News Archive

NOTE: This is an archive of news articles from the previous NCCMI website and is no longer being maintained. Some links may not function correctly.

Index of news articles:        

  • Letter from the Director  
  • Caroline Shaw Master Class
  • NCCMIs First Guidebook Dedicated to Public Speaking and Performance Etiquette
  • What in the World is a Performance Review?
  • An Encore Performance
  • Recognizing Kindness – Our Community Partners
  • From the Director: The Music Continues!
  • James Ehnes thrills NCCMI Ensembles in Master Class
  • First National Chamber Music Competition Winners!
  • Waltye Rasulala inducted into WakeEd Hall of Fame!
  • Newly-opened Building designed by Trustee Kristen Hess and HH Architecture
  • Elizabeth Beilman Selected for Adaptive Leadership Circles
  • NCCMI Alum Drake Driscoll + Vision Collective receive Award
  • Highlights for 20-21
  • What Is a Workshop?
  • Pop Up Park Concerts
  • Trustee Ram Vedantham: NCCMI Helps Good Musicians Become Great
  • From the Director: Looking to the Future with Gratitude, Hope, and Mindfulness
  • Board Member Profile: Mei Thai
  • Celebrating Our Graduates! 
  • Chamber Music during the Time of Covid-19
  • Getting to Know Dr. Timothy Holley
  • Leadership Ensembles and Internships 2020-21
  • Raleigh Summer Showcase Series!
  • From the Director: Cultivating Young Artists During Challenging Times
  • Board Member Profile: Lair Block
  • CMS Peer-Mentoring Experience
  • Celebrating Our Competition Winners
  • Meet the Arioso Quartet
  • Upcoming NCCMI Auditions!
  • From the Directors: January 2020
  • Board Member Profile: Robert Monath
  • Community Music School Partnership
  • A Word From the Executive Director
  • Treasured Trustee: Florence Peacock
  • NCCMI Outreach: SearStone Retirement Center
  • Welcome Interns
  • Zuill Bailey – An Artist Up Close
  • Connection with NCCMI Playing Chamber Music
  • Meet the WCPE String Quartet
  • Board Member Profile: Meet Kristen Hess
  • Peer Mentoring Program with Community Music School
  • A Word From Our Executive Director
  • Arioso Quartet wins competition prize in China
  • Grant Llewellyn Orchestral Workshop and Concert – A True Winner

What in the World is a Performance Review?

Throughout the year, NCCMI students work hard honing the craft of performance. In order to improve, they need opportunities to perform AND a chance to receive encouragement and suggestions from our great teachers. The Performance Review is their chance to get both! To see it all come together, join us on Saturday, January 9 at 7-9pm and Sunday, January 10 at 3:30-5:30. These performances will be livestreamed on the NCCMI Facebook page and YouTube Channel. 

Our Faculty Panel will be watching and listening too. Groups will receive their  comments after the concerts to help them improve their performance skills in the coming semester. The concerts are free but donations can be securely made on our NCCMI website.

An Encore Performance

On February 27 at 4pm the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute will present an encore presentation of the January 20, 2020 concert “Chamber Music Treasures In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

This program features the music of African American composers and the poetry of Langston Hughes. Performers on this program are cellist Dr. Timothy Holley, violinist Alice Ju, violinist Charles Logan, violist Jacobus Hormesen, pianist Olga Kleiankina and soprano Waltye Rasulala.

 Curated by Dr. Holley you will enjoy the music of composers: Florence Price, Adolphus Hailstork, Ricky Ian Gordon. Margaret Bonds, Samuel Coleridge -Taylor, Joseph Boulogne Charlier de Saint – Georges and James Weldon Johnson. The poetry of Langston Hughes will be highlighted in compositions by Ricky Ian Gordon and Margaret Bonds.

A highlight of this encore program will be a conversation about the music and composers with cellist Dr. Timothy Holley and vocalist Waltye Rasulala. So join us February 27 at 4 pm on You Tube or the NCCMI Website for this encore program.

Recognizing Kindness – Our Community Partners

By Hrishikesh Ram

As an NCCMI student for the past three years, I’ve become very familiar with the Church of the Nativity (COTN) in Raleigh. Sitting in the pews and listening to various events has become a common experience. And who could forget the beautiful acoustics and the Schimmel grand piano?! Every year, COTN is the site of our Orientation, Performance Review Concerts, and Spring Final Concerts. This year, however, COTN has become much more. The Harmonía Piano Quartet, of which I am a member, is thankful to COTN for providing us with a location to record many of our pieces, and letting us utilize the facilities for an entire day for a virtual competition!

 To show our gratitude for all these opportunities, especially during the trying times of COVID-19, the Harmonía Piano Quartet had the opportunity to record selections of music for the Church’s services. A few holiday themed selections, like “Greensleeves”, a light Bourrée by J.S. Bach, and a piano quartet arrangement of a classic piece like Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K.525, were among the repertoire we recorded. My favorite pieces to record were the hymns that were so meticulously arranged for piano quartet by the Church’s very own choirmaster and organist, Mr. Jason Pace.

 My friends in the WCPE String Quartet and the Jete String Quartet also got the chance to play there during the season of Advent. During this pandemic, it is really amazing getting to play our chamber music together for other people. It is human nature to sometimes be unaware of the generous and kind gestures from others. We hope that the kind acts by COTN are recognized by one and all. We can’t imagine what budding musicians like us would have done without the help and support of the members of this church. We are eternally thankful for their continued support.

From the Director: The Music Continues!

by Elizabeth Beilman

As spring became summer and summer became fall, it became apparent that the pandemic was not going away. Like many arts organizations, NCCMI had hoped for “reopening” in the fall, but we were prepared for all eventualities thanks to our Medical Advisory Committee and well- organized Board of Trustees. Tour top priority was- and remains- the health and safety of our students, families and teachers. As a result, protocols were established and communicated to our community so everyone was kept reassured and well-informed.

Turns out, young musicians and their families are starving for the opportunity to play music together! We began the 20-21 program year with 74 students in 18 small ensembles, including piano trios, string quartets and various other combinations. This level of interest is a remarkable testament to community confidence in NCCMI during challenging times. Keep in mind that, with small gatherings and the warm weather, NCCMI groups were able to meet regularly outside to learn the art of chamber music.

Among our protocols: masks and social distancing are required, as well as health screening procedures. Through a team effort and the generosity of volunteers, locations were found for EVERY group to meet safely for their sessions. There are many people to thank for this: host families, group coordinators, church partners, trustees and our amazing teachers. Thank you also to our major sponsors, the City of Raleigh Arts Commission and United Arts Council of Wake County. NCCMI changes lives by giving students strong social connections through music. Please support our organization (as well as others!) by sending a donation.

Keep the arts alive!

James Ehnes thrills NCCMI Ensembles in Master Class

International Violin soloist James Ehnes shared some inspiring comments in a virtual NCCMI master class, “It’s uplifting to see groups playing such beautiful music together in these difficult times”. He was in the area to videotape a North Carolina Symphony performance with Principal Cellist Bonnie Thron, also an NCCMI teacher. Sponsored by NCS, this event was a lifetime thrill for NCCMI students!

On October 4, International Violinist James Ehnes taught a master class to NCCMI ensembles. This came about through the generous auspices of the North Carolina Symphony. In a model that is already becoming familiar to us, NCCMI groups videotaped themselves “in performance”. These videos were shared during a zoom class for everyone to enjoy. Then Mr. Ehnes gave real-time feedback to the musicians who were gathered in their small groups in different spaces. Among the music played: two works by Johannes Brahms and a string quartet by Bedrich Smetana. It was a real thrill for our students to meet with an artist of the stature of Mr. Ehnes!

Fun Fact: James Ehnes will appear on the NC Symphony Concert on November 6/7 with NCCMI teacher/NCS Principal Cellist Bonnie Thron in a performance of the Beethoven Septet!

First National Chamber Music Competition Winners!

Trio Serio won First Prize at the University of South Carolina Chamber Music Day Competition on October 10. Congratulations to Jaeyee Jung, Violin; Maxwell Yates, piano and Catherine Yates, cello for their stunning performance of the Brahms, Op. 8 Trio! Two other NCCMI Ensembles also received honors.   This event began with preliminary videos submitted last March. Our WCPE String Quartet were selected at that time. However, the competition was postponed until this fall when Trio Serio and two other NCCMI groups were selected: this year’s WCPE String Quartet (Sophia Liu and Henry Woodburn, violins; Eesha Barua, viola; Ethan Hess, cello) and Harmonía Piano Quartet (Leena Hocutt Duarte, violin; Lauren Southwell, viola; Sophia Knappe, cello; Hrishikesh Ram, piano). The Harmonía ensemble musicians were awarded an Honorable Mention for their Brahms Piano Quartet performance. Congratulations to all our hard-working young artists!

  See the award-winning videos here.

Waltye Rasulala inducted into WakeEd Hall of Fame!

NCCMI Board President Waltye Rasulala has been the recipient of many awards. The most recent accolade for our dedicated Board chair is Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame. In a recent post the WakeEd Partnership said,“ In addition to performing in New York, Los Angeles, and Raleigh, accomplished vocalist and actress Waltye Rasulala served for 25 years as Public Affairs Director, Anchor, and Emmy Award-winning producer for WRAL. Throughout her career, she has been instrumental in numerous impactful community projects, including Success by Six, Project Tanzania, Coats for the Children, and the annual Wake County Public School System Pieces of Gold performance.” The award was presented during the WakeEd’s virtual Stars of Education (gala on October 22.Congratulations to Waltye for this well-deserved recognition!

Newly-opened Building designed by Trustee Kristen Hess and HH Architecture

Kristen Hess is the founder and CEO of HH Architecture. Her firm was selected in 2016 to design the new Agricultural Sciences Center at NC State. It is a testament to teamwork within the company and dedication to inspired and responsible design. Bravo to Kristen and team on this accomplishment!

Elizabeth Beilman Selected for Adaptive Leadership Circles

NCCMI Executive Director was selected to join the City of Raleigh Adaptive Leadership Circles, designed to cultivate arts leaders’ adaptive capacities. This inclusion is recognition of NCCMI ability to make “gradual and meaningful change” as well as encouragement for future growth.Sponsored by Kenan Institute for the Arts, EmcArts, the Office of Raleigh Arts and the United Arts Council.

NCCMI Alum Drake Driscoll + Vision Collective receive Award

Drake Driscoll, cellist, began her chamber music studies with NCCMI in 2012. With fellow Juilliard School of Music musicians, she founded The Vision Collective, dedicated to raising awareness about refugee issues through music. The Vision Collective musicians are recent recipients of two awards: the Robert Sherman Award and the 2020 Entrepreneurship Grant from the Juilliard School.

Drake Driscoll  recently received her Masters from the Juilliard School of Music. Drake and her fellow Juilliard students- violinist Timothy Chooi and Sarah Sung, viola- formed The Vision Collective to give voice to refugees issues. She recently appeared online with actor/comedian Ben Stiller, as part of a book launch for “While the Earth Sleeps, We Travel,” a book by Ahmed Badr featuring stories, poetry, and art from young refugees around the world.

Drake performed a portion of a newly-commissioned work by Afghani Milad Youseufi on the program. And the Vision Collective is the recipient of an additional award: the 2020 Entrepreneurship Grant from the Juilliard School.

Highlights for 20-21

Life in the New Zealand String Quartet: A Conversation with Douglas Beilman

Douglas Beilman was violinist with the New Zealand String Quartet for many years. In this special event, he will share his memories of life in the quartet, with special attention given to the monumental catalog of the Beethoven String Quartets. Doug is the brother of NCCMI Executive Director Elizabeth Beilman! Contact to attend this special event!

Chamber Music Treasures- Music by African-American Composers (January 18, 2021 at 7:30 p.m). This will be a video reprise of our highly successful MLK Day concert from earlier this year, curated by Dr. Timothy Holley of N.C. Central University with new interviews hosted by Waltye Rasulala.

Small but Mighty: Chamber Music and Social Change (Monday February 15 at 7 p.m.) will be a conversation about how chamber musicians and other artists can support or initiate social change/social justice in today’s society. The program will feature NCCMI alum, Drake Driscoll and The Vision Collective along with other guests.

To learn more about other NCCMI Special Events, click here

What Is a Workshop?

 Workshops are a valuable part of what NCCMI does to provide students with vital current information on how to accomplish their goals in specific areas. Each Workshop is designed to give students the vocabulary and tools to address future requirements in their field of interest.

Two workshops have already taken place:

The Violin to Viola Adventure took place on October 10. Here violinists were able to try out the viola and receive great instruction on proper playing technique by NCCMI Teacher Pamela Kelly.

 On October 24, Executive Director Elizabeth Beilman hosted a college and career pathways seminar entitled Music and Your Future. Our Special Guest Panel included Dr. Peter Askim of N.C. State University; Dr. Timothy Holley of N.C. Central University; Jimmy Gilmore of Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, and Meredith College; NCCMI Board Chair, Waltye Rasulala; and Violinist Ben Mygatt, recent graduate of Williams College. The event was very successful and we were able to answer many questions from students about what to expect in college and beyond. 

 The Collab Workshop will take place on February 15th. This workshop is timely because the students will learn how to create a remote chamber music video. Looking to the future, this will be an essential skill in the student’s toolbox as we progress through the pandemic.

 All-State Orchestra Auditions Workshop will be hosted by Elizabeth Beilman and faculty member Pam Kelly. This will cover the gamut on audition preparation: practice techniques, repertoire, confidence building, stage presence, and ways to avoid common mistakes.

Pop Up Park Concerts

In partnership with the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, NCCMI presents these short and uplifting chamber music concerts, a serendipitous “happening” for area citizens to enjoy!

Pop Up Parks Concerts continue throughout November at Durant Nature Preserve, Walnut Creek Wetlands Center and Thomas Crowder Nature Center. Check theNCCMI Calendar for further details.

Trustee Ram Vedantham: NCCMI Helps Good Musicians Become Great

by Rebecca Christian

“Without NCCMI there would be far fewer musicians,” says NCCMI Board Treasurer Ram Vedantham, discussing why he gives his time and support. “NCCMI allows more people to find out about music and to learn a lot more at their young ages with these phenomenal coaches,” he adds.

Ram joined the Board in 2019. We were pleased to welcome him as our Treasurer and adviser on financial matters. His older son Hrishikesh, age 17 and a senior at Enloe High School, is a pianist and member of the Harmonía Piano Quartet, a group that recently received an Honorable Mention in the University of South Carolina National Chamber Music Competition. Ram and his wife Nithya also have a younger son, Nikhil, a sixth grader at Carnage Middle School, who also plays the piano.

 “Hrishi loves music and works hard at it, “Ram says.  “I have been a listener-coach without musical training, but I knew Rishi would become a better pianist by working with student groups guided by professional musicians. In searching for a musical organization for my son I was told about NCCMI by Mary Page Block (wife of Board member, Lair Block).” Happily, it all worked out and Rishi is now in his third year as an NCCMI student.

Ram believes NCCMI paves a path to success for young people through the teamwork of chamber music.  He thinks that one of NCCMI’s major strengths is its inclusiveness.  NCCMI makes it possible for every deserving student to participate, regardless of financial constraints. 

We are pleased to welcome Ram to our board. He has had an almost immediate impact, having secured for NCCMI a $10,000 grant from Silicon Valley Bankwhere he is currently the Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Division.  He has also worked for Wells Fargo Bank and as a research scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency.  Ram, originally from Chennai, India, came to the U.S. to study at the University of California, Davis, where he earned his PhD in applied mathematics.  Although he learned Indian classical violin as a youngster, he said a major exposure to music came while he was at graduate school where he and his roommate listened constantly to classical music while they were working.  “I’m a math guy, and they go together.”

Rishi is now applying to college, hoping to study chemical engineering and piano as a double major.  “All we do as parents is urge him to spend time with people”, Ram said.  “Ultimately we are human and we need human interactions to survive,” which is one reason he believes chamber music is essential.  He also thinks Rishi has benefited from being an NCCMI intern.   “He is learning to take on responsibilities.  As you assume responsibilities you learn to think about others, to be dependable. Rishi has been asked to manage the web interface and is also helping to organize some of the events.  When you give kids adult responsibilities, they rise to the occasion.”

“Luck favors the ones who work hard, Ram says, “but NCCMI allows for good musicians to have a chance to become great.”

From the Director: Looking to the Future with Gratitude, Hope, and Mindfulness

Greetings to all! 

We hope you are safe, healthy, and ready to navigate the most unusual year in our lifetime. NCCMI is excited and ready to face the new challenges presented by the pandemic as we get the new season underway! Gratitude, Hopefulness and Mindfulness are our guiding principles as we plan for a future full of opportunities for creative growth. 

Our organization is grateful for the promising number of students who will be returning to the program this year. For those still wondering about how our program might work in 20-21, check out the archived video of our Spring Final Concert.  

For those wondering about how our performances might work in 20-21, check out the archived video of our Spring Final Concert. In June, our students presented our Spring Final Concerts in three jam-packed segments covering six hours! Through the magic of Facebook Live, you can watch the 3rdconcert of that marathon day: a collection of talented and dedicated groups, showing amazing creativity in conquering the difficulties of putting together a virtual concert. The program begins with awards given to our many outstanding musicians. This event turned out to be a tremendous success, despite being our first foray into the virtual concert world. 

We are so grateful to have an outstanding Board of Directors committed to the mission of chamber music: bringing people together through meaningful and intimate musical experiences. NCCMI Trustees met recently in a virtual retreat and reviewed our Strategic Goals. Their commitment to visionary goals- that meet the needs of our whole community- is strong and deep. Because of their support, NCCMI is equipped to respond flexibly and responsibly to current health trends while NCCMI while maintaining strong fiscal management.   

NCCMI is fortunate to enjoy a broad base of support from the community at large, with a special nod to our public funders: the City of Raleigh Arts Commissionand the United Arts Council. Both of these organizations have provided consistent encouragement, resources and a warm sense of community with our fellow arts programs that has made us feel hopeful for the future.    

The coming year will undoubtedly bring challenges, but opportunities for creativity and collaboration will be greater than ever. For the past four and a half months NCCMI has worked tirelessly to understand the idiosyncrasies of the virtual world; we have developed new resources to enhance the chamber music learning experience. And we are developing safe protocol plans for in-person sessions (outdoors/at social distance/with masks/temperature checks) as conditions allow in alternation with zoom classes. It is gratifying that our students and outstanding coaches are so eager to engage with and explore these opportunities.  

NCCMI has developed scenario plans that conform with local/state guidelines. As always the safety and well-being of our students and teachers is our first priority. We will consult with our Medical Advisory Group and NCCMI families as needed to adapt from one planning model to another. In any case, students will continue to have many opportunities to meet in small groups and grow as young artists. Updates will be posted on our website and social media sources.  

During the season ahead, we will be looking for new ways to provide greater accessibility for all to partake in our musical offerings. We will continue our partnerships with the Chamber Music Raleigh, the North Carolina Symphony and the Community Music School. We will be presenting virtual concert events, featuring our Faculty Artists. And we are creating new portals for wider participation in the virtual world. We welcome one and all to participate in zoom auditions in August or by appointment by clicking HERE.   

Board Member Profile: Mei Thai

When you ask NCCMI board member Mei Thai what she brings as a member of the board, she says “flavor”.  She grew up in Taiwan where her family still lives and where she auditioned in the seventh grade for a select music school similar to the NC School of the Arts.  She excelled and was able to attend TungHai University from which she graduated first in her class as a double major in clarinet and piano. She then worked as a teaching assistant there before coming to the U.S. to attend Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  She followed that by earning a DMA in clarinet performance at the University of Maryland— becoming the first person from Taiwan to do so.  

She had a big career ahead and was being recruited to return to her university but then she met her husband Vince, a Georgia Tech electrical engineer who grew up in Chapel Hill (he was a violinist with the NC all state orchestra and is a self taught player of the viola and guitar. ) As she says, “Vince upset my plans but he is a good guy.” 

Mei does not regret that change of plans. 

“I’m a musician and I am very happy,” she says.  “I’m also a parent.  My teachers at TungHai wanted me to go back and help develop the chamber music program there.  I stayed here and though I didn’t help my alma mater,  I am now helping out chamber music in my local community through NCCMI.” 

Mei got involved after her son Jonathan became a cello student in NCCMI’s award-winning Arioso quartet.  Jonathan is a rising sophomore at UNC, majoring in neuroscience and music with a minor in Chinese.  Mei has one daughter Bethany who is a senior at Research Triangle High School and an 11-year-old, Karissa, a rising 6th grader at Serling Montessori School; this past year she was a violinist with the NCCMI Allegro Piano Quartet as well as concertmaster of the Triangle Youth Orchestra. 

Adding to the “flavor” Mei brings to the board is her perspective as a musician and music teacher.  She has taught at NC Central University for 16 years and also has her own studio, teaching clarinet.  In addition she is a businesswoman, working alongside her husband in their realty and property management company.  As part of her service to her community Mei helps at her daughter Bethany’s school and serves as manager/administrative director for the local Chinese dance group.  She calls all this “juggling”. “I love to contribute my professional background to NCCMI”, Mei says.  “Sometimes I can foresee something.  Also I help with the kids to make their coaches’ jobs easier.  When the groups are formed I give them a little lesson at their first rehearsal and guide them how to practice.”  

NCCMI, in Mei’s opinion, helps students appreciate music in a deeper sense through knowing each other, working as a group in an intimate environment and listening to each other.  In chamber music there is no “faking it”, she says which can happen in a large orchestra.   

“In a chamber quartet each person is accountable.  In order even to make music in a chamber group the students learn how to work together,  how to learn the music together and how to communicate without talking. Students learn to understand their roles—when to be in the background and when to be forward,” Mei explained.  “My daughter has learned how to project her sounds, how to listen to others and to understand that music is just not from herself but from her group.”  

Solid friendships are made, Mei concluded.   “Jonathan’s group still keeps in touch even though they are now in college. Because of the close work together the groups become friends, so that when they practice there is so much laughter.” 

Celebrating Our Graduates! 

NCCMI has 14 graduates this year. One of them- Jaewon Jung- has been with us for 6 years! In this video, we recognize our outstanding graduating seniors. 

Click here for link.  

Chamber Music during the Time of Covid-19

By Ethan Hess

 Chamber music, like many things during this pandemic, has had to adapt in several ways. However, groups that cannot meet in person still find ways to make music together. In my case, it was initially hard to collaborate with group members and coaches in a way that we could continue to improve our performance. 

 We had to make a few changes, including our practice methods and even one of the pieces we were playing. It turned out that we would be playing chamber music in a new way. We ended up playing a new piece where every group member had a solo at some point. This does not always happen, so it was awesome to see everybody in my group trying to add personality to their part while everyone else supported them. Even with our inability to practice together in great detail (which requires meeting in person) my group ended up having a positive experience.  

The youngest NCCMI ensembles is the Subito String Quartet. They spoke about challenges they faced with “socially distanced” chamber music in this video. Staying in tempo with one another proved difficult when not meeting in person. Despite these challenges, the young musicians found chamber music to be a great way to take their mind off the pandemic and help them cope with their lack of socializing. It is clear when you listen to their recording that they overcame challenges of social distancing to create a beautiful performance of Vivaldi’s “Spring” from the Four Seasons. 

Getting to Know Dr. Timothy Holley 

By Waltye Rasulala

Chamber Music Coach with NCCMI Legato String Quartet 

Dr. Holley’s curated concert, Chamber Music Treasures will be presented as a Facebook Live event on September 27 at 7:30pm. Look for more information soon! 

For Dr. Timothy Holley, growing up in a family of musicians set him on his chosen career path of music. His mother is a pianist and his father came from a musical family and is a singer.  To this day they sing together in a group called the Pro Nelson Singers, dedicated to the preservation of Negro spirituals. It was founded right after the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963.   

At his Mother’s encouragement when he was 6 or 7, Timothy began studying piano. His father often recalled how he would often lie under the piano when his Mother was playing, totally fascinated with the sounds and the desire to be close to the sounds that the piano made. 

His exposure to symphonic music and its instruments came when he was in the third grade of the Detroit, Michigan school system. It was through their strong instrumental program-and visits from the Detroit Symphony-that his interest in music expanded. At that time he learned to play the trombone. When his family moved to Lansing, Michigan, and he entered the public schools there, the cello became his new instrument of choice.  He was 10 years old. So while the Detroit schools introduced him to a strong orchestra program, the schools in Lansing introduced him to the world of strings. 

Upon graduating from high school he entered Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio to further his study of the cello. Later he continued study at the University of Michigan where his dissertation focused on the cello music of African-American composers. 

In January of this year, Timothy’s knowledge of African American music was brought to life through Chamber Music Treasures, an NCCMI Faculty Artist concert. In his curated program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Timothy introduced the chamber music of Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Adolphus Hailstork, Florence Price, Margaret Bonds and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor… ALL African American classical composers. The concert, performed by NCCMI Faculty Artists, was truly an evening of new music for many in the audience.  

In 2013 he started the Facebook group “The African American Cello History Collective”, and maintains a related blog site titled “A View From The Scroll”, . When he is not busy with those activities he is teaching college students as Associate Professor of Music at North Carolina Central University, performing with the Mallamé Chamber Players, the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. 

He believes that the gift chamber music gives to young people is learning to like the music they play, learning to share that music with others and having a conversation about the music. He says, “teach students to talk to each other about the role their instrumental part plays in the total piece of music they are learning. Learn to communicate.” 

When asked what advice he has for young people learning and performing chamber music. He has this to say:  

            (1) “Listen..listen..listen. To all kinds of music.” 

            (2). “Anything you hear for the first time, you need to give yourself   time to process it.”  In other words, don’t be too quick to judge it.  

            (3) “Listen to learn, understand, and to ask the question: Is this relevant?” 

            (4) “Don’t just like music in a vacuum. Be around people who have a kindred interest.” 

              Sage advice from a seasoned performer and outstanding teacher!

Leadership Ensembles and Internships 2020-21 

By Jewel Hurtgen 

Each spring, auditions are held to assign advanced students to ensembles that will make professional recordings, enter local and international competitions, and perform for professional engagements. Our three leadership ensembles this year are the WCPE String Quartet, NCCMI Piano Quartet, and Trio Serio.  

The WCPE String Quartet is funded by WCPE – The Classical Station  The Juniors and Seniors in this Quartet are new to the leadership program, so this semester will be a combination of getting to know each other and learning more difficult music. Peter Askim, the conductor at NC State and a resident of Greenville, is composing a 2nd piece for NCCMI. Look out for the debut of this piece coming later this year!!  

The NCCMI Piano Quartet includes musicians who have previous NCCMI experience together. Rishi, Leena, Lauren, and Sophia are excited to perform pieces by Brahms and Turina. The Trio Serio ensemble, better known as Jaeyee and the Yates’ siblings, are in their third year as an ensemble. Because of their years of experience and trust in each other, these students are taking on more difficult pieces by Shostakovich.  

In addition, this spring NCCMI interviewed and trained 10 interns, 2 returning members and 8 new members. 2 interns will be retiring at the end of the summer. They have started to work this summer with Elizabeth Beilman learning the ins and outs of NCCMI. The interns help with scheduling, musical program designs, online forms, stage crew, social media posting, and so much more.  

As a previous member of a leadership ensemble and one of the returning and retiring interns, I have an abundance of gratitude towards NCCMI. The leadership ensembles have given me so many opportunities to perform incredible music with other passionate, hardworking students who have become my friends. Chamber music has rekindled my love for music and inspired me to study music in college. This internship has been a fantastic.

All three ensembles are beginning to work together this summer by creating their own unique way to collaborate musically, regardless of social distancing! We look forward to hearing them in the near future!

Raleigh Summer Showcase Series!

By Elizabeth Beilman 

We are so excited that the City of Raleigh is featuring NCCMI on its Summer Showcase Series. This is a significant affirmation of our program’s mission and importance to the community and we hope that everyone has a chance to see it. NCCMI is the only youth music education program being given this opportunity.  

Check out the WCPE String Quartet and Fantasma Piano Trio in their beautiful performances! Congratulations to the musicians in these ensembles – they really impressed our friends at Raleigh Arts, making all of this possible. 

Most of all, we thank the City of Raleigh Arts Commission for their support for NCCMI!

From the Director: Cultivating Young Artists During Challenging Times

By Elizabeth Beilman

We hope this finds everyone safe and well in this most unusual and stressful time. Despite the cancellations and interruptions to our “normal” schedule, we are keeping our students challenged and engaged with important musical activities. Our staff and students are demonstrating their creativity and resourcefulness, coming together to support our chamber music curriculum in alternative learning environments.

NCCMI has instituted online activities to replace live coaching sessions. Some examples… students completed an exercise in score analysis and cue marking in their instrumental parts. To study the art of performance, coaches are assigning videos for the students to evaluate with a “compare and contrast” report; then each small ensemble gets together in the virtual world, to discuss their observations. Musicians will also be submitting composer reports. These enriching activities are not just busy work; they are actually terrific mechanisms to build critical skills and artistry in young musicians.

From the date of our last newsletter up to last week, NCCMI ensembles shared the joy of chamber music to many audiences throughout Wake County. The Performance Reviews were highly beneficial to coaches and students, testing their progress in a performance setting. Our outreach events at the North and West Regional Public Libraries were well received. And on January 26th, Highland United Methodist Church (one of many generous church partners) featured our students in a “Spotlight Concert.” A dozen NCCMI ensembles performed works from Beethoven to Debussy, in front of a very appreciative audience.

During these challenging days, all of us at NCCMI wish to thank our generous donors. YOU make it possible for NCCMI to train the musicians of the future… and we’d like to add a special shout out to our parent contributors who fervently responded to our annual fund letter. Thanks also to the United Arts Council and theRaleigh Arts Commission who continue their support of NCCMI and all artists in our area.

While we regret having to cancel many of our spring events, we are already looking forward to returning to perform for our friends at retirement communities, libraries, museums and at NC Symphony events. In the meantime, please stay in touch; we’d love to hear from you!

The end-of year NCCMI Formal Concert has been rescheduled for June 7, 1:30-5:30 at Church of the Nativity. For all schedule changes, consult the NCCMI online calendar.

Wishing you good health and a swift return to normality,


Board Member Profile: Lair Block

By Becky Christian and Jimmy Gilmore

Board member Lawrence “Lair” Block is webmaster for NCCMI and has played an important role in the success of the organization over the past five years. Dedicated and multi-skilled, Lair has brought his business acumen and knowledge of the “tech” side of life to NCCMI. The website is the road map to NCCMI and it is Lair who has made the site easy to navigate and understand. Executive Director, Elizabeth Beilman said, “Without the systems Lair introduced we would never have been able to grow to nearly 100 students in 25 groups we have now. Before Lair came on board I had to do everything by hand—get the information to put the groups together and process all the registration materials.”

Lair is not a musician himself, but listens to music all day because his wife, Mary, is a violinist and Owner of “Arioso Strings, Inc.” Truly he brings an invaluable perspective to the NCCMI board with his engineering degree from Cornell and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Business.

Music is the heart of NCCMI. Seems simple enough; just get some musicians together and start coaching them on a Beethoven String Quartet. But that is the result, not the process. A lot has to happen before we get down to actually teaching the students. But the administration aspect of NCCMI is incredibly complex, and it is the Board that, utilizing their unique talents, keeps the Institute going.

Read more about the Arioso Quartet sponsored by Lair and Mary Block in this newsletter below.

CMS Peer-Mentoring Experience

By Brooke Chow 

For the second year, NCCMI is partnering with Community Music School Raleigh through the peer-mentoring strings program. Community Music School is a non-profit organization that aims to provide all children with the opportunity to learn music through access to quality music lessons that cost as little as $1 per lesson. NCCMI students that play the violin, viola, or cello now have the opportunity to peer-mentor a student at Community Music School.

 By working with Community Music School, NCCMI supports a positive cause for the community. CMS and NCCMI have also worked together to hold masterclasses and workshops, including the highly-anticipated Side-by-Side between NCCMI and CMS students on February 22nd. NCCMI students can volunteer occasionally or weekly, based on their schedules. They can also choose the time and how long they peer-mentor: ranging from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. All volunteering with CMS students can count towards school volunteering hours and club. This year, four dedicated volunteers have volunteered at CMS on a weekly basis: Ethan Hess (cello), Asher Wexler (violin and viola), Brooke Chow (violin), Hrishikesh Ram (piano), and Mia Lucier (piano).

Asher and Hrishikesh were both interviewed about their experiences working with CMS students. Hrishikesh works alongside NCCMI Board Chair, Ms. Waltye Rasulala, at CMS lessons. He plays as an accompaniment for her vocal students. Asher plays both the violin and viola and helps CMS students with their fingerings, rhythms, and musicianship. Hrishikesh first started volunteering so that he could have a tangible impact on the community. Similarly, Asher hoped to do what his excellent music teachers had done for him: “I can’t imagine not having music in my life – the way it brings people together, embodies cultural heritage, expresses emotion, and tells stories – and I wanted to give that gift to kids who wouldn’t have access to it otherwise.” 

While talking to Hrishikesh, he spoke of his many experiences: “my favorite memory was attempting (and failing) to accurately sight-read new accompaniment music on the spot, for a new piece of repertoire that Ms. Rasulala was teaching her voice students. The piano accompaniment was a bit much to read right off the bat, and it was “interesting” to hear how it sounded the first time I tried it!” Asher’s favorite memory was working with Jose to current his bowhold. The stories they exchanged made the moment incredible “humanizing and intimate.” 

It’s indubitable that the Peer-Mentorship Program has sparked incredible growth in both NCCMI and CMS students. Asher’s experience has taught him many valuable lessons: “My experience at the Community Music School not only taught me about patience and relationship building but also about the very simple joy of seeing one’s teaching come into fruition.  There’s nothing like it.” Hrishikesh encourages other NCCMI students to join as mentors: “Other NCCMI students should join the program to witness and experience first-hand how they can impact the education of other aspiring musicians and students in the local area, and how they can help motivate and mentor students in their musical endeavors. It is a great volunteering opportunity in and of itself, and everyone should take advantage of it as much as possible.” Likewise, Asher says the same: “ I’ve found that serving in an arena in which I’m passionate is not only more meaningful and fulfilling but also more effective.  So, from one passionate musician to another, I strongly encourage you to join the peer mentorship program.”

If you are interested in volunteering, please email

Competition Winners 2019-20

By Elizabeth Beilman

NCCMI musicians have garnered many prizes and recognition this spring. Their accomplishments reflect positively on the NCCMI program, designed to shape musical leaders!


The WCPE String Quartet and the Arioso Quartet were both selected as finalists for the Federation of Music Clubs Joel Adams String Quartet Award (3/7/2020). This award is given on a biennial basis and comes with a cash prize. State Finals will take place through online submission of recordings. You can listen to the WCPE Recording below!

The WCPE TheClassicalStation String Quartet was selected as finalists for The University of South Carolina School of Music String Quartet Competition (2/2020). This comes with the opportunity to work closely with the Parker Quartet. In January, violinists Jewel Hurtgen and Henry Woodburn were awarded 1st and 2nd prizes respectively at the Woman’s Club of Raleigh Music Competition. They will be continuing on to the district level competition.

The winner of the Triangle Youth Philharmonic Association Concerto Competition is cellist Catherine Yates. Longtime NCCMI musician and cello student of NCCMIDirector Elizabeth Beilman, Catherine will perform the Schumann Cello Concerto as a soloist on the final TYP concert. If the concert is rescheduled for the fall, Catherine will still appear as a soloist. Catherine Yates was also the state winner for the North Carolina Music Teachers National Association Junior level Solo Competition. Her brother, NCCMI pianist Max Yates accompanied her at the competition.

A large number of NCCMI students were selected for the Eastern Regional All-State 

Orchestra in February. L to R, front row: Sophia Knappe, Noah Anderson, Max Yates, Lauren Southwell, Catherine Yates (Associate Principal Cellist), Jaeyee Jung, Sophia Liu, Rebecca Cai, Caroline Smyth. Back row L to R: David Daeyhun Kim, Jaewon Jung, Collin Queen, Henry Woodburn, David Kim (viola), Raphael Lee, Kai-En Wang, Sharayu Gugnani, Jayon Felizarta. Many of our middle school-aged students were selected for the Junior Eastern Regional Orchestra as well. 

Congratulations to Sophia Knappe, cellist with WCPE TheClassicalStation String

Quartet, recently selected for the National Youth Orchestra of the USA / NYO2! This is a HUGE honor. Some years, no students are selected from the Tarheel State. Sophia is the 2nd NCCMI student on the NYO roster. Quenton Blache was our last NYO representative (graduated in 2019 and now attending the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music). Quenton has been asked to return to NYO this coming summer. 

Meet the Arioso Quartet

By Waltye Rasulala


What happens when a Wake County School, a school orchestra director, and group of talented young musicians all join forces to make music? Well, you get one of the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute’s many talented chamber groups… the Arioso Quartet. Green Hope High School in Cary has become home to the Arioso Quartet. Their coach Alice Ju is the director of the Orchestra program at the school. Alice teaches the Arioso Quartet musicians in the Symphony Orchestra at Green Hope High School. 

The group gets together at school to practice during their lunch hour and after school each day. Alice sees this arrangement as a great way for the students to get a chance to work together, get to know each other, and to grow as young musicians. One of the members of the Arioso Quartet Kai-En Wang is a violinist who joined NCCMI for the first time this year. He wanted to do something more than solo and orchestra playing with his music, so he encouraged his friends from Green Hope to join him in becoming part of NCCMI. Due to their leadership skills, these students were chosen for the Arioso Quartet. Kai-En likes having the flexibility of coaching at both home and school. As the winner of the Spitznagel Award, a scholarship for outstanding violinists, he feels that “chamber music makes you more responsible for your playing and you feel that you are an important part of the group you are playing with.”

This is Alice’s first year coaching a chamber music group for the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute. She believes that having the chamber music group at Green Hope, “… is a real plus. More and more students will become aware of chamber music. Chamber music should be a part of the school curriculum. It builds bonds with other students and having this group here has elevated the bar.” Her partner in teaching the group is long-time NCCMI teacher, Bonnie Thron, Principal Cellist with the NC Symphony. The Arioso Quartet showed how high that bar really is when they recently competed at the local level for the Joel Adams String Quartet Award through the Federation of Music Clubs. They were among two of NCCMI groups selected to compete at State Finals. However, due to cancellation of the State Convention, they will be submitting their performance by videotape online submission.

The Arioso Quartet is sponsored by Arioso Strings, Inc.

NCCMI AUDITIONS 2020-2021- Sign up online!

NCCMI will begin accepting videotaped auditions starting March 29. Students interested in auditioning for NCCMI can register here. Here are some of our highlights:

  • NCCMI is an academic year program of Chamber Music training and Leadership building for students aged 7-19. 
  • Mentoring by professional musician/educators, including North Carolina Symphony musicians.
  • Sharing the joy of great chamber music in many area concerts with the opportunity to earn Community Service hours! Financial Aid and Payment Plans are available.
  • Ensembles are assembled based upon student level, schedule and approximate age. Groups meet about once per week on a day/time convenient for each small ensemble. Sessions take place in faculty studios, students’ homes or at partner churches in the community.


Leadership Ensembles- April 26*

Regular Ensembles with Early Bird Discounts- June 7

Regular Ensembles-August 1


Regular Ensembles -August 16 and August 23

Other dates TBD

*These partial or full scholarship groups are open to those with at least one year in NCCMI or comparable chamber music experience. 2019-20 Ensembles included: WCPE String Quartet, NCCMI String Quartet, Arioso Quartet and NCCMI Piano Trio. Ensembles are put together based upon student level, schedule and approximate age.

 Audition Requirements: Scale, Solo and Sight-reading (emailed after registration is confirmed).

From the Directors

By Jimmy Gilmore and Elizabeth Beilman

All of us at NCCMI want to wish everyone a happy and prosperous NEW YEAR!  Thank you for your continued support and we hope that you’ll be as excited as we are to make the year 2020 the best ever! 

We’re looking forward to the year ahead and the ever-expanding opportunities we have in store for our students. But before we plunge headlong into a new decade, we need to catch our breath and take a moment to reflect back on the milestones of this past fall.

The world renowned Eroica Trio visited Raleigh in September and taught a masterclass for the Fantasma and Serio Trios of NCCMI. This event and a subsequent masterclass with the Ciompi Quartet in November featuring the Rondo Trio, the Allegro Piano Quartet, and the Calore String Quartet was made possible through our ongoing partnership with Chamber Music Raleigh. Giving our students a chance to perform in front of some of the world’s leading chamber music ensembles remains an essential part of the NCCMI experience. 

As you know, part of the NCCMI mission is to serve the greater community through our extensive outreach program. Some of the highlights this fall were concerts at the NC Governor’s Mansion Open House, the Cardinal at North Hills, numerous services played at partner churches, and the WCPE String Quartet concert with the Raleigh Boy Choir. Many NCCMI ensembles also appeared on the Ovations Concert Series which takes place in the lobby of Meymandi Concert Hall prior to NC Symphony Concerts. This program is a part of our partnership with the NC Symphony. 

This fall marked the launching of a new Faculty Artist series. Our purpose is to expose students to the remarkable musical level of our faculty and at the same time offer the faculty a chance to perform some of the great works of chamber music for their students and the public. The first concert took place in September at Meredith College with Aurora Musicalis (Rebekah Binford, violin…. Elizabeth Beilman, cello…. Jimmy Gilmore, clarinet…and Kent Lyman, piano).  The program, entitled “Aurora Musicalis Celebrates Birthdays!” was curated by Elizabeth Beilman and featured works by composers Ludwig van Beethoven and Clara Schumann on the anniversary of their birth.

The second concert took place in November at Church of the Nativity and was curated by Kirsten Jermé.  “Four by Four: A String Quartet Extravaganza” was all that the title promised. The performers were: Robert Anemone, and Carol Chung, violins, Matt Chicurel, viola, and Kirsten Jermé, cello. The public and students present were treated to a “tour de force” performance highlighting works by Beethoven, Shostakovich, and North Carolina’s own Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Caroline Shaw. (Incidentally NCCMI students had a master class with Ms. Shaw back in May 2019). 

We recently completed our Mid-year Evaluations. Our groups sounded better than ever and students had the chance to practice introductions with a microphone! Three outstanding “Performance Review” concerts took place in early January, presented by 25 small ensembles. Faculty Panelists review the performances; these are shared with the groups to help them improve in the second semester.

Please mark your calendars for the third faculty concert hosted by Church of the Nativity on Martin Luther King Day, January 20, 2020. The concert will be curated by Dr. Timothy Holley of NC Central University. The program is “Chamber Music Treasures” and will feature music by African American Composers. This should be a very interesting program of some familiar music and some that will be a “first hearing” experience for our audience. This will be a very popular event so please plan to arrive early.

The week after the Martin Luther King concert, on January 26, eight NCCMI ensembles will appear on a Spotlight Concert at Highland United Methodist Church. This concert will give NCCMI students a chance to “Strut their Stuff” in front of yet another segment of the public. The church is excited about presenting this concert as one of our “Partner Churches.” Your attendance at this concert this is a wonderful way for you to experience the breadth and depth of the talent at NCCMI. 

In the meantime, please check out our website at for other upcoming events. If you have any questions or thoughts you would like to share please feel free to contact us by email or phone anytime.

Looking forward to seeing you soon at an NCCMI event.

All the best,

Liz and Jimmy

Robert Monath

By Rebecca Christian

 Protection of intellectual property is important in the field of music and it became a fortunate connection for NCCMI when Rob Monath joined the board.  Rob, who has his own law firm in Raleigh, has specialized in copyright and trademark law for a broad range of clients, particularly music publishers and artists around the country as well as in North Carolina.  His connections to music have been lifelong, and says his first comforting experiences as a child were taking naps under the Steinway while his father, the music editor of Simon & Schuster publishing company, practiced.  

 “Music was not my escape,” he said, “but I found so much possibility with playing music. Once I was in a hotel on the other side of the world where the owner brought out his nephew; we had never met.  The host handed us each a guitar and in about two minutes as we jammed, we made an incredible connection. That is the power of music.”

 Rob, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in English and Law, moved into his specialty when he defended Hinshaw Music Company, a publisher of choral music, for eight years in a copyright infringement lawsuit that became published case law.  That led him into representation of composers, Tony and Grammy-nominated musicians and music publishers.  He has negotiated high profile licenses and agreements with top entertainment, media and publishing companies ranging from music for all major US television networks, the BBC and PBS to music for the Royal Wedding of William and Kate.

 He is the author of By the Book: A Simple Copyright Compliance Method for Musicians and Music Professionals and was selected by Business North Carolina for their 2019 Legal Elite for Intellectual Property.   

 Rob joined the NCCMI board at a time when there was no attorney; he could see the need for legal expertise.  But his involvement goes far beyond legal advice.  

 “I care about music intensely,” he said. “It is critical for young people to take up an instrument and play as part of a group so that they have to relate with other musicians to create a sound.  They rise and fall as a team.  They’ll use critical skills honed through NCCMI – to think on your feet and to communicate with others in a nuanced way – throughout life, whatever they pursue.”

 Rob has been playing music since his teens, saying it was the way he interacted with his peers.  “It’s a lot better than getting into trouble”.  But he says he would have liked some of the experiences NCCMI provides.  Having a group coach, someone who can help a group sound better and teach students how to contribute better as part of a group is something young musicians really need, particularly if they are going to pursue a professional career, he explained.

 “With chamber music so much of what you do is designed to complement and enhance rather than just to play,” he said. “That’s why the kids like it—they are learning 2+2=5. To a certain extent you can’t even get this experience in an orchestra where there are ways you can hide.  But in an ensemble, you’ve locked arms and you’re jumping out of the airplane together; you must communicate and coordinate your efforts.”

 Rob also believes that the relationships between students and their NCCMI coaches help develop confidence, a gift they’ll have through life.  “You have to have the relaxed confidence to put yourself out there.  For example, the number one factor in attracting venture capital is to be confident about what you can do.  NCCMI is teaching confidence and at performances you can see it.”

Rob is enjoying serving on the NCCMI board because he believes the organization blends musical and administrative excellence thanks to the leadership of the chair and the executive directors. 

 “This is a very functional organization which makes serving on the board lovely,” Rob said.” People check their egos at the door. Because now so many people are sitting home alone and texting about themselves it’s very lonely; there are fewer and fewer opportunities to work with others to be part of something excellent. It’s a joy to be a part of this.” 

Community Music School Partnership

By Brooke Chow

 The North Carolina Chamber Music Institute’s partnership with Community Music School has opened countless doors of opportunity for students. The Peer Mentorship Program, which was pioneered last year, allows NCCMI students to work with CMS students every week. Every Tuesday and Thursday, NCCMI students such as Hrishikesh Ram, Asher Wexler, Ethan Hess, and Brooke Chow, visit CMS to help students learn their music. These volunteers gain invaluable experience working with their peers honing their own technique. 

This year, the Community Music Partnership allowed for multiple workshops including the Musical Pathways Workshop. This workshop included a panel discussion about Careers in Music. Among the panelists that spoke included faculty and representatives from UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, Meredith College, Appalachian State and others. 

 Ms. Waltye Rasulala, President of NCCMI, interviewed one CMS student and her mother—attendees of the workshop. Roxana Bernabe, who has been a harp student at CMS since 2014, had this to say “I learned a lot about job opportunities in music, that there were other careers other than teaching or playing an instrument. It was inspiring to hear what those on the panel had to say about their careers.” Her mother, Graciela Reyes also learned quite a bit: “I wanted my daughters to come so they could learn more about music and what they could study in college. I did not know about music therapy and the many other careers they could pursue.”

 NCCMI is excited to continue this partnership with CMS. One upcoming event, the NCCMI x CMS Side-by-Side Concert is on February 22nd at 3:30. It is free and open to the public!

A Word from the Executive Director

By Elizabeth Beilman

Over the last six years, NCCMI has grown in numbers and visibility as students and teachers see the quantifiable results of a great chamber music education. Our yearly student number has grown from 13 to 90. We now have 22 small ensembles who meet weekly with professional teachers, including NC Symphony musicians. Our students are leaders in their individual schools and occupy prominent positions in All-Region and All-State Orchestras.

 The process of rehearsing independently and receiving guidance from professional musicians builds transferable life skills: leadership through interaction with peers; independence as each player is responsible for their individual part; communication through public speaking and student-led rehearsals; and teamwork, where each player trusts other members of the ensemble to do their job. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work, but NCCMI is also a lot of fun! 

This year, our initiative with Community Music School has broadened to three areas of collaboration: the Peer Mentorship Program, the Collaborative Pianists Project, and partner workshops. Through peer mentoring, NCCMI musicians will be able to work side by side with Community Music School musicians in group classes. This is a wonderful opportunity for NCCMI musicians to gain some experience helping out younger kids and honing their own skills while receiving volunteer hours. The Collaborative Pianists Project give NCCMI pianists valuable partnering and performance experience with Community Music School musicians and teachers. This year, partner workshops include: NCCMI teacher Ashley Kovacs (Celtic Improv), a Career/College Planning Workshop, and our annual Side by Side Chamber Orchestra Workshop.

 Other opportunities come to us through key partnerships with North Carolina Symphony and Chamber Music Raleigh. This year, these include master classes with the Virado Trio and the Ciompi and Harlem String Quartets. NCCMI groups performed for over 8000 people in outreach concerts occur throughout last year. Looking ahead this year, performances are planned for retirement communities, libraries, museums, Autism Society, Ovations before the Symphony and many more.

 Our groups are able to accomplish so much because they are inspired on a weekly basis by our terrific team of teachers, including many NCS musicians. For these sessions, Wake County area churches provide welcoming spaces. We couldn’t do it without these generous friends: Edenton Street United Methodist Church, Highland United Methodist Church, Church of the Nativity, and Apex United Methodist Church. And NCCMI is honored to “give back” by providing music for worship services.

 Support for scholarships and programming has increased through the generosity of government agencies and private citizens.

 These include 2019-20 funding increase by the City of Raleigh based on recommendations of the Raleigh Arts Commission.  NCCMI is also supported by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, as well as the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. For the 5th year, WCPE-The Classical Station is supporting NCCMI through an Education Fund grant.

 Most of our county-wide events are open to the general public. Check us out through social media outlets and plan to drop in for a master class, workshop or concert. You will be glad you did! Chamber Music is a musical conversation among friends. Welcome to the party!

Treasured Trustee: Florence Peacock

Rebecca Christian

It can be assumed that soprano Florence Peacock has been singing her entire life since she made her public musical debut at the age of four, singing “God Bless America” before a large crowd in an arena in her home town of Covington, GA.  She sang from memory because she hadn’t yet learned to read!  Now that she can read, she has sung professionally in many languages with French and German her favorites. She is still performing today.

Florence believes music is an extremely important element for the human race.  “Music is a way for human beings to express their feelings safely: feelings of sadness, of joy, of anger.  It’s very important to young people, especially if they’re not funded. NCCMI can give them training they need and music can save their lives.”

 Florence studied piano and clarinet but her voice is her primary instrument.  She prepared for a professional music career by earning a B.A. from Hollins College in Virginia and a Master’s in Music from Yale. It was at Yale that she met her anthropologist husband James.  A friend introduced them, saying “he talks like you do.’” And in fact, James grew up in Georgia too. Instead of going on from Yale to New York, Florence decided to marry James, who took her to Indonesia, then to Princeton and finally to Chapel Hill. 

 But along the way she has been presented in recitals and concerts in Indonesia as well as England, Japan, Russia, Canada and the U.S. She has appeared on Performance Today on National Public Radio, as a soprano soloist at the Franz Schubert Institute in Austria and at the Oberlin (Ohio) College Baroque Performance Institute for several years.  In fact, she was still singing at Oberlin this summer.

 In addition to performing, Florence has also taught music and has been very active in supporting musical and philanthropic organizations in the Triangle.  She has served on the board of Triangle Opera, the advisory board of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Community Chorus, the national development council of UNC-Chapel Hill and was president of the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill. She has also been active in the Chapel Hill Music Teachers Association and the National Association of Music Teachers.

  Florence thus brings the perspective of a professional musician, a music educator and a community philanthropist to the board.  She joined the board of NCCMI because she is a strong believer in music education. “Music stimulates the brain,” she said, “and the physical exercise is very good for people too.” She enjoys hearing vocal soloists singing with chamber music ensembles or accompaniment.  She likes the direct connection of the singer to other human beings.

  “NCCMI offers something absolutely critical to these young people,” she said. “Each is tutored by terrific musicians, a wonderful opportunity to get coaching at that level. We as board members have to make sure that NCCMI survives because of its essential and unique work. I believe this kind of education can carry on the goodness of the world.”

NCCMI Outreach: SearStone Retirement Community

Waltye Rasulala

Throughout the years, the young musicians from North Carolina Chamber Music Institute have many performing opportunities. Performances are held in churches, libraries, at Ovations before Symphony performances, and at many of the retirement communities in the area. SearStone Retirement Community in Cary is one of the many retirement communities that have welcomed NCCMI performances.

 Audience response to the young musicians’ performances has been exciting and truly a learning experience. Recently, John O’Neil, a resident of the SearStone Retirement Community, expressed how the residents feel about these afternoon chamber music performances. “Residents are very emotionally supportive of the NCCMI groups. They enjoy hearing the kids perform and absolutely hearing the various levels of their performances. You can see the kids progressing up each year.”

 John, who studied music as a child and as an adult, said this about the performers. “I see these young people becoming professional performers one day. NCCMI is a gateway for them to perform, not just with a good group, but with a great group. I think that must be one of the greatest thrills for them and for us.”

 As a gateway to helping NCCMI musicians reach their goals of professionalism, SearStone is very welcoming because they enjoy the young people playing chamber music for them. Applause to you SearStone for your support.

Welcome, Interns!

Brooke Chow

When I was first selected for the position of Lead Intern during junior year of high school, I was apprehensive about the duties and tasks I would be assigned. I had worked internship positions in the past and they were less than satisfying: pouring coffee, organizing sugar packets, and making copies for hours on end. I was worried that this internship position would be the same.

 However, I was pleasantly surprised. Ms. Beilman, NCCMI’s Executive Director, welcomed us interns with open arms and made us feel at home as we convened for our first meeting. I was pleasantly surprised to recognize the familiar faces of the five other talented musicians that would be interning alongside me: Jaewon Jung, Sophia Knappe, David Kim, Neha Vangipurapu, and David Dongha Kim. As we discussed our skills and goals, Ms. Beilman provided us with a wide array of options so we could select the position that most interested us. Right off the bat, I knew that I wanted to work on the newsletter. Journalism and writing had long been an unexplored interest for me and working on NCCMI’s newsletter was the perfect opportunity to finally familiarize myself with the process. Ms. Beilman had also taken note of my desire to give back to the community, which I had expressed on my application, and she asked me to implement the peer mentorship program—which I was absolutely ecstatic about!  

The peer mentorship program is a partnership between NCCMI and Community Music School Raleigh, which provides affordable quality music lessons to young students in the area. This initiative would allow CMS students to receive supplemental help with their music education from NCCMI musicians. I was in charge of scheduling lessons, recruiting volunteer mentors, and serving as the direct line of communication between NCCMI and CMS. Working on this initiative was extremely fulfilling. For the first time in my life, I finally felt that I was helping out the community. Working with these passionate young musicians was inspiring and it was always the highlight of my week. Besides working on the newsletter and mentorship program, I collaborated with the five other interns on their projects. From compiling grant statistics to creating online calendars to drafting the programs, the work was always new and challenging.

 Overall, the NCCMI internship has been a valuable experience. As we onboard new interns this upcoming year, I’m looking forward to getting to know these bright individuals and working with them to reach their goals, too.

 Zuill Bailey- An Artist “Up Close” Connection with NCCMI

By David Kim

When I sat down in the concert hall before the performance, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The soloist Zuill Bailey – I’d heard of him, sure, and I’d even observed one of his instructional masterclasses in the past. Yet, as every musician knows, the true ability of a performer can be found only in their performance. The instant Mr. Bailey played his first note, a pure, melodic “G#”, any previous doubts of mine were dispelled, and I knew that the concert would be one to remember. From the mysterious, yet profound Walton Cello Concerto, to finally Strauss’s majestic and ostentatious “Don Quixote”, I was captivated from beginning to end. By the finale, I was on my feet shouting, “Encore! Encore!”.

 Yet, I was not limited to simply watching such a talented, skilled performer from within the audience – Through the connections of Ms. Beilman we were actually able to meet him in person. One-on-one, were able to personally discuss at a length many facets of his professional career as a cellist, such as his personal relationship with his cello. At the end, I was even able get him to sign my program!

 None of this would’ve been possible without the assistance of the NCCMI. It was only through the efforts of the many, behind-the-scenes organizers and planners that I was able to secure a spot in Mr. Bailey’s masterclass, gaining valuable experience and knowledge. The cost of attendance to Mr. Bailey’s most recent performance, like many others, was covered by the institute. Without masterclasses like these, I would never have met the many talented musicians that I now consider my closest friends.

Playing Chamber Music

By Elizabeth Beilman

Chamber Music is by its very nature a connective art. Each instrumental part is independent and yet reliant upon the others in the ensemble. While one musician might begin the melody, another one carries it forward or adds embellishment. The fact that a string quartet can sound almost orchestral- in the hands of a composer like Beethoven or Shostakovich- is a small miracle of texture and harmonic depth. For a student, learning to play one’s own part while at the same time listening and responding to the others- “in the moment”- is another small miracle. This is one of the reasons why playing chamber music builds artistry and leadership in young musicians. It is also a metaphor for the success of NCCMI in its 5th anniversary year.

 The connections we see in the form of chamber music itself are also inherent in our community of partners, teachers, contributors and friends. NCCMI started with only 13 students and now has 81. This growth came about mostly through word of mouth recommendations and the strength of many friendships: From the inspiring master classes by nationally recognized ensembles, provided by NCCMI’s partnership with Chamber Music Raleigh to the use of wonderful spaces at our Partner Churches for weekly sessions and events… From the North Carolina Symphony, whose music director Grant Llewellyn conducted an amazing workshop in the fall of 2018 to the helpful suggestions of NCS staff and performing opportunities like Ovations Before the Symphony or the upcoming NCS Legislative Reception. Our newest partners are the Raleigh Arts Commission and the United Arts Council who have provided NCCMI with essential program support. UAC recently presented the NCCMI String Quartet at the annual State of the Arts event, giving us terrific exposure in the arts community. 

 One thing leads to another. Just like the theme and variations in a great Haydn string quartet or perhaps the precise and graceful “handing off” of musical phrases in a well-honed chamber ensemble. What would we do without the beautiful graphics and marketing materials created by Kim Ridge or the gorgeous photos taken by Chris Walt Photography and volunteer Joseph Fuller? And we love visiting our many partners Retirement Communities and the Wake County Libraries where we have found vibrant friends who give our students a real boost with their enthusiastic applause and warm response. Once again, WCPE-The Classical Station and Arioso Strings, Incorporated have bestowed our program with generous gifts, resulting in the naming of two of our scholarship ensembles in their honor. We would be remiss to leave out long-time friends known throughout the community for years for consistent support of the arts: Soprano and NCCMI trustee Florence Peacock and Tom and June Roberg (through the Triangle Community Foundation). Their major gifts have helped to fund scholarships and important NCCMI programs. Each of our Board members and sub-committee members has shared his/her many gifts with enthusiasm; our growth is a tribute to their constant and creative stewardship. Be sure to read the article about our newest board member, the highly accomplished and talented Kristen Hess!

 Our friendships continue to “crescendo.” Just look at our partnership with the Community Music School. The upcoming/annual NCCMI-CMS Side by Side Workshop and Concert event is sure to bring a smile to every face. Try to attend if you can! Building upon our partnership, NCCMI and CMS are exploring a brand-new Peer Mentoring program, launching soon.

 Our NCCMI teachers provide the most inspiring connection to the NCCMI students. There is no more effective training found in the world than the intensive mentoring of classical pedagogy. Our teacher/student ratio is 1:4. Through their remarkable and vivid connections with composers and diverse traditions and cultures, our teachers literally bring the past to life for their students. This is an irreplaceable gift. It’s as though we are having one big chamber music party. We welcome all our friends: come together and join the party! 

Meet the WCPE String Quartet

By Waltye Rasulala

For the past four years, WCPE The Classical Station has sponsored NCCMI through its Education Fund. In recognition of this generous gift, NCCMI established the WCPE String Quartet. This scholarship ensemble is made up of students from the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute. All of the chosen WCPE String Quartet musicians have to audition, a process includes a videotaped preliminary, three rounds of semifinals and final auditions.

Let me introduce you to the students who are members of the WCPE String Quartet this year.

 Quenton Blanche, cellist, is 17 years old and joined the WCPE String quartet and NCCMI for the first time this year. Quenton is a graduating senior at Ravenscroft School and has studied cello for eight years. He is a Lower School Orchestra assistant, plays Varsity Soccer and has been accepted for the second consecutive year to the National Youth Orchestra. In addition to all of this he also composes music and is an NCCMI intern. He plans on majoring in music when he enters college next year.

 Abigail Marshall, violist, is 18 years old and is a graduating senior at Apex High School. She participates in the orchestra at her school and this year she is an NCCMI intern. Abigail started her string playing with the violin and two years ago she started focusing on playing the viola. UNC-Greensboro is her college of choice where she will be majoring in music. Her career focus is to become a music teacher, but she wants to make sure she leaves time to play in small ensembles, orchestras and to learn contemporary string music.

 Neha Vangipurapu, violinist, is 17 years old and is a senior at Raleigh Charter High School. She has been studying violin for ten years and this past summer she attended the Meadowmount School. Her time there was spent practicing intensively her violin for hours each day. This year at NCCMI she is an NCCMI intern learning the business of what it takes to run this organization. At Raleigh Charter she plays in the school orchestra. When she attends college next year, she will become a double major in music and international relations. Neha says that through her relationship with NCCMI she has learned how to play chamber music, communicate with her fellow musicians when she plays in these groups and has expanded her list of close friends. She feels that all of these attributes grouped together have given her the greatest experience of being part of NCCMI.

 Jaewon Jung, violinist, is 17 years old and has been in NCCMI the longest of all the WCPE String Quartet members. This is his second year playing in the WCPE String Quartet and he has been part of NCCMI since 2013. This year he is also an NCCMI student intern and as part of his internship, he is managing all of the online program submission forms (for over 40 events!) In addition to all this responsibility he serves on the stage crew. Jaewon has studied music for eleven years and when he goes to college, he plans to major in health care and music will be a hobby.

All of the members of the WCPE String Quartet practice daily at least two hours a day. They each follow through working with their private teachers, NCCMI coaches and of course in school orchestras. The music they are focusing on this year in their WCPE String Quartet is the music of Beethoven and Grieg. They have performed for the Jasper and Borromeo String Quartets in NCCMI Master Classes and in May will be performing in the Caroline Shaw Master Class. All of them say that learning to communicate with each other as musicians is one of the most important aspects of playing chamber music.

 Board Member Profile: Meet Kristen Hess

By Rebecca Christian

Board member Kristen Hess is a believer in collaboration which is also at the heart of chamber music.  Kristen is the Principal and CEO of HH Architecture, a commercial architecture and interior design firm which differentiates itself by a collaborative, partnership-style approach to design.  That has made the firm Kristen founded a success; it was just named the Triangle Firm of the Year by the Triangle chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  And Kristen is seeing the collaborative approach of NCCMI with its students from close range, not only as a board member but as a parent—her son Ethan, 14, is a cellist with the Espressivo Quartet, and her daughter Lauren, 10, plays viola in the Vivace String Quartet.

 The NCCMI board is comprised of a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Currently two parents serve on the board: Kristen and Mei Thai. Kristen brings her business, governance, leadership and decision-making experience to the board but also brings the very important perspective of parents, helping the board stay in touch with issues that affect students and families. 

Kristen’s business philosophy includes continual civic investment and community involvement so her firm is engaged in many ways in the community. Personally, she serves on the board of the NC Coastal Pines Girl Scout Council and also of the Chamber of Commerce.  She said she joined the NCCMI board because of her great respect for the organization’s leadership and her gratitude for the organization, which she believes gives opportunities to her children.

 “At NCCMI the children receive not only wonderful musical training, but also life skills and lessons for leadership, teamwork, and public presentation. The coaches and musical professionals are critically acclaimed and have been mentors and advocates for our children. There is constant attention to critical thinking, public speaking, risk taking and decision making,” she said. Kristen believes NCCMI has many strengths and is committed through her board membership to enhancing the organization.  Fostering that collaboration is a key strength she believes. As she summarized, “NCCMI pulls together young musicians who might not otherwise work together to create strong teams. The small groups afford these students the opportunity to be important team players and leaders. They are not lost in a crowd. They are required to communicate with one another and lean on each other to create a unique product. They learn to prepare, audition, present and participate in their communities.”

Peer Mentoring Program with Community Music School

By Brooke Chow

This year, NCCMI is partnering with Community Music School Raleigh to start a peer-mentoring strings program. Community Music School is a non-profit organization that aims to provide all children with the opportunity to learn music through access to quality music lessons that cost as little as $1 per lesson. NCCMI students that play violin, viola, or cello now have the opportunity to peer-mentor a student at Community Music School.

 By working with Community Music School, NCCMI supports a positive cause for the community. Many students at CMS lack the confidence and support they need during their lessons and performances. By having an NCCMI peer-mentor that can practice with them and help with fingerings and musicality, both NCCMI and CMS students are strongly benefitted. NCCMI students can volunteer occasionally or weekly, based on their schedules. They can also choose the time and how long they peer-mentor: ranging from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours.  All volunteering with CMS students can count towards school volunteering hours and club.

 If you or your child is interested in this opportunity, please fill out the following SignUp Genius: “”

 A Word From Our Executive Director

By Elizabeth Beilman

NCCMI is celebrating our 5th anniversary year; our yearly student number has grown from 13 to 80. We now have 20 small ensembles, working and performing throughout the year. These include string quartets, piano/string combinations and a woodwind quintet who meet weekly in sessions with professional teachers, including NC Symphony musicians. NCCMI organizes events at over 40 locations each year, including retirement communities, museums, libraries, Ovations at the Symphony and many more.

 Over the last five years, NCCMI has grown in numbers and visibility as students and teachers see the quantifiable results of a great chamber music education. Our students are leaders in their individual schools and occupy prominent positions in All-Region and All-State Orchestras.

 The process of rehearsing independently and receiving guidance from professional musicians builds transferable life skills: leadership through interaction with peers; independence as each player is responsible for their individual part; communication through public speaking and student-led rehearsals; and teamwork, where each player trusts other members of the ensemble to do his job. All this could sound very serious, but NCCMI would not be so popular if playing chamber music weren’t also a lot of fun!

 Our partnerships have helped us along the way: North Carolina Symphony (Grant Llewellyn Workshop Concert, Ovations performances, Caroline Shaw master class and outreach opportunities), Chamber Music Raleigh (master classes with Jasper and Borromeo String Quartets and pianist Andrew Tyson). We are so grateful!

 We also thank the many area churches that provide space for NCCMI sessions and performances: Edenton Street United Methodist Church, Highland United Methodist Church, Church of the Nativity and Apex United Methodist Church. Another facet of our partnership: our groups are honored to provide music for worship services at these churches.

 Support for scholarships and programming has increased as well.

 NCCMI is funded in part by the City of Raleigh based on recommendations of the Raleigh Arts Commission.  NCCMI is supported by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, as well as the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. For the 4th year, WCPE-The Classical Station is supporting NCCMI through an Education Fund grant.

 Most of our county-wide events are open to the general public. Check us out through social media outlets and plan to drop in for a master class, workshop or concert. You will be glad you did!

Among our highlights for the fall/winter season: The Borromeo String Quartet Master Class (Nov. 17 at Highland United Methodist Church) and concerts at many area retirement communities (The Cardinal at North Hills, the Oaks at Whitaker Glen and SearStone).  To see our students at their very best, attend one of our Performance Reviews (1/6 or 1/12 2:30pm) or Spring Concerts (April 27 or May 4 at 2pm)

 Chamber Music is a musical conversation among friends. Welcome to the party!

Arioso Quartet Prize-Winning Performance

In the summer of 2018, members of the Arioso Quartet, Belinda Wang (violin), Demi Wang (violin), Richard Gao (viola) and Jonathan Thai (cello), competed in the semifinals of the Chinese National Television Talent Search Competition in Washington, DC. After winning that competition, they were off to Beijing, China to compete in the finals.

 Arriving in China, they realized that their chosen work to play, Horse Race (a traditional Chinese piece, arranged for Classical String Quartet) was being performed by another competing group, which had more people, traditional Chinese instruments, in addition to Western instruments. Arioso plays strictly Western instruments. Right away they realized that they had to find a way to be more appealing; to show the audience more than just “look at what we can play”. They had to be more than just classical musician…they had to be a stand out.            

So, in a single afternoon, despite jet lag they reworked their program to incorporate a medley of different styles, Pachelbel Canon, Despacito by Luis Fonsi, Beethoven String Quartet Op. 18, No. 4 and of course Horse Race, and performed their program as a skit. To quote cellist Jonathan Thai, “in a quartet there are four different instruments, four different parts and four different opinions. So, personalities were attached to each instrument and we incorporated a conversation within the chamber music” selections”. The completely memorized performance won the attention of the judges and the show’s producer. As a result, they were awarded the Instrumental Prize and their videotaped performance will be presented on Chinese Television this year.  The creativity and beautiful performance made Arioso a “stand out for sure.”

The Grant Llewellyn Orchestral Workshop and Concert… A true winner.

On a beautiful October Saturday, the strains of the music of composers Edward Elgar and Antonin Dvorak moved beautifully throughout the sanctuary of St. Francis United Methodist Church in Cary. Inside the church, a 62-piece orchestra made up of young musicians from North Carolina Chamber Music Institute, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill and Greensboro campuses), and Greenville and Wake County high schools played together. Joining them in this Side-by-Side experience were other professionals including NCCMI faculty, freelance musicians and members of the North Carolina Symphony. Conducting them was the Music Director of the North Carolina Symphony, Music Director Grant Llewellyn. 

 What!! Am I seeing this correctly? The music director of the North Carolina Symphony conducting these young people; How did this happen? According to Maestro Llewellyn, it was simply the thing of asking.  “I was approached by Liz Beilman, our associate Principal Cellist to see if I would like to work with the students from the NCCMI chamber groups. I had previously only heard them play chamber music and was impressed with their standard, so I jumped at the idea.”

That idea produced an intensive workshop including sectionals with NCCMI Assistant Director Jimmy Gilmore and David Glover (former NCS Associate Conductor and NCCMI teacher). This was followed by a two-hour rehearsal for the young musicians with Grant Llewellyn in order to prepare a public performance of Serenade for Strings, Op. 20 by Edward Elgar and Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op 88 by Antonin Dvorak. 

What kind of expectations did Grant Llewellyn have for the day? “I arrived without any expectation and I was immediately impressed.”  The students were also impressed with this wonderful and generous conductor who gave them the chance of a lifetime.  

Not only did this world class conductor teach and lead these young musicians, but he also gave one, Lauren Southwell, a crash course in conducting. Did she actually volunteer to stand in front of this 62 – piece orchestra and suddenly try her skill at conducting? According to Maestro Llewellyn “She didn’t exactly put her hand up, but she smiled and that is always fatal.” Extending this kind of opportunity is something that Grant says he enjoys doing.” If I can open the door for any young person to have an opportunity, then I will.”

 Rob also believes that the relationships between students and their NCCMI coaches help develop confidence, a gift they’ll have through life.  “You have to have the relaxed confidence to put yourself out there.  For example, the number one factor in attracting venture capital is to be confident about what you can do.  NCCMI is teaching confidence and at performances you can see it.”