Meet the NRO’s 2017 Library Intern

Eri IsomuraA native of Minnesota, Eri grew up playing piano, drums, marimba and percussion. She attended St. Olaf College and earned a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance with distinction, and recently completed her Master of Music in percussion performance at The Boston Conservatory. While on the East Coast, she was a member of the New England Philharmonic, the timpanist for the Refugee Orchestra Project, performed for the new music initiative “Times Two Series” in Boston. Last summer she also performed in Inuksuit – a percussion piece written for the outdoors – at the Tippett Rise Music Festival, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, and Aspen Music Festival.

Since 2011, Eri has served as a library assistant to the Minnesota Orchestra. She is looking forward to taking on the role of librarian of the Wayzata Symphony Orchestra beginning Fall 2017. In addition, she is an active teacher and performer throughout the Twin Cities area, is currently working on a recording project with her father, Sachiya Isomura, a cellist in the Minnesota Orchestra, and regularly performs recitals to benefit Compassion and Mercy Associates, who is aiding Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Welcome 2017 Development Intern

Libby Abbott photoLibby Abbott is a currently pursuing her Master’s in Arts Administration at the University of Akron while working as a Graduate Assistant. She earned her B.M. in Oboe Performance at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in 2016, studying with Professor Linda Strommen. While working on her Master’s, she is an intern with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and is Chair of Fundraising with the Arts Administration Networking Alliance (AANA). Libby is passionate about the arts and plans to work in arts administration to ensure the presence and growth of arts within our communities.

Guest Artist, Christopher Taylor

Christopher Taylor photoBack by popular demand is Christopher Taylor joining us on June 10th, Opening Night!

Among his generation of pianists, Christopher Taylor stands out as an innovative musician with a diverse array of talents and interests. During the past few years he has appeared regularly in many important concert halls and developed a loyal following throughout the United States and abroad; critics hail him as “one of the most impressive young pianists on the horizon today” (The Washington Post) and “frighteningly talented” (The New York Times). He is known for a passionate advocacy of music written in the past 100 years — Messiaen, Ligeti, and Bolcom figure prominently in his performances — but his repertoire spans four centuries and includes the complete Beethoven sonatas, the Liszt Transcendental Etudes, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and a multitude of other familiar masterworks. Whatever the genre or era of the composition, Mr. Taylor brings to it an active imagination and intellect coupled with heartfelt intensity and grace.

In recent seasons Mr. Taylor has concertized around the globe, performing throughout Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. At home in the U.S. he has appeared with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Detroit Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, and the Boston Pops. Christopher Taylor has toured with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic, and with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra — with which he premiered Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Sea Orpheus at Carnegie Hall. As a soloist he has performed in New York’s Alice Tully Hall, as well as at Carnegie, in Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Ravinia and Aspen festivals, and dozens of other venues. In chamber settings, he has collaborated with many eminent musicians, including Robert McDuffie, Robert Mann, and the Borromeo, Shanghai, Pro Arte, and Ying Quartets. His recordings have featured works by Liszt, Messiaen, and present-day Americans William Bolcom and Derek Bermel. Apart from concertizing and recording, he has undertaken various unusual projects. Recent examples include: the commission and premiere of a piano concerto by Derek Bermel with the Indianapolis Symphony, made possible by a Christel Award from the American Pianists’ Association; investigations into the compositions of the legendary pianist Gunnar Johansen; performances and lectures on the complete etudes of György Ligeti; and a series of performances of the Goldberg Variations on the unique double-manual Steinway piano in the collection of the University of Wisconsin, an instrument whose rediscovery and refurbishment he has actively promoted.

Numerous awards have confirmed Mr. Taylor’s high standing in the musical world. He was named an American Pianists’ Association Fellow for 2000, before which he received an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1996 and the Bronze Medal in the 1993 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, where he was the first American to receive such high recognition in twelve years. In 1990 he took first prize in the William Kapell International Piano Competition, and also became one of the first recipients of the Irving Gilmore Young Artists’ Award.

Mr. Taylor owes much of his success to several outstanding teachers, including Russell Sherman, Maria Curcio-Diamand, Francisco Aybar, and Julie Bees. In addition to his busy concert schedule, he currently serves as Paul Collins Associate Professor of Piano Performance at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He pursues a variety of other interests, including: mathematics (he received a summa cum laude degree from Harvard University in this field in 1992); philosophy (an article he coauthored with the leading scholar Daniel Dennett appears in the Oxford Free Will Handbook); computing (he created a compiler for a new programming language); linguistics; and biking, which is his primary means of commuting. Mr. Taylor lives in Middleton, Wisconsin, with his wife and two daughters. Christopher Taylor is a Steinway artist.

Announcing 2017 Assistant Conductor

Born iRadu Paponiu 2n Romania in 1989, conductor and violinist Radu Marian Paponiu began studying the violin at age seven, moving on to study privately with Carmen Runceanu and Stefan Gheorghiu. After coming to the United States at the invitation of the Perlman Music Program, Radu was accepted to the studio of Robert Lipsett at the Colburn School Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, California, where he earned both a Bachelor of Music and an Artist Diploma.

Beginning his conducting studies with Maxim Eshkenazy and continuing with Yehuda Gilad and Alexander Treger, Radu was appointed Assistant Conductor of the American Youth Symphony in the spring of 2011. During his four year tenure with the orchestra, Radu conducted numerous educational and subscription concert performances at the University of California Los Angeles Royce Hall. Additionally, during his time at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, Radu frequently conducted the Colburn Conservatory Orchestra, Colburn Chamber Orchestra, Colburn Youth Orchestra, and the Colburn Contemporary Players. These performances included collaborations with distinguished soloists such as Robert Levin, John Perry, and the Ebène String Quartet, including the United States premiere of cellist Raphaël Merlin’s work Eléa for string quartet and orchestra. Additionally, Radu has guest conducted the LG Youth Orchestra in Korea, Luzerne Music Center String Orchestra, and the Inland Valley Youth Symphony. Strongly committed to community engagement, Radu has conducted the Herbert Zipper Outreach Orchestra in numerous in-school performances throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

For two consecutive summers, Radu participated in the prestigious American Academy of Conducting at Aspen as the recipient of both the Albert Tipton Aspen Fellowship and the David A. Karetsky Memorial Fellowship. In Aspen, Radu furthered his studies under the guidance of Robert Spano, Larry Rachleff, Leonard Slatkin, Hugh Wolf, Patrick Summers and Frederico Cortese. During the summer of 2015, Radu also served as Assistant Conductor for the Aspen Opera Theater Center’s full production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte.

Radu is currently pursuing his Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting at the New England Conservatory in Boston, working privately with Hugh Wolff. While in Boston, Radu is also a Conductor Apprentice with the Handel&Haydn Society. Additionally, in May 2016, Radu conducted the world premiere of the opera The Summers Case by composer Sonnet Swire, recipient of the Charles Yves Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Since the fall of 2016, Radu divides his time between Boston and New York, where he serves on the conducting faculty for the Juilliard Pre-College Division.

NRO Welcomes Back Production Manager

Darrin BlumeDarrin Blume is looking forward to his second year as the Production Manager with the National Repertory Orchestra. After graduating college with a saxophone performance degree, he auditioned and took a job with the First US Army Band performing on multiple woodwind instruments. He served in Korea and returned from overseas to take a position with the US Army Field Band.  While serving in this organization, he managed military ceremonies, scheduled educational outreach and handled all details for national and international concert tours for multiple performing ensembles. Darrin continued his education earing a Master of Science in Information Resource Management.


Darrin retired from Army with the rank of Sergeant Major in 2015. Upon retirement, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.  Darrin enjoys an active lifestyle which includes hiking, boating, fishing and performing. He resides in Severna Park, Maryland.

Nathaniel Davis Returns As Recording Engineer

nathaniel-davis-2017-nro-pictureNathaniel Davis is an audio engineer and tubist with a focus on classical music.  He is currently based in Houston, Texas, where he maintains an active recording and teaching schedule.  Nathaniel attended the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, graduating in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Recording Arts with High Distinction, a Bachelor of Music in Tuba Performance with High Distinction and Honors in Music, and a Certificate in Arts Administration.  He worked at the NRO in 2015 as the Production Operations, and Recording Intern and in 2016 as the Recording Engineer, and is very excited to return to Breckenridge again for his third summer!

Welcome Back our Assistant Librarian

Mariel Stauff_photoMariel Stauff is very excited to be returning to the NRO for summer 2017, returning as Assistant Librarian for a second summer. Originally trained as a clarinetist, she became interested in library work in college and interned with Paul Gunther in the Minnesota Orchestra library in summer 2004.  She worked in the orchestra/choral library of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music for ten years, including seven as head librarian.  Mariel has master’s degrees in Musicology and Library Science, both from Indiana University.

Welcome Back Principal Librarian Paul Gunther

Paul GuntherA macrobiotic chocoholic, Paul Gunther is a study in contradiction. Having played percussion since age 7, he performed in the 423rd United States Army Band for two years and then was honorably discharged as a conscientious objector. His first teacher was retired Boston Symphony Percussionist Lawrence White.  For several years he studied with Jack Moore, late Minnesota Orchestra Timpanist.

Joining the Minnesota Orchestra in 1975, Paul worked first as Assistant Librarian.  After taking a quick 8-year break from Minnesota as the chief librarian of the Milwaukee Symphony, Paul returned in 1986 in the role of Principal Librarian.

In 2013 Paul was appointed National Repertory Orchestra Librarian.  The Library staff ensures that thousands of scores and pieces of the correct sheet music find their way to the right performers and conductors, and onto the correct music stands onstage.

Paul serves on the volunteer board of directors of his housing association; as well as on the volunteer governing board of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM).  He was also a founding member in 1983 and twice president of the Major Orchestra Librarians Association (MOLA), and volunteered six years of service on MOLA’s board of directors.

Paul’s degree is in music theory and composition; his eyes are sometimes hazel, his hair consistently more salt than pepper.  His favorite book was voted greatest novel of the 20th century in England.

As you can tell from reading this bio, Paul is nothing short of entertaining.  All at the NRO respect his expertise and enjoy his unique sense of humor.  Welcome back, Paul!

Catch up on Gabriel Zamora

Gabriel Campos Zamora photoGabriel Campos Zamora attended the NRO in the summer of 2010, and went on to be a fellow of ACJW (an ensemble at Carnegie Hall) for one year, and later moved to Norfolk to play Principal Clarinet with the Virginia Symphony. Shortly after, he moved to Kansas City to play bass clarinet but moved up in the section after winning their associate principal audition. He has also played at Marlboro for three summers and has appeared as guest principal with the Cleveland Orchestra, Houston, and Seattle symphonies.

About the NRO, Gabriel says, “The NRO is a sort of window into what the real job looks like. Sometimes, you get a few rehearsals to put a big piece together and quickly move on to new repertoire, just like you would in the ‘real world.’ Mr. Topilow was very demanding and stressed the fine points of orchestral playing. It was a great experience, and it definitely pushed us to prepare quickly, and in an intelligent manner.”

Gabriel Campos Zamora has since become the principal clarinet of the Minnesota Orchestra!  Mr. Zamora follows Burt Hara, who held the position for more than 25 years and who also happens to be a National Repertory Orchestra alumnus. He was also in fact one of Gabriel’s teachers.  Mr. Hara is currently with the LA Philharmonic as Associate Principal Clarinet.  Congratulation to both NRO alumni for their amazing and bright careers!

Read more about Gabriel Campos Zamora.  Read more about Burt Hara.

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.