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Alla Balena Ensemble

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Formed in 2018 by composer Carlos Sánchez-Gutierrez, Alla Balena Ensemble brings together a group of superb and energetic graduates of the Eastman School of Music with a keen interest in the music of our time. 


According to Sánchez-Gutierrez, the Ensemble takes its name from “large grey whales that live an average of 70 years. Following their death, a cycle begins and evolves over the years, as their carcasses descend toward the bottom of the sea, providing both nourishment and housing to hundreds of smaller species for several hundred years. A "dead" whale, therefore, far outlives a "living" one. What we call “classical music” is like a dead whale (it died around 1914...) and musicians today are like the hundreds of creatures that feed off a carcass. The tradition itself is defunct, but our unique ecosystems remain and thrive. We, therefore, proudly announce, "alla balena!”, or "into the whale!".

Members of the Alla Balena Ensemble:

Emilyn Johnson, flute
Tiffany Valvo, clarinet

Jacob Ertl, piano
Brant Blackard, percussion

Shannon Steigerwald, violin
Daniel Ketter, cello
Jed Gaylin, conductor
Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Artistic Director

Eastern standard trio

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Eastern Standard was formed in the fall of 2014 and includes Nazareth College faculty member Jacob Ertl (piano) and Indiana University of Pennsylvania faculty members Zach Collins (tuba) and Heidi Lucas (horn). The trio has been active for six seasons touring throughout the United States with residencies at Universities, conference and festival invitations, and outreach programs.


The group is actively involved in promoting literature for this instrumentation through performance, the pursuit of commissioning projects, and recording. To date, the group has commissioned and/or premiered over a dozen new works. In the spring of 2017 they were awarded a grant through the International Horn Society’s Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Program, which they used to commission Octavio Vasquez to write the multi-movement concert work, What a Circus! In 2019 the ensemble hosted their first composition contest, with Daniel Morrison’s Gallus Rex named as the winner and Andy Junttonen’s Three Miniatures recognized as honorable mention.


Eastern Standard has recorded two albums. Their first full-length album, Eastern Standard, was released in December of 2015 and includes three new works they commissioned, as well as recordings of other works that had not been recorded previously for commercial release. Their second album, Wanderlust, was released in February of 2019 and is available on all digital platforms.

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