The Diapason is proud to list its 20 Under 30 Class of 2023:
Theodore Cheng is a Hong Kong-born organist and composer with a diverse range of interests and projects that extends well beyond the realm of music. Theodore is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance at The Juilliard School, studying with Paul Jacobs under full funding as a C. V. Starr Doctoral Fellow. Prior to arriving at Juilliard, he attained a Master of Music degree at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, studying organ with Craig Cramer. Theodore is a prizewinner at the 2022 Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Young Professional Competition and the 2022 Fort Wayne National Organ Playing Competition, and he has performed across three continents, specializing in pre-Baroque and contemporary repertoire. As a composer, his choral and organ works have been performed by choirs and ensembles in the United States and in Hong Kong.
Asriel Davis is a Master of Music degree candidate at Syracuse University studying with Annie Laver. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, he quickly fell in love with music, playing piano and organ from the age of six. He began to show much promise in both instruments by his teen years, accompanying his high school choir and playing all around the metro Atlanta area. He went on to study under Wayne Bucknor at Oakwood University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in piano performance. With a love for sacred music, Asriel has worked and played for many churches around the nation. He recently worked under James Abbington as organist and pianist at Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta. He currently serves as organist for Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York. Having accompanied world-renowned groups such as The Aeolians of Oakwood University and the Jason Max Ferdinand Singers under the direction of Jason Max Ferdinand, he has shown he is equally suitable for performing solo or accompanying vocalists and choirs. With these groups, Asriel has traveled the nation and around the world playing organs and accompanying. He has played in Europe, South Africa, the Bahamas, and elsewhere. His skill set is vast and varied, ranging from Baroque to modern-era music. Asriel is quickly making a name for himself across genres with his exceptional talent and versatility. With his dedication, he continues to make waves in the music world. Whether performing solo or collaborating with other musicians, his passion for music is undeniable, and his future is bright.
Nathan Elsbernd is a church musician who supports community-centered music. He devoted the early part of his career to subbing at various North and Northeast Iowa churches in order to build a broad base of experience. His research focuses on community, hospitality, and their intersections with hymnody. Nathan enjoys interrogating the theology behind the music and texts. Nathan serves as the first Luther College Church Music Fellow and choir and bell director at Decorah Lutheran Church. While serving as the church music fellow, he has promoted and coordinated the involvement of music students to expand the reach of bi-weekly chapel services. Nathan also works for the Luther College music department as a collaborative pianist, teaches organ lessons through the Luther College Community Music School, and sings in the Nordic Choir. During his time at Luther, he studied with Gregory Peterson and Alexander Meszler. Nathan will receive his Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College in May 2023 as a music major and religion minor.
Anna Gugliotta is an organist, pianist, and teacher based in Central New Jersey. She graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University in 2022 where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance studying with Renée Anne Louprette. She was awarded the Elizabeth Wyckoff Durham Award from Rutgers University for excellence in music performance. Upon her graduation, Ms. Gugliotta was appointed full-time director of sacred music at the Parish of Saint Thomas More in Manalapan, New Jersey, where she is principal organist and directs the adult, youth, and handbell choirs. In addition, she also has a passion for teaching and maintains a private piano and organ studio. Anna Gugliotta participated in the University of Michigan Organ Conference (2019), the Church Music Association of America Sacred Music Colloquium in Philadelphia (2019), and the Catholic Sacred Music Project (2021 in Philadelphia, and 2022 in Menlo Park, California). She was awarded second place in the RCYO competition (Regions I and II) in 2020. Ms. Gugliotta has performed in organ masterclasses with Alcée Chriss, David Higgs, and Stephen Tharp.
Known for her red organ shoes, organist Amelie Held quickly became an internationally acclaimed artist. She recently debuted at some of Germany’s major cathedrals and concert halls, such as the Konzerthaus Dortmund, the Philharmonie Essen, and the international Speyer cathedral recital series. Her solo concert activities include performances in the world’s most important music centers, such as Milan, Paris, Zurich, London, Boston, New York, and Saint Petersburg (Mariinsky Concert Hall). Raised in Munich, Germany, in a non-musician family, Amelie released her debut album in 2019 at the young age of twenty-two. She has won several prizes at international organ competitions and was one of the youngest finalists of the prestigious French Concours International de Chartres (2018). She has a broad repertoire, both as a soloist and with orchestra and chamber ensemble, ranging from early music to contemporary compositions as well as her own transcriptions. Currently living in New York City, she is pursuing her Artist Diploma studies at The Juilliard School with Paul Jacobs. In addition to music, Amelie is passionate about literature and speaks four languages. In her free time, she indulges in dancing, working out, or riding motorcycles.
Katherine Jolliff is an organist from Indianapolis, Indiana. She began piano studies at the age of five and started learning the organ in her freshman year of high school with Marco Petricic (University of Indianapolis). After completing her first two years of high school, she finished her studies at Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen, Michigan. She majored in piano performance and organ performance and studied organ with Thomas Bara. Graduating with honors and the Fine Arts Award in Organ Performance, Katherine is currently attending Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York, as an organ performance major studying under David Higgs. In addition to being declared a winner at an AGO/Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists, she has also won first prize in the East Carolina University Young Artists Competition in organ performance (including the Bach Interpretation Prize and the Hymn Playing Award) as well as first place in the 2021 M. Louise Miller and Paul E. Knox Scholarship Competition. Most recently, she won first place in the Immanuel Lutheran Church Organ Scholar Competition in Evanston, Illinois, and the Taylor Organ Competition in Atlanta, Georgia.
Alex Jones is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Houston, Texas, where he studies with Daryl Robinson and holds a graduate teaching fellowship. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, holding a Master of Music degree in organ performance and literature. He earned a bachelor’s degree in organ performance from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, UK. Before emigrating to the United States, Alex was a recipient of numerous awards including the Birmingham Symphony Hall Organ Scholarship and the Manchester Cathedral Organ Scholarship. Since emigrating, he has gone on to win several major awards including third prize at the 2022 Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition in Atlanta, George; second prize at the 2017 West Chester University International Organ Competition; third prize of the 2018 Royal College of Organists National Competition; and first prize of the 2017 American Theatre Organ Society’s (ATOS) “Young Artist” Competition. He is very active as both a classical concert organist and theatre organist, having performed in major venues across Europe and the United States, including as a featured artist at several ATOS conventions, and is currently serving as organist and choirmaster at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas.
Caitlyn Koester is a harpsichordist and music director active in the early music communities of the Bay Area and New York City. Her international duo, AKOYA, releases its first album of Graupner’s complete sonatas for violin and harpsichord under the ATMA Classique label in fall 2023. Caitlyn holds degrees from the University of Michigan, San Francisco Conservatory, and The Juilliard School, and is on collegiate and pre-college faculty at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Recent engagements include vocal coach and continuo of I Cantori di Carmel’s Vocal Academy and performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio around Northern California, and chamber music with musicians of Severall Friends in Santa Fe and Musica Angelica in Los Angeles.
Carson Landry is one of the few students in the world currently pursuing a master’s degree in carillon, studying at the University of Michigan with Tiffany Ng and Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra. Previously, he earned a diploma from the Royal Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium, while on a Fulbright scholarship, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music studies from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. His focus is on playing an active role as a musician in movements for social good, diversifying the carillon repertoire through commissioning and performing works by historically underrepresented composers, and improvising, particularly to fulfill audience requests for popular music by diverse artists. The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA) awarded him and Grace Ann Lee its Student Composer/Performer Pair Grant, and he serves the GCNA on the Professionalism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and as a typesetter for music publications. A native of Orlando, Florida, Carson has held fellowships at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida, and at the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon in Springfield, Illinois, and has given concerts in the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Lithuania.
John Miller received his training in pipe organ building through a 31⁄2-year apprenticeship under Germany’s dual education system for the trades. He received practical training at Johannes Klais Orgelbau in Bonn and education in organbuilding theory at the Oscar-Walcker-Schule in Ludwigsburg. John earned his journeyman certification in pipe organ building through the Industrie- und Handelskammer Bonn in February 2019 after examination. In March 2019, John returned to his hometown of Milwaukee and started his own business. Along with maintaining around 100 pipe organs across the state, John’s workshop specializes in the restoration of self-playing mechanical organs (such as organ clocks, orchestrions, and street organs)—with a special emphasis on those operated by pinned cylinders. John is an organ advocate seeking to introduce new audiences to the organ through creative installations of pipe organs and automated mechanical music instruments.
Originally from Russia, Victoria Shorokhova graduated from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory with diplomas in piano in 2016, studying with Vladimir Shakin, and in organ in 2017, studying with Daniel Zaretsky. In 2019, she earned a master’s degree at Saint Petersburg State University, majoring in historical performance on keyboard instruments (organ, harpsichord, and carillon). In 2022, she received a Master of Music degree in organ performance at Georgia State University, studying with Jens Korndörfer, serving as a music intern at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta during her studies. Starting in January of this year Victoria has been pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance at the University of Houston, studying with Daryl Robinson and holding an organ scholar position at Saint Luke’s United Methodist Church. Victoria is a laureate of numerous international organ competitions, including the XXVI International Competition of Sacred Music in Rumia, Poland (2014, second prize), and the II International Braudo Organ Competition in Saint Petersburg (2019, first prize and special prize). She has participated in organ academies at Alkmaar, the Netherlands (2013), Graz, Austria (2014), Kotka, Finland (2015), and masterclasses with Ludger Lohmann, Arvid Gast (Germany), Gunther Rost, Johann Trummer (Austria), Iain Quinn (United States), Lorenzo Ghielmi (Italy), and Isabelle Demers (Canada). Victoria actively concertizes in Russia and the United States; her recent performances include venues such as Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Saint Thomas Church in New York City and the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco.
Nicholas Stigall, 22, is a senior majoring in organ performance at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he is a recipient of the Barbara and David Jacobs Scholarship and studies with Janette Fishell. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, he began organ lessons with Edie Johnson at the age of fifteen. Nicholas has been the recipient of many awards in organ performance competitions, including first prize in the 2019 RCYO Southeast Region and second prize in the 2022 Arthur Poister Competition. A passionate church musician, Nicholas currently serves as music intern at Trinity Episcopal Church, Bloomington, Indiana, where he formerly served for three years as undergraduate organ scholar under Marilyn Keiser. He is currently dean of the Bloomington Chapter of the AGO. Additionally, Nicholas was the organ scholar at the Chautauqua Institution for the 2022 season under the direction of Joshua Stafford. Throughout the nine-week season, he assisted in the service music for seven weekly choral services and also played three solo recitals. Nicholas looks forward to returning to Chautauqua again as organ scholar for the 2023 season. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys exercising and drinking tea.
Joel Stoppenhagen is a native of rural Ossian, Indiana. His organ instruction began at age 11, his first teachers being Richard Brinkley and Randall Wurschmidt. In high school, Joel attended Lutheran Summer Music at Valparaiso University for two summers, where he studied with Chad Fothergill. During the summer of 2022 he served on the worship staff of the
same program. In December 2023, following a semester abroad at Westfield House seminary in Cambridge, Joel will graduate from Valparaiso University with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. During his time at Valparaiso University, he took lessons with Sunghee Kim and Stephen Schnurr and held several leadership roles in the university’s AGO chapter. He also worked in the university archives cataloging the works of the late Philip Gehring, longtime university organist, and in his work uncovered a transcription of a Langlais improvisation on “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” which was later published in CrossAccent, the journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. His other publications include organ music reviews for The Diapason and a score preface (co-authored with Katharina Uhde and Ryan Gee) for the publisher Musikproduktion Höflich. At the 2022 Association of Lutheran Church Musicians regional conference in Valparaiso, Joel gave a plenary address on the topic of youth and traditional church music and was a panelist for a discussion on the subject. He currently serves as director of music at Saint Paul Lutheran Church, Chesterton, Indiana.
Working on his master’s degree in organ performance at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, New Haven, Connecticut, Alexander Straus-Fausto, from Kitchener, Ontario, is thrilled to be studying under the direction of Martin Jean and playing on Yale’s Newberry Memorial Organ. He completed his Bachelor of Music degree at McGill University Schulich School of Music and his secondary school studies at Michigan’s Interlochen Arts Academy. While still a teenager, Straus-Fausto undertook a Canada Council-funded summer 2019 concert tour of the UK, playing in historic churches and cathedrals. He has further expanded the organ’s reach by creating more than fifty original transcriptions of major orchestral works, reflecting his passion for the symphonic organ as a virtually unlimited medium for artistic expression. This summer he will be one of ten finalists at the Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. He has performed at venues such as Washington National Cathedral, Maison Symphonique, Trinity Church Wall Street, and Woolsey Hall. Alex credits his organ teachers, Martin Jean, Hans-Ola Ericsson, Alcée Chriss, Jonathan Oldengarm, Isabelle Demers, Christian Lane, Thomas Bara, Peter Nikiforuk, and Joe Carere.
Andrew Van Varick
Andrew Van Varick is a doctoral student in organ performance and literature at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, under the instruction of David Higgs. Previously, he received his Master of Music degree at Eastman, and he holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Montclair State University, where he studied organ with Vincent Carr and John Miller, piano with Mark Pakman, and harpsichord with Hsuan-Wen Chen. Andrew has played in coachings and masterclasses with Raúl Prieto Ramírez, Bálint Karosi, Michel Bouvard, Wilma Jensen, Simon Johnson, Ezequiel Menendez, Chelsea Chen, and Alan Morrison. As a recitalist, he has performed on the “Young Organ Artist” series at Central Synagogue in New York City, on the “Wednesdays at Noon” series at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey, and for the Greensburg, Pennsylvania, chapter of the American Guild of Organists. In 2022, he was a semifinalist in the AGO National Young Artist Competition in Organ Performance, and this September will be competing in the Ninth International Organ Competition Musashino-Tokyo. Currently, Andrew serves as director of music and organist at the Central Presbyterian Church in Geneseo, New York.
Abraham Wallace graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2018 with degrees in music (piano) and geophysics. He began seriously playing the pipe organ near the end of his undergraduate years and decided to pursue the study of the instrument more in depth upon graduation. He completed a Master of Music degree in organ performance from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. While at Yale, Abe served as organ scholar at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church on the Green, Norwalk, Connecticut, and as director of music for Trinity Lutheran Church, Milford, Connecticut. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in sacred music at the University of Michigan, studying organ with Peter Sykes. Some musical highlights from the last few years include commissioning and performing an organ suite by Ethan Haman as a part of the 2021 American Guild of Organists Student Commissioning Project, curating a virtual evensong service in the height of the covid pandemic, and playing harpsichord in continuo ensembles for various early music projects in both Michigan and Ohio. Wallace is currently the organ scholar at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, Michigan, under the direction of Huw Lewis. In his spare time, he enjoys baking bread and making coffee.
Based in New York City, Lynnli Wang is a talented carillonist, award-winning teacher, and fierce diversity and inclusion advocate. She currently plays at The Riverside Church, which houses a seventy-four-bell carillon, weighing more than 100 tons. Previously, she held the Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music (IU JSOM) carillon associate instructor position, where she built and taught a vibrant carillon studio, dedicated two newly renovated carillons, performed weekly recitals, collaborated with student composers, commissioned a trio of new works by female composers, and authored her second children’s book on carillons. In recognition of her dedication to making the carillon accessible and exciting to performers, listeners, and composers alike, Lynnli was awarded the IU New Music Performance Award, the IU Lieber Memorial Teaching Award, and the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Teaching Award. Lynnli’s carillon journey began at Yale University in 2011, where she completed her undergraduate studies in literature. She passed the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA) carillonneur exam in 2014; since then, she has concertized regularly across the United States. To advance the art of carillon, Lynnli serves on the board of the GCNA and various committees, including the Emerging Artist Grant, which provides funding for education, research, and performance opportunities to new carillonists.
Alden Wright is a student at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in organ performance with Nathan Laube. As a performer and national young competitor, Alden holds several distinctions, including being named winner of the 2019 Arthur Poister National Competition in Organ Playing and the Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial Scholarship for undergraduate studies. Alden has performed in many student and solo recitals throughout the United States and England and has participated in masterclasses with many of the world’s top performers. Alden holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Eastman as well as the prestigious Performer’s Certificate, having graduated with highest distinction in May 2020. Alden most recently served as organ scholar at Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, England, under director of music Christopher Gray from 2021 to 2022. He is currently serving as assistant director of music at Christ Church, Pittsford, New York.
Jonghee Yoon will begin study with Nathan Laube at Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York, in fall 2023 for an artist diploma. She is pursuing her master’s degree in sacred music and organ performance under David Arcus and Colin Andrews at East Carolina University and is an organ scholar at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, North Carolina. Jonghee graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Ewha Woman’s University, Seoul, studying with Min-Jung Gaang. An active musician, she is a multi-instrumentalist, conducting and playing organ, harpsichord, and violin. She has performed in many parts of the United States, as well as South Korea, the Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, and Spain. Jonghee won the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra’s Rising Stars 2022 competition and performed as a soloist with them. She played for the independent movie Cofradia and has been a music director in several musical theatrical productions, including Les Miserables, Lou Andreas-Salomé, and Corpus Delicti. Jonghee played continuo with Saint Peter’s Bach Collegium and solo organ with Gödi Baroque Ensemble in Hungary. She has also worked with organbuilders at C. B. Fisk, Inc., in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where she participated in making, designing, installing, and tuning pipes.