May 30, 2023

CIM students picked up by five eminent U.S. orchestras

A photo collage showing the five students or alumni who recently won orchestra positions.
Five recent alums or students have joined noted orchestras. They are, from left, trumpeter Daniel Lewis; violist Alex Antonio; cellist Benjamin Mekinulov; violinist Jessica Bergeron; and cellist Kyle Anderson.

Along with warmer weather in Northeast Ohio has come a wave of glad tidings from graduates of The Cleveland Institute of Music.  

Even as it continues to bask in the joy of Commencement 2023, CIM in late May is celebrating news of alumni appointments at five eminent U.S. orchestras, including several to principal or other high-profile positions.  

Specifically, CIM lauds the appointments of trumpeter Daniel Lewis (MM ’11, Sachs) to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Jessica Bergeron (MM ’20, Kwuon) as associate principal second violin of the Erie Philharmonic; violist Alex Antonio (BM ’23, Irvine/Ramsey) to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra; Benjamin Mekinulov (BM4, Kraut) as principal cello of the Charleston Symphony; and cellist Kyle Anderson (BM ’17, Robinson) to the Louisiana Philharmonic. 

“These five students are a heartwarming glimpse of the future,” said Scott Harrison, Executive Vice President and Provost of CIM. 

“As we send another graduating class into the world, we hope they see in these four alumni and one current student a few of the places their careers may soon take them. We take pride in these alumni’s accomplishments and we look forward to seeing the many ways they will make a difference in the new communities they are about to call home.”  



Kyle Anderson is a third-generation musician from New Orleans. Both his parents, bassist David Anderson and harpist Catherine Anderson, are members of the Louisiana Philharmonic, and his grandfather, trombonist Edwin Anderson, was a 25-year member of The Cleveland Orchestra. Anderson has previously served as assistant principal cellist of the National Repertory Orchestra and The Orchestra Now at Bard College, where he earned a master’s degree in 2020.  

Alex Antonio attended the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, Va., graduating with honors in 2019. At CIM, in addition to his studies, he worked in stage crew and recording arts and services, and graduated with honors in 2023. He joins the Virginia Symphony Orchestra at the start of the 2023-24 season.  

Jessica Schmidt Bergeron began her musical studies with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra before attending Belhaven University, where she also served as a contracted member of the Mississippi Symphony for four years. Since 2020, when she earned a master’s degree at CIM, Bergeron has been a member of the Akron Symphony Orchestra and performed regularly with the BlueWater Chamber Orchestra. 

Daniel Lewis hails from Cedarville, OH, where he attended Cedarville University. After earning his master’s degree at CIM 2011, he spent five years in the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and was a member of King’s Brass. He held a temporary position in Indianapolis for the 2021-22 season and has been assistant principal trumpet at the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. He is also a passionate educator, teaching at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. 

Benjamin Mekinulov is a student of Melissa Kraut at CIM. While still a student, he played in the Canton Symphony Orchestra. He also was principal cellist of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, where he won a concerto competition. In 2020, Mekinulov was in the National Youth Orchestra at Carnegie. In summer 2023, he will participate in the Sarasota Music Festival and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.