Meet the Studio

W. Peter Kurau, Professor of Horn

Eastman School of Music 2014-2015 Horn Studio

Eastman School of Music 2014-2015 Horn Studio




Megan-568 finalMegan Heller is a freshman horn performance major hailing from Rhinebeck, NY. While in Rhinebeck, Megan studied with Szilard Molnar and Barbara Hill. She was a member of the Bard College Conservatory Preparatory Division. Starting at age 15, Megan was the Principal Horn of the Bard College Orchestra, which she continued performing with until graduation from high school. Over the past two summers, she attended the New York Summer Music Festival, where she was a scholarship winner and this past year performed in the top woodwind quintet. Megan is a dual degree student also pursuing a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

In her free time, Megan enjoys playing sports, especially soccer and tennis. In high school she also enjoyed playing doubles in the school steel drum band.


IMG_2853Leah Jorgensen is a current Freshman Horn Performance and Music Education major at the Eastman School of Music. She is from Jacobus,PA. In high school Leah played in the Allegretto Youth Chamber Orchestra, York Youth Symphony, Franklin and Marshall College Orchestra, and many PMEA festivals including All State Orchestra, and NAfME’s All National Orchestra. Leah was the winner of her school’s concerto competition and the John Phillip Sousa band award. Over the summer Leah has been able to attend Lutheran Summer Music Camp, Tanglewood Music Camp, and Interlochen Arts Camp. In high school, Leah studied French horn with Dr. Brian Norcross. Leah also enjoyed being able to teach French horn lessons. Also, Leah enjoyed being active in her church including teaching Sunday School, going on hikes, being a LINK crew(for high school freshman orientation)leader, volunteering, participating a in Big buddy program and spending time with her family and friends. Leah is excited for all Eastman has in store for her, and where music will lead her in life.


Ari Teicher is a Dual Degree student from Westport, Connecticut, studying Horn Performance at the Eastman School of Music and Audio Music Engineering at the University of Rochester. Ari began playing Horn at the age of 11, and studied with Roger Thulin, and Robert Brewer. While attending Staples High School, he played in the Norwalk Youth Symphony, the Connecticut Western Regional Festival, the Connecticut All-state Festival, and the All-New England Music festival, organizations which gave him the opportunity to play at venues such as Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, Bushnell Performing Arts Center in Hartford, and Carnegie Hall in New York City. During his senior year of high school, he participated in the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division, when he sat principal chair in the school’s Philharmonic Orchestra, and studied under Sharon Moe, principal of the Long Island Philharmonic. During his summers, Ari spent his time playing competitive travel baseball, and attending the New England Music Camp, where he studied under C. Scott Smith of Ohio University, and was presented with the awards Honor Musician and Honor Camper. Ari, during his senior year, was the winner of his High School’s Concerto Competition, and was given the opportunity to play Mozart’s Concerto No. 3 in Eb Major with the Staples High School Chamber Orchestra. Ari also enjoys composing music, and was awarded first place in the state of Connecticut and given an honorable mention on the national level in the category of musical composition in the National Reflections competition, sponsored by the PTA. Ari, during his free time, enjoys producing electronic music, working out, hanging out with friends, playing jazz piano, fishing, reading and being mindful.


phototoShimon Ohi, a horn performance major at the Eastman School of Music, is from Greer, South Carolina. He began his musical studies in middle school and began playing horn in high school and studied with Paula Riddle and Anneka Zuehlke. Starting his junior year of high school, he attended the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, and was principal horn in Greenville County Youth Orchestra’s Young Artist Orchestra and Carolina Youth Symphony. He has attended the Interlochen Summer Arts Horn Institute and Brevard Music Festival where he studied and attended masterclasses with Peter Kurau, William VerMeulen, Gustavo Camacho, Richard Deane, Hazel Davis, and Bob Rydel. Shimon enjoys being Japanese and doing kendo, a type of Japanese fencing.




Kara MillerKara Miller, a Texas native, began learning horn at age 11. Studying most recently with James Wilson, principal horn of the Houston Ballet, she is now pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in horn performance at the Eastman School of Music under the teachings of W. Peter Kurau. In addition, she also plans to seek a minor in business at the University of Rochester. While in high school, Kara advanced to the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest four consecutive years for both a solo and a brass quintet; her senior year, she received the recognition of Outstanding Soloist of the day. She also achieved the title of Texas All-Stater three times and performed in ensembles under the direction of Frank Ticheli, Mallory Thompson, and Kevin Sedatole. Furthermore, in her senior year Kara won second prize in the Houston Civic Symphony Concerto Competition and was also given the opportunity to perform the first movement of Gliere’s horn concerto with her school’s full orchestra. Over the past few summers, Kara attended Interlochen Center for the Arts twice with full scholarships and also the Boston University Tanglewood Institute where she had the privilege of working with such people as Brad Gemeinhardt, Bruce Henniss, Frøydis Ree Wekre, W. Peter Kurau, and Kevin Owens. In her free time, Kara enjoys running half marathons, playing with her dogs, and being an active member of her church.


Mattingly photoEthan Mattingly is a sophomore at Eastman School of music studying under Professor W. Peter Kurau. In the past he has studied with Professor Leslie Norton from Vanderbilt University and Erin Horner. He has received numerous scholarships such as a full scholarship for one week at Kendall Betts Horn Camp, The Mira Jackson Pre-College Scholarship, a full-paying scholarship for the pre-college program at the Blair School of Music in Vanderbilt, and more. In his free time, he composes, learns East Asian musical instruments, and is intrigued by foreign language. He is currently taking his fourth year of French classes, and he is also teaching himself Japanese.


ElderJessica Elder is a horn performance major from Mobile, Alabama where she studied with Susan Unger and Rob Seebacher. Jessica was the principal horn and president of the Mobile Symphony Youth Orchestra, and she was a finalist in the MSYO concerto competition. Additionally, Jessica performed with the Alabama All State Band and Orchestra and was awarded second place in the All State Solo Festival. In her summers, Jessica attended the Interlochen Horn Institute, the Brevard Music Center, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute where she studied with such artists as Jeff Nelsen, Hazel Dean Davis, and Zachary Smith. Jessica is thrilled to be currently studying with W. Peter Kurau at the Eastman School of Music!


SchoberKyle Schober is a performance major from Greer, South Carolina. He began playing at the age of 11 and studied with Paula Riddle. In his sophomore year of high school, Kyle was selected to attend the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities as an early admissions student. Kyle joined the Carolina Youth Symphony at age 13 and held the principal position in the top orchestra from age 15 until his graduation.  In his senior year, Kyle was named most outstanding senior musician in the Carolina Youth Symphony and was also selected to perform Richard Strauss’ 1st Horn Concerto with the orchestra. Kyle has also competed in the MTNA Senior Brass competition twice, most recently taking second place at the national level. He has attended summer institutes such as the Interlochen Horn Institute and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Horn Workshop where he studied with Eric Ruske, Eli Epstein, Rose French and Gustavo Camacho.


unnamedValerie Ankeney hails from Dayton, Ohio and is currently a junior horn performance major at the Eastman School of Music.  Most recently, she won the Frizelle Orchestral High Horn Audition at the International Horn Society’s 2015 Symposium in Los Angeles, California.  She was the IHS Paul Mansur Award winner and was a winner of the Masterclass Participation Competition and performed in David Krehbiel’s masterclass at the IHS 2015 Symposium.

She made her solo debut with her horn quartet when they won the concerto competition performing In the Mind’s Eye by James Beckel with the Eastman Wind Ensemble.  Valerie has attended the Texas Music Festival and Brevard Music Festival and was a finalist in the Jan and Beattie Wood Concerto Competition during the 2015 Brevard Music Center season.  She was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2014 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition.

Prior to her matriculation at Eastman, Valerie was a winner of the WDPR 88.1 Young Talent Search.  In addition, she earned appointments as principal horn in Ohio All-State ensembles, the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Cincinnati Conservatory Brass Choir (Preparatory Department). Valerie was a finalist in the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Young Musicians’ Concerto Competition for two years, a finalist in the U.S. Air Force Band “Young Artists Competition,” and Friends of the Lima Symphony Concerto Competition. She attended the Boston University Tanglewood Institute and participated in the Young Artists Orchestra, Young Artists Wind Ensemble and the Horn Workshop.  Valerie studied with Robert Johnson, Elizabeth Freimuth and is currently under the tutelage of W. Peter Kurau at the Eastman School of Music. In her free time, she enjoys exploring outdoors with her family, friends and her dog Lucy.


Caroline Baker, a native of Colorado, is a Horn Performance major at the Eastman School of Music. Caroline made her soloist debut with the Denver Concert Band after being named the winner of their Young Artist Scholarship Concerto Competition. She also competed in the final round of the Arapahoe Philharmonic Collegiate Concerto open to Colorado and its seven surrounding states. Caroline has enjoyed playing Principal Horn in the Colorado All-State Orchestra and Band in 2012 and 2013 along with other various statewide honor ensembles. Throughout her high school career she relished in playing with the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra and Denver Young Artists Orchestra. In 2013 she was involved in a natural disaster awareness ensemble where she had the privilege to perform in Japan for victims of the earthquake and tsunami that struck in 2011. During the summer Caroline participates in the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute in Denver and Kendall Betts Horn Camp in Lyman, New Hampshire. Aside from playing the horn, Caroline enjoys riding horses, hiking, and spending time with her cat.


CotnerA native of Ann Arbor Michigan, hornist Rennie Cotner is currently a junior studying Horn performance with Professor W. Peter Kurau at the Eastman School of Music.  In Ann Arbor, Rennie studied horn with Tammy Kosinski and performed in youth orchestras through the University of Michigan and the Detroit Symphony, and was a student in the Grammy Award-winning Pioneer High school music program.  She attended New England Music Camp, and there studied with C. Scott Smith of Ohio University.  She was a finalist in the concerto competitions at New England Music Camp and Pioneer High School in 2012, and was also nominated for the Michigan Youth Arts Festival Outstanding Soloist Competition.  Now at Eastman, Rennie performs with the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra and the Eastman Wind Orchestra.  Aside from large ensemble work, Rennie is also an avid chamber musician and has performed works with strings such as the Beethoven Septet and Brahms Horn Trio, and currently is a member of the Emerson Wind Quintet at Eastman.  Rennie is also interested in early music and studies natural horn with Professor Derek Conrod.  Outside of music, Rennie is pursuing a Minor in Religion at the University of Rochester, and is on the executive board for the Rochester Student Association for Interfaith Cooperation.


Katelyn Fridmann is a performance major from Buffalo, NY.  She began playing horn at age eight, and at age nine started to compete in annual New York State (NYSSMA) and Erie County (ECMEA) music festivals.  She attended Conference All-State in 2011, and performed in the Symphonic Band.  Katelyn returned the next year to play principal horn of the Conference All-State Symphony Orchestra.  In April, 2013 she traveled to Hartford, Connecticut and was the principal horn in the NAfME All-Eastern Symphony Orchestra.  In her hometown, Kate was the principal horn of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra for two years and played side-by-side with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in that position.  Katelyn has attended the Fredonia Summer Music Festival in downstate NY, as well as the Kendall Betts Horn Camp in Lymon, New Hampshire.  She was a winner of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame scholarship and was awarded the honor of playing onstage with the United States Navy Band at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.  Once she has her degree, Katelyn plans to pursue a career in studio music, with a long term goal of being the horn player that plays the Universal theme song.


MAW Headshot (2)

Nikolette LaBonte, a native of West Palm Beach, Florida is currently serving as the Assistant Principal Horn of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra.  She is on a leave of absence from the Eastman School of Music where she studies horn performance under the tutelage of Professor W. Peter Kurau.   In addition to the Hawaii Symphony, she has performed with orchestras including the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, New World Symphony, Glens Falls Symphony, Syracuse Symphoria, and Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra.  Additionally, she was recently chosen as one of ten Zarin Mehta Fellows of the New York Philharmonic’s Global Academy Program where she will perform with the orchestra in several subscription concerts in January.  Nikolette is also extremely active in the chamber music scene as a member of a wide variety of ensembles including the Even the Score Wind Quintet, the Klezmerizers ensemble, and the Winds of Change outreach wind quintet.   Outside of the concert hall, Nikolette is active in promoting classical music throughout the community.  She is a horn section coach at the Bak Middle School of the Arts and was the co-creator and coordinator of “Songs of Sochi”, a project designed to spread awareness of classical music through collaboration with Olympic athletes.

Nikki will be taking a leave of absence from the horn studio in order to accept a one year position as the Assistant Principal Horn of the Hawaii Symphony.  She will be working in Downtown Honolulu on the island of Oahu as a core orchestra member performing in subscription concerts with repertoire including Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, Pines of Rome, Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony, and Don Juan.  While there, she will be teaching a studio of private students and participating in other orchestral performance and chamber opportunities.  She will miss the Eastman horn studio very dearly but promises she will be back to visit throughout the year.  Aloha!


Robert Levine is from Westchester County, NY. He began playing horn at age eleven.  He recently graduated from Ossining Senior High School and Manhattan School of Music precollege division.  While at Manhattan School of Music he studied with Barbara Jostlein. (4th horn with the Met Opera.) During his senior year of high school he was selected to participate in the New York All State Symphonic Band with conductor Anthony Maiello.  Two days after graduation he went to Interlochen, Michigan to attend Interlochen Arts Camp for his third and final summer.  During his high school life he was involved with many youth orchestras, chamber groups and wind ensembles, such as New York Youth Symphony chamber music program and Youth Wind Ensemble of Westchester.  Rob sat principle in the Greater Westchester Youth Orchestra during his junior year of high school.  He also blew shofar at temple for two years in a row and blew the community away with his circular breathing.  Rob enjoys snowboarding and taking long car rides with his dad.  When he is not making music he is climbing trees and enjoys being outside.


Horn player Rebekah Lorenz is in her junior year of study at The Eastman School of Music. Outside of regular classes and ensembles, she pursues a balanced diet of chamber music, natural horn studies, and Brass Guild. She has recently performed in separate masterclasses with Berlin Philharmonic horn players, Fergus McWilliam and Stefan Jezierski; Metropolitan Opera horn player, Javier Bandara; and New York Philharmonic players, Allen Spanjer and Leelanee Sterrett.

In her summers, Ms. Lorenz has held internships and full-time positions in the administrative offices of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and most recently at the Tanglewood Music Center. She was also a staff member and performer in residence at the Delaware Youth Symphony Orchestra Summer Camp.

In her free time, Rebekah enjoys drinking coffee, painting in oils or watercolors, and playing horn quartets with friends.




Jackie Schober is a performance major from Connecticut, where she studied with Sue Spaulding.  In high school she enjoyed playing principal in the Connecticut Youth Symphony and the Greater Hartford Youth Wind Ensemble.  She was also an active participant in brass quintets.  The past two summers she spent two weeks at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, studying with Eric Ruske.  Jackie is thrilled to be able to spend the next four years at her dream school studying with other fabulous musicians!


BuehlerEmily Buehler is currently a senior at Eastman pursuing degrees in both performance and music education. She began her studies on horn in 10th grade with Karen Schubert after being a Euphonium student through middle school. Emily has participated in Tanglewood summer horn workshops, Bar Harbor Brass Week, and the National Music Festival. Emily’s favorite thing about the Eastman horn studio is the love and support demonstrated in studio classes, rehearsals, and away from the horn as well.



Hailing from Ottawa, Ontario, Thea Humphries is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in horn performance at the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of W. Peter Kurau. Thea has participated in summer festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival, the National Arts Centre’s Young Artist Program, the Texas Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institution, Domaine Forget, the National Music Festival, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists’ Orchestra. She was a member of the Ontario Provincial Honour Band and the Canadian Wind Orchestra, and was awarded the National Arts Centre Outstanding Brass Performer Award. At Eastman, Thea can be found performing with Philharmonia, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, Harmonie and Brass Guild.

Thea has played in masterclasses for distinguished artists, such as Julie Landsman, Erik Ralske, William VerMeulen, Gail Williams, Radovan Vlatković and Frøydis Ree Wekre. Additionally, she has had supplemental studies with Andrew Bain, John Zirbel, William Caballero, Roger Kaza, William VerMeulen and Derek Conrod.

Thea is a founding member of the Eclectet woodwind quintet. The Eclectet has performed with the Rochester City Ballet, and was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Plowman Chamber Music competition. The Eclectet is actively involved in the community, and has been awarded the Messinger Ambassadors Grant for outreach performances this fall, in addition to residencies in Geneva, NY public schools.


Graduate and Continuing Students:


Abby Black Head shotAbby Black is from the northern suburbs of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Music in Horn Performance with a Performer’s Certificate, studying horn under Professor W. Peter Kurau, at the Eastman School of Music. Currently, she is completing her Music Education studies in a fifth year at Eastman. This summer, Abby attended the Chautauqua Institute and worked as an assistant with the Eastman Concert Office. She also gave a lecture at the 2015 International Horn Symposium at the Colburn School on Stress Velopharyngeal Incompetence.  In previous summers, she attended the National Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, and Kendall Betts Horn Camp. Abby has performed with ensembles such as the Buffalo Philharmonic, Eastman Philharmonia, Eastman Wind Ensemble, Empire Film Music Ensemble, Chautauqua Music School Festival Orchestra, National Music Festival Orchestra, Brevard Festival Orchestra, and Brevard Sinfonia. Through her work in these orchestras, she received the great opportunity to collaborate with renowned artists, such as André Previn, Peter Serkin, Jeff Beal, Irvine Arditti, and JoAnn Falletta.

Abby has been the recipient of many accolades and awards, including the collegiate Kendall Betts Horn Camp Scholarship, the Howard Hanson Scholarship and the John Philip Sousa Award. She has played in masterclasses for Elizabeth Freimuth, William VerMeulen, Jacek Muzyk, Oto Carillo, Bryan Kennedy, and Corbin Wagner. Additionally, Abigail has worked with artists Jennifer Burch, Derek Conrod, William Caballero, Roger Kaza, Jonathan Boen, Hazel Dean Davis and Lowell Greer.


HeadShot (1)Sara Petokas is from rural Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania. She began her horn studies at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania where she studied Music Education and Horn with Dr. Rebecca Dodson-Webster. Sara was principal horn with the Northern Tier Symphony Orchestra for 4 years. She was a substitute horn with the Williamsport Symphony and the Orchestra of the Southern Fingerlakes for 3 years. Sara had solo performances with the Northern Tier Symphony for which she played Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4. She was also a Concerto Competition Winner and performed with the Mansfield University Orchestra, on Camille Saint Saëns Morceau de Concert. Sara was an Intern with the Endless Mountains Music Festival for Summers 2013-2014. Sara has taken lessons with William Purvis, William Caballero, Randy Gardner, Joseph Rounds, and Anneka Zuehlke.

Currently, Sara is getting her MM in Horn Performance and Literature and studying with Professor Peter Kurau at the Eastman School of Music. Sara is TA for the Eastman Horn Studio. She is teaching horn lessons through the Eastman Community Music School for which she has her own studio. She teaches Secondary Horn lessons at the Eastman School of Music. Sara is also teaching Horn Methods for the Education Program at ESM.  Sara is hoping to continue her studies and get her DMA to teach at the collegiate level.

Erin Futterer is beginning the third year of her Doctoral studies at Eastman. She comes to Rochester from her home state of Arkansas, where she has been teaching a private horn studio of 70 for the past two years, as well as working at the Hampton Inn, and serving as the Youth and Family Director for the All Saints’ Episcopal Church, both in Russellville. She is very excited to be here at Eastman and to be able to focus more seriously on music! She received her masters degree from the Norgesmusikhøgskole, which she attended on a Fulbright Fellowship and where she studied for two years with Frøydis Ree Wekre. Her BA is from Northwestern University, with Gail Williams. Her non horn-related hobbies include painting, knitting, reading, swimming, theatre, and working with and tutoring children.

Lauren Becker is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate majoring in Horn Performance and Literature with a minor in Music Education and a Performer’s Certificate at the Eastman School of Music, where she was awarded the Teaching Assistant Prize in 2013 for excellence in collegiate teaching. Originally from Rhode Island, she has lived in Rochester, NY since 2006. In addition to her studies, Lauren recently accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor of Horn at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam for the 2015-2016 academic year. Active as a freelance musician, she has performed with orchestral and chamber ensembles throughout the United States, including the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Albany Symphony Orchestra, Symphoria, Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Atlantic Classical Orchestra, and North Country Chamber Players. In 2009, Lauren traveled to Malaysia to perform several concerts benefiting the Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation with the Kuala Lumpur International Festival Orchestra and performed at Canada’s MusicFest in Toronto with the Eastman Wind Ensemble in the group’s 2013 tour. She has appeared on many recordings, including the Eastman Wind Ensemble’s collaboration with the Canadian Brass entitled Manhattan Music (Opening Day Entertainment Group) and the Buffalo Philharmonic’s recording of selected works of Bartók (Naxos Records). Lauren spends her summers teaching and performing as a Horn Instructor at the New York Summer Music Festival and served as a staff member at Kendall Betts Horn Camp for nine years. Lauren received a Master of Music degree in Horn Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music and holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of New Hampshire in Music Education. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys baking, cooking vegetarian dishes, reading, spending time outdoors (even in snowy weather), and developing and maintaining the Eastman Horn Studio Website.


Eastman School of Music Horn Studio 2010-2011

Eastman School of Music 2012-2013 Horn Studio