zFestival unAcademy Participants

Duck Armstrong is an artist and composer from Weatherford, Texas who specializes in ink and electric guitar. Their visual work is often multimedia with frequent elements of ambiguous orientation, audience interpretation, and visual material as musical information. Their musical work is experimental, exploring space, texture, harmony and indeterminacy through the use of strings, keys and voice. With roots in punk, their style is very narrative focused with minimal elements. Duck’s work utilizes graphic notation and performer interpretation of limited musical material to give a framework for performers to play with. There’s always something new to try.

Ahmed Ashour (he/him/his) is an Egyptian-Bahraini theatre-maker and writer. He is a recipient of the prestigious Bahrain Crown Prince International Scholarship. His work focuses on creating space on stage for MENA and/or Muslim-identifying people to navigate and intervene in the disciplinary/surveillance state. Select credits include Yussef El-Guindi’s BACK OF THE THROAT, Lauren Gunderson’s NATURAL SHOCKS, AMERICA TOO, A GUIDE TO WINNING (Original Solo Work), and PIPPIN. Ahmed also works as an associate director, most recently on Heather Raffo’s NOURA. Ahmed received his B.A. in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies from Brown University. He currently freelances in Bahrain and internationally.

Zachary Raymond Baker


Rafailia Bampasidou is a multi-disciplinary artist (award-winning composer, pianist, creative director and producer), running and boxing athlete and researcher. She is recipient of “Garry Schyman Scholarship” and Film music foundation scholarship. She is the composer and creative director for “Edges of Europe” project for Greece. She was a student of Sports Sciences department of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and she is a certified personal trainer by NASM while she has participated in many running and boxing races. She is currently doing her MA in Choreography at Codarts and Fontys University of Arts in the Netherlands, and she has been accepted at New York University for PhD music composition studies. She works as a stage manager at Greek National Opera.

Isabel de Berrie is an experimental composer and conductor. She completed an undergraduate degree in Music at the University of Cambridge, which was followed by a Master in Musicology at the University of Oxford, in which she graduated with Distinction. Isabel has studied with composers including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Sally Beamish, Trevor Wishart, and Giles Swayne. Isabel composes both for instruments and for electronics. Isabel’s most recent works include ‘View from A Window On A Sunny Day’ (soprano, viola, electronics) ‘Precise Depictions’ (solo piano) and ‘Blood Red Roses’ (solo flute). She recently participated in the Cortona New Music Sessions. Isabel is always excited to explore new ideas and is looking forward to participating in collaborative projects with ZFestival.

Julie Bowdren is a voice teacher, professional singer, poet, and jewelry/gemstone expert living in Southern Maine. She spent 10 years in the fine jewelry business, has been singing professionally for over a decade with ensembles such as the Dallas Chamber Choir, Orpheus Chamber Singers, Orchestra of New Spain and more, and is now taking a hiatus from in-person singing to teach voice lessons remotely and continue her own artistic endeavors.

The music of Chicago-based composer and baritone Tabes Bridges is known for telling stories that range from the sublime to the ridiculous, often all in the same piece. He is especially interested in writing harmonically and structurally complex works for acoustic instruments that grow from seeds of popular songs (i.e. harmonically and structurally straightforward music that is often highly non-acoustic in origin), and has (not entirely on purpose) written an oddly large number of works in memory of deceased family members and artistic heroes. During the work day, he teaches mathematics to college students.

Lily Desmond is a singer/songwriter composer focused on marrying conceptual works with feel-good-in-your-gut sounds. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College (’16) and a Presser Scholar, native to LA and living in Brooklyn NY. She performs live solo with a 5-string violin and a loop pedal, as well as standard acoustic folk repertoire. She records and produces her own music. She also creates visual art and writes stories, gravitating towards graphic novels and immersive flash stories online. 

Nicholas Fagnilli is a composer, synthesist, and music historian based in Pittsburgh, PA. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Nicholas received his B.Mus. in Composition from Ithaca College, taking lessons with Dana Wilson, Jorge Grossman, Louise Mygatt, and Evis Sammoutis. He also studied piano with Greg DeTurck, Dmitri Novgorodsky, and Diane Birr; and harpsichord with Jean Clay Radice and Mary Holzhauer. At Ithaca College, Nicholas recieved the 2019 Louis Smadbeck Prize for his trio for clarinet, piano and cello Naphtha. He also recieved the Best Music award from the 2019 Ithaca Student Film Festival.

Stacy Fahrion is an alt-classical composer, pianist, and piano teacher based in Denver. Fragility and impermanence are two recurring themes in her music that are often tempered by a simmering frustration with the misogyny that continues to plague us. While much of her music is melancholy, it sometimes has a mischievous, sardonic edge. Stacy loves exploring polyrhythms, odd-meter grooves, and unusual scales. Her piano music is published by Piano Pronto Publishing, and includes books such as Lullabies for Arachnophobes, These Are Odd Times, and Polyrhythms for Pianists. Stacy’s poet-friend, Wayne A. Gilbert, describes her music best: “Offbeat quirky seriously beautifully funny mischievously madly serious.”

Seamus Hubbard Flynn (b. 1999, they/them), from Minnesota, is a composer, flutist, pianist and noise practitioner, moving freely between staff notation, text, and graphics. Seamus is currently on leave from pursuing a B.A. in Music at Brown University in Rhode Island, where they have studied composition with Kristina Warren, Shawn Jaeger and Eric Nathan, played flute in assorted contexts on campus, and taken an eclectic smorgasbord of coursework. Seamus has also studied composition with Libby Larsen, Abbie Betinis and Edie Hill, and their music has been performed by ensembles such as Minnesota’s Zeitgeist, New York’s YarnWire and Switzerland’s Kukuruz Quartet.

Amanda Forest is a Canadian clarinetist from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Recently, she has performed as an alumni guest artist at the 2019 Brandon University Clarinet Festival. In April of 2019, she presented a concert of solo clarinet works titled “Solus”, which featured four new works from young Canadian composers. She also has been given residence as a performer for the Toronto Creative Music Lab. Ensemble wise, she currently performs as a member of the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble. Amanda holds a Master’s Degree in Clarinet Performance from Western University and a concurrent Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Brandon University.

Émilie Fortin is a passionate musician and teacher working to push the technical limits of the trumpet and redefine the traditional concert experience. Always seeking to enrich the repertoire of her instrument, she has participated in the creation of more than thirty works internationally, both solo and as part of a wide-range of ensembles. Her upcoming collaborations include physical elements in connection with her parallel experience in mime, dance and theatre, all connected in mulit-media pieces/productions. She is also the artistic director of the soloist collective Bakarlari which is dedicated to contemporary and creative music and was formed in 2018.

Julian Gau is a musician of various fields and places – as conductor, composer, performer, and enthusiastic listener. Before the pandemic, he worked primarily in orchestras and musical theatre, and he will be starting a master’s degree in orchestral conducting at Boston Conservatory in January 2021. As a composer, he has written various stories for various friends and small-to-medium-sized ensembles. Other musical activities include playing the piano and cello, livestreaming music on Twitch, and engraving music in LilyPond. During other times, he enjoys novels, noodles, and time with friends.

Clarinetist Lucy Hatem holds degrees from Sarah Lawrence College and Brooklyn College. A passionate performer of chamber music and new music, she has performed at ICMC-NYCEMF 2019 and the June in Buffalo festival. She is interested in arts administration, and has interned with WQXR and the PROTOTYPE Festival in New York; she also loves both teaching and writing about music. She was the recipient of the 2019 De Los Mederos Special Award in Music from the Brooklyn College Conservatory for excellence in performing contemporary music.

Tyler Katz (b. 1995) (they/them) is a composer, theorist, and violinist. They have previously studied music composition at the University of Iowa, where they received their M.A., and at the University of Miami, where they received their B.M in Composition, as well as a B.S. in applied physics with minors in political science and mathematics. Raised in a musical family, they have been studying violin since 1999 and composition since 2010. Their music has been performed at the Midwest Composers Symposium and by ensembles such as the JACK Quartet, Ensemble Accroche-Note, Found Sound Ensemble, and the Passepartout Duo. They were previously a teaching assistant in Music Theory and Aural Skills and a violinist in the UI Chamber Orchestra, and they have also taught violin at Bravo! Buddies summer camp in Waukegan, IL.

Alexa Letourneau is a composer, flutist, singer, and educator. An Ohio native, Alexa began playing the flute at eight years old. Within weeks, she was taping 5 pens together to draw a staff to start composing. Alexa is passionate about using art for social change, be it speaking out against gun violence or composing for LGBTQ+ performers. As a performer, Alexa specializes in the bookends of classical: early music and new music, frequently workshopping pieces with fellow composers. Alexa is not only a musician, however; she spends her free time developing recipes, writing poetry, and cross-stitching.

Shannon Lewis is a flutist and artist currently based in London, Ontario. She performs with the London Community Orchestra, and has performed with the Western University Symphony Orchestra, and the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra. Shannon is an advocate for contemporary music, and interdisciplinary collaboration across the arts. Shannon’s recent performances of contemporary music include pieces by Robert Lemay, Ashkan Behzadi, John Cage, and Antonio Giacometti. Shannon has committed herself to finding new and interesting repertoire to bring to her audiences. Shannon’s most recent projects include branching out into composition, and back into visual arts to create works for flute and electronics with a visual aspect. Shannon holds an MMus from Western University, and a BA(Honours) from Laurentian University.

Clarissa Littler has done research in particle physics, programming language design, and now teaches the computational humanities to youth as part of a very tiny non-profit. Their interests are in phenemenology in the tradition of Merleau-Ponty & Husserl, the relationship between technology and the body, and how we can use computational materials to create new kinds of art rather than serve new kinds of ads.

Matthew Lomax is a Sunderland-born contemporary classical and electroacoustic composer based in London. Often inspired by field recordings and images that capture everyday life, his music finds states of disconnect and separation in these moments; exploring the boundaries between noise & silence, density & space, motion & stillness. His music is noted for balancing fragile, unsettled timbres and melodic lines with sudden, dramatic shifts between densely layered and stark textures. His works respond to and incorporate other artistic mediums such as architecture, sculpture, speech and movement. Matthew has written for ensembles across the UK including The Cats Cradle Collective, PRISM ensemble and No Dice Collective, as well as collaborated on works with painters, video artists, photographers, dancers and spoken-word poets.

Kaitlin Pet is an Informatics PhD student at the Indiana University Luddy School of Informatics, Computer Science and Engineering. She holds a BA in Biology and Computer Science from Columbia University and a GPD from the Hartt School in Oboe Performance, where she concentrated on chamber performance. Kaitlin is passionate about new music and has performed in multiple venues with the Hartt’s Foot in the Door contemporary ensemble, including the 2019 CBDNA conference at Arizona State University.

Lara Poe is a Finnish-American composer who is currently based in London. She has worked with musicians such as the London Symphony Orchestra and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and her works have been performed across a wide range of venues throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. Poe has received recognition in several competitions, most recently receiving the Theodore Holland Intercollegiate Composition Prize in 2020, and in 2017 she was the first female winner of the William Schuman Prize in the BMI Student Composer Awards. This autumn she is starting doctoral studies at King’s College London under the supervision of Sir George Benjamin and Silvina Milstein.

Oseye Riddle is a classical pianist studying Music at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Her love for music started at the very young age of 5. Some of her greatest musical inspirations include Oliver Messiaen and Haydn. Her teachers have included Laurent Boukobza, Inesa Gegprifti, and Santiago Rodriguez

Ari Hunter Scott is a cellist and composer based in the Chicago area. A recent graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, Ari is an avid orchestral, solo, and chamber musician. In 2020, she was a Texas Music Festival Fellow, as well as a winner of the Illinois Wesleyan Concerto-Aria competition in 2018.


A multi-flutist and composer, Ammon Swinbank holds a Bachelor of Music from Cornish College of the Arts and two Master of Music degrees from New York University, Steinhardt. Ammon is adept at teaching classical and jazz and they also perform a variety of other styles on a growing collection of flutes. Original compositions include pieces for solo flute, chamber ensemble and jazz quintet. Most recently, Ammon released Big Apple Bonkers in December 2019. For more information, visit http://www.ammonswinbank.com.

Daniel Waldron is an oboist living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where he has worked as a freelancer for the last 8 years, with such groups as the Edmonton Symphony, Pro Coro Canada, and the Alberta Baroque Ensemble. Daniel has been featured as a guest artist on oboe and oboe d’amore by the Alberta Baroque Ensemble several times over the last few years, and in 2016 made his solo debut with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. In 2018 he founded the YEG Wind Quintet, dedicated to advancing Canadian wind chamber music by performing both contemporary music and 20th century quintet repertoire. Most influential among Daniel’s teachers are James Mason and Richard Dorsey. He has a Bachelor of Music from Wilfrid Laurier University and an Artist Diploma from The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music. He lives in Edmonton with his wife, Chelsea, and three cats.

Cameron Blake Wilson

Aleksandar Uzelac

Lara Villanueva is a Maryland-based audio engineer and multi-instrumental musician. Music and physics are two sides of the same coin and she is intrigued by the relationship of sound with spaces. Lara aims to explore the audible world through both her music and academic work. She is currently at the Peabody Institute (JHU) in the B.M.R.A program, working on both her bachelor’s degree in Bassoon Performance and her bachelor’s degree in Recording Arts and Sciences. Additionally, she was an audio engineer for zFestival during Summer 2020. Other recent audio work includes being on the audio staff of MBEIQ and MBEIQtemp.

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