Congratulations to the Spring 2024 IML Mentorship Grant Winners!

Congratulations to the seven winners of the Spring 2024 IML Mentorship grant from the IML!

Brandon Berlanga won a grant for his team at Blacktop Percussion for “The SCINTILLATIONS Recording Project.” The ensemble will record SCINTILLATIONS by Sebastian Zhang, an advanced 10-15 minute percussion quartet inspired by hip-hop and rock music, commissioned by Blacktop Percussion. The SCINTILLATIONS Recording Project is meant to play a large role in the Blacktop Percussion’s newest initiative: The Scintillations Project. The Scintillations Project is a mission to promote inclusivity within the music community by working with composers of diverse racial, gender, and LGBTQIA+ backgrounds to create exciting music that will serve as a vehicle for our message.

Blacktop Percussion
Blacktop Percussion: Brandon Berlanga, Michael Lee-Smith, John Dawson, Remington Thomas
Josh Budziak

Tubist Josh Budziak won a grant to support research on brass mouthpieces along with Masters student Jack Earnhart. Musicians and manufacturers claim that acoustic and sensory percepts are direct results of mouthpiece geometry. These claims are often anecdotal, and lack support from objective or controlled testing. This research is a quantitative study that examines relationships of mouthpiece mass and spectral components, and will evaluate if observed spectra are the result of the player’s perception and bias of the impact of mouthpiece mass on timbre.

Sammy DeAngelis won a grant for his ensemble, 3D Percussion and their project “Refract.” 3D Percussion is curating an immersive concert program to create an experience with new music and supplemental technology. This concert will be headlined alongside Pax duo, who is a new percussion duo from the midwest. Through this collaboration we are presenting new works for duo and trio in the percussion repertoire to new audiences. 3D Percussion will be premiering a new piece by composer Matt Curlee for percussion trio and tape which will be the one of the first of its kind. 3D Percussion will present Refract at Constellation in Chicago in June.

3D Percussion: Emma Gierszal, YoungKyoung Lee, and Sammy DeAngelis
Haik Demirchian

Jazz trombonist Haik Demirchian won a grant to support his album “Call to the Ancestors.” This album is an accumulation of Haik’s musical discoveries in his homeland of Armenia as well as the recently lost land of my ancestors, Artsakh. During the Armenian genocide in which over 1.5 million Armenians were killed, much of the archival work that was done to preserve Armenian music was burned. This work is still not safely preserved due to the continuing genocide of Armenians that is brewing today. Haik’s goal is to preserve Armenian folk music by arranging and recording music discovered during his time at Eastman and possibly Haik’s last journey to what remains of his homeland.

Musicologist and pianist Hannah Harnest won a grant to support “A Yom HaShoah Remembrance Concert: Celebrating Jewish Culture through Classical Liturgical Music and Yiddish Art Song.” Yom HaShoah is observed this year on May 6 as the Jewish day of commemoration for the Holocaust. In a unique fusion of faith and peoplehood, synagogues hold memorial services on this day that integrate traditional prayers with contemporary poetry and song. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, Jewish congregations in America have been actively involved in creating new settings, and the Shoah has been a recurring theme for composers and lyricists. This lecture recital will showcase compositions by Cantor Samuel Rosenbaum from Temple Beth El in Rochester, who was a prominent figure in the American Cantorate. It will also include a world premiere by Eastman alumnus Michael Isaacson, Eastman professor emeritus Samuel Adler, and Lazar Weiner (1897-1982). The recital will feature Eastman students, local artists, and Argentinian Guest Cantor Jonathan Kohan from Beth El.

Hannah Harnest

Cori Trenczer

Cori Trenczer won a grant to support “Smorgasbord for your Fingerboard: A Sequential Collection of Pieces for Solo Cello Volume 1: Songs for the Beginning Cellist.” Cori will be researching and developing a cello book with pieces in level-order for beginners. The composers in the book will be primarily made up of pieces written by female, non-binary, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and AAPI composers. Cori notes, “I have an online teaching studio of 14 cello students, many of whom are included in the groups above. Both my students and their parents have submitted requests for pieces we could learn in lessons. I have found it very hard to find arrangements of these pieces for solo cello. The book would help students have the chance to see pieces by composers who look like them.”

Educator and pianist Chaojun Yang has won a grant to develop comprehensive online music education content for both Chinese and English-speaking audiences. As a passionate piano teacher, Yang has observed challenges in advanced piano studies stemming from foundational misconceptions, leading to inefficiency and discouragement. The high cost of quality piano education in both China and the U.S. has led to inconsistent foundational music education.  While online music educational content has becoming an increasingly powerful tool for music learning, its fragmented nature often requires payment for full access. This is unlike subjects like math, where online educational resources often exist in a more systematic and accessible manner. This project aims to create professional, systematic, free, and high-quality educational content, extending Yang’s commitment to inclusivity in music education. Her experiences leading a teaching studio establishing special teaching projects and scholarship for disabled students, children of migrant workers, and leading numerous female retirees for successful music career post retirement has reinforced her commitment to diversity and accessibility in music education. This project will align with her ongoing dedication for music accessibility and inclusion

Chaojun Yang

The IML Mentorship grant supports independent creative projects led by matriculated Eastman students beyond the scope of their degree. The next deadline to apply is October 1, 2024. Learn more here.