Conducting participants for the Seventh Ithaca International Conducting masterclass with Larry Rachleff April 27 – May 2, 2015

The following are active participants and auditors who will be working with Larry Rachleff, Jeff Meyer and Chris Younghoon Kim during the upcoming Seventh edition of the Ithaca International Conducting masterclass.

Active Participants

Paul Grobey is a graduate student in orchestral conducting at Ithaca College under the tutelage of Jeffery Meyer. Originally hailing from the Pacific Northwest, he earned a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the University of North Texas in 2010. Since making his conducting debut in 2011, Paul has learned from such teachers as Neil Varon, Carl St.Clair, Martin Majkut, Jonathan Pasternack, and Miguel Harth-Bedoya. In 2012, Paul guest conducted the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon. During the 2014-15 season, Paul will guest conduct the Auburn Chamber Orchestra in Auburn, NY, and will lead the Ithaca College Chamber and Symphony Orchestras in concert.

Award-winning conductor and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Hong performs regularly throughout the United States and abroad. Recent public appearances included dual piano/violin recitals in Los Angeles, chamber music concerts in New York City, and conducting engagements in Ukraine. He currently serves as Junior Board Member for the Shriver Hall Concert Series, Assistant Conductor of the Peabody Opera Theatre, and Music Director of the innovative Occasional Symphony. Joshua received his Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from The Juilliard School in 2012, where he studied under renowned pedagogue Masao Kawasaki. Joshua is currently furthering his conducting studies under the tutelage of Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar as a Master of Music degree candidate and graduate assistant to the conducting department at Peabody Conservatory.

Tiffany Lu, a native of Tampa, FL, recently completed a masters’ degree in conducting at Ithaca College, serving as assistant conductor for the Ithaca College Orchestras and studying under Dr. Jeffery Meyer. Tiffany has also served as Orchestral Assistant and conductor at the Pierre Monteux School in Hancock, Maine, studying with Michael Jinbo. She has participated in master classes with David Effron, Carl St. Clair, Lior Shambadal, and Victor Yampolsky. Tiffany is an active orchestral and chamber violinist and violist.

Sameer Patel has held conducting positions with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Chicago Sinfonietta, and the Boston Philharmonic. Recent and upcoming guest conducting engagements include the Toronto Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Pacific Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Knoxville Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and the Jacksonville Symphony. He was a participant in the 2013 League of American Orchestras National Conductor Preview and was also a recipient of a  Mendelssohn Foundation scholarship in 2011 to work with Kurt Masur in Germany and Finland. Sameer received his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Michigan and has participated in conducting masterclasses with Kurt Masur, Bernard Haitink, Gianandrea Noseda, David Zinman, Larry Rachleff, Neeme Jarvi, Marin Alsop, and others.

A native of Israel, Avishay Shalom is a graduate assistant in orchestral conducting at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Maestro Mark Gibson.  Shalom completed his Bachelor’s degree at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, where he conducted opera productions and was the assistant at the school symphony orchestra. Between 2012 and 2014 Shalom was the assistant conductor at the Jerusalem Academy Chamber Choir and the Israeli Vocal Ensemble, where he conducted an opera for children by Aharon Harlap. During this time he was also part of the Meitar Ensemble’s Wavelength Project for distinct conductor, where he conducted contemporary music and participated in masterclasses with Fabian Panisello, Pierre- André Valade, Matthias Pintscher and Philippe Leroux. In Spring 2016  Shalom will be the musical director for the CCM  studio production of  Rossini’s opera Il Signor Bruschino. Shalom is a recipient of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation’s award for orchestral conducting.

Rebecca Smithorn is a graduate assistant in orchestral conducting at the College-Conservatory of Music, where she is a student of Mark Gibson.  Prior to attending CCM, Rebecca was the founder and conductor of Ad Hoc, an award-winning chamber ensemble in Rochester, New York which was nominated as a “Maverick Classical Music Ensemble” on ArtsJournal’s Sandow.  She has recently conducted in master classes with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, and the United States Army Orchestra, and was nominated for the Conductor’s Guild Thelma A. Robinson Award, a biennial award for promising young conductors. She has also received career development awards from the Sigurd I. & Jarmila H. Rislov Foundation in Ann Arbor, Michigan and from the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester. Rebecca begins her doctoral studies at the Peabody Conservatory this fall, where she will study with Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar.

A native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Mario Torres is a student of Jeffery Meyer in orchestral conducting at Ithaca College where he is a graduate conducting assistant for the Symphony and Chamber orchestras. Torres earned a Bachelor (’13) and Masters (’14) of Music in Viola Performance from Northwestern State University of Louisiana, where he also was assistant conductor for NSU Symphony and Chamber orchestras. Torres has guest conducted Orquesta de Camara de San Pedro Sula in Honduras, and the Youth Orchestra project in Paramaribo, Suriname. Additionally, Torres has been a conducting student at the Pierre Monteux School of Music for conductors and orchestral musicians. Mario will lead the Youth Orchestra of Croix des Bouquets, Haiti this summer, and will lead the Ithaca College Symphony and Chamber orchestras in concert for the 2015-2016 season.
Chris Whittaker is a composer, conductor, and pianist originally from York, PA.  He received his masters in orchestral conducting at the University of Michigan and studied composition at the Peabody Institute.  His principal teachers include Kenneth Kiesler, Stuart Malina, Christopher Theofanidis and Philip Lasser.  His music has been performed and broadcast throughout the United States.  In addition to his freelance activities, Chris serves as the Interim Director of Music at Fort Washington Collegiate Church and directs a jazz worship service at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City.


As an undergraduate at Brigham Young University-Idaho, P. Nickolas Harker studied violin under Dr. Dallin Hansen and earned an undergraduate degree in music education. As an instrumentalist, he has performed with the BYU-Idaho Symphony, BYU-Idaho Sinfonietta, BYU Philharmonic Orchestra, Idaho Falls Symphony and Oquirrh Mountain Symphony. He currently collaborates, as conductor, with the composers and performers of the BYU Studio Orchestra. Together, they are responsible for the scores of BYU film and creative art student projects, including films, documentaries and video games. He is currently seeking his Masters in Music with an emphasis in Orchestral Conducting at Brigham Young University, studying primarily under Kory Katseanes and Dr. Don Peterson and is currently involved as the conductor for the BYU University Orchestra, BYU University String Orchestra, and the upcoming BYU Spring Opera production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. He has also been mentored by Thomas Heuser, Roger Kalia, and Jonathan Govias.

A native of Long Island, New York, Stephanie McGurren began musical instruction at Mannes College of Music’s Preparatory Division and received her Bachelor of Music in flute performance from Boston Conservatory. During the 2012-2013 season, she served as an apprentice conductor with the New York Youth Symphony under Music Director Joshua Gersen. She has since attended several masterclasses at the University of Cincinnati, the Conductors Institute at Bard College, Queens College Conductors Workshop, and the National Music Festival at Washington College. In addition to her performance endeavors, Stephanie is currently completing her Master of Arts in performing arts administration through Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts.

Pianist Shun Yao has been active in New York City’s musical scenes after abandoning his career as a graphic designer for his pursuit in the artistry of music. As a soloist, he has performed in numerous large and small New York City venues including Steinway Hall, Bechstein hall, and Faust Harrison Showroom. As a chamber musician, he was invited to perform for a masterclass held by the Tokyo String Quartet. Mr. Yao completed his BM in piano performance studying with Nina Svetlanova at Manhattan School of Music, during which he intensely analyzed operas of Richard Strauss and Alban Berg, choral works of Palestrina and Anton Bruckner, and Beethoven’s string quartets. After completing his Bachelor’s degree, Mr. Yao took interest in conducting and has worked with professional and amatuer orchestras such as Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic and Bard College Orchestra. He will begin to work on his MM in collaborative piano at Rice University this coming fall.


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