By Catherine Yates

What is a Leadership group?

The leadership groups are scholarship NCCMI ensembles that are composed of dedicated musicians who have shown commitment to the process of making music with other young musicians over the span of multiple years. Extraordinary musicians who have shown a love for chamber music and who have been with NCCMI for at least one year are able to have the opportunity to study it at a higher, more rigorous level when a part of one of these ensembles. Generally, they meet multiple times each week to rehearse, as well as to receive expert coaching. There’s a much larger emphasis placed on individual and group initiative if you’re a part of a leadership group. These groups also represent NCCMI on a regional and national level when they are selected to compete in major competitions around the country, as well as being the first people asked to engage in major performance opportunities around the state. Members of these leadership ensembles either receive a full or partial scholarship.

Being in one of these groups is a big commitment. It requires the musicians to develop a much deeper understanding of the part they play in the ensemble at all times in the music, as well as everyone else’s parts and the pieces as a whole. At the same time, being in one of these dedicated groups is extremely rewarding. Being able to look back on all the progress my current and previous groups have made on our pieces since the beginning of the learning process is extremely gratifying. It makes me realize how far we’ve all really come as musicians, collaborators, and individuals. Plus, I feel that the hours of hard work put into each and every piece that we’ve performed has made the group connection so much closer and stronger, and I know that I’ve made life-long friends with each member by the end of the year.

Who are the Leadership groups?

Every year, NCCMI has around 2 to 4 leadership ensembles. Since 2015, NCCMI has been awarded the generous Education Fund grant by the WCPE radio station, which has supported the WCPE Quartet for the past 7 years. Musicians a part of this group receive scholarships and benefits including a recording session, radio interviews and opportunities for paid professional performances. This year, the quartet is composed of violinists Katarina Dobrosky and Alexander McDowell, violist Aidan Collins, and cellist Andrew Chung.

Generally, NCCMI also has a scholarship piano trio. This year, the newly-formed Emerald Trio (named for the North Carolina state gemstone) is composed of violinist Jaeyee Jung, cellist Catherine Yates, and pianist Liam Drake.

This year, NCCMI also has its first duo—a cello and piano sonata group! The cellist is Tristen Johnson, and the pianist is Hrishikesh Ram. They were both a part of the Tre Voce Piano Trio throughout the 2021-2022 NCCMI year.