Cisum Percussion

Collaborating In Styles, United (by) Music

2019 composer fellows

To see composers selected for previous years please visit the “About Us” page

rob funkhouser


Rob Funkhouser is a composer, performer, and instrument builder who can never quite sit still. He recently received an M.M. from Butler University in Music Composition, and most recently completed confidently, but with an awkward gait for the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet. He has released projects through various labels in three different countries, and has had his music played on the radio in many places, including Australia. His current projects include music for Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park in partnership with Classical Music Indy and a new work for the Indianapolis ensemble Forward Motion.

Currently residing in Indianapolis, Indiana, Funkhouser divides his time between composing, performing, and curating shows at various venues around the city. His performances vary widely, but often take the form of solo percussion or ambient electronics. He also collaborates with a wide variety of performers and artists. Most recently he has worked with Forward Motion, Corey Denham, Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, and Classical Music Indy. His principal teachers include Dr. Michael Schelle, Dr. James Aikman, and Dr. Frank Felice. He also serves as the Operations and Education Manager at the Rhythm Discovery Center for the Percussive Arts Society.


samantha KASETA

Samantha Kaseta is a composer, musician, and sound designer living and working in New York City. After graduating Princeton cum laude with a BA in Music and certificates in German and Theater, Sam has spent the past few years as a freelance composer and sound designer. Some of the theaters she has worked with include Soho Rep., Ars Nova, The Dramatists’ Guild, New Georges, Everyday Inferno, and Prospect Theater Company. She is also a music curator at The Tank NYC and a frequent contributor to its queer cabaret series Tankaret. Sam is currently pursuing her Master’s in Music at NYU Steinhardt, where she has been studying concert composition with Joan La Barbara and Caroline Shaw.


George Tsz-Kwan Lam

Hong Kong-born composer George Tsz-Kwan Lam (b. 1981) grew up in both Hong Kong and Winthrop, Massachusetts. George Lam is Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music at York College, The City University of New York. Along with his colleague Ruby Fulton, George also serves as co-artistic director of Rhymes With Opera.

George works primarily on projects that intersect music, theater, and the documentary, and is currently creating a new documentary work for New Morse Code (New Haven, CT) titled The Emigrants. Recent works include Shrewsbury Fair (2017) for Oak Middle School in Shrewsbury, MA, A Story, Again, Misremembered (2017) written for the 2017 International Trombone Festival, String Quartet (2013) for the Romer String Quartet (Hong Kong), Theseus and the Minotaur (2014) for the Asian Young Musicians Connection (Taipei, Taiwan), Ross McElwee’s “Sherman’s March” (2014) for the Black House Collective (Kansas City, MO), Citadel (2015) for Synergy Percussion (Sydney, Australia), and Carmina Burana (2015) for Hong Kong Voices.


Charles Lutvak

Charles Kretchmer Lutvak is a New York-based composer and guitarist/mandolinist. He recently completed his B.A. at Carleton College in Minnesota, where he studied composition with Andrea Mazzariello and participated in master classes given by Caroline Shaw, Anna Meredith, and Dan Trueman and Sō Percussion. He has participated in the NiefNorf Summer Festival at UT-Knoxville and the Sō Percussion Summer Institute (SōSI) at Princeton University. His music explores the intersections of western folk traditions, electronic/electroacoustic music, and rock and roll. He is also interested in nontraditional notation and timekeeping systems as well as in historical musicological research.


Nicholas Shaheed

Nicholas Shaheed is a composer of both acoustic and electronic music whose work explores aspects of structure. His music has been featured at the Norfolk New Music Workshop, SEAMUS, the MOXsonic Festival, Electronic Music Midwest, New Music on the Point, the So Percussion Summer Institute, the highSCORE Festival, and has been performed by So Percussion, Christopher Otto, Quartetto Indaco, Kivie Cahn-Lipman, Violetta Duo, and the Helianthus Contemporary Music Ensemble. For his music, he has received a number of grants and awards such as the Presser Award, the Edward Mattila Award for Excellence in Electronic Music, the Brosseau Creativity Award, and the James K. Hitt Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research. Nicholas holds degrees in computer science, music composition, and music theory from the University of Kansas, and has studied under Kip Haaheim, Forrest Pierce, Ingrid Stölzel, and James Barnes. He is currently based in Seattle.


Daniel Whitworth

Daniel Whitworth (b. 1996) is an award-winning composer and saxophonist dedicated to expanding the relevancy and accessibility of contemporary music. Frequently collaborating with dancers, visual artists, and actors, he aims to connect with audiences in unique ways and works to write and perform contemporary music that is both meaningful and relevant. One of his most recent projects, a recital entitled “Snapshots of America,” explored themes of politics and social justice in contemporary music and reflected Daniel’s passion for music with sociopolitical relevance.

Daniel is the recipient of several awards, most recently winning the 2019 Lake George Composition Competition where he will be a composer-in-residence during the 2019 season. His piece Ripples in Infinity won first prize in both the 2018 Frost International Composition Competition and the 2018 Wisconsin Alliance for Composers Composition Contest. He has also received instruction and guidance from other composers such as Marcos Balter, Stacy Garrop, and Andrew Seager Cole.

Next year, Daniel will be working towards a Master’s Degree from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University with a major in both Composition and Scoring for Film and Multimedia. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Lawrence Conservatory of Music where he studied primarily with composer Asha Srinivasan and saxophonist Steven Jordheim. Daniel is currently working on commissions for several ensembles, including a piece for the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble.

2019 Student Composers


Erika Bell

Erika Bell is a Los Angeles–based composer working in multiple styles. She is drawn to constructing textural and spatialized environments through her music in ways that methodically unravel via her keen perception to pacing. Her work is lightly focused on irregular ensemble groupings, a structural-based approach and experimentation. Bell has had work performed at the Göteborg Art Sounds Festival (Sweden), Yale-Norfolk Festival: New Music Workshop (Connecticut), Washington St. Gallery (Massachusetts)—in Los Angeles—the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Zebulon, The Dog Star Festival, Automata, the wulf., Human Resources and more. As of late, Bell received a fellowship to Yale’s New Music Workshop 2019 and will be studying with Annea Lockwood and Leah Barclay in electroacoustics mid-September.


Tai-Kuang Chao

New generation composer, Tai-Kuang Chao, sees himself as a musical storyteller and sonic painter. His muses and inspirations can be traced habitually to a diverse scope, includes aboriginal / folk tunes from native Taiwanese, literature, paintings, and installations. Chao endeavors to pictorialize the abstract spheres via personal music language to demonstrate his illusionistic emotions and stylistically diversities. He attempts to employ notes fused with acoustic timbres to blend his musical pigments onto the palette, which becomes the paintbrush that leads the audience’s imagination to create an image within the realm of their fantasies.

With infatuation of working interdisciplinarily, Chao’s music collaborates recurrently with the other areas of the fine arts, including choreography, improvisation, theatrical performance, lighting and costume design, which creates a visually stunning performance, thus commanding attention and musical involvement from the audience. Chao’s music has garnered acclaim through working with performing groups, East Coast Composer Ensemble (ECCE), S.E.M. Ensemble, Ensemble Mise-En, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Modern Ensemble and Roosevelt University (CCPA) Orchestra and musicians, Timothy Munro, Vasko Dukovski, Cliff Colnot, Fusao Kajima and Petr Kotik.

Chao is completing his doctoral studies in composition-theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). His principal teachers include Erin Gee, Reynold Tharp, Erik Lund, Kyong Mee Choi, Stacy Garrop, Ching-Wen Chao, Christopher Graham Roberts and Wan-Chen Huang. Chao also participated in master classes with other notable composers, including John Aylward, Eric Chasalow, Cindy Cox, Vinko Globokar, John Harbison, Toshio Hosokawa, Lee Hyla, James Primosch, Laura Elise Schwendinger, Augusta Read Thomas and Yehudi Wyner.


Max Gibson

Max Gibson is a British-Irish composer, performer, poet, and improviser. His compositions include works for instruments, voices, electroacoustic mediums, sonic art, and theatre music, and he has had works performed in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Sweden, Turkey, the USA, and across the UK. His poems have been presented in Belgium, and the USA.

He has had the pleasure of working with a number of musicians and groups including Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Mivos Quartet, Késia Decoté, Verena Barie, deCompagnie, Cameron Woodhead, Christine Cornwell &, Peter Merckx & Marc Tooten (HERMESensemble), The Assembly Project, Hear My Music, Laura Moody, Mary Wiegold, Alessandro Ruisi & Dina Duisen, Notes Inégeles & Peter Wiegold, CoMA, Decibel, Coull Quartet, Ensemble Paramirabo, Wayward Brass, and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. His work has been featured in a number of festivals, including CrossCurrents, Flatpack Film Festival, Frontiers Festival, Stratford Music Festival, Oxford Festival of the Arts, St Magnus International Festival, and the AlbaNova Festival, Bilzen Belgium.

He has recently attended various composition courses including the first SCBA Composers Course 2018, SoundMine 2018 & 2017, Benslow Music 2018, St. Magnus 2017, and Arts Offstage 2017. Through these courses he has studied with Mike Svoboda, Simon Holt, Alasdair Nicholson, Sally Beamish, Wim Henderickx, Diederick Glorieux, Jorrit Tamminga, and the director Peter Thomson. His previous teachers include Michael Zev Gordon, Daria Kwiatkowska, Scott Wilson, Howard Skempton, John Woolrich, Michael Finnissy, David Myska, and Andrew Toovey.

He is currently undertaking an M.A. at Wesleyan University, where he studies composition, improvisation, electronic music, and Javanese gamelan. He holds degrees from the University of Birmingham, and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and he has also spent time studying at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and the National University of Singapore. In addition to his studies he was an LSO Soundhub Associate (2017-18), and his piece The Comfort of Strangers, recently received a commendation from the NCEM Composition Competition 2018.


Douglas Hertz

Douglas Hertz (b. 1993) is a composer and percussionist based in Brooklyn, NY. Hertz uses sound as a medium to investigate experiences ranging from the personal to universal and from the physical to the spiritual. Through his work, he seeks to connect with audiences in a way that helps them better understand themselves, one another, and the world they inhabit.

His work has appeared on programs presented by the Aries Composers Festival, Midwest Composers Symposium, Nief Norf Summer Festival, Atlantic Music Festival, the Dynamic Music Festival, Bard College’s Music Alive series and the Deer Valley Music Festival. His music has been either performed or recorded by the Wet Ink Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, American Symphony Orchestra, Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Calidore String Quartet, Denovo String Quartet, Vanguard Reed Quintet, Up/Down Percussion Quartet, Room 1078, //meridian vocal ensemble, and BrassTaps Duo, UT Austin Percussion Ensemble, and the George Mason University Percussion Ensemble

Hertz is an avid collaborator and constantly seeks ways to further the potential of his work beyond the concert hall. Recent Collaborations include Saeculum, a cantata/dance piece created in collaboration with choreographer Al Evangelista, and Household, an art/sound installation commissioned by performance group, Call Your Mom.

Hertz completed his undergraduate degree at Bard College and recently earned a masters degree in music composition from the University of Michigan where he was awarded a graduate fellowship for both years of study. His past teachers have included Kristin Kuster, Evan Chambers, Bright Sheng, George Tsontakis, Joan Tower, Kyle Gann, and Janet Weir. As a committed educator, Hertz teaches music theory and composition at Bantam Studios in Brooklyn, NY and at the Walden School, where he also serves as director of operations.

Nicole Russell.jpg

Nicole Russell

Nicole Russell (b. 1997) is an African-American and Mexican-American composer born and raised in Austin, Texas, currently living in San Antonio. Her work includes art songs, choral music, instrumental chamber ensembles, electro-acoustic music, and has been performed at various events, including the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Festival of New Music in 2018 as a featured student composer, and the Women in Music Festival on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women. In March of 2019 she was awarded 2nd place at the SOLI Ensemble Invitation Composition Competition. She is a mezzo-soprano and pianist, and has performed as a finalist in the National Association of Teachers of Singing South Texas Competition, has sung as a soloist with full orchestra and choir, and works as an accompanist. She is a member of the Chancel Choir and Hand Bell Choir at Central Christian Church in downtown San Antonio, and teaches piano and voice lessons to children. She is currently pursuing her bachelors in music composition at the University of Texas at San Antonio.


Tianyi Wang

Born in China, Tianyi Wang is an award-winning composer, conductor, and pianist, whose music vocabulary is diverse and much inspired by subjects beyond music. Tianyi’s repertoire spans over solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, electronic, as well as film scoring, his works have been performed both nationally and internationally, including Boston Modern Orchestra Project, impuls Festival (Austria), CEME (Israel), iNEnesemble (Russia), MISE-EN New Music Festival, Boston New Music Initiative, New Music on the Bayou, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, Electronic Music Midwest, Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), UPS Piano Trio, Collage New Music Composer Colloquium, Audiograft Festival (UK), Ashmolean Museum (UK), Ink&Coda, Hawaii Public Radio, Et Lux Radio, NACUSA, and SCI Regional and National Conferences. Mr. Wang is a National Finalist of the 2019 American Prize, Honorable Mention of the 2019 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. He is the winner of 2018-19 NEC Honors Composition Competition, 2018 BMOP/NEC Composition Competition, 2017 Longy Orchestral Composition Competition, and a recipient of China National Arts Fund. Tianyi is a member of Millennium Composers Initiative, his recent commissions include VIPA, Alea III, Meitar Ensemble (Israel), Atlantic Music Festival, and Northeast Normal University (China). A semifinalist of the Symphony Number One Call for Score 4, Tianyi has also won Gold Award at 2016 Sanya International Choral Festival (China). Tianyi Wang’s music was released by ABLAZE Records in 2018.

Besides being a composer, Tianyi’s outstanding piano skill won him the 2012 William Jewell Artist Competition and led to his concerto debut with Liberty Symphony Orchestra. In 2016, Tianyi Wang collaborated with London Symphony Orchestra in a recording production at Abbey Road Studio, London. In 2015, he founded and directed Qinyin Chamber Ensemble, and led public performances throughout the city of Changchun, China. Tianyi’s research paper on Xibo music was featured at the 31st International Society for Music Education (ISME) World Conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Tianyi has studied at William Jewell College (B.S. Composition, Mathematics; Summa Cum Laude; Honor Graduate), Moscow Conservatory, Longy School of Music of Bard College (M.M. Composition; Merit Scholarship Recipient), and currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is continuing his music journey as a Doctor of Musical Arts Candidate at New England Conservatory of Music.