HOUSTON – (Dec. 13, 2017) – Six Rice University graduate students have been selected to participate in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program, part of the New York Philharmonic Global Academy partnership launched in fall 2015 between Rice’s Shepherd School of Music and the New York Philharmonic.
The students selected were from the string studios of the Shepherd School: Chloe Yeseul Gam (violin), Andrew Keller (bass), Andrew Laven (cello), Samuel Pedersen (viola), Erica Schwartz (viola) and Siyu Zhang (violin).
They will travel to New York in April to participate in a week of immersive activities in New York as Zarin Mehta Fellows. They will train and play alongside Philharmonic musicians under the direction of Manfred Honeck, participate in mock auditions, have individual lessons and chamber music sessions coached by Philharmonic musicians and participate in the Philharmonic’s educational programs. The program will culminate in a private chamber music concert featuring the fellows alongside Philharmonic musicians.
Auditions were held at the Shepherd School by Philharmonic acting principal, second violin group, Lisa Kim; violist Vivek Kamath; cellist Patrick Jee and bassist Satoshi Okamoto -- all of whom also played with and coached a Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra rehearsal during their visit to the Shepherd School Nov. 26-28.
About the 2018 Zarin Mehta Fellows
Violinist Chloe Yeseul Gam, 26, was born in Daegu, South Korea, and is a first-year master’s student of Cho-Liang Lin, a Shepherd School professor of violin. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Keimyung-Chopin Academy of Music, where she studied with Chi Sang Park and Mihseon Bahk. She also attended the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where she studied with former Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow. In 2015 Gam toured as a member of Kahlo String Quartet and participated in the Franco-American Music Festival in France. She was also appointed as a young artist in residence at Da Camera Society in Los Angeles. She participated in Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy; Thy Chamber Music Festival in Denmark, where she performed with Berlin Philharmonic principal viola Máté Szűcs; and the Music Academy of the West, where she was coached by the Takács Quartet. She was recently selected as a 2016-17 apprentice at the National Art Centre Orchestra in Canada.
Bassist Andrew Keller, 25, grew up in Plymouth, Minn., and is a second-year master’s student of Timothy Pitts, a Shepherd School professor of double bass. He is the recipient of the John Tsung-Chen Chao Scholarship. Keller holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University (IU), where his principal teachers were Larry Hurst and Kurt Muroki. As a member of the IU chamber orchestra, he traveled to Seoul, South Korea, where he performed in the Seoul Arts Center. He is currently a finalist with the New World Symphony, with whom he has performed on several occasions. He is also a substitute bassist with the Houston Symphony and the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, and he has performed with other Houston-based groups such as KINETIC and the “Hear&Now” contemporary chamber ensemble. A two-time fellowship student of Albert Laszlo at the Aspen Music Festival and School, he has performed with the Aspen Festival Orchestra and the Aspen Chamber Symphony.
Cellist Andrew Laven, 22, was raised in Boston and is a first-year master’s student of Desmond Hoebig, a Shepherd School professor of cello. Laven graduated in May from the Eastman School of Music, where he received a bachelor’s degree with a performance certificate from the studio of Steven Doane and Rosemary Elliott. While at Eastman, he was active in chamber music and participated in master classes for Peter Serkin and Peter Oundjian and the Ying, Brentano, Jerusalem and Dover string quartets. He was also a member of chamber groups that were selected to perform in Eastman’s Honors Chamber Music Concert every semester from 2014 to 2017. Rotated as principal cello of the Eastman Philharmonia, Laven was also a substitute cellist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the New World Symphony. During the 2016-17 season, he was a member of the Glens Falls Symphony. For the past three summers he was a fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center. In summer 2017 Laven worked with Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax in preparation for a performance of Brahms’s Piano Trio in C Major. This past summer he was also the recipient of the Karl Zeise Memorial Cello Award from the Tanglewood Music Center.
Violist Samuel Pedersen, 23, was raised in Batavia, Ill., and is a second-year master’s student studying with Ivo-Jan van der Werff, a Shepherd School professor of viola. Pedersen graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in 2016 from DePaul University, where he studied with Rami Solomonow and was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago from 2013 to 2016. His other mentors include Lawrence Neuman and Joan DerHovsepian. Pedersen currently serves as a substitute violist with the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. This summer he will return to the Tanglewood Music Center to join the New Fromm Players, a program focusing on contemporary string quartet repertoire. He has also attended the Madeline Island Chamber Music Fellowship Quartet Program, the National Repertory Orchestra and the Bowdoin International Music Festival.
Violist Erica Schwartz, 23, was raised in Albany, N.Y., and is a first-year master’s student of van der Werff. An active orchestral musician, she has performed with the Portsmouth Symphony, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and the New England Conservatory Philharmonia. Schwartz currently serves as principal viola of the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra, with highlights including performances of the solo viola in Richard Strauss’s “Don Quixote.” She has given solo and chamber performances in venues such as the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, Ozawa Hall and the National Opera Center in New York City. Schwartz has appeared at festivals such as the Tanglewood Music Center, Spoleto USA, Kneisel Hall and the Banff Centre Chamber Music Residency. Schwartz has held several arts administrative positions, including interning at Make Music Boston and the Handel and Haydn Society. She holds a bachelor of music degree from the New England Conservatory, where her primary teachers included Roger Tapping Dimitri Murrath and Kim Kashkashian for chamber music studies. She also has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tufts University.
Violinist Siyu Zhang, 24, was born in Changchun, China, and is a second-year master’s student of Kathleen Winkler, the Shepherd School’s Dorothy Richard Starling Chair in Classical Violin and co-chair of strings. Zhang began violin studies at age 5 with Liu Yi. A graduate of the middle school associated with Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music, she continued her studies as a full scholarship student at the Manhattan School of Music. The second prizewinner of the 2009 Andrea Postacchini International Violin Competition in Italy, Zhang has performed in many cities throughout China, including Beijing, Harbin and Dalian, and appeared on Chinese television. She has participated in numerous music festivals, including the Music Academy of the West, Spoleto Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival and School, Texas Music Festival and Pacific Music Festival. She currently serves as a substitute player with the New World Symphony.