A Project of Oberlin's Practicing the Art of Music Journalism Class
Author: Natsumi Osborn
Raised in both Japan and the US, Natsumi Osborn 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 Natsumi has collaborated with ensembles and performers at Oberlin, including the Phlox Orchestra and the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra. She has also been commissioned by professional organizations in the Cleveland area, including the Cleveland Chamber Choir, the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, and Oberlin’s Contemporary Music Ensemble. As a musician Natsumi has only been at the outskirts of the world of music journalism, and so is excited to learn about the other side of the music industry by writing for the Updraft. Outside of composing, Natsumi enjoys playing piano with fellow Oberlin students, teaching composition lessons and tutoring academics for local high school students.
Film composer, classical composer, pianist, clarinetist, audio engineer, producer, conductor, orchestrator, vocalist: these all describe 24-year old composer Christopher Chun. Having recently released his first album of film compositions on Spotify, and with over twenty film scores under his belt, Chun’s name is on the rise in the film and concert music industry.
The Texas native’s initial interest in composition began in middle school — a product of having studied piano for five years, singing in church choir, and playing clarinet in his school marching band. “Marching band really sparked my deep interest in orchestration,” Chun said. “Having ten tubas lined up and blasting out loud is so exhilarating and fascinating! That experience catalyzed my interest in composition.”
The semester may be coming to a close, but there is another concert yet on the Oberlin horizon. On Sunday May 2 at 2:30 pm, violinist Erika Aoki will present four distinctive works on her senior recital, a live-streamed concert when she hopes audiences will be able to virtually enjoy the musical collaborations as they take place onstage.
Three of the four works feature collaborative musicians: pianist Leo Choi on Benjamin Britten’s Suite, cellist Drew Dansby on Maurice Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello, and pianist Natsumi Osborn on Ravel’s Sonata No. 2. Aoki will also perform Eugène Ysaÿe’s solo Sonata No. 5.
A blossoming passion for opera, new music, and a diverse roster of composers: these have marked clarinetist Emily Hancock’s musical growth at Oberlin, and in turn have informed her final concert at the conservatory. On Saturday April 24 at 4:30pm, Hancock will perform her senior recital in which each of five pieces captures a different kernel of her vibrant personality — on and off stage.
The combination of the bassoon and harp is one you might least expect to hear improvising together. Dana Jessen and Stephan Haluska defied those expectations Friday evening, April 2, as they presented an hour-long set on the BOP STOP livestream stage. Both classically trained musicians, the bassoonist and harpist have since directed their career towards new music and improvisation, experimenting with extended techniques. Indeed, with its high musical expression and visual persuasion, last week’s performance demonstrated how the capabilities of the bassoon and harp reach far beyond the classical music tradition.
If you want to hear a modern revamp of your favorite intense string music by composers like Bartók, look no further. The Switzerland-based string chamber orchestra Camerata Bern delivers yet again on an hour and fourteen minutes worth of vivacious, temperamental, beautifully executed performance. Featuring six different composers across the 20th and 21st centuries, their newest CD Plaisirs illuminés released in early January to high critical acclaim, and rightfully so.
One of the most exciting ensembles to emerge in the last century is the saxophone quartet. Among the notable groups based in Europe is the Signum Saxophone Quartet, four musicians who look like they come out of a pop band like The Beatles – cool and hip – but even more, deliver classical music for the instrument with impeccable sensitivity and talent. Blaž Kemperle, Hayrapet Arakelyan, Alan Lužar and Guerino Bellarosa formed the group in 2006 after meeting in Cologne, Germany. Fifteen years later, they have once again piqued the ears of the music world with the release of their third album Echoes.
Last Thursday at 7:00 pm, Local 4 Music Fund hosted another performance in their “Tuning In” series, this time featuring George Pope, flute, Lisa Whitfield, viola, and Emily Laurence, harp. Live-streamed from the Pilgrim United Church of Christ, the ensemble performed several trio, duet, and solo works during an hour and fifteen minute program.