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June 4, 2019

CIM Students and Alumni Shine at Home and Abroad


Isabelle Durrenberger and Peter Arfsten
Isabelle Durrenberger and Peter Arfsten took first and second place in the Tuesday Musical Winners Concert

The future of classical music is alive and well because of students and alumni of the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Staying busy this summer, numerous current and former CIM students are winning, placing high or preparing to participate in prestigious competitions, as well as being awarded critical, potentially career- and life-changing grants. Many will also perform in major American and international music festivals.  

Current CIM students are already making waves:

  • Pianist and artist diploma student Sara Daneshpour (Babayan) and Do-Hyun Kim (BM ’17, Babayan), who will return to CIM in the fall as an artist diploma student, are two of only 25 pianists from around the world accepted to The XVI International Tchiakovsky Competition, being held June 17-29 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. A total of 954 applications from 58 countries were submitted – the highest in the famed competition’s history. Alumnus Daniil Trifonov (AC ’13, AD ’15, Babayan) won the Tchiakovsky Grand Prize in 2011.
  • Violinist Shannon Lee (Laredo/Sloman), who recently was named Fourth Laureate at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium, travels to Japan to perform in the Sendai Violin Competition in Sendai, Japan, from June 15-30. Alumni Isabelle Ai Durrenberger (BM ’19, Laredo) and Kiarra Saito-Beckman (BM ’19, Laredo/Sloman) are also competing at Sendai.
  • Percussion students Jeremy Sreejayan (Damoulakis) and Braden Vaughn (Damoulakis) earned first and second place honors, respectively, in the Modern Snare Drum Competition June 1-2. Sreejayan took first prize in Division I (ages 25 and younger), while Vaughn placed second in Division II (ages 19 and younger). Both students were awarded a cash prize and a selection of new percussion equipment. The showing for CIM was one of the strongest in the history of the competition, which began in 2008.
  • Cellist James Hettinga (Kraut) placed fifth in the Irving M. Klein String Competition June 1 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He received a cash prize.

Alumni are winning competitions and grants:

  • Rachel Lee Hall (BM ’16, MM ’17, Kondonassis) won the coveted Grace Woodson Memorial First Prize at the 2019 Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition in Houston June 1. She received a cash award and will appear in a concerto performance with the Houston Symphony at a later date.
  • Paul Aguilar (BM ’19, Laredo/Sloman) is among 16 MPower Artist Grant Recipients from the Sphinx Competition to win grant funding critical to achieving career objectives. Aguilar won $10,000 to travel to Madrid, Spain, with the Callisto Quartet to study with Günter Pichler at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía School. The ensemble was recently selected as Graduate String Quartet in Residence at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music for 2019-21.
  • The Callisto Quartet is making other news. Aguilar, Rachel Stenzel (MM ’19, Rose/Sloman); Eva Kennedy (MM ’19, Ramsey/Irvine); and Hannah Moses (AD ’19, Kraut) were winners of the Manhattan International Music Competition’s First Great Award (Grand Prize) in the Chamber Music category. They receive a cash prize and won an opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall on July 6.
  • Also at Manhattan, Catharsis Winds, comprised of alumna Jessica Chancey (BM ’19, Fink) and current students Willem Crone, horn (King); Corbin Krebs, bassoon (Stees); M. Isaac Ripple, oboe (Rosenwein); and Shihao Hugh Zhu, clarinet (Cohen), won a silver medal in the Winds category.   
  • Durrenberger and Peter Arfsten (MM ’19, Fink) took first and second place, respectively, in the 2019 Tuesday Musical Winners Concert May 19 in Akron. Both received an Arden J. Yockey Scholarship for Performance.
  • Darcie L. Moore (BM ’97, MM ’99, Vassos), who went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in the neurosciences from Colorado State University and the University of Miami, received funding from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation through its Shaw Scientist Program to study how stress and aging change the process of how stem cells divide and if that contributes to cognitive decline. Moore studies adult stem cells in an area of the brain important for learning and memory.