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CMPI Alum Oliver Talukder is in his second year at the Curtis Institute of Music as an Oboe performance major. He is an active member of the music community at Curtis, and is currently busy with lots of repertoire as he completes his goal to perform in a recital every month of the school year. Throughout his time at Curtis, Oliver has studied with a number of teachers privately, which has kept him flexible and required him to be extremely organized with all of the incoming information from the various interested advisors in his study.

A highlight of Oliver’s time has been the opportunity to play with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. He shared, “I’ve played in good orchestras before, but this is otherworldly!” With the high level of student musicians studying at Curtis, it is beautiful what can happen when they’re all put together.

Oliver spoke about the difficulty of the transition into college, addressing openly the challenges he faced in his first year. To be away from home for an extended amount of time, and to be a musician of color at the school was difficult for Oliver. Oliver says he was, “reminiscing on all the hard work my parents did to get me this far. While feeling extremely grateful, I also felt very out of place.” He has since found a great community within his oboe studio and through the staff and faculty that support him as a POC.

Oliver emphasized the importance of establishing a great self-care routine, saying that his is non-negotiable! For him K-Drama nights with his friends are a highlight of his week. In addition, accountability with exercise and a steady sleep schedule have helped to keep him on track.

His advice for CMPI students is clear, “Perform as much as possible! We tend to get caught up in the practice room, and with all of the technicalities involved in practice and performance, it’s important to have a balance.” He strongly believes that having performance opportunities helps give you goals and gets you ready for auditions.

Long-term goals for Oliver are centered on a love for music. He will audition to be placed on the substitute list for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, as well as the Grant Park Orchestra for the summer. Overall, though, he aims to continue falling more deeply in love with classical music.


Above: Oliver Talukder

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