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IU Jacobs School students in showcase performance at the Kennedy Center


A group of students from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music will reveal their talents on Saturday, May 26, at 6 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater in Washington, D.C., as they participate in a concert series that focuses on the remarkable vitality and virtuosity being cultivated by America's top music programs.

"The Conservatory Project creates an ongoing showcase for our nation's exceptional young musical artists," said Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser, "and is a wonderful opportunity for them to be heard on a national stage."

The 6 p.m. performance on the Millennium Stage in the Terrace Theater is free and open to the public and will be streamed live on the Web at 6 p.m. EST. The streamed concert will be available at

"Some of these artists are right on the cusp of making that leap to the forefront of the consciousness of the music public," said Garth Ross, director of programming for the Millennium Stage.

Jacobs School students selected to participate include pianist Ingrid Keller, violinist Esther Kim, baritone Austin Kness, and soprano Betsy Uschkrat.

Their program includes works by Puccini, Bizet, Sarasate, Szymanowski, Bazzini, Messager, and Sammy Fain.

Biographies of the Artists

Ingrid Keller, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, began her piano studies at the early age of three. Her love of classical music was cultivated by her mother's Viennese background and her frequent travels to Europe. She received her Bachelor of Music, Magna cum Laude, from Northwestern University where she studied with Alan Chow and Ursula Oppens. While there, she was nominated by the faculty as one of their most outstanding pianists to participate in the 2002 Thaivu-Isaac Competition which she won. In 2003, she began her studies at Indiana University under the tutelage of Menahem Pressler. Ingrid received first place in the MTNA Piano Division in 2004, and she is currently an active soloist and collaborative recitalist while she pursues her Doctorate of Music.

Esther Kim, born in Southern California, attended the Juilliard School from the age of 10, where she studied with Dorothy DeLay and Naoko Tanaka. At 15, she began her studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. She currently studies with Jaime Laredo at the Jacobs School of Music. Ms. Kim is a prize winner of several international violin competitions, including the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition for Young Violinists and the International Competition for Violin and Viola in Bled, Slovenia. At the age of 12, she was considered the "Most Promising Musician" by the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Bronislaw Kaper Awards. In March of 2004, the European Union Music Competitions for Youth presented her with the Art for Music Award. Her performance career includes a nationally televised rendition of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, a solo performance with the Seoul Sinfonietta, and major performances in Japan, Italy, Austria, and Slovenia. Ms. Kim has performed benefit concerts across the United States with collaborative pianist and Jacobs School Dean Emeritus Charles Webb.

Austin Kness, a master's student at the Jacobs School of Music who studies voice with Patricia Stiles, most recently portrayed the title role in Don Giovanni and The Unnamed Bass in Edwin Penhorwood's Too Many Sopranos in the IU Opera Theater 2006-2007 season. In 2006, he participated in the Des Moines Metropolitan Opera Apprentice Program, where he performed the role of Count Ceprano in Rigoletto. His past credits with IU Opera Theater include the roles of Escamillo in Carmen (Spring 2006) and Eddie Carbone in William Bolcom's A View from the Bridge (Spring 2005). In the summer of 2005, Mr. Kness performed with the Cedar Rapids Opera Theater in the role of Morales in Carmen and has been asked back to sing the role of Fiorello in its January 2007 production of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Kness's future roles include covering Escamillo and singing Morales in Carmen when he returns to the Des Moines Metro Opera's Young Artist Program this summer. Mr. Kness has been accepted into the final round of the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition which took place in late April.

Betsy Uschkrat has appeared in leading soprano roles every IU Opera Theater season as she works toward completion of a master's degree at the Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Costanza Cuccaro. Her roles have included Juliette in Romeo et Juliette and Massenet's title character in Manon. Ms. Uschkrat is preparing two roles for the next opera theater season: Adina in L'elisir d'amore (Summer 2007) and the title role in Floyd's Susannah (Fall 2007). Additionally, Opera Quad Cities of Moline has invited her to debut as Gilda in their 2008 production of Rigoletto. Ms. Uschkrat received a Bachelor of Music with Membership in the Honors College from the University of Houston Moores School of Music in 2005, where she studied with Joseph Evans. Among the many performances in opera and concert work there, she sang the role of Mrs. Honeychurch in A Room with a View, which was directed by the librettist, Buck Ross, and released on DVD in 2006. Ms. Uschkrat currently holds the title of Miss Indiana 2006 and was a finalist in the "Quality of Life Community Service Award" at the Miss America Pageant held in Las Vegas in January 2007.

Adam Zukiewicz was born in Jawor, Poland, where he began his musical training. After moving to Wroclaw for four years, he won a scholarship to study as a pianist with the Trio di Trieste at the United World College of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy. In 2003, he completed high school and began studying at the Royal Academy of Music, London, with Arnaldo Cohen. In the fall of 2005, he moved to Bloomington to study at the Jacobs School when Cohen was appointed to its faculty. Mr. Zukiewicz has performed as soloist and chamber pianist in Poland, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Currently, he is enrolled in the master of music program at the Jacobs School.

The Concert Program

  • Karol Szymanowski: Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 21, 1st movement, performed by Adam Zukiewicz, piano
  • Giacomo Puccini: "Musetta's Waltz" from La bohème, performed by Betsy Uschkrat, soprano, and Ingrid Keller, piano
  • Sammy Fain: "I'll Be Seeing You", performed by Betsy Uschkrat, soprano, and Ingrid Keller, piano
  • Georges Bizet: "Toreador" from Carmen, performed by Austin Kness, baritone, and Ingrid Keller, piano
  • André Messager: "Long Ago in Alcala", performed by Austin Kness, baritone, and Ingrid Keller, piano
  • Antonio Bazzini: "La Ronde des Lutins", performed by Esther Kim, violin, and Ingrid Keller, piano
  • Pablo de Sarasate: Zapateado, performed by Esther Kim, violin, and Ingrid Keller, piano

The Project

The Conservatory Project is an initiative of Performing Arts for Everyone's Millennium Stage. As a semi-annual event occurring in February and in May, it is designed to present the best young musical artists in classical music, jazz, musical theater and opera from the nation's leading undergraduate and graduate conservatories, colleges and universities in performance at the Kennedy Center.

The 2007 spring series includes performances from the following institutions:

  • Tuesday, May 22, 2007: The San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • Wednesday, May 23, 2007: Oberlin Conservatory of Music Oberlin College
  • Thursday, May 24, 2007: Berklee College of Music
  • Friday, May 25, 2007: Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester
  • Saturday, May 26, 2007: The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
  • Sunday, May 27, 2007: The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University

The Jacobs School of Music

The IU Jacobs School of Music plays a leading role in educating performers, scholars, composers, music educators, and dancers, around the globe. The 170 full-time faculty members include performers, scholars, and teachers of international renown. Many top musicians and scholars visit the school each year. The more than 1,600 students from all 50 US states and 55 countries benefit from the intensity and focus of a conservatory combined with academic offerings of a major university. More than 1,000 performances each year - including up to eight operas and three ballets - offer opportunities that are unparalleled at other colleges and universities.