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Danielle Belen Shares Her NRO Experiences

danielle-belen“I attended NRO in 2006 and 2007 and those were extraordinary summers of music-making that I will never forget.  I was treated as a professional, giving me a new confidence as I embraced and grew into meeting those high expectations. I had the privilege of serving as your concertmaster for two summers as well as performing the Brahms and Sibelius violin concertos as a soloist.  In my professional life now as a teacher, I reference my experiences at NRO frequently and have students who are now interested in attending themselves!”

On a personal note, her then boyfriend and now husband Ryan, came with her that first summer in 2006 to Breckenridge and they fell in love with the town.  Ten years later, they remember that summer with such fondness and great stories.  

Ms. Belen made friends and contacts during those summers that to this day have remained important to her career.  She says, “It is a magical place to make music, study and build that important bridge between student and professional life and I am grateful to have been a part of it.”  Additionally, Danielle has remained in touch with Carl Topilow, and even recently worked with him in Sandusky, Ohio, playing Prokofiev Violin Concerto with his wonderful orchestra there. 

Danielle currently lives in Ann Arbor and teaches at the University of Michigan with a studio of sixteen wonderful violin students.  Born and raised a California girl, Ms. Belen says, “the transition to the Midwest (actually, Michigan is far enough east to run on East Coast time) was a bit daunting, but it has turned out to be an incredible adventure.  It turns out that the changing of seasons suits me after all (surprise- snow!) and the diversity of the influences around me has only made me a stronger pedagogue.   I also continue to teach monthly at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, so that is how I get my Vitamin D from the sun!”

Below is Ms. Belen’s Brief Biography:

As part of the violin faculty at The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance in Ann Arbor as well as The Colburn School in Los Angeles, Danielle Belen is already making a name for herself as a seasoned pedagogue with a strong studio of young artists.   Her students have won major prizes in national and international competitions including the Menuhin, Stulberg and Klein competitions, as well as being accepted into major conservatories and universities across the country. 

Winner of the 2008 Sphinx Competition, Ms. Belen has appeared as a soloist with major symphonies across the U.S., including the Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Nashville and San Francisco Symphonies, the Boston Pops, and the Florida and Cleveland Orchestras.

A graduate of the USC Thornton School of Music and the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles, she studied with Robert Lipsett and acted as his primary teaching assistant for a number of years.  In 2008 she joined the Colburn faculty at the age of twenty-five.  

In 2010, Ms. Belen founded Center Stage Strings, a summer camp and performance festival for gifted young musicians. After gaining national attention, CSS has recently moved to the campus of The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as part of MPulse, a summer program run by the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Ms. Belen plays on a 1709 Alessandro Gagliano violin from the Mandell Collection of Southern California.

Alumnus Wins Position in Omaha

kevin-tompkins-croppedAfter attending NRO in 2014, Kevin Tompkins completed his graduate studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with William Preucil and Stephen Rose. During his time in Cleveland, he performed with the Akron Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, Firelands Symphony, and other regional orchestras. Mr. Tompkins was also invited to serve as guest concertmaster for the Ashland Symphony for their opening concert this season. During the summer of 2015, he studied and performed at the Lucerne Festival Academy in Switzerland, and continued his studies with Mr. Preucil at the Brevard Music Center. This past summer, Mr. Tompkins was a member of the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, and attended the Aspen Music Festival as a full-scholarship student of Alexander Kerr.

Currently, Mr. Tompkins won a new position as Assistant Principal Second Violin of the Omaha Symphony, which he auditioned for and won in mid-September. He started working on October 7, 2016.

Mr. Tompkins shares, “NRO was unique in its emphasis on preparing students for the day-to-day requirements of an orchestral career. I was able to hone in on techniques and strategies for preparing orchestra music that I apply constantly in my new position. All of that, combined with a stunning location (and climbing several 14ers!) made NRO a truly enjoyable and rewarding experience.”

John Landon Joins NRO Board

john-landon-cropped-2John and his wife Kathy are full time residents of Breckenridge, and their children and grandchild fortunately live on the front range.  John and Kathy are natives of Atlanta, Georgia and John earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee where he met Kathy.  Later he received a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern California.

Following college John entered the Air Force in 1969 and spent the majority of his 27 year career as a pilot, commander and Pentagon staff officer.  In 1996 he retired and remained with the Department of Defense as a civilian in the Senior Executive Service at the Pentagon primarily in the field of acquisition.  He retired from civil service in 2007 and took a position with Northrop Grumman Corporation as corporate vice president in Falls Church, Virginia and remained there until his retirement in 2013.

John and Kathy enjoy the many local outdoor activities offered in our area and are active with their church and the community.  They are an NRO host family and team leads for the church’s free community dinners.  John is also a member of the vestry at St John the Baptist Episcopal and continues to consult for a government agency.