Horn Studio

Meet the Studio

W. Peter Kurau, Professor of Horn


Eastman School of Music 2017-18 Horn Studio photo

Eastman School of Music 2017-18 Horn Studio

Undergraduate Students


Gretchen Berendt photoGretchen Berendt a first-year horn performance major, is from Wampum, Pennsylvania and began playing horn at age 10. She studied with James V. Scanga, Instructor of Horn at Grove City College from 2011 – 2019 and Mark Houghton of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Dusquesne University from 2017 – 2019. For three years, Gretchen served as the principal horn for the Youngstown Symphony Youth Orchestra. She has participated in the PMEA Honors Bands, District, Regional, and All-State Bands and Orchestras. In 2018, she participated in the NAfME All-National Honors Concert Band and, in 2019, the NAfME All-East Honors Orchestra. This summer, Gretchen had the honor of touring Europe as a member of the National Youth Orchestra – USA. Previously, she has attended the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute and Festival, the Ithaca College Summer Music Academy, and the Susquehanna Wind Ensemble Institute. In addition to playing horn, Gretchen also enjoys playing piano, reading, and going to group exercise classes.

 Jack Finlay

Amanda Friedman

Grace Kim photoGrace Kim, a first-year horn performance major, is from Honolulu, Hawaii. She began studying the horn with Marie Lickwar, who currently plays in the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and is an Eastman Alumna. Grace has participated in musical ensembles such as the Hawaii Youth Symphony, All-State band, and the University of Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. She has also been fortunate enough to attend summer programs at Brevard Music Center, Interlochen Horn Institute, Pacific Music Institute, and Eastman Horn Institute. Grace is so excited to be here at Eastman and can’t wait to see how much she’ll grow as a person and musician. In her free time, Grace enjoys practicing yoga, watching The Office, eating good food, and hiking!

Katherine Perrine

Aziel Ressler


Joe Alberico

Kristin Andlauer photoKristin Andlauer, from Morris County New Jersey, is a second year horn performance major at the Eastman School of Music. She began studying horn at the age of thirteen under Amy Larkey-Emelianoff, Newark Academy Instrumental Music Director. Since then, Kristin has participated in New Jersey Region and All-State Wind Ensembles and Orchestras. In 2017, she was selected to participate in the Music for All Honor Band of America and the NAfME All-National Orchestra. She was also a member of the New Jersey Youth Symphony Orchestra, who performed at the Kennedy Center in 2016 and toured Hungary and Austria in the summer of 2018. At Eastman, Kristin is an active orchestral and chamber musician, participating in woodwind quintet, chamber orchestra, and the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra and Eastman Wind Orchestra. Kristin has attended summer arts festivals such as the Rutgers Wind Band and Chamber Music Camp at the Mason Gross School of the Arts and the RoundTop Summer Festival Institute. In addition to her studies with Peter Kurau, Kristin has worked with artists such as Michelle Baker, William VerMeulen, Leelanee Sterrett, Rachel Childers, Jeff Lang, and Richard Deane. In her free time, Kristin enjoys hiking, playing with her dog, and traveling.

Abby Davidson

Brianna Garcon

Connor Landers photoConnor Landers, a sophomore horn performance major, is a native of Bradenton, Florida. He started his horn playing career at the Sarasota Youth Orchestra, studying with Joshua Horne. He is currently enlisted in the United States Army Reserves, and is with the 198th Army Band in Rochester, NY. During his time away from Eastman, Connor is a high brass technician at schools in Manatee County, FL, teaching both beginning and intermediate horn students. In addition, he is on the sub list for the Sarasota Orchestra. Connor was fortunate enough to spend two summers touring the United States with the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps, a world-class performing arts organization based out of Madison, Wisconsin. He has also arranged for groups such as the Eastman Horn Choir, and other collegiate ensembles. Connor, in addition to studying with Professor W. Peter Kurau, has studied with artists such as William VerMuelen, Jacek Muzyk, and Marua McCune-Corvington. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, and playing ultimate frisbee.

William Sands


Kira Goya photoKira Goya, a third-year horn performance major, is from Mililani, Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Prior to Eastman, she has studied with many members of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, including Maura McCune Corvington and Julia Filson. She has also performed in numerous ensembles including district honor bands, the Oahu Band Directors Association High School Select Band, and the Hawaii Youth Symphony Orchestra. During her previous summers, Kira has attended the Pacific Music Institute and the Interlochen Arts Camp and horn institute. Here at Eastman, she is looking forward to becoming a better horn player, collaborating with amazing musicians, and experiencing the seasons for the first time! In her free time, Kira loves to swim, journal, and play the piano.

Hannah Lewis photoHannah Lewis is a current third-year Horn Performance major from Willards, Maryland. Before Eastman, she studied privately with Maria Mengel and performed in numerous ensembles in her hometown including, Salisbury Youth Orchestra, Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, and the Parkside Marching and Symphonic band. In high school, she was chosen to play in the 2015 Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall and has participated in numerous Honor bands including All State band, West Virginia University Honor band, and ESBDA All Shore band. Aside from playing the horn, Hannah enjoys experimenting with new coffee orders and watching movies.

James Odermatt photoJames Odermatt, a native Houstonian, is a third-year horn performance major studying at the Eastman School of Music. He began his horn studies with both Pamela Burleson and Gavin Reed, an Affiliate Artist of University of Houston’s Moores School of Music. James attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and served as Principal Horn of the Houston Youth Symphony for two years. He concluded his high school career under the tutelage of Robert Johnson, the Associate Principal Horn of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. James has been fortunate enough to attend summer music programs at Kendall Betts Horn Camp, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and Domaine Forget, studying with the likes of William VerMeulen, Frøydis Ree Wekre, Eric Ruske, and Kendall Betts. In his free time, James enjoys playing squash, reading fiction, studying psychology, and watching horror films.

Emma Shaw photoEmma Shaw, a third-year horn player, is from Tampa, Florida. She has studied with Kathy Thomas, 3rd horn of the Orlando Philharmonic, David Smith, Principal horn of the Florida orchestra, and Amy Jo Rhine, 3rd horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Emma has been playing horn since She was 12 years old, and was inspired to do so as her mom was a horn player. Emma has attended several arts festivals and summer institutions, such as Stetson Brass Camp, Daytona Horn festival, Jacob’s school of Music summer clinic, and was a masterclass participant at IHS LA 2015. The past two summers she has toured with the National Youth orchestra in Europe and South America, working under Valery Gregory, Christopher Eschenbach, and Marin Alsop. Emma wants to further her Musical Career at Eastman by integrating into a supportive, and very hardworking environment here at Eastman, by collaborating with other musicians through Chamber music and large Ensemble work, while being part of a great horn studio. Emma also enjoys practicing yoga, hiking, and horse riding.

Elena Varon photoElena Varon is a current third-year Horn Performance major and a Rochester native. This past summer, she spent 10 weeks in residence at the Ohio Light Opera, contributing to the American premieres of Ivor Novello’s Perchance to Dream and Emmerich Kálmán’s The Devil’s Rider, in addition to other classic operetta repertoire.  In July 2018, she traveled to Cesena, Italy, to participate in the soundSCAPE International New Music Festival, where she collaborated with composers and premiered exciting new works. Elena was awarded the Certificate of Advanced Achievement from the Eastman Community Music School and the Semper Fidelis Music Award from the United States Marines in 2017. She has previously studied with Lauren Becker and Maura McCune Corvington. In her free time, Elena enjoys watching movies, sewing, and creating art.


Claire Bradley photoClaire Bradley is a senior horn performance major from Houston, TX. She started horn at the age of 11. In high school, she was a featured soloist in the Houston Youth Symphony as well as the head drum major of her high school band. Claire was a three time area qualifier and received the John Philip Sousa band award. During the summer she has attended the Idyllwild music festival and the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute. She has worked artists such as William VerMeulen, Wolfgang Wipler, John Marchiando, Thomas Bacon, Larry Livingston, and of course, W. Peter Kurau. In her free time, Claire enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking, and running.

Ava Conway photoAva Conway, Los Angeles native, is a senior horn performance major at the Eastman School of Music. She began her horn studies in middle school with Amy Sanchez, Professor of Horn at the University of California Los Angeles. In high school she joined the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts, where she took private lessons with Dr. Annie Bosler. Ava was principal horn of the Colburn Wind Ensemble and participated regularly in California All-State ensembles. In 2015, she was chosen to play with the Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall. Ava was a member of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, which went on a China tour in the summer of 2016. She has performed with the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and has played side-by-side Pacific Symphony. She has attended the Idyllwild Chamber Festival, Brevard Music Festival, Colburn Horn Camp, and 2015 International Horn Symposium. Ava studied piano with Dr. Janet Favreau, and is a two-time winner of the Southern California Junior Bach Festival. In addition to her studies with W. Peter Kurau, she has worked with artists such as Andrew Bain, William VerMeulen, Hazel Dean Davis, Wolfgang Wipfler, and Kristy Morrell.

Elizabeth Easley photoElizabeth Easley  is currently a senior at the Eastman School of Music, where she is pursuing a BM in Applied Music as well as a Musical Arts major with a focus in film studies. Before transferring to Eastman she studied with Professor Bernhard Scully at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was section leader of the  University of Illinois Wind Symphony. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs where she studied with Melanie Cottle and participated in the Chicago Youth Concert Orchestra. She has earned the John Philip Sousa band award and the Instrumentalist Magazine Musicianship award. During the summers she has attended Audition Mode, the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute, and Kendall Betts Horn Camp. Beyond music, she is an avid runner and film buff.

Xin He photoXin He is a senior horn student from Ellicott City. Currently, she is on the sub-list for the Ocala Symphony Orchestra. During her pre-college years, she was involved in the music scene in Baltimore, playing outdoor gigs with brass bands during the summer and worked with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program, which served to provide free music education to kids. She was a part of the Peabody Youth Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra, Maryland’s All-State Ensembles for five years, NAfME All-National Concert Band and Youth Orchestra, and a participated in various chamber groups such as the Herald Brass Quintet. In 2014, she attended the Performing Arts Institute of the Wyoming Seminary on full scholarship. In addition to her studies with Peter Kurau, she has studied with Larry Williams, Philip Munds, and Anneka Zuehlke. In the future, she hopes to be a part of a award-winning chamber ensemble or an orchestral horn player. During free time, she likes to play with dogs and eat food.

Fiona Stout photoA native of Miami, Oklahoma, Fiona Stout is a horn performance major at the Eastman School of Music. At Eastman, Fiona primarily studies with W. Peter Kurau, and her education is further supplemented by notable hornists Maura McCune Corvington, Jacek Muzyk, and William VerMeulen. Along with the valved horn, Fiona is a fluent natural hornist and studies with Derek Conrod. An active chamber musician, Fiona is a member of the Thunder Brass quintet and is second horn of the Eastman Natural Horn Quartet, which made its debut at the 16th Annual Rochester Early Music Festival. She was awarded the Leadership Scholarship at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in 2017 and 2018 and received the Outstanding Musician award at the University of Texas at Arlington Honors Horn Camp in 2016. Fiona actively plays in the Eastman Wind Ensemble, Philharmonia, Brass Guild, Studio Orchestra, and New Jazz Ensemble. Recently, she has played horn for multiple studio recordings, including a jazz album and a video game soundtrack. Apart from school and horn, Fiona enjoys her home in the country, cycling, baking bread, and being a part of the successful YouTube Channel – ReactotheK, where she provides musical analysis to Korean pop music in a series titled “Classical Musicians React to K-Pop”.

Tasha Schapiro is a dual degree student in Horn Performance and Physics from Newtown, Pennsylvania. In addition to Professor Kurau, she has worked with Colleen Sweetsir and Jonathan Clark. She was a member of the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County for eight years and toured with them in France, Spain and Italy. She was the winner of the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County’s Soloist Competition, the Filene Music Scholarship, and the Jerry Nowak Memorial Scholarship. In addition to YOBC, Tasha played with the Delaware Valley Wind Symphony, the Bucks County Symphony and the Warminster Symphony. During high school, she attended Kendall Betts Horn Camp and played in music festivals including All State, All Eastern and All National. In her free time, Tasha enjoys fencing, coaching gymnastics, playing Dungeons & Dragons, baking and reading.

Graduate Students

Spencer Bay

Emily Houston photoEmily Houston  is a first-year Master’s student from Keller, Texas. She studies primarily under W. Peter Kurau. Emily graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Christian University (Ft. Worth, Texas) in 2018 with a BM in Horn Performance. During her time at TCU, Emily served as Principal Horn for both the TCU Wind Symphony and the TCU Symphony Orchestra, where she was awarded Musician of the Year in 2018. She studied with Heather Test and performed in masterclasses with artists such as David Cooper, Gail Williams, Jeff Nelson, Michelle Baker, Roger Kaza, and Mark Houghton. Outside of her duties as principal in large ensembles, Emily performed with the Horned Frog Band, VIERCE Horn Quartet, Graduate Brass Quintet, and TCU Horn Ensemble. She also maintained a large studio (75 students) in the DFW metroplex.

Emily was a member of Tau Beta Sigma, and was inducted into TCU’s chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda in 2018. Before college, Emily studied with Karen Houghton. She also served as Principal Horn with the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra where she had the opportunity to perform as a guest section member with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. She appears on a recording of NPR’s “From the Top.” She also had the great honor of going on two international tours with the group, in 2012 to Germany and 2015 to China. Emily was also honored to be selected as a TMEA All-State Musician in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

After the completion of her undergraduate degree, Emily married her high school sweetheart, Rhett. She then took a year off from school and taught privately full-time in preparation for her move to Rochester. At Eastman, Emily serves as a Teaching Assistant for two departments, teaching a Horn Methods class and secondary lessons. She looks forward to continuing her education in the pursuit of becoming a professional orchestral musician.

Nikolette LaBonte photoNikolette LaBonte, a native of South Florida, has quickly emerged as a distinguished performer in the field of orchestral horn playing. Nikolette is tenured as the Associate/Assistant/Utility Horn of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. She joined the RPO in 2016 but prior to that, LaBonte was appointed acting assistant principal horn of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra in 2015. While living and working with the orchestra in Honolulu, she also served as the associate principal horn of the Hawaii Opera Theater and Oahu Choral Society. In addition to the RPO and HSO, she has had the opportunity to perform with orchestras across the country including the New York Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, New World Symphony, and Syracuse-based Symphoria and is an award-winning soloist who recently made her concert debut with the Eastman Philharmonia.

Ms. LaBonte received her Bachelor’s Degree in 2018 from the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of W. Peter Kurau and is currently working to complete her graduate degree coursework under the same guidance.  In addition to her degree studies, she maintains a private studio, is a guest clinician with the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and University of Rochester Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of several chamber ensembles including the Antara Winds and the American Wild Ensemble.  In all of these endeavors, Nikolette performs on an Elkhart Conn 8D and was recently selected to be a Conn-Selmer Endorsing Artist.  Outside of the concert hall, LaBonte is active in promoting classical music throughout the community.  She is on the staff of the Kendall Betts Horn Camp, previously worked as the education coordinator of the Hawaii Symphony, and is the co-creator and coordinator of “Olympic Overtures”, a multimedia project designed to spread awareness of classical music through collaboration with Olympic athletes.  Away from the horn, she enjoys bicycling, hiking, and scuba diving, although she has to reserve the latter for her visits to more tropical climates.

Tyler Thormählen photoTyler Thormählen is a second-year Master’s student from Austin, Texas. After attending two universities and changing majors three times, Ty graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, TX) with a BM in Music Performance. During his time at SFA, he studied with Dr. Charles Gavin and performed frequently in masterclasses with artists such as Julie Landsman, Katherine McBain, Caroline Steiger, John Dickson, Jacquelyn Adams, and the members of Seraph Brass. Ty was fortunate to have served as Principal of the SFA Wind Ensemble, Orchestra of the Pines, and SFA Opera Orchestra, while also performing regularly with the SFA Horn Choir, various chamber ensembles, and local church orchestras. His ensemble experience culminated with the Wind Ensemble’s performance at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention, the focal point of the program being Howard Hanson’s “Romantic” Symphony, transcribed for wind band by former SFA Director of Bands, Fred J. Allen. Ty has had an exciting start to his solo career, claiming Finalist recognitions in the SFA Concerto Competition, Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition, and being named Runner-Up in the MTNA Texas Division Young Artist Competition.


Ty is a leader outside the practice room as well, and has been honored with the Ledbetter Dean’s Award in Music and was named SFA’s Outstanding Bandsman of the Year. He is also a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, National Honorary Fraternity for College Band Members and Pi Kappa Lambda, National Music Honor Society.


On the seldom occasion he finds free time, Ty enjoys cycling, kayaking, yoga, hammocking, DIY home improvement projects, and honing his amateur carpentry skills.

Madison Warren photo

Madison Warren raised in Buffalo, NY, is a second-year Master’s student at the Eastman School of Music, studying with Peter Kurau. She recently completed her Bachelors of Music in Performance at Oberlin Conservatory, where she studied with Roland Pandolfi. Throughout her involvement there, she quickly became interested in contemporary music. Madison regularly performed with Oberlin’s Contemporary Music Ensemble, and went on tour with them to Bang on a Can’s 50th marathon concert in 2017. She can be heard in the ensemble on recordings including “Eden Sank to Greif” by Jesse Jones and “Legends of Kintemani” by Su Lian Tan. Before completing her undergraduate degree, she was inducted into PI Kappa Lamba, the Theta Chapter of the National Music Honor Society. In her summers, Madison has enjoyed a variety of playing experiences, including being in the pit for the College Light Opera Company in 2016, and playing in a chamber orchestra at the Colorado College Summer Music Festival in 2018. Most recently, she was able to travel to Japan with the Pacific Music Festival in 2019. At Eastman, Madison looks forward to continuing an exploration of new music, refining her orchestral playing, and being a part of a positive and supportive studio. When not enjoying music, Madison likes to spend her time cooking, reading, eating plants, being outside, and when the tools are available to her, woodworking.

Marie Smith photoMarie Smith is an active symphonic and chamber musician. In addition to school orchestras and wind ensembles, she has performed with the American Festival Orchestra and New American Philharmonic in Utah. As part of the Chrysalis Chamber Music Institute, a partnership between the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Marie was a member of the Quiescent Wind Quintet which was a national finalist group in the MTNA Wind Chamber Music Competition in 2017. Marie has attended the Hot Springs Music Festival in Arkansas, Kent/Blossom Music Festival in Ohio, the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina, and was a Hesse Student at the Aldeburgh Festival in England. Outside of performing, Marie’s hobbies include hiking, swimming, reading, and research. Her article Natural Horn Technique Guiding Modern Orchestral Performance is published in the May 2016 and October 2016 issues of the Horn Call, the official journal of the International Horn Society. She received a Bachelor of Music in Horn Performance from Utah State University, a Master of Music from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at the Eastman School of Music. Her primary teachers include W. Peter Kurau, Dr. Maria Serkin, Dr. Joseph Falvey and Steve Park.


Eastman School of Music Horn Studio 2010-2011 photo

Eastman School of Music Horn Studio 2010-2011

Eastman School of Music 2012-2013 Horn Studio photo

Eastman School of Music 2012-2013 Horn Studio

Eastman School of Music 2014-2015 Horn Studio photo

Eastman School of Music 2014-2015 Horn Studio