Last May, the Department of Music was proud to announce the recipients of the Class of 2023 Senior Class Day awards. Join us in applauding these young musicians on their outstanding accomplishments!
The Isidore and Helen Sacks Memorial Prize
Jack Isaac & Halle Mitchell
Halle Mitchell and Jack Isaac, who were recognized for their exceptional contributions to the artistic life of the Music Department.
As Halle Mitchell’s advisor Donnacha Dennehy puts it, Mitchell has been a student of “talent and indefatigable energy” since day one. An avid conductor and music director, throughout her four years she participated in myriad extracurriculars across campus, including the Playhouse Choir, for which she most recently served as student conductor; Triangle Club, for which she was also conductor; Katzenjammers, as music director; Princeton University Players, as both music manager and music director; and Glee Club, as a member. These experiences, along with Mitchell’s senior thesis Three Loves, a full-length musical that she wrote, music directed, and produced, which takes its name from the common pop culture theory of the three great romantic loves in a person’s life, have prepared Mitchell in varied ways for her chosen career in music direction for musical theater. A Music Major with certificates in Music Theater and Statistics and Machine Learning, Mitchell is celebrated among peers and faculty alike for her remarkable energy and impact as a musical leader across campus. In the fall, Mitchell will head to the U.K. for graduate studies.
“Halle’s senior thesis was an outstanding testament to her talent and indefatigable energy.”— Donnacha Dennehy, Professor of Music
Jack Isaac would have been a trombone performance-math double major, but that wasn’t allowed at Princeton, so he declared Math with Music Performance and Computer Science certificates instead. Despite splitting his time between departments — perhaps because of it — Isaac committed himself to an impressive number of ensembles, remarking, with a laugh that “[i]t’s not really that hard to do everything.” He has spent time playing with Sinfonia, Creative Large Ensemble, Jazz Vocal Collective, Camerata, Princeton University Orchestra, the Afrobeats ensemble, Trenton Youth Orchestra, and Opus, along with the Triangle Club Pit, Princeton Playhouse Ensembles, and Princeton Pianists Ensemble when needed as a guest. Isaac’s culminating independent work for the certificate was, characteristically, part solo and part collaborative — a recital in which he played alto, tenor, and bass trombones with peers, who together indulged in treasured repertoire including Eric Ewazen’s bass trombone concerto. Isaac recently reprised the Ewazen concerto for one final performance during the PUO Reunions concert: “At the last five measures of my Ewazen Concerto […] I had finally seen the results of thousands of hours of work (and hundreds on the Ewazen alone).” Next year, Isaac will pursue a Master’s degree at Duquesne University in trombone performance. After that, “maybe more school, maybe more math, maybe more trombone, maybe all of the above.”
“Jack Isaac has been the musical citizen par excellence during his stay at Princeton. He has given of himself generously to the Orchestra, Sinfonia, Jazz ensembles and African music ensembles.”— Michael Pratt, Conductor, Princeton University Orchestra; Director, Program in Music Performance
The Edward T. Cone Memorial Prize
Jimmy Waltman, who was recognized for his mastery of multiple areas of music, including performance, composition, and music scholarship.
Jimmy Waltman, a Music Major with certificates in Jazz Voice and African American Studies, devoted his four years to impactful and expansive musical projects that left an indelible mark on the Music Department. Through early projects, Waltman cut his compositional teeth on such works as his pandemic-year “Ballad of an Early Summer Night” for full jazz big band, written for Darcy James Argue’s MUS261 jazz arranging course. “This was the moment that made me identify not just as a vocalist and lyricist, but as a composer,” he shared. Two years later, his thesis, The Blossom — a ten-song album meditating on spirituality, manifestation, and self-actualization, which uses imagery from nature to trace a year unfolding — would serve as the culmination of four years of exploration and collaboration as he recorded it in full on campus with the willing support of Music faculty, staff, and friends. Collaboration has long been core to Waltman’s musicianship, as evidenced by his constant presence in the campus performing scene: he has played in the Jazz Vocal Collective, Creative Large Ensemble, Jazz Small Group A, and Old NasSoul, he led a neo-soul band called Hot Jupiter (which recorded his thesis album), he played in friend and fellow certificate student Evan DeTurk’s funk band Gemenon, and, beyond performance, he leveraged and expanded upon his musical connections through his work as Music Chair of his eating club, Terrace, organizing weekly concerts and musical events that featured both student and professional acts. Next year, Waltman plans to apply to Master’s programs in jazz composition while working and continuing to write music. He thinks he’ll be based in Philadelphia, but he also just received an offer to manage a band that he’d booked to play at Terrace last fall, so maybe he’ll end up out on tour!
“Jimmy Waltman’s work at Princeton as vocalist, composer, improviser, and conceptualist was vast in breadth and depth. He stands to make a significant contribution to the field.”— Rudresh Mahanthappa, Anthony H.P. Lee ’79 Director of Jazz
“Jimmy is truly a well-rounded musician who allows beautiful moments to arise from collaboration. It’s rare for a student to perform so highly and, at the same time, be so consistently pleasant — never competitive and always open to new ideas.” — Juri Seo— Juri Seo, Associate Professor of Music; Director of Graduate Studies (Composition)
Anthony H.P. Lee ’79 P11 P14 Jazz Studies Prize
Evan DeTurk, who was recognized for demonstrated excellence in jazz studies.
With a classical pianist mom and a rock bassist dad, it made sense that Evan DeTurk, a Molecular Biology Major graduating with a Saxophone certificate in Jazz Studies, would end up somewhere in between the two styles. Starting the very first day of class, in NEA Jazz Master David Liebman and Director of Jazz Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Advanced Concepts in Jazz Improvisation course, DeTurk was introduced to an inspiring and vibrant community of musicians and thinkers. “I knew I wanted to pursue the Jazz Studies certificate due to my prior experience playing and writing in jazz and my desire to continue to learn about the form. This moment set the tone for my Princeton music education, marking the beginning of a rewarding semester, year, and college career.” Over the next four years, through coursework such as Darcy James Argue’s Arranging and Composing for Large Jazz Ensemble, ensembles including Small Groups A and I, Creative Large Ensemble, Triangle Club Pit, his own funk and soul band Gemenon, Jimmy Waltman’s indie neo-soul group Hot Jupiter, and various music and dance recital bands, and mentorship from such professors and ensemble directors as Rudresh Mahanthappa, David Liebman, and Miles Okazaki, DeTurk became well-versed in a variety of styles and techniques. His senior recital paired a five-person horn section with a large electronic rhythm section and showcased an exciting marriage of the acoustic and electric across various musical styles, including funk, jazz fusion, and film music. After graduation, DeTurk will be living in Berkeley, California and working as a lab technician in biochemist Jennifer Doudna’s lab at UC Berkeley. We have a hunch, though, that DeTurk will be taking the vibrant Bay Area music scene by storm as well.
“Evan DeTurk availed himself of every possible opportunity to expand his horizons. During his time at Princeton, he transformed from a good saxophonist to an excellent all-around musician and bandleader. I expect to hear more from Evan.”— Rudresh Mahanthappa, Anthony H.P. Lee ’79 Director of Jazz
Paul Lansky Prize for Innovation in Electronic Music
Lola Constantino, who was recognized for pushing the boundaries of what might be possible in the world of Electronic Music.
The last time we caught up with Lola Constantino on the Music Department blog, she was getting ready for a jam-packed Wednesday filled with looming deadlines. Constantino, a filmmaking Visual Arts major with Music Performance certificates in Composition and Electronic Music, has since completed those projects, and quite successfully at that! Her sound installation Telemeditations_01 along with her various artistic contributions to the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) earned her this year’s prize in electronic music. Constantino originally planned to focus on filmmaking, but a music theory class, two transformative electronic music courses with Director of PLOrk Jeff Snyder, and a year and a half in PLOrk changed that trajectory, and she added on, one by one, her two certificates. Her culminating independent work is captured across three boundary-pushing projects: In Search of the Miraculous, a cello sextet, employs experimental and minimalist techniques to recreate a state of being “in between” life and death; STRAWMEN, performed live by PLOrk, explores the fogginess of memory and hallucinatory states of sleep deprivation through an audio collage of speech and PLOrk instruments that add sine and saw wave harmonics and subharmonics to woodwind and brass; and Telemeditations_01, a six-track album/installation presented in Lucas Gallery, features quotes from various films and a granular synthesizer fed with older electronic compositions, Constantino’s voice, and virtual instruments to create a unique sonic experience. Constantino, an electronic music novice when she matriculated four years ago, attributes her work and her spirit of experimentation in large part to the peers and graduate students whom she met in classes and via PLOrk, along with Snyder and composition teacher Noah Kaplan: “These people not only taught me what is possible,” she shared, “but also pushed me to experiment with and expand my own projects.” Following graduation, Constantino will be working in documentary film. As for us, we can’t wait to see where she goes next in the electronic music world.
“In her time at Princeton, Lola has developed a strong and adventurous compositional voice, both in acoustic and electronic music. ‘Telemeditations_01’ was a fascinating multi-channel work that edited together sounds of her own voice, fragments of film dialogue, and layers of synthesis and interwoven instrument décollage.”— Jeff Snyder, Director of Electronic Music; Director of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra
In Other News
Student Perspectives: The Musical Odyssey of Princeton’s Adrian Thananopavarn
Jan 18, 2024
Adrian P. Thananopavarn ’24, Math major with certificates in Computer Science and Music Composition, premieres “March of Dusk” with Princeton University Sinfonia
How 3 Princeton Students Spend a Monday at the Royal College of Music
Dec 7, 2023
Dorothy Junginger ’25, Kyle Tsai ’25, and Audrey Yang ’25 are currently participating in Princeton’s immersive abroad program this semester at the Royal College of Music in London.
Music Major Kasey Shao Named 2024 Gilmore Young Artist
Sep 18, 2023
The Department of Music congratulates Kasey Shao (Class of 2025), a Music Major who is pursuing Minors in Piano Performance and Engineering Biology, who was one of two students named 2024 Gilmore Young Artists. We caught up with Kasey this summer following the official announcement to discuss how she found out she’d been selected, what she has planned for her 2024 Gilmore recitals and piano commission, and what’s on the docket for her final two years at Princeton.