Roger Roe, Oboe faculty at IU, is releasing his debut recording as a member of Jackson Trio

Jackson Trio_1-sheet for Naxos-4

Poetry and lost love serve as the common threads of inspiration for Wordless Verses, a collection of atmospheric chamber music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries for the uncommon scoring of oboe, viola, and piano.

Available together for the first time, these evocative pieces make up the debut recording of the Jackson Trio, whose members are longtime colleagues and active performers and educators in university and festival settings across America.

The poetry that serves as the programmatic foundation for each of these works comes from a diverse group of voices including American Victorian poet Edgar Allan Poe, Austrian lyric poet Nikolaus Lenau, 17th-century metaphysical English poet Andrew Marvell, and French musician and decadent poet Maurice Rollinat. The work most widely known and recorded is Charles Martin Loeffler’s 1901 Deux Rhapsodies for oboe, viola, and piano. The others are by three relatively unknown composers who wrote exceptionally well-crafted music. Felix Harold White’s 1921 composition The Nymph’s Complaint for the Death of Her Fawn won the 1922 Carnegie Award and the praise of Ralph Vaughan Williams. August Klughardt composed his Schumannesque Schilflieder, Five Fantasy Pieces After Lenau’s Poems, Op. 28 in 1872. Excerpts of Lenau’s poetry written directly into the score explicitly illuminate the instrumental passages. Josef Holbrooke’s lifelong obsession with Poe’s poetry inspired 30 works including Nocturne: Fairyland, Op. 57, No. 1, written in 1917 after one of Poe’s earliest published poems by the same name.

Distributed by Naxos of America, Wordless Verses is available through select retailers and digital music channels worldwide.

Oberlin Music is the official recording label of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Learn more at

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Oboist Gabe Young receives rave review in Washington Post

The Washington Post

A joyful evening of Wagner and Mahler from young maestros

By Patrick Rucker
July 26, 2015

In all of Western music, few C major chords are as ample, radiant and filled with joyful portent as the ones that open the Prelude of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” Richard Wagner’s opera about the practice and love of music.

Saturday night at the Kennedy Center, those chords signaled the beginning of the final concert of the National Symphony’s Summer Music Institute Orchestra, composed of more than 60 gifted young musicians ages 14 to 21, competitively chosen from 27 states and Canada. They’ve been in town for the past month, getting to know one another and making music under the expert direction of conductor Elizabeth Schulze. The music they made Saturday was engaged, sophisticated and thoroughly compelling.

Although these are young musicians, many of them have already begun their professional training in conservatories and universities. In fact, the beautifully blended string choirs, superb wind and brass playing and the contained enthusiasm of the percussion section suggested a much more mature ensemble than this group’s median age. The breadth of Wagner’s great surges easily dissolved into agile quick passages, phrases ebbed and flowed, and full-throttle climaxes blossomed rather than blasted.

Mahler wrote his First Symphony when he was only 28 and, despite its many challenges, both in terms of ensemble and for individual players, the orchestra played it as if it had been composed specifically for them. There are occasions in the symphony when you are not sure whether Mahler’s naivete is genuine or a tongue-in-cheek parody. In this fresh, committed performance, sincerity was never in doubt. The rustic Scherzo had an infectiously bumptious rusticity. The klezmerlike interruptions of the funereal movement here seemed emotionally credible rather than abruptly obtrusive. The apocalyptic finale was thrilling.

Between these two late 19th-century orchestral extravaganzas, Gabriel Young, a 19-year-old oboist from Oregon, played a Venetian baroque concerto by Alessandro Marcello, accompanied by a chamber-size ensemble of strings. Young is not only a master of his instrument but an artist of taste and discernment. The sound of his oboe is, for lack of a better word, angelic. There were moments, particularly in the Adagio, when the music seemed to transcend even that exquisite oboe sound, emerging instead as pure, disembodied human expression. Young created a breathtaking spell that lasted well into the Mahler symphony.

Schulze, who presided over this remarkable, deeply satisfying evening, has conducted the past 15 of the Summer Music Institute’s 23 seasons. Her baton technique is impeccable, her beat is clear, crisp and economic, and her musical imagination is rich. The eyes of her responsive young colleagues are always on her.

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Jacobs sophomore Gabe Young to perform at Kennedy Center Saturday, July 25

Young_Gabe-200x300Originally published July 24, 2015.

Oboist Gabe Young, a student of Linda Strommen, has been named the winner of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) Summer Music Institute’s (SMI) concerto competition. He will perform the Marcello Oboe Concerto with the SMI Orchestra on Saturday, July 25, at 7 p.m. EDT on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. He will be also playing the principal oboe part on Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 on the second half of the program.

The concert will be live-streamed, and the concerto performance will be archived.

The NSO Summer Music Institute, now in its twenty-second year, is a four-week intensive music program located at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Approximately 60 students between the ages of 15 and 20 from across the United States and Canada are accepted each year to attend the program, free of cost.

The students participate in private lessons taught by members of the NSO, receive chamber music coaching from NSO members, attend master classes and seminars, rehearse side-by-side with the NSO, perform two full orchestra concerts under the baton of Elizabeth Schulze, and more. They also all have the opportunity to compete in a multi-round concerto competition, with the winner being selected to perform with the SMI Orchestra at its final concert.

At age 19, Young has been performing professionally for more than half of his life. From busking on the street corners of Southern Oregon as a small child to performing sold-out concerts in world-class venues across the United States, Russia, and England, he has continued to develop his musical prowess in a variety of styles, including classical, jazz, Klezmer, and Celtic.

Born and raised in Ashland, Ore., Young began playing saxophone at a very early age. A member of a musical family, he picked up the oboe in the fifth grade, excited by the opportunity to play in an orchestral setting. He spent eight years in the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon, and while studying at Ashland High School, was named to numerous all-state and regional ensembles.

He was the four-time Oregon State Solo Competition champion and was named to the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) in both 2013 and 2014. It was on consecutive tours with the NYO-USA that he had the honor of performing under the batons of famed conductors Valery Gergiev and David Robertson, and alongside renowned violin soloists Joshua Bell and Gil Shaham.

Young’s classical solo career includes guest solo performances with the Rogue Valley Symphony, Second Street Baroque Orchestra, and Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon. He has been interviewed and has performed on National Public Radio, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, and BBC Radio and Television.

He is a sophomore Wells Scholar at the Jacobs School of Music.

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IU Wind Ensemble to perform at national college wind band convention

The Indiana University Wind Ensemble will perform at the College Band Directors National Association national conference in Nashville, Tenn., this Thursday evening, March 26. The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the home of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Stephen Pratt

Stephen Pratt

The IU Wind Ensemble is conducted by Stephen Pratt, Jacobs School of Music professor, and will feature Jacobs professor Jeff Nelsen as guest soloist performing The Glass Bead Game by James Beckel.

Nelsen is best known as the hornist of the Canadian Brass, with which he toured and recorded for eight years. As professor of horn at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Nelsen teaches horn and chamber music. As a horn soloist, he has performed concerti with orchestra and given recitals on five continents. He has performed with dozens of orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Houston and National symphonies, Philadelphia and Minnesota orchestras, and the Canadian and New York City Opera companies. He has held full-time positions in the Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg symphony orchestras.

The IU Wind Ensemble was selected, along with several other groups from across the nation, to perform at the national convention after a rigorous screening by a distinguished panel of musicians.

The concert will include music by two members of the Jacobs School composition faculty: Ra! by David Dzubay to open the concert and Jug Blues and Fat Pickin’ by Don Freund to bring the concert to a virtuosic conclusion. A brand new work by internationally known conductor and composer André Previn, Music for Wind Orchestra – No Strings Attached, will also be featured. The ensemble will also present the second performance of Rite of Passage arranged by Cliff Colnot. Colnot is a frequent guest conductor at the Jacobs School of Music and arranged the work for a performance by members of his Chicago Civic Orchestra, which premiered the work.

The IU Wind Ensemble holds a distinguished reputation for musical leadership in the wind band field. Recognized as one of the finest collegiate wind ensembles in the world, the ensemble is composed of some of the most advanced music majors from all areas of the Jacobs School of Music. The group performs a wide variety of the finest wind literature, including classics of the repertoire, chamber music for winds and contemporary works.

The ensemble has performed previously at all of the most important wind band national venues, including, in the last seven years, conventions held by the College Band Directors National Association, American Bandmasters Association and Music Educators National Conference.

Pratt teaches graduate wind conducting courses and is the chair of the Department of Bands/Wind Conducting at the Jacobs School. In demand as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator of wind bands and orchestras across the country, he is recipient of the Distinguished Service to Music medal awarded by Kappa Kappa Psi, the national collegiate band honorary organization. He has also been honored with the Outstanding Bandmaster award, Gamma chapter (Indiana) of Phi Beta Mu (1998), the Outstanding University Music Educator award, Indiana Music Educators Association (2001) and the Calvert Outstanding Music Educator Award (2014).

Pratt is a past president of the College Band Directors National Association North Central Division and past president of the Indiana Bandmasters Association. He is an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association as well as a former member of the executive board of the National Band Association and has been a member of the Jacobs School of Music faculty since 1984.

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Level of performance is rewardingly high

By Peter Jacobi


The compositions chosen, five in number, were fewer and, for the most part, longer than usual on Tuesday evening when the Indiana University Wind Ensemble gathered on stage of the Musical Arts Center for its initial program of the winter season.  But, as usual for all of the university’s concert bands, the emphasis was on repertory little known and challenging.

Also as usual, and definitely to the good, conductor Stephen Pratt was in charge for all but one of the pieces, meaning that the level of performance was rewardingly high. Let it be said that the other item, a lively salute to American musical comedies by Adam Gorb titled “Awayday,” was nicely served, too, thanks to the nimble and purposeful conducting of master’s candidate Trae Blanco.

Tuesday’s program opened with a stimulating celebration of the tango, “Vientos y Tangos” (“Winds and Tangos”) by Michael Gandolfi.  The work is marked by a succession of rhythms arrayed against counter rhythms, a not-easy task to make happen smoothly in performance.  But with Maestro Pratt wielding the baton, the reading moved ever so smoothly from quiet, reflective start to dynamic development and back to calm, as if the dancers, after the excitement of the dance, needed to catch their collective breath and enjoy their tango memories.

The most extensive work on the program, a full-scale concerto, followed, this being Kevin Walczyk’s “Talking Winds” — Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble.  Walczyk teaches music at Western Oregon University and has been honored for both his teaching and composition.  “Talking Winds,” he says, was inspired by the Navajo code talkers of World War II and the war correspondence of Ernie Pyle. Written for Tuesday’s trombone soloist, the immensely gifted Jacobs School faculty member Peter Ellefson, the concerto, according to the composer, was designed to “transform the written word into music pitches that make up the work’s complete melodic and harmonic language.”

What one heard was music adroitly orchestrated and certainly well played by both Ellefson and the Wind Ensemble. The technically demanding solo line might, indeed, have paid homage to the code talkers, as the composer claims in discussing “prose transformation” that “utilizes both word-for-word and acrostic ciphering methods,” but this listener longed for music more in the spirit of the eloquent Ernie Pyle words Walczyk said moved him. Among them are words about the Midwest, about “the summer wind … one of the most melancholy things” that “comes from so far away and blows so gently and yet so relentlessly; it rustles the leaves and the branches of the maple trees in a symphony of sadness.”  There’s music in those words.

A sumptuous “Elegy for Albinoni,” written by Shelley Hanson as homage to the Baroque composer Tomaso Albinoni, gave the ensemble a chance to sound lush and radiant.  The program ended with “Duende,” by the contemporary Spanish composer Luis Serrano Alarcon, an exciting foray into musical traditions of his native land, to which Pratt and the Wind Ensemble gave both nuance and vibrancy.


© Herald Times 2014

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Update from Thomas Robertello

Thomas Robertello recently returned from a European tour as guest principal flutist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra led by Riccardo Muti presented six concerts in Luxembourg, Germany, and the Canary Islands. Robertello will appear as guest principal flute with the CSO for more concerts this season.

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Student Update: Jessica Stewart, flutist wins first prize in Alexander & Buono Competition

Jessica Stewart has been chosen as a first prize winner in the Alexander & Buono Competition for flute in New York. She will perform  in the winners’ recital Sunday, October 20 in Carnegie Recital Hall. Ms Stewart is a junior and student of Thomas Robertello.

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Student Update: Pei-San Chiu wins Principal Flute of the Lexington Philharmonic

Pei-San Chiu has won the Principal Flute position with the Lexington Philharmonic. She is a third-year DM student of Thomas Robertello.

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Music Review: IU Wind Ensemble

Musicians excel in season opener

By Peter Jacobi

Conductor Stephen Pratt frequently chooses the far more intimate Auer Hall for Indiana University Wind Ensemble concerts rather than the spacious Musical Arts Center, and he did so once again on Tuesday evening for the band’s season opener.

All that brass and percussion means the listener, particularly during climaxes, can be overwhelmed by sound. Fortunately, the sounds produced by the Wind Ensemble, even in dissonance, tended to fall comfortably on the ear, well-tuned and resonant that they were.

Maestro Pratt had selected an absorbing repertoire for his musicians, much of it 21st century music. It included two items by contemporary Japanese composers, that way inaugurating a Jacobs School-centered Japan Festival which features, throughout the month of October, an array of works currently being written in that country.

Their subject matter is unusual: Masanori Taruya’s work is called “The Archangel Raphael Who Leaves a House of Tobias,” and Satoshi Yagisawa’s Fanfare celebrates Hayabusa, an asteroid probe that traveled billions of miles before returning to Earth in 2010. The scores, though, are not unusual. They don’t exhibit regional qualities but sound as if they could have been written anywhere. Both, however, are beautifully crafted, with lush orchestration and thematic content satisfying to hear. Pratt and company treated them ardently and resoundingly.

Tuesday’s concert opened with Kyle Kindred’s “Variations on a Tango,” a 2012 sendup of that blazing dance with clever use of instruments, flutes and tubas, for instance, establishing the rhythm. The piece outlasts its inventiveness, turning from amiable to pretentious before the end. Nevertheless, Kindred owns what must be a facile imagination, one that can fashion music intriguing enough to draw in a listener.

Tuba virtuoso Daniel Perantoni joined the band for a performance of Dana Wilson’s 2012 Concerto for Tuba and Wind Ensemble, definitely a showcase for the soloist; Perantoni made the most of it. Master’s candidate Christopher Dortwegt effectively led a chamber-sized reduction of the Wind Ensemble in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ lively, bouncy Scherzo all Marcia. Doctoral candidate Brett Richardson used a fuller compliment of players for an equally bouncy and happy “Mock Morris” by Percy Grainger; conductor and ensemble made the music dance.

Boss Pratt was back on the podium for Donald Hunsberger’s sumptuous arrangement of Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor. The performance was stunningly dramatic and masterfully wrought, thanks to a conductor taken by the music’s power and able to project his feelings for it to a responsive ensemble of musicians excelling at the task.

© Herald Times 2013


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Barkada Quartet perform at the 2013 Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy

Barkada_BW1The Barkada Quartet, 2012 Fischoff Competition Grand Prize Winner, performed across Italy at the 2013 Emilia Romagna Festival this past summer. As the representative of the Fischoff Grand Prize Winner’s Tour, the quartet performed and shared their story with standing room only crowds.

The Barkada Quartet formed as a student chamber ensemble at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 2011, where they all studied under Otis Murphy. The group is comprised of Christopher Elchico (soprano sax), Marti Comas (alto sax), Steven Lawhorn (tenor sax), and Justin Polyblank (baritone sax).

Read more here:

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