Luperi Wins Job in Pittsburgh

victoria-luperi-3Victoria Luperi, NRO 1998, was appointed associate principal clarinet with the Pittsburgh Symphony in June 2016. She previously served as principal clarinet with the Fort Worth and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras, and has performed with the Grand Teton, Tanglewood, Verbier, and Mainly Mozart Festivals.

Ms. Luperi shares, “NRO was a fantastic experience. The festival orchestra played really big repertoire and Maestro Topilow guided us expertly through it. The pace of the festival was similar to that of a professional orchestra — we covered many programs within a short few weeks. I felt that was very helpful in preparing us for the next step in our careers. Breckenridge is a very beautiful and an inspiring place for young artists, and I will always remember my time there fondly.”

Victoria premiered “Fantasía sobre Yma Sumac,” a piece for solo clarinet and orchestra written for her by John B Hedges (Miguel Harth-Bedoya/Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra). She has appeared as a soloist with the Madison Symphony, Signature Symphony in Tulsa, Debut Orchestra (Los Angeles), Philharmonia of Kansas City, Córdoba Symphony, Córdoba Chamber Orchestra, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

A devoted chamber musician, Ms. Luperi has collaborated with members of the Emerson, Vermeer, and Guarneri Quartets, and performed at the Marlboro and Mimir Festivals, the Académie musicale de Villecroze in France, the Oregon Bach Festival, Chicago’s Latino Music Festival, and the Forth Worth Chamber Music Society.

Ms. Luperi has served as Lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, Adjunct Faculty at Texas Christian University, and has been on faculty at Brandon University (Canada), the New York Summer Music Festival, the Filarmónica Jóven de Colombia, and the Buffet Crampon Academy in Jacksonville, Florida.

Victoria Luperi is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Donald Montanaro. She began her music education in her native Argentina with Oscar Gieco, and later studied with Richard Hawkins and Yehuda Gilad. Distinctions include the First Prize in the Pasadena Instrumental Competition, the Interlochen Fine Arts Award, and the Banco Mayo Award of Buenos Aires. She has appeared in concert broadcasts on NPR’s Performance Today, WRR 101.1, WFMT, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Ms. Luperi is a Buffet Crampon USA Performing Artist, and a Vandoren Artist and Clinician.

From Intern to Executive Director

achia-floyd-croppedAchia Floyd, NRO 2016 Artistic & Education Intern, landed a job interview immediately after returning home from Breckenridge this summer.  Only a few weeks later she was hired as the new Executive Director of Tallahassee Youth Orchestras!  Overjoyed to join the team at Tallahassee Youth Orchestra, an organization Achia participated in as a youth, she looks forward to the prospect of supporting the growth of the organization. 

Achia is also in her second year of the Master of Arts in Arts Administration program at Florida State University.  “My experience with NRO coupled with my degree program has provided me the necessary ‘real world’ experience to prepare me for {this new} position,” Ms. Floyd states.

“My time at NRO definitely proved invaluable in the process of securing the position of Executive Director and was a major contributing factor in securing the position well before graduation. I cannot thank the NRO enough for allowing me to not only be a part of the team, but for providing many opportunities for my development within the field of Arts Administration. I enjoyed my NRO experience and treasure all the lessons learned this past summer.”

Maestro Topilow Performs With Alumni

carl-and-alumnit-sept-2016Members of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and NRO Alumni performed together with maestro Carl Topilow recently. From left to right: Casey Gsell, Tea Prokes, Thaddeus Archer, Jocelyn Longworthy, Kim Bryden Loch, Laura Longman, Carl Topilow, Nancy Lendrim, Michelle Tosser Smith.  See the full photo below…



Principal Percussion at LA Phil

matthew-howard-croppedMatthew Howard, NRO 2013, recently won the position of Principal Percussion at the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  The NRO was Matthew’s first summer music festival and he shares this about his experience, “I would have to say that, NRO has to be in the top 3 of best orchestral music festivals in the world.  There is no other place that offers real life experiences within one of the most beautiful parts of the country.  I enjoyed every second in Breckenridge and would not be where I am today without NRO and the doors that it helped me open.” 

After attending NRO, Mr. Howard went to Boston and studied at the New England Conservatory with Will Hudgins of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  The summers following the NRO, he was a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra.  He then graduated from the New England Conservatory and immediately was offered a fellowship with the New World Symphony in Miami.  After a year in Florida, Matthew won the position of Principal Percussionist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which happens to be his hometown orchestra that he grew up listening to. 

Alumna Joins Detroit Symphony Orchestra

amanda-blaikieNRO Alumna (2012) and Flutist Amanda Blaikie was recently appointed 2nd Flute of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. 

“Attending NRO was one of the best musical experiences of my life, giving me the confidence to pursue my dreams and obtain an orchestral position.  This festival trained me to learn and perform orchestral repertoire at a rapid pace and at an extremely high level.  I look back on my summer at NRO with great fondness for the numerous performance opportunities, guest conductors, and the inexplicable beauty of the Breckenridge mountains.  I left this music festival a better musician and a better person.” – Amanda Blaikie

Ms. Blaikie previously held the position of Principal Flute with both the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra and the Sarasota Opera in Florida.  Amanda has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for several years and can be heard on various DSO recordings and webcasts.  An avid chamber musician, she also performs regularly with Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings, Chamber Music at the Scarab Club, New Music Detroit, and Cut-Time Players.

Other previous orchestral positions include Principal Flute with the Miami City Ballet and the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra. Amanda has substituted with the New World Symphony and Orlando Philharmonic, and has performed on numerous occasions with the New York Philharmonic, including a European Tour and a PBS Live from Lincoln Center television broadcast.  

As a soloist, Amanda performs recitals around the country and has twice been featured with the Allegro Chamber Orchestra.  She made her solo debut at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall after being named a Winner of the 2013 Alexander & Buono International Flute Competition.  Passionate about teaching and sharing her love of music, Amanda is a Flute Instructor at Oakland University and maintains a private flute studio in Ferndale, Michigan.  

Amanda began the flute at age 10 after previously studying piano and voice.  She avidly listened to her opera-singing grandfather from a young age and eagerly adopted his passion for music.  Amanda earned a Professional Studies Degree at the Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Robert Langevin, Principal Flutist of the New York Philharmonic.  She also received a MM in Flute Performance from the University of Miami and a BA in Music from Principia College.  Her additional primary flute teachers include Christine Nield-Capote, Marie Jureit-Beamish, and Jenny Robinson.


Alumna Violist in San Antonio Symphony

amypiklerphoto-croppedAmy Pikler received her BM degree with highest honors from the University of Michigan where she studied with Professor Yizhak Schotten. Recently, Amy was appointed as section violist in the San Antonio Symphony. Previously, she served as violist in the New World Symphony and Ann Arbor Symphony as well as co-principal violist of the University of Michigan Symphony. Other programs and festivals include the New York String Orchestra Seminar, YOA Orchestra of the Americas-Orchestre de la Francophonie-Orford Arts Center, Aspen Music Festival and American Academy of Conducting Orchestras, National Repertory Orchestra (2011), Chautauqua Music Festival, and Civic Orchestra of Chicago. She was first place winner of the American Viola Society 2014-15 Orchestral Excerpts Competition, received a Farwell Trust Award from the Musicians Club of Women (Chicago), and was a finalist in the NFAA/YoungArts program. As recorder soloist, Amy was featured with flutist Mary Stolper and Chicago’s Music of the Baroque in Telemann’s Concerto for Recorder and Flute. In 2011, Amy presented the United States premiere of Sir Malcolm Arnold’s Recorder Concerto with the I’Solisti Chamber Orchestra. She has appeared as violin, viola, and recorder soloist with several Illinois orchestras including the Chicago Chamber Orchestra and Oak Park River Forest Symphony.  

Ms. Pickler tells us, “It is truly remarkable the quantity of orchestral music I was able to cover within such a short time at NRO! Subsequently, I performed many of the works introduced to me and was grateful to initially study them in such a high caliber orchestra. I will always remember my wonderful host family; Amy Perchick, Lenny Weisberg, and Danielle Weisberg; as well as the talented musicians that I met in Breckenridge”.

Mike Kemp Principal Timpanist in Winnipeg

michael-kemp-wso-2-croppedMichael Kemp, NRO Timpani 2014, has been the Principal Timpanist of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in Canada since 2015, and previously held the position of Principal Timpanist with the Erie Philharmonic in Erie, PA. In demand as a Guest Principal Timpanist, Michael has appeared with many orchestras including the Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Albany Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, and the Reading Symphony.

Mr. Kemp adds, “My summer performing with the National Repertory Orchestra was an incredible and invaluable experience. Having recently completed my graduate studies when I joined the NRO, the experience I had that summer was extremely helpful in preparing myself for the professional world and gaining confidence in myself as a player. The opportunity to perform such a large volume and variety of music at a high level in a very short amount of time taught me how to be more efficient with my preparation. The training provided at the NRO allows serious musicians the perfect opportunity to hone their craft under the guidance of great conductors and along side highly skilled colleagues who share their passion and excitement for music making. To be able to do all of this while living in the unbelievable beauty of Breckenridge was an extraordinary experience. My summer at NRO was extra special because I was able to attend the festival and make music with my now fiancée, Anna Scheider, who plays bass. I also really appreciated how the NRO connected its musicians with the community by assigning each musician a host family. I was fortunate enough to have a terrific host family in Joe and Rose Mary Grove as well as be welcomed into Anna’s host family, Mike and Jeanie Kramer, with open arms. I am deeply grateful to have been a part of the National Repertory Orchestra and fondly reflect upon my musical and personal growth during that summer”.


Alumnus Perseveres and Wins Job

maurice-belle-photo-croppedOn June 9th, after taking thirty plus orchestral auditions for the past eleven years Maurice Belle won the section bass position with the Greenville Symphony in South Carolina.  Mr. Belle attended the NRO in 2007 as section bass and in 2010 as co-principal. 

Since his time with the NRO, Maurice has been freelancing in NYC as well as taking auditions.  In the summer of 2015, Mr. Belle decided to move back to Atlanta, where he grew up, and break in to the freelance scene.  This has also given him the opportunity to sub with the Chattanooga Symphony and other orchestras in the southeast.  In addition to performing and teaching, he works for a pet sitting company in Atlanta taking care of both dogs and cats.

The Carl Topilow quote that Maurice remembers most is, “ATTITUDE ATTITUDE AND ATTITUDE!”  This obviously stuck with him as he persevered in his quest to win a spot with a professional orchestra.

Alumnus Guides The Next Generation

Yuriy Leonovich cropped for websiteYuriy Leonovich, NRO 2007, just finished his 3rd year as Assistant Cello Professor at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC and also conducts the university’s string orchestra.  In fact, one of his students is NRO 2016 cellist, Stephen Hawkey!

Stephen recently played Bloch’s Schelomo with the BJU Symphony (after winning the concerto competition) and Popper’s Elfentantz at the Annual Music Contest, which he also won. Derek Eilert, another one of Mr. Leonovich’s students, just got on the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s sub list.

Yuriy shares, “NRO prepared me to learn difficult orchestral and chamber repertoire in a very short amount of time.  I think of Maestro Topilow every time I play with my string orchestra without a conductor on my red (sadly not red, white and green) cello.”

After his time with the NRO, Mr. Leonovich completed his DMA at CIM.  In October, he and his wife, Kristin, are playing a recital of 21st Century cello music, featuring pieces by Jeremy Allen, Mark Kilstofte, David Janssen, Patrick Zimmeli, Evan Fein (world premiere of his 3 Romances for cello solo) and two of his own works.

NY Phil Appoints NRO Alumnus

Chris Martin croppedChristopher Martin, NRO alumnus from 1997, was recently appointed Principal Trumpet at the New York Philharmonic.

After attending the NRO, Chris joined the New World Symphony very briefly before winning Associate Principal with The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1997. After three years in Philadelphia, he joined his hometown orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, as Principal for five seasons. Since 2005, Mr. Martin has been Principal of the Chicago Symphony.

“The summer I spent at the NRO was the perfect experience for me at that time. It helped me transition from the mentality of ‘student’ to ‘professional’. The high level of performance, the plethora of great music performed each week, and the camaraderie of the ensemble are unlike anything most of us experience as students. NRO teaches the tools and confidence needed to succeed as performing musicians of the highest level,” Chris says.

He would also like to give a shout-out to his fellow ’97 NRO trumpet section: Billy Hunter (Principal, Metropolitan Opera) and Kevin Finamore (2nd, Dallas Symphony Orchestra).