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Ensemble ACJW is introducing new 2014–2016 fellows every Friday. Out of the 18 new fellows, today we’d like you to meet Jacqueline Cordova-Arrington, Shir Semmel, and Caleb van der Swaagh.

Find out where they’re from, their pre-concert rituals, and other fun facts.


ACJW Jacqueline Arrington 300x300

Jacqueline Cordova-Arrington, Flute

Jacqueline Cordova-Arrington is a currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the Eastman School of Music with Bonita Boyd. In 2010–2011, Jacqueline received a Fulbright grant to study with Andreas Blau, principal flutist in the Berliner Philharmoniker. Most recently, Jacqueline performed in the Eastman Conservatory Project at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Currently, Jacqueline resides in Rochester, New York, where she performs regionally with the Erie Philharmonic and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Where is your hometown?
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What is your favorite place to visit?
Boathouse Row in Philadelphia and Independence Pass in Aspen, Colorado

What is the best musical advice you ever received?
When I was 16, I played the Mozart Flute Concerto with orchestra and had a minor memory slip in the middle of the performance. As a teen, I thought this was the end of my music career as I knew it. My high school orchestra director said, “It’s understandable given you’re expectations that you’d be upset. But in music, there is no perfect. Learn the difference between constructive and detrimental criticism. Always push yourself, but also be able to acknowledge when you've gone too far. A career path in music is a challenging road and many careers end because people were unable to distinguish these two very different kinds of criticism. Know the difference and you’ll grow.”

Do you have any stories associated with the instrument you play?
I picked my instrument with my eyes closed. When I first attended the University of Michigan, my teacher made it very clear to me that I needed an upgrade. Arriving at the flute dealer’s home, I saw a number of flutes that looked beautiful but was unsure of the flute that would be the one for me. My teacher blindfolded me and encouraged me to choose the instrument that felt like an extension of my own body and sounded like my voice. Listening to the silky sound of the instrument, the easy of sound production, I realized that the rose-gold flute in my hands was the one for me.

Do you have a pre-concert ritual?
Besides praying, I like to listen to music that is completely different from what I’ve practiced for months. It might be funk, bossa nova, or bluegrass. 


 

Shir Semmel, Piano

Shir Semmel has performed in Europe, the US, and her native Israel. Winner of the Pnina Salzman Memorial Prize, Shir has appeared in such festivals as Music@Menlo, Gstaad Piano Academy at the Menuhin Festival and IMS Prussia Cove. An avid chamber musician, Shir co-founded the Jerusalem Piano Duo with her brother, pianist Dror Semmel. A recipient of multiple American-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarships, Shir has participated in master classes given by András Schiff, Murray Perahia, Richard Goode, Yefim Bronfman, and others. She earned a master’s degree with honors from the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music as a student of Emanuel Krasovsky, and currently studies at the Peabody Institute with Leon Fleisher.

ACJW Shir Semmel 300x300

Where is home?
Jerusalem, Israel 

If you weren’t a musician, what would you want to do professionally?
If I weren’t a musician, I would want to be a classical ballet dancer. I danced until my senior year of high school, when I became too busy to keep up with everything. I had to give it up, but I certainly miss dancing. 

What is your most prized possession?
My most valuable possession is a beautiful necklace my grandmother passed to me when I turned 12; I wear this necklace when I play concerts. It is near and dear to my heart as it represents family, and my family means the world to me.

What is the best musical advice you ever received?
“In music, one must think with the heart and feel with the brain.” —George Szell

It’s hard to pick one “best” piece of advice, but I’ve been carrying this inspiring quote with me ever since I heard it from my teacher, Leon Fleisher. 

Do you have a pre-concert ritual?
Life is too busy for rituals, but when possible I try to get a good rest the night before a concert, and avoid distractions the day of the performance. I prefer not to talk too much right before I play and rather focus on the music. I draw inspiration from listening to different pieces by the same composer I’m about to perform (e.g., Mozart’s operas, Schubert’s lieder, etc.).


 
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Caleb van der Swaagh, Cello

An advocate of contemporary music, Caleb has premiered many works by composers of his own generation, and also performs his own arrangements and transcriptions of compositions that range from Renaissance viola da gamba music to jazz. Caleb graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University as part of the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange program with a degree in Classics, as well as Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Caleb received his master’s degree with academic honors from New England Conservatory and later studied at the Manhattan School of Music. 

Where is your hometown?
New York, New York

If you weren’t a musician, what would you want to do professionally?
Play shortstop for the Yankees. 

What is the best musical advice you ever received?
To be willing to try all music and to not impose limitations on the kind of music that you will play.

What do you like to do when you’re not playing music?
I am a big baseball fan and I like to cook.

Who is your musical hero (dead or alive)?
Pablo Casals

What artists or songs (not classical) are you currently listening to?
Sufjan Stevens has long been a favorite and I have been listening to Sonny Rollins.

2 months ago | |
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This summer, join us for our Summer School series of video blog posts. School may be out, but you can continue learning through our vast library of master class and professional training workshop videos. Each week, we will post a new playlist focusing on an instrument or performance topic.


The Summer School series continues with a Carnegie Hall horn master class, featuring Berlin Philharmonic horn player Stefan de Leval Jezierski coaching students through works by Beethoven, Strauss, and Mahler.

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The New York City Department of Probation (DOP), in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, recently announced the names of seven New York City organizations selected for the second installment of NeON Arts, a new citywide arts education initiative created by the DOP. The first group of NeON Arts projects, which began last April, wrapped up with final events open to community members from June 13 through July 10. For more information on past NeON Arts events, please visit carnegiehall.org/NeONArts.

NeON Arts offers young people in New York City, including those on probation, the chance to explore the arts through projects in a variety of disciplines, including dance, music, theater, visual arts, poetry, and digital media. Programming is available in seven communities that are served by the DOP’s Neighborhood Opportunity Networks (NeONs), which connect local residents to opportunities, resources, and services provided by businesses, community organizations, and government agencies in their neighborhoods.

The seven NeON neighborhoods are Bedford-Stuyvesant (Brooklyn), Brownsville (Brooklyn), East New York (Brooklyn), Harlem (Manhattan), South Jamaica (Queens), Staten Island, and the South Bronx.

As a leader in creating arts programming for justice settings and an ongoing partner of the DOP, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute facilitates the grant-making process, coordinates citywide NeON Arts events, and works with arts organizations and NeON stakeholders to ensure that the planning and implementation of each project are a collaboration that benefits the entire community.

The seven organizations selected to create programming for the second round of the NeON Arts initiative, which runs through October 30, 2014, are:

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant: Xmental
  • Brownsville: Urban Bush Women
  • East New York: Xmental
  • Harlem: Project YEAH
  • South Bronx: Free Verse and Maysles Documentary Center
  • South Jamaica: Groundswell
  • Staten Island: Staten Island Arts

An integral part of the development of NeON Arts has been hands-on participation by local community members. The arts organizations participating in the second round of the initiative were selected by local NeON stakeholders comprising people on probation, DOP staff, key members of the community, and local businesses.


Summer/Fall 2014 programming will include:

Brooklyn

Xmental introduces Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York NeON participants to the basics of graffiti art while also teaching the difference between legal and illegal graffiti. This summer, the organization hosts a public viewing and auction of art produced by participants that also includes performances by local hip-hop artists. Xmental is a coalition of community organizers, artists, and teachers committed to mentoring and educating urban youth through art and creative projects.

Urban Bush Women, a world-renowned Brooklyn-based dance company committed to dancing the powerful under-told stories of the African Diaspora, works with Brownsville NeON participants as part of its extensive engagement initiative BOLD (Builders, Organizers, and Leaders through Dance). BOLD leverages dance as a catalyst for social change and community engagement in addition to teaching concert dance technique and performance.

Manhattan

Project YEAH (Youth Empowered to Act for Humanity) engages Harlem NeON participants in a visual and literary arts program that nurtures community youth involvement. The program culminates with an arts exhibition open to community members.

Bronx

Free Verse, the journal of poetry and prose born in the probation center waiting room in the South Bronx NeON, hosts a poetry program for community members alongside poetry workshops to create an informal learning environment in which poetry serves as the pathway to better prospects in life.

The Maysles Documentary Center (MDC) is a Harlem-based, non-profit film and arts organization dedicated to the production and exhibition of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action. Over the course of 12 weeks, MDC engages Harlem NeON participants to work in small teams to create short documentaries on issues important to them and their communities.

Queens

Groundswell brings together artists, youth, and community organizations to use art as a tool for social change for a more just and equitable world. Its projects beautify neighborhoods, engage youth in societal and personal transformation, and give expression to ideas and perspectives that are underrepresented in the public dialogue. Groundswell collaborates with participants from the South Jamaica NeON to design and create a mural that explores themes identified by the NeON stakeholder group.

Staten Island

Staten Island Arts’ mission is to cultivate a sustainable and diverse cultural community for the people of Staten Island by making the arts accessible to every member of the community. The organization collaborates with NeON participants on the project Engineer Your Sound, which teaches the fundamentals of storytelling through songwriting and training in computer recording software and equipment for the purpose of producing musical compositions accompanied by recorded vocals.


The third round of NeON Arts programming will be offered from November 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015. Arts organizations interested in participating are invited to submit a proposal by completing an application at carnegiehall.org/NeONArts. The application deadline for the next project period is September 5, 2014.

Funding provided by the Open Society Foundations through a grant to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City in support of the NYC Young Men's Initiative.

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Ensemble ACJW is introducing new 2014–2016 fellows every Friday. Out of the 18 new fellows, today we’d like you to meet Stanislav Chernyshev, Dana Kelley, and Jean Laurenz.

Find out where they’re from, their musical heroes, and other interesting facts.


ACJW Stanislav Chernyshev 300px

Stanislav Chernyshev, Clarinet

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, clarinetist Stanislav Chernyshev graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory and the Curtis Institute of Music. He performs regularly with the St. Petersburg Music House, Mariinsky Clarinet Club, and Curtis On Tour. As a chamber musician, Stanislav has collaborated with world-renowned musicians such as violist Roberto Díaz, violinist Pamela Frank, clarinetist Julian Milkis, new music sextet eighth blackbird, and many others. He has recorded several CDs and has been broadcast on WQXR.

Where is your hometown?
St. Petersburg, Russia

If you weren’t a musician, what would you want to do professionally?
I would want to organize projects. I’ve always had a desire to organize things, to unite people to achieve goals. For example, right now I’m working on a project that helps students from art schools to study abroad.

What is the best musical advice you ever received?
The best musical advice was from my teacher Donald Montanaro. He said, “Sound should be like a diamond wrapped in velvet.”

What do you like to do when you’re not playing music?
Listen to Benny Goodman.

What artists or songs (not classical) are you currently listening to?
The Beatles’ White Album  


 

Dana Kelley, Viola

Violist Dana Kelley has won prizes at the Sphinx Competition and Irving M. Klein International String Competition. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, studying violin with Cornelia Heard and viola with Kathryn Plummer. In 2014, she completed her master’s degree at the New England Conservatory as a student of Kim Kashkashian. While at NEC, Dana was a member of a fellowship piano quartet in the Community Performances and Partnerships Program, which performed outreach concerts in Boston.

ACJW Dana Kelly 300px

Where is your hometown?
Manlius, New York

If you weren’t a musician, what would you want to do professionally?
Be a chocolatier.

What is your most prized possession?
Any of the intricate LEGO sets I spent hours building as a kid.

What is the best musical advice you ever received?
Before major auditions, my mom used to tell me to “make music”. She taught me that the most important aspect of playing an instrument was conveying a message to my audience, and that worrying about possible technical flaws in performance should not be on the forefront of my mind.

Do you have a pre-concert ritual?
I am not too picky about how I spend a concert day, as long as there is time for a late afternoon nap.

What is on your current playlist that isn’t classical music?
Nickel Creek, tUnE-yArDs, Snarky Puppy, and Roomful of Teeth


 
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Jean Laurenz, Trumpet

Jean Laurenz is an eclectic musician who loves variety and collaboration. As a trumpet player, she has performed with various ensembles including the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra. She has worked with major artists such as Kanye West, American Idol winner Lee DeWyze, and the New York Philharmonic. Jean is also a passionate vocalist and has performed the national anthem and other musical services at most major sporting arenas in Chicago. As the primary bugler and singer for the Arlington International Racetrack, Jean has also made television appearances on Undercover Boss, ESPN, and ABC morning news. Jean has degrees in trumpet performance and choral education from Yale University and Northwestern University.

Where is your hometown?
Chicago, Illinois

If you weren’t a musician, what would you want to do professionally?
Well, there is a serious answer to this and a silly answer. When I was in kindergarten we made a class book with pictures that represented what we wanted to be when we grow up. Apparently, I wanted to be a duck. My reasoning? Because they can walk on land, swim in water, and fly … trifecta! While my “more practical” adult interests hover around artistic directing and psychology, I still hold the eclectic desire to be a multifaceted professional.

What is your most prized possession?
I usually don’t get too nostalgic about physical things, but when I was doing a festival in Europe last summer and living out of a suitcase, I realized there was only one thing that I really couldn’t live without—my pillow.

What is the best musical advice you ever received?
Breathe.

Do you have any stories associated with the instrument you play?
I got my current B-flat trumpet (in the mail) on the very same day I got my braces on. It was the best and worst day ever for a trumpet player.

Do you have a pre-concert ritual?
I like to meditate. I will meditate even if I’m not performing, but I find it especially helpful before a big concert.

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Joyce DiDonato joins the conversation on Carnegie Hall's Musical Exchange by adding her thoughts about the audition process for singers. Below, Joyce praises the awesome work being done by voice teacher and Musical Exchange contributor Claudia Friedlander on The Singer's Audition Handbook, a series of informative blog posts intended to guide vocal students and aspiring professionals through the audition process.

Browse The Singer's Audition Handbook.

Joyce appears at Carnegie Hall next season as part of her Perspectives residency, in which she presents her wide range of interests and talents, all supported by the impeccable artistry, vibrant personality, and idealism that has made her an audience favorite. She explores some of her favorite repertoire through four concert appearances and is giving master classes for opera singers on February 21–23, 2015.

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Throughout the 2014 NYO-USA residency and tour, we will be featuring these weekly round-ups on the blog. Use these posts to get back up to speed on any blog entries, photos, videos, or social media posts that you may have missed over the past week. This week, we're highlighting a new section video, the latest musician blogs, video postcards, and photo albums from the tour.


Conductor and Soloist Section Video

David Robertson and Gil Shaham couldn't resist joining in the fun of the orchestra's 2014 section video projects. In their own video, they poke a little fun at the roles of conductor and soloist.

 


Musician Blogs

Is Classical Music Dying?
Josh Davidoff


NYO Roundup Davidoff blog 3 thumb
 

Behind the Beat
David Fickes


NYO Roundup Fickes blog 3 thumb
 

At the Front of the Stage
Leah Meyer


NYO Roundup Meyer blog 3 thumb

Click on the musicians' names below to view all of the musician blog entries from the 2014 residency and tour.

Josh Davidoff  |  David Fickes  |  Leah Meyer
Lincoln Valdez | Kevie Yu | Trey Sakazaki


Video Postcards

Watch the orchestra's video postcards from each stop along the tour.

 


Photo Albums

NYO-USA Tanglewood Chris Lee album thumbnail

Tanglewood, MA

 
  NYO-USA Boone Chris Lee album thumbnail

Boone, NC

 
  NYO-USA Jackson Hole Chris Lee album thumbnail

Jackson Hole, WY

 

Be a part of next season's orchestra and tour cities across China with 2015 NYO-USA Guest Conductor Charles Dutoit and pianist Yundi.

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As the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America performs its final concert of 2014 at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, musician blogger Leah Meyer shares how she prepared to introduce Gil Shaham and Britten’s Violin Concerto during NYO-USA’s Carnegie Hall debut. Leah is one of 18 musicians who spoke from the stage throughout this summer’s tour. You can hear Leah’s remarks, along with audio of the complete Carnegie Hall debut, by clicking here.


Leah Meyer, Horn

The sensory overload right now on this plane is both distracting and delightful: the flashing images of the movie Captain America on the monitor above my head, the foreboding frivolity of “Della mia bella incognita borghese” from Rigoletto in my headphones, the sweet tang of orange juice in my mouth, the plush of my monkey-shaped neck pillow, and the scent of my neighbor’s goldfish that bring me back to my days of jumpers and playgrounds are all underscored by the rushing rumble of the “NYO Express,” as referred to by the pilot of our flight.

NYO Leah Meyer at the table cr Chris LeeLeah Meyer (far right) dines with her fellow musicians on tour with NYO-USA.

Over the past four weeks, I’ve come to expect—though by no means become accustomed to—such constant bombardment as a member of NYO-USA. However, the noise of cheesy snack crackers and an airplane pales in comparison to playing on the stage of Carnegie Hall. I paled too (and keep in mind that I’m already a natural redhead) as I prepared to speak to the audience, introducing the repertoire to a packed house at Carnegie Hall.

I know how to prepare for a normal concert. One of our activities during the NYO-USA residency included completing a survey of our musical experiences. A question asked how many concerts we’d played in the past 12 months. Several of my friends and I laughed in disbelief—how to begin counting? Like another friend’s wardrobe with “more long black skirts than anything else,” we’ve tailored our rehearsing and practicing with the goals of performance in mind. Though my pants don’t fit as well as they did two weeks ago, the metaphor still does: As we swapped black skirts for red pants, I also tried on a new concert (and concert preparation) experience.

In preparing the remarks I ultimately gave at our Carnegie Hall concert, I progressed through three main drafts, each undergoing scrutiny for inaccessibility, lack of clarity, and platitudes—all the fuzz that is nearly inescapable when trying to communicate the magnitude of importance with which you hold something in your heart, especially music. I memorized, cut, tinkered with a transition for hours, and rememorized, allowing myself the occasional indulgence of a boy-band hit from 2007. And yet, as I practiced the words out loud, the obvious rehearsed nature made my thoughts seem forced and my presentation unsophisticated. My voice itself even threatened to go hoarse. I wanted my words to seem inspired and extemporaneous; I wanted to give the audience no clue of my hours spent writing, nor of my inexperience as a public speaker.

NYO Leah Meyer Carnegie Hall speech cr Chris LeeLeah is one of 18 musicians who spoke from
the stage during NYO-USA’s coast-to-coast tour.

And yet, after writhing in embarrassment while practicing in front of friends, I thought back upon the concert preparation of which I just wrote: Few performances—even those heavily based on improvisation—are truly extemporaneous. The repertoire I was introducing? We’d spent weeks rehearsing it. “Even Obama has a teleprompter,” my parents assured me. The less ashamed I was of my obvious recitation, the more natural it seemed. Performance is the sharing of something that requires great thought and effort. Through that lens, our night at Carnegie Hall was a performance to remember.

I spoke that night of the parallels between Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and Britten’s Violin Concerto. From within deep pain and chaos—whether stemming from the Spanish Civil War as in Britten’s case or from social clashes and forbidden love as in Tony and Maria’s in West Side Story—both pieces yearn deeply for a place and time of peace. As young adults inheriting these realities, we too search for “Somewhere” beyond the cruelty.

There are many events, many realities, that we cannot prepare for. Some are not so simple as speaking on stage. Some are much graver, and there are instances where your audience may not want you to succeed. We are young, idealistic, and will learn this soon enough. But we have played on the world’s stages—eight of them, actually—and, as the world and its future is our audience, we strove to bring you the best.


Learn more about the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

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This summer, join us for our Summer School series of video blog posts. School may be out, but you can continue learning through our vast library of master class and professional training workshop videos. Each week, we will post a new playlist focusing on an instrument or performance topic.


The Summer School series continues with How to Build Business as a Chamber Musician, featuring members of the Takács Quartet. Panelists Daniel Sher, former dean, College of Music, University of Colorado-Boulder; Seldy Cramer, artist manager; and members of the Takács Quartet discuss how to determine where to perform, how to communicate and connect with audiences, and where to seek out residency opportunities.

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Frequent orchestral concertgoers know an unusual phenomenon among professional orchestras. From the point of view of the audience, the orchestra seems far behind the beat of the conductor, at least visually. Usually, this is the mark of a strong ensemble and a conductor who is free to communicate more than just the pulse of the music. NYO-USA has also come together as a strong ensemble, which has significance for violinist David Fickes.


David Fickes, Violin

“Ictus! Ictus!” I remember one of my high school conductors shouting, trying to get us to play more in sync with his downbeats. This is something that I got used to, so imagine my surprise when NYO-USA was almost half a beat off from Maestro Robertson—and still completely together. This may seem like the orchestra is simply ignoring Maestro Robertson, but it is intentional. By communicating visually that the piece is dragging, a sense of dread is created—perfect for the melancholy ending of the Britten Violin Concerto. The idea that conducting is for shaping sound rather than keeping rhythm has absolutely delighted me for the entire time that I have been playing with NYO-USA. Everyone is so attuned to the music that entrances can be made perfectly cleanly without a sharp cue. It amazes me that 120 musicians from all over the country with different ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds can so completely understand one another that there is almost no need for overt communication—rather, we are able to communicate in hundreds of barely perceptible ways to which we’ve become attuned after years of making music.

NYO-USA Robertson Rehearsal 2 cr Chris LeeRoberston treats NYO-USA as he would a professional orchestra, and the musicians have shown they are up to the challenge.

Does this mean that we don’t need a conductor? Maestro Robertson often jokes about how we don’t really need him there, but the reality is that what he does with and for us is far more important than simply being a human metronome. He is a conduit for our energy, whether he is smiling at a plucky section of Bernstein’s West Side Story, casually strolling about on stage and whistling to Porgy and Bess, or literally jumping for each beat in “Baba Yaga,” developing the unrelenting, steady advance of the witch and her house. It is his influence that brings the entire orchestra to tears after every performance of “The Great Gate at Kiev,” helping us to find a musical maturity in ourselves that we may not have known even existed.

It is truly remarkable how music can connect people, and not just through performance. After living and playing with fellow NYO-USA orchestra members for only four weeks, I feel an incredibly close bond with all of them. We celebrate together and cry together, for we opened ourselves up so completely to each other that we have nearly become one. I know this sounds over the top, but this sharing of self has been probably the most amazing thing I have experienced so far with NYO-USA.


Learn more about the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

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Starting today, Ensemble ACJW will be introducing new 2014–2016 fellows every Friday. Out of the 18 new fellows, today we'd like to introduce Jenny Ney, Siwoo Kim, and James Riggs.

Read about where they're from, their musical heroes, and their pre-concert rituals.


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Jenny Ney, French Horn

Jenny Ney is an active performer and teacher in the New York area who has appeared in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and Alice Tully. She is also on the teaching artist faculty of the New York Philharmonic’s School Partnership Program, which brings orchestral music into the lives of elementary school students throughout the five boroughs. Jenny lives in Manhattan and spends her free time with her husband Jon and their adorable dog. 

Where is your hometown?
Suffield, Connecticut

If you weren’t a musician, what would you want to do professionally?
I'd like to be an interior decorator. I don't think I could stand a job where I go to the same place and do the same thing everyday. And I'd get to see inside everyone's houses!

What is your most prized possession?
I'm trying to think of something I couldn't live without, and there are only two things that come to mind: my horn (an obvious choice) and my dog. Also my husband, but I don't think he counts as a possession!

Who is your musical hero (dead or alive)?
My musical hero is Julie Landsman. I studied with her at Juilliard and her teaching completely changed how I view my playing and myself. She's such an inspiration as a female horn player who really reached the top of the profession.

Any other fun facts you’d like to share?
For about seven years, I lived in a barn! We lived in the upper floor, which was renovated into living space. The bottom floor housed our pet pony. Other pets at the time included three cats, a dog, a guinea pig, and two tadpoles!


 

Siwoo Kim, Violin

Violinist Siwoo Kim recently gave the world premiere of Samuel Adler’s first violin concerto and made his debut at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. He graduated from The Juilliard School, where he led the Juilliard Orchestra as concertmaster and made his concerto debut with them at Carnegie Hall. 

ACJW Siwoo Kim 300x300

If you weren’t a musician, what would you want to do professionally?
Off the top of my head, a photojournalist. How they strive for honesty in expression is very attractive to me. Plus, I would get to see the world and have the luxury of seeing many things that people nowadays take for granted.

What is your favorite place to visit?
My home in Ohio. I love New York City and I really enjoy seeing new places. At the end of the day, however, going back home to see my family and hometown friends is just the best. The calmer atmosphere combined with clean, fresh air rejuvenates me more than any amount of coffee or yoga can!

What is the best musical advice you ever received?
I've had the privilege of hearing a myriad of priceless words of wisdom during my student years. Perhaps the most all-encompassing advice I received was from my private teacher, Robert Mann: "Siwoo, make your performance worthwhile; don't waste your time or the audience's time." So true!

Do you have a pre-concert ritual?
I like to stretch and do some jumping jacks. Goofing off and having some coffee gets me pumped, too!

Any other fun facts you’d like to share?
I have some fun facts from my high school years. My parents drove me to Evanston, Illinois, from Columbus, Ohio, every other weekend for my violin lessons. Thank goodness I'm an only child! I played with my high school jazz band, played for theater, and played with a band on electric violin. I also somehow managed to walk away with the title of prom king! Hilarious.


 
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James Riggs, Oboe

James Riggs is the newly appointed principal oboist of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. He is also a member of the Grammy Award–nominated ensemble Seraphic Fire. As a soloist, James has frequently performed with the Mark Morris Dance Group in New York, and played concertos of Handel, Bellini, and Bach with several ensembles in Tampa Bay. He recently earned his master’s degree from The Juilliard School and his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory. He dedicates his free time to studying chess, training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and professional 10-pin bowling instruction.

Where is your hometown?
Tampa Bay, Florida 

If you weren’t a musician, what would you want to do professionally?
I think I could be really happy doing a lot of different things, but maybe I would study world religions, anthropology, or archaeology. I find other cultures—present and past—to be fascinating. And of course, I couldn’t rule out trying to become an astronaut either, that would be awesome!

What is the best musical advice you ever received?
I’ve received so much great advice over my years of study that it’s hard to pick just one thing, but perhaps the most important advice could be boiled down to this: Always strive to make your interpretation so convincing that others cannot argue with it even if they disagree with it.

What do you like to do when you’re not playing music?
I like playing and studying chess, training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and reading a good book!

What artists or songs (not classical) are you currently listening to?
I think it’s important for classical musicians (all musicians, for that matter) to listen to many different kinds of music: jazz, rock, folk, hip hop, country, world music, etc.—as many different genres as possible. Right now, I’m listening to the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Sam Cooke.

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