About Us

img_6204 From Tokyo, Japan, Erika Aoki is pursuing a double degree in violin performance under Marilyn McDonald, and biochemistry. Intending to become a physician, she is forming her education around the arts and sciences, enjoying the best of both worlds. She can often be found in the research lab studying the mechanism of pollutant aerosols, and the formation of ozone. A member of the Oberlin Orchestra, she is also active in her quartet group, currently learning Benjamin Britten’s String Quartet No. 2. Although classically trained, her diverse music interests range from jazz and hip-hop to film scores. Her current obsessions include Thundercat, Elle Frank, Yoasobi, and Béla Bartók. She enjoys creating Spotify playlists and listening to radio sessions to discover new and upcoming artists.

IMG_1768 editHailing from the Twin Cities area in Minnesota, Curtis Bird has been playing the double bass for about eleven years and electric bass for nearly as long. Also proficient on guitar, keyboard, and drums, he enjoys listening to and performing everything from classical and jazz to rock and electronica. Curtis is currently working towards a B.M. in classical double bass performance and a B.A. in environmental studies at Oberlin. He also hosts a weekly radio show on the college’s local station, WOBC 91.5 FM. Besides his musical interests, Curtis enjoys year-round outdoor activities including disc golfing and snowboarding.

Nicolette Cheauré - violistNicolette Cheauré (she/her/hers) is a creative who yearns to constantly consume knowledge and produce art, with a focus on increasing meaningful conversations about classical music and its dissemination. A Chicagoan, she is currently in her third year at Oberlin Conservatory, pursuing Viola Performance and a minor in Music History. As a performer, she has been honored to sit as principal viola of the Oberlin Orchestra and Contemporary Music Ensemble, and has been involved in a project to perform Beethoven’s entire catalog of string quartets in celebration of the 250th anniversary of his birth. At school, she works as an Usher Supervisor, and researches and writes about the viola and the repertoire of the Western musical canon. When not practicing, she can be found playing tennis, reading, or attempting to teach herself other languages.

20200109-139Olivia Fink (she/her/hers) is a fourth year Musical Studies major and German minor from Manchester, New Hampshire who often contemplates bodies, breath, spheres, and collective identities. In the conservatory, she’s spent time studying choral and orchestral conducting, music theory, and education. Other academic interests include research on music and technology and its intersection with gender and sexuality; she hopes to pursue advanced degrees in musicology or the social sciences. During a normal semester, Olivia can be found in Wilder workshopping student submissions at Two Groves Review or DJ’ing a late night radio show, chopping co-op vegetables, visiting the local flower shop, or being kicked out of a Robertson practice room. Some artists Olivia enjoys at the moment are: Bedouine, St. Vincent, Solange, and composers Bruno Coulais, Joe Hisaishi, and Julia Holter.

IMG_4964Bassoonist Emmy Hensley (she/her/hers) is in her third-year at Oberlin Conservatory, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Music, where she studies with Drew Pattison. An avid chamber musician, Emmy has performed on WFMT Chicago’s “Introductions” with the Ventus Winds. As the Young Ensemble-in-Residence at the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, her group, The Ceres Trio, presented the world premiere of Olivia Davis’ Portraits (2020). In addition to playing bassoon, Emmy enjoys hiking as well as staying up to date on the latest fashion trends. As for music journalism, Emmy’s main goal is to tell you something you don’t already know! In the classical scene, she is a new music enthusiast, but also loves finding up-and-coming pop artists that have not yet broken into the mainstream. Her current favorites include Men I Trust, Thundercat, and of course, all of her amazingly talented friends.

image0Hi, I am Milend Kolbet! Originally from New York City, I am currently at Oberlin College majoring in Environmental Studies and History. In the past I have spent time working in India as an Environmental Engineer and post pandemic I would love to return to this work. My favorite hobbies include playing soccer and watching reality television.

When it comes to music I stay true to my city, with most of the music I listen to being NYC rap. During my time in high school I became an avid listener of drill music, a subgenre of rap, after finding a weblink to a drill song on a dollar bill. Since then drill has taken off in Brooklyn and I have had a front seat through it all. While I mostly only listen to rap having made many musical friends at Oberlin I have learned to branch out, and my ears are open to all genres of music!

Stephanie-23Stephanie Manning (she/her/hers) found her way into the world of music journalism mostly by chance, but she’s been thrilled to rediscover her long-dormant passion for writing. Growing up in McLean, Virginia, she played a variety of instruments growing up before starting the bassoon — and just never stopped playing. Now in her second year at Oberlin Conservatory, Stephanie is working towards a bachelor’s degree in bassoon performance while simultaneously exploring her interests in journalism and arts administration. Also an avid performer of works by women composers, she has been involved with the Oberlin Phlox Orchestra, a project developed by the Students for Gender Inclusivity in Music. When not in the practice room or making reeds, you can find her either working on her latest cross-stitch project or listening to anything from Kacey Musgraves to Korean hip hop.

crop 3Raised in both Japan and the US, Natsumi Osborn (she/her) is a fourth-year double degree student at Oberlin College and Conservatory, studying music composition and economics with minors in history and East Asian Studies. As a composer Osborn has collaborated with ensembles and performers at Oberlin, including the Phlox Orchestra, the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, and the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble. She has also been commissioned by professional organizations in the Cleveland area, including the Cleveland Chamber Choir, and has worked with the Cleveland Composers Guild. 

As a musician Osborn has only seen the outskirts of music journalism, and she is excited to learn about the other side of the music industry by writing for the Updraft. Outside of composing, Osborn enjoys playing and accompanying on the piano, teaching composition lessons, and tutoring local high school students.

File_000Isaiah Shaw (he/him/his) is studying flute performance and arts administration at the Oberlin Conservatory. As a flautist, he has performed with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and Boston’s Emmanuel Music, and has been a fellow at the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival. An aspiring arts administrator, he has worked with such organizations as Sing for Hope Inc., Americans for the Arts, The National Flute Association, and TMI Consulting — a firm dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Isaiah is a creative advocate who knows no boundaries. When he isn’t studying, practicing the flute, or working, he creates and executes programming that celebrates Black music for the Guild at Oberlin. Additionally, he loves cooking, journaling, practicing yoga and listening to music, writing poetry, and donating items to the local food pantry.

WillBioPicWill FK Tokunaga (they/them/theirs) is bad at being good at things, but good at being bad at things. They’re probably doing something right now, whether it be shooting hoops, playing taiko, singing, or something completely new. 

Born and raised in Albany, California, a small town lodged between Berkeley and Oakland, they have since moved to Ohio and now study Computer Science in Oberlin College. In addition to CS, Will’s main passion is singing and learning new ways to express themselves through their voice, which they consider to be the most flexible instrument. When not coding or making music, Will enjoys playing and teaching competitive fighting games. 

Postgraduation aspirations include finding some sort of a coding job in the Bay Area so they can remain close to family, and making enough money to have time to pursue their other main interests.


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Daniel Hathaway launched ClevelandClassical.com in September, 2008, after a thirty-one year tenure as music director of Cleveland’s Trinity Cathedral, where he founded the Wednesday Noon Brownbag Concert Series and Trinity Chamber Orchestra. A graduate of Harvard College (A.B. ’67) and the Episcopal Divinity School (M.Div. ’71), he also pursued graduate studies in historical musicology at Princeton and Harvard Universities. Before coming to Cleveland in 1977, he served as head of humanities at the Sunset Hill School in Kansas City and as head of arts at Groton School in Massachusetts. In Cleveland, he has served on the music staff of Cleveland Opera, Great Lakes Theater Festival, and the faculty of Laurel School. As an organist, Hathaway has played recitals in the U.S., England, France, Germany, and Austria. He team-teaches Music Journalism at Oberlin College and Conservatory and is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America. (Photo: Tanya Rosen-Jones).

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Mike Telin serves as Executive Editor at ClevelandClassical.com. In addition he team-teaches classes in Music Journalism at Oberlin College and Conservatory and has recently contributed articles to Early Music America, Classical Voice North America, Symphony Magazine, and CAN Journal.

Telin received his musical training at the Oberlin Conservatory, and went on to perform as a bassoonist with the Canton Symphony, Akron Symphony, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and Trinity Chamber Orchestra. 

For fifteen years he served as executive director of Music and Performing Arts at Trinity Cathedral Inc. in Cleveland, managing the organization’s incorporation as a 501 (c) (3), and raising a $500,000 endowment. He also designed and executed a number of major projects including an Ohio Arts Council-funded Community Development Initiative in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood. Additionally, he helped obtain a $1 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant to incorporate the arts into an HIV- and STD-prevention program for at-risk youth.

He has co-taught a public-interest research course with Dr. Mark Mattern in the political science department at Baldwin Wallace University and co-authored a number of papers with Mattern that focused on the intersection of art and community. The papers were presented at the Midwest Political Science; American Political Science; Urban Affairs Association; and Social Theory, Politics, and the Arts conferences in Boston, Chicago, and Columbus, Ohio.

Telin has served on grant review panels for the Ohio Arts Council and the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, as a board member and co-chair for the annual conference of the Ohio Arts Presenters Network, and as a member of the planning committee for the Arts Midwest Annual Booking Conference in Cleveland.