Bienen students to be featured in John F. Kennedy Conservatory Project

Sammy Caiola

The Bienen School of Music will showcase five of its most talented musicians in the Conservatory Project at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this April.

The Conservatory Project began in 2004 as an initiative of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to highlight musicians from leading conservatories, colleges and universities nationwide.

The five students are David Govertsen, Dana Jackson, Eugenia Jeong and Alison Wahl, all selected from Bienen’s graduate program, and Richard Narroway, a Bienen sophomore.

The students will travel to the nation’s capital on April 24 and perform on the 26th. The Kennedy Center will pay for their hotel and Bienen will cover other expenses, Ellen Schantz, Bienen’s director of external affairs, said in an e-mail.

“I know some of the other students going, so I’m glad we’ll be making music together,” said Wahl, a second-year soprano vocal student. “The traveling aspect will be really fun too. It will help to create a community within the musicians here.”

Wahl, like the other four students attending, will sing ten minutes of prepared repertoire that she has worked on with her instructor. She will also sing a duet with baritone Govertsen, a fellow second-year graduate student.

Richard Van Kleeck, director of concert activities at Bienen, took recommendations from teachers into account when deciding which five musicians to include in the program. He said diversity of instruments and skill in solo performance were important in the selections.

“This project features all of the best music schools in the country,” Van Kleeck said. “We want to be sure we’re sending the kids who demonstrate that we belong in the elite, and we always do. If you did a blindfold test, our students would sound equally good or better than the other students playing there.”

NU is one of 12 schools to be represented this spring, including the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music and San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Selected students were notified of the opportunity via e-mail, though they are not aware of how or by whom they were recommended.

“I worked hard this past year and I think I made a lot of progress,” said Jeong, a second-year piano student. “I really tried to pick up all of the opportunities that were presented to me and I guess the faculty recognized that.”

The concert will be streamed live over the Internet from the Kennedy Center at 5 p.m. on the 26th, which means international exposure for Bienen and NU, Schantz said.

Van Kleeck noted that while most representatives come from conservatories, Bienen is part of a huge research university, which adds “even more to our credit.” Some students that represented NU at the Kennedy Center in the past were double majors in disciplines outside Bienen, he said.

“Honestly, I think that especially for grad students, it almost feels like a conservatory,” said Jackson, a second-year bassoonist. “I think it’s the faculty that drives students here and then makes them even better once they get here.”

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