Meet the 2022 Akropolis Mastermind Participants!

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!

2022 Akropolis Mastermind Participants

Akropolis is honored to be at the helm of this Mastermind and is excited to work with all of these talented musicians this summer. We invite you to read more about each of the 2022 Akropolis Mastermind participants below, to visit their websites, listen to their music, and get inspired for what’s to come!

B2 Duo

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 Baroque

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

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.

Robert Billin

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.

Simian Duo

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.


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