2023 Performance Program Awards Recognize Musical Accomplishments

Orchestral & Choral Excellence Awards


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, thirteen students have been recognized. 

2023 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 section. 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 his or her instrument, as well as extraordinary commitment to the Orchestra during that tenure. The recipients of the 2023 Kohs Awards are Ben Cooper, Zach Glick, Bruce Wen, and Alvin Zhang.

Ben Cooper

Ben Cooper, french horn, is a fourth-year in the College majoring in mathematics. He started playing the French horn at age 10. In eighth grade, Ben joined the Long Island Youth Orchestra, quickly fell in love with orchestral music, and remained a member of LIYO throughout high school. Ben has been a member of the USO since his first year and looks back fondly on the opportunities to perform some of his favorite orchestral works, including Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Brahms’s Symphony No. 4. This fall, Ben will pursue his PhD in Mathematics at Northwestern University, continue playing the French horn, and participate in other music activities.

Zach Glick

Zach Glick, clarinet, is a fourth-year undergraduate pursuing degrees in Music and Molecular Engineering. Zach studies orchestral conducting with James Setapen, Director of the Music Institute of Chicago, and has also studied privately with Barbara Schubert, Director of Music Performance at UChicago. Zach attended the 2022 Conducting Workshop and Masterclass Series led by Maestro Donald Schleicher in Chicago, and he will be joining the International Conducting Workshop and Festival at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute in June 2023 as a full conducting participant as well. Zach is also the founder and conductor of two UChicago student ensembles.

Bruce Wen

Bruce Wen, tuba, is a fourth-year at the College pursuing a major in Economics and a joint master’s degree in Computer Science with an undergraduate thesis on “Reserve Prices in Art Auctions.” Born in Singapore, he started playing the piano at the age of 7, playing the tuba in the military band at 13, and later joined his high school Raffles Institution’s symphonic band. Bruce was part of the USO for all four years of his college life and deeply enjoyed the transition to playing in a full orchestra. After graduation, Bruce will work at the Singapore Economic Development Board for a couple of years, before considering pursuing a PhD in Economics.

Alvin Zhang

Alvin Zhang, clarinet, is a fourth-year Biology and Statistics major in the College originally from the Bay Area, California. He first began playing clarinet in middle school and has played with the USO for the past four years. Before college, Alvin was a member of the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra and performed as principal clarinet with the CMEA All-State Symphony Orchestra and Wind Symphony. He has also participated in the Boston University Tanglewood Institute training program and the NAfME All-National Orchestra. Alvin also enjoys playing basketball, cooking, and reading. After graduating, he will begin a PhD in Computational Biology at Princeton University, where he hopes to continue playing in an orchestra.

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 his or her instrument, as well as extraordinary commitment to the Orchestra, during that tenure. The recipients of the 2023 Fulton Prize are Julien Heberling Lukas Jonsson, Grace Kim, Caroline Koclanes, and Edward Meyer.

Julien Lee Heberling

Julien Lee Heberling, violin, is completing his fourth year in the College, double majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry. He was born in London UK and has played the violin since age 5. He has played with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain, the European Union Youth Orchestra, and has led the Groton School Orchestra as concertmaster. Julien has been a member of the USO and performed with his classmates in the ensemble No Strings Attached. Julien looks forward to moving to San Diego to pursue a PhD in organic chemistry at Scripps Research.

Lukas Jonsson

Lukas Jonsson, violin, is a fourth-year in the College graduating with a major in Economics and a minor in Computer Science. He started playing the violin at age six. He was a violinist in the Pioneer High School Symphony Orchestra and was selected to perform in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival Honors Orchestra. Lukas joined the USO in his first year, and it quickly became a highlight of his time at UChicago. He has also found fulfillment in performing in various small ensembles and attending CSO concerts with friends on an almost-weekly basis. After graduation, Lukas will move to New York to work in consulting, and he hopes to continue his musical involvement there.

Grace Kim

Grace Kim, violin, is a fourth-year at the College, majoring in Law, Letters, and Society and minoring in Music. She started playing violin at the age of seven. She was a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, serving as second violin principal. With CYSO, she has toured Central Europe and the Baltics and worked with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Rachel Barton Pine, and Ben Folds. Grace has participated in the USO and has had the honor of serving as co-concertmaster for the past two academic years. Grace is looking forward to taking a gap year after graduation and plans to attend law school.

Caroline Koclanes

Caroline Koclanes, violin, is a fourth-year in The College with a double major in Math and Economics and a minor in Inequality, Social Problems, and Change. Caroline has played violin for 17 years and played with the USO for four years, earning principle second violin in her fourth year. Caroline played with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra where she had the opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall and participate in a European Tour. After graduation, Caroline will be joining the law firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. in New York City as a Project Analyst and plans to continue playing the violin.

Edward Meyer

Edward Meyer will graduate from the College with a double major in mathematics and economics. He has participated in several summer music festivals, which include the Beijing International Music Academy and the Burgos International Music Festival, and has devoted time to the InTune String Ensemble, a non-profit string quartet based in Colorado whose proceeds support children’s charities. Edward is active in UChicago’s music scene, collaborating with No Strings Attached in April and attending Chicago Symphony concerts.

Choral Awards

The Choral Award is presented to 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. The recipients of the 2023 awards are Melia Allen, Aurora Martinez del Rio, Tate Robinson, and Isabel Schmitz.

Melia Allen

Melia Allen is a graduating fourth-year student studying Political Science and Music. Melia began their singing career in the Madison Youth Choirs under the direction of Mike Ross and has sung in Motet Choir for the past four years. In high school and college, they also studied voice under Wendy Rowe, Patrice Michaels, and Erica Schuller. Outside of musical pursuits, Melia serves as the Co-Outreach Chair of W+, an organization focused on programming that uplifts women and gender minorities in public service. After graduation, Melia will be interning in State Senator Robert Peters' office, and pursuing a career in politics.

Aurora Martinez del Rio

Aurora Martinez del Rio is a doctoral candidate in the Linguistics Department and has sung with University Chorus and Women's Ensemble for seven years. Aurora minored in music at Swarthmore College, studying vocal performance with Clara Rottsolk. During her time at UChicago, in addition to conducting research on sign languages and organizing linguistics events, she has spent time singing with Village Harmony ensembles in Corsica and the Republic of Georgia. Following her graduation, Aurora will work as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago.

Tate Robinson

Tate Robinson is a graduating senior, studying Economics at the University with a minor in Music, as well as intensive study of Mandarin. Tate has been singing and playing piano for over a decade, and his musical Chameleon, for which he wrote the book, music, and lyrics, was professionally produced and performed in New York. He has also studied Musical Theater Composition with the New York Youth Symphony and continues to release pop music under his name on popular streaming services. This year, he has trained extensively under composer and Postdoctoral Researcher Ania Vu in the study of conducting and orchestration.

Isabel Schmitz 

Isabel Schmitz is a fourth-year studying Music and Comparative Human Development. She’s been singing in Motet Choir since her first year, has served as soprano section leader, and has been a featured soloist. She studies voices with Patrice Michaels at Northwestern and is a member of the Vocal Studies program. She is also the Communications Director and teaches voice for the South Side Free Music Program, and has acted, sung in, and vocal directed for various University Theater productions. Isabel would like to work in the education and nonprofit fields, and continue to sing, perform, and teach after graduation.