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Abreu Fellows 2010-2011

NEC announces second class of Abreu Fellows

NEC Welcomes Second Class of Abreu Fellows to Train as Leaders for El Sistema-inspired Programs

Class of 10 Includes Violinist from Cleveland Orchestra

Fellows Hail from Spain, Haiti, Panama and US

Following upon an extraordinarily successful pilot year, the Abreu Fellows Program at New England Conservatory welcomes its second class of 10 post-graduate musicians passionate for their art and social change to train as leaders for El Sistema-inspired music education programs in the United States and beyond.  The program was created in response to El Sistema founder José Antonio Abreu’s TED "Wish to Change the World."  Classes begin October 4 and continue through June 2011 and include residencies in several American cities and in Venezuela. The program is under the direction of Erik Holmgren, Education Director, Abreu Fellows Program.

The new class brings together seven women and three men, ranging in age from 22 – 44. In addition to a bassoonist, a conductor and a percussionist, there are seven string players including a member of the Cleveland Orchestra’s first violin section.

For this second year, program planners are working to deepen the Fellows’ connections within NEC and the Boston community. Fellows will combine intensive seminar learning with field work at the local, national and international level. The students will be assigned to several different music-rich organizations in the Boston area. These community placements will offer on-the-ground experience in curriculum design, non-profit management, grant writing, strategic planning, and partnerships. Seminars will once again draw on the resources of NEC as well as nationally-renowned artists and educators to focus on two primary areas of study: music education and organizational management.

In the spring, the Fellows will spend two months in Venezuela observing firsthand the El Sistema model. By connecting seminar learning with exposure to the El Sistema movement, the Abreu Fellows will graduate from NEC as critical thinkers and experienced educators with the skills and inspiration to lead the movement forward. They can then follow the path set by their predecessors in the class of 2009-10 who are all working in El Sistema-inspired programs throughout the US.

Abreu Fellows 2010-11 Bios

Graciela Briceño was born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in a hodgepodge of American cultures.  She began her classical music studies on the viola at age ten and went on to attend Boston University, from where she received her Bachelor of Music in Music Education, studying viola with Edward Gazouleas and curriculum development with Sandra Nicolucci.  During her undergraduate years, Graciela interned and taught at various schools in the Boston area, including Boston Latin School, Prevention Now in Jamaica Plain, and Conservatory Lab Charter School in Brighton.  Her passion for multicultural education led her to Mount Kenya Academy, where she coordinated a strings program of 125 wonderful students in the town of Nyeri.  In addition to teaching music, she started a Spanish Culture Club for middle school students and volunteered with a number of Kenyan schools and orphanages.  As a violist, Graciela has performed with the Boston University Orchestra, Royal College of Music Orchestra in London, and Nairobi Orchestra.  Dedicated to community service, she has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross for nine years, and was awarded the 2004 Real Hero and Good Samaritan Awards for her work with HIV/AIDS Peer Education. Read Graciela's blog here.

David Gracia was born in Zaragoza, Spain and at an early age started his musical studies at the Infantes del Pilar’s Cathedral Boys’ Choir where he received a well-rounded education as a singer, pianist, and conductor. After pursuing piano and chamber music studies at the Music Conservatory of Zaragoza he came to New York and enrolled in the Aaron Copland School of Music of Queens College where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance and a Master of Arts degree in musicology, both summa cum laude. Recently he has been appointed adjunct teacher at the Aaron Copland School of Music (ACSM) where he has taught several courses at the undergraduate level. As a piano and music teacher he has been a faculty member at both the Performing Arts Conservatory of New York (Queens, NY) since 2009 and the Piano School of NYC for the 2009-2010 academic year. In addition, he has served as choir director and organist for several church congregations in Spain and New York City. He has been awarded several scholarships and awards from the ACSM including the Theodore Presser Foundation Scholarship, The Karol Rathaus Memorial Award, and the Associated Music Teachers League Award among others. In addition he was granted the A.I.E. Scholarship by the Spanish National Association of Artists and Performers. As a pianist, he won the second prize and “best interpretation of Spanish music” prize at the “Gregorio Baudot” Piano Competition in El Ferrol, Spain. His most influential piano teachers include Olga Semouchina, Paul Ostrovsky, and Edna Golandsky. He participated for two consecutive years in the orchestral conducting program with the New York Youth Symphony Orchestra where his teachers included Paul Haas, and Mark Seto. As part of this program, he has performed at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, and Kupferberg Center Performances as an assistant and principal conductor. Read David's blog here.

Originally from Boston, cellist Laura Jekel has performed and taught throughout Latin America and the United States. After earning a bachelor of music degree at Indiana University in Bloomington, she traveled to Ecuador where she was a member of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Guayaquil and cello professor at the music school Fronteras Musicales Abiertas. She gave master classes and recitals throughout Ecuador, including performances of the Dvorak, Schumann and Haydn C Major cello concertos with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Cuenca, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Loja and the Cuen-K Ensamble. While at Indiana University, she won two overseas study grants from the Honors College. The first grant allowed her to participate in the Festival de la Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de las Americas, an orchestra festival in Puerto Rico. The second grant allowed her to travel as invited principal cellist of the Long Island Youth Orchestra on their tour of South America. Aside from her solo and orchestral work, Laura is an avid teacher. While living in Ecuador, she was invited to be a visiting faculty member at the Universidad Juan N. Corpus, a leading music university in Bogotá, Colombia. During the summer, she is the cello teacher at Encore/Coda, a music camp in Maine. Since returning from Ecuador in 2007, Laura has studied at Carnegie Mellon University, where she completed her master of music degree, and at the Peabody Institute. Her teachers have included Carol Ou, Emilio Colón, Anne Martindale Williams and Alan Stepansky. Read Laura's blog here.

Hailing from Monterey Park, California, Steven Liu is a freelance bassist from the University of California, Irvine where he received a Bachelor degree in music performance on double bass and a Masters in Fine Arts in Jazz from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, where he studied under David Young, Doug Bayse, Darek Oles, and Kei Akagi.  While maintaining a busy schedule between numerous small orchestras and operas throughout Southern California, regular jazz performances, recording sessions, and contracting private events, he simultaneously became heavily involved with the education departments at several orchestras.  From 2006-2010, Steven worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Education Department as a Teaching Artist and became involved with the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles at the Exposition Center as a substitute bass instructor.  From 2009-2010, he workined as a Fidelity Futurestage Coordinator, by which he assisted teaching artist faculty with assignments in partner schools, facilitated meetings between classroom teachers and teaching artists, and coordinated performances for the school ensembles. Between 2007 and 2009, he was also an Artist in Residence for the Pasadena Symphony and co-taught a course called, “The Science of Sound,” which sought to integrate music with other educational disciplines by making instruments out of everyday objects.  In 2006, Steven was also the Pacific Symphony’s Mentorship Program Coordinator, by which he sought to create a bridge between aspiring musicians and professionals via lessons, side-by-side performances, concert attendance, etc.  As an instructor, Steven has had the opportunity to work with youth from ages 4-21, as an adjunct professor of bass at Irvine Valley College (2009-2010), Bass Instructor for Wildwood Music Camp (a short summer camp which serves underprivileged children from Greater Los Angeles) (2005-2010), conductor and chamber music coach for the Four Seasons Youth Orchestra (2004-2006), music substitute in Irvine Unified School District and Capistrano Valley School District, and as a private instructor. Read Steven's blog here.

Haitian American violinist and pedagogue Marie Racine Montilla started her musical training at “L’École de Musique Sainte Trinité” in Haiti. Later, she moved to the States where she received her Bachelor’s in Music in Violin Performance from the University of Louisville where she studied with Michel Samson and Peter McHugh, former concertmaster of the Louisville Orchestra. During her undergraduate career she won, on several occasions, first and second prizes in the McCauley Chamber Music Competition organized by the University of Louisville. While in Louisville she had the opportunity to work for the Kentucky Public School System where she taught Arts and Music. She was also a member for several years of the Bach Society of Kentucky. Marie went on to perfect her skills at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music where she pursued post-baccalaureate studies in Violin Performance with Henryk Kowalski. She has performed with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, and the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Venezuela. In 2007 she moved to Venezuela where she became actively involved in “El Sistema” as violin teacher and orchestra director in the Núcleo in San Antonio de los Altos. She is currently completing a Masters in Music in violin performance at the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas where she is studying with Simon Gollo. Read Marie's blog here.

Andrea Profili began her musical studies in guitar and violin at the age of six at the Escuela Juvenil de Música de Panamá. In Panama she studied violin with Horacio Bustamante, and continued with Sarah Johnson at Converse College, where she received a Bachelor of Music in Performance. As a member of Delta Omicron she was awarded the Rob Fund Memorial Grant, which enabled her to study orchestral conducting with Sarah Ioannides and Siegwart Reichwald. In 2009 she began a small after-school program with kids ages 6-12 at the YMCA in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She recently earned a Masters in Music Education from Converse College. For the past six years Andrea has been returning to Panama to assist her teacher Mr. Bustamante in developing two nucleos with the Fermin Nodeau School and Samalia in San Miguelito. Read Andrea's blog here.

Bassoonist Elizabeth Schurgin has performed throughout North America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.  An avid chamber musician, Liz has performed with Windscape, is a three-time winner of the Lillian Fuchs Chamber Music Competition, and a member of the Sirocco Quartet.  She recently graduated with her Master of Music in Orchestral Performance from the Manhattan School of Music where she was a student of Frank Morelli.  Before attending MSM, Liz received her BA in History and Master in Music from Yale University.  As a recipient of Yale’s Lewis P. Curtis Fellowship for Travel, she spent the summer of 2006 researching Antonio Vivaldi’s original bassoon concerti in Turin, Italy.  In the spring of 2010, as a Mozart Project Fellow, Liz co-taught an after-school music appreciation and composition class for elementary students at P.S. 218 in New York City.  In addition to playing the bassoon, Liz captained the Yale Women’s Water Polo Team and cycled across the United States with the Habitat Bicycle Challenge to raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity, bassoon in tow.  Liz is originally from Deerfield, Illinois. Read Liz's blog here.

Born in Washington D.C., Patrick Slevin earned his bachelor degree in 2010 from Northwestern University, where he majored in Percussion Performance and Urban Studies. As an educator, Patrick has taught for the YOURS Project, an El Sistema inspired program of the People’s Music School in Chicago. At Northwestern, he worked to expand outreach opportunities for university students through the Music Learning Community and as a fellow at Northwestern’s Center for Civic Engagement. During summers, he has taught, conducted, and arranged music for high school and middle school camps throughout northern Virginia. Patrick has performed with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Southern Illinois Symphony, and the Northbrook (IL) Symphony. He has attended the Castleton Festival, the Chautauqua Music Festival and the Texas Music Festival, where he was runner up in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition. An avid performer of chamber music, Patrick has performed with Dal Niente New Music Ensemble, Axiom Brass, and is a member of The Gentlemen of NUCO, a chamber rock band that has appeared on season five of America’s Got Talent. Interested in research and writing, Patrick studied the role of arts organizations in Chicago for his senior thesis in Urban Studies and was a contributing editor to a forthcoming book by Bill Cleveland, Director of the Center for the Study of Art and Community in Bainbridge Island, WA. He has interned with the Alexandria (VA) Commission for the Arts and has studied El Sistema models in Miami, FL and Baltimore, MD. His primary teachers include She-e Wu, James Ross, Michael Burritt, and John Kilkenny. Read Patrick's blog here.

Cellist Adrienne Taylor received her Bachelor of Music and Performer diploma from Indiana University and her Master of Music in cello performance from Northwestern University.  Her teachers include Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Hans Jørgen Jensen, and Janos Starker.   After completing her Masters degree, Adrienne performed in the Chicago area as part of the Chicago Civic Orchestra and their MusiCorps program, dedicated to sharing classical music performances and education with schools and colleges in the city, and with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble during their residency in Chicago. Adrienne has performed as a chamber musician in Europe and in Japan, and in 2007 accepted a position as assistant principal cello in Orquestra do Norte, in Portugal.  She later returned to the U.S. to join the Fellows’ String Quartet at Community MusicWorks where she worked alongside the Providence String Quartet building a community through mentoring, music lessons and concerts for youth in the west end and south side neighborhoods of Providence, RI. Read Adrienne's blog here.

Violinist Isabel Trautwein was born in Huntsville, Alabama and started violin at age five with a cello teacher. A major childhood inspiration was conductor Pamela Gearhart who created a summer camp in Alabama and passed on to her students her great joy for making music. At age twelve, Isabel’s family moved back to their native Germany.  In her teen years Isabel she enjoyed participating in national solo and chamber music programs, and playing in various European Youth Orchestras which toured to Israel, Africa and India under such conductors as Sergiu Celibidache, Claudio Abbado and Zubin Mehta.  After completing undergraduate studies in Luebeck, Germany, Isabel received government grants to study with Donald Weilerstein at the Cleveland Institute of Music.   In quick succession, she then joined the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas as a concertmaster, the Houston Symphony under Christoph Eschenbach and the St. Louis Symphony for four years in three different positions, including one year as Resident Musician, a unique experimental position which combined orchestral duties as principal second and first violin section with extensive Outreach work. Isabel joined the Pacifica String Quartet for one year.  During that year, the Quartet played over 60 concerts in the U.S. and Greece. Since 2002 she has been a member of the first violin section in The Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Moest. She is also an enthusiastic violin teacher to her young students and serves as a board member for Heights Arts, a regional arts collaborative where since 2006 she has run the chamber music series featuring orchestra members and CIM faculty at concerts throughout the community, performing in diverse places such as libraries, detention centers and mansions. In 2006 she created TACO, The Awesome Children's Orchestra, an orchestra for kids and professional musicians which has performed at Cleveland’s Severance Hall with over 60 players, ranging in age from 5 to 74. TACO has also performed many times in smaller groups at the Cleveland Clinic for patients and staff. Read Isabel's blog here.

For further information, check the NEC Website.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115