Postcards From Recent Alums
Transitioning from school into the professional realm—I’m second flute in the Philadelphia Orchestra —has been simultaneously the most challenging and exhilarating time in my life. I sit next to my former teacher in the orchestra, so I essentially have a lesson every day, and hearing all my colleagues is inspiring beyond words. I’ve definitely adjusted the way that I practice since I have a new program (or multiple programs) to learn and perform each week. My priority is obviously to thoroughly learn the repertoire, but it’s also vital to continue improving and developing as a whole musician—in my first year out of school, I’ve realized learning shouldn’t end after school. Philadelphia is incredible; I thought moving to a city I wasn’t familiar with would be difficult, but it’s been quite easy. I found a yoga studio that I love, I ran a race in the fall and plan to run another in the spring, I love going to my local bakery, farmers market, and even hardware store, and I’ve made friends doing those things. I’m immensely grateful for my well-rounded Juilliard education and pinch myself every day that I get to go to “work” at the Philadelphia Orchestra!
Olivia Staton (BM ’18, flute)
After graduating, I joined the Baltimore Symphony as a one-year contracted musician. I was also enrolled at Mannes, which meant traveling back from Baltimore almost every week for lessons and classes. In the beginning, I had a hard time transitioning from being a full-time student to being a professional musician—every week brought about the challenge of learning the new repertoire for that week and keeping up my individual practice and everything else. After a while, though, I became better at managing my time, compartmentalizing, and facing my fears. About four months ago, I joined the Minnesota Orchestra as assistant principal viola. It feels like an adventure, and it’s exciting to be in a new city. In many ways, I now really appreciate last year because I learned so much about myself and what it means to be a professional musician. As I start my second year in a major orchestra, I’m more comfortable, and while I still feel like I just graduated (and I do miss roaming around the fourth floor, looking for practice rooms!), I’m happy being in this wonderful orchestra with amazing colleagues.
Jenni (Gi Hye) Seo (BM ’15, MM ’17, viola)
Not long after graduating from Juilliard, in 2016, I performed at the White House for one of President Barack Obama’s final state dinners. I performed with a quartet of fellow alumni from Project STEP, a string training program for black and Hispanic kids from Massachusetts. I then went on to Yale School of Music, where I studied under Don Palma (BM ’70, double bass). I received my Master of Music degree this past May, and I live in New Haven with my girlfriend. I’m the assistant principal bass with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony, and I also sometimes gig with the New Haven Symphony, the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, the New York Festival Orchestra, and others. For the past few summers, I have been part of the Caroga Lake (N.Y.) Music Festival, and I’ve also spent time at the National Arts Centre Young Artists program in Ottawa as well as at the Orford Music Academy in Quebec.
Jordan Calixto (BM ’16, double bass)
I was fortunate to have gone directly into performing professionally after graduating. First I freelanced with various groups and subbed in Broadway pits, then I won a position as principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and playing in the opera has been a dream come true! I’m constantly inspired by the musicians and artists around me, and it’s amazing to run into so many people that I interacted with as a student. In addition to my work at the Met, I also teach at the Interlochen Arts Camp and the Colorado College Summer Festival, and I’ve presented classes across the country. In other exciting news, Robyn Quinnett (BM ’12, MM ’14, violin) and I recently got married, and we’ve taken on a number of projects together, including running a music festival on the island of Montserrat and working on starting a trio. I’m thrilled to be able to live and work in the city that I grew up in, and, in true New Yorker fashion, have yet to learn how to drive.
Anton Rist (BM ’13, MM ’15, clarinet)
The support and experience studying at Juilliard afforded me led to a successful audition for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra during my second year. Being able to sub about once a month before graduating helped smooth the transition from student to professional life, so luckily I was able to make friends with a few of the younger members prior to moving here in August. The biggest difference (and greatest challenge!) in the short time I’ve been out of school has been figuring out what to do with my free time—I’ve improved at being my own teacher but have also had to find new hobbies other than music. I’ve been getting into bowling and fowling (a Detroit-specific game: you throw footballs at bowling pins in an old warehouse), as well as cooking and delving deeper into Haruki Murakami’s literary catalog. Luckily, my former studio-mate Mike Chiarello (BM ’15, MM ’17) plays with the Toronto Symphony (only a few hours away), so we can get together for short, gluttonous vacations during our off-weeks.
Nick Myers (MM ’18, double bass)