Office of Academic Affairs

2014-15 Induction Ceremony

Inductee Biographies


Alicia Ault

Toronto native Alicia Ault is an up-and-coming young soprano with a passion for classical, musical theatre, and jazz music.  Alicia is in her senior year at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where she is studying opera and voice performance.

She has performed the roles of Maria in the Sound of Music, Eponine in Les Misérables, Joanne in Rent, Amalia Balish in She Loves Me, and Emmie in Albert Herring.  Alicia is the lead singer for the rock band Grey Light that will be releasing an album in 2015. She is also a member of the vocal jazz trio, The Ault Sisters, whose music has been played on a number of radio stations across Canada and the United States, including CBC Radio shows Here and NowTonic, and Fresh Air. They have released 2 albums with Juno award winning producer Greg Kavanagh and are currently working on a third.

Alicia has won many awards, including the Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival Silver Tray Award and Most Promising Vocalist Scholarship; the Ontario Music Festivals Association Provincial Championship for Diploma Voice; the Eastman School of Music Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior Jury Awards; and the Eastman School of Music Ornest Award; and has been a semi-finalist (2014) and winner of an Emerging Talent Award (2015) in the Lotte Lenya Competition.  She is also proud to be a finalist in the Jesse Kneisel Lieder Competition 2015 at the Eastman School in Kilbourn Hall. Alicia is honored to be selected for Pi Kappa Lambda!

Anna Bekker

Mezzo-soprano Anna Bekker is a vocal performance major under the instruction of Professor Jan Opalach. Although she has been taking private voice lessons for the past 9 years, she began her musical studies at the piano in 1999. In 2010, shortly after receiving her qualifications as a private instructor, she began teaching piano lessons. Anna has performed as both a vocalist and a pianist in various settings throughout the United States and abroad, including concert tours in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Italy. Anna has spent a great deal of her musical career as a choral singer, performing extensively, including performances in Davies Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall. She has performed in masterclasses under the instruction of Graham Johnson, Dawn Upshaw, and Federico Sacchi, and has coached with a number of remarkable artists, including Nicole Cabell and Mira Zakai.

Anna has also been awarded numerous grants and scholarships throughout her four years at Eastman, including the Howard Hanson Tuition Scholarship, the Adelaid Lindsay Scholarship, and the Friends of Eastman Opera Grant for the summer program Si Parla, Si Canta. She has recently accepted the Eastman School of Music Graduate Award, which will go towards the MM in vocal performance that she will be pursing here at Eastman this fall. Anna is both thankful and honored to be here today, as a new member of Pi Kappa Lambda.

Evan Fojtik

Evan Fojtik was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago where he began studying flute at age 10. Throughout middle and high school Evan became increasingly involved in musical activities through school and Midwest Young Artists. He participated in Illinois Music Educators Association (IMEA) ensembles throughout middle school and high school and performed as principal flute with the All-State Honors Orchestra in 2010 and 2011. Through Midwest Young Artists Evan was involved in orchestra and chamber music. He was a member of the Quintethero Wind Quintet, which won first place in the wind division of the Chicago Chamber Music Competition. Evan also performed as a soloist in a double concerto with an orchestra at MYA.

Evan will be receiving his BM and Performer’s Certificate from Eastman this May where he has studied flute with Bonita Boyd. At Eastman he has performed with the Eastman Wind Ensemble, Eastman Philharmonia, Musica Nova, and OSSIA New Music Ensemble. In 2014 Evan played with the Eastman Wind Ensemble on Trilogy, their latest recording. During the summer of 2013 Evan performed as principal flute with the Wheaton Municipal Band. He has also attended the Round Top Festival Institute (2012, 2014) and will be attending the National Orchestral Institute this summer. Evan will be pursuing a Master of Music degree at the Yale School of Music in the fall.

Hannah Harrow

Hannah Harrow will graduate from the Eastman School of Music in May 2015 with her BM in vocal performance. During her time at Eastman she enjoyed participating in many Eastman Opera Theater Productions as a chorus member and playing Miss Pinkerton in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief this past January. Professionally, she has performed as a featured soloist with The Lake Placid Sinfonietta, and sang in the Bach Music Festival of Canada under the direction of Thomas Paul. A Rochester native, Hannah could not bring herself to leave her home of 22 years: she will return to Eastman in the fall to pursue a Master of Music degree in vocal performance and literature. She is very excited and honored to continue her vocal studies in the studio of Robert Swensen.

Ainsley Kilgo

Ainsley Paige Kilgo is a passionate music educator and performer. Born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia, she began saxophone studies at age 11. Recognized for her academic and musical excellence, Ainsley was awarded the 2011 Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association Sidney Berg Scholarship, presented to one graduating senior in the state pursuing a major in music education.

Ainsley will graduate from the Eastman School of Music in 2015 with high distinction. Through the FORTE program, Ainsley will obtain a BM in instrumental music education and applied music performance in saxophone, studying with Chien-Kwan Lin. She will also earn a Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Certificate. Ainsley enjoyed funded internships in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Education Department and the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Marketing and Communications Department in Washington, D.C. Her APAP internship culminated in assisting with the APAP|NYC annual national conference in New York City. Ainsley was awarded the prestigious Lois S. Rogers scholarship at Eastman.

Ainsley performed as a chamber musician in numerous recitals and ensembles at Eastman, primarily the Finja Saxophone Quartet, Eastman Saxophone Project, and Eastman Wind Ensemble. Finja, comprised of four undergraduate saxophonists in the same class, was awarded First Prize in the 2014 Music Teacher’s National Association Chamber Music Competition. As Finja’s alto saxophonist, Ainsley has played in masterclasses for the Coast Guard Saxophone Quartet, Claude Delangle, and Griffin Campbell. She has appeared in solo masterclasses for Dr. Otis Murphy, Lars Mlekusch, Susan Fancher, and Griffin Campbell. She recently gave her degree recital in Hatch Recital Hall featuring music by Poulenc, Laitman, Denisov, Bell, Bizet, and Maslanka.

Additionally, Ainsley served as recording secretary of the Sigma Theta Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota for two years. She studied secondary voice for four years at Eastman and is an accomplished contemporary dancer. Ainsley worked in the Arts Leadership office and as an usher at Eastman. Ainsley will attain certification as an IM-X Pilates instructor this summer, as well as working in the Communications Office at University of Rochester. She will complete her student teaching internships with Primo Mussumeci at Plank South and DeWitt Road Elementary schools in Webster, and with Kristina Houston at the Harley School in Rochester in Fall 2015. Ainsley has a keen interest in healthy and mindful performance initiatives and hopes to pursue these in advanced degree studies in the future.

Ji In Shin

Jinn Shin is a dual-degree student, graduating with a BM in cello performance from the Eastman School of Music and a BA in brain & cognitive sciences from the College of Arts, Science, and Engineering. In addition, Jinn will also receive an Arts Leadership Program Certificate from Eastman with funded internships at BRAVO Youth Orchestras in Portland, Oregon and Eastman Pathways. Last year, Jinn had the honor to be elected to Phi Beta Kappa, one of the most prestigious academic honorary societies in the country; she was the very first dual-degree student from the University of Rochester to be elected in the junior year.

A native of South Korea, Jinn began her cello studies at the age of eleven with Dorien de León after moving to Portland, Oregon in 2003. As an orchestra musician, Jinn has served as the principal of Aspen Philharmonia Orchestra and Eastman Philharmonia. Jinn is also an avid chamber musician and was named as one of the winners of 2015 Celentano Award for Excellence in Chamber Music at Eastman. Her groups at Eastman have participated in an intensive seminar with the Ying Quartet and were selected to perform in the honors recital. Additionally, Jinn appeared as a soloist with orchestras such as Portland Youth Philharmonic, Portland Youth Conservatory Orchestra, and Willamette Falls Symphony.

During the summer, Jinn attended Aspen Music Festival on a mentor fellowship, Madeline Island Music Camp, New Mexico Chamber Music Festival, Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, and National Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Music Institute. Also, Jinn has played for renowned musicians such as Leon Fleisher, Phil Setzer, the Arianna Quartet, the Juilliard Quartet, the Cavani Quartet, the Ying Quartet, Richard Aaron, Amir Eldan, James Dunham, and Guillermo Figueroa.

When she is not playing or studying, you can find Jinn jogging down East Avenue browsing Yelp for best restaurants around town, and eating chocolate. This fall, Jinn is looking forward to spending another year in Rochester and pursuing professional opportunities.


Jacek Blaszkiewicz

Jacek Blaszkiewicz is a third-year PhD candidate in musicology at Eastman, and is working on his dissertation under the supervision of Ralph. P. Locke. As a pianist, Jacek has performed in such venues as New York’s Steinway Hall, the Kosciuszko Foundation House, the Polish Consulate, as well as Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. He completed his piano studies with Mark Pakman at Montclair State University in New Jersey and with Balázs Szokolay at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest.

After deciding to permanently swap performance for scholarship, Jacek earned a Master of Arts in music history & theory from Stony Brook University, where he wrote his thesis on the role of French grand opéra in the Belgian historical imagination. At Eastman, Jacek has continued exploring the often tense relationships between musical activity and manifestations of cultural identity. He has presented his research at the McGill Graduate Music Symposium, the Royal Musical Association Meeting, the Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, and at the Greater New York and St. Lawrence chapters of the American Musicological Society. He is a recipient of several Eastman awards: the Professional Development Committee grant, the Charles Warren Fox Award, and the Glenn Watkins Travelling Fellowship. During the 2015-16 academic year, Jacek will conduct dissertation research in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar.

Sarah Fuchs Sampson

Sarah Fuchs Sampson is a PhD candidate in musicology at the Eastman School of Music. Supported by a 2015-16 American Association of University Women American Fellowship and the honorary recipient of the Eastman School of Music’s 2015-16 Elsa T. Johnson Fellowship, Sarah is completing a dissertation that examines how phonography, photography, and cinematography affected French opera audiences, singers, and pedagogues between 1880 and 1910. Her archival research for this project was supported by ESM’s 2013 Presser Music Award. Sarah regularly shares her work at national and international conferences, with upcoming presentations at the national meeting of the American Musicological Society, the First Transnational Opera Studies Conference, and the Council for European Studies Conference. Her presentation “Cultivating the Connoisseur: Technologies of Listening and the Paris Opéra’s Fin-de-siècle Audience” was awarded ESM’s 2015 Charles Warren Fox Award.

Sarah integrates primary source documents and socio-cultural histories into her teaching, for which she won the University of Rochester’s 2013 Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student and the Eastman School of Music’s 2015 Teaching Assistant Prize. In addition to her work on opera and technology in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France, Sarah’s interests include pedagogical and scholarly applications of the digital humanities. Supported by the UR’s Digital Humanities Center, she is a 2015-16 Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory Scholar.

Before coming to ESM, Sarah earned a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Taylor University in 2007 and a Master of Music degree in musicology and collaborative piano from Ball State University in 2010. Her master’s thesis, “Recasting the Eighteenth-Century Sonata-Form Narrative: Compositional Strategies in Robert Schumann’s Opp. 105 and 121 Violin Sonatas,” was awarded the Ball State University Alumni Association’s 2011 Distinguished Thesis Award.

Aimee Lillienstein

A native of Huntington, New York, violinist Aimee Lillienstein will be receiving a Master of Music Degree in music education and an Arts Leadership Certificate.  She is deeply appreciative of her time working with and learning from the inspirational faculty in the Music Education Department.  Aimee’s unique perspective on music education has inspired her to dedicate her energies towards preparing the next generation of music educators.  During her time at Eastman, Aimee has held two graduate assistantships assisting music education majors with completing their teaching certification requirements as well as teaching an undergraduate string class.  Her efforts in the string education department have earned her a nomination for the prestigious TA prize at the Eastman School of Music.  As an active member in the Arts Leadership Program, Aimee is dedicated to creating stronger collaborations between professional ensembles and young aspiring musicians.  Her passion for this initiative has led her to hold internships with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s education division as well as a summer internship at Carnegie Hall assisting with the summer tour of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

In addition to her efforts in education, Aimee has established herself as a versatile performer.  A student of Juliana Athayde, Aimee is an active violinist in the central New York area and regularly performs as a substitute violinist with Symphoria!—formerly the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.  Prior to coming to Eastman, Aimee received a bachelor’s degree in music education and violin performance from Ithaca College and a master’s degree in violin performance from Syracuse University.  This summer, Aimee is thrilled to join the violin faculty at the Ithaca College Summer Music Institute (High School Division).  This fall, Aimee is will continue her professional career as a string orchestra teacher where she can educate students to become well-rounded musicians and people.

Nathaniel McEwen

Nathaniel McEwen, tenor, is a master’s student in vocal performance and literature at the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of Professor Jan Opalach.  Since beginning his vocal training with the late Judith Kellock during his junior year at Cornell University (from where he eventually graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in music and biological sciences), McEwen has participated in SongFest in Los Angeles and has sung in masterclasses led by the American composer Jake Heggie, the noted tenors Ian Bostridge and Anthony Dean Griffey, and the esteemed collaborative pianists Graham Johnson and Martin Katz.  McEwen has sung as soloist in performances of Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse, and Schubert’s Mass no. 4.  A former member of the Cornell University Glee Club, McEwen can be heard singing a solo on their recent CD release, Last Letter Home.  He was also invited to sing selections from Dichterliebe at a concert for Cornell University donors in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.

Since his enrollment at Eastman, McEwen has been the tenor soloist in the Rochester Philharmonic’s performances of J. S. Bach’s Magnificat, has sung Uriel in Haydn’s The Creation with the Eastman Philharmonia and with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, has been featured multiple times in the Eastman Bach Cantata Series, and has made his operatic debut as the title role in Eastman Opera Theatre’s recent production of Britten’s Albert Herring.  He will be continuing his studies at Eastman this fall as a student in the DMA program.

Daniel Pesca

Pianist and composer Daniel Pesca is an avid proponent of new chamber music and an enthusiastic ensemble pianist. He is a member of the Eastman BroadBand, and has appeared as featured soloist with the Orchestra of the League of Composers, the Slee Sinfonietta, and the Eastman Wind Ensemble. Daniel has also played with Ensemble Signal, Chicago’s Dal Niente, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Michigan Chamber Players, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. This season, Daniel performed at the Library of Congress, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, and the Virginia Arts Festival, and he looks forward to a summer spent concertizing in Italy, Greece, and Spain. He is featured on recordings from Block M Records and Urtext Classics—including a performance of Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s piano concerto, Diaries, written for Daniel. His recording of the music of Joseph Schwantner, with flutist Sarah Frisof, will appear on Centaur Records this year.

His recent works were written for Eastman’s Composer’s Sinfonietta (Dichotomy and Doing and Being), OSSIA (Examples of Confusion), FirstMuse (Trio for flute, viola, and bassoon), the Benson Forum for Creativity (The Distance of the Moon), and the Ritsos Project (Absence). Other commissioned works include Forking Paths for wind ensemble (the University of Michigan Symphony Band), his piano piece What Remains Is Memory (Elizabeth C. Rogers Commission from Eastman), and A Memory of Mélisande (for the Myrna Brown International Flute Competition). At Eastman, his varied catalogue of duties has included teaching a course on twentieth-century piano music, teaching composition to non-majors, and accompanying for the opera department.

Spencer Reese

A native of Connecticut, Spencer Reese is completing his master’s degree in opera stage directing as well as a certificate in arts leadership.  This January, Spencer had the honor to direct the winter mainstage opera, a double bill of Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine and Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief.  While at Eastman he also choreographed She Loves Me and served as the assistant director for Handel’s Serse, Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Ned Rorem’s Our Town.  He had the privilege to be an instructor for nearly every voice and opera student, working with the Opera Workshop, Advanced Opera Seminar, Introduction to Lyric Theatre, and undergraduate acting seminars.  He also developed courses in dance audition skills and ballroom dance for singers.

A student of Steven Daigle, Spencer spent the summer of 2014 in residence with the Ohio Light Opera, assistant-directing, choreographing, and performing in six shows of their repertory season.  He will return to the company this summer.  A voice student of Jan Opalach, his performing background includes more than 30 operatic and theatrical roles.  In his spare time Spencer is a competitive ballroom dancer.  He and his partner have won more than 250 individual awards and placed 3rd at the 2012 USA Dance National Championships.

Mr. Reese graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BM in vocal performance, where he was a University Scholar in the Honors Program.  As part of this program he wrote, directed, and produced a four- act original opera entitled Always Hope.


Paul J. Burgett

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Paul Burgett has lived in Rochester for fifty years, having come in1964 to the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music where he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. His doctoral dissertation treated the aesthetics of the music of Black Americans, a subject that continues to occupy him as a teacher and scholar.

He currently serves as vice president, senior advisor to the president and University dean at the University of Rochester. In that capacity, he advises the president on a host of University matters and represents his office among internal constituencies as well as alumni, civic and local community constituencies. He is the principal interface between the president and students of schools across the University. As a faculty member in the music department of the University’s College of Arts & Sciences, he teaches courses in the History of Jazz, the Music of Black Americans, and music appreciation. He is also an academic advisor to undergraduates and advises several student organizations. In October 2014, the University’s Board of Trustees honored his long service by naming the recently established Intercultural Center, the Paul J. Burgett Intercultural Center.

A serious student of University of Rochester history, he gives lectures on the subject locally and to alumni groups around the country throughout the year. This interest is a natural outgrowth, as he likes to say, of having been at the University “since the earth’s crust began to cool” and the inevitable curiosity about one’s roots that results from that lengthy tenure. He has discovered that the University of Rochester’s history is a rich story, replete with fascinating people and events, over 165 years, whose efforts and circumstances combine to make it the vibrant institution it is.

Dr. Burgett’s earlier professional appointments include: University of Rochester vice president, general secretary & senior advisor to the president, vice president and University dean of students; dean of students at the Eastman School of Music; assistant professor of music at Nazareth College of Rochester; executive director of the Hochstein Memorial Music School; and music teacher in the Greece Central School District.

He is a former chairman of the board of trustees of the Strong Museum, former chair of the City of Rochester’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and has served on the boards of directors of the Genesee Country Village and Museum, the Hillside Family of Agencies, the Arts and Cultural Council of Rochester, the YMCA of Greater Rochester, the United Way, the Urban League, the Hochstein Memorial Music School, and Young Audiences Inc.  He currently serves on the international advisory board of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago, the Mt. Hope Family Center advisory board, and the Rochester Fringe Festival.

Respected and admired throughout the University of Rochester, the Paul Burgett Nursing Student Life Award is named in his honor. In 2014, the Paul Burgett Endowment was created by friends of Dr. Burgett with the goal of supporting activities that build community and connect students with the broader University.

Dr. Burgett is co-chair of the faculty-and-staff initiative for The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester. He and his spouse, Catherine Valentine, are Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society, and founding members of the Wilson Society, which celebrates individuals who have made a planned gift to the University.

Induction Ceremony photography provided by Amanda Sharpe