Akropolis Reed Quintet was founded in 2009 at the University of Michigan and is the first ever ensemble of its makeup to win a Fischoff Gold Medal (2014), Grand Prize at the Plowman and MTNA national competitions, and 6 national chamber music prizes in total. Hailed by Fanfare for its "imagination, infallible musicality, and huge vitality,” Akropolis has performed from Juneau to Abu Dhabi and has won juried showcases at six national conferences, including as a participant in APAP's prestigious Young Performers Career Advancement Program (YPCA). Winner of the 2015 Fischoff Educator Award, Akropolis conducts extensive educational residencies and impacts thousands of children each year. Akropolis has commissioned over 30 reed quintet works and recorded three albums, including its 2017 release, The Space Between Us, which the San Francisco Chronicle calls, "pure gold". Akropolis has received grants for its community programming in Detroit, MI from the National Endowment for the Arts Art Works program, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, CultureSource, Quicken Loans, and Chamber Music America, as well as operating support from the Aaron Copland for Music and the Amphion Foundation.

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  • Cliff Colnot, intonation and arranging

  • Cliff Colnot has been principal conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary MusicNOW ensemble since its inception. He was principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for twenty-two years and was principal conductor of the University of Chicago’s Contempo Ensemble for fifteen years. Colnot conducts the DePaul University Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. Colnot is a master arranger who orchestrated Shulamit Ran’s Three Fantasy Pieces for Cello and Piano, Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival’s Adagio from Mahler’s Symphony No. 10, Schoenberg’s Pelleas and Melisande, and De Falla’s Three Cornered Hat, and for Yellow Barn Music Festival, Ran’s Soliloquy for Violin, Cello, and Piano. He arranged Messiaen’s Chants de Terre et de Ciel for ICE. Colnot re-orchestrated the Bottesini Concerto No. 2 in B Minor for Double Bass. He is regularly commissioned to write works for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Percussion Scholarship Group and has written for many artists, including Richard Marx and Brian Culbertson. Colnot graduated with honors from Florida State University and received the Ernst von Dohnányi Certificate of Excellence. He received the Alumni Merit Award from Northwestern University, where he earned his doctorate. Chicago Tribune named Cliff Colnot a 2001 “Chicagoan of the Year” in music, he received the 2005 William Hall Sherwood Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts, and he was awarded the 2016 Alice M. Ditson Conductor’s Award.

Alexander Davis, Bassoon

Alexander Davis is a native of and freelancer based in Detroit and New York City area. He has worked and performed with orchestras and series such as Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Erie Philharmonic, CityMusic Cleveland, Symphony in C, New York Symphonic Ensemble, The Songwriters Orchestra, Rob Kapilow's "What Makes Music Great", Bach and Beyond Festival, Western New York Chamber Orchestra, and Western New York Opera. Beginning September 2016, Alexander joined the Detroit Symphony as the African American Orchestral Fellow, under the direction of Music Director Leonard Slatkin and Principal Bassoonist, Bob Williams.

As a frequent chamber musician, Alexander has performed with many influential chamber artists, such as Carol Wincenc, Frank Morelli, Stephan Taylor, William Purvis, Artis Quartet, WindScape, Boris Berman, and the Imani Winds. An advocate of cross-cultural influences in music, Alexander, alongside Ana García Caraballos, has formed Xelana Duo, which comprises bassoon and saxophone. Alexander won his first concerto competition at age 20, performing Weber’s Andante e Rondo Ungarese with the Fredonia Chamber Orchestra in 2012. That same year, he was chosen to play principal in a Scholarship Benefit concert featuring YoYo Ma playing the Dvorak Cello Concerto. Alexander has participated in summer festivals such as the Tanglewood Music Center, Banff Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, American Wind Symphony Orchestra, and Imani Winds Chamber Music Institute.

Alexander holds a Bachelors Degree in Music Education and Performance from SUNY Fredonia, a Masters in Performance at Stony Brook University under the Turner Fellowship, and a Performer Certificate in Orchestral Performance at Manhattan School of Music. He has studied with renowned bassoonists Abraham Weiss, Laura Koepke, Frank Morelli, Michael Ma, Marcus Schoon and Bob Williams.

Javier Diaz, percussion and composition

Javier Diaz is a percussionist and composer living in New York City. Originally from Cuba, he has played with Miami Sound Machine, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Diana Ross, Pedro Martinez, Michel Legrand, Lázaro Galarraga and with his group Kalunga. He has performed in many Broadway productions including Gloria Estefan’s On Your Feet!, Lion King and Phil Collins's Tarzan. Well versed in classical percussion, Mr. Diaz has appeared with the American Symphony, Metropolitan Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has taught classical percussion at El Sistema in Venezuela, Rutgers University and at the University of Connecticut. Mr. Diaz has taught Afro-Cuban percussion at the Juilliard School, Rutgers University and the Boston Conservatory. He received his B.M. from the University of Southern California and his M.M. from the Juilliard School. Mr. Diaz is currently on the faculties of Rutgers University and the Juilliard School.

Valerie Van Hoven, Clinician

Valerie Van Hoven has studied music at the Hartt Conservatory and SUNY Purchase. She earned a BA in music education from Montclair State University, and graduate certification from the American Center for the Alexander Technique, NYC. She is an adjunct faculty member at both Montclair State University and Kean University, teaching voice and the Alexander Technique. Valerie has given workshops at Wagner College, the New Jersey Music Educators Association, Caldwell College, the NJ Choral Consortuim and many other sites. An accomplished pianist with extensive experience in musical theater, she maintains a private studio in Denville, NJ, where she teaches voice, piano, and lessons in Alexander Technique.

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Ismail Lumanovski, Clarinet

The  extraordinary  clarinetist Ismail  Lumanovski is a musical  force of passion and dynamic virtuosity.   Already of international distinction, Lumanovski  has launched a major career as a soloist, chamber musician in both classical and cross-over repertoire.  His synergistic blend of natural talent and training combines  the spirit of folk music with the discipline of classical music. Lumanovski’s  performances throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Brazil,  Korea and China have received critical acclaim. Lumanovski has mesmerized audiences across  the globe. He is proud to have been the soloist of his New York début of the Carter Clarinet  Concerto with musicians from New Juilliard Ensemble and the Lucerne Festival Academy with Maestro  Boulez. His  performances  have been widely  reviewed. The New York  Times wrote of his work under Pierre  Boulez,“the soloist—the brilliant, fearless  young clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski—aligned  himself with various instrumental contingents  of the large ensemble.”Professionally,  Lumanovski has had  the privilege to perform with  innumerable extraordinary musicians  and orchestras  including: Die Deutsche  Kammerphilharmonie, The Berklee  Middle Eastern Fusion Ensemble, New  Juilliard Ensemble, World Youth Symphony  Orchestra, Qatar Philharmonie, Lucerne Festival  Orchestra, Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, Marcel  Khalife, Al Di Meola, Husnu Senlendirici, Zulfu Livaneli  etc. Lumanovski is also a master improviser and performer  of Macedonian, Turkish and Gypsy music and  is presently  touring with the  renowned New York Gypsy  All-Stars, playing throughout  the United States, Europe, and  Asia. This jazz influenced fusion  and folk music group exemplifies Lumanovski’s  fantastic originality. His sound blends Balkan  folk music and  western  classical music  with breathtaking  dexterity, musicality  and tenacity, lending his  style a gratifying complexity.    Of his performance with the All-Stars,  Lumanovski plays a “blistering series of haunting  dance numbers” (Lucid Culture Blog). Lumanovski’s  playing may be  heard on his recordings  with the New York Gypsy All-Stars, Secret  Trio, Fall of the Moon, Liquid Clarinets and  Love is the Way.

Port Mande 

Port Mande (formerly Duo Process), is the collaborative partnership between clarinetist Mark Dover of Imani Winds and pianist/producer Jeremy Jordan. The name Port Mande is a play on the linguistic term “portmanteau” – a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, like the word smog (itself a blend of “smoke” and “fog”). Much like a portmanteau, Dover and Jordan’s artistic partnership is a blend of all of their vast musical influences – both having worked prolifically in classical, jazz, hip hop, gospel, pop, and world music scenes. Port Mande’s mission is to bring all cultures of people together by embracing music of every genre.

James Primosch, Composition

When honoring him with its Goddard Lieberson Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters noted that "A rare economy of means and a strain of religious mysticism distinguish the music of James Primosch... through articulate, transparent textures, he creates a wide range of musical emotion." Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1956, James Primosch studied at Cleveland State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University. He counts Mario Davidovsky, George Crumb and Richard Wernick among his principal teachers. Primosch's instrumental, vocal, and electronic works have been performed throughout the United States and in Europe by such ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Collage, the New York New Music Ensemble, and the Twenty-First Century Consort. Commissioned works by Primosch have been premiered by the Chicago Symphony, the Albany Symphony, Speculum Musicae, the Cantata Singers, and pianist Lambert Orkis. He recently completed commissions from Winsor Music, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and the Prism Saxophone Quartet. Among the honors he has received are a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three prizes from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Regional Artists Fellowship to the American Academy in Rome, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, the Stoeger Prize of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and a fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center where he studied with John Harbison. In 1994 he served as composer-in-residence at the Marlboro Music Festival. Recordings of twenty compositions by Primosch have been released on CD. Since 1988 he has served on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania.