CAG Alumni: Where are they now?
CAG Alumni are known for their innovative approaches to music performance in the 21st century and can be found in a myriad of different settings. Here are a few examples of their achievements.
Density 2036 is a 23-year project begun in 2014 by Claire Chase (2008 CAG competition first-prize winner) to commission an entirely new body of repertory for solo flute each year until the 100th Anniversary of Edgard Varèse’s groundbreaking 1936 flute solo, Density 21.5. Each year until 2036, Claire commissions and premieres a new program of flute music. Additionally, each cycle of works (Density 2014, Density 2015, Density 2020, etc.) is released in its world premiere recordings annually, and scores, performance notes and materials made available digitally as educational resources for flutists everywhere. In 2036, a 24-hour event will take place, featuring the combined repertoires of this project.
Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival (IWCMF) is an intensive summer institute and festival in New York, devoted to performance excellence and career development. After years of giving masterclasses and lectures around the country, Imani Winds (2001 CAG competition winner) has created something more expansive to teach and mentor students of chamber music. During a 10-day period, members of Imani Winds, guest artists, and leaders in the world of chamber music work with participants in rigorous workshops, coaching sessions, lectures, and rehearsals. The result is a congenial and free exchange of information, expertise, and critique. Participants are grouped together and also work with a composer, as part of the Emerging Composers Program (ECP), to refine a new composition, which is debuted during the festival’s culminating concerts.
Founded by Amanda Gookin (cellist in PUBLIQuartet, 2013 CAG competition winner), Forward Music Project commissions new works for solo cello by today’s most forward-thinking composers, encouraging social change and empowerment for women and girls. The project confronts the audience with a visceral experience of music, light, and stories that explore a range of issues facing women today, from the LGBTQ+ to reproductive rights, sexual violence and empowerment. Works are performed through the lens of solo cello, electronics, projection art by S Katy Tucker, and audio interludes from the composers. In performance, Amanda sings, chants, fights, gasps, and breathes life into these new works. Forward Music Project premiered in the Spring Revolution Festival at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY on March 1, 2017. During the 2018–19 season, Amanda is in residence at National Sawdust.
Together with his sister, mezzo-soprano Solange Merdinian, and cellist Yves Dharamraj, Sami Merdinian (violinist in SYBARITE5, 2011 CAG competition winner) co-founded New Docta. Its annual festival and public programming and educational initiatives strive to harness the power of music to break down barriers, build bridges, and bring diverse communities together. The mission relies on inviting and presenting some of the world’s most dynamic musicians to perform, teach, and inspire at each of New Docta’s events. Joining the New Docta Artists this year will be special guest pianist Christopher Guzman, who in addition to performing regularly in recital and with the world’s finest orchestras, is professor of piano at Penn State University.
Founded by 2004 CAG competition winner Soyeon Kate Lee (and her husband and fellow pianist Ran Dank), Music by the Glass creates an intimate, stimulating, and exhilarating cultural scene to experience world-class music and create new connections. The series reinvents a fresh, unique, and exciting concert experience, led by young professionals, the first classical concert series in the US with a goal of having the majority of its funding and support from the younger generation. Featuring a young board of energetic and creative New York professionals, Music by the Glass aspires to create interpersonal connections through music and build a movement away from today’s virtually connected, yet ultimately disconnected society.
Louis Levitt (double bass in SYBARITE5, 2011 CAG competition winner) has launched a new record label, production company, and creative agency. Dubbed Bright Shiny Things, the company handles production, branding, releasing, promotion, distribution of recordings, and musical events, as well as acting as a creative agency for artists. Louis and his team have experience producing everything from large, complex multimedia operas to intimate one-on-one projects.
Established by pianist Ching-Yun Hu (2009 CAG competition winner), Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy (PYPA) helps young artists achieve their dreams of becoming professional pianists. PYPA has blossomed into one of the most highly-anticipated summer piano festivals on the East Coast, encompassing intensive master classes and public concerts featuring internationally celebrated pianists. The accompanying guest-lecture series, led by music industry executives, offers insight to students and the local community.
Founded by violinist Jennifer Koh (1994 CAG competition winner), arco collaborative is an artist-driven nonprofit that fosters a better understanding of our world through musical dialogue inspired by ideas and the communities around us. One of arco collaborative’s projects is The 38th Parallel: A Contemporary Pansori, which explores the impact of displacement and immigration, and individual and familial transformation through music, visual art, and movement. Conceived by Ms. Koh and composer Jean-Baptiste Barrière, The 38th Parallel connects the transformation of three generations of human lives and encapsulates the experience of cultural uprooting and assimilation.
Violinist and 2002 CAG competition winner Michi Wiancko is the Director and Co-Founder (with her husband, composer Judd Greenstein) of Antenna Cloud Farm, a summer music festival, artists’ retreat, and community outreach organization located in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. In addition to presenting concerts, Antenna Cloud Farm hosts retreats of varying lengths for artists who reside in a fully furnished and stocked guest house on the farm. Its aim is to provide a variety of inspiring creative work spaces in which to focus on artistic projects, all while enjoying the peaceful views and immediate access to forests and open spaces. Featured artists have included current CAG roster ensemble, Aizuri Quartet.
Gather NYC is a revolutionary weekly concert experience founded by cellist Laura Metcalf, a member of SYBARITE5 (2011 CAG competition winner) and her husband, classical guitarist Rubert Boyd. Held every Sunday morning in downtown Manhattan, Gather evokes the community and spiritual nourishment of a religious service, but the religion here is music, and all are welcome. Guests are served exquisite live classical music by New York’s most celebrated artists, artisanal coffee and pastries, a taste of the spoken word, and a brief celebration of silence. The entire experience lasts one hour. In these unsettling times, GatherNYC provides a place to fortify beauty and peace.
Quodlibet Ensemble is a group of unique, accomplished, and dedicated musicians who seek to learn from each other and explore the possibilities of an abundant musical spectrum. The group was founded to be a place where a wide variety of musical ideas can come into realization, bringing together performers from different backgrounds. Its founder and director is violinist Katie Hyun, a member of the Amphion String Quartet (2011 CAG competition winner).
AlpenKammerMusik is a festival in the spectacularly beautiful setting of the Austrian Alps that seeks to unite the global musical community through the intimate study of chamber music, with dynamic musical instruction and the opportunity for participants to play together with world-class faculty. Its founder and Co-Artistic Director is pianist Tanya Bannister, CAG’s current President and winner of the 2003 CAG competition.
Tanya is also the founder of Roadmaps Festival, which is designed to bring together artists, humanitarians, and intellectuals to explore a current crisis through film, music, performance, and discussion. The goal of the festival is to premiere new works that stir collective consciousness and inspire meaningful action.