Student Art Spotlight: Ethan Shrier

By Drew Ingall, Arts Editor

What do Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Miles Davis and Barry Manilow all have in common? Not only are they legendary musicians, but they all went to the Juilliard School. And now, senior Ethan Shrier will join their impressive rank.

Shrier will take his talents to New York next year, as he accepted the Kovner Fellowship to the Juilliard School for his success in trombone. All applicants who apply to Juilliard are considered for the fellowship, and those who are offered it receive a full scholarship to the school.

“Going to Juilliard will provide me with all the tools I need to succeed in the musical world,” Shrier said. “Being able to come out of it all debt free because of this fellowship is unprecedented, and I feel so lucky to have this opportunity.”

He also made history when he received the fellowship.

According to Shrier’s private teacher, Ken Wolff, Shrier is the first trombonist to ever be offered the fellowship.

Shrier’s interest in trombone began in fifth grade after he chose to play it in his band class. He was conflicted between saxophone and trombone at the time, but he wanted to play trombone because both his father and his grandfather had played it.

“I knew that both my dad and grandfather played the trombone, so I decided to keep the family tradition alive,” Shrier said.

Although Shrier took up trombone in fifth grade, he didn’t get serious until he started taking lessons with Wolff in the seventh grade.

“He motivated me to work hard,” Shrier said. “Once I started working hard I got better, and once I got better I wanted to work even harder so I could continue improving.”

Wolff’s motivation has clearly paid off, as Shrier has gone on to play with some very prestigious orchestras, such as the National Youth Orchestra of the United States at a Philadelphia Phillies game.

He has also played at a variety of famous venues around the world, such as Carnegie Hall and concert halls in South Korea and China.

According to Wolff, Shrier’s unique talent and drive is what separates him from other musicians and is what makes him so successful.

Shrier is also involved in the Wind Symphony at CHS with band teacher Ariel Allal, who taught his class exclusively. He also played another brass instrument, the Euphonium, for the school band this past year.

“He’s got a great ear and is able to do a lot of mature things that most musicians at his age are still learning to do,” Allal said.

However, Shrier’s passion for trombone came with a sacrifice: he didn’t have time to pursue his other interests, including basketball.

“I always wanted to play [basketball] at Churchill, but I couldn’t make the time commitment with all the activities I had going on,” Shrier said.

Shrier’s intense schedule has also posed challenges for his mother, Nina Akbarian.

“Ethan has had a music related rehearsal or practice at least two, three or even four nights a week,” Akarian said, “As a single mother, it was often difficult to make time in my schedule to make sure Ethan was able to get where he needed to be.”

But for Akbarian, seeing her son grow as a musician was all worth it.

According to Akbarian, she feels incredibly lucky to have observed his development as a musician and human being.

Shrier gives a lot of credit for his success to his mom as well as the rest of his family.
According to Shrier, it’s great knowing that he has people in his life that support his efforts and want his dreams to come true just as much as he does.

Both Shrier and his mother believe that among the reasons for his success is the many teachers who helped Shrier on his path along the way.

“We have been an incredibly lucky to have enjoyed the support of excellent mentors from Rob Dalin, to Kris Sanz, and most of all, Ken Wolff,” Akbarian said. “[Wolff] went out of his way to find ways to defray the high cost of lessons, helped us with the purchase of an instrument, negotiated for Ethan to get classes with top teachers across the country and much more.”

Shrier hopes that he will be able to make most of what his future at Julliard will have to offer in order to be successful in the music world. Eventually, he wants to bring his musical knowledge and pass it on to the next generation of musicians.

“After college I hope to gain a position in a professional symphony orchestra and hopefully teach students like myself at a local conservatory or university,” Shrier said.