Recent faculty hires at Blair meld teaching and performance

Two Jobs in One


Jeremy Wilson, associate professor of trombone Jeremy Wilson

Few musicians wind up winning their very first orchestral audition, and the percentage of those whose first audition is with the Vienna Philharmonic is likely very slim. That puts Jeremy Wilson, Blair’s new associate professor of trombone, in a class by himself.

Wilson was a master’s degree student at the University of North Texas when he entered the International Trombone Association’s solo competition. One of the judges for that competition was Ian Bousfield, the principal trombonist of the Vienna Philharmonic.

“He heard my [competition] CD and liked the way I played,” Wilson says. “They had an audition coming up in a few months, so he contacted the competition coordinator and asked who CD No. 4 was. That’s how I got the initial audition invitation.”

Wilson prepared while completing his master’s degree, then traveled to Austria a week before the audition at Bousfield’s invitation for some final coaching.

“This was one [audition] I wanted to win,” he says.

Win it he did. For the last five years, Wilson has circled the globe, playing in the world’s finest concert venues with one of the world’s finest orchestras.

However, it’s not just a matter of playing in the Vienna Philharmonic.

“It’s two jobs in one,” Wilson explains. “You get in the Vienna Philharmonic by auditioning for the Vienna State Opera. Back in the mid-1800s, the founder of the Vienna Philharmonic started getting members of the Vienna State Opera to play these philharmonic concerts. They formed a club, and the only way you get in is by being a member of the Vienna State Opera orchestra.

“When you combine the two entities—the state opera and the philharmonic—it’s the busiest orchestra in the world.”

Having two jobs stacked on top of each other meant that Wilson performed in the state opera orchestra about 15 evenings per month in addition to rehearsals, and he played two or three philharmonic blocks per month.

“The opera performs every night from September through June,” Wilson says. “I’ll miss playing with the orchestra, but I won’t miss the busyness.”

As a result of the constant playing and touring, Wilson has amassed an enviable repertoire—one that most musicians would take twice as long to master.

“Even though I was there only five years, I feel even more prepared to teach. It’s a lot of repertoire, so I’m very grateful to have had that chance.”

The McMinnville native is glad now to have the chance to come home. He, his wife (also a native Tennessean) and their 3-year-old son are enjoying time with each other and with family.

“It was tough being so far away,” Wilson says. “Some people are truly world citizens. They’re wired to live wherever. We’re not wired that way. Our entire journey there was a learning process.

“Having this job come up so close to my hometown is unspeakably awesome,” he says. “I’m glad I’m here. I’m having a blast already.”

Bonnie Arant Ertelt

Other new faculty include:

Peter Kolkay, associate professor of bassoon

As a solo recitalist, Kolkay made his international debut at the Teatro Nacional in Panama City, Panama, where he premiered a new work by Katherine Hoover. He has also premiered works by Elliott Carter, Charles Wuorinen, Harold Meltzer, Russell Platt and John Fitz Rogers. He is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, recently performing on opening night in Alice Tully Hall and in the annual holiday performance of the complete Bach Brandenburg Concertos. As a solo recitalist, he performed at the Falany Performing Arts Center in Waleska, Ga., and at Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center outside Washington, D.C., during the spring.

He is a member of the IRIS Orchestra and the South Carolina Philharmonic. A native of Naperville, Ill., he holds degrees from Lawrence University, the Eastman School of Music and Yale University, and studied with Frank Morelli, John Hunt, Jean Barr and Monte Perkins. Kolkay joined the Blair faculty in 2012.

Tucker Biddlecombe, associate professor of choral activities and choral director

A National Board Certified Teacher, Biddlecombe most recently served as the choral director at Lawton Chiles High School in Tallahassee, Fla. There he directed a choral program encompassing more than 200 students in five choirs and was honored as Teacher of the Year in 2008. Ensembles under his direction have performed at conventions of the American Choral Directors Association at the state and division levels. He is a sought-after clinician and adjudicator and has conducted honor choirs in several states. In 2014, he will conduct the Florida All-State Men’s Chorus.

Biddlecombe is an accomplished tenor, specializing in several different styles and genres. He is also a published composer and arranger, with choral works printed by Alliance, Hinshaw and Walton Music. His newest composition, Somagwaza, was commissioned and premiered by the Men’s Honor Choir at the northwest convention of ACDA in March 2012.

He received his Ph.D. in music education in 2012 from Florida State University, where he was a student of André Thomas. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and performance from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. Biddlecombe joined the Blair faculty in 2012.

Philip Dikeman, associate professor of flute Philip Dikeman

A member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for almost 20 years, Dikeman held the position of assistant principal flute as well as acting principal flute for his final two seasons. He also appeared as concerto soloist with the DSO on numerous occasions and took part in tours to Europe, Asia, Florida, the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall. He began his professional career as principal flute of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he held for five seasons.

In competition, he holds the distinction of having won first prize in both the National Flute Association’s Young Artist and Orchestral Audition Competitions. In chamber music, he was a member of the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings for 18 seasons. He was invited to be program chair for the National Flute Association’s Convention, to be held in Chicago in August 2014.

Dikeman attended the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Robert Willoughby and received his bachelor of music. He received his master’s degree from the Yale School of Music, where he was named the George Wellington Memorial Scholar studying with Thomas Nyfenger. Dikeman joined the Blair faculty in 2011.

Bil Jackson, associate professor of clarinet Bil Jackson

Before joining the faculty at the Blair School, Jackson served as principal clarinetist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Honolulu Symphony. He has performed as guest principal clarinetist with the St. Louis, Minnesota and Cincinnati Symphony orchestras. He also has appeared as a soloist with the Colorado, Honolulu, Denver, Charlotte, Dallas Chamber and Aspen Chamber orchestras.

During the 2008-2009 Colorado Symphony season, he premiered Kevin Puts’ clarinet concerto with Jeffrey Kahane conducting. The Puts concerto was recorded last April for Naxos as a joint venture with the Baltimore Symphony, Marin Alsop conducting. Puts, a 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner, will be one of Blair’s BMI Composers-in-Residence in 2013–14.

Jackson studied at the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he won the IAA’s concerto competition three times and was awarded the gold medal for superlative musicianship at graduation. He continued his formal study at Northwestern University with Robert Marcellus. He is the only person to win the International Clarinet Competition twice, and he was a finalist in the Prague International Clarinet Competition. Jackson joined the Blair faculty in 2011.