Message from Seth Brenzel, Executive Director

Dear Walden friend,

I hope this newsletter finds you well. Summer is right around the corner, and we have just a few spots left at the Young Musicians Program (YMP) for students ages 9-18, which we will offer in person this summer in beautiful Dublin, New Hampshire. If you would like to join us this summer, go to to get started. Also be sure to check out the list (below) of exemplary faculty, staff, and artists who will be at our programs and featured on our concert series this summer.

We have an exciting Walden Online Workshop (WOW) on Chromaticism in Renaissance Music coming up TODAY, June 3, presented by faculty member and choral director Sarah Riskind. Learn more and register in the Community Events section.

Be sure to check out the In the Spotlight section to hear from Walden parent and board member David Roberts.

I hope you enjoy this June edition of InterNetzo. Stay tuned for details about tuning in to our livestreamed summer concerts. We cannot wait to welcome our CMR students on June 12 and our YMP students on June 26 – back on the campus of the Dublin School, Walden’s summer home since 1983!



Community Events

Concert with Dave Eggar to benefit Walden

On Sunday, May 2, cellist Dave Eggar, alongside guest artists Phil Faconti, Beth Snapp, and Blake Collins, gave a stunning concert to benefit Walden. The performance, live from Bristol, Tennessee, featured an amazing array of music, blending Paganini with bluegrass, canonical works with those freshly written. You can listen to an audio clip here of Dave and friends performing Amazing Grace.

The event raised $5,619 and counting! If you would like to make a gift to support Walden’s transformative programs, it is not too late to contribute to this event! You can give online at, or by check payable to The Walden School to Walden’s office, 30 Monterey Boulevard, Suite E, San Francisco, CA 94131. Your generous gift of any amount makes a difference in the lives of creative musicians.

Stay tuned for more information, and please send any questions to

WOW! Walden Online Workshops!

Chromaticism in Renaissance Music: 

What Living Musicians Can Learn from Gesualdo and Friends

Thursday, June 3, 7:30pm Eastern
Presented by Sarah Riskind

Join Walden Online Workshops (WOW!) for a presentation by Walden School faculty member, choral conductor, and composer Sarah Riskind.

If you’ve heard music by Gesualdo, Marenzio, and Lassus, you might realize that some 16th-century composers wielded flats and sharps to great dramatic effect. In fact, Renaissance music theorists connected chromaticism with specific emotions and even genders! But how can you channel their wacky but beautiful sounds into your own composing, singing, and other musical pursuits? This event will be part presentation, part discussion, and part composition workshop. It will be helpful if you have some background in playing/singing/reading music, but even if you don’t, you’re welcome to come listen and learn! Bring a pencil and some staff paper or blank paper.

This workshop, like all Walden Online Workshops, is free to attend. Only a few spots are left!

Alumni of CMR, YMP, OYME, OCME, TTI, and JCC, parents, donors, faculty, staff, and artists are especially encouraged to attend WOW presentations. Members of the general public are also welcome to join.


About Sarah Riskind

Previously based in Seattle, conductor and composer Sarah Riskind is the Director of Choral Activities at Eureka College in central Illinois. Through her work as choral director and faculty at The Walden School, she has become an advocate for developing musicianship and improvisational skills in choirs of all ages and abilities.

Among her original works are Jewish and Judeo-Christian music, secular pieces with improvisatory elements, and frequent settings with string obbligato parts. Recent premieres include the tenor/bass arrangement of Oseh Shalom by the Appalachian State Glee Club in April 2019, the Robert Frost setting Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter by the Pacifica Choirs Interludes Ensemble in March 2019, and several arrangements of Judeo-Spanish melodies by the Seattle Jewish Chorale and Sarah’s own ensemble Las Kantaderas del Noroeste in November/December 2018. She has also written for the Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Ensemble Dal Niente as part of the Walden School Faculty Commissioning Project and is currently involved with the Creative Commissions project through the University of Cincinnati.

Dr. Riskind enjoys accompanying voices as a violinist/fiddler and improvisor, and she has most recently sung soprano in the Mägi Ensemble, a professional Baltic women’s choir in Seattle. She holds a DMA in Choral Conducting from University of Washington, an MM in Choral Conducting from University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a BA in Music from Williams College.

In the Spotlight

David Roberts

David Roberts is the parent of YMP alumnus Marco Roberts, and a member of Walden’s Board of Directors. Before moving his family to the Seattle area in 2016, David lived and worked in China for 20 years, most recently as a partner in the Beijing office of O’Melveny & Myers where he practiced corporate and securities law. For a brief period, the four-piece Roberts Family Band rocked the Beijing elementary school and office party circuit with an eclectic mix of Beatles, Cui Jian, and Soundgarden covers until breaking up over creative differences. Having retired from his law career, David spends his time writing fiction, competing in table tennis tournaments around the U.S., and skiing every storm possible in the Cascade Range.

How and when did you get connected to Walden?

I first got connected to Walden in 2014. Our family was living in Beijing at the time. My wife is from Beijing, and both our kids, Marco and his younger sister Sophia, had grown up in Beijing all their lives, our home for 13 years. Connecting with Walden was not intuitive or easy, and it’s amazing that we found it.

At that time, Marco was becoming immersed in music, through his own initiative. He had started composing on his own and when he watched the movie Amadeus, he completely connected with images of Mozart composing by hand. He figured out how to make his own staff paper and printed it out and started composing a chamber symphony all on his own.

We thought, “Okay, this is not normal” because none of us were teaching him, he was teaching himself. We tried to find a composition teacher in Beijing, but it’s very difficult to join that world if you don’t have preexisting connections. I was looking online, and I found Walden among several other programs in the US. Something about Walden connected-it just looked right. I called the office and spoke with Seth, and that was really helpful, but it still sounded pretty daunting. How could we get him from Beijing to rural New Hampshire? Seth also put me touch with an alumni parent who was living in Beijing, whose daughter had attended Walden a number of years before, and she put our minds at ease.

What has been your involvement since then?

Marco first attended Walden when he was 12, and he did five summers in a row, from 2015-2019. Our family was still in China during his first summer, then his second summer we were in transition, moving to the Seattle area. We could tell from the first summer that Marco had found his place-he just loved Walden. We could see that he was developing and growing in the program, and knew it was perfect for him. So my initial involvement was just as a parent. I visited a few summers, not every summer, because even from Seattle it isn’t an easy trip.

Our summer 2020 plans were still up in the air when the pandemic happened. We were struggling with what to do when OYME became an option. He signed up and it was great–I am so glad he had those four weeks. The program was unexpected and improvisational, and it was really well done. Marco composed several pieces, but his piece for Festival Week was really meaningful. He has a deep interest in geopolitics, especially regions that are often overlooked. He composed a haunting piece inspired by Armenian music called Erasure that explores ongoing conflicts among Turkey and its neighbors. Two months after he finished the piece, war broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan. That piece really showed what Walden did for him–it went from a love of music to using it as a language to interpret and comment on the world around him.

Could you describe a favorite memory or experience from being a Walden parent?

My favorite experience is basically the whole first summer, how improbable it was and then watching it become a reality. Sophia named it “Operation Marco” because there were so many pieces that needed to come together. As a family we went from Beijing to Seattle, where we put Sophia in a different camp and lived out of a basement apartment while our new home was being remodeled, then Marco and I flew to New York, and drove from there up to New Hampshire together. He was very quiet, and I could tell he was nervous. As we got closer, taking winding roads through the countryside, my phone lost reception and I casually remarked, “Wow, this is really remote,” without thinking what Marco was absorbing. Of course, he had grown up in a city of 30 million people, and now we’re in the middle of nowhere without cell service. He started to cry. We talked it through, and I tried to reassure him it would be okay, but he was pretty scared. Finally we arrived at Walden, and I was amazed how friendly and warm the vibe was-it was clearly a special place. There were faculty and staff members greeting students, and they immediately made Marco feel welcome. I stuck around for a few hours, and we met other parents and kids, and he started talking to the other kids, so by the time I left I could tell he was going to be okay.

I was still nervous all summer. That drop-off was a big step for him, but I didn’t know how he was going to handle five weeks so far from home when he had never done a live-away program before. He called about a week later and told me that one of the senior campers, Jane, had brought a Chinese instrument to camp (a zither, I believe) and said if anyone was interested in composing for it, they should talk to her. He asked, “Should I talk to her?” and I said, “Absolutely!” Then I didn’t hear about it for the rest of the summer. We showed up for Festival Week really excited to hear his piece, but he had hardly told us anything about it-when he gets excited about something, he’s so immersed he doesn’t say much. But we saw the program, so we knew his piece would be for this instrument, along with violin and cello. Jane and The Walden School Players played the piece beautifully, and I know I’m biased as a proud parent, but it was the best thing I’d ever heard. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “This is what he learned in five weeks? This is incredible.” It was so different from what he had been writing on his own before going to Walden. Those pieces were impressive to me, but you could tell he was mostly drawing on Mozart. I had never heard him improvise anything remotely like this piece-it was so unique and drew on both his Chinese upbringing and his love of European music and opera. So that first visit is one of my favorite Walden memories.

How are music and/or creativity part of your life?

I grew up with completely non-musical parents who made a concerted effort to expose me to a lot of music. My mother used to joke about being tone-deaf, and neither of my parents really read music, but they put me in piano and trumpet lessons and I sang in the San Francisco Boys Chorus from age 7-13, which was a great experience. So, I am an amateur musician but can play enough piano to have gotten Marco interested in the instrument from a young age.

Now, creativity for me is mostly writing. I left my law career to pursue writing fiction. I’ve been taking classes at Hugo House in Seattle and working on a novel for several years, which is a difficult project, and I’ve also written several short stories. That has given me an appreciation for how difficult any creative process is-it’s just really hard work. You have to learn craft skills and how to apply them to achieve your creative vision. So a place like Walden, even for an adult musician, is really cool because someone might love music and want to create music, but you have to learn skills too and find a community that supports your creativity. You generally can’t just wing it on your own. Pursuing writing has given me a new appreciation for how difficult it is to be an artist.

What is your hope or dream for Walden’s future?

Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. There is definitely something to be said for preserving traditions and the way things work, but I like how Walden is innovative at the same time. It’s this very interesting balance between traditions (those unique Walden-y things that have been done for decades) and also being experimental and on the cutting edge, whether it’s digital music, or this past summer turning on a dime to create online programs from scratch that still preserved the Walden feel. My hope is just that Walden keeps going strong, preserves its core traditions, and continues to innovate with the core traditions and its sense of community as the foundation for that growth.

2021 Summer Programs

A few spots remaining for YMP this summer!

Walden is planning to offer our transformative music programs in person this summer in beautiful Dublin, New Hampshire. We cannot wait to gather again in person for a summer of inspiring programs for creative musicians.

An activity at the Young Musicians Program in 2018

Just a few spots remain for our Young Musicians Program, and we will continue to review applications as they are submitted. Act fast to join us this summer!

Young Musicians Program (YMP): June 26-August 1 (for musicians ages 9-18; 3-week option for students up through 7th grade June 26-July 18, 2021)

Get started on your application at

Please let us know if you have any questions or would like any additional information about Summer 2021 by writing to us at

Summer Lineup

Summer Faculty, Staff and Artists

We have a tremendous team of faculty, staff, and visiting artists gathering this summer for the Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) and the Young Musicians Program (YMP). Stay tuned for details about livestreamed concerts this summer!

CMR Leadership Team 2021
Sammi Stone, director of operations (staff)
Alex Christie, director of electronic music (faculty)
Seth Brenzel, executive director (staff)
Caroline Mallonee, program director (faculty)
Loretta Notareschi, faculty
D. J. Sparr, faculty

CMR Faculty 2021
Renée Favand-See, faculty
Osnat Netzer, faculty
Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie, faculty

CMR Staff 2021
Karissa Ulrich, director of health services and nurse
Becca Van Kirk, nurse
Kittie Cooper, staff
Lila Meretzky, staff
Nina Kindrachuk, staff

CMR Visiting Artists
Matthew Gold, percussion
David Friend, piano
Tom Colohan, conductor

Members of the International Contemporary Ensemble:
Alice Teyssier, voice and flute
Peter Evans, trumpet
Ryan Muncy, saxophone
Mazz Swift, violin
Nuiko Wadden, harp

Marcos Balter, Composer-in-Residence

YMP Leadership Team 2021
Sammi Stone, director of operations (staff)
Alex Christie, director of electronic music and academic dean (faculty)
Sarah Riskind, choral director and academic dean (faculty)
Cara Haxo, academic dean (faculty)
Nate May, academic dean (faculty)
Doug Hertz, student activities coordinator (faculty)
Seth Brenzel, program director (staff)

YMP Faculty 2021
Kittie Cooper, director of composers forums
Brian Fancher, faculty
Michael Kropf, faculty
Nate Trier, faculty
Leah Asher, faculty
Emily Ostrom, faculty
Lukás Janata, faculty

YMP Staff 2021
Karissa Ulrich, director of health services and nurse
Becca Van Kirk, nurse
Arté Warren, staff
Anastasia Baker, staff
Demmanuel Gonzalez, staff
Theo Trevisan, staff
Francesca Hellerman, staff
Luke Schroeder, staff
Trevor Danko, staff

2021 Concert Series

All events at 7:30pm. All events closed to the public during 2021. Many events to be livestreamed – stay tuned for details!

Creative Musicians Retreat

June 12 – opening concert, featuring music by Marcos Balter and Walden CMR faculty members

June 13 – presentation by Composer-in-Residence Marcos Balter

June 17 – chamber music concert, featuring performances by faculty, artists, and participants

CMR Composers Forums: June 15, 16, and 18

Featuring premieres of works by CMR participants

Young Musicians Program

July 27 – Amadi Azikiwe, violin & viola, Mikael Darmanie, piano

July 2 – Aurora Nealand & The Royal Roses

July 9 – Hub New Music performing world premieres commissioned from Walden’s faculty

July 16 – Members of the International Contemporary Ensemble

Niloufar Shiri, Kamancheh
Izzy Gleicher, flutes
Josh Rubin, clarinet
Jake Greenberg, piano
Ross Karre, percussion
Jen Curtis, violin
Katinka Kleijn, cello

July 23 – The Walden School Players

Erica Dicker, violin
Laura Cocks, flutes
Dana Jessen, bassoon
Kyra Sims, French horn
Chris Wild, cello
Mabel Kwan, piano

July 25 – presentation by Composer-in-Residence Lei Liang

YMP Composers Forums: June 29, July 6, 13, 15, 20

Featuring premieres of works written by YMP students

Festival Week Composers Forums: July 26, 27, 28

Featuring premieres of works written by YMP students

Community News

Work-in-progress performance from Lisa Bielawa

On May 27, the Kaufman Music Center presented a virtual performance of Lisa Biewala‘s work-in-progress Centuries in the Hours, an opera experience based on diary entries of American women throughout history. The event was the culmination of Lisa’s 2020-21 KMC Artist-in-Residence appointment. Adapting to the global pandemic, Lisa is collaborating with librettist/dramaturg Claire Solomon and film and media director Jess Medenbach and using the isolation women have historically faced, reflected in these diaries, as a formal constraint in creating a unique filmed opera experience. Lisa was Composer-in-Residence at Walden’s 2020 Online Creative Musicians Experience.

Del Sol String Quartet

On May 22, Del Sol String Quartet performed as part of “Angel Island Insights,” a collaboration with The Last Hoisan Poets – Genny Lim, Nellie Wong and Flo Oy Wong – three descendants of Angel Island immigrants who use poetry to speak their individual truths and creatively reclaim the Hoisan-wa language and culture. The event was presented by the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center as part of the “United States Asian America Festival 2021: Forging Our Futures – SOMA & Chinatown.” The Zoom program wove together the poetry of The Last Hoisan Poets with performances by Del Sol, music by Asian-American composers Kui Dong, Theresa Wong, Jungyoon Wie, Chen Yi and Huang Ruo. The event also included discussion moderated by Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation‘s Executive Director Edward Tepporn. Del Sol is a past visiting artist at Walden.

Sky Macklay featured on Tectonics Glasgow 2021

Sky Macklay‘s piece Trrhythms was performed by violinist Ilya Gringolts on May 8 as part of Tectonics Glasgow 2021. Trrhythms (transformation + rhythms) is built of five sections. Each section uses a different short, rhythmic phrase over and over, while other musical elements such as pitches, dynamics, and timbres go through a transformational process. The transitions between each section foreshadow the next section’s rhythm. Tectonics Glasgow 2021 is the eighth iteration of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s annual festival, this time a virtual festival with audio and video performances streamed on May 8 and 9. Sky is a Walden alumna and longtime faculty member.

Screenings of Alicia Rabins’

A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff

Alicia Jo Rabin’s film A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff won the audience award for Best Narrative Feature at the Ashland Independent Film Festival, April 24-25. The film was also screened at the Sarasota Film Festival in early May and the Washington DC Jewish JXJ Film Festival May 23-30. In an article for The Atlantic titled “What ‘A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff’ taught me about Mourning,” Daniel Pollack-Pelzner writes, “If Anna Deavere Smith, Sarah Koenig, and Joey Soloway wrote a self-reflexive musical about finance and religion, it might approach the film’s impish, mystical spirit.” Alicia, a YMP alumna, wrote A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff based on her experience working in an artist residency on Wall Street during the 2008 financial collapse, and premiered it in 2012 as solo chamber-rock opera.

Frank Wallace Memorial Festival and Competition

On May 15 and 16, the Boston Classical Guitar Society presented the first Frank Wallace Memorial Festival & Competition, honoring composer and guitarist Frank Wallace (1952-2020). The online festival and competition included two concerts, a masterclass, and a competition open to students ages 16-22. The headlining artist was William Kanengiser of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, and donations made as part of this free event went to the BCGS Frank Wallace Scholarship Fund. Frank and his partner Nancy Knowles made up the contemporary song ensemble Duo LiveOak, and have long been friends and supporters of Walden.

Marriage of John Yankee and Stephanie Weaver

John Yankee and Stephanie Weaver were married on January 17 in San Diego as friends and family joined the festivities virtually. John is a conductor, teacher, composer, and folk musician, and was a member of Walden’s faculty for more than 15 years, beginning in 1977, and was a visiting artist as recently as 2012. Stephanie, a pianist, is the Executive Director of the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, and past Executive Director of the Cape Conservatory in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Congratulations, John and Stephanie!

We want to hear from you!

What’s been going on? If you have a recent or upcoming premiere, publication, award, new job or program, or a celebratory life event, please share the news. Email your news to

Stay in Touch
You can like The Walden School page on Facebook and join The Walden School private group to hear about events and opportunities throughout the year, including upcoming regional alumni Composers Forums and Holiday Parties. You can also find us on InstagramTwitter, YouTube, bandcamp, and at

A dance during the 2019 Young Musicians Program