PEOPLE

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LEONARD BOPP

Artistic Director and Conductor

Leonard Bopp is a conductor, composer, and trumpet player. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of the BlackBox Ensemble, a New York City-based new music group committed to using contemporary music as a platform for exploring the social, political, and cultural issues of our time. He works on independent, collaborative, and interdisciplinary projects as a producer, curator, and performer. A graduate of Williams College and the Juilliard School Pre-College Division, Leonard is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

JORDAN BARTOW

Cello / Operations and Development

Jordan Bartow is a NYC-based cellist from South Carolina. In addition to playing in the BlackBox Ensemble, Jordan is a member of Tactus, the critically-acclaimed contemporary music ensemble of the Manhattan School of Music. Jordan is currently pursuing his masters degree in contemporary performance at the Manhattan School of Music, and previously studied cello performance at the University of South Carolina.

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ANNIE NIKUNEN

Flute / Marketing and Social Media

Annie Nikunen has been with BlackBox since the beginning. Annie is a NYC-based flutist, composer and radio broadcaster. Known for her stylistic versatility, Annie performs in a wide range of ensembles, such as avant-garde, classical, jazz, Taizé, baroque, and film music. As a composer, she aims to take ephemeral moments of beauty in classical music and permeate them into new music contexts, always considering the physicality of sound and how it relates to movement and space.


Annie recently graduated from the Barnard College/Manhattan School of Music exchange program, studying flute, composition, and music theory. She also danced ballet for fourteen years, which continues to inspire her curiosity and passion for sound-body connections. Her latest projects include field recordings of sounds in resonant spaces, particularly cathedrals. Annie was a DJ as well as Business Manager and Director of the Classical Department at Columbia's radio station, WKCR.

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TYLER NEIDERMAYER

Clarinet / Sound and Tech

Tyler Neidermayer is a NY-based electroacoustic composer/performer who is pushing the boundaries of the clarinet and bass clarinet to new extremes. Dedicated to consistently presenting new works for clarinets and live electronics, he frequently collaborates with emerging composers to explore the extremes of his instruments and realize new musical ideas. Outside of BlackBox, Tyler is a member of Apply Triangle and Quintilia Ensemble. He also runs sound and records shows for multiple ensemble and solo artists in NYC, as well as editing audio for various podcasts. He recently graduated with a Masters Degree from the Contemporary Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music.

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JAY JULIO

Viola

Originally from Uniondale, New York, 22-year old first-generation Filipino-American Jay Julio (they/them) is a violist-violinist-mandolinist, teacher, and composer-arranger based in Manhattan. They have shared the stage with Broadway singers, pop stars, and some of classical music’s hottest young talents in performances from Washington D.C. to the Philippines.  After taking their first viola lesson at age 14 at the Mannes Preparatory Division, Jay graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy at 16 with Renee Skerik, received their BM in Viola Performance from the Manhattan School of Music under Karen Ritscher on full scholarship, and received their MM at the Juilliard School on a full-tuition Susan W. Rose Fellowship under the tutelage of Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, and Matthew Lipman. They look forward to beginning a new chapter as one-fourth of the second cohort of the LA Orchestra Fellowship. Jay has received fellowships to attend the Music Academy of the West, Orpheus@Mannes, and the Aspen, Manchester, and Lake Tahoe music festivals. Their compositions and arrangements have been heard at the Cannes Film Festival and at New York Fashion Week and performed by soprano-double bass duo confluss. 

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LARA LEWISON

Violin

Lara Lewison is a violinist, painter, and digital artist from Mukilteo, WA. She started studying violin at the age of 3, and currently studies with Maja Cerar. She was a two-time violin fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, where she performed as co-concertmaster of the TMCO, and has participated in the Lucerne Academy in Switzerland.

Besides painting on canvas, Lara also paints clothing, costumes and set pieces, instruments, and other assorted surfaces. Current and recent projects include a Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality experience of her childhood dollhouse, a performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto last November, a VR experience made from orchids and her mom's pregnancy journal, and a collaboration with two dancers and a programmer to create a live sound-painting. She recently graduated with a BA in Music from Columbia University, and currently offers Unity lessons at Harvestworks as an intern.

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DANIEL MATEI

Percussion

Daniel Matei is a Hungarian-Romanian percussionist-composer with a keen interest in the collaborative and ever-evolving nature of music. The non-canonic, inherently creative character of percussion has always fascinated Daniel, as it has allowed him to explore new ways of soundmaking, also building on other approaches and disciplines. His studies with Sō Percussion at Bard College have been especially influential in broadening his understanding of music. While completing a double degree program in Italian Studies and Percussion, he chose to explore Italian Futurism and its particular interest in language as sound. Daniel completed a scholarly study on this subject, based on original archival research in Milan, Italy, and composed a chamber piece, Noi Vogliamo..., based on the Art of Noises, a Futurist manifesto by Luigi Russolo.
Now in his first year as a master’s student in the Manhattan School of Music’s Contemporary Performance Program, where he studies with John Ferrari and David Cossin, Daniel is interested in exploring domains of improvisation and how electro-acoustic music can push music’s boundaries.

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ZACHARY MERKOVSKY

Bass

Zachary Merkovsky is a versatile double bassist, musician, and educator. He recently won a section bass position with the York Symphony Orchestra in York, PA. Currently, Zachary is finishing up a Masters in Music at Manhattan School of Music in the Orchestral Performance program. In addition to symphonic literature, he also performs and is interested in contemporary music, electronic music, and improvisation. Mr. Merkovsky is also a Teaching Artist with the Youth Orchestras of Essex County (NJ) and has worked as a mentor and sectional coach with other youth orchestras in the metro area.

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JIXUE YANG

Piano

Jixue Yang is a NYC-based contemporary classical pianist. Her repertoire encompasses a wide range of eras and styles as well as varied Eastern and Western influences. Ms. Yang’s recent performances include concerts in Boston, New York, Knoxville, Shanghai, Wuhan, Beijing, Zhangzhou, and Fuzhou. As the first Chinese citizen in Manhattan School of Music’s Contemporary Performance Program, she has simultaneously been introducing experimental contemporary music to Chinese audiences. Born in China, her background includes a range of classical training. Jixue attended the Middle School attached to Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music where she was awarded the highest scholarships every year. Later, during her studies at Massachusetts’ Walnut Hill School for the Arts, she was inducted into the Bigelow Society honoring artistic and academic excellence and performed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with her piano trio. She has been a featured performer at the Nief-Norf Summer Music Festival, NYU Pulsing & Shaking Festival, and the Creative Dialogue XII. 


As an active chamber musician, Jixue currently performs as the pianist/keyboardist for NYC’s InfraSound and electroacoustic trio Apply Triangle as well as the Blackbox Ensemble and she has performed at the Spectrum, University of Pennsylvania, New York University as well as in Germany with Magdeburg’s SinusTon Electronic Music Festival and at the conservatories in Dresden, Weimar, and Leipzig. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree and a Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music (MSM) and is currently pursuing her D.M.A. in Piano Performance at MSM. 

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