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Top Instrumentalists from Music Academy of the West Arrive in NYC for 2018 New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program (Jan 18)

On January 18, the ten outstanding musicians from Music Academy of the West who have been named as this year’s Zarin Mehta Fellows will arrive in New York to take part in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program’s fourth season. By providing these fellows with the chance to learn directly from Philharmonic musicians, experiencing all aspects of an orchestral player’s life from audition to performance, this far-reaching collaboration represents an innovative and immersive approach to preparing the next generation of world-class musicians for successful careers.

The 2018 Zarin Mehta Fellows were selected by audition from among the instrumentalists at Music Academy of the West, where they were all full-scholarship participants this past summer. They are violinists Cherry Choi Tung Yeung and Gi Yeon Yoon, violist Yuan Qi, cellist Jenny Kwak, double bassist Michael Marks, flutist Hannah Hammel, oboist William Welter, clarinetist Ryan Toher, horn player Nathaniel Silberschlag, and trombonist Michael Cox.

These Music Academy of the West instrumentalists will undergo a rigorous ten-day training program in New York, including training and playing alongside Philharmonic musicians in selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet for the orchestra’s January 25–27 subscription concerts conducted by Stéphane Denève. Other highlights of the immersion include two mock auditions; a chamber concert that sees the fellows performing Dvořák, Nielsen, and Persichetti; tours of David Geffen Hall and the Philharmonic Archives; “Programming and Production” and “Orchestra Committee” panels; and a “Playing Fit” seminar led by trainer Jennifer Johnson. The fellows will also visit local schools, attend concerts, take private lessons from musicians in the orchestra, and attend a post-concert reception hosted by Alec Baldwin.

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

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

The Music Academy of the West is the first American partner in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy. A number of past Zarin Mehta Fellows from the Music Academy of the West have already been appointed to professional orchestras. 2015 Zarin Mehta Fellow successes include trumpeter Anthony Bellino, who recently won a position in The President’s Own Marine Band; violist Matthew Cohen, who took first prize at the 2015 Vivo International Music Competition; clarinetist Sean Krissman, now principal clarinet of Houston Grand Opera; violinist Simon Michal, who is a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; violinist William Shaub, appointed concertmaster of the Knoxville Symphony; and bassoonist Michael Severance, a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. 2016 Zarin Mehta Fellows also earned positions with major orchestras: horn player Nikolette LaBonte, who served in 2015 as Assistant Principal Horn of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, is now a member of the Rochester Philharmonic, while violinist Rebecca Reale has been appointed to the first violin section of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, after a brief stint with the Houston Symphony. 2017 Zarin Mehta Fellows’ achievements include clarinetist Jack Walters earning the second clarinet position with the Detroit Symphony; violinist Kevin Chen being appointed to the New World Symphony; and violinist Alexander Volkov starting an internship with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

The program’s four-year partnership combines training of Music Academy fellows by Philharmonic musicians with biennial performances by the Philharmonic at the Music Academy Summer Festival. This collaboration is the formalization of a long relationship between the orchestra and the school; twelve New York Philharmonic musicians are currently alumni of the Music Academy of the West.

During the Music Academy of the West’s 2017 Summer Festival, the Philharmonic’s departing Music Director, Alan Gilbert, led the Academy Festival Orchestra in the final concert of the season with soprano Renée Fleming, besides conducting the New York Philharmonic at Santa Barbara City College’s La Playa Stadium in the Music Academy’s 70th Anniversary Community Concert, which marked the final appearance of his tenure. The residency also saw the New York Philharmonic String Quartet perform with faculty members, and five key Philharmonic musicians – concertmaster Frank Huang, principal cello Carter Brey, principal bassoon Judith LeClair, principal trombone Joseph Alessi, and associate principal percussion Daniel Druckman – serve as guest faculty, offering masterclasses, chamber coaching, private lessons, and lectures.

About the 2017 Zarin Mehta Fellows

Born in Hong Kong, violinist Cherry Choi Tung Yeung, 20, studies under Ida Kavafian at the Juilliard School, where she has served as associate concertmaster of the orchestra. Her honors include first prizes at the first Hong Kong Youth String Competition and Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts Concerto Competition, and second prize in the Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition. She has given solo appearances at venues including Hong Kong City Hall and Shanghai Concert Hall, and made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2013.

Korean violinist Gi Yeon Yoon, 25, is a graduate student of Laurie Smukler at the Manhattan School of Music, where she leads the orchestra. She has also performed with the Bucheon Philharmonic, Seoul National University Orchestra, and Seoul Arts High School Orchestra, and has taken first prize at multiple competitions, the New York International Music Competition among them.

Hailing from China’s Heibei Province, violist Yuan Qi, 28, is assistant principal violist at the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. Having received her graduate diploma from the Peabody Institute, master’s degree from Yale School of Music, and bachelor’s degree from Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music, she took second prize at the 2015 International Hugo Kauder Competition.

Cellist Jenny Kwak, 25, of Gwangju, South Korea, holds a master’s degree from Yale School of Music. She was principal cellist at the Pacific Music Festival, and has appeared as soloist with the Music in the Mountains Chamber Orchestra and Texas Christian University Symphony Orchestra, where she was the winner of the concerto competition.

Currently pursuing a master’s degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, double bassist Michael Marks, 23, holds a bachelor’s degree from the Colburn Conservatory of Music. He was principal bass of the Arizona Opera for three seasons, and has substituted for the Houston, Phoenix, and New World Symphonies, the Houston Grand and Los Angeles Opera Orchestras, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

A native of Richmond, VA, Hannah Hammel, 23, is the newly appointed principal flute of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. She holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Rice University and the Oberlin Conservatory, respectively, and has won multiple competitions including the National Flute Association Young Artist Competition. As an orchestral flutist, she has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, New World Symphony, and Houston Grand Opera.

Oboist William Welter, 23, from Crescent, IA, is pursuing an Artist Diploma at the Oberlin Conservatory under the instruction of Robert Walters. He has substituted for the Pittsburgh Symphony, and has performed at the Tanglewood, Bravo! Vail, and Music from Angel Fire music festivals.

Clarinetist Ryan Toher, 23, of Arlington Heights, IL, is a graduate student at the USC Thornton School of Music. Having completed his bachelor’s degree at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and attended Music Academy of the West, New York String Orchestra Seminar, Sarasota Music Festival, National Orchestral Institute, Banff Centre Masterclass Series, and the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, he is now a substitute for the New World Symphony.

Born in Leonardtown, MD, horn player Nathaniel Silberschlag, 18, is an undergraduate student at the Juilliard School, where he took first prize at the 2016 Juilliard Horn Concerto Competition. He was principal horn of the Romanian State Symphony on its tour of Northern Italy, and has appeared as soloist with New York’s Little Orchestra Society and the Bulgarian Philharmonic.

Trombonist Michael Cox, 23, of Skokie, IL, earned his bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University and is currently a graduate student at New England Conservatory. He has been a substitute with both the Chicago Symphony and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and was a finalist in the 2017 International Trombone Festival’s Tenor Trombone Competition.

Click here for high-resolution photos of the 2018 Zarin Mehta Fellows.

About the New York Philharmonic

The New York Philharmonic plays a leading cultural role in New York City, the United States, and the world. Each season the Philharmonic connects 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; education programs; and the New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives. In the 2017–18 season, during which Jaap van Zweden serves as Music Director Designate, the Philharmonic celebrates its greatest strengths and essential commitments while looking to the future as an innovative, global ensemble, spotlighting its musicians and partners, dedication to new music, wide-ranging repertoire, education programs, and accessibility. The Philharmonic 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; Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto; and Wynton Marsalis’s The Jungle (Symphony No. 4).

Renowned around the globe, the orchestra 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 and produced its first-ever Facebook Live concert broadcast in 2016. Jaap van Zweden will become Music Director in 2018–19, succeeding musical leaders including Alan Gilbert, Maazel, Masur, Zubin Mehta, Boulez, Bernstein, Toscanini, and 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, many of them free of charge. These include performances by faculty, guest artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera. The 2018 Summer School and Festival will take place June 18-August 12 at the Academy’s scenic Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. For more information, visit

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.

For further information, contact:

   Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group: [email protected]; 212-625-2038

   Kate Oberjat, Music Academy of the West: [email protected]; 805-695-7908

   Katherine E. Johnson, New York Philharmonic: [email protected]; 212-875-5700

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© 21C Media Group, December 2017

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