April 5, 2021

MSM Spotlight: Cosmos Fristachi (MM’21) performs on April 7 with MSM Camerata Nova

Cosmos Fristachi is a 2nd year Master’s Student of the Classical Clarinet Performance Program and will play in MSM’s Camerata Nova concert conducted by George Manahan on April 7th, 2021. 

He tells us about his experience in this ensemble, why he chose MSM, and his hopes and dreams for the future. 

Tell us a little about yourself!

Cosmos: I grew up in a military family in Virginia Beach, Virginia discovering my passion for performing very early on. I first began studying music after my family realized I could pick out simple tunes on the piano that my father played as a little boy. Then I found the clarinet, an instrument that challenges me to constantly strive to reach the next level of my playing. My passion took me to Ohio State University where I matriculated under Dr. Caroline Hartig for four years. I was then accepted to MSM where I’ve made the largest leap yet in my playing over such a concentrated period. Studying with MSM faculty member Charles Neidich has helped me unlock a new quality in my sound which I didn’t even know I had, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me!

What do you like about this concert and tell us what it’s like being a part of MSM’s Camerata Nova?

Cosmos: The repertoire on this concert is quite varied in texture, so it’s exciting to have a chance to work side-by-side with such gifted musicians and bring the different qualities to life. I honestly think the audience’s breath will be taken away the moment that we begin Ravel’s Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé; the strings float so effortlessly in the high harmonics that you would practically think the players were about to rise up off of their chairs!

How has this school year been for you?

Cosmos: This school year has been a unique challenge. Being involved in music courses from afar posed difficulties that neither us nor our professors have lived before, but I like to view it as glass-half-full in that this better prepared us to enter the job market with a wider array of experiences. The fact that we are one of the only music schools still rehearsing in person, and performing concerts for the public, is a testament to how blessed we are to be at MSM through the pandemic.

Cosmos Fristachi (MM'21) performing at MSM in the outdoor reading of Mahler's First Symphony, in September 2020

What do you like best about the MSM Community and being at MSM?

Cosmos: MSM is an incredibly tight-knit community. I’ve heard stories about some of the other top conservatories in the country having students that are very distant and hush hush about their personal playing strategies, or their ideas on particular solo works because there is such an intense culture of competition. MSM is a competitive school too, but here that competition is underscored by friendship. I appreciate having friends with whom I can compete, all the while knowing that we will genuinely support and congratulate whoever may come out on top.

What projects are you working on now?

Cosmos: I am currently involved in the career development program of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a chamber orchestra here in Manhattan. This opportunity was presented to us as a partnership between OSL and MSM to which I applied and for which I was competitively selected. The program offers a chance to meet with performers and administrators from the Orchestra of St. Luke’s where I’ve gained an insider’s perspective on the day-to-day life of being in an orchestra, the challenges of marketing to a changing audience, and many similar relevant topics for musicians who, like me, are entering a highly competitive job market.

“There is nothing I’ve experienced in my life more rewarding than having a chance to play beautiful music for people of all kinds, creeds, and races knowing that everyone may take something different from the performance, but nobody will leave unchanged.”

MM'21, Classical Clarinet

What do you like best about studying your major at MSM?

Cosmos:  Being a Master’s Student of Classical Clarinet Performance in the Orchestral Performance Program is a very exciting path! My favorite part of this degree is playing wonderful orchestral literature with my colleagues. Before COVID struck, I had a chance to perform Beethoven Symphony 7 downtown at the DiMenna Center on the radio in a performance unlike any I’ve ever given. Conductor Rob Kapilow explained motives and melodies that the audience would hear and had us perform snippets of them so our listeners could better understand what Beethoven intended for them to experience! Following our performance, we had a Q&A with the audience which fostered a much more human connection between us all. That was the single most rewarding opportunity I’ve had at Manhattan School of Music.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

Cosmos:  As far as the future goes, my dream is to win an orchestral job and share my art with other creative, caring people. There is nothing I’ve experienced in my life more rewarding than having a chance to play beautiful music for people of all kinds, creeds, and races knowing that everyone may take something different from the performance, but nobody will leave unchanged. Performing allows both myself and the audience to enter a space somewhat disconnected from reality; a space where the worries of the real world melt away for a couple hours and all that remains is a rich tapestry being carefully woven by a group of people so connected that their individual identities fall away and, for a moment in time, we are all one.

MSM’s Camerata Nova

George Manahan (BM ’73, MM ’76), Conductor

APR 7 | 12:15 PM EDT


Manhattan School of Music
Neidorff-Karpati Hall

130 Claremont Avenue
New York, New York 10027

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