There was a time when American symphony orchestras had the reputation for stubbornly resisting change, entities that embraced neither innovation nor diversity in their ranks. However, the last 25 or 30 years have brought miraculous changes to the makeup of orchestras in almost every way imaginable. Naturally, symphony orchestras do not mirror the face of society as a whole, but gender and ethnic neutrality in audition practices have made orchestras—for the most part— a valid model for diversity in the workplace.
In the case of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, relative youth defines its artistic leadership, with a 31 year-old music director, Aram Demirjian, and a 25 year-old concertmaster, William Shaub. And, most importantly as a sign of the orchestra’s ever-increasing status and that of the health of the city’s art scene, every orchestra vacancy now attracts highly qualified candidates from outside the area who are willing to relocate to Knoxville.
The 2017-18 season, like most, has seen some turnover in KSO player personnel. Here are the new faces in the orchestra.
William Shaub is the new concertmaster of the KSO. A native of Canton, Ohio, Shaub received Bachelors and Masters degrees from Juilliard and has studied with Cho-Liang Lin, Emilio Llinas, Stephen Clapp, and studied chamber music with Sylvia Rosenberg. Prior to the KSO, he was a student in the Artist Diploma program at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, where he served as concertmaster. [see “William Shaub Takes the Reins of the KSO’s Concertmaster Series“]
Hannah Hammel has been appointed the orchestra’s Principal Flute. Hailing from Richmond, VA, she recently received a Master of Music degree from Rice University, having previously gotten her Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory. She has won several competitions including the National Flute Association Young Artist Competition and Orchestral Excerpt Competition, and competitions of the Atlanta, Houston, Mid-South, and Ohio Flute Associations. Hammel has been a guest player with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, and New World Symphony. Her major teachers have been Leone Buyse and Alexa Still. Hammel plans on opening a private flute studio here in Knoxville.
The core violin section has seen two new members: I-Pei Lin and Robyn Quinnett.
I-Pei Lin began studying piano and violin at the age of 5 in her native Taipei, Taiwan. She earned a Bachelor degree in 2009 and Master degree in 2012 from National Taiwan Normal University where she studied with Nanette Chin-Horng Chen. In 2009, Lin was selected to participate the workshop of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and studied with Leon Fleisher, Ani Kavafian, and the members of Emerson Quartet and Guarneri Quartet, and performed at National Concert Hall in Taipei. She subsequently moved to the United States and studied with Alexander Kerr at Indiana University Jacob School of Music and received her Performer Diploma in 2013. Lin is currently a doctoral student at Michigan State University and studies with Prof. Dmitri Berlinsky.
Robyn Quinnett hails from the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean. She earned her undergraduate and masters degrees from The Juilliard School studying with Naoko Tanaka and the late Stephen Clapp. She will complete her DMA in 2018 at Stony Brook University as a student of Hagai Shaham. Quinnett is dedicated to community engagement and pedagogy. She founded The Montserrat Music Festival, a summer teaching and performing festival, bringing music education and live chamber music to the island of Montserrat and neighboring islands.
Kelsey Bentley, an Atlanta, GA native, has assumed the Fourth Horn position with the KSO. She studied at a young age with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra horn section members Richard Deane and Susan Welty. She received her Master of Music degree in Horn Performance under the tutelage of Professor Michael Thornton at the University of Colorado Boulder College of Music. Bentley was a graduate teaching assistant and member of the fellowship wind quintet at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her Bachelor of Music degree was earned from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Randy Gardner and Elizabeth Freimuth.
The KSO’s new Principal Keyboardist is Zachary Hughes, a native of Los Osos, California. Hughes holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from The Juilliard School where he studied with Jerome Lowenthal. He is currently pursuing his Master of Music in Piano Performance at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville under Dr. Chih-Long Hu. Hughes has been recognized at numerous national and international competitions and was awarded First Prize at the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition, the Lee University Piano Competition, the Elizabeth Harper Vaughn Concerto Competition, and the St. Andrews International Piano Competition.