Every year, students in the Department of Music's performing ensembles are recognized for their high level of accomplishment in their discipline and their commitment to their ensemble(s). This year, six students have been recognized.
Ellis Bonoff Kohs Award for Orchestral Excellence
Established in 2003, the Ellis Bonoff Kohs Award for Orchestral Excellence is presented to outstanding undergraduate or graduate students in the University Symphony Orchestra who are members of the woodwind, brass, or percussion sections. It is awarded each year to University of Chicago students who have been members of the USO for at least one full season, and who have consistently demonstrated the highest level of musical accomplishment on their instrument, as well as an extraordinary commitment to the Orchestra during that tenure.
Jan Tuzlić Offermann, bassoon, is a third-year graduate student in the Department of Physics, and a bassoonist in the University Symphony Orchestra. Originally a saxophonist, he started playing bassoon in high school when the school’s orchestra conductor told him that the ensemble wouldn’t require a saxophone (which they did in fact ultimately need for Bizet’s L’Arlesienne!), and since that time the bassoon has been the primary focus of his musical practice. As an undergraduate at Princeton he played in the University Orchestra, the Princeton Sinfonia and the Chamber Orchestra, and he is grateful to be able to continue his orchestral playing and musical journey as a graduate student at UChicago. Possibly a result of his somewhat eclectic background — with parents from Bosnia and the Netherlands — Jan has rather broad musical tastes, and in his spare time plays a range of styles and instruments (e.g. accordion, shakuhachi) beyond what one typically encounters in a symphony orchestra. He enjoys that the USO repertoire features some lesser-known works and composers alongside the great classics, exposing players and audience alike to new ideas and broadening their musical vocabulary and awareness.
When not searching for the perfect bassoon reed, Jan spends his time performing research for the ATLAS experiment (at the European Center for Nuclear Research, CERN).
David L. Fulton Prize for Orchestral Excellence
Established in 1998, the David L. Fulton Prize for Orchestral Excellence is presented to outstanding undergraduate or graduate student stringed-instrument players in the University Symphony Orchestra. It is awarded each year to University of Chicago students who have been members of the University Symphony for at least one full season, and who have consistently demonstrated the highest level of musical accomplishment on their instrument, as well as an extraordinary commitment to the Orchestra, during that tenure.
George Pomar, violin, grew up in Potomac, Maryland and started violin at the age of 5 with the Suzuki Method at the Levine School of Music. At age 9, George moved to Moscow, where he continued violin at a local Russian music school. A highlight of this experience was playing in Tchaikovsky Hall with a youth orchestra to commemorate Victory Day. At age 14, George moved to London where he continued his violin studies in high school. In his last two years of high school, George attended the Royal Academy of Music Junior Program, where he had the opportunity to play with many up-and-coming musicians such as Sheku Mason who has since become a professional cellist. For the past 4 years, George has been with the UChicago Symphony Orchestra and has had the honor of serving as co-concertmaster in the 2019-2020 academic year. Following graduation, George will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Computer Science at Cornell Tech where he hopes to gain the skills to pursue a career in computer security.
Jiawen "Frank" Song, violin, is a fourth-year Music major originally from Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China. He started playing the violin at the age of four under the instruction of Professor Dong Lili of Ningbo University College of Music. He served as the concertmaster of Ningbo Xiaoshi High School Orchestra for four years, during which he developed a strong interest in conducting. Since coming to the University of Chicago, Frank has performed with the University Symphony Orchestra for four years and participated actively in the Chamber Music Program. He took conducting lessons with Barbara Schubert and kept his involvement with the Xiaoshi High School Orchestra. After graduation, Frank plans on pursuing further study in orchestral conducting with the hope of becoming a professional conductor.
Renee Wherle, violin, is a fourth-year undergraduate majoring in English Language and Literature and Creative Writing. She has studied violin for 16 years and has been a member of the USO for four years. She is so grateful to the Department of Music for creating opportunities to share music with the campus community.
Doris L. Taub Award for Exceptional Leadership in a Choral Ensemble
The Choral Award is presented to graduating fourth-year students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership as part of the University’s choral ensembles. This includes volunteer dedication as well as being a role model for their peers. The Choral Award is made possible by the Doris L. Taub Memorial Fund.
Maya Osman-Krinsky (they/them/theirs) just graduated from the College with majors in Linguistics and Global Studies and a minor in Creative Writing. They have been singing in the University Chorus and Women's Ensemble with Mollie Stone since their first year and sang with the Young People's Chorus of New York City before coming to college. Maya plans to move back to New York City after graduation to begin their Masters of Public Health at Columbia University and hopes to find a musical community to continue singing with. When they're not in chorus rehearsals, you can find Maya rock climbing, running a micro-bakery out of their apartment, or playing the drums on household objects.
Zoe Strong grew up in Chicago and has been singing in choirs for a long time! She first met the wonderful Mollie Stone when she sang in the Chicago Children’s Choir, so when she started school at UChicago, she knew she would sing in Mollie’s University Chorus and Women’s Ensemble. Zoe is graduating with a degree in Public Policy and minors in Biology and Chemistry. She hopes to be a doctor someday and thinks she wants to focus on reproductive healthcare. After graduation, she will be moving to NYC to work in a fertility clinic and plans to join a choir in the City with her friend Maya!