The Akropolis Reed Quintet was founded in 2009 at the University of Michigan and is the first ever ensemble of its makeup to win a Fischoff Gold Medal (2014), Grand Prize at the Plowman and MTNA national competitions, and 6 national chamber music prizes in total. Hailed by Fanfare for its “imagination, infallible musicality, and huge vitality,” Akropolis has performed from Juneau to Abu Dhabi and has won juried showcases at six national conferences, including as a participant in APAP’s prestigious Young Performers Career Advancement Program (YPCA). Winner of the 2015 Fischoff Educator Award, Akropolis is a nonprofit conducting extensive educational residencies and impacting thousands of children each year. Winner of a coveted 2018 Chamber Music America Commissioning Grant, Akropolis has premiered more than 50 reed quintet works and recorded three albums, including its 2017 release, The Space Between Us, which the San Francisco Chronicle calls, “pure gold.” Akropolis has received additional grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, CultureSource, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Chamber Music America, Alice M. Ditson Fund, Amphion Foundation, High Wire Lab, and Quicken Loans.
Tim Gocklin, Oboe
Known for his “extraordinary…remarkably beautiful oboe playing” (Fanfare Magazine) Timothy Gocklin has performed with some of the world’s leading artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Frankl and David Shifrin.
In addition to Akropolis, Tim currently serves as Artist-in-Residence in Oboe at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, CO. Having spent a few years in the greater NYC area, Tim performed in a wide variety of settings with ensembles such as Le Train Bleu under the direction of Ransom Wilson, Cantata Profana, New York Chamber Soloists, The Mozart Orchestra of New York, The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Argus String Quartet, and The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Tim is a two-time winner of the Yale School of Music’s Chamber Music Competition and has performed on the Oneppo Concert Series with Poulenc’s Sextuor for piano and winds and Dutilleux’s mammoth work, Les Citations for oboe, bass, harpsichord and percussion. In 2013, he performed works by Hindemith in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall and Weill Recital Hall as part of the Yale in New York series in celebration of the composer’s legacy. He has performed at Chamber Music Northwest with David Shifrin and oboist Allan Vogel in a program of Dvorak’s Wind Serenade, Op. 44 and Mozart’s Gran Partita in B-flat, KV 361. More recent summer engagements have included appearances at the Caramoor Festival with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Cape Cod Music Festival, the Yellow Barn Music Festival with pianist Leon Fleischer, and fellowships at the Norfolk and Sarasota Chamber Music Festivals.
Tim can be heard on the NAXOS and Block M record labels, including recordings with the University of Michigan Symphony Band in 2010 and 2012, the second of which featured new works for wind ensemble under the direction of Michael Haithcock. These works were taken on a tour to China where the band performed 9 concerts in 6 cities, including at Beijing’s National Centre for the Arts and Shanghai’s Grand Theatre. In 2011, he recorded the three piano concerti of Alberto Ginastera with pianist Barbara Nissman and the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra.
In 2012, Tim received his Bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from the University of Michigan where he studied with Dr. Nancy Ambrose King. He completed his Master of Music degree and an Artist Diploma at Yale University studying with Steven Taylor.
Kari Landry, Clarinet
Kari Landry is a Backun Artist and has performed alongside leading chamber artists. As the Marketing and Development Manager of Akropolis’ 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Kari is committed to increasing access to classical music within communities and educating the next generation of musicians to ensure that a vibrant culture of art persists in our society.
Kari is currently an intermediate lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance where she teaches entrepreneurial courses on the business of chamber music and running an arts organization.
For six years Kari was the Marketing & Programs Manager at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, an exhilarating celebration of performing arts, outdoor entertainment, and community spirit. Her responsibilities range from digital media & web management, digital & print marketing, program booking, graphic content creation, and nightly event management.
Kari received a Michigan EMMY for best historical documentary for her work on “A Space for Music, A Seat for Everyone,” showcasing 100 Years of University Musical Society Performances in Hill Auditorium. Kari also teachers a yearly mini-course at the University of Michigan titled, “The Business of Chamber Music.”
Kari received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in clarinet performance from the University of Michigan, studying with Cleveland Orchestra clarinetist Dan Gilbert. Kari was the E-flat Clarinetist in the University of Michigan Symphony Band’s 2011 tour to China, which released a recording of premiere band works by the composers Kristin Kuster, Bright Sheng and Michael Daugherty under the Block M record label. Kari has also spent two of her college summers at the Aspen Music Festival. Kari owes all of her musical success to her instructors. Her clarinet teachers have included Dan Gilbert, Chad Burrow, Ted Oien and Suzy Dennis-Bratton.
Matt Landry, Saxophone
Matt is Akropolis’ Executive Director and was selected by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs as a 2018/19 Rising Leader among arts and cultural organizations in Michigan. He is a former middle school band director and worked as a community engagement specialist for the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce for four years. He teaches courses for music majors at Michigan State University on entrepreneurship and fundraising and leads dozens of arts entrepreneurship workshops each year at universities nationwide.
Matt has been featured on several concerts with the Michigan Philharmonic, including Milhaud’s La Création du Monde, which he also performed in Portland, OR with eminent chamber musicians including Jennifer Frautschi and Tara Helen O’Connor, and he has performed Bernstein’s On the Town with the Dearborn Symphony. As well as Akropolis’ three studio albums, he can be heard on two CDs produced by the UM Symphony Band under the Equilibrium Records label, Raise the Roof and Classic Structures. He was an adjudicator for the 2019 Chamber Music Yellow Springs National Chamber Music Competition.
Matt received his Bachelor’s degree Summa Cum Laude in Music Education and Saxophone from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Donald Sinta. He was a James B. Angell Scholar and commencement flag bearer.
Ryan Reynolds, Bassoon
Ryan is Visiting Assistant Professor of Bassoon at Miami University (Ohio). Previously Ryan was the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Florida State University bassoon studio where he received his Doctorate in Bassoon. He has performed with the Traverse and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestras. In 2009, Ryan toured the upper peninsula of Michigan with the Sonrisa Wind Quintet as an artist-in-residence for the Pine Mountain Music Festival, and in 2012 was a member of the Interlochen Ensemble, a wind quintet built entirely of Interlochen alumni that toured around the Midwest.
A passionate educator, Ryan was a judge for the junior level at the 2018 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and was Akropolis’ representative to judge the Barlow Endowment’s first prize for a reed quintet commission. He has taught numerous beginning bassoon camps, masterclasses, and clinics at schools around the United States.
Ryan has been featured on National Public Radio’s “From the Top”, Interlochen Public Radio, and can be seen in numerous videos in the University of Michigan Bassoon Studio YouTube series.
After attending the Interlochen Arts Academy from 2004-08 where he studied with Dr. Eric Stomberg, Ryan replaced his ‘Interlochen blues’ with Michigan’s, attending the University of Michigan from 2008-2014 while studying with Dr. Jeffrey Lyman, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in bassoon.
Andrew Koeppe, Bass Clarinet
An Ann Arbor native, Andrew majored in clarinet at the University of Michigan and studied with Chad Burrow, Deborah Chodacki and Monica Kaenzig. He performed in the University Symphony Band under the direction of Michael Haithcock, and the University Symphony Orchestra and University Opera Theater under the direction of Kenneth Kiesler. Andrew can be heard on two University of Michigan CDs, including interactions with acclaimed soloists Nancy Ambrose King and Adam Unsworth, as well as the premiere of William Bolcom’s Symphony for Band. He was the featured clarinet soloist in Bolcom’s band orchestration of “Graceful Ghost Rag” on the University of Michigan Symphony Band CD Artifacts. Today, he is a regular performer with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra.
While studying at the University of Michigan, Andrew performed in clarinet master classes with Stanley Drucker (New York Philharmonic), Carey Bell (San Francisco Symphony), Julia Heinen (Professor, California State University), and eighth blackbird. He was also selected to attend the Buffet-Crampon USA Clarinet Academy in Jacksonville, Florida in 2009 where he studied with clarinetists Eugene Mondie, Dan Gilbert, Andre Moisan, and Ixi Chen.
Also in 2009, Andrew played principal clarinet and bass clarinet in a small orchestral ensemble of select University of Michigan students in a weeklong multi-media workshop and final performance of “Ask Your Mama” with composer Laura Carpman, curator Jessye Norman, and conductor George Manahan. This new work later premiered at Carnegie Hall.
He enjoys teaching a large and exuberant studio of clarinet and bass clarinet players in Ann Arbor, MI, where he performs other free-lance engagements.
Création is a program of musical works from the last one hundred years which assemble various influences and ideas into imaginative new creations, as well as which accentuate the complexity and versatility of the reed quintet creation itself. Each half of the concert pairs a contemporary work with an early 20th century composition, one original for reed quintet, the other creatively arranged to fit the reed quintet’s unique blend of colors and personalities. The first pairing shares a jazz influence, including a new Akropolis commission of New York City-based composer Jeff Scott and a new reed quintet setting of Milhaud’s La Création du Monde, created for Akropolis by Concert Artist Guild award-winning bassist, Samuel Suggs. Then, David Biedenbender’s Refraction, composed for Akropolis’ acclaimed 3rd album release, The Space Between Us, is paired with an epic arrangement of George Gershwin’s An American in Paris.
Homage to Paradise Valley
Paradise Valley was the business district of Black Bottom, a densely-populated African American neighborhood in Detroit. It was displaced during the mid-century urban renewal, most notably by highway projects. This became the subject of Jeff Scott’s first reed quintet after he and Akropolis visited the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, while Jeff’s quintet, Imani Winds, was passing through Detroit on tour. Homage to Paradise Valley utilizes Jeff’s diverse musical background as a jazz and studio musician in New York City. This work is made possible through the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Fund. One can learn more about this part of Detroit’s history by visiting the Detroit Historical Society website at detroithistorical.org.
Homage to Paradise Valley is in three movements:
Ghosts of Black Bottom
Roho, Pumzika kwa Amani
Paradise Theater Jump!
La Création du Monde
La Création du Monde was originally composed for a small orchestra of a string quartet (with the viola replaced by alto saxophone), double bass, piano, percussion, and some winds. It has been arranged for Akropolis by bassist Sam Suggs, and active performer and teacher based in New York City. The work is technically comprised of 6 movements, but they are played without pause and are sewn together in a through-composed manner. Création was originally a 15-minute ballet. It outlines the creation of the world in African mythology. Like much of Milhaud’s music, Création utilizes jazz elements, including swing style, stomp rhythms, and especially near the close, a dixieland Jazz-style canon of various riffs occurring simultaneously.
Refraction refers to the absorption and then splitting of music influences, as well as to the type of assembly the composer uses in this piece. Sounds are almost taped and glued together, and at times they seem to pour out from the central texture of the piece. The composition melds several genres, including death metal and Gregorian chant, but never fully boxes them in. Death Metal Chicken is inspired by a popular YouTube video of a howling rooster with death metal music being played in the background. The Kyrie shimmers with ancient qualities. The final movement, Goat Rodeo, refers directly to a chaotic situation that might come to a resolution, but not willingly so. Biedenbender not only re-purposes various genres and topical ideas and combines them with brilliant colorations; he creates a fully-formed, new object which could never be as brilliant without the tatters and shreds which seem to be falling from it.
An American in Paris
In An American in Paris, Gershwin aimed to create one of his more serious works despite his natural affinity for frivolity. He consulted Ravel about this conundrum, who wisely instructed that if Gershwin was making more money than Ravel (which he was), he shouldn’t change how he writes his music. He sought advice from Nadia Boulanger, the great teacher of Aaron Copland and others. She also wisely suggested to Gershwin try to be no one but Gershwin. And so, using complex motivic development which is constantly modulating and changing form, Gershwin manages to create his most accessible, but simultaneously most complex piece of music. Among the challenges Dutch saxophonist Raaf Hekkema faced in arranging the work was how to convey these ideas with only 5 instruments. Hekkema brilliantly takes a smaller color palette and combines the instruments to create more textural possibilities than the listener could ever predict. In ways, while Gershwin’s orchestration maximizes the orchestra’s capabilities, the listener might find Gershwin’s ideas even easier to deduce in the chamber music format. The continually repeating and evolving motives make for a challenging but thrilling performance which Akropolis is delighted to bring to the stage.