November 30, 2016

NWS Alumni Sitings

About 20 New World Symphony Fellows who concluded their fellowships during 2016 have taken the next step in their musical careers by winning places in symphony orchestras all over the U.S., Canada and beyond. As many orchestras are expanding their programs beyond the traditional, NWS has set the innovative standards over the years, and graduating Fellows bring all of the professional talents they have developed here out into the world of performance, musicianship, audience development and community outreach.

It can be a long process between winning the audition and playing in their first concerts, but as those alumni have entered their new performance hall homes, so have they taken up residency on the virtual stage. Many now have full profiles on the websites of the orchestras they are new members of. So take a ride on the linkin’ highway as new New World Symphony alumni acquire new online presences.

[Note: Not all orchestra members are listed, for example if they are one-year hires replacing musicians on leave (a.k.a. got new jobs); nor are all websites yet updated to reflect latest changes.]

After playing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on their Asian tour last January, Emma Gerstein joined the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in New Zealand last spring as Principal Flute. As far away from Miami Beach as it might seem (8,000 miles) she was nonetheless joining two other New World Symphony alumni there (Principal Percussionist Eric Renick and Principal Bassoon Ingrid Hagan). But wait, there’s more. In August Yuping Yu joined them as a new member of the APO first violin section.

In early 2016 violinist Julia Noone became interim Assistant Concertmaster at The Louisville Orchestra (helmed by NWS alumnus Teddy Abrams) and during the summer she won the permanent position. She had also been guest Associate Principal with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. And for this current season violinist Andrea Daigle is an interim member of the second violin section. As the LO marketing director stated, “We’re so happy to have both of these talented women in Louisville.” They are part of a complement of six NWS alumni there.

Two more early 2016 graduates from NWS, violinist Hugh Palmer and horn player Alexander Love, joined the Utah Symphony. There are more than a dozen NWS alumni in Salt Lake City.

Two violinists won positions with the Houston Symphony second violin section last spring, starting this season in what one NWS staffer termed a “benevolent takeover” as they pad the Houston NWS alumni contingent to about 10. Rebecca Reale joined as Associate Principal Second Violin and is acting as Principal for the 2016-17 season. Lisa Kim is also a member of the second violin section.


Cellist Julia Yang won a coveted position in New York City. She is one of only 18 fellows of Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect (formerly Ensemble ACJW). It’s a “two-year fellowship program for the finest young professional classical musicians in the U.S. that prepares them for careers combining musical excellence with teaching, community engagement, advocacy, entrepreneurship and leadership.”

In July the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra announced its new musicians for the 2016-17 season. Max Blair was named Associate Principal Oboe (along with 2011 alumnus Brandon McLean as new PSO Associate Principal Bass). Max and Brandon joined a group of about eight other NWS alumni there. Unfortunately, they stepped into an unusual work situation as the PSO musicians went on strike in September. Fortunately, after a 55-day walk-out, the strike was settled the day before Thanksgiving.

Trumpeter George Goad also stepped into an unusual situation. But the good kind. He was named the new Principal Trumpet at the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony. He was appointed to replace a very popular trumpeter who played with Columbus for a whopping 50 years (Principal since 2009). Those will be challenging shoes to fill. There are three more NWS alumni at Columbus.

NWS Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas’ other orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, hired two NWS 2016 alumni. Former NWS Conducting Fellow Christian Reif was named as SFS Resident Conductor and Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, starting this season. He made his SFS debut in September 2015. He is joined by Nick Platoff as Associate Principal Trombone, who begins his “audition year.” There are about 14 NWS alumni at San Francisco.

Fourth-year Cello Fellow Kevin Kunkel won a position in May, starting this season with the Oregon Symphony in Portland. Very sophisticatedly, the symphony dresses up their musicians (including nine NWS alumni) in dapper formal attire for their profile photos.

As reported recently, another fourth-year Fellow, violinist Foster Wang, was commissioned Staff Sergeant to join the U.S. Marine Band, The President’s Own. He joins two more NWS alumni in The Corps.

Another news profilee, one-year percussionist Matt Howard, won “the job of a lifetime” as Principal Percussionist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic in May. The Los Angeles native said, “It’s pretty ridiculous. I was not expecting getting my dream job off the bat.” He joins two other NWS alumni at the LA Phil.

Violist Amy Pikler was chosen for an interim (temporary) position with the San Antonio Symphony in Texas, and is now listed as a regular section violist. There are about a dozen NWS alumni at SAS.

In September Miles Jaques moved to Canada to become acting Associate Principal Clarinet of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, on a one-year contract. As the clarinetist he replaced is listed “on leave” (he really got another job), Miles unfortunately doesn’t get a listing on the TSO website musicians page. But we do know he’s there thanks to social media. There is one additional NWS alumna at TSO; and Miles’ ‘boss’ the TSO Principal Clarinet Joaquin Valdepeñas came to NWS to coach in October and last January.

Violinist Lauren Densinger has joined the Cézanne Quartet in Dallas, Texas. Formed in 2014, the group was co-founded by four music students and alumni from Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts. Lauren is the first non-Meadows member. The CQ was named the inaugural winner of the new Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence at Meadows, in residence at SMU through May 2017.

Finally, through a nail-biting audition process in September, last year’s Library Fellow Ashton Bush was named Performance Librarian at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Having finished two college degrees at BU and Simmons in Boston, and then worked as library assistant at the Boston Symphony Orchestra (in Boston and at Tanglewood), this seems to be another case of an NWS Fellow getting their dream job.

This just in: Trumpeter Joseph Brown, who left NWS in October, is reported as subbing at the San Francisco Opera for their fall production of Aida, and has a one-year contract with the San Francisco Ballet on 2nd Trumpet for next season.

Congratulations on their professional accomplishments to all of our NWS 2016 alumni!

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Posted in: Alumni

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