Artist Statement: Quintilia is a contemporary chamber ensemble committed to building and supporting community through experimental and vernacular music. Based in several physical locations, we aim to collaborate with our prospective local arts communities and anti-oppression organizers through our programming, venue selection and presentation. Deep collaboration and improvisation are at the core of our practice, as we focus on works for open/flexible instrumentation, or newly commissioned projects. Our members include Francesca Leo (flutes and musicians’ health), Thomas Morris (oboe), Tyler Neidermayer (clarinets/electronics and composer), Yaz Lancaster (violin/multi-instrumentalist and composer) and Gramm Drennen (cello and composer). We are currently based between New York City, Ann Arbor/Detroit, and Newport News, Virginia.

member profiles

francesca leo, flute/Performance health

Francesca Leo is a cutting edge flutist, entrepreneur and educator. She has given solo and chamber performances internationally in Italy and France and has performed as a soloist with the New Albany Symphony Orchestra and the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Sinfonia. A Michigan native, she has won top prizes in many competitions including the Manhattan School of Music Eisenberg-Fried Concerto Competition, the Central Ohio Flute Association Young Artist and Collegiate Division Competitions, the Lima Symphony Young Artist Concerto Competition, the New Albany Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, the MTNA Solo Division Competition and the Puerto Rico Flute Symposium Young Artist Competition.

A fierce advocate of contemporary music, Francesca has appeared as a soloist at the Society for Composers International (SCI) and the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) Conferences, where her performance won a recording spot on the 2018 Music From SEAMUS, vol. 27 CD.  She is the flutist and a founding member of the Quintilia Ensemble, a quintet committed to pushing the boundaries of contemporary chamber music. Francesca has participated in the premieres of many new works in solo, chamber, orchestral and operatic settings, including the Mid-American premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s opera Ă‰milie.  She is currently working with a variety of composers to premiere new repertoire for solo flute. 

As an orchestral musician, Francesca has performed under the baton of renowned conductors such as Roderick Cox, George Manahan, and Leonard Slatkin.  She specializes in performing arts health and is the founder of www.playingwithoutpain.com, an award-winning interactive web resource designed to provide collegiate music students with information to treat and prevent performance-based injury.   She has presented her research at various institutions across the United States including the Manhattan School of Music, West Virginia University, Ohio Northern University and the Puerto Rico Flute Symposium as a Lecturer in Performing Arts Health. Francesca currently serves as a board member on the National Flute Association Performance Health Care Committee and is the Program Coordinator and Social Media Assistant for the Art of Practicing Institute. She holds teaching positions at Flute Specialists, Inc. and the Fortissimo Academy of Music.

Francesca holds a masters degree in Classical Flute Performance from the Manhattan School of Music as a former Joseph F. McCrindle scholarship recipient and a bachelors degree in Music Performance and Entrepreneurship from Bowling Green State University.  Francesca’s primary teachers and mentors include Linda Chesis, Conor Nelson and Jeffrey Zook. For more information, visit www.francescaleoflute.com.

tyler neidermayer, bass clarinet/composition

Tyler Neidermayer is an experimental bass clarinetist, electronic musician, and composer in NYC dedicated to consistently presenting new works for clarinet, bass clarinet and live electronics. He performs with and manages live sound/tech for Apply Triangle, Quintilia, InfraSound and Blackbox Ensemble. Tyler’s compositions focus on live manipulation and processing of acoustic sound to develop new textural ideas that inform the player’s musical decisions. He has been a featured performer at the Nief-Norf Summer Music Festival, NYU Pulsing & Shaking Festival, and the Oh My Ears New Music Festival.

Tyler plans to release his self-produced debut album later this year featuring new works that he has collaborated on with emerging composers. Other future projects include a residency at Yellow Barn for Susan Botti’s River Spirits, recording and releasing a collection of new electroacoustic works with Apply Triangle, and collaborating with Donivan Berube on his forthcoming record. He holds a M.M. in contemporary performance from Manhattan School of Music, studying bass clarinet with David Krakauer and Michael Lowenstern and holds a B.M. from Northern Arizona University where he studied clarinet with Cris Inguanti and composition with Bruce Reiprich.

gramm drennen, cello/composition

A native of Toledo, Gramm Drennen is a Boston-based cellist and educator dedicated to performing the tunes of today, music of the moment, and pieces of the present.

A performer passionate about contemporary music, Gramm Drennen has performed alongside artists including Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond), JACK Quartet, and Tony Arnold. Gramm has also worked directly with composers including Samuel Adler, Ted Hearne, George Lewis, Wadada Leo Smith, Pamela Z, Michael Gordon, Sarah Kirkland Snider, andCaroline Shaw. Gramm has been a performer with ensembles such as the Vive! Ensemble, with whom he gave the Midwest premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s chamber opera Émilie. Gramm is a founding member of Quintilia, a modern quintet with open instrumentation and a dedication to collaboration and improvisation.

Gramm has performed at numerous new music festivals, conferences, and forums. These include New Music on the Point, New Music Gathering, the Bowling Green New Music Festival, and most recently the Nief Norf summer festival. Gramm has premiered dozens of pieces by eminent and emerging composers, and has commissioned multiple works featuring the cello.

An active performer of more traditional repertoire, Gramm has previously served as Assistant Principal Cellist of the Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra as well as the Du Bois Orchestra at Harvard. Gramm has also performed with the Boston Civic Symphony and Adrian (MI) Symphony Orchestras.

Passionate about education as well, Gramm is a private lessons tutor on cello and bass at Medfield (MA) public schools, and has previously taught private lessons to beginning and intermediate string students from the Toledo Public Schools area. With these students, Gramm taught string technique, introductory piano and composition, and coached chamber groups. Gramm was also a mentor for the Detroit Civic Youth Ensembles and El Sistema Side-by-side string orchestra at Longy School of music, where he led sectionals and assisted the directors, as well as being a resource for the cello sections. Gramm has also served as a volunteer teaching assistant at Bridge Boston Charter schools and the Rindge Avenue Upper School in Cambridge.

Gramm received a B.M. from Bowling Green State University, and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree from Boston Conservatory in Contemporary Classical Performance. Gramm has attended numerous summer festivals, including Bang on a Can, Nief Norf, New Music on the Point, Domaine Forget, and the Aboyne Cello Week. Gramm has performed in masterclasses for Johannes Moser, Philippe Muller, Astrid Schween, Claire Bryant, Phil Higham, Alice Neary, and Deborah Pae. Gramm’s primary instructors include Rhonda Rider, Brian Snow, and Alan Smith. For more information, visit www.grammdrennen.com.

thomas morris, oboe

Thomas Morris is an oboist currently based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Passionate about new music, Thomas is always seeking new opportunities to expand the sounds and repertoire of the oboe. Thomas particularly enjoys working with and helping emerging composers showcase the capabilities and colors of the instrument. To this end, Thomas is currently working with multiple composers all across the United States and Canada to create new works. In addition to working with early-career composers, Thomas has also worked with esteemed composers such as George Lewis, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Wadada Leo Smith, Samuel Adler, and Bekah Simms.

As an active performer, Thomas has shared the stage with groups and performers such as the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond), and the Akropolis Reed Quintet. Additionally, Thomas currently performs with the University of Michigan’s Contemporary Directions Ensemble. Thomas enjoys performing traditional repertoire as well. Thomas is currently a substitute on oboe and english horn in the Toledo Symphony Orchestra in addition to being an active freelancer in the southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio area. 

Started in 2019, Thomas is the founder and oboist in Quintilia, a cutting edge chamber ensemble focused on presenting a wide variety of contemporary and experimental music and celebrating inclusivity through the programming and commission of composers from diverse backgrounds. More information on Quintilia can be found at http://www.quintiliaensemble.com/.

Thomas has attended multiple new music festivals and conferences. These include Bowling Green State University’s New Music Festival, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity: Ensemble Evolution, and the Nief-Norf Summer Festival.

Thomas also enjoys working in the non-profit sector and in arts administration. Thomas currently is an intern for the Akropolis Reed Quintet (501(c)3 non-profit organization). 

Thomas is currently pursuing a double M.M. in oboe performance and chamber music from the University of Michigan and holds a B.M. in oboe performance from Bowling Green State University. Thomas’ primary teachers are Nancy Ambrose King and Nermis Mieses. Thomas has also performed in lessons and masterclasses for Katherine Needleman, Alex Klein, James Austin Smith, Eugene Izotov, and Erin Hannigan. For more information, visit www.thomasmorrisoboe.com.

yaz lancaster, violin/composition

“Warm, crunchy, [and] beautifully heart-wrenching” characterizes the work of interdisciplinary artist Yaz Lancaster (they/them theirs). They are primarily focused on the representation & support of marginalized/underprivileged identities in the arts, genuine modes of collaboration and practices aligned with relational aesthetics and the idea of constellating genre-fluid works that bring in fragments, histories and flavors from various sources of inspiration.

Always interested in expanding their musical capabilities, Yaz performs in a wide variety of settings including baroque & contemporary ensembles, theatre pits & orchestras, steel bands, studio sessions and indie bands. They are a founding member of Quintilia, US-based quintet that pioneers music for open instrumentation & improvisation, and also champions music written by artists of underrepresented communities. Yaz’s interest in new works & collaboration has led them to work with artists including Wadada Leo Smith, George Lewis, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Andy Akiho, Ted Hearne, Ashley Walters & Anne Lanzilotti, and to perform in venues across the US, Canada, Prague (Czechia) & Trindad and Tobago. 

Yaz’s work can be described as “concentrated” & “empirical,” as it almost always reckons a specific influence like politics of identity & liberation, poetry, natural phenomena or landscapes of memory. Their compositions have been performed in the US and Canada by artists like the National Sawdust Ensemble, Apply Triangle, Quince Ensemble, Western Carolina University, Shepherdess, Andrew Noseworthy, Andrea Lodge and Vaso String Quartet. They are currently working on projects with Hypercube, Vex Saxophone Duo & Jamie Monck, among others. Yaz was selected as a runner-up of the 2019 Hildegard Competition held by National Sawdust celebrating trans, non-binary and women composers. They are currently represented by PPR as both a composer & performing artist. Yaz’s poetry has been published in both online & print sources like Potluck, Peach, and Minetta Review, as well as three self-published collections. Of their work, National Book Awardee Terrance Hayes writes “[their] poetry displays a terrific mix of invention. Impressive metaphor and imagery appear amid formal experimentation… the poems balance a meditative solitude with speculative musing about human interaction and intimacy.”

Yaz holds a M.M. in violin performance & a B.M. in violin performance & poetry from New York University. They have most recently studied violin with Cyrus Beroukhim and composition with Joan La Barbara & Robert Honstein. Yaz will be attending the University of Toronto for an Artist Certificate in violin performance. For more information, visit www.yaz-lancaster.com.