Jenna Barghouti joins Houston Symphony community-embedded musicians initiative

BarghoutiViolinist Jenna Barghouti, a student of Jorja Fleezanis, is one of four string musicians recruited by the Houston Symphony to be part of an initiative announced earlier this year to embed musicians more deeply in the community. The four musicians/educators will focus on enhancing the orchestra’s growing education and community engagement activities while also performing on stage for select Houston Symphony performances.

David D. Connor, double bass; Anthony Parce, viola; Hellen Weberpal, cello; and Barghouti are part of the first group of Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musicians (CEM), who will spend most of their time in schools, neighborhoods, and healthcare settings beginning in the fall of 2015. Each one of these musicians is a practicing professional musician with the complementary skills and sensibilities of an educator, who will teach and engage people in learning experiences in, through, and about music.

Among other new and expanded community activities, these musicians will be part of a music and wellness program aimed at increasing the quality of healthcare through music. In addition, they will be heavily involved in education programs targeted at improving problem solving, critical thinking, and essential life skills in students.

All four Community-Embedded Musicians will perform on stage with members of the symphony in approximately 25 concerts each year. The orchestra intends to add more of these musicians over the next two seasons, providing ever-increasing levels of service and music education to the rapidly growing Houston region.

“Becoming a Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musician is a dream come true,” said Barghouti. “Playing with one of the leading orchestras in the country while helping empower the local community through music is an ideal start to my career as a performer and an educator. I am quite fortunate to be given this opportunity to professionally fulfill both of my passions. I could not be more excited to be a member of the very first CEM team, and I look forward to working with the talented musicians and leadership of the Houston Symphony to further grow and develop this inspiring program.”

The creation and launch of the Community-Embedded Musicians program has been made possible through the early investment of generous supporters, including the Spec’s Charitable Foundation, Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, BBVA Compass, and Mr. Monzer Hourani, all longtime leadership supporters of the Houston Symphony.

Barghouti grew up in the West Bank, Palestine, before coming to the United States when she was 16 years old. She has taught violin to underserved children in both the Fairview Project in Bloomington, Ind., and in her home country. Barghouti, an associate instructor at Indiana University’s Pre-College String Academy and substitute violin for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony, is fully bilingual in Arabic and English. She is currently pursuing a Performer’s Diploma in violin performance at the Jacobs School of Music. She earned her undergraduate degree in violin performance from the Jacobs School under the supervision of Mimi Zweig.


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Jacobs School Graduate to Participate in Leonidas Kavakos International Violin Masterclass

Paul Hauer

Paul Hauer

Leonidas Kavakos

Leonidas Kavakos

Congratulations to Jacobs School graduate, Paul Hauer, who was selected to participate in the Leonidas Kavakos International Violin Masterclass & Chamber Music Workshop, which takes place this weekend, May 22-24, 2015, in Athens, Greece.

Hauer, a student of Alexander Kerr, is one of only seventeen violinists and the only American selected for the masterclass. A frequent participant in competitions, Hauer has received awards at the Hellam Young Artists Competition in 2014, the Indianapolis Matinee Musicale Collegiate Competition in 2013, and the Denver Young Artists Orchestra National Violin Concerto Competition in 2011. As a result of these awards he has had the opportunity to perform with numerous orchestras both in the U.S. and abroad and has also had the privilege of studying and working with many of today’s renowned conductors and violinists. Hauer completed his Bachelor of Music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and his Master of Music at the Jacobs School in 2014.

This weekend’s masterclass & chamber music workshop was founded by Leonidas Kavakos, a Greek violinist and conductor who has himself won prizes at several international violin competitions – including the Sibelius, Paganini, and Indianapolis competitions. Thanks to an Onassis Foundation scholarship, he was able to come to Indiana University at the age of 19 to study with Josef Gingold, who instilled in him an absolute passion and love for violin, for music, and, last but not least, for sharing his teaching legacy.

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Ying Quartet Welcomes Robin Scott as First Violinist

April 15, 2015

More Information:
For Media Only: Helene Snihur (585-274-1057,

ROCHESTER, N.Y.–Robin Scott, an award-winning musician described as one of America’s rising stars on the classical music stage, is joining the Ying Quartet as the Grammy-winning ensemble’s first violinist.

As the quartet’s newest member, he is joining siblings and founding members David, cello; Janet, violin; and Phillip, viola. Scott also will receive an appointment to the faculty of the Eastman School of Music, where the ensemble is the string-quartet-in residence.

Scott has built a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, and concertmaster. He has competed internationally, winning first prizes in the California International Young Artists Competition and the WAMSO Young Artist Competition in Minnesota, and second prizes in the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, and the Stulberg International String Competition.

“Robin is both an insightful, creative musician and top-shelf violinist, and we are thrilled to begin the next chapter of our quartet’s life with him,” said David Ying. “From the first phrases we played together, the musical chemistry was alive and electric. It is easy to imagine a rewarding and stimulating musical future with Robin.”

Scott has appeared as a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Montgomery Symphony, Orchestre National de Lille in France, and many others. He has given numerous recitals and performances throughout the United States and abroad, in such venues as Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and the Schubert Club in St. Paul, Minn.

As an avid and passionate chamber musician, Scott has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, Boston’s Jordan Hall, the Morgan Library, Town Hall in New York City, and other venues. His festival appearances include the Marlboro Music Festival, Ravinia’s Steans Institute for Young Artists, Yellow Barn, Kneisel Hall, and the Saratoga and Chesapeake Chamber Music Festivals, MusicIC in Iowa City, and others. He has participated in the acclaimed Music From Marlboro tours, as well as tours under the auspices of the Ravinia Festival, and was a member of the Gesualdo String Quartet, the quartet-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame.

Scott, who will move to Rochester from Indianapolis, is also an accomplished and in-demand orchestral leader and has served as concertmaster of the New York Classical Players. He was guest concertmaster with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and has performed with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra as guest principal second violin.

From 2011 to 2013, Scott was the Montgomery Symphony’s artist-in-residence. In that position, he was the concertmaster of the symphony, and also performed with the orchestra and throughout the community as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician.

A native of Indiana, Scott began studying the violin at age five and also took piano lessons. He received his Bachelor of Music Degree at the New England Conservatory and his Artist Diploma at Indiana University, where he was a student of Miriam Fried. He pursued additional studies at NEC with Donald Weilerstein, the founding first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet, and violist Kim Kashkashian. Previously, he was a student of Mimi Zweig at Indiana University’s preparatory program.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Ying Quartet and to be coming to Rochester to teach at the Eastman School of Music,” said Scott. “The prospect of exploring the great quartet repertoire with wonderful colleagues is an honor. To pass on what we believe as musicians and instrumentalists is a great responsibility, and something which I look forward to with my students.”

The Ying Quartet receives praise around the world for its high-caliber and affecting performances in concerts and festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Caramoor, and others. The ensemble teaches and performs each summer at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, for which David and Phillip Ying serve as artistic directors. The ensemble has worked on collaborative projects at Symphony Space in New York City and with musical partners such as pianist Menahem Pressler, cellist Paul Katz, and folk musician Mike Seeger, among others. Upcoming projects include a collaboration and recording with cellist Zuill Bailey, and piano quintet commission and recording with pianist and composer Billy Childs.

The Quartet’s album 4 + Four, recorded with the Turtle Island String Quartet, received a 2006 Grammy Award for best classical crossover album. In addition, The Ying Quartet received a Grammy nomination for best chamber music performances for its album Tchaikovsky: Three String Quartets, Souvenir de Florence. The Ying Quartet also has released Dim Sum, a recording of music by Chinese-American composers; American Anthem: The Music of Samuel Barber and Howard Hanson; and a recording of Anton Arensky’s String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2 and Piano Quintet.

Through its LifeMusic project, supported by the Institute for American music, the Ying Quartet has commissioned established and emerging composers to produce a distinctively American string quartet repertory. Their first recording of Life Music works, The Ying Quartet Play LifeMusic, was named Editor’s Choice by Gramophone magazine. Their second recording of commissions is titled The United States.

As students at the Eastman School of Music in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Yings studied with members of the Cleveland Quartet, the school’s quartet-in-residence. The Ying Quartet first came to national professional as the quartet-in-residence in Jesup, Iowa, under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The quartet was awarded second prize in the 1992 Banff International String Competition and the following year won the Naumburg Chamber Music Award. They were appointed faculty quartet-in-residence at Eastman in 1997.

At Eastman, the Ying Quartet teaches in the string department and leads a rigorous chamber music program. An integral part of the chamber music curriculum is the Music for All program, in which students perform in community settings beyond the concert hall.

Scott will succeed violinist Ayano Ninomiya, who has served as first violinist of the quartet since 2010. “Ayano has been a wonderful colleague and close friend, and we are grateful that she has shared her amazing musical talents with us and our audiences these past years,” said David Ying. “We wish her the very best in her future performing and teaching endeavors, and look forward to our paths crossing often in the future.”

© Eastman School of Music 2015

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The Jacobs School Zorá and Azalea Quartets receive awards at 69th Annual Coleman Chamber Competition

Congratulations to two quartets from the Jacobs School, who were awarded two out of three prizes from the 69th Annual Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition on Saturday, April 18, at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music in Pasadena, California.


Azalea Quartet

The $7,500 Alice Coleman Prize was awarded to the Azalea Quartet, formed in 2013 by four devoted musicians pursuing their undergraduate degrees at the IU Jacobs School of Music. Members of the quartet, coached by Simin Ganatra of the Pacifica Quartet, include:

Jenna Barghouti, Violin
Joy Vucekovich, Violin
Ben Wagner, Viola
Graham Cullen, Cello


Zorá String Quartet

The $4,000 Coleman-Barstow Prize for Strings was awarded to the Zorá String Quartet, formed in 2012 by four Jacobs School students. The quartet is coached by Sibbi Bernhardsson of the Pacifica Quartet and includes members:

Dechopol Kowintaweewat, violin
Pablo Muñoz Salido, Viola
Seula Lee, Violin
Zizai Ning, Cello

This is the second year in a row that quartet’s from the Jacobs School have taken two of the three prizes at the Coleman Chamber Competition. In April 2014 the Wasmuth String Quartet was awarded the Alice Coleman Prize and the Kenari Quartet was awarded the Coleman-Saunderson Prize for Woodwinds or Brass.

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Verona Quartet wins second prize and ProQuartet-CEMC Price at the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition

Verona Quartet FBWe are pleased to announce that the Verona Quartet (formerly known as the Wasmuth Quartet), IU Jacobs School of Music’s Graduate String Quartet-in-Residence, has won Second Prize and the ProQuartet-CEMC Prize at the 2015 Wigmore Hall (formerly the London) International String Quartet Competition.

Hailed by critics as “thoughtful, impressive musicians” (Cleveland Classical), the Verona Quartet has won numerous accolades and awards, and is quickly establishing themselves as one of the exciting young quartets on the music scene today. Within months of their formation, they received 1st prize at the Kuttner String Quartet Competition and won the Silver Medal in the senior division of the 2013 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. They went on to win the Grand Prize at the 2014 Coleman Chamber Music Competition and the First Place and Audience Choice Award at the 2014 Chesapeake International Chamber Music Competition. In May 2014, the Verona Quartet won the Bronze Medal at the 8th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Osaka, Japan, where critics lauded their “sensational, powerhouse performance” (Classical Voice America).

The Quartet has been visiting artists  at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Indiana University String Academy as well as the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, Germany. Recent appearances include the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on National Public Radio, “The Weekly Special” on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the Candlelight Concert Society in Baltimore, MD, and the “Music in the Loft” concert series in Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building. The upcoming season includes artist residencies at the Abu Dhabi Chamber Music Festival, Music in the Vineyards in Napa Valley, California, as well as concerts in New York, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.

In addition to their performance commitments, the Verona Quartet members are strong proponents of community engagement and education. They have an ongoing residency in the city of Danville, Illinois, where they have developed a concert series and work with developing young musicians on performance and practice skills. Since their residency commenced, many Danville schools have seen their music class enrollment increase in size to almost double the average in the State of Illinois.

The Verona Quartet is currently the Graduate String Quartet-in-Residence at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where they are mentored by the Pacifica Quartet, as well as Alexander Kerr, Atar Arad and Eric Kim. The Quartet has also worked with Peter Salaff, Jerry Horner, Jorja Fleezanis, Paul Kantor and members of the Brentano, Cleveland, Cavani, American, Tokyo and London Haydn Quartets.

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Stamitz Viola Concerto Competition Winners Announced

Congratulations to Gabriel Polycarpo, winner of Stamitz Viola Concerto Competition!  He is a student of Edward Gazouleas.

The runner-up is Pablo Munoz, student of Kevork Mardirossian and Masumi Per Rostad.

The concert with the Chamber Orchestra is Wednesday April 8, 2015 at 8:00 pm in Auer Hall.

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David Radzynski (BM Violin ’09) Named Concertmaster of Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

david21-300x233Jacobs alumnus David Radzynski (BM Violin ’09) was recently named as a new concertmaster of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. During his time at Jacobs School of Music, David worked closely with Mauricio Fuks and Kevork Mardirossian.

He writes he is very grateful for everything IU has given him.
Read an exclusive interview from the American Friends of the IPO here:

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Samuel Loeck wins Koussevitsky Bass Concerto Competition

Congratulations to Samuel Loeck, student of Bruce Bransby for winning the Koussevitsky Bass Concerto Competition!  The runner –up was Kaelan Decman, student of Bruce Bransby.

The performance will be Wednesday January 28, 2015 with the  University Orchestra.

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Denis Brott (’71) Appointed to the Order of Canada

Denis BrottHis Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, announced that Denis Brott has been appointed Member of the Order of Canada, recognized for his achievements as a cellist and pedagogue, and for his role in establishing the Canada Council of the Arts’ Musical Instrument Bank. Established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Order of Canada is the cornerstone of the Canadian Honours System and recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Renowned internationally as one of Canada’s finest performing musicians, Denis Brott is Founder, Executive and Artistic Director of the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, founded in 1995, and has been Professor at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal since 1989.

“Being named to the Order of Canada is an honour unlike any I have had in my life,” says Denis Brott, “I am proudly Canadian and to be recognized by my own country in this way is thrilling. Music surpasses all borders and prejudices; it speaks directly to the heart and soul of all human beings. To me, it quite literally reflects the identity of what our great country stands for in the world.  My life’s work has been a passion and this honour will serve to continue to motivate me to excel, with devotion, in speaking the language of music.”

Denis Brott, C.M. rose to international attention in 1973 when he won 2nd Prize in the Munich International Cello Competition. Mentored by some of the world’s greatest cellists, such as Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School, Janos Starker at Indiana University, and Gregor Piatigorsky at the University of Southern California, Mr. Brott’s concert tours have since taken him to prestigious venues and festivals on four continents. A devoted chamber musician, Brott spent eight years in the Orford String Quartet, during which time he made 25 recordings, earning two Juno Awards (1985, 1987) for Best Chamber Ensemble Classical Recording, and the Grand Prix du Disque (1988) for the complete Beethoven string quartets. He has also appeared as guest with ensembles including the Guarneri, Emerson, Tokyo and Fine Arts String Quartets. His numerous solo recordings include Brahms’ Sonatas for cello and piano, and Homage to Piatigorsky, which received this accolade from Yo-Yo Ma:  “His playing throughout is exemplary, full of the rich sound and technical wizardry the master exemplified.  I think Piatigorsky would be proud.”

Denis Brott is a passionate pedagogue. He has been professor of cello and chamber music at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. He has been in residence at Toronto Summer Music, the Banff Centre for the Arts, Marlboro Music Festival, the Sitka Summer Music Festival, and held the cello chair at the Musicorda Chamber Music Institute and Festival. Mr. Brott has been professor of cello and chamber music at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal since 1989.

In 1985, Denis Brott played a pivotal role in the creation of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Musical Instrument Bank which gave him a magnificent 1706 David Tecchler cello for his lifetime use. Every three years, talented Canadian classical musicians take part in an intense competition for the chance to borrow fine stringed instruments from the Musical Instrument Bank, which includes 22 magnificent instruments worth a total of over $41 million. These historically-significant violins, cellos and bows, ranging in age from the late 1600s to the early 1900s, were crafted by the world’s finest luthiers such as Stradivari, Guarneri, and Gagliano. Mr. Brott continues to sit on the Musical Instrument Bank Advisory Board.

Since 1995, when Denis Brott presented the Festival’s inaugural concert at the Chalet atop Mount Royal, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival has presented over 200 concerts to an audience of more than 100,000. Through superior and innovative programming – making chamber music accessible to as broad a public as possible – Brott has always striven to present the full cultural richness and heritage of Montreal to music lovers within and beyond the city’s borders. In concerts ranging from classical to jazz to klezmer, the Festival has hosted innumerable internationally renowned artists, including Gary Graffman, Marc-André Hamelin, Jean-Philippe Collard, Colin Carr, André Laplante, James Ehnes, the Canadian Brass, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and the Emerson, Guarneri, Tokyo, and Fine Arts Quartets, to name only a few. Brott has also encouraged and presented relatively unknown young Canadian musicians who have since gone on to world renown, including pianist Jan Lisiecki, violinist Jonathan Crow (Toronto Symphony Orchestra concertmaster), as well as the winners of the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank competition. The Festival’s 20th anniversary season will include 14 superb concerts at a range of top venues in the city. (Full program to be announced in January 2015.)

Additional recent honours for Denis Brott include the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his contribution to Canada (2012), and the Montreal Destination Centre-Ville “Event of the Year” award in 2014, for the Montreal Chamber Music Festival. The Order of Canada insignia will be presented to this year’s appointees at a later date at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa.

Story by Shira Gilbert

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Rachell Wong named one of the winners in the Heida Hermanns International String Competition

Winners Announced in 2014 Heida Hermanns International String Competition

heida hermanns string competition

Xiao Wang, violinist from China, is the winner of the 2014 Heida Hermanns International String Competition presented by the Connecticut Alliance for Music (CAM) with the support of the Westport Arts Center, on Saturday and Sunday, November 22 and 23, at Westport Town Hall. Now celebrating its 43rd year, the annual competition is named for the late Heida Hermanns, an acclaimed concert pianist who lived in Westport with her husband Artur for more than 40 years.

As the competition winner, Wang was awarded a $5,000 cash prize. Wang began playing the violin at age five. At age 10, he was accepted to study at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music. He was First Prize winner of the 2012 Szigeti International Violin Competition and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artists Competition. Wang is currently a full scholarship student at Manhattan School of Music.

Second place went to Rachell Wong, violinist from the United States, who was the recipient of a $2,500 cash prize. She is a Master’s student at the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University. She was the Gold Medal winner at the 2013 International Crescendo Music Awards and the Grand Prize winner in the 52nd Sorantin International Young Artists Competition for Piano and Strings.

In third place was Chensi Tang, violist of China, who earned a $1,500 cash prize. She is a student at Manhattan School of Music, and a graduate of the Middle School of the Central Conservatory in Beijing. Tang is one of the winners of the Bled International Viola Competition, the 5 Towns Music and Art Foundation Young Musicians Competition, and the Manhattan School of Music Concerto Competition.

Honorable mentions, at $500 each, were awarded Christina Bouey, violinist of Canada and graduate of Manhattan School of Music; You Kyung Kim, cellist of Korea, who attended Juilliard, Yale, and currently attends Longy School of Music at Bard College; and Xinou Wei, violinist of China, who holds a Master’s of Music degree from Mannes College of Music and this year was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers.

From audition CDs submitted by university and conservatory music students and alumni world-wide, 20 semifinalists competed on Saturday, November 22. Six musicians were selected to advance to the Sunday finals, November 23.

Three distinguished professional string musicians judged the competition: Avron Coleman, cellist; Laurance Fader, violist; and Gino Sambuco, violinist.

Heida Hermanns was a world-class concert pianist and child prodigy. A Jewish refugee, she fled Nazi Germany with her two great loves – her husband Artur Holde, and the music in her heart. Artur became her agent, and for many years, Heida had a very successful concert career. Artur and Heida eventually took up residence in Westport. After Artur’s passing, Heida founded the competition for piano, woodwinds, voice, and strings in 1971. In 1972 – along with Josephine Barnett, Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, Brenda Lewis Cooper, Joanne DeBergh Dublin, and Harriet Salerno – she founded the organization that is today known as Connecticut Alliance for Music. Initially called Performers of Southern Connecticut, it quickly grew to become Performers of Connecticut. As the membership became more audience-based than performer-based, the name was changed to Connecticut Alliance for Music. Heida lived in Westport for over 40 years, promoting and endorsing all of the arts. During her last years, the Competition was re-named in her honor.

Connecticut Alliance for Music, for more than 43 years, has been nurturing the talents and careers of young musicians and fostering the love of fine music.


For more information, contact Connecticut Alliance for Music at 203-319.8271.

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