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Jacobs School of Music

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, September 22, 2008

IU Jacobs School of Music now home to five world-renowned instrumental conductors

Stature of group of conductors 'a singular occurrence not duplicated anywhere else in the world'

Sept. 22, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The recent appointment of Arthur Fagen, a former assistant conductor at the Frankfurt Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, and the expanded responsibilities of Cliff Colnot, conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, brings to five the number of world-class instrumental conductors on faculty at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music.

"With these recent appointments, the nucleus of our instrumental conducting program is in place," said Jacobs Dean Gwyn Richards. "In combination with the new appointments of cellist Eric Kim and violinist Jorja Fleezanis, both of whom share an orchestral profile at the highest level, the orchestral program is now poised for unprecedented development."

"To have five conductors of the stature in the profession as these men is not rare -- it is a singular occurrence, not duplicated anywhere else in the world," said Tom Wieligman, executive administrator of instrumental ensembles at the Jacobs School. "Our students are being exposed to the finest orchestral education available."

Jacobs School Conductors

From left are Jacobs instrumental conductors Uriel Segal, Arthur Fagen, David Effron, Leonard Slatkin and Cliff Colnot.

Print-Quality Photo

Arthur Fagen, who began teaching this fall, is a conductor of symphony and opera in Europe, Asia, South America and the United States, with an opera repertory of more than 70 works. A former assistant of both Christoph von Dohnanyi (Frankfurt Opera) and James Levine (Metropolitan Opera), he is a regular guest at the most prestigious opera houses, concert halls and music festivals at home and abroad. Fagen joins Colnot, whose role at Jacobs has expanded to include more time in Bloomington; Principal Guest Conductor Uriel Segal, who joined the faculty in 2004; Leonard Slatkin, the Arthur R. Metz Foundation Conductor, who joined the faculty in 2007; and David Effron, department chair since 2006 and on the faculty since 1998.

As the conducting faculty increases, Effron said that the school has purposely decreased the number of students in the program so that the ratio is now nearly one-to-one, with six students and five conductors. "I believe you can't really work efficiently with more than five or six -- at the most -- in one class," said Effron. "I feel that this will help us attract the finest students and produce an artistic environment where they have a greater opportunity to conduct in front of an orchestra than ever before."

This fall, the department admitted just two of the nearly 100 students who applied to the program and welcomed back four students from last year.

Effron said that what sets the Jacobs conducting program apart from other college programs -- now more than ever -- is not just the prestigious faculty, but the unparalleled podium time students have and the many opportunities to conduct a "lab orchestra," where they can conduct a live orchestra.

"You can conduct in front of a mirror as long as you want, but if you don't have the orchestra there, you can only reach a certain level," Effron said.

Conducting students also work with IU Opera Theater, which Effron calls "unequivocally the finest collegiate opera program in the world."

Two of the six conducting students will be assistants in the opera program. "I'm an old-fashioned person who believes that some of the best conductors come out of the opera house," Effron said. "The things you learn there really help you conduct better, with greater comfort. With a background in opera, a conductor can make a transition to symphony conducting more easily than someone who starts in the symphony and goes to the opera house."

Effron added that the Jacobs School of Music Instrumental Conducting program prepares students for the real world by bringing in guests from orchestras such as the Pittsburgh and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, assisting students with resumes, and teaching students about the importance of networking.

"They have to learn how to make contacts," he said. "That kind of thing is outside of music but related to it, and I think it is as important as the conducting element."

With the group of five now in place, Jacobs School students in areas of instrumental conducting, orchestral performance, and opera production can look forward to working with an unparalleled group of mentors, all of whom have particular strengths.

"I'm out to train professional conductors," Effron said. "Arthur Fagen has been conducting professionally all his life, where I've sort of shared myself professionally and academically. Cliff Colnot continues to bring enormous strength to the orchestral program at IU," Effron said. "As one of the foremost educators of young orchestral players in the country and a major artistic force in the Chicago area, he really understands the techniques necessary to perform in an orchestral setting. We welcome his increased involvement in the Jacobs School of Music. And, finally, to have Leonard Slatkin with us, to not only share his expertise with the young orchestra musicians, but give of his time to advise and mentor the conducting student, is a great joy. It's a relationship with the Jacobs School that I hope will continue for many years."

About the five Jacobs instrumental conductors

  • Cliff Colnot has been principal conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's contemporary MusicNOW series since its inception and was recently named principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, an orchestra he has conducted since 1994. He also conducts Contempo at the University of Chicago, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Callisto Ensemble, the DePaul University Symphony Orchestra and orchestras at IU. Colnot regularly collaborates with the internationally acclaimed contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird and is assistant conductor at Pierre Boulez's Lucerne Academy. He is also a master arranger: Colnot's orchestration of Shulamit Ran's Three Fantasy Pieces for Cello and Piano was recorded by the English Chamber Orchestra. His orchestration of Duke Ellington's New World Coming was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Daniel Barenboim as piano soloist in 2000, and Colnot also arranged, conducted and co-produced a CD, Tribute to Ellington, featuring Barenboim at the piano. He wrote music for the MGM/UA motion picture Hoodlum and has written for such rock-and-roll and pop artists as Richard Marx, Hugh Jackman, Leann Rimes, SheDaisy, Emerson Drive, Zayne and Brian Culbertson. He has been commissioned to write works for the chamber group Pinotage and the CSO Percussion Scholarship Group.
  • David Effron was on the conducting staff of the New York City Opera for 18 years. In his early career as a pianist, he accompanied such artists as George London, Placido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes in recital and collaborated with soprano Benita Valente as her accompanist for a decade. Effron taught at the Curtis Institute of Music from 1970 to 1977. As head of the orchestral program at the Eastman School of Music (1977 to 1998), he trained hundreds of instrumentalists who are now in professional orchestras worldwide. A sought-after guest conductor with a repertoire of all the standard symphonic works, as well as 105 operas, Effron's 40-year career has included appearances with major symphony orchestras and opera companies in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico and the Far East. In 1984, Effron was the conductor for the Grammy Award-winning recording of Copland's Lincoln Portrait. His discography also includes a 1987 Pantheon recording with Benita Valente, which won the German Critics Prize. In 2003, he received the Musicians of the Year Award from the National Foundation of Music Clubs. In the spring of 2006, Effron was awarded an honorary doctorate from North Carolina State University. The summer of 2007 marked his 11th and final season as artistic director and principal conductor of the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, during which time a Principal Artistic Director/Principal Conductor Chair was established in his honor. Effron was also honored with the title of Conductor Laureate.
  • Arthur Fagen was the music director of the Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dortmund Opera from 2002 to 2007. Following his successful concerts with the Dortmund Philharmonic at the "Grosse Festspielhaus in Salzburg," Fagen and the Dortmund Philharmonic were invited to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Palais de Beaux Arts in Brussels, as well as on tours in Salzburg, Beijing and Shanghai. For the 2008-2009 season, Fagen is the principal guest conductor of the Haydn Orchestra in Bolzano, Italy. He has conducted operas at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Munich State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Berlin, and New York City Opera, and orchestras that include the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, Munich Radio Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Orchestra della RAI (Torino, Naples, Milano, Roma) and the Bergen Philharmonic. He has recorded for BMG, Bayerischer Rundfunk, SFB and WDR Cologne. He records regularly for Naxos, for whom he has completed the six symphonies of Bohuslav Martinu. Future plans for Fagen include engagements with the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Opera de Nice, Hannover State Opera, Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur, Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canarias (Las Palmas), Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra (Pamplona), Berliner Symphoniker (for recordings), Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo and the Busoni Festival.
  • Uriel Segal was music director of the Louisville Orchestra from 1999 to 2004 and acted as music director of the Chautauqua Festival in upstate New York until 2007, his 18th season. Born in Jerusalem in 1944, Segal's international career was launched after winning First Prize at the 1968 Dimitri Mitropoulos International Conducting Competition in New York. Following that, he served as Leonard Bernstein's assistant with the New York Philharmonic from 1969 to 1970. Over the past four decades, he has conducted many of the leading orchestras nationally and worldwide. Abroad, he has appeared with the Spanish National Orchestra in Madrid, Spain; Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn, Germany; Hamburg Symphony in Hamburg, Germany; Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the symphonies of Tokyo, Quebec and Basel, Germany. He has recorded for Decca and EMI. A recent CD of music by Robert Schumann, made with the Century Orchestra Osaka, has been released by Toshiba EMI.
  • Leonard Slatkin begins his appointment as the 12th music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra commencing with the 2008-2009 season and also serves as principal guest conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, another new association. He completed his 12th and final season as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in 2007-2008. Slatkin continues as principal guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and music adviser to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. His performances throughout North America, Europe and the Far East have been distinguished by imaginative programming and highly praised interpretations of both the standard and contemporary symphonic repertoire. Additionally, he is well-known for his arts advocacy work on behalf of music education. Following a successful tenure as music director of the Saint Louis Symphony from 1979 until 1996, Slatkin was named conductor laureate. He has served as festival director of the Cleveland Orchestra's Blossom Festival (1990-1999), principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra (1997-2000), chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (2000-2004) and principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl (2004-2007). Slatkin is a frequent host of musical broadcasts, which include the BBC, lending his broad knowledge and expertise. He has made regular appearances with virtually every major international orchestra and his more than 100 recordings have been recognized with seven Grammy awards and more than 60 other Grammy nominations. He is the recipient of many additional honors and awards, including the 2003 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States government.