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April 19, 2019

Donna Jelen to Lead CIM Preparatory Orchestra


Donna Jelen

Donna Jelen – conductor of the Cleveland Institute of Music’s String Sinfonia Orchestra and celebrated director of orchestras in the Shaker Heights City Schools – has been appointed conductor of CIM’s Preparatory Orchestra, beginning in fall 2019. She replaces the retiring Keith Holliday.

“We are delighted that Donna has agreed to lead the Preparatory Orchestra,” said Jerrod Price, CIM’s executive director of preparatory, enrollment and pathway programs. “Her experience and expertise in shaping young minds into extraordinary musical talents has been invaluable in our preparatory program.”

The repertoire of Preparatory Orchestra presents exciting technical and musical challenges for the advancing young string player.

At the end of each semester, the Prep and String Sinfonia orchestras perform in Kulas Hall in a joint concert.

Jelen will continue in her role as conductor of the String Sinfonia Orchestra, which is open to young string players who seek a fun and educational ensemble environment. She has been on the preparatory faculty at CIM since 2006. Jelen earned a bachelor’s of music degree in violin performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a master of music degree in violin performance from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. Her violin teachers have included Gregory Fulkerson, Erich Eichhorn, Fredell Lack, David Russell and Roland and Almita Vamos.

In 2011, Jelen was selected as one of 10 conducting fellows at the Juilliard School’s Conducting Workshop for Music Educators and has studied conducting with Timothy Weiss, David Effron, George Stelluto and Virginia Allen. In 2017, her chamber orchestra at Shaker Heights High School placed second in the National Orchestra Cup competition at Alice Tully Hall.

Holliday, a violist who has led the Preparatory Orchestra since August 2017, is currently a member of the Akron Symphony and Lakeside Chautauqua orchestras and manager/violist of the Divertimento String Quartet. As an educator, Holliday served as orchestra director with the Medina City Schools. During his tenure, the district’s orchestra program achieved a distinguished reputation throughout Ohio and beyond. His orchestras performed at Carnegie Hall and other venues in New York City, Canada, the Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia and Hungary. Holliday is a graduate of Kent State University where he earned degrees in music education and viola performance.

“Keith has been an incredible musical influence on the young people in the Preparatory Orchestra,” Price said. “His passion for music and teaching always came through in his teaching and kept his students engaged and interested. We will miss him greatly.”