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IU Jacobs School of Music student, alumna named 2012 Marshall Scholars

Two students connected to Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music have been named 2012 Marshall Scholars: Madalyn Parnas and alumna Elizabeth Ogonek, who is currently studying at University of California's Thornton School of Music.

A third IU student, Miles Taylor, was also named a Marshall Scholar, tying the university's 1995 record for highest number of recipients for the prestigious scholarship in a single year. Founded by the British Parliament in 1953 to commemorate the Marshall Plan, in which the United States helped the countries of Western Europe rebuild after the destruction of World War II, the scholarships pay for graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom.

Here's a look at the two winners connected to the Jacobs School of Music:

Elizabeth Ogonek

Ogonek's childhood was saturated with music. Raised by a single mother who spent long hours in church as an organist, she enrolled in Manhattan School of Music's Preparatory Division at age 5. Later, she began studying piano at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Mass., where she discovered her love for composition.

Elizabeth Ogonek

Elizabeth Ogonek

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"It was empowering to create something from nothing, send it off into the world and watch it come to life in the hands of other musicians," Ogonek wrote in her application for the Marshall Scholarship. "This excited me in the most unimaginable way!"

That inspired her wish to become a classical composer, focusing on music that creates a distinct sense of drama, imagery and color. She's shared that gift with underprivileged children and prisoners, projects she said helped her understand music's capacity to move the human spirit and gave her a renewed sense of duty as an artist-citizen.

Ogonek anticipates using her Marshall Scholarship to study composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

"Ultimately, I see going to school in London as an opportunity to take a risk to be a different kind of composer," she wrote in her application. "By participating in the legacy of British music, I see it as an opportunity to break free from the boundary that is the American 'academy' and follow in the footsteps of my own musical heroes. For me, as an American, this offers a chance to wander in search of a musical voice, a compositional language that has the potential to transcend cultural and continental boundaries by appealing to an international audience."

Ogonek graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Composition from the Jacobs School of Music in December 2009 and is studying for a master's in composition at the University of California's Thornton School of Music on a Beinecke Scholarship.

She is the recipient of several awards from ASCAP, the 2010 Dean's Prize from Indiana University, the 2010 PACO Youth-for-Youth Commission and a fellowship from the Wellesley Composers Conference. She has received commissions from the Brillaner Duo, the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, horn player Alma Maria Liebrecht and the Deviant Septet. Her music has been performed by the Indiana University Concert Orchestra, the Wellesley Sinfonietta, Dinosaur Annex, the Brillaner Duo, members of eighth blackbird and the Britten-Pears Ensemble. Her chamber orchestra piece "Ringing the Quiet" will receive its official premiere in the 2012 Aldeburgh Festival.

"I am absolutely ecstatic to be named a 2012 Marshall Scholar. I realize this is a rare opportunity, and I feel incredibly privileged to receive this honor," Ogonek said. "Through the Jacobs School of Music and the Honors College, IU supported my studies every step of the way. I would never be where I am today if it weren't for the incredibly personalized instruction that I received from the faculty at the music school. In addition, the Honors College, through their grants programs, facilitated extensive opportunities for me to attend festivals and programs throughout Europe."

Madalyn Parnas

For a student who will have completed high school, a four-year bachelor's degree and a two-year Artist Diploma by age 21, an accelerated course of study for a master's degree from the Royal Academy of Music should pose no difficulty.

Madalyn Parnas

Madalyn Parnas

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Parnas aims to complete her studies there under Hungarian violinist György Pauk in one year, writing in her scholarship application that she thrives on such challenges: "I learn best and grow most in an immersive environment that demands intense concentration and an extremely focused approach."

Parnas said her time studying at IU's Jacobs School of Music, living in Bloomington and performing alongside cellist sister Cicely as duo parnas is "clearly a defining piece of my musical and personal maturation. I simply cannot imagine having been anywhere else in the world during this period of what feels like personal growth at lightning speed."

She said working with conductor David Dzubay in the New Music Ensemble, performing nearly daily, teaching elementary children "the joy of music making" and being mentored by Jaime Laredo "were all experienced in an environment where gifted colleagues challenged me in the most congenial of ways, leaving an enduring legacy of friendships that I will always carry with me."

Duo parnas has won first prize in an international chamber music competition at Carnegie Hall, and Parnas was a finalist in the National ASTA Soloist Competition and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Concerto Competition.

Parnas, who anticipates receiving an Artist Diploma in violin from the Jacobs School of Music in May, said she hopes to combine her future doctoral studies with a lifelong desire to live in New York City.