Music Academy of the West Instrumentalists Announced for the 2016 New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program

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Music Academy of the West Instrumentalists Announced for the 2016 New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program

Santa Barbara, CA — Ten outstanding Music Academy of the West musicians have been selected to travel to New York as Zarin Mehta Fellows in January 2017 to participate in the third year of the New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program, which offers opportunities to train and play with Philharmonic musicians, representing an innovative approach to training the next generation of world-class musicians for successful careers.

The 2017 Zarin Mehta Fellows were selected by audition from Music Academy of the West instrumentalists, all full-scholarship participants during the summer of 2016. They are: Kevin Chen, violin; Minji Choi, cello; Michael Daley, percussion; Kaelan Decman, double bass; Ao Peng, viola; Emily Switzer, violin; Alexander Volkov, violin; Jack Walters, clarinet; Justin Woo, violin; and Hyeree Yu, viola. 2016 Global Academy Fellow Rainer Saville, trumpet, deferred his participation and will be joining the Global Academy in 2017.

These ten Music Academy of the West fellows will travel to New York in a ten-day training program with a full schedule of events, including training and playing alongside Philharmonic musicians, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert, in Brahms’s Symphony No. 3 for the Philharmonic’s subscription concerts January 11-14. The Fellows will learn directly from Philharmonic musicians, a unique experience that will immerse them in all aspects of an orchestral player’s life, from audition to performance, learning invaluable career skills.

President and CEO of the Music Academy of the West Scott Reed said:

The Music Academy’s partnership with the New York Philharmonic is providing invaluable and innovative leadership to our fellows that is tangibly assisting them to take a next step in their careers. Exposure to and mentorship by the players of the New York Philharmonic are an invaluable experience for these young musicians, providing the highest caliber orchestral experience to take with them throughout their very promising professional careers.”

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert added:

I have been inspired by the passion and commitment of the Music Academy of the West fellows with whom I’ve worked in Santa Barbara over the past three summers. I know that these ten players, selected as the best among their talented peers, will benefit tremendously from their exposure to top-level orchestral life during their immersive week in New York, and from working with Philharmonic musicians, who have the ability to inspire and instruct to an astounding degree.”

Since the New York Philharmonic’s Global Academy Fellowship Program began in 2015, several alumni of the program have already been appointed to professional orchestras. 2015 Zarin Mehta Fellow successes include Anthony Bellino, trumpet, who recently won a position in The President’s Own Marine Band. Matthew Cohen, viola, took first prize at the 2015 Vivo International Music Competition ($3,000 and performance at Weill Hall). Sean Krissman, clarinet, is now the Principal Clarinet of Houston Grand Opera. Simon Michal, violin, is now a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. And Michael Severance, bassoon, is a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.

2016 Zarin Mehta Fellows are also earning positions with major orchestras. Nikolette LaBonte, horn, served last year as Assistant Principal Horn of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, and Rebecca Reale, violin, joins the Houston Symphony Orchestra this month.

Philharmonic President Matthew VanBesien said:

It has been thrilling to experience the growth and success of the New York Philharmonic Global Academy partnership with the Music Academy of the West. Our first American partner, the Music Academy of the West has been as enthusiastic as its students, who are eager to learn from Philharmonic musicians as well as to learn about orchestras’ administrative aspects. And it has been enormously gratifying to see the placement of past Zarin Mehta Fellows in top ensembles. The results speak for themselves.”

The Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara is the first American partner in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy. The four-year partnership, which began in the summer of 2014, combines training of Music Academy fellows by Philharmonic musicians; biennial performances by the Philharmonic at the Music Academy Summer Festival; and Academy Festival Orchestra performances at Music Academy Summer Festivals led by Alan Gilbert. This collaboration is the formalization of a long relationship between the Orchestra and the School; thirteen New York Philharmonic musicians are alumni of the Music Academy of the West.

During the Music Academy of the West’s 2016 Summer Festival, Alan Gilbert conducted the Academy Festival Orchestra, and Philharmonic musicians served as visiting artists in Santa Barbara, training Music Academy fellows in collaboration with Academy faculty (including leading master classes, chamber music coaching sessions, private lessons, and lectures). The New York Philharmonic will perform in Santa Barbara next summer as part of the Music Academy of the West’s 70th anniversary.

The Music Academy’s partnership with the New York Philharmonic has been made possible through the generosity of lead sponsors Linda and Michael Keston.

The Global Academy Fellowship Program, in association with the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, is supported in part by The Hilaria and Alec Baldwin Foundation, Inc., an anonymous donor, and other gifts made towards the Zarin Mehta Fund.

Additional support provided by Shirley Young/U.S.-China Cultural Foundation.

About the New York Philharmonic

The New York Philharmonic plays a leading cultural role in New York City, the United States, and the world. This season’s projects will connect the Philharmonic with up to 50 million music lovers through live concerts in New York City and on its worldwide tours and residencies; digital recording series; international broadcasts on television, radio, and online; and as a resource through its wide range of education programs and the New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives. In the 2016–17 season the New York Philharmonic celebrates its 175th anniversary and Alan Gilbert’s farewell season as Music Director.

The Orchestra has commissioned and/or premiered works by leading composers from every era since its founding in 1842—including Dvořák’s New World Symphony, John Adams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning On the Transmigration of Souls, dedicated to the victims of 9/11, and Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

A resource for its community and the world, the Philharmonic complements its annual free citywide Concerts in the Parks, presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, with Philharmonic Free Fridays and wide-ranging education programs, including the famed Young People’s Concerts and the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, collaborations with partners worldwide offering training of pre-professional musicians, often alongside performance residencies. The Global Academy was created following the launch of the flagship collaboration with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Shanghai Conservatory of Music, forming the Shanghai Orchestra Academy. Additional Global Academy partners include Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West and The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Renowned around the globe, the Philharmonic has appeared in 432 cities in 63 countries.

The oldest American symphony orchestra and one of the oldest in the world, the New York Philharmonic has made more than 2,000 recordings since 1917, including several Grammy Award winners, and its self-produced digital recording series continues in the 2016–17 season. Music Director Alan Gilbert began his tenure in September 2009, succeeding a distinguished line of 20th-century musical giants that includes Leonard Bernstein, Arturo Toscanini, and Gustav Mahler.

About the Music Academy of the West

The Music Academy of the West is among the nation’s preeminent summer schools and festivals for gifted young classically trained musicians. At its ocean-side campus in Santa Barbara, the Academy provides these musicians with the opportunity for advanced study and performance under the guidance of internationally renowned faculty artists, guest conductors, and soloists. Admission to the Academy is strictly merit based, and fellows receive full scholarships (tuition, room, and board). The Academy’s distinguished teaching artists roster has included famed soprano Lotte Lehmann, composers Darius Milhaud and Arnold Schoenberg, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, pianist Jeremy Denk, and current Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne. Academy alumni are members of major symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, ensembles, opera companies, and university and conservatory faculties throughout the world. Many enjoy careers as prominent solo artists. In 2014 the Music Academy entered into a four-year partnership with the New York Philharmonic, resulting in unprecedented training and performance opportunities for Academy fellows, and Summer Festival residencies for Philharmonic musicians.

The Music Academy of the West cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences, presenting more than 200 public events annually, nearly half of them free of charge. These include performances by faculty, visiting artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera. The 2016 Summer School and Festival will take place from June 13 to August 7 at the Academy’s scenic Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. For more information, visit

About the 2017 Zarin Mehta Fellows

Kevin Chen violin, 23, born in Ithaca, New York, earned his master’s degree from The Juilliard School. Mr. Chen won the 2010 Princeton Festival Violin and Riverside Symphonia Young Artist competitions, and has performed with the Livingston Symphony, Riverside Symphonia, Columbia University Orchestra, and as soloist with the World Civic Orchestra.

Minji Choi (’15) cello, 24, born in Korea, is a graduate student at the Colburn Conservatory of Music. Ms. Choi won the Osaka International, Dong-Ah Newspaper, and Joong-Ang Newspaper Competitions, and was semi-finalist at the Gaspar Cassado Cello Competition. Ms. Choi has performed with the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic and Taegu Philharmonic Orchestras. This is her second summer at the Music Academy of the West.

Michael Daley (’15) percussion, 26, born in Oakland, California, is a graduate student at USC Thornton School of Music. Mr. Daley holds positions at the American Youth Symphony and Young Artists Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Daley has given recitals at New England Conservatory and Boston Conservatory and appeared as soloist in Boston Conservatory’s New Music Ensemble. This is his second summer at the Music Academy of the West.

Kaelan Decman double bass, 21, hailing from Los Angeles, is an undergraduate student at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music studying with Bruce Bransby. Mr. Decman serves as principal bass of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and assistant principal bass in the Terre Haute Symphony. Mr. Decman attended the Aspen Music Festival in 2015.

Ao Peng viola, 22, born in Qinhuangdao, Hebei, China, is an undergraduate at Manhattan School of Music, where he attends on a full scholarship. Mr. Peng studies with both Karen Dreyfus and Samuel Rhodes. Mr. Peng served as associate principal viola from 2014 to 2015 in the New York String Orchestra Seminar.

Emily Switzer (’15) violin, 20, a native of Denver, Colorado, is an undergraduate at Yale University, where she is co-concertmaster of the orchestra. Ms. Switzer won the 2015 Friends of Music Recital Competition, and has performed with Lakewood Symphony, Denver Philharmonic, and Littleton Symphony. Ms. Switzer was featured on NPR’s From the Top program. This is her second summer at Music Academy of the West.

Alexander Volkov violin, 21, from Toronto, Canada, is an undergraduate at the Glenn Gould School. Mr. Volkov won the 2013 Canadian Music and 2014 Glenn Gould School Concerto Competitions, and has performed with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra. Mr. Volkov recently attended Leonard Bernstein’s Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany.

Jack Ryan Walters clarinet, 23, born in Seattle, Washington, is a graduate student at the University of Michigan, where he has performed with their Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Band, and Opera Orchestras. Mr. Walters has been a substitute for the Dexter Symphony Orchestra and has attended summer festivals including Texas Music Festival and Kent Blossom.

Justin Woo violin, 23, born in Spokane, Washington, is a master’s student at USC Thornton School of Music under the tutelage of Lina Bahn. Mr. Woo participated in the Advanced Piano Trio program at Cleveland Institute of Music and the New York String Seminar, and performed in masterclasses for Leon Fleisher, Gilbert Kalish, and Jaime Laredo.

Hyeree Yu viola, 26, from Seoul, Korea, is a graduate student at the Colburn Conservatory of Music. Ms. Yu has received awards from the World Times, Music Journal, Bucheon Eum-yeon and Han-mi Competitions in South Korea. Ms. Yu participated in the Kneisel Chamber Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and Gstaad String Academy.


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© 21C Media Group, August 2016

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