Alumna Working at the Cleveland Orchestra

Carey Skinner croppedCarey Skinner, National Repertory Orchestra Marketing Fellow in 2017, won a job with the Cleveland Orchestra shortly after her summer in Breckenridge and has recently been promoted to Manager of Development and Communication. In this role, she is the content creator for the fundraising department with written and design materials.

Outside of the Orchestra, Carey is part of a marketing team with ChamberFest, Cleveland’s Strategic Planning Committee. She also continues to be an avid partner with a young non-profit, the Cleveland Music Exchange, which has an incredible education and performance residency in Harare, Zimbabwe. In addition, Carey continues to play the viola (she graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music in May, 2017 with a Masters in Viola Performance), performing with two local groups, OPUS 216 and Classical Revolution Cleveland.

Carey shares, “My time at NRO really launched me into this next phase of my career and I am eternally grateful. I hope this update can serve as encouragement to this group of supporters for how important the NRO is as a career builder for young professionals – and not just the musicians!! Their donations are incredibly significant and so crucial to support this fantastic career training program.”

No doubt that Carey’s positive, can-do attitude and hard work ethic have also played a big role in where she is today and where she will be tomorrow. We know you don’t need it, but best of luck in your new role Carey!


Alumnus Becomes Associate Concertmaster

Timothy Steeves (smaller) croppedTimothy Steeves was recently named Associate Concertmaster of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He served as concertmaster of the National Repertory Orchestra in 2014 and 2015.
Regarding his time with the NRO, he states, “My two seasons with the NRO were pivotal to my professional development. The intense pace of those eight weeks and the quantity of repertoire that we performed demanded diligent planning and preparation on the part of every musician. Those habits and skills sets have allowed me to transition into the professional world with a greater sense of ease and experience.”

Read More About Timothy

2018 NRO Alumnus Wins Position

Myles_Blakemore_132.jpgTrombonist Myles Blakemore won a position with the US Naval Academy Band just one week after this year’s festival concluded. This band of professional Navy musicians provides musical support for the Brigade of Midshipmen, and for official functions of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Myles says “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in Breckenridge. The festival does a great job of preparing young musicians with the professional experience they don’t get in college including limited rehearsals, guest conductors, and pops concerts. Without a doubt I owe a lot to Carl Topilow and my amazing colleagues at NRO for helping me secure this job.”

Prior to NRO, Myles held fellowships with Minnesota Orchestra and New World Symphony during the 2017-18 season, as well as the second trombone position with Symphony in C during their 2016-17 season. He has also been fortunate enough to perform with the professional orchestras of Charleston, Dallas, and Malaysia. Mr. Blakemore is a graduate of Southern Methodist University (BM), where he studied with John Kitzman and Manhattan School of Music (MM), where he studied with Dr. Per Brevig in the Orchestral Program.

2015 Alumnus Gets Job in Charlotte

Hunter Gordon croppedOriginally from Port Angeles, Washington, Hunter Gordon is currently Acting Section Bassoon of the Charlotte Symphony for the 2017-2018 season. He holds a Master of Music from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and both a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Oberlin College and Conservatory. Previously Second Bassoon/Assistant Principal of the Symphony of Southeast Texas, Gordon has also appeared with the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, Louisiana Philharmonic and as guest principal of the Jacksonville Symphony. Hunter’s summer festivals include the Verbier Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, National Repertory Orchestra (2015), Texas Music Festival and Round Top Festival Institute. His primary teachers are Benjamin Kamins, George Sakakeeny and Otto Eifert.

Hunter says, “NRO was a fantastic way to become familiar with major orchestral repertoire, something that has proven to be invaluable in the years since I attended. The experience of preparing and performing so many concerts was extremely beneficial and helped shape my approach to a career in music.”

Success for Miles Jaques

Miles JaquesSince attending NRO in 2011, Miles Jaques was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach from 2013-2016.  The first time he even auditioned for NWS was during his summer in Breckenridge!  After his time in Miami, he was asked to play with the Toronto Symphony for one season as acting associate principal/bass/Eb clarinet by Music Director, Peter Oundjia, who he played under for the first time at NRO.  There were two openings in the TSO in the four member clarinet section (bass and associate principal) so he took the audition, and won the bass clarinet/utility job in March of 2017.  Miles has performed multiple times with the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra.  He has appeared regularly with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Chamber Soloists over the course of the last two years as well.  Since the summer of 2016, he has been a regular guest of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra as their bass clarinetist and, along with his colleagues from the Santa Fe Opera, he will be featured at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in 2018.

Miles shares, “I am forever grateful for my time in NRO.  When I look back, I unequivocally consider the time I spent in Breck as a turning point in my growth as a musician and certainly my professional career.  The schedule at NRO is much like the ones of professional organizations; limited rehearsals mixed with challenging programs. This was my first real glimpse at what my life could potentially be as a professional and it was at that point that I knew I had made the right choice in career path.  Additionally, the clarinet section that I was a part of at NRO was by far the best I had ever played in and my interactions with them as colleagues was extremely invaluable, something I still think back on.  Aside from the incredible musical opportunities provided by NRO, I immediately formed a very close bond with my “host parents” from that summer.  Since 2011, Murray and Marlene Altman have become very close friends of my husband and me and have virtually been adopted by our families. We speak with them often; they even attended our wedding as our special guests!”  

Alumnus wins Principal Bassoon in Jacksonville

Conrad Cornelison cropedConrad Cornelison joined the Jacksonville Symphony as Principal Bassoon in 2017, after spending two seasons with the Houston Grand Opera. Prior to his work in Houston, he held the Principal Bassoon positions with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony of Southeast Texas. Other professional appearances include work with the Houston Symphony, the Houston Ballet Orchestra, Da Camera of Houston, the San Antonio Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic the Victoria Bach Festival Orchestra, the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, and the Coastal Symphony of Georgia.

Mr. Cornelison was also recently appointed Adjunct Professor of Bassoon at the University of North Florida, where he began teaching during the 2017-2018 school year. In addition, in March 2017, Mr. Cornelison co-founded LC Double Reeds, a double-reed instrument supply company that designs and manufactures professional quality reed-making tools for oboists and bassoonists. LC Double Reeds’ products have quickly gained popularity across the globe and are available internationally through many of the top distributors in the industry.

Conrad holds degrees from Rice University and Juilliard, where he studied with Benjamin Kamins and Patricia Rogers, respectively. He is also a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he studied with Eric Stomberg. His former festivals include the National Repertory Orchestra (2014), Pacific Music Festival, and the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. He currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife, oboist Xiaodi Liu, and their dog, Toby.

Conrad states, “My summer with the NRO was extremely valuable to me. Aside from meeting many lifelong friends and colleagues, the musical demands of the festival gave me a good structure to begin implementing many of the lessons I had learned from my teachers over the years, and ultimately led me to develop an overall more efficient way of learning music and preparing repertoire. Freshly out of school with no job, NRO gave me the structure I needed to prepare for auditions and the professional world.”

NRO Intern Gets Job with Cleveland Orchestra

Carey Skinner croppedKentucky native, Carey Skinner, was raised in a musical family and began studying violin at just two years old. Falling in love with its sonorous sounds, she switched to viola at age eleven. In 2011, she joined the studio of Ivo-Jan van der Werff at Rice University where she earned her Bachelor of Music with an award for Distinction in Research and Creative Works. This award was earned primarily through work with her contemporary ensemble Meraki which collaborates with young composers and seeks to bridge the gap between traditional and modern performance.

Carey graduated in May 2017 with her Masters in Viola Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied with Lynne Ramsey. As an avid chamber performer, she joined her colleagues of the Coventry String Quartet as the Quartet In Residence for Steamboat Springs Strings Festival in 2016.

Recently, Carey began working as a Campaign Associate for the Cleveland Orchestra. She will be focusing on project management and interacting with nearly every subsection of the Philanthropy & Advancement Department as the Orchestra enters its 100th Season. She is excited to start on this new career path and looks at it as a wonderful learning opportunity as well as a way to be an advocate for her beloved music community. Carey attributes some of her success to the NRO saying, “I genuinely believe that, without my internship through the NRO, I would have not been called for multiple job interviews, nor would I have been prepared for my current position. I got to work closely with every staff member, giving me a glimpse into the world of a small non-profit. I learned so much from witnessing all the moving pieces that go into running an orchestra and that experience was truly invaluable. Thank you to the NRO staff, interns and musicians for launching my career in such a meaningful way this summer!”

In her spare time, Carey enjoys cooking, teaching viola, and performing around the city with the unique and vibrant community created by Classical Revolution Cleveland.

Alumna to Debut at Grand Ole Opry

Mia OroscoTwenty-four-year-old Mia Orosco, is a recognized classical violinist in addition to a multiple state and national fiddle champion. Mia grew up in Lorena, Texas and began studying classical violin at age 6. She soon began studying violin with Dr. Eka Gogichashvili and fiddle with Joey McKenzie. She spent 2013 and 2016 with the NRO and has been doing amazing things since!

​In her high school years, Mia was accepted to the Texas All-State Symphony three times and won the Waco Youth Symphony Concerto Competition. In 2011, Mia was featured on the classical radio show “From the Top” which features the top young classical musicians in the nation. She also won the Texas State Junior Fiddle Championship, the Colorado State Junior Fiddle Championship, the Western Open Fiddle Championship, the National Junior Fiddle Championship, and at age 19, won the Grand National Fiddle Championship, becoming the youngest female to ever do so.

Mia has performed and soloed with many ensembles around the country including the National Repertory Orchestra, the American Institute of Musical Studies Orchestra, the Schleswig Holstein Festival Orchestra, and the Round Top Festival Institute Orchestra as concertmaster. Mia is also a substitute violinist with America’s Orchestral Academy, the New World Symphony.

​Since playing with the NRO in 2016, Mia has been pursuing a master’s degree at Indiana University, begun work as a recording studio artist in Indianapolis, and is working towards an orchestral job. After winning the Grand Masters Fiddle Contest, Mia will be making her Grand Ole Opry debut in 2018.

Of her time with the NRO Mia says, “My NRO experience prepared me in the best way possible for my future music endeavors. The musicians inspired me and taught me so much about being a dynamic player, the community showed me how to truly support the arts, and the music showed me the importance of sharing these beautiful works of art with audiences. I loved every minute of my summers with the NRO and cannot thank the organization enough for my experience there!”

Three Year Alumna Teaching and Playing in Canada

Manker #4684 bestKatherine Gradojevich Manker started with the NRO as the Principal Second Violin in 1989. She returned in ’92 and ’93 to act as Concertmaster. Since then, she spent seven seasons as Associate Concertmaster with the North Carolina Symphony before moving to Montréal, Canada. Currently, she is teaching for the McGill Music Conservatory and is an active freelancer, performing and touring frequently with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. As a member of the Adorno Quartet, Ms Manker participated in the Beethoven Project performing the complete cycle of the Beethoven String Quartets numerous times. Ms. Manker spent several years in Southern California regularly performing with the Santa Barbara Symphony and Chamber Orchestra, Opera Pacific, and freelance work in the motion picture, television, and recording industries.

She is a graduate of The Cleveland Institute of Music and continued her violin studies at the Colburn School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles as a scholarship student of Robert Lipsett. Ms. Manker has taught for the Preparatory Department of The Cleveland Institute of Music, Colburn School of Performing Arts, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was the Artistic Coordinator for Festival Alexandria (Ontario, Canada) from 2007-2010. She plays on a violin made by Samuel Zygmuntowicz in 2013.

The NRO was lucky enough to have Ms Manker back in Breckenridge last summer celebrating Carl Topilow’s 40th season, she recalls, “Over the years I’ve frequently thought a lot about my positive experiences at NRO and working with Carl Topilow. I still remember how quickly Carl was able to take a difficult orchestral passage apart for us, explain the inner workings of the passage and then put it back together so that we could play it with total confidence, needless to say, these passages have been learned for life. (Rite of Spring!!)”

Alumna Strives in Toledo

Laura LongmanLaura Longman participated in the NRO in 2014, and in 2015 as assistant concertmaster. In between these summers, she auditioned for and began her current position as a core member of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra’s first violin section.

Laura is a native Michigander who received her bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Michigan. Her principal teachers include Sam Spurbeck, Paula Elliott, Aaron Berofsky, and David Halen. Prior to the Toledo Symphony, she performed with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, Flint Symphony Orchestra, and the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. Laura resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

She says, “The most valuable experience I gained from the NRO was being able to preview the work of a full-time orchestral musician. I was able to step into my new position with ease, and I was already familiar with most of the repertoire!”