to Paradise Valley
The historical content of these notes by the composer is provided courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society (detroithistorical.org) where one can find a wealth of information on Paradise Valley and Black Bottom. Poetry by Marsha Music—a lifelong resident of Detroit whose father, Joe Von Battle, was a record producer for Aretha Franklin and owned Joe’s Records, central to the Black Bottom community—was commissioned by Akropolis in 2020 to create poetry to accompany Jeff’s music.
Black Bottom was a predominantly Black neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. In the early 20th century, African-American residents became concentrated here during the first wave of the Great Migration to northern industrial cities. Informal segregation operated in the city kept them in this area of older, less expensive housing. Black Bottom/Paradise Valley became known for its African-American residents’ significant contributions to American music, including Blues, Big Band, and Jazz, from the 1930s to 1950s. Black Bottom was eventually razed and redeveloped for various urban renewal projects, driving the residents out. By the 1960s the neighborhood ceased to exist.
Hastings Street ran north-south through Black Bottom and had been a center of Eastern European Jewish settlement before World War I, but by the 1950s, migration transformed the strip into one of Detroit’s major African-American communities of black-owned businesses, social institutions, and nightclubs.
From the Bantu language of Swahili, “Roho, Pumzika kwa Amani” (Spirits, Rest Peacefully) is a lullaby, my humble offering to the many souls who came before me and persevered through the middle passage, decades of slavery, disenfranchising laws, and inequality. I am who I am because of those who stood before me. May their spirits rest peacefully.
Orchestra Hall closed in 1939, but reopened in 1941 as the Paradise Theater. For 10 years it would then offer the best of African-American musicians from around the country. “Paradise Theater Jump!” is dedicated to the famed theater and harkens to the up-tempo style of “jump blues,” usually played by small groups and featuring saxophone or brass instruments.
Akropolis Reed Quintet has been playing together for almost 13 years and began as a humble student ensemble at the University of Michigan. With seven national chamber music awards and prizes and counting, the ensemble has taken the chamber music world by storm. The members of Akropolis aren’t just elite musicians, but spend active time working as commissioners, administrators, educators, and advocates, to name but a few activities.
Their fourth album, Ghost Light, features all new compositions by living composers. This is a concept that is deeply engrained in the fabric of what Akropolis represents as an ensemble. The common themes that are interwoven and heard and expressed throughout each piece are concepts of life-cycles revolving around the use of darkness, light, colors, instrumentation, and texture. Often times, death and rebirth are themes. The entire album is effectively able to balance a dark intrinsic battle with all the joy that life brings.
The first work on the album, Rites for the Afterlife, uniquely explores what ancient Egyptians believe happens after death. In four movements—“Inscriptions from the Book of the Dead,” “Passage through the Netherworld,” “The Hall of Judgement,” and “The Field of Reeds”—Stacy Garrop’s work allows the listener to follow a soul on the final journey from death to the afterworld. This work was commissioned in 2018 by the Barlow Endowment on behalf of Akropolis Reed Quintet, Calefax Reed Quintet, and the Brigham Young University Reed Quintet.
Kinds of Light by Michael Gilbertson explores light through the dimension of sound and texture, using a variety of contemporary compositional techniques. Elements of post-Minimalism are used by Gilbertson to help generate a sound that aligns with the type of light featured in each movement: “Flicker,” “Twilight,” “Fluorescent,” and “Ultraviolet.” Akropolis has mastered the compositional elements that Gilbertson uses and managed to perfectly balance the instrumentation and match articulation styles across the entire ensemble. This piece, as well as Firing Squad and Seed to Snag, was commissioned by Akropolis and the I-Park Foundation.
Firing Squad was written in 2018 by Iranian composer Niloufar Nourbakhsh. This deeply moving work was inspired by one sentence in the opening of the great literary novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez. This piece inspires the listener to go on an emotional journey of being forced to face certain death in front of the firing squad. Many humans will have a similar response when placed in this horrific situation and will quickly travel through an intense flood of memories, feelings, and experiences until their time is extinguished. This piece is unique because at certain times in the recording the composer overlaps a previous recording that Akropolis made to create a blurry or hazy sound, often creating an ethereal backdrop. Firing Squad is beautifully haunting. Feel free to exhale loudly with the ensemble at the end of this piece to release your frustration from the pandemic.
Theo Chandler’s Seed to Snag is another beautiful representation of the life cycle. This well-thought-out piece focuses on the life cycle of organic plant matter, and follows the life of a seed as it moves throughout its cyclical life from “seed to snag.” Chandler uniquely uses traditional Baroque compositional styles, mixed with contemporary elements, to express the journey of a seed to its ultimate rebirth. The first movement, “Sprout,” starts off unfolding and layering parts slowly, like a seed taking in water and sun light over time. Eventually, a root breaks out of the seed with a fast-growing vigor for life. Soon enough, roots are growing everywhere and bursting through the soil and growing towards the sun. The second movement, “Stretch,” features a gorgeous bassoon solo representing the seeds mature growth as a tree. Reaching up to the sky and growing old and majestic. The rest of the ensemble serves as atmospheric growth. In the final moment, “Sow,” the listener can hear seeds falling and spiraling off of the tree. This ultimately aids in the rebirth of a new tree, bringing the life cycle full circle. This uplifting last movement leaves the listener feeling invigorated and energetic.
The final piece on the album is Homage to Paradise Valley, composed by Jeff Scott, with poetry and narration by Detroit native Marsha Music. This piece was written after Scott was on tour with Imani Winds in Detroit. While in Michigan, he visited the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The composer was inspired by a museum exhibit that chronicles the lives and treatment of African Americans in the areas of Paradise Valley and Black Bottom. Three of the four movements start with a short reading of poetry written by Marsha Music. Each movement focuses on different aspects of Black Bottom: “Ghosts of Black Bottom,” “Hastings Street Blues,” “Roho, Pumzika Kwa Amani,” and “Paradise Theater Jump.” This piece was commissioned by Akropolis and Chamber Music America. Funding was provided by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with additional funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Akropolis Reed Quintet’s fourth studio album Ghost Light does not disappoint. The performance standards of Akropolis are award winning for a reason. The ensemble interprets each piece and brings it to life by fully enveloping the literal meaning and purpose the composer intended. No detail is ignored. The ensemble executes musical elements like balance, attacks, articulations, and phrasing flawlessly. This album took several years to complete, with the Akropolis members harnessing their core values and working with multiple nonprofit arts organizations and composers to commission all new works. Their commitment to the creation of new reed quintet repertoire and working with some of the best living composers is commendable. If you haven’t been listening to Akropolis Reed Quintet, now is the time to check out their new album. Natalie Szabo, September/October 2021
Two new companion works for reed quintet by Katherine Pukinskis that reflect our time apart and together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Akropolis will be giving the world premiere of these two works during their residency at the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck in July, 2021.
Katherine Pukinskis (b. 1986) is a composer-scholar currently based in Western Massachusetts. Dr. Pukinskis has had works premiered by eighth blackbird, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Akron Symphony Chorus, and the Spektral Quartet, as well as by members of Ensemble Dal Niente and the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Commissioning ensembles include San Antonio Symphony, Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Heritage Chorale, the Esoterics Choir, and Nuorten Kuoroliitto (Helsinki Finland).
An advocate of under-represented and under-respected voices in Western classical music, Pukinskis’s work often brings unlikely text or content into conversation in the concert hall. A 2016 commission by La Caccina sets a mosaic of unwelcome comments often directed at women in “We Are:” a 2019 project was started by a commission from the Esoterics in Seattle where Pukinskis excerpts from dissents written by the female Supreme Court Justices of the United States. Both her work in composition and research explore storytelling and voice—tracking how words and ideas travel in music, across the world, and over time. Pukinskis teaches courses in composition and music theory at Amherst College, previously at the University of Chicago and Harvard University. She is also on the composition faculty at the Longy School of Music.
About Puddle from the Composer
M.C. Escher created a piece called Puddle, 1952 that shows the reflection of trees and sky in a puddle made by depressions in the dirt from tires and footsteps. I chose to recognize Escher’s work in this new work for the Akropolis Reed Quintet because of the image’s capacity to encapsulate so many different story lines in one plane of view. One cannot see what is behind or above–in Escher’s case, the trees in the sky–without looking at the paths taken by others through the mud; there is a dependence on the independent motion of others in order to better see your own surroundings.
I had the good fortune of speaking individually to each member of the quintet before I started writing Puddle; I asked them what their favorite things about the quintet were and what they found they missed the most about being together during the pandemic. I was struck by their individual identities alongside the deep common bond they have through working together in this ensemble. Each celebrates the individuality of the members, but acknowledges that all five of them need to be together in order for the unit to work. They missed the balance of personalities and the way they challenge one another to be better and grow. In this piece, I wanted to harness the bond between members of the Akropolis Reed Quintet, and to highlight their current separation.
When it finally came to composing the piece, everything fell apart. I forgot to take into account my own feelings in budgeting the composition process. In trying to harness and compose-in the separation between others in my music, I was forced to face my own experience of the past four months. My loneliness took over. My sense of isolation and longing to connect through music was overwhelming. By composing a piece that had to be assembled by musicians in separate spaces, each motivic idea hammered in the effects of separation.
Needless to say, most of this piece came together in fits and spurts bookended by a surprising amount of tears and apathy, which isn’t often how composing goes for me. In the end though, as I listen to it, I feel all of the elements I wanted to fold in; it is a yearning to find one another, fleeting moments of ensemble or passing by one another in a paisley-patterned sonic texture, a series of Sisyphean builds toward an apex that never quite reaches a height that feels harmonically or temporally satisfying. It is stops and starts and “maybe we should go this way, or how about this direction?,” a fleeting moment of stability in an octave or a perfect fifth. It is lugubrious drudgery and bright lights that break the monotony. You can’t see one line without the imprint of another, and each gesture is reflected back at a new angle.
About Pivot from the Composer
Pivot is the companion piece to Puddle, which was composed in the summer of 2020. Puddle was written to be compiled through a series of single-instrument recording sessions to accommodate for a necessary pandemic-related separation. Pivot was commissioned to be a piece that required Akropolis to play in-person as an ensemble.
I wanted the two pieces to be connected to one another without sounding like they were cut from the same cloth. The pitch material for Pivot comes from the slogging bassoon and bass clarinet ostinato in the middle section of Puddle, but is transformed into the tightly wound descent that opens this new piece and is sprinkled throughout. The manipulation of tempo, isolated rallentandos, and repeated pulsing pitches that were used as temporal anchors for Puddle’s recording logistics now return in Pivot; here, though, they are the fading residue after long tones.
The distinct live-ness of Pivot is folded into the piece in two ways. The first half of the composition is built to be highly responsive and interactive within the ensemble; in certain moments, the oboe cannot enter until the clarinet has started their line, or the bassoon and bass clarinet need to calibrate their lines to enter at the same time and maintain a unified tempo for a certain duration. While performers always have control over their interpretation of a work, I purposely built Pivot to tap into the tenets of great conversation—active listening, an awareness of the other people in the discussion, a consideration of time and space, and an engagement beyond the surface. This required flexibility also means that each performance will be slightly different, dependent on the individuals on stage and their interactions with one another. Some performances may sail through the first part of the piece with a sense of urgency or freedom, others may take on a more contemplative tone. Depending on the acoustics of the performance space, the ensemble may choose to let certain gestures resonate for longer or to compress time in certain sections to take advantage of the surrounding architecture.
The second part of the piece basks in the joys of live performance; it is a ticking machine, where the quarter note pulse is constant and relentless. The lines are acrobatic and face extensions and truncations of the 4/4 bar, and the rhythmic grooves are interrupted with skips and hitches; as a complement to the first part’s necessity of in-person ensemble performance due to the individuality of lines, the second part of the piece relishes in the shared groove. The tangible and consistent pulse saturates the feeling of togetherness, and navigating the asymmetries and intricacies as a unit bring out some of the joys of ensemble playing, much like the syncing of oars while rowing crew or the unified leans of a bobsled team barreling down a track. The audience, then, gets to come along for the ride.
I am grateful to Akropolis for their time and attention in workshopping this piece and helping it to grow into what it has become.
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Plus, all donations of $50 or more receive a signed copy of our new album, Ghost Light!
We would be honored if you made your presence felt by supporting our work with a donation by the end of our fiscal year, June 30th.
This letter is a charge. We’re asking you—our loyal listeners and friends—to come together, support your local community of arts and culture, and be a beacon of hope and humanity to all those around you.
In December, we declared that we would no longer hide behind our art. And so we say to you all: Spread hope. Take action. Join us! Support the arts today with your presence (safely!) and your spirit.
While our industry has looked for bright spots, Akropolis has been leading the way:
As we look forward to next season—with concerts from Portland, OR to Stamford, NY; our 5th album in collaboration with Christian Euman and Grammy-nominated Pascal Le Boeuf; and more than 45 music and composition workshops this school year with Detroit high school students—we hope you look forward to spreading the joy of music and community.
All donations of $50 and over will receive a signed copy of Ghost Light, our acclaimed 4th album! We are still suffering from a 68% reduction in bookings, with 13% of our entire budget coming from our tightly woven community of donors. Join us! Become a first-time donor today and you will be a critical part of our success this year.
Thank you for your continued support, and we will see you soon!
We are pleased to announce the 12 ensembles, organizations, and soloists selected to participate in our 2021 Akropolis Mastermind! These artists come from all across the United States and Canada, 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!
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 2021 Akropolis Mastermind participants below, to visit their websites, listen to their music, and get inspired for what’s to come!
Winner of the 2021 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition Gold Metal and praised by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Grammy award winning composer Augusta Read Thomas for their “nuanced, colorful, artfully sculpted” performances, the Aero Quartet is committed to promoting new and traditional repertoire for saxophone quartet. Most recently, the ensemble has collaborated with world-renowned American composer Jennifer Higdon on a new work for saxophone quartet to be recorded and released in Summer of 2021 and were named first prize winners in the 2021 Music Teachers National Association Chamber Music Competition and the New Orleans Chamber Music Competition.
The BlackBox Ensemble is an NYC-based collective of rising contemporary music performers with a shared vision that new music can be a powerful medium for engaging in the social and cultural discourses of our time. We curate and produce performances that aim to examine and intervene in our cultural and political present and are oriented towards advancing social justice causes, all while exploring the experimental boundaries of contemporary music. In doing so, we present works by some of today’s most innovative emerging composers and musical voices. Recent projects included a performance of Julius Eastman’s “Femenine” in Marsha P. Johnson State Park and a streaming concert and companion album featuring music by Juhi Bansal, Carlos Simon, Yaz Lancaster, Brittany J. Green and Jessica Mays. Upcoming projects include collaborations with composers Tanner Porter, Paul Novak, Erich Barganier, and Brittany J. Green.
Founded in 2017 at the University of Iowa, the Colere Quartet is an Iowa-City based ensemble comprised of saxophonists John Cummins, Elissa Kana, Greg Rife, and Dennis Kwok. Colere presents engaging programs consisting of a wide range of classical as well as contemporary repertoire. Recent performances include recitals at the University of Iowa, Augustana College, and Monmouth College, performances at North American Saxophone Alliance conferences, and appearances at a variety of community engagement concerts.
Honors awarded to Colere include a Gold Medal at the 2020 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and First Prize at the 2019 Plowman Chamber Music Competition.
Colere is a Latin word meaning “to cultivate.” This name was inspired by Iowa’s expansive farmland and the group’s commitment to cultivating musical life in the Midwest and beyond.
Chloé Upshaw is devoted to her multifarious career as a collaborator, teacher, and a performing artist. She graduated with her BM in flute performance at the University of Puget Sound in 2019, where she studied with Karla Flygare. Chloé has been featured playing principal flute for the UPS Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, a frequent substitute flutist for the Bainbridge Symphony, and is a former member of the Velvet Five Woodwind Quintet. In Spring 2019, she performed Joel Puckett’s flute concerto, The Shadow of Sirius with the University of Puget Sound Wind Ensemble. Before going to UPS, she studied with Rachel Rencher in her hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Chloé has performed in masterclasses with renowned flutists such as Amy Porter, Vivianna Guzman, Christina Jennings, Erika Boysen and Jeffrey Barker. She was selected as a finalist in the 2017 UPS Concerto/Aria competition, and awarded first runner-up in the Seattle Philharmonic Bushell Concerto Competition, performing Anže Rozman’s Phoenix for flute and orchestra. She was featured in the 2018 Society of Composers national conference in the electroacoustic concert, performing Sue Jean Park’s “Dialogue” for flute and electroacoustic accompaniment, and in the new music Wind Ensemble concert playing principal flute in Joel Puckett’s that secret from the river.
Chloé is currently based at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she holds the position of Graduate Teaching Assistant. She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in music, studying with Dr. Maria Fernanda Castillo. In addition to being an active flute teacher at the university, Chloé is teaches private flute lessons. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chloé has been collaborating with her fellow graduate students in recording and performing chamber music in several mixed ensembles. She is one of the founding members of the Knoxville based chamber ensemble, Moirai Winds: Classical, Contemporary, and Beyond. As a musician and visual artist, Chloé is eager to share her knowledge and passions with others, exposing them to new music, creative inspiration, and open mindedness.
Clare Longendyke is an award-winning pianist whose dazzling musicianship and colorful interpretations delight audiences wherever she performs. Recognized by colleagues and listeners for the expressive energy and originality she brings to new and traditional classical music, the effervescent soloist and chamber musician won nine national competitions and was a finalist in several others during the past decade.
Set apart by her inspiring touch and captivating way of sharing music, Longendyke is a sought-after soloist, performing over 50 concerts a year in North America and Europe. Recent orchestral partners include Boston’s Arlington Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in Minnesota. BSO conductor Manny Laureano says working with Longendyke is “an incredible pleasure.” Other collaborators have called her “a world-class pianist.”
Longendyke’s appeal has earned her performances as a featured soloist in notable concert series such as University of Chicago Presents, National Public Radio’s Performance Today, the Fazioli Piano Series in Los Angeles, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ SoundBites Series. She has also performed at renowned festivals, such as the Alba Music Festival in Alba, Italy, European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France, the Académie du Festival Pablo Casals, in Prades, France, the New Music on the Point Festival in Vermont, and the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, Maine.
Before earning master’s and doctoral degrees at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Longendyke completed degrees at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, and the École Normale de Musique in Paris. The ardent Francophile and French-speaking pianist received the Harriet Hale Woolley Award in the Arts to study music in France as an undergraduate.
Longendyke blends a passion for music’s classical tradition with an equal affection for what she calls “the music of our time.” Her advocacy for innovative music and programming are evident through Music in Bloom, a new music festival she founded in 2019.
In less than a decade, she has premiered over 120 new compositions and performed the music of today’s most exciting living composers—works by Joan Tower, Frederic Rzewski, Mason Bates, Vivian Fung, Gabriela Lena Frank, Amy Williams and others. Recent recordings include Homage to Nadia Boulanger: Works for Viola and Piano with Rose Wollman, and In the City, new works for Saxophone and Piano with Andrew Harrison. Her debut solo CD featuring works by Claude Debussy and Amy Williams is planned for release in 2021.
When Longendyke isn’t on tour, she divides her time between Indianapolis and Chicago. In Indianapolis, she is Artistic Director of Music in Bloom; in Chicago, she is Artist-in-Residence and Director of Chamber Music at the University of Chicago. She also leads master classes at some of the nation’s most recognizable conservatories, including the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Hailed as a “sparkling pianist” by the Hyde Park Herald, Longendyke is on track for a transcendent career as a soloist. Her efforts to bring innovative musical experiences to public places and historic sites earned her a nomination for the Indianapolis Business Journal’s 2019 Women of Influence award.
Ensemble Urbain is a conductorless string orchestra that performs works by women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ composers. Based in Montréal, Québec, this group has made their home in venues beyond the traditional concert hall—warehouses, libraries, microbreweries, old and grandiose banks—spaces where inspiration might be tucked away in any corner. United by their love for chamber music and their pursuit of artistic excellence, these nineteen accomplished musicians bring an exciting panache and approachability to new music and showcase the diversity that the classical music world has to offer.
As individual musicians, the members of Ensemble Urbain have won prizes at the Fischoff, Cooper, Klein, OSM Manulife, Prix d’Europe, and numerous other international chamber and solo competitions. Their alma mater includes Schulich School of Music at McGill University, Northwestern University, Rice University, Yale School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and more.
Jacob Hargrove, born in Memphis, has dedicated his life to the musical arts. Jacob’s early music foundation began at the Academy of Percussive Arts in Memphis, Tennessee. Jacob would make many connections through the academy, granting him performances with the Memphis Repertory Orchestra, Eroica Ensemble, Germantown Symphony, and Memphis Youth Symphony. As a young student of the Academy, Jacob was introduced to Julie Hill, Associate Professor of Percussion at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Jacob would then attend The University of Tennessee at Martin to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in percussion performance.
While attending The University of Tennessee at Martin, Jacob was introduced to an explosion of music and culture. While at UTM, he would have four primary percussion professors to study under: Dr. Julie Hill, Dr. Dan Piccolo, Dr. Josh Smith, and Dr. Shane Jones. All of these professors would have a major impact on Jacob’s musical growth and interests.
Jacob fell in love with non-western global music while at UTM. The school’s percussion ensemble would spend a quarter of the school year focusing on styles from around the world, including steel pan and tamboo bamboo from Trinidad & Tobago, kpanlogo, fume fume, and bewaa from Ghana, Zimbabwean Marimba and mbira from Zimbabwe, Malinke drumming from Guinea, as well as samba batucada, samba reggae, and Maracatu from Brazil. Through the University of Tennessee at Martin, he would attend two travel study trips to Ghana and Trinidad. This would further expand his knowledge on the music of these cultures. As an upperclassman, he would teach samba batucada, kpanlogo, and tamboo bamboo to the UTM Percussion Ensemble.
Jacob also fell in love with new music at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He would join the school’s Contemporary Music Group which would give him opportunities to play standard new music repertoire and premieres. The concerts would include music by Steve Reich, Viet Cuong, Dan Trueman, and many more. Jacob is now pursuing a master’s degree in music performance at Bowling Green State University under the study of Dan Piccolo. At BGSU, Jacob has had many opportunities to premiere new works, teach samba batucada, perform in various ensemble on campus, and join a consortium for a saxophone/percussion duo written by Aaron Kernis.
Jacob has performed as a percussion soloist in various concert series. He performed his 2020 debut solo marimba concert, titled An Afternoon of Marimba, was a part of the Wood County District Public Library concert series. His concert featured a variety of marimba pieces, including a transcription of a Bach Cello Suite, a 12-tone marimba solo by Raymond Helble, and pop-culture arrangements that Jacob wrote from the video game and film idioms. Jacob has also performed as a soloist and chamber musician for the World Bizarre concert series at the Soleil Garden Center. Jacob is also part of a percussion & flute duo called Magtu, which has premiered new works, played classical transcriptions, pop-culture arrangements, and staples in the new music repertoire.
Lati2de is a Chicago-based chamber ensemble dedicated to the expansion and diversification of repertoire for the saxophone duo. Members Leo Schlaifer and Matt Dardick are currently undergraduates in the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, studying saxophone under Professor Taimur Sullivan. Since its formation in November 2018, Lati2de has commissioned numerous rising composers and brought their works to diverse venues across the United States, including the Chattooga Club, Brevard Music Center, Elmhurst University, Merit School of Music, and the 2020 North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference at Arizona State University.
Lati2de had scheduled a March tour of Illinois colleges and universities, which was unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Determined to continue music making during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lati2de sought to commission a work capable of live or virtual performance. In the fall of 2020, Lati2de formed a consortium consisting of 13 saxophone duos to commission such a piece from composer Andrew Faulkenberry. A recording of Faulkenberry’s Dialogues for two alto saxophones and fixed electronics was published by Lati2de in January 2021.
Soma is a saxophone quartet formed at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music under the guidance of Otis Murphy. The members of the quartet include David Bayard (soprano), Paul Lorenz (alto), Sean Bradley (tenor), and Arthur Liang (baritone). Soma was recently awarded First Prize at the NOLA Chamber Fest Competition in the emerging ensemble division and Second Place at the MTNA Chamber Music Competition in 2021, and the Bronze Metal at the 2021 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Soma also won the Grand Prize at the 9th Plowman Chamber Music Competition in 2019. Other awards include Third Place in the 2020 MTNA Chamber Music Competition, First Runner-Up in the 2018 Classics Alive Young Artist Competition, and First Prize in the 2017 Chicago Woodwind Ensemble Competition.
Praised for their “spirited performance coupled with sensitive playing” (Lalanath De Silva, composer), the Tadioli Duo comprises violinist Suhashini Arulanandam and cellist Sybil Shanahan. Following in the tradition of the great string quartets who play on families of instruments made by the same luthier, the Tadioli Duo plays on what they consider to be sibling instruments. Their violin and cello were made within a year of each other by modern Italian luthier Maurizio Tadioli.
Formed in 2018, the duo is becoming known for their captivating interpretations and imaginative programming that reaches beyond the traditional classical canon. In response to the need for live music in the summer of 2020, the duo launched a highly successful outdoor concert season in the Ontario region. Passionate about music education, the duo has presented concerts and workshops to elementary and high schools in Southern Ontario, and each maintains an active private teaching studio, now online.
The Tadioli Duo are frequent performers on the Chamber Music Mississauga roster, performing concerts both in person and virtually since the duo’s inception. Both were recently invited to join the all female Tango Orquesta Solidaridad, and are studying virtually with master musicians from Buenos Aires’ famed Orquesta Escuela de Tango Emilio Balcarce. Drawing on musical inspiration from their own backgrounds as well as those of their colleagues and collaborators, the duo is committed to further fostering a love of music in the communities they engage with, and broadening the range and depth of what classical performance means in today’s society. With a goal of bringing classical music to non-conventional spaces and new audiences, the duo gave their debut concert on board a pirate ship sailing in Toronto Harbour in 2018, and brought live music to the home gardens of music lovers throughout the summer of 2020.
During the on-going pandemic, the duo has been spending its time researching and collecting new works by Canadian and international female composers for the up-coming concert season, as well as offering virtual group lessons for adult musicians. The Tadioli Duo is based in Toronto, Canada
The Ladies’ Reeding Society
As a stunning example of talent and artistry, the Ladies’ Reeding Society embodies what it means to be a female musician in the modern landscape of classical music. We perform in several smaller ensembles under the umbrella of LRS, including Trio de Bois and The Ladies’ Quintessential Quintet. Each lady is a powerhouse in her own right, and together we represent college professors, orchestral musicians, freelancers, private instructors, collaborative chamber artists, and full-time working musicians. In addition to being dedicated musicians, we each also enjoy fulfilling lives as wives, mothers, and teachers with spouses/partners, children, hundreds of private students, and many cherished pets.
Historically, we have come together from our homes in Utah, Idaho, Texas, Arizona, and Washington for several projects each year, including concerts, residencies, and recordings. Since then we have done many remote recordings, live broadcasts, and ongoing YouTube video releases. The spirit of artistic collaboration and support fuels the growth of LRS, and you can see that growth. What started out as a reed trio and a woodwind quintet in 3 states now includes dancers, composers, artists, and musicians in no less than 8 states, and the reach continues to spread. Please be sure to check out all of the variety that we have to offer on our YouTube channel at the Ladies’ Reeding Society.
Based in the Capital District of New York, the wind quintet Quintocracy presents concerts and workshops throughout the area and beyond. Quintocracy has a diverse repertoire ranging from the Baroque to the present, including works written for the quintet. Its members are flutist Melanie Chirignan, oboist Kelly Lockwood, clarinetist Michael Dee, and hornist Kathryn Svatek.
Coming together in January 2019 with the idea that chamber music is for everyone—meaning not just for the concert hall, but for museums, churches, libraries, school presentations, and house concerts as well—the members of Quintocracy have as their goal to build community by performing exemplary music programs and engaging audiences through conversation and humor. Members have performed regionally with the Glens Falls Symphony, Octavo Singers, Albany Pro Musica as well as at Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, Symphony Space in New York City, and for Amazon’s television show Mozart in the Jungle.
Drew Hosler is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Saxophone Performance and a Master of Music in Chamber Music from the University of Michigan. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Saxophone Performance from Bowling Green State University. An advocate for contemporary music, his performance career has been built on the performance of music by living composers. He current major project is to release his debut solo CD entitled delta waves! You can learn more about his album here: https://andrewhosler.com/deltawaves
As a saxophonist, Drew is an avid performer as a soloist as well as a chamber musician. As a soloist, was selected as a winner of the 49th Bowling Green State University Competition in Music Performance and has performed concerti by Walter Mays and William Albright with the Bowling Green Philharmonia and the Bowling Green State University Concert Band. He has performed at the Cortona Sessions for New Music, University of Kansas New Music Guild, Bowling Green State University ArtsX Festival, University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance Imprint Series, Bowling Green State University Praecepta Concerts, International Conference on Saxophone Pedagogy and Performance and various North American Saxophone Alliance Conferences. As a chamber musician, Drew has performed at the New Music Gathering, IDAGIO’s Global Concert Hall Arts@Future, World Saxophone Congress, Bowling Green New Music and Art Festival, Toledo Museum of Art, US Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium, and WGTE Toledo Radio. He has won prizes at the Douglas Wayland Chamber Music Competition. Drew is a the saxophonist for the new music chamber ensemble, The _____ Experiment. In March 2020, they released their debut CD, Conversations, which includes seven world premiere recordings from five different composers. They have performed at schools across the countries including Michigan State University College of Music, The State University of New York at Potsdam Crane School of Music, and the Flint Institute of Music.
Outside of playing the saxophone, Drew and his fiancée, Tess, adopted a kitten named Mulligan almost a year ago, named after the great Hercules Mulligan from Hamilton!
Akropolis’ Virtual Composition Residency at the Wells School of Music
Enjoy the online premiere of “minims: 1/60th of a fluid drachm” by West Chester University student Tyler Hoffman, which features a beautiful solo oboe opening and a fiercely rhythmic movement of only key clicks.
Enjoy the online premiere of “A Stroke of Midnight” by West Chester University student Benjamin Davan, which peacefully sweeps us away into a cool and deep, but possibly sleepless, night.
Enjoy the online premiere of “Distanced Thoughts” by West Chester University student J.A. Devor, which we feel invokes so many of the isolated and detached thoughts so many of us are feeling right out.
Enjoy the online premiere of “That is My Sin” by West Chester University student Kaitlin Freund, which features a lovely dance surrounded by a very tender and thoughtful opening and closing.
Enjoy the online premiere of “Sea of Reeds” by West Chester University student Max Halperin, which draws its inspiration from The Red Sea. This inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia, has extensive shallow shelves noted for having over 1,000 invertebrate species and 200 types of soft and hard coral.
Enjoy the online premiere of “Marsh Creek Lake State Park” by West Chester University student Malaika Paralkar who was inspired by the beautiful Marsh Creek State Park, Pennsylvania in Chester County, know for its rolling hills and abundant of wildlife.
We wanted to take a moment to thank you for being a part of the Akropolis family. We’ve poured our heart and soul into every aspect of our artistry, programming, and this nonprofit organization. It means a lot to have your support.
Gratitude on Giving Tuesday
So far on Giving Tuesday, we’ve raised $2,750 and we’re just shy of our $3,000 goal for today. We are fundraising to support our commitment to uplifting the voices of Detroit youth, to creating equity to access music composition, and to reflecting diversity and inclusivity in all facets of our organization.
There is no better day to support our organization and our mission than Giving Tuesday, with every donation made through the Facebook link below fully matched:
Donate Here ~ bit.ly/AkropolisGivingTuesday2020
No Matter How Big or Small…
Your donation will make a difference to Akropolis. No matter if it’s $5 or $500, your support has the power to affect change in classical music, uplift young voices, and keep us innovating and thriving through the difficult climate of 2020 and beyond. Know that your support, no matter how big or small, has a ripple effect, supporting not just Akropolis, but uplifting every single artist we work with, every business we partner with, and every community we reach.
A Million Times, Thank You.
Thank you for supporting our artistic impact and our small business. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve and empower you along your journey. Akropolis is so very thankful.
Know that if you ever have questions or want to say hello—we’re only an email away!
Cameron Massey graduated from The University of Texas at Austin last May receiving a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance, and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts Management at Carnegie Mellon University. Born in Bulgaria and raised in Croatia, Cameron first discovered a passion for music while living in Eastern Europe. Solo, chamber, and folk music were almost always filling the air around him, and so began a deep commitment to the nourishment of music. At the University of Texas Cameron helped build a performance series which connected music students with the greater Austin Community, and later interned with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and an Austin based, Grammy awarded choir, Conspirare. He is currently pursuing reinventing the ways in which arts organizations can serve their communities. In his spare time Cameron enjoys reading, rock climbing, backpacking, soccer, and cooking.
Lydia Carey is a musician from Michigan State University who believes in the power of music and people. She seeks to create art that is representative of her life and her beliefs. Her beliefs and loves include Jesus, good cups of coffee, friendly people, freedom of expression, vulnerability, family, and dogs. Furthermore, she incorporates other art forms, such as theatre and special effects, into her future career aspirations as well as to eventually open a non-profit for underprivileged children.
We would like to make a statement on behalf of our 5 ensemble members and our Board of Directors.
Black Lives Matter. We stand with you, and Akropolis pledges to be a better ally.
Over the past week it has become clear that our organization must cover a large distance in order to fulfill our mission, which is to create a more vibrant society with greater accessibility to contemporary music through artistic excellence in performance, educational workshops, and community engagement. We cannot create a more vibrant society if our decision-making and actions do not deliberately work to uplift voices of the Black community.
There are significant, systemic issues with racial inequity in contemporary music and its community, and we have contributed to it by not directly addressing it. In the words of Ibram X. Kendi, “One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of “not racist.” The claim of “not racist” neutrality is a mask for racism.”
Over the course of our history, the vast majority of our audience, composers, and collaborators have been White. When we founded our nonprofit in 2015 and defined our mission, we took on the social responsibility of changing this. Change in our organization has been slow, but moving forward we are committed to making this a top priority and continuing to build on this progress.
➜ What we’ve done so far:
In 2018, for the first time we commissioned a Black composer in a professional context, a work by Jeff Scott paying homage to a Black neighborhood in Detroit. We have since performed it for more than 30 audiences and we have recorded a Web Premiere which will be released this summer. This should not have taken 9 years. We look forward to actively developing more projects like this and more opportunities for collaboration with Black artists.
Detroit is the home of our Together We Sound festival where beginning three years ago we started working directly with Detroit’s Black communities and other communities of color. For the past 3 years, this has included a year-long residency at 3 Detroit high schools involving music composition and chamber music. In doing so, we have premiered and recorded the works of 11 Black student composers. In the coming months, we are releasing these students’ 2020 compositions in a socially-distant, split screen format. You can watch some of these incredible compositions here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist…
We have made mistakes as well. As a White ensemble we have performed music composed by White men expressing their grief over the death of young Black men. While this grief is genuine, in performing these works, we haven’t properly contextualized the composers’ intentions, we haven’t created dialogue about how the Black community experiences this music, and the Black community hasn’t been invited to respond to these works before or after the performances. In order to continue performing these works, we must change this, and this should inform how we present music from perspectives other than our own.
➜ Our commitment going forward:
Akropolis needs to commission more Black composers, collaborate with more Black artists, and we need to have Black and minority representation on our all-White Board of Directors. And to members of our artist and audience community who are Black, we need to allow you space to express, if you would like to and from your perspective, what Akropolis is doing right and wrong with regard to social justice. We do not have these systems formally established, and we are making a priority to put them into place.
We are committed to formulating and enacting a plan to carry forward these policies and programming. We have strong Board leadership and we will begin working on these things with our June, second quarter board meeting. As a public nonprofit our board meeting minutes are available by private request. As new organizational policy is formulated, it will be made publicly available; Please visit akropolisquintet.org/organization for our current transparency documents.
We have been insulated from the injustices in our field, in our own work, and have not taken enough deliberate action to uplift, magnify, and support the voices of marginalized Black artists and community members. This changes today.
Matt, Kari, Ryan, Andrew, and Tim
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
This unprecedented crisis has taken a devastating toll on artists, like us, who depend on human connection to make a difference, and a living. But Akropolis has been built to last, and after 11 years of unwavering support from people just like you, we are proud to steer our organization through this crisis with you by our side.
Award-winning live concerts and educational experiences are Akropolis’ bedrock, but with our full lineup of spring and summer engagements canceled, we have suffered significant losses in performance revenue. Fortunately, we are strongly positioned to adapt our programming so we can continue to thrive.
Our cash reserves and diversified non-performance revenue—including donations, grants, tuition, and merchandise—allow us to continue paying our 5 salaried employees. Because of continued support from funders, sponsors, and supporters like you, we’re excited to announce a vibrant and innovative lineup of projects this summer and next season. Here’s a taste!
Your support is critical to our artistic evolution, now more than ever.
We understand this may be a time of uncertainty and change for you as well. If you have the means, your donation today does not just support Akropolis, but directly benefits an ecosystem of people we support financially, including our collaborators, composers, recording engineers, videographers, artist representatives, venues, and more.
Please consider donating before our fiscal year ends on June 30th. We miss you all, and when the time is right, we will see you again.
10 years ago we sat in the very Symphony Band with which we premiered Storm Warning. It was a privilege to have been born in the University of Michigan band program, and now to be invited back to celebrate the reed quintet and our 10 years of music making together. Roshanne Etezady, thank you for writing an absolutely killer concerto, and thank you to Professor Michael Haithcock for your enormous support, and for making this collaboration and world premiere possible. Finally, thank you to our friends, family, teachers, and fans for coming out to hear us premiere this work in February. We hope you enjoy listening and watching the premiere!
About the Concerto
“Storm Warning is a concerto grosso for reed quintet and winds, in three continuous movements. The piece began to take shape in the spring of 2019, when a surprisingly early-season system of severe weather set off the tornado sirens in my neighborhood. After our brief stint sheltering in place in the basement (everything was fine, incidentally). my daughter, then 8, went on high alert for the rest of the season; every time the sky got dark, she’d start to get nervous. It sometimes helped alleviate her anxiety a little to watch television documentaries about weather – knowledge is power! – but she’d still be uneasy. My household’s subsequent heightened alertness to meteorological phenomena informed the basis for this piece.
The first movement, “Sirens,” evokes the disorientation and alarm experienced during a tornado warning. The second movement, “Small Hours,” imagines a child falling asleep in her bed on a stormy night, trying to calm herself down in spite of the winds blowing outside her window. Finally, “Stormchaser” takes its name from the people who deliberately run towards, not away from, severe weather; musical lines and fragments “chase” each other throughout the texture of the soloists and ensemble.
Storm Warning is dedicated to the Akropolis Reed Quintet and Professor Michael Haithcock and the University of Michigan Symphony Band, whose individual and collective commitments to new music are inspiring, and very much appreciated.”
About the Composer
Roshanne Etezady‘s music has been described in Fanfare magazine as “fresh, effusive, and immediately likable,” and she has been hailed by the Detroit Free Press as “a promising and confident composer.” Her music ranges from clever and colorful to sublimely subdued; it combines lyricism with rhythmic intensity and engages performers and audiences alike. Etezady’s works have been commissioned by the United States Military Band at West Point, the Albany Symphony, Dartmouth Symphony, eighth blackbird, Music at the Anthology, the PRISM Saxophone Quartet, and more.
Support Akropolis’ 10-Year Educational Impact
Fundraising Goal: $15,000 I Current: $12,607
Before winning 7 national chamber music prizes, before commissioning over 70 pieces for reed quintet, before recording 3 albums, before building our own chamber music festival, and before becoming a sustainable nonprofit organization, we were teaching and performing for students.
Over the past 10 years, we’ve conducted 412 educational events for 41,560 students around the world. That’s right! Over 40,000 students have worked with Akropolis over the last decade! That’s 10 years of introducing music to curious kindergartners; 10 years of infusing chamber music into high school band programs; 10 years of encouraging and helping young people to compose their own music; and 10 years of building an ensemble and organization that inspires collegiate musicians to forge their own creative careers.
Because of your support, encouragement, and belief in Akropolis, we are able to continue to offer interactive, engaging, and award-winning educational experiences alongside our demanding touring and performing schedule. Thank you for appreciating Akropolis’ work as educators and musicians with like value.
Because of YOU, we delivered 98 educational events and reached over 9,610 K-12 and college students in 2019 alone. 30 of these events were funded by more than $15,000 donated to our 2018 year-end campaign. Planning for dozens more meaningful educational events in 2019, and with each event budget totaling roughly $500, our goal is to raise $15,000 by year-end, funding one third of our 2020 educational activities. Simply put, we need your support to continue our educational programming next year.
2020 is a big year for Akropolis. We’re proud to once again work in residence at three Detroit high schools, leading students through a year-long music composition and recording project. We’re also humbled to be partnering with University of Michigan Symphony Band students and composer Roshanne Etezady to premiere the first-ever concerto for reed quintet and wind band. And, we take to the road, educating in communities around the country this season, with major residences in Arizona, Virginia, Nevada, and New York.
We couldn’t be prouder of the educational legacy you’ve helped us build as we enter into our second decade of award-winning music and community engagement. Please consider supporting our work with a tax-deductible donation to support Akropolis’ educational programming before 2019 ends. Thank you for your support!
USE CODE “MOREREEDQUINTET” FOR 15% OFF SHEET MUSIC
We started publishing our Akropolis Collection of sheet music in 2012 to increase accessibility, legitimacy, and sustainability of the reed quintet repertoire. Currently housing 23 arrangements and original works from a diverse array of composers, the Akropolis Collection has sold selections to hundreds of reed quintets and university libraries around the country! This month, we’re proud to be introducing 6 new original commissions to the collection by Theo Chandler, Natalie Draper, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Becky Turro, Mario Godoy, and Patrick Holcomb. What are you waiting for? Start your reed quintet journey today!
Seed to Snag by Theo Chandler is a three-movement work, the title referring to the life cycle of a tree and by extension, all organic matter. The three movements describe moments in the life cycle occurring between the very beginning and very end of this life cycle, that is between the seed and the snag, which is a term referring to a dead limb that will eventually decompose, then beginning the cycle again. Seed to Snag looks to the Baroque era for its structure, the opening movement, “Sprout,” imitating the slow appearance of limbs and other plant parts using the musical style of a Baroque Prelude, with a heavily-ornamented, slow-moving harmony. The second movement, “Stretch,” is a virtuosic solo for the bassoon recalling a sonata-style solo with harpsichord accompaniment, the other instruments in the quintet resonating the bassoon’s pitches. The final movement, “Sow,” focuses on consistent pulse and imitation as the seeds spin and spread from the tree in rapid succession. The imitation here, however, is so compressed that the instruments often sound as if they are playing with a delay pedal. The piece ends with a restatement of some opening gestures from the first movement, beginning the cycle again. Seed to Snag was commissioned for Akropolis by the I-Park Foundation in 2018.
Music of Foghorns and Seabirds by Natalie Draper is inspired by the ocean and includes the use of six tuned wine bottles in the piece! The pitched bottles echo the sounds of foghorns, shifting boats, and the murmurs and chirps of seabirds. *Note ~ A total of six wine bottles are needed for the entire piece: four tuned to Eb3, two tuned to E3. Music of Foghorns and Seabirds was commissioned for Akropolis by the I-Park Foundation in 2018.
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” The compelling opening of Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece,
constructs an intense moment of reflection on the past by digging into a childhood memory while facing a firing squad: his first encounter with ice. The technique of constructing such an intense moment that is reflecting on
the past was uniquely inspiring to me. Firing Squad is structurally inspired by this sentence, exploring the intense moment of confronting death and expanding the moment into all possible feelings and memories one might
go through before saying farewell to life. Firing Squad was commissioned for Akropolis by the I-Park Foundation in 2018.
Thaw is inspired by a trip Becky and her girlfriend took to Acadia National Park, Maine in early March. Each movement is about a specific part of Acadia they encountered during their time in the national park. The first movement, “Hyperborea,” was inspired by Cadillac Mountain, seen in the aftermath of a snowstorm that arrived on their first day there. The second movement is titled “Echo Lake,” which is also a place within Acadia. This movement begins with a smooth, frozen texture that slowly thaws and melts away as the sun comes out. The third movement, titled “Kaleidoscope Cove,” is the most flowing and bright, and characterizes the ocean dancing and crashing against the orange cliffs. Chronologically, the movements move from frozen to melted, thawing into the arrival of spring. Thaw was commissioned for Akropolis by Connecticut Summerfest in 2018.
create. process. is a reflection on the act of creation. Every new work begins with a small seed of an idea that grows, evolves, and changes with the artist’s mindset and thought process. There is an exciting energy that emerges when the work begins to take shape, but that can quickly devolve into crippling self-doubt. Often times making art takes determination and the willingness to show up and keep trying, even when your mind is telling you what you are doing isn’t good enough. Hopefully—usually—that hard work leads you to more moments of inspiration and something you are proud of in the end. This piece follows the journey through the creative process, from the swirl of thoughts and emotions that accompany it, to the eventual exciting, uncertain, and hopeful release of the work into the world. create. process was commissioned for Akropolis by Connecticut Summerfest in 2018.
The Sun Rising borrows its title from John Donne’s aubade of the same name. In Donne’s poem, the speaker mockingly chastises the sun, knowing that the coming of the day means that he will have to leave his lover’s side in bed. Although Donne’s poem has a much lighter tone than Patrick’s piece, both works have in common the themes of leaving home and the passage of time. The piece is a manifestation of Patrick’s intense feelings of sadness over the end of his time at Ithaca College and fear over the start of the next chapter in his life. The conclusion of the piece represents his acceptance that although the sun has risen and his time at Ithaca has come to an end, the sun always sets, and he will be back again someday. The Sun Rising was commissioned for Akropolis by Connecticut Summerfest in 2018.
We are super excited to have been awarded our first ever grant from New Music USA in support of ⚙ Sprocket by Steven Snowden which combines the reed quintet with a ridable percussion bicycle built by Detroit metal fabricator Juan Martinez!
We had an absolute blast premiering this work at Wasserman Projects and Kerrytown Concert House during our Together We Sound festival this June, and then again at the Mostly Modern Festival in Saratoga Springs, New York. We can’t wait to keep Sprocket rolling 🚲around the country during our 10th anniversary season this year.
New Music USA awarded $529,420 in funding supporting new American music projects in 27 states. The 114 awarded projects include a wide range of activities and events involving new music as a central element; many projects involve collaborations in dance, theater, opera, and the visual arts.
New Music USA’s platform offers important promotional tools for artists that extend the program’s service beyond financial support. As part of the application process, artists create project pages that include narrative descriptions and media samples. Project updates from the artists, and the interaction with followers, assist artists in engaging with the broader community and allow the public to experience new work in development.
Interim CEO Deborah Steinglass commented, “This current round of project grants demonstrates not only an enormous breadth and depth of creative work in the United States today, it also speaks to the importance of artists to our society as a whole. These projects touch upon the core of what it means to be human by stimulating our intellects, evoking our internal emotions, creating respite from our daily lives, raising our consciousness around themes of social justice and equality, and so much more; artists are in fact serving as agents of change. I can’t wait to experience the art created from this round of project grants, and it’s my hope that many others will explore and experience this work as well, and make new art a part of their daily lives.”
Stay tuned for more videos of Sprocket, including our world premiere performance from our Together We Sound Festival this past June!
Hear Akropolis During Our 10th Anniversary Season!
Our 19/20 touring season is here! We begin our milestone 10th anniversary season this week in Mt. Gretna, PA where we’ll premiere Jeff Scott’s brand new reed quintet, Homage to Paradise Valley,highlighting the history of Paradise Valley, the now-displaced neighborhood which ran through the middle of Detroit up until the 1960s. We have known Jeff for several years as longtime admirers of his quintet, Imani Winds. Jeff’s composition, funded by the highly-competitive Chamber Music America’s Classical Commissioning fund, uses jazz and African folk song influences to recreate the vitality of former Black Bottom and Hastings Street. Following the world premiere at Gretna Music, we’re excited to be touring this 25-minute masterwork around the country. After Pennsylvania, our fall touring brings us from Michigan to Mississippi and Minnesota, Connecticut to California, and this October, we’re making our Canadian premiere in Regina, Saskatchewan!
Following our January 2020 travels to Nevada, Arizona, and Texas for the San Antonio Chamber Music Society, we return to our alma mater for the world premiere of Storm Warning, a concerto for Akropolis and the University of Michigan Symphony Band by Roshanne Etezady. Co-commissioned by Akropolis and the University of Michigan’s H. Robert Reynolds Commissioning Fund, we will premiere Storm Warning on February 7, 2020 with the University of Michigan Symphony Band—the ensemble in which the five of us met ten years ago—under the direction of our long-time mentor and teacher, Professor Michael Haithcock. Read more about the concerto here.
In March and April, 2020 we’re returning to one of our favorite places for our 4th residency with Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, OR. For 2 weeks, we’ll once again team up with Portland’s BodyVox contemporary dance company for a 10-show celebration of the 100th anniversary of the roaring 20s.
We will also celebrate 10 years of Akropolis by commissioning 10 composers this season! In addition to the above works by Jeff Scott and Roshanne Etezady, we’ve already premiered a chamber concerto with guest bassoonist Monica Ellis of the Imani Winds titled CANE by Jenni Brandon, an educational concerto for Akropolis and high school band by Peter Terry, and Sprocket for reed quintet and a ridable percussion bike by Steven Snowden. Still to be premiered are works by Pascal Le Boeuf and L05, Kate Pukinskis, Corey Dundee, and Evan Ware. We will also release of our 4th CD featuring 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Michael Gilbertson, and distinguished soprano Shara Nova of My Brightest Diamond.
We can’t wait for all this and more this coming year, and we hope we’ll see you at one of our concerts this season!
That’s a wrap! We just completed our 2019 Together We Sound festival in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Hamtramck, MI. We want to say thank you to the many local partners and supporters who made these events possible. Special thanks to Detroit metal artist Juan Martinez for the time, skill, and vision he brought to this year’s festival, to composer Steven Snowden for turning a rideable percussion bicycle into a thrilling piece of music, and to percussionist Zac Bru, for never once asking if riding a bike counted as performing. Finally, thank you to everyone who came to hear us at one of our many festival events!
Our 15-event contemporary music festival featured collaborative concerts, educational activities, and one-of-a-kind commissions. This year’s major supporters were the National Endowment for the Arts, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, High Wire Lab, and many individuals like you! To see photos from all these activities and more, click below.
Support Akropolis’ Legacy & 10-Year Anniversary Projects Fundraising Goal: $10,000
On April 9, 2009, the Akropolis Reed Quintet gave its first-ever performance as undergraduate students at the University of Michigan. A decade later, we’ve performed everywhere from Alaska to Abu Dhabi, premiered more than 50 works, built our own festival, created a sustainable nonprofit organization, and transformed the reed quintet from a hidden gem into a chamber music staple. Because of your support, encouragement, and belief, we are prepared for a second decade of award-winning music and community engagement. Thank you for helping shape our legacy!
In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, this season we are commissioning 10 composers, including: a chamber concerto by Jenni Brandon with guest bassoonist Monica Ellis of Imani Winds; Steven Snowden’s, “Sprocket,” for Akropolis and a rideable percussion bicycle; a 25-minute masterwork by Jeffrey Scott inspired by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; a work with live projection mapping by Grammy nominated Pascal Le Boeuf; and a new work by Detroit high school student and Akropolis mentee, Kurton Harrison.
To bring this celebration home, we will premiere the first-ever concerto for reed quintet and wind band by Roshanne Etezady in collaboration with University of Michigan Symphony Band director and longtime Akropolis mentor, Professor Michael Haithcock. Professor Haithcock shares the following:
“Over the past decade, the Akropolis Quintet has grown from a great idea into a great ensemble. Their cutting-edge music making and community engagement is leaving a remarkable legacy at many levels of accomplishment and service. I am pleased to help celebrate their legacy with this exciting collaboration!”
Stay tuned as we announce all 10 composers during the month of May!
During our 10th anniversary season, we will appear at noteworthy series and festivals such as Mostly Modern, the Oneppo Series at Yale University, and the San Antonio Chamber Music Society. We will also release our 4th CD, Kinds of Light, featuring 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Gilbertson and distinguished soprano Shara Nova.
This is our biggest, boldest, and most critical year yet, designed to build the momentum needed to sustain Akropolis for another decade. It is also our biggest budget year to date, and before this fiscal year ends on June 30th, we must raise $10,000 for next season’s groundbreaking projects. Donations from supporters like you comprise over 15% of our annual budget—you are critical to securing Akropolis’ legacy.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today in honor of our historic milestone,and stay tuned for our official 19/20 season announcement to learn where you can hear Akropolis next year.
Together We Sound is a 2-Week, 15 Event Festival in Detroit,
Ann Arbor, & Hamtramck May 27 – June 9, 2019
Created by the seven-time national prize-winning chamber ensemble, the Akropolis Reed Quintet, Together We Sound is a one-of-a-kind contemporary music festival that includes 3 lunchtime workplace concerts, 6 K-12 school presentations, 1 side-by-side student concert with an Akropolis concerto, 2 pop-up events in public spaces, and 3 evening concerts at neighborhood venues featuring world premieres by Akropolis in collaboration with local and national artists. By forging connections between Detroit’s artists, community members, and youth, Together We Sound uses new music to bring people together.
Having premiered more than 50 new works and now celebrating our 10th anniversary, we are proud to announce two new reed quintet concerti for Akropolis and wind band by composers Roshanne Etezady and Peter Terry. Co-commissioned by Akropolis and the University of Michigan’s H. Robert Reynolds Commissioning Fund, we will premiere Etezady’s concerto on February 7, 2020 with the University of Michigan Symphony Band—the ensemble in which the five of us met ten years ago—under the direction of our long-time mentor and teacher, Professor Michael Haithcock. Commissioned by Akropolis, we will premiere Terry’s concerto with the Detroit School of Arts high school wind ensemble at a side-by-side concert with Detroit Public Schools students on April 16, 2019.
Etezady’s concerto celebrates the University of Michigan band program that helped launch our career. In Professor Haithcock’s band we learned how preparation, teamwork, and unity make a significant impact on the music we make together. As a young ensemble, we channeled these skills, and we are thrilled to return to our alma mater to collaborate with students in a way that helps them understand where these skills can take them. We are also proud to be part of the rich heritage of eminent chamber music ensembles with UM members. Etezady’s compositions for some of these very ensembles, like eighth blackbird and the PRISM Quartet, are some of our favorite contemporary works. It is a privilege to now be on the receiving end of a new Etezady composition!
Since September 2018 and because of generous support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, we have been in residence at Detroit School of Arts, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cass Tech high schools in Detroit, mirroring our professional activity through creative projects with youth. We commissioned composer Peter Terry to write a new concerto for Akropolis and high school band, which we will premiere with students at Detroit School of Arts on April 16, 2019. Students received hands-on experience with Terry generating the themes and musical ideas for the piece. Terry’s concerto celebrates these dedicated students, the city of Detroit, and our decade-long commitment to K-12 education.
The side-by-side concert on April 16th will feature the premiere of Terry’s concerto, as well as the premiere of several student compositions, and performances by student chamber music ensembles.
We are excited to welcome the latest addition to the Akropolis team, Laken Emerson, through our internship program! The Akropolis Reed Quintet’s internship program offers real-world, hands-on experiences for college students and recent graduates who are interested in pursuing a career in music, arts administration, nonprofit management, and live event production. Laken will be working with Akropolis on everything from digital marketing to sheet music publishing and all things in between. With the unique opportunities presented by the Akropolis internship program, Laken will learn what goes into successfully managing a chamber music ensemble and nonprofit organization, including interacting with industry professionals, including the members of Akropolis, through hands-on experiences. Welcome aboard!
Laken Emerson is a second-year masters student at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Originally from Oklahoma, Laken earned a BA in Music with a minor in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith in 2016, where she was Vice President of the Lambda Kappa chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, as well as managing editor and poetry contributor to the UAFS literary arts magazine Applause. At WSU, she has performed in several chamber ensembles and solo recitals, and was a 2018 Concerto-Aria Night winner. She previously interned with the Boulder Philharmonic in the 2016-17 season and is working towards a career in music nonprofit and advocacy. Outside of school, Laken enjoys veggie pizzas, incurring library fines, and hanging out with her cat Dr. Isobel (Izzy) Stevens.
💛 For a second year in a row, we are honored and grateful to have been awarded a $10,000 #ArtWorks grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support our #TogetherWeSound contemporary music festival in Detroit, MI this summer featuring inventive concerts, collaborations, commissions, educational residences, office space shows, pop-up concerts, and more!
Akropolis is proud to be one of only 19 outstanding cultural organizations in the state of Michigan to receive a National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant! We’re humbled to have received continued support from such an influential organization, and we can’t wait to share more about our festival in the coming months!
Akropolis is joining forces with percussion….but this percussion instrument is a whole new animal. Composed by Steven Snowden, Sprocket joins the reed quintet with a rideable percussion bicycle designed and fabricated by Detroit resident and Kresge Arts Fellow, Juan Martinez, and performed on by local experimental percussionist, Zac Brunell. This project will be the centerpiece of Akropolis’ 2019 Together We Sound festival in Detroit, MI and is made possible thanks to support from High Wire Lab, the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
ABOUT THE PERCUSSION BIKE
Like Juan’s other larger-than-life, rideable public art pieces, his percussion bike uses pedal power to create numerous sounds. As the percussionist pedals the bike (while fixed in place or not) a set of custom-designed and fitted levers and gears will create several effects that change depending on how fast the bike is pedaled. It’s been awesome to be working collaboratively with Juan, Steve, and Zac over the past year to determine what sounds the bike produces and how to incorporate them in Sprocket. Right now, the bike includes:
An accordion fixed to the back of the bike with bellows which open and close as the bike is pedaled. The percussionist has access to the buttons on the front of the bike to change the pitches.
Different-sized picks placed in the spokes that create sustained sounds of different volume, pitch, and character.
Several attached, scrap metal objects sourced from Detroit, available to the percussionist to be played with a variety of mallets and sticks.
Having composed for unconventional metal materials previously, like shrapnel and car parts, Steve’s goal is to fuse industrial sounds familiar to Detroit with pedal-powered effects that mesh with Akropolis’ wind power. We’ve long admired Steve’s compositional storytelling abilities, and we can’t wait for him to extend his brilliance onto the reed quintet.
ENGAGING THE DETROIT BIKING COMMUNITY
Sprocket is a mobile public art installation and musical experience that engages Detroit’s vibrant cycling community. It will be premiered as part of an outdoor concert on June 8th at the Dequindre Cut Freight Yard on Detroit’s east side during Akropolis’ 3rd annual Together We Sound Festival. Operated by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the Freight Yard is a frequent gathering place of Detroit’s cyclists along the Dequindre Cut, an old rail line turned into an extensive bike path. It features food trucks, a bar, and ample seating. The public will be able to ride and play Juan’s percussion bicycle along with 2 more of his metal animal bicycles before and after the performance. We’ll be sharing more festival details and additional performance dates in the coming months!
On October 19th, we gave our last of 11 world premieres in 2018, performing Stacy Garrop’s Rites for the Afterlife on the Jewel Box Concert Series at Northeastern Illinois University. From the haunting effects that transported the audience into the Egyptian afterlife, to the beautiful, serene journey to the “Field of Reeds” at the end of the piece, we can’t wait to keep sharing this new masterwork for reed quintet with audiences around the country!
About Rites for the Afterlife
The piece follows the soul into and through the afterlife, including the spells and enchantments contained in The Book of the Dead, the funery barque which tows the soul through the Netherworld, its arrival in the Hall of Judgement to be weighed against a feather from Maat–the goddess of truth–and its final resting place at the field of reeds where it is united with family members, harvesting plentiful crops along the Nile under a brilliant blue sky forever.
Egyptians believed that upon death, their souls would undertake a harrowing journey through the Netherworld. If they survived the horrific creatures and arduous trials that awaited them, then their souls would be reunified with their bodies and live forever in a perfect version of the life they had lived in Egypt. To achieve this, Egyptians devised around 200 magical spells and incantations to aid souls on the path to the Afterlife. These spells are collectively called The Book of the Dead. Not only did these spells protect and guide the soul on this dangerous path, but they also served as a safeguard against any unbecoming behavior an Egyptian did while alive. Rites for the Afterlife follows the journey of these souls.
About Composer Stacy Garrop
Dr. Garrop is a graduate of Indiana University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan. Currently Music Alive’s composer-in-residence with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra and previous faculty member at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Dr. Garrop has received commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, Utah Arts Festival, the Detroit Symphony, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and many others. She has also attended residencies at the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Center for the Arts, McDowell Colony, Millay Colony, Oxford Summer Institute, Round Top Festival, Ucross Foundation, Wellesley Composers Conference and Yaddo. In addition her music has been performed by the Albany Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Gaudete Brass Quintet, San Francisco Choral Society, Volti, and many others.
After Akropolis helped adjudicate 159 submissions from 18 countries as a panelist for the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, Stacy Garrop of Chicago, Illinois was awarded the $12,000 Barlow Prize to compose a major new work for the reed quintet. The reed quintet’s growing popularity over Akropolis’ first decade of growth is punctuated by the Barlow Endowment choosing the reed quintet for the first time to receive its flagship commission.
Rites for the Afterlife was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment on behalf of the Akropolis Reed Quintet, Calefax Reed Quintet, and the Brigham Young University Reed Quintet.
Akropolis is unstoppable! In 2018, we gave more performances than any year in our history, reaching 9,000 people from Long Island, NY to the California coast. We premiered 12 new works, started our own contemporary music festival in Detroit, and shared sheet music with over 40 new reed quintets around the globe. We received a coveted Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Grant and premiered the $12,000 Barlow Prize-winning composition, Rites for the Afterlife. In short, we made the reed quintet stick.
But, we’re most proud of what we accomplished outside the concert hall. Because of YOU, we delivered 76 educational events this year and reached over 11,000 K-12 and college students. 26 of these events were funded by more than $13,000 donated to our 2017 year-end campaign.
Planning for dozens more meaningful educational events in 2019, and with each event costing Akropolis roughly $500, our goal is to raise $15,000 by year-end, funding one third of our 2019 educational activities. Simply put, we need your support to make our educational programming happen next year.
See our 2018 impact, budget, & perks for your gift!
In 2018, our goal was to impact more pre-professional musicians and composers. We were invited to adjudicate some of the very competitions that put us on the map, and even gave a keynote presentation at the Florida Music Educators Association conference on incorporating chamber music into K-12 curricula. We conducted workshops with dozens of university-aged composers around the country, publishing and touring some of their music. A true highlight was helping three Detroit high school students compose music for Akropolis, premiering their works for a standing-room only crowd at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Undergraduate student composer, Becky Turro, shared the following about her experience working with Akropolis at Connecticut Summerfest:
“Collaborating with Akropolis has been the most fortunate and inspiring experience of my life so far. They have shared my music and my story to countless people who I may never even meet. As an emerging composer, the opportunity to write for a professional ensemble has opened my eyes to the possibilities of having a successful career making music.”
From star-struck first graders to coming-of-age high schoolers, our biggest impact remains on K-12 students. As part of our Together We Sound festival, we’re proud to be in residence at three Detroit high schools throughout the 18/19 school year, helping students realize their own musical projects. This April, we’re premiering a concerto for Akropolis and these students created by prolific educational band composer, Peter Terry.
We couldn’t be prouder of the organization you’ve helped us build, making us so much more than a reed quintet. Please consider making a completely tax- deductible donation to support Akropolis’ educational programming before 2018 ends. Your support enriches thousands of lives by building a stronger Akropolis!
Our Web Premiere series is back with three brand new commissions by Becky Turro, Patrick Holcomb, and Mario Godoy! This November, we held our first digital new music marathon where we released these 3 web premieres in 3 days for a live online audience around the world. We premiered these works and recorded these videos at Connecticut Summerfest this June and have loved performing them around the country ever since. Akropolis is grateful to Connecticut Summerfest for commissioning these works and for giving us the opportunity to mentor and collaborate with each composer that resulted in the creation of three stunning pieces. We hope you enjoy each new work for reed quintet, and to watch more new music, please subscribe to and visit our YouTube channel here.
Thaw by Becky Turro
Thaw is inspired by a trip Becky and her girlfriend took to Acadia National Park, Maine in early March. Each movement is about a specific part of Acadia they encountered during their time in the national park. The first movement, “Hyperborea,” was inspired by Cadillac Mountain, seen in the aftermath of a snowstorm that arrived on their first day there. The second movement is titled “Echo Lake,” which is also a place within Acadia. This movement begins with a smooth, frozen texture that slowly thaws and melts away as the sun comes out. The third movement, titled “Kaleidoscope Cove,” is the most flowing and bright, and characterizes the ocean dancing and crashing against the orange cliffs. Chronologically, the movements move from frozen to melted, thawing into the arrival of spring.
The Sun Rising by Patrick Holcomb
The Sun Rising borrows its title from John Donne’s aubade of the same name. In Donne’s poem, the speaker mockingly chastises the sun, knowing that the coming of the day means that he will have to leave his lover’s side in bed. Although Donne’s poem has a much lighter tone than Patrick’s piece, both works have in common the themes of leaving home and the passage of time. The piece is a manifestation of Patrick’s intense feelings of sadness over the end of his time at Ithaca College and fear over the start of the next chapter in his life. The conclusion of the piece represents his acceptance that although the sun has risen and his time at Ithaca has come to an end, the sun always sets, and he will be back again someday.
create. process. by Mario Godoy
create. process. is a reflection on the act of creation. Every new work begins with a small seed of an idea that grows, evolves, and changes with the artist’s mindset and thought process. There is an exciting energy that emerges when the work begins to take shape, but that can quickly devolve into crippling self-doubt. Often times making art takes determination and the willingness to show up and keep trying, even when your mind is telling you what you are doing isn’t good enough. Hopefully—usually—that hard work leads you to more moments of inspiration and something you are proud of in the end. This piece follows the journey through the creative process, from the swirl of thoughts and emotions that accompany it, to the eventual exciting, uncertain, and hopeful release of the work into the world.
We are thrilled to welcome Ciara Solby and Thomas Morris to the Akropolis team through our internship program! The Akropolis Reed Quintet’s internship program offers real-world, hands-on experiences for college students and recent graduates who are interested in pursuing a career in music, arts administration, nonprofit management, and live event production. Ciara and Thomas will be working with Akropolis on everything from digital marketing to sheet music publishing and all things in between. With the unique opportunities presented by the Akropolis internship program, Ciara and Thomas will learn what goes into successfully managing a chamber music ensemble and nonprofit organization, including interacting with industry professionals, including the members of Akropolis, through hands-on experiences. Welcome aboard!
Ciara Solby is a junior clarinet performance major studying with Dr. Richard Faria at the Ithaca College School of Music and is originally from Johnstown, NY. At Ithaca College, Ciara is a member of the Ithaca College Wind Symphony that will be performing at Lincoln Center spring 2019, and has participated in the yearly concerto competition at Ithaca College. On her fall 2017 recital, she put together the college’s first reed quintet after being inspired by seeing Akropolis perform the year prior. Additionally, Ciara is the treasurer of Sigma Alpha Iota – Epsilon Chapter and Ithaca College Women in Music, two groups that strive to represent women in all forms of careers in music. When she is not practicing, she enjoys working out, drinking coffee, and spending time with her cat, Candide. Ciara’s best friend and biggest fan is her mom, Stacey Jacques. Ciara would like to thank her mom because without her infallible love and support, there is no way Ciara would be doing what she truly loves.
Thomas Morris is an oboist currently based in Southeast Michigan. With a strong passion for contemporary music, Thomas enjoys working with composers to expand the repertoire of solo and chamber music that uses the oboe. As an educator, Thomas enjoys teaching about the oboe and new music, and has a small private studio. As a collaborator, Thomas has played in a variety of chamber ensembles that have placed as finalists in various competitions. Thomas is currently pursuing a Master of Music Performance at the University of Michigan. Thomas also has a Bachelor of Music Performance from Bowling Green State University. Thomas’ main teachers include Dr. Nancy Ambrose King and Dr. Nermis Mieses.
This season, we will treat our audiences to several new works, collaborations, and special occasions. After adjudicating the 2018 Barlow Prize and choosing Stacy Garrop as winner, we are delighted to premiere Stacy’s completed composition, Rites for the Afterlife, at the Jewel Box series in Chicago. Rites follows a soul through ancient Egyptian burial customs and entry into the afterlife. We will also premiere the first chamber concerto for reed quintet and bassoon by Jenni Brandon, featuring Christin Schillinger, at Friends of Chamber Music in Troy, NY.
We are honored to have been awarded a coveted Chamber Music America Commissioning grant to commission Jeff Scott’s first reed quintet composition, which we will premiere in Detroit at our Together We Sound festival next May. Finally, we are thrilled about our multi-disciplinary collaboration with Detroit residents Juan Martinez and Zac Brunell, and Boston-based composer, Steven Snowden. Steven is composing a one-of-a-kind work for a scrap metal sextet comprised of Akropolis + special guest Zac Brunell, who will perform on a bicycle, designed and built by Kresge Arts Fellow Juan Martinez, which will double as a percussion instrument and pedal-powered wind generator for the reed instruments. The new work will be the centerpiece of our Together We Sound festival, aiming to capture Detroit’s industrious history and mobility-focused future in a main-stage concert as well as several rolling pop-up events around the city.
Our concert programs will feature these works alongside original reed quintet music by 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Gilbertson, Nico Muhly, music from our acclaimed 3rd album, The Space Between Us (“pure gold,” San Francisco Chronicle), and more. We will blend this music with works by George Gershwin, Astor Piazzolla, and in collaboration with Concert Artist Guild’s New Music New Places Fellow, Sam Suggs, a new large-scale arrangement.
We hope to see you during our travels this season as we continue blazing the trail for adventurous music of all kinds. Come see a concert and say hello!
We are excited to announce that Akropolis was selected as one of 11 grant recipients for Chamber Music America‘s Classical Commissioning Program to commission a new 25-minute reed quintet master work by composer andImani Winds french hornist extraordinaire, Jeffrey Scott!
We have long admired Jeff and his music, having been endlessly inspired by the the Imani Winds and the legacy they have built within the chamber music landscape. We applied for the Chamber Music America grant because it gives us creative freedom to work with Jeff on a substantial new piece of music. We are excited to premiere the work in Detroit during our 2019 Together We Sound festival.
A native of Queens, NY, Jeff Scott started the French horn at age 14, receiving an anonymous gift scholarship to go to the Brooklyn College Preparatory Division. An even greater gift came from his first teacher, Carolyn Clark, who taught the young Mr. Scott for free during his high school years, giving him the opportunity to study music when resources were not available. He received his bachelor’s degree from Manhattan School of Music (studying with David Jolley), and master’s degree from SUNY at Stony Brook (studying with William Purvis). He later continued his horn studies with Scott Brubaker and the late Jerome Ashby. Mr. Scott’s performance credits are many and varied. They include The Lion King orchestra (on Broadway, New York) 1997-2005, and the 1994 revival of Showboat 1994-1997. He has been a member of the Alvin Ailey and Dance Theater of Harlem orchestras since 1995 and has performed numerous times under the direction of Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
Mr. Scott’s arranging and composing credits are many, and include scoring the off-Broadway production of Becoming Something, The Canada Lee Story, the staged production of Josephine Baker: A Life of Le Jazz Hot!, and many original works for solo winds as well as wind, brass and jazz ensembles. His works are published by International Opus, Trevco Music, To The Fore Music and self-published at Music by The Breadman.
Grants for new works totaling $198,450 were awarded from Chamber Music America, which provides support to U.S.-based professional ensembles and presenters for the creation and performance of classical contemporary chamber works.
Our inaugural Together We Sound festival earns national support. Donate today to help Akropolis grow this festival’s impact for years to come.
Goal: $5,000 ⎜ Raised: $4,869
For almost 10 years, Akropolis has made contemporary music a thrilling and relatable experience, and we pride ourselves on taking high energy performances out of the concert hall and into the community. We believe everyone should have access and exposure to world-class music, and that life’s most memorable experiences are often the most unexpected.
With this tenet, we began two years ago, planning a contemporary music festival centered upon the pillars of education, access, and inclusiveness. Our aim ~ to enrich our various communities while fueling adventurous projects to sustain our organization for decades to come.
In May, this vision became a reality when our 14-event Together We Sound Festival was unveiled in Detroit. A city undergoing a cultural renaissance, many Detroit schools still lack music programs, and in the city that created Motown, most ordinary community members still lack access to the arts. Compelled to address these challenges, we made a major investment in our city.
Throughout six neighborhoods, we performed in parks with food trucks, inside office buildings, at a police station turned co-working space, in school gyms, cafeterias, music rooms, and in front of Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals. We helped high school students compose music which we premiered during the festival, and we advanced ourselves artistically by giving an amplified performance with Detroit’s industrial folk trio, YAK, and a closing performance with beloved soprano Shara Nova of “My Brightest Diamond.“
Launched by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Together We Sound has transformed our touring ensemble into a sustainable nonprofit organization. With support from individuals nationwide and foundations from New York, Detroit, and Chicago, next year’s festival has grown to include a school year long artist residency at three Detroit high schools, where students will work side-by-side with us on in-depth creative projects beginning this September. Increasing next year’s operating budget by 20%, Together We Sound has fueled several national-level upcoming projects, including the premiere of works by 5 female composers, a new work by 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Gilbertson, and a music mobility exploration with metal fabrication artist Juan Martinez.
A year ago, when Matt became full-time Executive Director, we plunged into the depths of creating a lifelong, sustainable organization. We have grown immensely over the past year, but donations from supporters like you remain a critical component to our budget. Simply put, we can’t do it without you! Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Akropolis today, and stay tuned for our 2018/19 season announcement next month to learn where you may hear Akropolis this season.
It’s summer, and it’s time to make some new music! Akropolis is proud to be an artist-in-residence at the Connecticut Summerfest and I-Park Foundation festivals this summer where we will be working collaboratively with 8 incredibly talented composers to commission, record, and perform their new works for reed quintet at several all-premiere performances in Connecticut and New York City.
The composers hail from the U.S., Spain, and Iran, holding numerous awards and fellowships, including a Grammy nomination and Pulitzer Prize finalist. Their works have been performed at venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and Tanglewood, and have been featured in numerous recordings and on film. We hope to see you at one of these memorable concerts. To learn more about all these events and more, click here.
Meet the Composers
I-Park Festival Composers + Musicians Collaborative Residency
Theo Chandler is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music, studying with Anthony Brandt. Chandler is the recipient of a Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters and a Morton Gould Award from ASCAP. He was selected as the winner of Juilliard’s Orchestra Competition, Juilliard’s Gena Raps Competition, the New Juilliard Ensemble Competition, and the Maryland Wind Festival Call for Scores. Chandler has received commissions from the New York Youth Symphony, Tanglewood Music Center, Les Délices, Golden West Winds from the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West, Amir Eldan, George Sakakeeny, Alexa Still, Michael Rosen, and others.
Natalie Draper is based in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Praised for her “individual and strong voice” (Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine), Draper aims to explore new challenges and concepts in each new work. Her music has been programmed by several festivals, symposiums, and conferences, including GAMMA-UT, MusicX, SEAMUS, the Charles E. Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music, and the Tanglewood Music Center. She has collaborated with a variety of ensembles and performers–recent projects have involved soprano Danielle Buonaiuto, Baltimore’s Occasional Symphony, and the Empyrean Ensemble. Upcoming projects include a solo piano piece commissioned by Lior Willinger, and a cello and bass duet commissioned by Katy Bell.
The works of Michael Gilbertsonhave been described as “elegant” and “particularly beautiful” by The New York Times, “vivid, tightly woven” and “delectably subtle” by the Baltimore Sun, “genuinely moving” by the Washington Post, and “a compelling fusion of new and ancient” by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gilbertson is the BMI Composer in Residence with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and is a professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
He was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Quartet.
The music of Octavio Vazquez has been performed throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the National Auditorium of Spain, Cologne’s Philharmonie, and the Big Hall of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. He has also written for film and collaborated with world music artists as an arranger, orchestrator and producer, most notably with Grammy Award-winner Cristina Pato. His orchestration of “Negro Caravel” for Ms Pato’s CD “Muller” was nominated for the 2011 Spanish Music Academy Awards. A winner of numerous national and international prizes, recent recognition includes I-Park Foundation and MacDowell Fellowships.
Connecticut Summerfest Contemporary Music Festival
Becky Turro, 21, is an undergraduate composition major at Rutgers University where she studies under Vadim Neselovsky, Brian Landrus, and Robert Aldridge, and often has pieces performed by the graduate and
undergraduate ensembles, Helix! and RUNME. Her works include orchestra, chamber, and solo piano pieces,
with a growing interest in orchestral music. She has collaborated in three dance works, one being with the
New York City based dance company, the Kinesis Project. She also participated in the 2017 New York
Musical Festival’s (NYMF) songwriting workshop. Some of her influences are Joni Mitchell, John Luther Adams, Steve Reich, and Sibelius.
Mario Godoy is a composer, saxophonist, and music educator based in Oakland, CA. His works have been
described as “rhythmically brilliant” and “imaginatively colorful.” He has written for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, wind ensemble, works with electronics, as well as music for video games and films. He holds a Master’s degree in composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied under David Garner and Dan Becker. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of Redlands where he studied saxophone with Eddie Smith and composition with Anthony Suter.
Patrick Holcomb is a composer pursuing his Master’s degree in composition at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he is Assistant Director of the New Music Ensemble. His composition teachers have included Evis Sammoutis, Dana Wilson, Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann, and Mark Camphouse. Honors include the 2018 Richard K. Joseph Composition Prize, first prize in the 2017 Mu Phi Epsilon Original Composition Contest, and first prize in the 2014 Neva Greenwood Memorial Student Composition Competition. Holcomb is also an active performer, having studied horn with Alex Shuhan, piano with Deborah Martin, and tabla and Indian harmonium with Denise Nuttall.
Together We Sound is a 2-week, 15-event free festival in Detroit.
This festival has three goals:
1. Expand and diversify access to world class contemporary music in Detroit
2. Increase artistic and scholastic achievement of youth at three Detroit high schools
3. Broaden Detroit’s national profile as a major cultural center
In collaborating with students, workers, local artists, and all Detroiters, Together We Sound aims to use our music to encourage togetherness.
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $25 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $10,000 to Akropolis to fund Together We Sound, including costs associated with guest artists, travel, equipment, documentation, and more. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.
Akropolis is proud to be one of only 24 outstanding cultural organizations in the state of Michigan to receive an NEA Art Works grant. Click here to view the NEA’s announcement and read more about the other organizations and their projects.
For the full list of concerts and events, visit our webpage for the festival below.
Calling all composers! Apply now to join the Akropolis Reed Quintet at the I-Park Foundation, Inc.‘s 2018 Composers + Musicians Collaborative Music Residency. 5 composers will be selected to compose new works for reed quintet and workshop them with Akropolis this summer, receiving a New York City and Connecticut world premiere, a $1,000 stipend, and a studio recording!
About the I-Park Experience
I-Park is looking to identify an international group of composers who will appreciate, or are open to being persuaded of, the value of establishing an immersive, collegial relationship with the musicians who will be performing their pieces at their world premieres. These composers, especially when in the final phase of developing their works, realize that they stand to benefit from the fresh perspectives, receptivity and enthusiasm of the ensemble at this critical juncture in the creative process – and are prepared to collaborate in the final refinements to, if not, in fact, the transformation of, their works as a result of this effort.
From the start, the ensemble plays a key role in the composer selection process, and throughout the two-week onsite residency, from July 24 – August 6, invests itself in multiple readings of the new works – with ample time allotted for exchanges of ideas on technical and aesthetic grounds. By this point, the ensemble’s commitment to the composers and to the success of their projects is fully established. Needless to say, the extraordinary exertions of the combined team will result in works that have achieved an exquisite level of concert-readiness.
Call for Submissions
The application form calls for two prior work samples (audio files), a written score and an optional video file, which, under certain circumstances, can be substituted for the second audio file. There is a $30 application fee to help defray the cost of the application processing system and for honoraria for the independent selection panelists.
The program is fully-funded, the only cost being for transportation to and from the area. In addition to generous access to the ensemble, I-Park provides a private room, meal program, attentive staff support and local transportation – as well as an inspiring, retreat-like setting conducive to the creative process. Each composer will also receive a studio recording of their finished work and a $1,000 stipend.
The program culminates in two all-premiere concerts, one in Connecticut and the final one in New York City.
If invited to join the program, composers will be required to submit to the ensemble a substantially complete work, from 7 to 12 minutes in length, two-weeks (though preferably three-weeks) prior to the start of the residency – and to be present for the concerts at the end of the residency. Composers may include in their new works elements of amplification, electronics, visuals or non-traditional staging (see FAQ for clarification).
Build better lives by building a stronger Akropolis!
Every $500 raised directly funds an educational event during our 2018 season
Goal: $12,500 ⎜ Current: $15,154 🎉
2017 was another milestone year for Akropolis. Our March release of The Space Between Us was hailed as “pure gold” by the San Francisco Chronicle. We performed contemporary American music with Arabic language poets in Abu Dhabi and delivered our first series of “Lunch & Listen” concerts in Detroit offices. We even made it onto the ballot for Grammy nomination!
But our biggest impact was on youth. We reached over 6,000 students through 94 educational events, and it was because of YOU. 18 of these events were funded by more than $9,000 donated to our 2016 year-end campaign. Aiming for 100 educational events in 2018, and with each event costing Akropolis roughly $500, our goal is to raise $12,500 by year-end, funding one-quarter of our 2018 educational programs.
See our 2017 impact, budget, & perks for your gift!
To deepen the impact of our educational outreach, we are increasing the number of return visits to students next year and the amount of time we spend in specific communities. We are leading a year-round chamber music unit for band students in Steamboat Springs, CO, including our first visit this past November, monthly instructional videos this winter, and side-by-side performances with the students during our second visit in March. This April we will visit the Quad Cities area of northern Illinois and eastern Iowa, delivering 30 educational events in two weeks alone.
Our 13-event “Together We Sound” festival in Detroit this May includes year-round workshops with students from Detroit high schools. “Together We Sound” also incorporates office concerts, elementary school presentations, and collaborative contemporary music concerts.
Our teaching is interactive, engaging, and meticulously prepared. After witnessing Akropolis’ program for students in western Pennsylvania this past February, Kathy Soroka, founder of “MUSIC IN ACTION”: a training program for teaching artists at the Manhattan School of Music, had this to say:
“I am in awe of your genius in this educational arena and excited for all the young lives that you will impact and change, because you are first and foremost extraordinary artists who are bringing that excellence and meticulous preparation and execution to the educational arena.”
Your support builds better lives by building a stronger Akropolis. Please consider making a completely tax-deductible donation to support Akropolis’ educational programming before 2017 ends. Thank you for your support!
Akropolis Honored with Largest Grant Yet!
$22,500 from the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs with support from the National Endowment for the Arts
We couldn’t be more proud to receive such a substantial grant from this influential organization! This grant contributes to building the forever Akropolis, enabling us to enhance our programming and ensure our long-term viability. The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs has placed its trust in Akropolis to grow our programming and act on our mission of new music advocacy and arts education.
The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) award comes from its Operating Support (OS) program, awarding annual funds to arts organizations in the state of Michigan with a demonstrated record of impact and sound organizational practices. There were 633 applicants to the OS program, and MCACA awarded $4,853,153. Akropolis’ application was the 23rd highest-scored application of all applicants! In 2016, Akropolis received a Minigrant award from MCACA for our January, 2017 “Corporate to Corner” tour in Detroit, performing at elementary schools, office spaces, and pop-up concerts at public venues. We are thrilled to continue receiving support from MCACA through its OS program.
This award requires a dollar-for-dollar match, so the onus is on Akropolis to raise additional public and private funds to match this grant. Your support will contribute not only to the programming supported by this award, but to the viability of Akropolis as a sustainable arts organization both state-wide and on a national scale. We couldn’t ask for a more appropriate way to jumpstart our end-of-year campaign, which begins later this week!
We are grateful to MCACA with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. To support Akropolis with a matching donation, visit our support page here.
After helping review 159 submissions from 18 countries, the judging panel of the Barlow Endowment awarded Stacy Garrop of Chicago, Illinois, the $12,000 Barlow Prize to compose a major new work for Akropolis and the reed quintet on the whole! Our bassoonist, Ryan Reynolds, traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to sit on the judging panel, and we are thrilled to begin working with Stacy to create this cornerstone work.
Dr. Garrop is a graduate of Indiana University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan. Currently Music Alive’s composer-in-residence with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra and previous faculty member at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Dr. Garrop has received commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, Utah Arts Festival, the Detroit Symphony, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and many others. She has also attended residencies at the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Center for the Arts, McDowell Colony, Millay Colony, Oxford Summer Institute, Round Top Festival, Ucross Foundation, Wellesley Composers Conference and Yaddo. In addition her music has been performed by the Albany Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Gaudete Brass Quintet, San Francisco Choral Society, Volti, and many others.
The Barlow Endowment was established in 1983. Since then it has awarded $1.8M in prizes and commissions to more than 275 composers across the world. It has commissioned new works from Gyorgi Ligeti, Christopher Rouse, Henryk Gorecki, John Corigliano, Chen Yi, Augusta Read Thomas, Dai Fujikura, William Bolcolm, and Mario Davidovsky, to name only a few. Performers and ensembles who have premiered these works include Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Ransom Wilson, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the King’s Singers, Empire Brass, Nexus, Boston Musica Via, eighth blackbird, the Muir Quartet, the United States Marine Band, the Dale Warland Singers, and the BBC Singers among many others.
Stacy Garrop’s work will be premiered in 2019 by a consortium of three quintets: Akropolis (Michigan), BYU (Utah) and Calefax (Netherlands).
This is a huge honor and testament to the growing popularity of the reed quintet over the past decade. We’d like to thank the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition for realizing the immense compositional potential of this ensemble, and we are thrilled to be judging this competition alongside our mentors & the very ensemble that created the reed quintet over 30 years ago, Calefax.
The past 12 months have been transformative. We conducted 80+ events that reached over 8,600 people in 16 states and 2 countries. We performed with Arabic poets in Abu Dhabi, delivered high rise lunch concerts in Detroit, and released our third CD! With a 122% increase in revenue over the prior year, we also took a scary but exhilarating step towards longevity. As of July 1, Matt and Kari have left full-time day jobs to manage Akropolis’ nonprofit, and we have committed to a salaried payroll for all 5 members. In other words — we’re all in.
After 9 years together, we are thrilled to announce our 17/18 season, comprised of 30+ concerts and a record number of educational events for more than 6,000 K-12 students. We aim to deepen our community relationships both locally and nationally, and in May of 2018, we’re hosting our first 5sounds Festival in Detroit. Featuring local and national guest artists, the festival brings our mission close to home, fostering musical collaboration, cultural exploration, and arts access for our diverse Detroit community. Stay tuned for more details about 5sounds!
Creating new works and establishing the legitimacy of the reed quintet continues to drive us. So, we’re thrilled to have been selected to adjudicate the prestigious Barlow Prize, one of the United States’ largest commissioning awards. Previous adjudicators of the $12,000 prized work include Yo-Yo Ma, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the King’s Singers, eighth blackbird, and now, Akropolis! All of this year’s submissions will be for reed quintet, a first for the Barlow Endowment. This is an invaluable contribution to our literature as we strive to cement the reed quintet in chamber music history.
With so many great things happening, we’ve seized the momentum to build the forever Akropolis. Our journey is made possible because of overwhelming support from people like you. In fact, we received twice as many individual gifts last year over the prior year, and we need the same audacious participation this season, beginning now! You are the key to Akropolis’ ability to fulfill its mission. We hope you’ll support us by making a completely tax-deductible gift today.
We could not be prouder of how far we’ve come — and how far we’re going! We hope to see you at a concert this year, and thank you for your support.
Fewer things make the ardors of life as a musician more satisfying than the trip of a lifetime. At last, Akropolis has taken us to the other side of the world, courtesy of Chamber Music Abu Dhabi. From the haunting beauty of the Empty Quarter, to the unwavering Emirati hospitality, not to mention the fascinating architecture, it’s hands down the most incredible place our music has ever taken us.
How did we end up in Abu Dhabi? It’s all thanks to CMAD Director, Jennifer Laursen (pictured below with us in the Empty Quarter), who has been a loyal listener since before our gold medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2014. We met again at Chamber Music Northwest in 2015 where she asked if we would be interested in journeying to the Emirates — we answered yes on the spot.
During our two weeks, we gave 4 concerts, performed with 2 Emirati student poets, gave 2 physics of music lectures, taught 4 master classes, gave 4 coachings, hosted a composition reading, premiered 5 new works, worked with middle and high school students in 4 different outreach activities, not to mention exploring various cultural elements of the United Arab Emirates. Two weeks was a bitter-sweet length of time, just enough time to fall in love with a place, but not enough time to say goodbye.
We started out our residency at Khalifa University (جامعة خليفة), listening to a student’s traditional Arabic poetry in addition to working with the professors and students at NYU Abu Dhabi to host our first ever Physics of Music lecture. Following this, it was time to explore! We headed to Mina Port Fish Market where we saw some exotic and colorful fish. We had a Hamour cooked fresh for us! Throughout our journey, we had aromatic Arabic and Turkish coffee, and our absolute favorite coffee spot was at Shakespeare and Company at the downtown Central Market.
After getting the lay of the land (and recovering from serious let lag) we gave our first concert at a stunning penthouse apartment that towered over the entire city and surrounding islands of Abu Dhabi.
Day 6 in Abu Dhabi brought us one of the most remarkable experiences of our lives. We spent the day in the Empty Quarter, one of the world’s most expansive deserts. We drove down 350 meter bluffs on a 50 degree incline, made camel friends 🐫 and saw wild gazelle, played board games with a Pakistani man tending to the Liwa oasis, and watched the sun set from the tallest dune in the world.
After returning from the vast emptiness of the Arabian desert, we gave our second concert at Khalifa University (جامعة خليفة) where we had the great honor of collaborating with Arabic poets Abdulrahman Al Humairy and Saeed Salem Al Mehrzi. We worked with them over the past week to pair their original poems with selections from Splinterby Marc Mellits. Check out this brief clip from the concert!
For our third concert, we headed back to NYU Abu Dhabi where we gave an “ALIVE” new music concert featuring 4 reed quintet premieres by student composers Garreth Chan, Jacob Bartoszewski, Andrija Klaric and Leonid Kuzmenko, and trio by faculty member Matthew Quayle.
After working with college students on the other side of the world, we had the pleasure of working with the incredibly enthusiastic middle and high school students of the American Community School of Abu Dhabi. We gave our final concert in their auditorium which featured our first performance of Nico Muhly’s new reed quintet, Look For Me.
On our last free day in the Middle East, we decided to visit Dubai! We went to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, the Al-Fahidi-Fort and Dubai Museum, which showed the history of pearl diving in the region, and we crossed the Dubai Creek and went deep into the heart of old Dubai where we visited a Hindu temple barefoot, saw traditional shops and markets, and Kari got her bling fix at the Dubai Gold Souk!
We spent our final day visiting one of the most iconic landmarks in town, the Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi. Kari had the pleasure of wearing an intricate abaya and hijab while inside this breathtaking communal space. What a way to end this extraordinary adventure!
As you can probably tell, we took A LOT OF PHOTOS. To see all of our pictures from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and more, check out our Flickr Gallery Here!
Our third CD, The Space Between Us, released March 24th on innova Recordings, has been making the
rounds. We’re pleased to present some updates, including a couple cool appearances and two fabulous reviews. You can purchase the CD here, and it is available on iTunes, Amazon, and other digital platforms.
2016 was a year of historic growth for Akropolis — not only has it been our busiest year to date with 34 ticketed performances, but we more than doubled our educational outreach activities, deepening our commitment to aspiring musicians and their communities.
Akropolis believes the strongest way to foster appreciation of classical music is through interactive educational experiences. In 2016 alone, our eleven K-12 events reached approximately 2,200 students. We also led 13 college clinics and master classes, taught 14 entrepreneurial Akropolis WORKS lectures, and made our second visit to a youth homeless shelter. We also gave 6 surprise pop-up performances and 5 free community concerts. We are incredibly proud of our educational impact and can’t wait to exceed these numbers in 2017.
However, transformative educational experiences are not always a guarantee. It is becoming more challenging for music presenting organizations to fund both concerts and free educational experiences. The finnancial burden is often placed onto Akropolis, costing as much as $500 for each educational offering we add to a residency or tour.
We can’t do this alone. As a new nonprofit, we are counting on your tax-deductible gift to make next year’s educational offerings possible.
For every $500 raised, we will be able to fund an outreach initiative in 2017 in communities around the country.
It is our goal to raise $5,000 before January 1, 2017 to support 10 educational events in our upcoming season.
Help Akropolis continue to make a difference through engaging classical performances, educational outreach, and new music advocacy! Join our team by making a completely tax-deductible gift today. Thank you for your support!
Each year the Barlow Endowment sponsors the Barlow Prize, one of the nation’s largest composition competitions resulting in a commission of a new work for a select instrumentation. In 2017, the winner of the prize will receive a commission to write a new work for reed quintet to be premiered by Akropolis!
The Barlow Endowment was established in 1983. Since then it has awarded $1.8M in prizes and commissions to more than 275 composers across the world. It has commissioned new works from Gyorgi Ligeti, Christopher Rouse, Henryk Gorecki, John Corigliano, Chen Yi, Augusta Read Thomas, Dai Fujikura, William Bolcolm, and Mario Davidovsky, to name only a few. Performers and ensembles who have premiered these works include Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Ransom Wilson, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the King’s Singers, Empire Brass, Nexus, Boston Musica Via, eighth blackbird, the Muir Quartet, the United States Marine Band, the Dale Warland Singers, and the BBC Singers among many others.
The winning composer will receive a $12,000 commission from the Barlow Endowment to compose a major new work for Reed Quintet. The winning composer’s work will be premiered in 2019 by a consortium of three quintets: Akropolis (Michigan), BYU (Utah) and Calefax (Netherlands). The 15-20 minute work is expected to meet the highest artistic requirements for the medium.
The competition typically attracts 300-400 entries from composers across the world and the participating performers join the Barlow Board of Advisors in a two-day judging process in July in Utah. The premiere will likely occur sometime in the 2018-19 concert season, depending on the completion of the new piece by the composer and the performers’ schedules.
This is a huge honor and testament to the growing popularity of the reed quintet over the past decade. We’d like to thank the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition for realizing the immense compositional potential of this ensemble, and we are thrilled to be judging this competition alongside our mentors & the very ensemble that created the reed quintet over 30 years ago, Calefax.
We are thrilled to announce we have received funding from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) to support our 2017 Detroit “Corporate to Corner Tour” comprised of 10 events reaching 1,300 students and adults this coming January.
This 5-day residency project in January 2017 will introduce chamber music to 300 Detroit workers at their 4 respective business, 600+ students at 3 Detroit schools lacking arts exposure, and 200+ community members with 2 pop-up performances in the city center, culminating in a formal evening concert for patrons with the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings on January 27th at 8 pm. Tickets are available for the DCWS concert event here.
Detroit boasts numerous cultural outlets not taken advantage of by its thousands of daily commuters and local workforce. Due to limited school resources, Detroit school students are often unable to experience live and interactive musical performances. This residency aims to not only introduce Detroit employees, students, and community members to local live performing arts in the form of chamber music, but to change their perception of classical music by directly engaging them in free, contemporary performances, brought directly to them, and to encourage cultural exploration within their community.
In addition to Akropolis, 15 Wayne County arts and culture nonprofits have received funding through MCACA’s Minigrant program, administered by CultureSource. This project is also made possible with support from Chamber Music America through its Residency Endowment Fund.
Each interactive workplace concert will accomplish the goal of educating and increasing performing arts access, as Akropolis’ workplace performances are modeled after team-building activities that currently take place within these organizations. Akropolis selected companies that often host team building activities or “Lunch & Learns”, encouraging their departments to participate during business hours. Akropolis will visit the Boll Family YMCA, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and MacroConnect, an IT solutions company. During each workplace concert, 2 free tickets will be raffled off to see Akropolis live at our full-length recital with the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings at the end of the residency.
At three Detroit elementary schools, Akropolis blends chamber music with the schools’ existing curricular activities with a program called “The Best Story”. First featured on their 2015 Fischoff Educator Tour, Akropolis presents a 45-minute interactive reading of Eileen Spinelli’s “The Best Story”. Akropolis also works with school instructors ahead of time to have students submit their own “best stories”. Winners will be read out loud and put to music during the outreach events.
For spontaneous inspiration and to reach residents where they are least expecting it, 2 pop-up performances will be held at the Compuware Building lobby at 87 Monroe Ave. in Detroit, and the Detroit Renaissance Center’s Winter Garden.
Akropolis continually seeks avenues for enriching students of the arts of all ages. Without government and foundation funding, as well as gifts from supporters like you, we would not be able to carry out this mission. If you are interested in supporting this educational residency as well as our upcoming educational programming, please consider making a gift of support online here.
Last year was our most extensive performing season to date, and it’s about to get bigger! We are thrilled to announce our 16/17 season comprised of over 30 ticketed performances and 40+ educational offerings taking us as far as Abu Dhabi. Some performances are still being scheduled.
Our cornerstone program themes for this season include “These American Stories”, “Salvaged”, and “Under the Influence”, each featuring influential American works from the last century including George Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Charles Ives’ “The Alcotts”, along with newly created original works such as Splinter by Chicago-based composer Marc Mellits. With a release of our third CD titled The Space Between Us this fall and our YouTube Web Premiere Series reaching over 18,000 views, our reed quintet innovation is making waves. We are even conducting a 5-day residency at Detroit businesses made possible with support from Chamber Music America through its Residency Endowment Fund.
So, please join us as we celebrate new adventures around the world and at home, reaching new audiences, teaching superb students, and breaking more musical ground! Thank you for being the foremost reason we perform, educate, and innovate.
We are pleased to announce that Chamber Music America has awarded Akropolis a 2016 Residency Partnership Program Grant! Akropolis has designed a unique “Office Space Tour” to bring chamber music to Detroit workers in their office, on their time, to promote more cultural exploration in the city where they work. We’ll be visiting the Boll Family YMCA, Macro Connect, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce! To top it off, all are invited to our culminating concert on Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings’ Nighnotes series at the end of the week.
A total of $70,393 will be awarded to four ensembles and four presenting organizations across the United States. The Residency Partnership Program is supported by the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.
We are thrilled to announce our collaboration with composer Gregory Wanamaker, as he joins the ranks of John Steinmetz, David Biedenbender, and Rob Deemer on Akropolis’ third album to be recorded this May. His composition, entitled The Space Between Us, is a 17-minute tour de force for reed quintet, and serves as the title track for the album.
Let’s meet Gregory – When did you start composing? What interests and influences lead you to become a composer?
I made loud noises and sang a lot as a young child. I spent several summers in the 70’s and early 80’s performing as a child actor in musicals at a summer stock theater in Central New York. I grew up learning songs that none of my friends did – stuff by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerry Herman, and more. I also tried out a bunch of instruments, piano, violin, trombone, and more, but I really fell in love with the guitar. My older brothers introduced me to a wide variety of rock and roll music ranging from folk to progressive rock, and I took to playing guitar rather easily. The problem was that I was an impatient practicer, so I never settled on a particular instrument and didn’t take the time to memorize songs on the guitar. I took a few fairly informal guitar lessons, but enjoyed exploring the instrument and working out funky harmonies and finger picking patterns. Today, the guitar is my favorite instrument, but mostly because I mostly learned it on my own. I’m more of a noodler these days…
Photo credit: Robert Young – Blue Note Photography
After two years of boredom in a public high school in Central New York, I attended an all-boys boarding school near Philadelphia for two years. I was 16 and had been “playing guitar” for a couple of years, and was pretty arrogant about it in a place where it really didn’t matter if you played guitar unless you also played squash or lacrosse.
I wanted to join the Jazz Band, which was run by a new teacher named Mr. Branker, but upperclassmen with swanky instruments already comprised the rhythm section. I approached Mr. Branker about joining the Jazz Band, as their new guitarist. But Mr. Branker said that what the Band really needed was a bass player. The school had a cheap, short-scale electric bass that I took back to my dorm room along with parts for arrangements of Miles Davis’s “Milestones”, Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay”, and some of Mr. Branker’s original music.
I returned to The Hill School the next year excited to study Jazz Composition with Tony. (That’s what I call Mr. Branker now.) I was one of only two students in this class. He taught us basics of jazz harmony and form through example, aural training and listening to recordings. I composed my first music for this class, and had access to the Jazz Band as sort of a lab. This is the experience that turned me on to composing and collaborating with live musicians.
Every recording Tony played for us was new – not necessarily new as in recent, but new as in new to me. We talked about music from blues to bop to fusion and then ONE AFTERNOON he pulled out Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, placed it on the spindle, dropped the needle and waited. I can’t say that I liked it immediately, but I was open-minded enough at 16 to be curious. So I asked Tony, why would anyone record group free improvisation? Isn’t that contrary to the purpose? It seemed to me at the time that philosophically, this event is something that should only be experienced once.
Tony let me borrow the record, which I took back to my dorm and happily annoyed everyone in my hall. But I did listen repeatedly – and seriously – and I discovered that there was form, interaction, lyricism, and harmony. And Energy. And I discovered that IT WAS GOOD MUSIC. And I discovered I didn’t have to experience an immediate aesthetic euphoria to appreciate the value of good music.
Anthony Branker is now the director of the Princeton University Jazz Program. He has one helluva catalog and discography. While other teachers and mentors have helped me remain on the path, I credit Tony for guiding me toward MY path 30+ years ago.
I left boarding school that year (not by choice) and returned to public school in my hometown. I spent that summer playing another season at that theater again, and also looking up books and recordings of music – any music I hadn’t heard before. The name John Cage popped up a few times, and I discovered a loose link between Ornette Coleman and Cage philosophically, but of course with a completely different aesthetic. I am not going to say that I liked Cage immediately, but I was open-minded enough at 17 to be curious, so I listened.
I later discovered that Cage studied with a guy called Arnold Schoenberg. So I listened to Schoenberg. To my ears at the time, some of Schoenberg’s music (and Webern’s music – he came along for the ride) shared an aesthetic quality with Coleman’s free jazz, but with a completely different philosophical basis. But, Holy Smokes, this music really spoke to me immediately!
In any case, I kinda went backwards. I can’t imagine doing it any other way, but I found solace and patience in my own personal discovery of various musics. I decided to declare a composition major in college and continued listening.
I went to Shenandoah Conservatory of Music (now University) and studied with William Averitt, who exposed me to serial techniques and American folk music, and later to Florida State University to pursue graduate degrees with Ladislav Kubìk, who exposed me to the music of Martinu, Janacek, and Penderecki.
Listening still turns me on. In fact, what I discovered when listening to Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz was the excitement in the spontaneity so inherent in the performance that so easily transferred to the recording. Even now, 28 years later, when I listen to Free Jazz, I still sense that same spontaneity, no matter how many times I listen to it. Several other jazz and rock recordings (usually live recordings) do this for me as well. There are some classical ones too, but they’re fewer and farther between. Right now, I am exploring a variety of music from Eastern Europe and India along with current trends in jazz and concert music.
When you start a new composing project, what are some ways you gather ideas and begin the composing process?
My goal is to create music in which the spontaneous energy is so constructed within the score that it is easily communicated to the performers, who will then naturally unleash this energy upon listeners in a live setting. Of course, I want my music recorded too, and am lucky to have several commercial recordings of my music available, but nothing beats a live performance. Accuracy is important, but it is not a substitute for energy.
Capturing performance energy as an essential part of a composition is tricky, and when I am not working directly with performers, I focus on critical and comparative listening to see how this energy unfolds. A complete understanding of the circumstances surrounding a composition and the circumstances surrounding a specific performance is essential for the composer, performer and the listener.
My favorite impeti is a combination of extra-musical imagery, which helps to create a natural energy not found in the purely technical, and the collaborative process of working directly with the performers who commission my works so that I may highlight their strengths. Sometimes this is as simple as listening to their recordings, while other circumstances require much closer, personal collaboration.
You’ve composed for wind instruments like ours before. What excites you about composing for Akropolis and the reed quintet medium?
I have written a lot of chamber music for wind instruments. Saxophonists, in particular, have been particularly kind to me in the commissioning and championing of my music. The nice thing about writing for a reed quintet is that it combines the intimacy of a chamber ensemble with the range of a large wind ensemble. In addition, the timbral palette allows for the exploration of the organ-like quality of the unified quintet as well as the possibility of highlighting the differences between individual instruments.
Akropolis’ High Speed Reed is the first collection of music for reed quintet I ever heard. I think I grabbed that the year it came out, and was excited to listen to Unraveled a couple years later. I have since listened to Calefax, and my old college roommate’s group the Atlantic Reed Consort. Akropolis performs with an energy similar to the energy I mentioned earlier. When Matt first contacted me about the possibility of writing a piece for the group, I was thrilled that I would have access to that very same energy, knowing that it will be combined with such a high level of technical virtuosity and adventurous programming.
Tell us about your new piece for Akropolis, “The Space Between Us.”
Matt approached me via email in January 2015 about the possibility of composing a work for Akropolis’ upcoming tour and album. Having followed Akropolis through their recordings for a few years at that point, I was excited to be invited into their musical space. Matt offered the prompt “The Space Between Us” as a starting point, suggesting that it may refer to the relationship between audience and performer. I viewed the prompt as an opportunity to explore ever changing relationships between people of all types, whether they are performers and listeners, students and teachers, family members, lovers, and strangers. All of these groups share the common bond of a connection through various media from face to face interaction, phone calls, email, internet, unifying world events, and a knowledge of history.
Events of many types bring people together: Concerts, Negotiations, Meals, Celebrations, Funerals, Reunions; and at these gatherings, they become one dynamic. Every one of these events offers the opportunity to reflect upon the past: perhaps to reminisce, perhaps to meditate, perhaps to remember those who cannot be present, perhaps to mourn. When these engagements are over, people rediscover the constant space that exists between them as they part to continue their lives. These events may change a small aspect of their beings: their perspectives or their physicality, for example, but on the whole people remain who they were and who they are, even as they continue upon the path of who they will be.
“The Space Between Us” is a work in five interconnected movements that explores all of these relationships through language, texture, color, and harmony.
1. Coming Together is a short prelude using serial techniques alternating hocketing gestures and homorhythmic interjections resolving to…
2. As One, where the instruments act as a single entity in tonality and drive.
3. Remembering is a slow contrapuntal movement modeled loosely after a 16th century motet based on the short, simple motives of a descending semitone, a cambiata figure, and a mordent.
4. Ever Constant is abstractly based on the opening movement, yet in place of serialism and unstable textures, the instruments’ interplay features simple five-voice counterpoint using simple repeated gestures in a basic song form.
5. The more things change… returns to the largely consonant material from As One.
Throughout “The Space Between Us” there is reference to each member of the ensemble as an individual entity, but the overall emphasis is upon their interactions with each other through counterpoint to create a single unified soundscape. The work is approximately 18 minutes in duration and was composed for Akropolis Reed Quintet.
What makes your music unique? What types of influences might audiences hear in your works?
That’s a tough question to answer with words. I like athletic virtuosity and lyric expressionism. I like the energy inherent in both slow music and fast music. I like playing with color and texture. I like creating extremely slow music, like the gradually developing Remembering, whose roots originate from the spirit of 16th century motets. I like smooth transitions that connect the most contrasting musics. I like developing simple motivic ideas (a single ascending or descending whole or half step, as in the case of the entirety The Space Between Us) into a complex unifying element between contrasting sections.
I am convinced that composers are influenced by everything they hear. I am sure that there are several influences that may be discovered in my music. I don’t think, however, that I am able to identify most of them. The key for any audience is to be willing experience an entire piece of music. Perhaps more than once.
Akropolis recently performed and worked with composition students you teach where you live in Potsdam, NY. How has the North Country shaped you as a composer?
Where you live may have a profound impact on your artistic life, but the world is very small now, thanks to the internet and free communication. But I’ve lived in Potsdam and taught at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music for almost 20 years. I’ve met a lot of amazing musicians and composed a lot of music here for my colleagues and student ensembles during my tenure so far, and I will continue to do so as long as I am here.
Words of wisdom – If you could pass on one helpful tidbit from your years of experience (music or non-music related), what would it be?
Don’t treat music as a background – make room for it in your foreground. Devote time everyday to listen to a piece of music you’ve never heard before – at least twice. Don’t turn it on and look at your iPad or whatever. Turn it on and sit and listen. This applies to musicians and non-musicians alike, but particularly applies to students of music who want people to hear what they have to say artistically. I am convinced that the world doesn’t listen enough – not just to music, but to each other. Music is always a good place to begin. And to end. Music is always a good place to live.
Andrew: For once we got to actually sleep in NYC! Thanks APAP and YPCA for putting us up at the Sheraton. Not that we don’t love crashing at Tim’s house in New Haven…
Kari: I loved hearing people’s reactions after our CMA showcase, even just seeing their faces. Many people hadn’t heard the reed quintet before and it really made an impact on them.
Tim: At the YPCA program we met the PubliQuartet, a like-minded, adventurous string quartet. It was great learning from their journey as well as sharing ours.
Matt: Definitely Brian the NY attorney who busted into the last session of the entire YPCA experience to share his take on the realities of the music business. To put it short, it was an experience!
Ryan: At both conferences we met many artists we knew of, but didn’t know personally. Making those personal connections was valuable, rewarding, and a long time coming!
Now let’s take a closer look at the quintet’s adventures:
Because we love 11-hour car rides, all 5 of us piled into a minivan and made the trek from Northville, MI to New Haven, CT. We arrived at Tim’s house in New Haven around 8 pm with just enough time to eat some tasty noodle soup & rehearse ourselves to sleep.
It’s showtime! We piled back into our minivan & drove into midtown New York City. Chamber Music America is held at the Westin Times Square Hotel, and the Conference was buzzing and the ballroom was packed for our showcase. We performed two movements of Marc Mellits’ new work for reed quintet entitled, “Splinter”, alongside selections of Rameau, Gershwin, and Ton ter Doest.
Our favorite comment from the evening was from an arts presenter who said, “I didn’t know I needed to hear that!” After the showcase, we spent some quality time catching up with former UM classmate, and now one of our artist managers at Ariel Artist, Mike Avitabile. #GoBlue!
Leaving Tim in New Haven and sending Ryan back on a plane to Tallahassee, Matt, Kari, and Andrew piled back into the minivan and made the 11 hour drive back to the mitten.
But wait…the story isn’t over!
January 11th – 13th
The gang returns to their normally scheduled lives to water plants, feed animals, clean dishes, take care of odd house smells, and rest up before the APAP conference.
Ryan flew back early to New Haven to hang out with Tim!
6 am sharp, Kari, Matt, and Andrew got in the car…just kidding! We flew back out to New York this time with plenty of time to hit the APAP conference at 9 am.
After CMA only a few days before, we were vastly unprepared for the sheer size of the APAP conference, with levels upon levels of exhibition halls, displaying managers and talent ranging from Australian circus performers to 3D jugglers. Luckily, we were attending APAP as part of the Young Career Performers Advancement program specifically designed for rising classical artists. Previous program participants include two of our biggest inspirations, eighth blackbird and Imani winds, whose members were on hand at two of the career development sessions we attended.
We were lucky to get to know the other artists in the YPCA program: cellist Brook Speltz, cellist Francisco Villa, pianist Steven Lin, and the PubliQuartet. The program was curated by music entrepreneur extraordinaire Angela Beeching of the Manhattan School of Music. She led us through creative exercises, and we dove deep into how we can make an even greater impact on the classical music landscape. The evening ended with a big kick-off party hosted by APAP, complete with great food, drinks, and quality time with both our manager, Oni Buchanan, and many new friends from the conference.
January 16 – 17th
The YPCA program really took off. We were in panels and career development sessions focusing on community building, branding, elevator pitches, development and fundraising, speaking from the stage, composer collaborations, and best legal practices. In short, it was our career beyond music. During these busy two days we found an hour or two to explore New York City. From an early evening stroll in Central Park, to dinner and drinks with friends, we learned all over again why we’ll take any gig in NYC we can get!
After three days of networking to the max, it was time to showcase in New York for the second time in 10 days. This time around, we were in the Kaufman Music Center, performing in Merkin Hall. After all the career-building talk, it was great to play some music! The showcase was even emceed by Ann Arbor’s own Ken Fischer, making the whole evening feel very close to home.
But the conference wasn’t over yet…after a few more panel sessions in the morning, we headed our separate ways. Thanks New York City; let’s do it again next year!
We are taking Akropolis to the next level! That’s right, we are officially a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. If you believe Akropolis can make a difference in the classical music landscape through engaging performances, advocacy activities, and educational experiences, then we want you on our team. Learn more about how you can make a difference in Akropolis’ next step here!
Our adventures began with a return trip to infamous San Jose, California. For avid Akropolis followers, it was in San Jose this past April where Matt tripped on a cable car rail in the street and broke his jaw (yikes!). You’ll be happy to know there were no casualties on our second visit, only exuberant attendees for a concert program filled with audience participation, electronics, and bird calls courtesy of works by John Steinmetz and Jacob TV.
After surviving San Jose, we headed north to Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa High School for two concurrent days of workshops with some young, up-and-coming musicians. Little did we know, Santa Rosa High School was the home of one of our favorite reed quintet composers and UM alumnus Paul Dooley. It only seemed fitting that we bring his composition Warp & Weft back to his home town. Not only was this pretty cool for us, but the students could hardly believe that a noted composer like Paul came from their very school! During these two days, we also found some time to read through some of our new commissions including Rob Deemer’s Gallimaufry and David Biedenbender’s Refraction(specifically mvt. 3 entitled “Death Metal Chicken”). Here’s a short excerpt!
After two days of working with young college and high school musicians, we traveled even further east to Stockton, California to perform on theFriends of Chamber Music Stocktonseries where series manager Michael Spencer remarked, “The concert was a resounding success. The artist comments preceding each selection were informative and fun. I received many positive comments from audience members of all ages about how they had enjoyed it, including the audience participation. There were three curtain calls and a standing ovation leading to a wonderful encore.”
One of the absolute highlights of the tour was performing as a juried showcase participant at the Performing Arts Exchange South Arts conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Not only did we get to showcase alongside some of the country’s most amazing artists, like American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle, but we also got to spend some well-deserved time with our management company Ariel Artists while we met presenters from around the country.
What happens when you get to the Enterprise Rental station at BWI? Our second favorite highlight from the tour. It was 11:30 pm and we were ready to pick up our 4-door “Camry or similar” (renting a minivan was too expensive with the drop fee back in Michigan). Luckily, we were offered a chance for a free upgrade: “Throw this football into that convertible Camaro over there (50 feet away) and we’ll give you whatever you want.” After four failed attempts, Matt stepped up, and bullseye. True to their word, we spent the rest of our time on the east coast in style, rocking it in a Chrysler Town and Country.
After Baltimore, we headed up to Adelphi University in Garden City, New York on Long Island for an evening concert and composer workshop the following morning. Even Amidst torrential rain from hurricane Joaquin, we had an amazing time bringing our Pulse program to the students and surrounding community. Working with the tremendously talented student composers the following morning was a real treat. Student composers Maurizio Fiore, Daniyil Tchibirev, and Michael Gayle each wrote fantastic short works for reed quintet we were able to workshop and perform throughout the morning.
We couldn’t think of a better way to conclude our two-week tour than performing on New Haven, CT’s Second Movement Concert Series. Co-Directors ofThe Second Movement Concert Series, David Perry and Isa Mensz, have been longtime friends and supporters of Akropolis ever since they met Tim while studying at Yale. The performance has been over three years in the making, and we were thrilled to finally make our New Haven debut. Check out this review of our performance at Artspace New Haven, written by Lucy Gellman of the New Haven Independent.
28 rehearsals, 11 concerts, 4 dancers, 2 educational outreach events, 2 world premieres, 1 photo shoot, and 1 day-long video shoot. I think it’s safe to say we accomplished a lot during our residency as the Protégé Project ensemble at Chamber Music Northwestin Portland, OR these past two weeks.
Today we flew back home, Tim got his wisdom teeth removed (ouch), and we will reconvene again in September for more fabulous music-making.
Our adventures began when we arrived in Portland on Saturday, July 11th. We immediately searched the city for a hearty breakfast joint and settled in for some local eats at Fat Albert’s. We inhaled delicious local coffee and saw bikers, lots of greenery, and many dogs.
We immediately got to work the following day rehearsing the challenging and rewarding music we would be performing and in some cases premiering throughout the festival. This included David Schiff’s new Nonet No. 2 for us and the Dover Quartet and our new commission of John Steinmetz’s Sorrow and Celebration for reed quintet and audience. We even began polishing our memorization on Robbie McCarthy’s Four-Letter-Word, as we would be performing it with choreography and dancers from the BodyVox Dance Company.
Our first concert took place at Alberta Rose Theater on Wednesday, July 15th. We did a short set of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Suite la Triomphante to open for a fabulous evening which culminated with David Shifrin’s memorable performance of Messaien’s Quartet for the End of Time with three other protégé artists.
We were lucky to have the opportunity to reach young musicians at two outreach events while in Portland. These youngsters were at clarinet and band camps during the height of summer, showing real dedication. We were impressed by the keen attention they paid us as well as their thoughtful questions. They even came to see us perform at the festival throughout the week!
One of our first stops in Portland was a fun and funky outdoor photo shoot at the urban Keller Fountain Park (thankfully without running water) with local Portland actor and photographer Gary Norman (you may have seen his appearances on locally filmed TV show, “Grimm”). We haven’t had new individual head shots in seven years, so hopefully these look a bit more up to date.
During our second week, we were fortunate to collaborate with two of the United States’ most accomplished artists, the Dover Quartet, based in Philadelphia, and BodyVox Dance Company based here in Portland. Alongside the Dover strings, we assembled David Schiff’s second nonet, his first work for reed quintet and string quartet, in just a few rehearsals. The piece was challenging & dynamic and was a huge hit with CMNW’s audiences. With BodyVox Dance, we truly got to see our music come to life (video coming soon!) BodyVox didn’t merely design 9 minutes of matching coreography; they created a story out of our music and assigned us each different characters to embody. They pushed us about the stage, encircled us, and battled the quintet throughout the piece. Finally, let’s not count out Sam Slater and Jonathan Dick, local Portland filmmakers who stopped by to film a promotional video for us!
In Portland we encountered polite drivers, a lot of bridges, and great food (they weren’t joking about food trucks).
Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page for more stories, our Flickr page for more photos, and stay tuned for video and audio from our many performances!