Fellows – 2021

Camellia Aftahi, double bass
Andrew Anderson, piano
Emma Antonides, viola
Raina Arnett, violin
Theo Baer, composer
Nathan Bales, composer
Erich Barganier, composer
Luke Ellard, clarinet
Melika Fitzhugh composer
Amir Hoshang Farsi, flute
Annaliese Kowert, violin
Brian Krock, composer
Lila Meretzky, composer
Riley Palmer, percussion
Christian Quinones, composer
Alexandrea Richard, percussion
Julian Velasco, saxophone
Yifei Xu piano
Alexander ‘Sasha’ Yakub, violin

About the fellows:

Camellia Aftahi is an Iranian-American double bassist and organizer. Most recently, Camellia was a double bass fellow for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and CCM’s joint Diversity Fellowship program. Currently, Camellia works as a volunteer organizer with Bass Players for Black Composers, a non-profit whose aim is to commission works for solo double bass by Black composers. This summer, Camellia will be a Robert Black Double Bass Fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. Her interests are in the performance of contemporary music, the collaborative relationship between the composer and performer, and exploring the ways in which music can amplify issues of systemic and institutional injustice.

Andrew Anderson is a pianist deeply invested in the performance of classical and contemporary music, who has worked with many established composers, including Donnacha Dennehy, Eve Beglarian, Lukas Ligeti, Courtney Bryan, and as well as with Pulitzer Prize finalist Ted Hearne in preparation for the LA Phil premiere of his oratorio PLACE. In addition to performance, Andrew is also interested in exploring microtonal and just-intonation systems for the piano, from both a theoretical perspective and a practical aural-tuning aspect

Emma Antonides is a violist based in Los Angeles, California. She acquired a Bachelor’s Degree at the Eastman School of Music studying under Masumi Per Rostad in 2021 and will continue her studies at University of California’s Thornton School of Music for her Masters Degree under Karen Dreyfus.

Violinist Raina Arnett is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music with BM degrees in Violin Performance and Music Theory, and is currently pursuing an MM degree in Violin Performance at the Juilliard School under Lewis Kaplan. She has had the opportunity to work directly with composers such as Kaija Saariaho, George Lewis, and Charles Wuorinen, as well as many of her peers. Raina is also passionate about community outreach and teaches elementary school violin lessons through the Zeta Charter Network, where her students have had the opportunity to interact in the classroom with professional musicians from the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, and the Juilliard School.

Theo Baer (aka iT Boy) is a qtpoc composer and performer currently living in Brooklyn. His compositions illustrate an intimate and vulnerable narrative often channeled through the manipulation of tape loops, synthesizers, keyboards, and other mostly analog voices.

Nathan Bales is an award-winning composer of contemporary classical music, and has been described as a ‘young lion in Atlanta’s contemporary classical music scene’ (WAPS, 2014). Being known for his relentlessly prolific nature, he has been involved in over fifty concerts featuring his music within the past six years; being performed by groups like the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), Quartetto Indaco, The American Modern Ensemble,and more. He is a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute’s Artist Diploma program, where he studied with composers David Ludwig, Jennifer Higdon, and Richard Danielpour.

Erich Barganier (b. 1991) is a composer and multi-instrumentalist hailing from St. Petersburg, Florida, who currently resides between New York City and Montreal. He writes chamber, orchestral, film, solo instrumental and electronic music that explores experimental technology, extended techniques, improvisation, generative processes, the perception of noise and new forms of notation.

Dallas-based clarinetist/composer/new music collaborator Luke Ellard strives for art that continually reaches out, valuing a relational spirit, informed engagement, and unapologetic authenticity. He’s passionate about educating young musicians, serving as Execute Director of Nu Atmospheres Collective, and producing pop-electronic+clarinet music under the name ELĒ.

Persian and Pakistani-American flutist, Amir Hoshang Farsi, resides in New York City where he is the flute fellow of Ensemble Connect—a joint chamber music fellowship between Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute partnered with the NYC Public Schools. Amir enjoys a multifaceted career making appearances at festivals and venues such as Music@Menlo, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, New World Center, Carnegie Hall, Lake George Music Festival, the Banff Centre, the United Nations, St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar, and the Marrowstone Music Festival. Amir received his Bachelor’s degree from The Peabody Institute, under the guidance of Marina Piccinini, and his Master’s degree from the Yale School of Music, as a student of Ransom Wilson.

A native of Stafford, Virginia, Melika M. Fitzhugh (A.B. Harvard-Radcliffe, M.M. Longy School of Music of Bard College) studied conducting and composition with Thomas G. Everett, Beverly Taylor, James Yannatos, Roger Marsh, Jeff Stadelman, and, most recently, Osnat Netzer and John Howell Morrison. Mel’s compositions have been performed internationally by the PHACE Ensemble, Quarteto Larianna, the Brouwer Trio, Craft Ensemble, Radcliffe Choral Society, Berit Strong, John Tyson, Miyuki Tsurutani, and Aldo Abreu.

Annaliese Kowert is a violinist and musical nomad based in Nashville and New York.

Brian Krock: “Perhaps you’ve heard about a new big-band resurgence in New York. Near the center of that wave is Big Heart Machine, an 18-piece ensemble led by a Midwestern-born multireedist and composer named Brian Krock.” (Nate Chinen, WBGO). Composer, arranger, and saxophonist Brian Krock has released four acclaimed recordings of his music and has worked with such artists as The Mark Morris Dance Group, Ethan Iverson, the Metropole Orkest, Maria Schneider, Darcy James Argue, Jamie Cullum, Matt Mitchell, and Miho Hazama. In 2020, Krock initiated his popular YouTube series, Score Study, in which he explores great compositions from a wide range of eras and genres with special guests such as Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Adam Guettel, Pino Palladino, and Blake Mills.

Lila Meretzky is a composer and performer born and raised in New York City.  In May 2020 she graduated from the Blair School of Music in Nashville, Tennessee, where she also studied German, founded a concert series, and wrote music for three Nashville-based dance companies.

Riley Palmer is a New York City based percussionist and drummer who performs actively in chamber music groups, orchestras, musical theater pits, various bands, and is a founding member of the Piano/Percussion duo Zaffre. He is also a passionate educator, maintaining a robust private studio, and teaching group music theory classes at institutions such as the Bronx Conservatory of Music and Mannes Prep. When not performing or teaching, he can be found accompanying dance classes or mixing and mastering recordings.

Christian Quiñones is a Puertorican composer whose music explores concepts like cultural identity within society and the use of electronics to create cross-genre music. His music has been performed by the American Composers Orchestra, Trio Sanromá, Victory Players, Cuban virtuoso René Izquierdo, the BNMI Ensemble and for the summer of 2020 Christian will be a fellow for the Composers Collaborative Initiative by Unheard-of Ensemble.

Originally from Saint Louis, MO, Alexandrea Richard is a versatile percussionist with a deep interest in new works. Alex advocates for, and frequently performs works from young, up and coming composers. She received a BM in Music Education and Percussion Performance from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, studying with Dr. Andy Bliss, and is currently pursuing her MM in Percussion Performance at the University of Nebraska Lincoln with Dr. Dave Hall.

Hailing from Los Angeles, Julian Velasco is a multiple award-winning Chicago-based saxophonist whose passion for music has lead him to collaborations with musicians from a wide variety backgrounds such as: Billy Childs, Jennifer Higdon, Zhou Tian, Ron Carter, Christian McBride, and Jimmy Cobb. He is currently the soprano saxophone player with the Fuse Quartet and sad-boi tenor saxophonist with Dial-Up Stepmom.

Pianist Yifei Xu has performed in Norfolk Chamber Music Festival New Music Workshop as fellowship, Aspen Music Festival, Mostly Modern Festival, among others. Recent highlights include performing Rautavaara Piano Concerto No.1 with American Modern Orchestra at Saratoga Springs in June 2022. yifeixu.org

Alexander “Sasha” Yakub is a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship at the Mannes School of Music, studying for his MM under Miranda Cuckson; previously he has received the Robert Levin Prize in Musical Performance from Harvard University (where he received his BA in Music) and Violin Fellowships at the Tanglewood Music Center. He has studied chamber music under Thomas Adès and Pamela Frank, and has performed in masterclasses for Irvine Arditti, Vadim Gluzman and Rachel Barton Pine. As a composer, Sasha has also received commissions from the American Repertory Theater, the Harvard Composers Association and the Southeastern Piano Festival.


The full list of alums from 2002-2019 is here.