Alumni TestimonialsTestimonials from Round Top Festival Institute alumni demonstrate the value of spending six weeks in training on the unique and inspirational Festival Hill Campus in Central Texas. The rigorous program focuses on the performance of classical music and instrumental skills that the young artists can draw upon as they further their careers in performance and education.
The following testimonial is a sampling of what was collected from our 2021 Young Artists:
"I had an amazing time at the 2021 Round Top Festival Institute, despite it being an unconventional year. Although we didn’t get to perform the big rep we were supposed to, I was able to get a really firm grasp on playing in the Classical style, which is a large part of the work load in professional orchestras. The teachers were top notch, and I made amazing, life long friends and connections. Not to mention that the whole experience was close to being free and located in the beautiful Texas hill country! Thanks for everything, I hope to come back one day."
- Bethany Vaughan, 2021, Trumpet, Indiana University Bloomington
The following testimonials are a sampling of what was collected from our 2019 Young Artists:
"Round Top is an outstanding program that has everything to offer that a young musician could want. A rigorous and professional schedule, outstanding and acclaimed faculty, and a supportive community of other young musicians are just the tip of the iceberg of what Round Top really is. My favorite aspect of being in Round Top this past summer was how us young artists impacted the locals and it was really touching to see the joy our music brought them."
- Ben Freedman, 2019, Viola, University of Miami Frost School of Music
"My experience at Round Top surpassed all my expectations. The spirit of this place and the people is something I never would have imagined possible. I learned so much musically and otherwise, and will forever hold these lessons close to my heart. Round Top is by far the most unique and enriching experience I have ever had."
- Joelle Chiam, 2019, Violin, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music
"Round Top has become a quasi-spiritual retreat for me. I have attended three times now, and each summer I think 'it can't possibly be as good as last year,' only for my expectations to be shattered. Performing Mahler's Symphony number nine was an amazing experience, one I will treasure along with the friendships and connections that I made. I think every burgeoning symphony musician should spend at least one summer. Many other programs are overly competitive and adversarial, whereas because Round Top has only one orchestra, you learn what it's really like to be a member of an orchestra. You are one piece in a bigger whole, and when the people around you succeed, you succeed. Everyone is there to learn and to make the best possible music so as to stir the souls of those who bless us with their audience."
- Callum Robbins-Gennerich, 2019, Violin, University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music
The following testimonials are a sampling of what was collected from our 2018 Young Artists:
"Round Top Festival Institute is not only a beautiful and peaceful place to develop your craft, but also an incredibly supportive musical environment. This summer I had the privilege of being immersed in this unique community of encouragement and artistic energy that generated both great music and wonderful friendships."
- Sam Frenduto, 2018, Clarinet, New England Conservatory
"I had a wonderful experience at Round Top. Not only did I work with some amazing faculty and conductors, but I got the opportunity to learn from an incredibly talented and driven group of peers."
- Adrian Golay, 2018, Cello, Indiana University
"The Round Top Festival Institute provides fantastic orchestral experience for any passionate musician. Not only does the program have wonderful faculty, but the support from students, administrators, and audience members alike all provide a nurturing environment to grow musically with others. The orchestra grows close together, not only through rehearsals and performances, but on many personal levels, and eventually feels like a family."
- Juan Riveros, 2018, Harp, Cleveland Institute of Music
"Round Top Festival Institute is a place unlike any other. The combination of outstanding musicians, supportive faculty and staff, a kind community of people around the festival, and beautiful surroundings make for an incredible six weeks of learning and music making. The things I learned this summer will serve as fuel for learning this coming year and for years to come. Thank you so much for making this possible!"
- Lara Saldanha, 2018, Piano, Mannes School of Music
The following testimonials are a sampling of what was collected from our 2017 Young Artists:
"Six weeks and 20 performances later - this has been an incredible music-making experience. I have met some unbelievable teachers, musicians and wonderful human beings here that have undoubtedly changed my life. The beauty of the place that I just experienced is inexplicable in words or photos - thank you Round Top Festival."
- Benjamin Goodman, 2017, Piano, Mannes College
"I have been spreading the word all over about my incredible summer at Round Top! ...Thank you for the incredible opportunity to be a part of this year's festival. I am incredibly blessed for all the amazing experiences I had."
- Harrison Klein, 2017, Double Bass, Boston University
"I do not believe I could have had a more educational, inspirational, and productive time anywhere else. Round Top was my first experience at a music festival... I assure you that my expectations were exceeded tremendously... I was very impressed with all the faculty, rehearsals, sectionals, facilities, food, and general stature of the institute. The diversity and prestige [of] the campus have made a tremendous impact upon my life, and I would not hesitate to invite many others to apply to the festival... I feel as if I have grown tremendously within the six weeks at Round Top, and I hope to share what I have learned with students and colleagues at my own university."
- Sean Elliott, 2017, Violin, West Virginia University
"Round Top Festival Institute fostered an environment of growth, drive, and community unlike anything I have ever experienced. This environment, coupled with its unwavering commitment to a high level of music making and inspiring faculty are what make Round Top the magical place it is. I know Round Top was a catalyst for my personal and artistic growth, and I will carry the experiences I had there with me forever on my journey as an artist. I will never forget my summer at Round Top!"
- Matthew Shipp, 2017, Oboe, Temple University
The following testimonials are a sampling of what was collected from our 2016 Young Artists:
"A totally unique place with a creative warmth unlike anything I've found anywhere else in the country--totally dedicated to the creation of beauty and magic in a beautiful and magical part of the world. RTFI is a truly special place."
- Andrew Friedman, 2016, Clarinet, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
"The Round Top Festival Institute is the ideal place for an aspiring young musician. In the orchestra, every rehearsal and sectional made me more and more aware of what was needed in my playing. Additionally, the high caliber of musicians there encouraged me to do the very best I could. Not only were my own teachers incredibly supportive, but I felt the entire faculty was there to help. My summer at Round Top was unforgettable, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a similar musical experience."
- Elliot Lichtenberg, 2016, Oboe, Eastman School of Music
"I would not trade my time at Round Top for anything. The musical connections I made with the students and faculty there, the powerful and fulfilling concerts--priceless. I hope this festival is around for a long time, and touches the lives of countless other young musicians with its unique sense of community and collective artistry."
- Victoria Lupinek, 2016, Flute, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
"Thank you so much for providing me with a wonderful musical experience this summer at Round Top. ...The beautiful Festival Hill campus made the summer a musical paradise for me, a perfect place to both relax and stimulate learning. ...The community and audience enthusiastically embraced classical music and I felt greatly appreciated as a Young Artist. ...The Round Top Festival Institute is one of America's musical treasures and an experience I will never forget. Thank you again for a fantastic summer in this musical oasis that truly enriched my life."
- Juliana Sharp, 2016, Violin, Cleveland Institute of Music
The following testimonials are a sampling of what was collected from our 2015 Young Artists:
"The Round Top Festival Institute is an incredible setting for learning and collaboration."
- Grant Bradshaw, 2015, Viola, University of Missouri-Columbia
"I had the most incredible and well-rounded experience at Round Top. I had the opportunity to work with world class faculty on a daily basis, to work with a like-minded chamber group, to take lessons and make valuable connections with applied faculty, to play in an incredible orchestra every day, and to learn in an intense, rigorous atmosphere. My experience was better than I could have ever hoped!"
The following testimonials are a sampling of what was collected from our 2014 Young Artists:
"My favorite part about my experience at Round Top is how much time the students get to spend with each other and the faculty. It is a great sense of community and fosters a better environment for personal growth and growth as a musician."
"I had an incredible experience this summer at Round Top being surrounded by talented musicians and amazing people. I learned an unbelievable amount from the faculty."
"I had a fantastic experience at Round Top. It was a privilege to work with the esteemed oboe faculty, and I found everyone at the Institute to be very friendly and welcoming. It was a pleasure to play so much incredible repertoire and I felt that I grew both as a musician and as a person in my six weeks at Festival Hill. It was very sad for me to leave, but I will always treasure the memories and friendships that I made at Round Top."
"This summer at RT was one of the best experiences of my entire life. I met inspiring, incredibly talented musicians, got so much out of my time with the different professors and conductors, and had the opportunity to perform amazing repertoire. I'd love to come back as an intern or to play again, someday. It was truly a valuable addition to my musical education, and I will cherish the memories I made at RT this summer."
The following testimonials are a sampling of what was collected from our 2013 Young Artists:
"A superior learning experience for relatively young but talented and hard working musicians"
"...this festival has left me with a lasting impression of how valuable it is to be rooted in the area. I feel so blessed and supported more than ever because of this opportunity."
"Heaven on Earth."
"I cannot think of a better place to spend the summer making music. The atmosphere at Round Top is incredibly friendly, and the support phenomenal. I have met some of the most incredible people there, who I am sure I will be in touch for a long time. The repertoire is always challenging, and the concerts are always exciting to play. I had the most wonderful time this summer. Thank You!"
"I had a wonderful experience at Festival Hill. I had a great time learning all of the orchestral repertoire and working with so many different conductors. It was a great way to spend my summer and I learned so many valuable aspects of orchestral playing!"
"I had a wonderful experience working with these outstanding faculty and learned a lot about how to interpret music from all these rehearsal and private lessons."
"I had an excellent time. It was one of the best orchestras I have ever played with. I learned a lot, worked hard, and had an overall outstanding experience. Perfect length, too."
"I had the most enjoyable, fulfilling and challenging time at Festival Hill. I learned so much about myself, about how to relate and communicate with so many different kinds of people and how to demand excellence from myself."
"I have learned a lot about where I want my career to develop and how to journey to that point. I have received many different perspectives on other festivals, symphony orchestras and universities/conservatories that have helped me and others narrow down our respective long-term career goals."
"I have made so many life-long connections here. It's truly incredible how many people that I've met and now have a relationship with. Other festivals may have the same program as Round Top, but the tight-knit relationships that develop here are like no other."
"I learned a lot from Tom Booth's lecture on auditioning. Brett Shurtliffe is a fantastic teacher he is really inspiring and is a great person."
"I loved every minute of it. Enough said. It was the best musical experience and most friendly environment I could ever have imagined, and I appreciate the hard work and dedication to making this festival what it is."
"I want to give thanks to the donors and to everybody who make possible this great festival and the opportunity of a scholarship, since without that it would be impossible to participate."
"Intensive musical training in a rural, yet incredibly unique environment. Played great music and made useful connections with students and faculty. A manageable amount of work, and an incredible amount of fun. Thank you so much!!!"
"It has been a great summer! I feel that I have made progress musically, have played in a great orchestra with great conductors, and have created some meaningful relationships. Also, lunch was fantastic every day. Congratulations to the dining hall staff, they nailed it."
"It was a nice experience. This was my first time at a musical festival and I really enjoyed learning new repertoire and meeting new conductors which is the life of a musician in an orchestra and it is what I have dreamed of."
"It was what it was hyped up to be. The musicians and their backgrounds are extraordinary and the teachers even more so. It was a wonderful opportunity to be with these musicians and I certainly hope I work with many of them in the near future."
"I made some incredible friends that I believe I will see again and keep in touch with for many years to come. The faculty taught me so many things that I often had never even thought about in my performance! I went back to my room everyday, just like last year with the feeling that I could do this everyday for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. I made memories that will last forever, and gained so much perspective that I didnt have before. I hope to be back next summer and experience it all over again."
"My summer at Festival Hill was a life changing experience. Through the connections I made with both the faculty and students I feel I've grown immensely as both a musician and a person. I am so glad to have been able to be a part of this festival and I hope to return again in the future."
"Really fantastic especially since I was given leadership opportunities in the orchestra. Students were motivated and really cared about making the orchestra and their individual chamber groups sound the best they could. Consistently fantastic conductors, even those who I placed as adequate I would gladly work with throughout the year, where as those placed as good or outstanding were inspiring leaders who I really hope I get the chance to work with again. Overall great experience and I hope I can return next year."
"Thank you so much for a great summer! I learned a lot."
"Very beautiful place! Great faculty, conductors, and staff! Many thanks to all those who made it such a nice experience! Also, many thanks to those who made possible events such as the two barbeques! The first one, in Round Top, was especially great, thanks to the wonderful people who cooked all the delicious food!"
"Very memorable and life changing"
The following testimonials are a sampling of what was collected from our 2011 Young Artists:
"From the very first day there, I felt lucky to be at Festival Hill. When James Dick addressed all of us in the Concert Hall, at one point saying simply: "We believe in you", I knew this summer would be something exceptional. We, as students, were surrounded by people (faculty and peers alike) who believed in us and who encouraged us to believe in ourselves as performing artists. We were allowed to make mistakes and learn about ourselves, all while learning and performing challenging and incredibly rewarding repertoire. I often felt that I was living in a dream while at Round Top--the experience was overwhelming in all the best ways. Making music with new friends in a beautiful environment is really the only way one should spend the summer. Thank you!"
"Among the best orchestral experiences of my life. I truly loved the support, the learning, the repertoire, and the atmosphere there. Will definitely recommend this festival to others and apply again."
"I was unsure of what to expect initially, but this turned out to be one of the best musical experiences of my life. The conductors and teaching staff were extremely helpful, both in sectionals and in lessons. Round Top's world-class brass faculty was always willing to help, teach, or just hang out with the students. The atmosphere is generally relaxed, allowing me to take risks and experiment with the information I've learned both at the festival and elsewhere. Great experience, I could not have asked for any more from a summer festival."
"This is by far the best festival I have ever been to. Thank you so much for the amazing music, teachers, students, and opportunities you gave me. I am a changed person and musician and will always remember my experience."
"Festival Hill taught me how to be a musician in the professional world. I learned how to interact with professors, colleagues, friends and mentors on a daily basis. I grew as a horn player and a person just by being pushed by my colleagues and expecting the best from myself. The experience was so rewarding, and I can't imagine spending my summer any other way. Everyone should have a Round Top summer!"
"This summer was an experience that helped me grow by leaps and bounds in my musicianship in a very short, intense period of time. The faculty was absolutely stellar and the value of their personal influence in our musical maturity was incalculable. I thank everyone at Round Top for the opportunity to improve my musicality, my technique, and my knowledge through this program."
"The Festival Institute allowed me, through daily rehearsal, to really get to be a member of an orchestra. The cohesion and ensemble skills of the group by the last rehearsal were truly amazing given the amount of time we had spent together. The dedicated students were a joy to work with and the staff and faculty made for a memorable and useful learning experience."
"My time at Festival Hill has been the most personally and musically rewarding experience of my life so far. This was my first festival and I couldn't be more pleased with everything that I've learned and the friends that I've made. I appreciate the opportunity to play with such a talented orchestra and learn from such accomplished faculty members. I feel lucky to have had such an experience and I would definitely consider returning and/or recommending it to other musicians on the same path that I am."
"It was the most amazing musical experience of my life. The opportunity to perform in such an amazing place with a variety of amazing people is one I feel very fortunate to have lived. Keep it up."
"It was a pleasant surprise to find, in the middle of such a small town, a festival which provides excellent conductors and faculty to put on great concerts, but also inspires students to be better musicians and to have fun while they're doing it!"
"Besides being a lot of fun, I would say that Round Top was probably the closest experience I've had to being in a real professional orchestra. Major orchestra concerts every week, getting to be around and perform with older, more mature players... The whole experience was just another confirmation for me that performing music is in fact what I want to do as a career! It was also very refreshing to be out in the beautiful country where inspiration for music making came very easy. It was always a joy of mine to just walk or drive around Festival Hill and absorb all the beauty from the gardens, the buildings and the landscaping. In addition, I've never been part of an ensemble before where everyone got along as well as we did this summer. Everyone was really cool; everyone respected each other and was a pleasure to play with. I made a ton of great friends! All in all, I had a very refreshing and exciting experience and I am very grateful I got to go. Thank you, Round Top and all the staff!"