Past Recipients of McKnight Fellowships for Musicians

2019-2020
Sedra Bistodeau, violin and fiddle, Princeton:
Sedra Bistodeau, 24, is a violinist and fiddler from Princeton, Minnesota. She started playing at the age of 3 and studied with teachers Margaret Haviland, Mary West and Sally O’Reilly. She graduated from Shattuck St. Mary’s and went off to California to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Violin Performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She graduated in May 2017, and studied with Bettina Mussumeli. Sedra has soloed with numerous orchestras around the state of Minnesota including the Duluth Symphony, the Bloomington Symphony, Itasca Symphony Orchestra, St. Cloud Symphony, Little Falls Symphony, Civic Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. Along with her classical training, Sedra has had tremendous success in the art of fiddling. She is a Minnesota State Champion, a Wisconsin State Champion, and she won the “Gone to Texas” division in Hallettsville, Texas when she was 13. She was the youngest person ever to win this division and the first female to win as well. She has also won two national titles at the National Old Time Fiddling competition in Weiser, Idaho, and is a certified National Judge for the Old Time Fiddling Competition as well. She has made many guest appearances with Peter Ostroushko, and has been a guest performer on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” for the last decade.

Gao Hong, traditional Chinese music, Northfield: Gao Hong, a master of the Chinese lute, the pipa, began her career as a professional musician at age 12. She graduated from China’s premier music school, the Central Conservatory of Music, where she studied with pipa master Lin Shicheng. In both China and the U.S., Gao has received numerous top awards, including 1st Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition and an International Art Cup (Beijing). In 2005, Gao became the first traditional musician to be awarded a Bush Artist Fellowship. She has also been awarded fellowships from the McKnight Foundation and grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Sorel Organization (NYC); Mid Atlantic Arts (Baltimore); Meet the Composer (NYC) and others. In 2018, she received the Sally Award from the Ordway for her commitment to the arts in Minnesota.
Gao has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Argentina, Asia and the U.S. in solo concerts and with symphony orchestras, jazz musicians and musicians from other cultures. She has performed at major venues and festivals worldwide: Lincoln Center Festival; Carnegie Hall; San Francisco Jazz Festival; Smithsonian Institution; the Next Wave Festival; Festival d’Automne a Paris in Paris and Caen, France; the International Festival of Perth; and the Festival de Teatro d’Europa in Milan. Her performances of pipa concerti include several world, U.S., and regional premieres and performances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, China National Traditional Orchestra, Guangdong National Traditional Orchestra Louisville Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, Heidelberg Philharmonic and others. In 2017, she became the first Chinese musician to play the National Anthem at a Minnesota Timberwolves NBA game at Target Center in Minneapolis.

As a composer, she has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, Jerome Foundation, Zeitgeist, Ragamala, Theater Mu, guitarist Lars Hannibal, Minneapolis Guitar Quartet and Twin Cities Public TV.
As an educator, in 2016, Gao Hong completed the first pipa method book ever written in English and had it published by Hal Leonard. She teaches Chinese musical instruments and directs the Carleton Chinese Music Ensemble and the Global Music Ensemble at Carleton College in Minnesota. She is also Guest Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music, China Conservatory of Music, Tianjin Conservatory of Music and Hebei Provincial School for the Arts in China.

Maria Isa, Afro-Latin hip-hop, St. Paul: Maria Isa is a singer, composer and hip-hop artist born in St. Paul. A self-identified “SotaRican” (Puerto Rican born in Minnesota), at an early age Maria Isa began her musical career at El Arco Iris Center for the Arts, an Afro-Puerto Rican performance and educational non-profit founded by women in her family.
Maria Isa’s musical voice is anchored in traditional Boricua folk music of bomba, plena and jibaro (Puerto Rican country music). These traditions blend together with contemporary versions of Latin jazz, salsa, funk, rap and R&B. For over twenty years as a recording artist and with over fifteen albums, Isa’s work uplifts the voices of Indigenous and Women of Color’s rights gracing airwaves, stages and Twin Cities’ entertainment publication covers, receiving awards from the Governor’s office of Minnesota and national recognition through the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s “Rising Latina Star Award.” MPR’s The Current has listed her as one of the state’s top 52 artists to be from Minnesota. Isa is currently writing Boricua musical curriculums and directing youth jazz programming throughout Minnesota. Maria Isa’s work contributes to the empowerment of future Latina/o/x musicians and she is also the owner of her own label SotaRico, distributing her music since 2009 and managing artists and Midwest Latino Music events.

Will Johnson (W/ILLS), post genre, St. Paul: Will Johnson is a vocal artist/sound programmer/composer originally from New York City. He received childhood vocal training as a member of the Harlem Boys Choir and continued his pursuit of music education throughout college, graduating from NYU with an interdisciplinary degree in Music and Philosophy.
In early performances and recordings, Johnson used song as vehicle for critical discourse on topics of race, gender, class, identity and selfhood. The work received mention and praise in outlets including NPR, the New Yorker, the New York Times and Vice. During this period, the artist was selected as a resident at the Red Bull Music Academy and contributed vocals to Grammy-winning album “Skin” by producer Flume. The growing success culminated in a songwriting/publishing contract under the name W/LLS for Universal/Kobalt/Reservoir.
Johnson’s solo and ensemble performances have been commissioned by the Kitchen, BAM, Lincoln Center, MassMoca, the Apollo, Afropunk Festival and Moogfest. As a guest vocalist, he has appeared in the Black Rock Coalition’s tributes to Gil Scott Heron, Grace Jones and Prince.
His recorded work and original scores have been licensed/commissioned by HBO, Fox, Amazon and Hulu and appear in advertisements for the Gap, Beats Electronics and Acura.
In 2017, he was awarded the Jerome Foundation’s fellowship for Sound Art/Composition. During this fellowship, he wrote, recorded and produced “The New Old” LP, an album that explores the futurist aesthetic of gospel music. He is currently based in St. Paul Minnesota, working on an upcoming theater piece commissioned by New York City’s Public Theater.

2018-2019
Jonatha Brooke, singer-songwriter, Minneapolis
Kill the Vultures, hip-hop artists, Minneapolis
MaLLy, hip-hop artist, Minneapolis
Clara Osowski, vocalist (mezzo-soprano), Brooklyn Center 

2017-2018
Tonia Hughes, 
voice, Minneapolis
Aida Shahghasemi, voice and composition, Minneapolis
Carrie Henneman Shaw, voice, Saint Paul
Tim Sparks, guitar, Burnsville

2016-2017
Francesca Anderegg – 
violin
Javier Santiago – jazz
Pooja Pavan
 – composer 
Tracey Engleman – voice

2015-2016
Atlantis Quartet – Zacc Harris, guitar; Brandon Wozniak, tenor saxophone; Chris Bates, double bass; Pete Hennig, drums
Troy King (King Fuvi), emcee and songwriter
Pat O’Keefe, clarinet and bass clarinet
Wilhelmina Smith, cellist

2014-2015
Danami Maurice Champion, songwriter, musician; from St. Paul
Ignacio Nachito Herrera, pianist, arranger and musical director; from White Bear Lake
Siama Matuzungidi, guitar; from Minneapolis
Jacqueline Ultan, cellist, composer; from Minneapolis

2013-2014
Haley Bonar, voice, guitar, piano, keyboard, from St. Paul
Cléa Galhano, recorder, from St. Paul
Paul Metzger, banjo, from St. Paul
Maiya Papach, viola, from St. Paul

2012-2013
Christopher Atzinger, piano, from Dundas
Gao Hong, pipa, from Northfield
Laura MacKenzie, flutes/pipes/whistles/concertina/voice, from Northfield
Karen Mueller, autoharp, from Minneapolis

2011-2012
Orkestar Bez Ime, Colleen Bertsch, violin/vocals; Dee Langley, accordion/vocals; Katrina Mundinger, clarinet/percussion/vocals; Natalie Nowytski, vocals/percussion
The Roe Family Singers, Quillan and Kim Roe
John Snow, oboe
Noah Hoehn, harmonic/marimba/voice/percussion

2010-2011
Bryan Nichols, pianist
Nirmala Rajasekar, veena player
Parker Quartet, Daniel Chong, violin; Karen Kim, violin; Jessica Bodner, viola; Kee-Hyun Kim, cello
Carrie Henneman Shaw, voice

2009-2010
Asako Hirabayashi, harpsichord
Bernhard David Scully, horn
Christopher Marshall, bassoon
Fora Baltacigil, double bass

2008-2009
Linda Chatterton, flutist
Sarah Kwak, violinist
Gao Hong, Chinese pipa player
Arek Tesarczyk, cellist

2007-2008
Noah Hoehn, harmonica player
David Karr, saxophone player
Charles Lazarus, trumpeter
Matthew Young, violist

2006-2007
Katja Linfield, cellist
Patrick Harison McPeck, accordionist
The Minneapolis Quartet, string quartet

2005-2006
Connie Evingson, vocalist
Amy and Sara Hamann, piano duo
Ross/Rapier Cello Duo
Voice Trek, vocal ensemble

2004-2005
Stephanie Arado, violinist
Artaria String Quartet
John Snow, oboist
Thomas Turner, violist

2003-2004
Steven Copes, violinist
Noah Hoehn, harmonica player
Dean Magraw, guitarist
Stephanie Wendt, pianist

2002-2003
Leibundguth-Witt Duo, flute & piano duo
Neal and Leandra, voice/guitar duo
Nina Tso-Ning Fan, violinist
Soyulla Duo, violin & cello duo

2001-2002
Dare to Breathe, vocal ensemble
Gao Hong, Chinese pipa player
Prudence Johnson, vocalist
Anthony Ross, cellist

2000-2001
The Bakken Trio, piano trio
Rosalyra Quartet, string quartet
Timothy Paradise, clarinetist
Connie Evingson, vocalist

1999-2000
Duologue, flute & guitar duo
Jorja Fleezanis, violinist
Diane Jarvi, vocalist & instrumentalist
Peter Mayer, vocalist/guitarist

1998-1999
Linda Chatterton, flutist
Laura MacKenzie, Celtic multi-instrumentalist
Ruth MacKenzie, vocalist
Sunita Staneslaw, harpist

1997-1998
Ensemble Capriccio, string trio
Gao Hong, Chinese pipa player
Shank-MacLaughlin Duo, violin & piano duo
Tadeusz Majewski, pianist