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April 15, 2019 12:00 am

Alumni Stories: Paths Taken Part VII


Paths Taken: A Personal Tour Part VII

by Alumni Advisory Council Chair Louis Alexander (MM ’79)

Most people I discover and present here, surface through random searches in the Online Alumni Directory.

Featured in this installment of Paths Taken: A Personal Tour

  • George Mathew (PD ’03)
  • Juliette Passer (MM ’84)
  • Brian Masuda (MM ’77)
  • Loñieta Thompson Cornwall (BM ’66, MM ’66)
  • Joachim Junghanss (MM ’08, DMA ’12)
  • Amelia Chan (MM ’01, PS ’02)

In this on-going series of articles, we get glimpses into the rich pathways that our fellow alumni have taken since leaving the School.

Alumni Advisory Council Chair, series author

INTRODUCTION

To the eye of an astronaut, Earth appears as a silent blue orb in a sea of darkness and silence, but here at ground level the planet is a powerful teeming mass of vibrant colors and sounds. Perhaps because our lives are so immersed in music, we tend not to grasp just how powerful a connective medium it is. Indeed, music is a living global culture that flows through every human being in one form or another. It heals, inspires, and has the ability to overcome the all too numerous divisions that separate us. One of the world’s great nodal points in this musical web is MSM! As alumni we are the part of its network that radiates outward from the School into all parts of the world. One of the most fascinating characteristics of this network  is the sheer variety of ways our lives and careers take shape after starting from this very special place.

  • Louis

Photo by Chris Lee

George Mathew

Conductor and humanitarian

Harnessing the power of music to focus on areas of human need is something that George Mathew (PD ’03) has developed a skill for. It all began with a concert he put together at Carnegie Hall in 2006 to raise money for victims of the earthquake that had occurred along the line of control in Kashmir. That here was a citizen of India raising money for victims who were for the most part in Pakistan gained press attention, and in the process he raised around $100,000 for Médecins sans frontiers (Doctors Without Borders).

Not long after, a friend from the Sudan asked if he would do something similar for victims of the genocide in Darfur, and this grew into his concert, Requiem for Darfur. From these strands, George founded Music for Life International (MLI), which he continues to lead as its Artistic Director. Inspired by the legendary concert, Music for Life, that Leonard Bernstein led in 1987 as a response to the burgeoning AIDS epidemic, George asked Bernstein’s children for permission to use the name for his new organization, and they enthusiastically lent their support.

This past January marked MLI’s eighth humanitarian concert, which was entitled Beethoven for the Rohingya. Through these concerts, George has brought together a large number of musicians from orchestras far and wide that have raised over $3.3M, but more significantly, demonstrated the power music has in furthering values of humanity, and in bringing diverse communities together to experience and reflect on the larger human issues that stretch far beyond national borders. For these efforts, George and Music for Life International received the 2016 Robert and JoAnn Bendetson Award for Public Diplomacy from the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University.

His work as a conductor extends beyond MLI to include many appearances as guest conductor at concerts around the world. George is also a passionate educator and proponent of the social impact that music can have and he has spoken in a variety of venues, including TEDx and INKTalks. To get a feel for George’s thinking and passion for the power of music to transform lives, listen to his INKTalk.

Juliette Passer

Attorney and lecturer

As CEO and General Consul of the International Project Development Group, Juliette Passer (MM ’84) is an attorney who has pursued a career in international ventures with a focus on joint ventures, corporate and project finance, arbitration, and e-commerce. She has represented both U.S. and foreign clients in a wide array of sectors, including aviation, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, telecommunications, technology transfer, IT, wealth management, advertising, and entertainment. One of Juliette’s interests has been relations with Russia, Ukraine, and Central Asia, and,  formerly, the Soviet Union. Her work with companies having Russian ties has taken her across Eastern and Western Europe, China, Turkey, and Panama, where she has had an office since 2007.

On top of her legal practice, Juliette is often seen on stage as a lecturer at Stony Brook University, the Russian Juridicial Academy, Kaplan University, Marywood University, and Moravian College, among others. She is listed in Who’s Who in American Law and Who’s Who in American Women and serves on the boards of several companies.

Yet, in the midst of all the demands that a legal practice has, the musical pulse continues to influence her work in ways that blend her passion for her art with her skills as a lawyer to do pro bono work representing Russian and Ukrainian musicians, dancers, and artists, as well as playing the harp in a Happy Harps duo with her mother, who is also a professional harpist from the Ukraine.

Brian Masuda

Coach, educator, and collaborative artist

On stage and behind the scenes, Brian Masuda (MM ’77) is a pianist whose life has been focused on opera and the classical vocal repertoire. As a coach, teacher, and collaborative artist, Brian has touched the lives of countless singers, students, and audiences in the U.S., Europe, and Asia with his artistry.

Engagements with educational institutions have included both the Boston and New England Conservatories, the Royal Conservatory in the Hague, and the Maastricht Conservatory. Brian’s extensive work coaching singers has included many theatres in Germany, a long affiliation with the Dutch National Opera, Opera Studio Nederland, Royal Opera Jette Parker Young Artists Program (Covent Garden), Opéra National du Rhin Opera Studio (Strasbourg/Colmar), New National Theatre Tokyo Opera Studio, and the Dutch National Opera Academy in Amsterdam and in Jakarta.

From 2002 to 2010, he served as  Head Coach of the Opera Studio of the New National Theatre Young Artists Training Program in Tokyo. In 2009 Brian was recognized by the Japanese government with the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Award for his role in educating professional opera singers who perform globally and for his outstanding contribution to Japanese culture while promoting international cultural understanding.

On the stage, Brian has appeared as a collaborative artist with many vocalists in recitals in Holland, Japan, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Singapore. In addition to his very active schedule, he was a jury member for the preliminary rounds of the International Vocal Competition in ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. In 2018, Brian was invited to speak at Eurovox, a European congress for voice teachers, which was held in The Hague. To sample some of Brian’s work, check out his recording with soprano Roberta Alexander, Songs My Mother Taught Me.

Loñieta Thompson Cornwall

Educator and pianist

A person who is actively involved on many fronts is Loñieta Thompson Cornwall (BM ’66, MM ’66). For many years, she has been Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at Shaw University where she teaches courses in music theory, conducting, African American music, and piano.

In addition to her studies at MSM in music theory, composition, and music education, Loñieta holds a Master of Sacred Music degree from Union Theological, and a Doctor of Education from Teachers College. Her work as a lifelong educator does not stop there. Loñieta leads an active performance life as a choral director, composer, organist, and pianist. An active member of her church, she has served as Director of Music at the First Reformed Church of Cary, North Carolina for nearly 20 years. A pianist, Loñieta is often seen in concerts accompanying acclaimed soloists both in the U.S. and abroad. In her life as a composer, her many works include pieces for solo voice, choir, and organ.

Combining both scholarship and musicianship, Loñieta’s dissertation, The African American Art Song: A Continuum in the Art of Song, provided an in-depth analysis of the genre, which she has done much to further both in her own compositions as well as in numerous performances, one of which was at the African American Art Song Alliance Conference held at the University of California, Irvine, the first ever of its kind.

Somehow, Loñieta finds time for projects outside of music. She has been a missionary in Zambia with Operation Reachback and a participant in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in North Carolina, as well as with local school boards. Among her many honors was being inducted into the Alpha Chi Honor Society as a professor nominated by her students, and the Marquis Who’s Who Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award (2018).

Joachim Junghanss

Arts administrator, pianist, and composer

As Director of the Conservatorium Maastricht, Joachim Junghanss (MM ’08, DMA ’12, Fulbright grantee) brings a wealth of experience and new perspectives to music education. After leaving MSM, he gained experience as a manager at the Boston Consulting Group’s Berlin office. At BCG, he cofounded an arts and culture core team focusing on organizational improvement and future strategies for cultural institutions. Having developed administrative skills at one of the world’s leading firms, Joachim became Dean and later Chief Academic Officer of the True School of Music in Mumbai before arriving at his current position in Maastricht.

Throughout his life as a pianist, composer, and improviser, he has blended classical and jazz traditions, having earned degrees in both at the conservatoire in Munich and the Musikhochschule Leipzig. At MSM, Joachim’s focus was in jazz composition with Jim McNeely and jazz piano/improvisation with Jason Moran, Garry Dial, Phil Markowitz, and Kenny Baron. He has collaborated with such jazz greats as Dave Liebman. Joachim’s compositions draw on a wide range of classical and jazz idioms and include works for mixed media, film, and instrumental ensembles both large and small combining jazz and classical musicians.

He has performed at leading American venues such as Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Birdland Jazz Club. In Europe, Joachim’s performance credits include the Jazzfestival Bern, Schloss Elmau, and the Prinzregententheater Munich. He is also a winner of the international Generations jazz competition in Switzerland.

Extending his belief in the power of music to have far-reaching social impacts, Joachim initiated the charity project Music Works in a rural village in Ghana. It aims to bring school-aged children together in a music performance program open to all that would stimulate a wide range of skills, from creative learning and self-expression to cross-cultural understanding, problem solving, and the use of media. For a more personal insight into his work, listen to Joachim’s thoughts on the role of a music conservatory in the larger society—and hear him improvise in the background.

Amelia Chan

Concertmaster, soloist, and chamber musician

Amelia Chan (MM ’01, PS ’03) is concertmaster of one of Asia’s leading chamber orchestras, the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong. Before taking up this position in 2014, she had been concertmaster of the West Virginia Symphony. An experienced orchestral leader, for which she gives much credit to MSM, Amelia has worked in that capacity with conductors such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Sir Neville Marriner, Sergiu Commissiona, Julius Rudel, and Gerald Schwarz. She has collaborated as a chamber musician with members of the Vienna Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Ying Quartet, and the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, and was a member of the Montclaire String Quartet. She has also performed with the New York Philharmonic.

As a soloist, her appearances include the West Virginia Symphony, the International Virtuosi Orchestra, and the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, among others. In addition to her ensemble work, Amelia has taken part in numerous festivals, such as the Cooperstown Chamber Music Festival (NY), the Pacific Music Festival (Japan), and the Costa Rica and Guatemala Music Festivals. An advantage of working with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong is that she often appears as music director/conductor and soloist in works not often played by more traditional orchestras. Some recent performances include being a co-soloist with Sir James Galway and playing in a chamber ensemble with French accordion virtuoso Richard Galliano.

Having an eclectic musical taste, she enjoys a variety of musical projects, from playing solo and directing an all-Vivaldi program to leading an orchestra in a musical. Amelia has also studied different modalities of bodywork extensively and has found deep connections between movement/anatomy work and music, which she applies to her own playing and teaching. A dedicated musician, Amelia thinks deeply about the importance of music, which she considers an essential human need. One of the ways in which she illustrates this is in sharing a true story about cellist Étienne Pasquier, who, with other musician POWs, performed the premiere of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time as an inmate in a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1941. Somehow the other inmates scraped together 65 marks for him to buy a cello so that he could bring music into their lives during the darkest days of the Second World War.

There is probably no greater testament to how essential music is than stories such as this, and through the retelling of it Amelia passes on to us a timeless part of our common human heritage as well as a tremendous source of inspiration. To read this essay, please visit http://www.ameliachanviolin.com/blog.