Simon Housner’s Concert Series Will Capture Your Heart

Sacred Heart Concert Series musicians, photographed by Jake Zweiback

With the overall success of Simon Housner’s Sacred Heart Concert Series in Oberlin, it’s hard to imagine that he had actually quit playing cello at one point in his life. A native of Philadelphia, Housner was raised in a musical family — both of his parents are pianists who met at Oberlin. But it wasn’t until he was in high school that Housner truly became passionate about the cello.

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Artist Profile: Derek Zadinsky, Bassist

Any modern working musician would agree with bassist Derek Zadinsky, who said in a recent phone call that “in professional life, you never say no to opportunity, at least when you’re getting started.” A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and a member of The Cleveland Orchestra, he has made the most of his musical opportunities and shows a passion for them. Not only is Zadinsky a member of one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world, he also teaches at multiple highly-acclaimed music schools in Northeast Ohio.

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Artist Profile: Marilyn McDonald, Professor Of Violin

Asked to describe her career, Marilyn McDonald, violin professor at the Oberlin Conservatory for the past 45 years, began by saying “I just wanted to play the violin.” A founding member of the Smithson Quartet and the Castle Trio, McDonald reflected on her versatility as a soloist, orchestral player, and a chamber musician, in situations ranging from membership in the Smithsonian Institution’s Axelrod Quartet and worldwide chamber music tours in repertoire from Baroque to contemporary, to solo engagements with the Milwaukee Symphony. 

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Arthur Welsh Artist Profile

By Milend Kolbet

Pianist Arthur Welsh ’21 and Georgia Heers ’21 give a live stream performance at the Cat in the Cream Coffeehouse. It was the first performance on campus since students returned for the fall semester.

Hailing from Anchorage, Alaska, Arthur Welsh is a 4th year Oberlin student studying Jazz piano and mathematics. He was initially inspired to make music by his parents, who encouraged him to take up the piano at five years old. But his personal journey began around the age of 11, when he started playing the clarinet. Arthur went on to win a statewide competition for that instrument during his senior year of high school, and from there he began to develop his own musical interests and tastes.

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Artist Profile: Christopher Chun, Composer

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.” 

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Kirsten Docter: Throughout Her Life

In modern life, musicians have to wear many hats and juggle different events. Today’s musicians need more than just natural talent — their musical journey requires dedication, passion, and forged friendships. Kirsten Docter, Associate Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at Oberlin Conservatory, isn’t worried that anyone who attends the school will be deficient in any of these areas. Rather, she considers Oberlin to be a place to foster artistic growth and cultivate one’s personal creativity.

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Sometimes, It’s Just Playing a Tambourine: Eleda Fernald on Percussion, Identity, and Joy

When Oberlin graduate Eleda Fernald thinks of drumming, she thinks of healing. “It’s kind of goofy,” she said, laughing in an interview at the end of March, but in reality, she’s realized one of the simplest and yet most complicated truths of playing music. A recent Watson Fellowship recipient, Fernald was awarded a prestigious grant given to graduating seniors for a year abroad to study their project of choice. The musician spoke at length about her life-long journey with percussion, notwithstanding a few bumps along the way. 

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Exploring the Bassoon’s Endless Potential with Dana Jessen

One thing that bassoonist Dana Jessen prides herself on is not feeling satisfied with the limitations of the instrument. A classically trained musician who forged her own path in contemporary music and improvisation, Jessen has enjoyed a wide-ranging career as a performer, teacher, and collaborator throughout North America and Europe. But the road to get there wasn’t always easy.

As a graduate student eager to expand beyond the boundaries of her classical training, she was frustrated to realize there were virtually no bassoonists pursuing a similar approach. At that point, “I truly felt that I had made the biggest mistake by not choosing another instrument, because there was nobody doing all the stuff that I wanted to do on the bassoon,” she said during a recent interview. So, how did Jessen eventually fulfill her artistic vision? She improvised.

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