Your Journey Starts Here

Whether you're researching CIM's conservatory or ready to apply, we're here to support you. Connect with Admissions today! 

March 22, 2021

Women’s History – Exceptional Women Artists from CIM


Mary Ann Ramos - Latina woman wearing a pale pink dress and playing the cello
Mary Ann Ramos (MM ’06, Aaron), courtesy of Northern Arizona University

By: Ella Sobkowicz

CIM’s Newsroom includes a student-led blog with posts covering a variety of topics, including the CIM admissions process, student life, and interviews with faculty, students and alumni. CIM undergraduate and soprano Isabella (Ella) Sobkowicz, who is currently studying with Mary Schiller in CIM’s Voice program, is a regular voice on the blog. 


The Cleveland Institute of Music’s vision is to be the future of classical music, and as successful female musicians are increasingly recognized, we wanted to introduce a few women whose illustrious careers took root at CIM. Each of these alums have forged their own, unique path and explored different facets of musical careers. From performing onstage with renowned orchestras and opera houses to serving as pedagogues at esteemed institutions to carving a more entrepreneurial path, these women have done it all.

Ariel Clayton Karas (violin)

Founder of OPUS 216 and director of Classical Revolution Cleveland, violinist Ariel Clayton Karas (BM ’10, MM ’11, D. Cerone, L. Cerone, Rose) is a veteran musician in residence at the Cleveland Clinic and was Gordon Square Arts District’s first musician in residence in 2018. She performs in many different genres such as classical, Irish fiddle, pop and jazz. Clayton has participated in several broadcasts for Cleveland’s radio stations and was featured in the 2016 documentary Violins of Hope. Carrying out many roles as a performer, educator, contractor and collaborator, she has served as concertmaster alongside the Chicago jazz orchestra. In addition to her multi-faceted playing career, she also serves as CIM’s career advisor.

Hannah Lash (composer)

Hannah Lash (PS ’08, Kondonassis) has won multiple prizes in composition including the Rappaport Prize for Music Composition (2018), ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award (2011) and Bernard and Rose Sernoffsky Prize in Composition. In addition to prizes, she has earned scholarships such as the Charles Ives Scholarship (2011) and Fellowship (2016) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Lash has performed/had works presented at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Times Center in Manhattan, Chicago Art Institute, Tanglewood Music Festival, Harvard University, Aspen Music Festival and School, Chelsea Art Museum, New York City Opera and on the American Opera Projects stage. She currently serves on the composition faculty at Yale University.

Courtney Miller (oboe)

Oboist Courtney Miller (MM ’06, Mack) went on to complete her doctorate at Boston University. Miller is the oboe professor at the University of Iowa. She has previously served on faculty at Boston College and Ashland University. She regularly performs with Orchestra Iowa and the Quad City Symphony. She is a core member of the chamber ensemble Virtuoso Soloists and a founding member of the Voxman Reed Trio at the University of Iowa. Her 2019 album “Portuguese Perspectives, on MSR Classics, introduces a collection of world-premiere recordings for the oboe by Portuguese composers and includes several new commissions for Miller. She spends her summers teaching at Lutheran Summer Music.

Ann Hobson Pilot (harp)

Internationally recognized and distinguished alumna Ann Hobson Pilot (BM ’66, Chalifoux) is the only CIM alumna to ever receive the Distinguished Alumni Award twice, and was honored with an Honorary Doctorate in 2018. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Talent Development League of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in January 2014 and the League of American Orchestras’ Gold Baton Award in 2017. After 40 years with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she retired in 2009. Pilot recorded the documentary A Musical Journey in South Africa in 1997 and is the subject of A Harpist’s Legacy, Ann Hobson Pilot and the Sound of Change, which debuted in 2011. She has served on the faculties at New England Conservatory of Music and Boston University.

Mary Ann Ramos (cello)

Cellist Mary Ann Ramos (MM ’06, Aaron) went on to receive her doctorate from University of Michigan. Ramos has served on the cello faculty at Northern Arizona University since 2010 and serves on the faculty for the Sphinx performance academies at the Curtis Institute of Music and at CIM. She has performed as soloist with several orchestras such as the Gateway Festival Orchestra, Alton Symphony Orchestra, Kirkwood Symphony Orchestra, University City Orchestra, and has attended multiple summer programs as a guest performer.

Irene Roberts (mezzo-soprano)

Mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts (MM ’08, Schiller) made her Met debut in 2012 in The Marriage of Figaro, and the following year she made her San Fransisco Opera debut in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. She has been a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin ensemble since 2015 and has sung roles such as Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen, Urbain in Meyerbeer’s Les Hugenots and Hansel in Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel at Deutsche Oper Berlin. Roberts has gone on to create roles such as Boa Chai in the world premiere of Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber at San Francisco Opera.

These accomplishments and honors only begin to highlight the many successful women who have walked the halls of CIM for generations. CIM’s founding members – 12 distinguished women from the Fortnightly Musical Club – were a group of independent women who believed in the value of a conservatory education. Through their vision, we recognize that even 100 years later, CIM plays a role in creating the future of women in classical music.