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Happy Birthday, Ensemble Connect

Ensemble Connect celebrated its official anniversary in January, and birthday wishes from across the country have been flooding in. Read on for birthday wishes, videos, and photos submitted by teachers, artistic partners, alumni, and more.

Current fellows and partner teachers wish Ensemble Connect a happy birthday.

2013-14 Fellows Alexandria Le Small

It is sometimes hard to believe how many hats a musician could wear while executing at high levels: performer, arts advocate, teaching artist, and entrepreneur. But my two years as a fellow with Ensemble Connect greatly prepared and emboldened me to find all those things within myself. It’s now an obvious way of being. During my fellowship, I began planning ways to culturally impact my hometown of Las Vegas; since completing the program in 2014, I launched the Las Vegas Wine and Music Festival, created Notes with a Purpose (a non-profit organization that creates concert programming for the diverse communities of Las Vegas, including disadvantaged adults and youth), and joined Yamaha’s classical pianist roster. My time with Ensemble Connect was invaluable for all of this, and I am constantly inspired by seeing other fellows make a tremendous impact on their communities.”

—Alexandria Le, Piano Alum

Brooklyn High School of the Arts wishes Ensemble Connect a happy birthday.

Ensemble Connect: ToniMarie Marchinoni

My experiences as an Ensemble Connect fellow on stage, in the classroom, and in the community drastically altered how I approach music and how I try to make it relevant for my students and my audience. As an oboist, I had the opportunity to perform works that are new or rarely tackled (from Carter and Dutilleux to world premieres) with unforgettable colleagues of the highest caliber. As a teacher, I learned that reflection is often the key to understanding. As an artist-citizen, I know that no performance is unimportant and that no population is undeserving. These lessons will influence me throughout my life and career. ”

—ToniMarie Marchioni, Oboe Alum

Decoda alumni:
(from left to right) Caitlin Sullivan, Yves Dharamraj, Hamilton Berry, Claire Bryant


The Academy - Ensemble ACJW - Romie De Guise-Langlois Headshot

Joyeux anniversaire, Ensemble Connect! It's a pleasure to see the group evolve and change throughout the years and to reconnect with so many good musicians and friends. My memories are precious and a big part of my growth. I love the new name, too. Wishing the ensemble a wonderful year and many more birthdays to come!”

—Romie de Guise-Langlois, Clarinet Alum

Lizzie Burns and partner teacher David West at Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music

Skidmore David Jennifer Taylor

“My time as a member of The Academy—now known as Ensemble Connect—has influenced every area of my creative and professional life. Through the program, I came into contact with world-class musicians, including renowned guest artists and my colleagues in the program, who provided both inspiration and encouragement. The Academy was ahead of its time, providing unique training in musical entrepreneurship, and that training was a crucial part of the early success of my chamber music ensemble. The interactive educational programming that has become a central part of my ensemble’s mission also stems directly from my training in similar activities with The Academy. Not a day goes by without my drawing on some aspect of my experience as a fellow in The Academy. On behalf of myself and the many other musicians, students, and audiences this program has touched, thank you—and happy birthday, Ensemble Connect!”

—David Skidmore, Percussion Alum

Bixby Kennedy, TJ Cusack, and MS 224 wish Ensemble Connect a happy birthday.

The Academy - Ensemble ACJW - Elizabeth Joy Roe - Piano Headshot

“Happy birthday, Ensemble Connect! A decade later, I can safely say that Ensemble Connect has left an enduring, transformative impact on my life. Since my youth, I’ve possessed the aspiration to use music as a force for the greater good, but it was my time in The Academy (as it was originally known) that endowed me with the tools to turn my ideas and ideals into action; this singular fellowship provides invaluable on-the-ground training and wide-ranging perspectives to redefine the role and responsibilities of the artist in 21st-century society. Ensemble Connect was, and remains, a beautiful collective of educational crusaders, enterprising minds, and passionate performers, united by a mission to engender authentic cultural and social progress through music.

—Elizabeth Joy Roe, Piano Alum

Ensemble Connect birthday at Skidmore
Colleagues at Skidmore College wish Ensemble Connect a Happy Birthday. From left to right: Meg Monthie, Michelle Paquette, Deb Amico, and Shelley Curran.

The Academy - Ensemble ACJW - Owen Dalby - Violin Headshot

“Happy birthday, Ensemble Connect! I feel so lucky to have contributed to your fledgling years, when you not only gave me entrée into New York’s cultural scene, but also helped me to hone a foundational set of principles that have guided my career ever since. From the word “go,” connection was key, and I am thrilled to see that concept is now baked into your name! Ensemble Connect, you helped me (and now scores of others) to realize the limitless possibilities of an artistic life that is responsive and deeply connected to our communities, and I’ll forever be grateful for putting me on this path. I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings.”

—Owen Dalby, Violin Alum

Ensemble Connect: Paul Cho

“Happy birthday, Ensemble Connect! It is amazing that you are already 10 years old. I congratulate you for all of your passionate work transforming the lives of listeners and musicians. I would also like to thank you for the wonderful two years we had together. Without you, I cannot imagine being the musician that I am right now. Once again, congratulations and I look forward to seeing how you influence lives in so many more years to come!”

—Paul Won Jin Cho, Clarinet Alum

Ensemble Connect birthday PSIS 226
Fellow Andrew Gonzalez and partner teacher Emily Voye wish Ensemble Connect Happy Birthday from PSIS 226 Aldred de B. Mason in Brooklyn.

Andrea Casarrubios speechless thumb

“I will remember my two years with Ensemble Connect for a long, long time. I wish I could write about all of the skills, tips, colleagues, students, performances, and experiences that I had during that time. They are a huge toolbox that I now keep using every day. Happy birthday, and thank you for the joy and transformative energy that the group brings to the world!

—Andrea Casarrubios, Cello Alum

Oliver Barrett and JHS 216 in Queens wish Ensemble Connect a happy birthday.

Ensemble Connect: Evan Premo

Ensemble Connect was a game changer for me. I knew I loved chamber music, but I didn’t know how much until I met my fellow colleagues and started making music with them. They were brilliant, creative, idealistic thinkers who also happened to be some of the best musicians I knew. They are now my musical community whom I call upon when I need artists who speak the language instilled in us by Ensemble Connect: to be an advocate for our art form, to speak authentically through our music, and to guide our audiences towards artistically fulfilling experiences.”

—Evan Premo, Bass Alum

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