The fall semester has been packed with incredible masterclass performance opportunities for CMPI fellows.  The busy calendar of activities launched on October 5, with a masterclass led by Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist Nathan Cole.

CMPI Violin Fellow Autymn Williams

“During my masterclass with Nathan Cole, I was able to learn a lot and gain a new perspective and approach to the piece. I am very good at producing a strong sound, so I took that approach when playing the Saint-Saëns. However, Nathan Cole helped me look at it in a more romantic way which completely helped advance my playing, just in the opening alone. He talked about putting less muscle and power into the accented notes and for me to play them in more of a “fast bow-speed” way. 

 We also talked a lot about my shifting—which was very helpful. He told me to almost slide each of my shifts in a way that I can only hear the slide, which will help me never miss a note. In the future I hope that I can have another masterclass with Nathan Cole.”

Autymn Williams, CMPI junior violin


“During the masterclass with Nathan Cole, I had the opportunity to work with him on the first movement of the Glazunov Violin Concerto. Through my experience working with him, I learned how to add variety to my playing, particularly in my slides and shifts. Mr. Cole and I discussed the different types of shifts and slides: a connected shift with no slide, a slow glissando, a fast glissando, and varying degrees in between. For example, in the very opening, he commented on the first shift between the A and E. He suggested instead of a slow, long, and dramatic shift that I try a quicker, swifter shift to give the opening more momentum. To achieve this, he demonstrated how slides and glissandos can start at different points of the actual shift. I learned that to create quicker glissandos, start dragging the finger higher up the finger board, or later in the shift. Lastly, he encouraged me to speculate and emulate the execution and variety of shifts in the renditions of other professional violinists.”

Ella Saputra, CMPI sophomore violin

Check out this video of Ella performing the Glazunov on the October 23 CMPI Virtual Recital:



The following evening, October 6, CMPI welcomed cello soloist Joshua Roman to the CMPI Masterclass Zoom Room.

“When I played the first movement Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto in A Minor, one of the most important things [Joshua Roman] discussed was my expression. He liked my interpretation of the music but thought that I could be more conservative about taking time, and to exaggerate the changes in musical tone. For example, at rehearsal E (where you start off loud and intense, and only 4 measures later you have to be the opposite), he told me to try to be as in tempo as possible (compared to slowing down), both for a better flow of the music and for the sake of the orchestra. Instead, I should think about getting that transition by really being light with the bow and ending closer to the fingerboard. In some places, particularly where I had large pitch jumps or a section ending, he suggested I could really ‘sing out’ the notes to make it more dramatic.”

Xavier Perry, CMPI senior cello

Here is a video of Xavier performing the Saint-Saëns on the October 23 CMPI Virtual Recital:


Cello Fellow Kailie Holliday with cello soloist Joshua Roman, during the October 6 CMPI masterclass.

The masterclass with Mr. Roman taught me the importance of knowing and studying the score. Before the masterclass, I listened to the music a lot and Mr. Roman helped me see how it’s important. Looking at the score while listening to a piece is helpful, in general. I’ve tried it with some orchestra pieces, quartet pieces, and solo pieces (of course). Just like he said, it helps to know the places where you can bend and stretch the tempo or do something unique with the music. I’ve found it most helpful with the Saint-Säens concerto. Overall, the masterclass has given me a new source to pull from when I’m learning a piece.

Kailie Holliday, CMPI senior cello



On October 13, CMPI senior woodwinds had the opportunity to perform their Mozart concerti for Northwestern University Professor of Bassoon David McGill.

CMPI Bassoon Fellow Eric Bahena

“My biggest takeaway from the masterclass with David McGill was the idea of harmonic structures analysis and how this analysis can influence the interpretation and performance of a piece. Through a harmonic analysis, we–as players–can make more sense of the composer’s intentions. An example of this analysis would be to deconstruct the harmonies within the piece to give way to the phrasing and dynamics within the piece. I now apply this to my routine, and have talked about it with my teacher, [CSO Assistant Principal Bassoon] Bill Buchman. The analysis of a piece can go a long way toward learning, playing, and performing a piece with ease and comfort. Another idea that really spoke to me from this masterclass was the idea that, as performers, we are recreative artists; the composer is the one to create the music and, as performers, we are expected to play this creation of work with integrity to the wishes and intentions of the composer. This idea also ties into the idea of harmonic analysis because it helps make sense of a piece.”

Eric Bahena, CMPI senior bassoon


CMPI Flute Fellow Michelle Brannon and Professor McGill during the October 23 masterclass

“The masterclass with David McGill was a great opportunity to refine my Mozart concerto and learn about the nuances in style. As a senior flutist working on college auditions, it was an amazing experience that changed how I view and interpret the first movement. I’m currently working on Mozart’s Concerto in G Major and feel much more confident now that I have a better grasp of the style. After taking in his advice, I feel like my performance can engage the listener from the very first note. Every time I perform the opening, I think about Mr. McGill’s comments on emphasizing the appoggiaturas and putting more energy into the beginning and endings of phrases. It brought so much more life and clarity to the opening phrase. The way he explained how to emphasize the majestic feeling of the opening was easy to understand, which eventually led to that same energy and emotion being spread onto the rest of the movement. It was also interesting to hear him advise other instrumentalists in a way that I could also apply to my playing. Emphasizing the appoggiaturas was a huge topic, and once each fellow focused on those elements, the structure and nuances of each piece were more apparent. Overall, it was a really great experience for learning more about theory and Mozart, and it made a huge impact on how I begin and phrase my audition repertoire.”

Michelle Brannon, CMPI senior flute



On November 1, CMPI senior violinists participated in a Bach masterclass with the violin soloist Desirée Ruhstrat.

“I played the Bach Sonata no. 2 in A minor, Allegro movement, and had an incredible experience. Ms. Ruhstrat provided me with the opportunity of playing my piece live after listening and watching my recording through the Zoom’s shared screen. The adrenaline of performing live for an audience, even if it was virtual, has been scarce these past months during these challenging times. However, Ms. Ruhstrat’s positivity and great energy really helped me stay calm and allowed me to enjoy my playing as much as possible. 

CMPI senior violins, including Ixchel Camacho (bottom left), and Ms. Ruhstrat during the November 1 masterclass.

I received some amazing feedback on my playing, including practice tips for: rhythm, intonation, clarity on high-speed passages, musicality suggestions and character of the piece, dynamic contrast suggestions, and much more. Ms. Ruhstrat repeatedly encouraged me to feel confident in my playing and also introduced me to a different perspective on how to develop my practice sessions.

After several days of including all this feedback into my daily practice, I have noticed a great improvement in the most challenging passages of my piece, and have felt much more prepared for my upcoming prescreening recordings for my college applications. I am looking forward to many more opportunities of working with her in the future!”

Ixchel Camacho, CMPI senior violin

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