Why Choose Curtis?

In today’s competitive musical world, gifted musicians face a choice among several top-tier institutions. Why Choose Curtis?

Curtis students, alumni, and faculty share their reasons.


—Braizahn Jones (Double Bass), Curtis student, Albert M. Greenfield Fellow“I chose to go to Curtis because of the unique opportunities it offers: the opportunity I have to play an instrument of the highest quality for teachers of the highest quality, with the goal of making the highest quality music in mind. … As far as I’ve seen, it’s the only college that would allow a music major to even potentially achieve this. Curtis has resources that are made available so that any problem can be solvable.”
—Braizahn Jones (Double Bass), Curtis student, Albert M. Greenfield Fellow





—Lambert Orkis (Piano ’65), Curtis alumnus, concert pianist, and National Symphony principal keyboard“Curtis is unique. All of the students—at least every one I’ve heard—are phenomenal. For someone studying music, being surrounded by such a high level of playing is incredibly motivating. It creates an environment where you’re constantly challenged. You go to a student recital, or a school orchestra concert, and think, 'Wow, if they’re playing this well, I’d better start practicing harder!' The school’s location in Philadelphia is an added bonus. It’s a vibrant cultural city with a world-class resident orchestra. Having access to such wonderful music, both in school and in your city, is such a gift. You really learn what it means to be a musician that way.”
—Lambert Orkis (Piano ’65), Curtis alumnus, concert pianist, and National Symphony principal keyboard




Danielle Orlando, Curtis faculty, principal opera coach“There are so many reasons, starting with Mikael [Eliasen]: He’s always foraging for opportunities for singers, and he gets a lot of people from the opera world to come here and hear them, which can really help you make connections in your career. Apart from that, there’s the plethora of outstanding coaches, the high level of the Curtis Opera Theatre’s productions, and the chance to work closely and interact frequently with instrumentalists—they’re the musicians that will be accompanying you in the pit one day! In an atmosphere like this, there are so many different ways to learn.”
—Danielle Orlando, Curtis faculty, principal opera coach




Juan Diego Florez“[Curtis] prepared me for the real world, with real productions—with orchestra, costumes, and make-up, in a proper theater, and with great stage directors.”

—Juan Diego Flórez (Voice ’96), Curtis alumnus and internationally renowned tenor






Karina“So many reasons!  Because it’s small, it’s intimate. It’s free. Because it’s the best music school in the world. … The people you meet as a student here will be your people forever. The new building is incredible. When I was a student, we rehearsed in the old hall.  If we played a Shostakovich symphony in there, it was deafening. And I’d have been a much healthier person if we’d had a dorm and cafeteria—I was eating tuna out of a can! It’s great for foreign students too, because they have the camaraderie of living in a dorm together.”

 —Karina Canellakis (Violin ’04), Curtis alumna, conductor, 2016 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award



Daniel Hsu“First, I think the faculty is unparalleled. Second, it’s a performance experience you can’t find anywhere else. You want to play, you sign up and play. Every single musician here is great. [You’re] swimming in music the entire week, all the time, with all the faculty, and classes, and rehearsals.”

—Daniel Hsu (Piano), Curtis student, Richard A. Doran Fellow, 2017 Van Cliburn Competition Bronze Medal, 2015 Gilmore Young Artist Award, 2015 Concert Artists Guild Competition winner






Rinat Shaham

“I had the possibility of going to a few schools in New York. I decided on Curtis, because it seemed friendlier than New York, for my first away from home. Also, because of the full tuition. At that point, I didn’t even realize how exclusive it is, and how lucky I actually was to get accepted.

“I think Mikael Eliasen was the biggest influence. He is genuine, and what he asks of singers is genuineness and individuality. Just the aspect of being onstage, and allowing that transformation to happen, and not only be in the classroom theorizing about what it is to sing, but actually get up and sing. To be special, be unique, be who you are, and express that. For that, I’m really thankful to him. … It’s easy to develop only the technical side of things and produce opera stars. And I don’t think that is what Mikael does. He doesn’t produce opera stars, he produces artists.”

—Rinat Shaham (Voice ’95, Opera ’98), Curtis alumna, mezzo-soprano



Hal Robinson“Here at Curtis, there’s no dogma. I tell my students, ‘I’ll take any suggestions, you’re the boss.’ With me and Edgar [Meyer], you have two juggernauts in the double bass world; we try to craft the repertoire and the discussions around it, and we help the students develop the true sense of their personalities. Our students have success not because they play just like me or Edgar, but because we give them the information and the confidence to have their own voice. You won’t find two students here that are the same. I’m really proud of that.”

—Harold Hall Robinson, Curtis faculty, A. Margaret Bok Chair in Double Bass Studies




Gergana"Curtis is the most loving, caring, and supportive community I have been in so far. It is a place to explore your playing, learn from your talented peers, play together, and have fun. Most importantly, it is a place where you can feel perfectly safe to make mistakes—which is crucial to your growth as an artist."

—Gergana Haralampieva (Violin ’16), Curtis alumna