Beth Peregrine to Ravinia Festival

Alumna Beth Peregrine will perform Tan Dun’s “Water Passion after St. Matthew” with 32 singers of the Los Angeles Master Chorale at the Ravinia Festival this June. Ravinia, North America’s oldest music festival, stands today as its most musically diverse, presenting over 140 different events throughout the summer. These concerts run the gamut from Yo-Yo Ma to John Legend to the annual summer residency of The Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Mostly Kosher on PBS

Mostly Kosher with alumni Leaav Sofer, Casey Solow, Mike, King, and Eric Hagstrom performed at the annual Christmas Eve concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, broadcast live on PBS.

Josh Nelson Nabs LA Weekly Top Album of 2015

LA Weekly named alumnus Josh Nelson’s Exploring Mars one of the best albums of 2015.

The article notes, “Nelson has been a fixture on local piano benches since the end of the last century but has increased his profile lately by adding art installations to his live shows, tying intricate, swirling immersions of flickering light with his churning chamber ensemble — the perfect soundtrack to another night in a Martian bunker. The resulting album is an engaging work of swinging theatricality, brimming with soaring musicianship unbound from jazz’s usual gravitational pull.”

Mandy Smith Lands Job at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Alumna Mandy Smith (MA Musicology, ABD Case Western Reserve) has landed what she describes as her dream job. She wrote: “I’m the new Education Instructor at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. My main duties include booking and teaching in their K-12 Rockin’ the Schools program, which offers free, onsite, interdisciplinary classes that exceed Ohio educational standards. I also get to make class content, create online videos and lesson plans for our Digital Classroom, and do lots of other exciting rock education activities. The department is very vibrant–six out of eight of us are musicologists, so I’m in good company.”

Katie Thiroux’s Debut Receives Awards

Dan Bilawsky from All About Jazz named Katie Thiroux’s debut album one of the Best Releases Of 2015. In his review, he wrote, “So how do you separate hype from reality? Simply open your ears and listen. That’s how you separate the wheat from the chaff, and that’s how you discover true talent like Katie Thiroux. This bassist-vocalist-composer is flat out phenomenal. Introducing Katie Thiroux may be a first step for this young triple-threat talent, but it plays like the work of a well-seasoned veteran.”

NPR Music polled 147 jazz critics on their favorite recordings of 2015. They named Katie’s album as one of the top 5 debut jazz releases.

Joshua Simonds brings Youth Orchestra to Chicago Bulls

Alumnus Joshua Simonds, Executive Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony, worked with the Chicago Bulls to bring their two art forms together for the Bulls’ Holiday Card. The youth symphony members surrounded the basketball court as the players scrimmaged. You can see a behind-the-scenes video here:

After nine seasons as General Manager of CYSO (2003-2012), Mr. Simonds became Executive Director of the DC Youth Orchestra Program only to return to Chicago in June 2013 as Executive Director of CYSO.

During his tenure, CYSO has expanded its programs, built strong relationships with world-class composers resulting in numerous world and local premieres, and initiated groundbreaking artistic collaborations, including performances with Ben Folds, My Morning Jacket, Blue Man Group, My Brightest Diamond, and multiple performances at the legendary rock festival Lollapalooza. In addition to artistic achievements, Mr. Simonds has been instrumental in overseeing CYSO’s rebranding efforts, growth of the Board of Directors, re-establishing an international touring program, and increased support on a national and local level.

Mr. Simonds currently sits on the Youth Orchestra Division Board of the League of American Orchestras, is a member of Ingenuity’s Advocacy Advisory Panel, and teaches a course at DePaul University on Performing Arts Management. (courtesy of

Alumni work with the Street Symphony

Alex Ross, critic for the New Yorker, named The Street Symphony’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” as one of the 10 “notable” concerts of 2015 in the US.

Alumna Zanaida Robles conducted the performance, and alumnus Leeav Sofer prepared the choir. Alex Ross wrote, “About a hundred homeless people listened intently, and burst into applause at the end. The experience left me with a clash of emotions: joy, shame, sorrow, wonder. I do not know what it meant to those who mattered.”

The performance was on Skid Row, at The Midnight Mission.  Residents of the Skid Row community in our audience will be invited to sing alongside the newly formed Street Symphony Chamber Singers, comprised of members of the LA Master Chorale. They also partnered with the Urban Voices Project, a Skid Row singing project, as well as the City of Angels Community Choirs.

View a short preview video of a rehearsal which shows Zanaida Robles conducting and Leeav Sofer on keyboard.