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Department News

Third year graduate student Tonia Ko has been chosen as the 2015-2017 Young Concert Artists Composer-in-Residence. Ko receives a commission to write a work for pianist Daniel Lebhardt, who will premiere the work in his recital debuts in the Young Concert Artists Series in New York in the Rhoda Walker Teagle Concert at Merkin Concert Hall on February 23, 2016 and at the Kennedy Center on March 1, 2016. She will receive a second commission for a work to be premiered in the 2016-17 season in the Young Concert Artists Series in New York and Washington, DC.
The Young Concert Artists Composer-in-Residence Program began in 1994 as an initiative of the Young Concert Artists, Inc. Alumni Association. It receives support from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the William B. Butz Memorial Fund, and the Alumni musicians of Young Concert Artists.
Composers are nominated for the YCA Composer Program by a nationwide committee composed of alumni and current artists of Young Concert Artists, composers and conductors on the program’s National Composer Recommendation Panel, ASCAP, and BMI. Tonia Ko was nominated by composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. A panel of YCA Alumni consider the applicants’ recordings and scores. The final selection is made by a current YCA Artist who will premiere the work on tour and in their New York and Washington, DC debuts the following season.

For more information about Tonia Ko, visit her student profile page and her website.

CanBekirBilirBW (134x200)

First year composition student Can Bilir was selected as a composer for the European Broadcasting Festival MUSMA V (Music Masters on Air). As part of this selection he received a commission for which he produced, Quintet II. This work will be performed in four upcoming Festivals including: Klara Festival, Festival de Wallonie, Culturescapes, and Ankara Music Festival.

Additionally, Can Bilir’s lastest work Quintet III for Oboes was chosen to be part of the 2015 Impuls Academy.

For more information, visit Can Bilir’s website.




It has been a busy year for Eric Nathan (Composition, 2012)! In addition to his duties as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Williams College, he finished recording his debut CD with Joseph Alessi in February, and has just announced that he has accepted a tenure-track position of Assistant Professor at Brown University. Congratulations Eric!


For more information on recent and upcoming performances of Eric’s work, please visit his website.

Sierra-Shepherd Banner

Works by Professor Roberto Sierra and Alum Sean Shepherd were featured as part of Q2 Music’s March 24th webcast Symphomania: 24 Hours with the 21st-Century Orchestra. The producers of the broadcast interviewed leading conductors and critics for their expert opinions to compile the playlist.  Excerpts of these interviews were included in the webcast to introduce and contextualize the selected works. Chosen were Sierra’s Sinfonia No. 2, “Gran Passacaglia” and Shepherd’s Magiya. Q2 Music will repeat the webcast Saturday, March 26th beginning at 12 a.m.

Click here more information about the webcast.

Click here to see the playlist for the webcast.


Charles Peck – Headshot

First year DMA student, Charles Peck, won Symphony in C’s 2014-2015 Young Composers’ Competition.  His winning composition, Metropolitan, was performed by Symphony in C at the Gordon Theater, Rutgers-Camden Theater for the Arts on January 10, 2015, with a subsequent radio broadcast on WRTI.  Introduced in 1996, the competition provides young composers an opportunity to have their work premiered and performed as part of Symphony in C’s season concert series. Symphony in C’s Composer-in-Residence described Peck’s work as having, “fire, depth, and charm,” and added that it was a “stand-out among a particularly strong field of entries.”  Congratulations Charles!

To hear Metropolitan for solo piano, visit Charles Peck’s website.

For more information about the competition, go to Symphony in C.


Professor Xak Bjerken and Senior Lecturer Miri Yampolsky have released a new CD on Open G Records entitled, SCH.  SCH includes two world premiere recordings of music by Professor Roberto Sierra and Professor Emeritus Steven Stucky, as well as, the works by Schumann and Schubert that inspired them.

From the liner notes…
The letters SCH form the core of the listening experience of this recording as we radiate out from Schubert and Schumann to the masterful four-hand reimagining of the past by two living composers, Steven Stucky and Roberto Sierra.
Both composers welcome the inspiration of their musical brethren; to quote T.S. Eliot, “What might have been and what has been, point to one end, which is always present.”

For more information, go to: Open G Records.

If you would like to see live performances of SCH, Yampolsky and Bjerken will be featured in the opening season (Fall, 2015) of a new hall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called Original Music Workshop performing selections from the disc, as well as the Rite of Spring.

For more information, go to:



Kim-Ariana-Knights CD2

Letter from Assistant Professor Ariana Kim announcing the release of The Knights new album and the beginning of a new tour:


Dear Friends and Family,

To my fellow New Yorkers, Happy Blizzard! I hope you are all enjoying a cozy and relaxing snow day.

I am honored and delighted to announce the launch of our seventh album, The Knights’ the ground beneath our feet, which will be released today, January 27th on Warner Classics. It is a compilation of live performances from our last domestic tour, at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

This record is particularly special to me because I had the joy of performing Steve Reich’s double violin concerto, Duet, on the album alongside my friend and colleague, Guillaume Pirard. We also just learned that NPR has chosen the Reich to be featured on “Songs We Love” later this week — you can check that out here!

the ground beneath our feet also includes two unique world premieres — a concerto for santur and violin written by Colin Jacobsen and Siamak Aghaei and the title track, the ground beneath our feet, written collectively for and by The Knights. J.S. Bach’s oboe and violin concerto and Stravinksy’s Dumbarton Oaks concerto bring the album full circle, and we are all thrilled to share our latest with you.

If you so desire, you can pre-order the album this week on iTunes and Amazon.

Last but not least, we are just about to embark on a domestic tour with the incomparable Béla Fleck featuring his own banjo concerto and other folk- and bluegrass-inspired music. The tour will include stops in Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

We kick off the tour right here in NYC with a concert at The Schimmel Center of Pace University on Wednesday evening, January 28th @ 7:30pm.

For more information on all of this Knights-iness, please feel free to visit our website at

Thank you so much for taking the time to see all that’s in this message, and I wish you all the very best in 2015.



11th Concerto Competition

The 11th annual Cornell Concerto Competition was held on Sunday, December 14, in Barnes Hall Auditorium. From a very strong field of four finalists, judges Malcolm Bilson and Matthew Ardizzone chose Paul Huang as the winner.  Huang, Chemistry ’18, performed Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole, 1st Movement with accompanist Joe Pepper. Professor Bilson commented, “All the participants played at a very high level and it was a difficult decision.” The other three finalists included Hae Soo Cheon, Jae Baek, and Jiacong Xu.  Huang will perform the Lalo Symphonie Espagnole with the Cornell Symphony Orchestra on February 28th, 2015 in Bailey Hall.

Winner Paul Huang is a freshman majoring in chemistry and minoring in music. He began playing the violin at age 6, studying first with Bo Huang (no relation) and later with Jonathan Lam. He was a member of the New England Conservatory Preparatory Orchestras for seven years, and is currently in the Cornell Symphony Orchestra. Aside from violin, Paul also played the alto saxophone for five years. He currently studies violin with Amy Christian.

Finalist HaeSoo Cheon is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences double majoring in Psychology and Asian Studies and minoring in business. She performed Karl Goldmark’s Violin Concerto, mvt 1.  HaeSoo began playing violin at age nine and started taking private lessons one year later. She studied with Levon Zarasian in Scottsdale, AZ for five years before coming to Cornell. She studied with Juliana Athayde her freshman year and served as concertmaster of the Cornell Chamber Orchestra. She currently plays in both orchestras and is under the instruction of Dr. Ariana Kim.

Finalist Jae Baek is a sophomore in the College of Engineering majoring in Biological Engineering. She performed Francois Borne’s Fantasie.  Jae Baek started flute at the age of 10 and since then, has participated in region and all-state orchestras. She received a blue ribbon in the New York Flute Club Competition and as a student in high school, performed Mozart Concerto in G Major with the school orchestra. She currently studies with Amy Elizabeth Shuhan.

Finalist Jiacong Xu performed Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No.1. Born in China, Jiacong didn’t touch the piano until he moved to Sydney, Australia. He started considerably late at the end of 8th grade when he was 14, but immediately fell in love with the instrument. A year later, he was admitted into Conservatorium High School, the secondary division of Department of Music of University of Sydney. Jiacong studied piano with Elizabeth Powell until graduation in 2013.

Thank you to all the competitors and Congratulations to Paul Huang!

Jennifer Zetlan as Mozart. Photo by Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times

Jennifer Zetlan as Mozart. Photo by Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times

Professor Emeritus Steven Stucky’s comic opera, The Classical Style: An Opera (of Sorts), premiered to a packed Zankel Hall in New York on Thursday, December 4th. Inspired by Charles Rosen’s landmark 1971 book, The Classical Style: Hadyn, Mozart, Beethoven,  the piece both entertains and educates.  The New York Times calls it, “absurdly funny yet genuinely insightful into the inner workings of music” To read the rest of that glowing review, follow this link.





The Recording Academy has nominated Professor Roberto Sierra’s Sinfonía No. 4 for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category. Released on the Naxos label, the piece was premiered by the Nashville Symphony with Giancarlo Guerrero conducting.  Grego Applegate Edwards’s lauded this work as standing “apart from the typical offerings one can hear for the orchestra in the new Millennium,” and ArtsNowNashville praised it as, “uncommonly vivid and sensuous.”  Congratulations Professor Sierra!


Roberto Sierra