ICWF 2021: Brahms Sextet

Rachleff and Kahn

From July 12 through July 19, 2021 the International Conducting Workshop and Festival will present a workshop in partnership with the Katy Independent School District and hosted by Seven Lakes High School, Katy, TX focusing on the four symphonies of Brahms and led again by two of the most internationally esteemed conducting teachers: Larry Rachleff (Rice University Shepherd School) and Donald Schleicher (University of Illinois). They will be assisted by Benjamin Loeb (ICWF Artistic Director)Susan Dunn will lead Stage Deportment sessions and Russell Miller will be the workshop pianist.
All participants, faculty, and musicians must be vaccinated.

Even though the workshop is complete, you may still access recordings of ALL the sessions. To purchase access to the sessions ($10/session), cimply complete this short form:

To see the specific daily schedule including who is conducting which excerpt at which times, click here: DAILY SCHEDULE

What we do

Whether you are highly trained conductor, a promising student, or an avid amateur, our workshops offer many opportunities to improve as a conductor. We believe the best learning comes from studying standard repertoire with world class faculty in an intensive and immersive, yet non-competitive, professional, and supportive atmosphere. For practical experience, all participants conduct both full orchestra and piano sextet. Subjects studied include conducting technique, interpretation, score study, analysis, rehearsal technique, stage deportment, and musician interaction. All participants receive equal opportunity in a completely transparent organization.
Guillaume Pirard


Date: July 12 through July 19, 2021
Location: Katy, TX
Host: Seven Lakes High School Performing Arts Center

Basic details:

  • Twelve Sextet (String Quintet and Piano) sessions (3 hours each)
  • Each conductor will get a minimum 90 minutes with the ensemble
  • Post-session discussions focusing on repertoire, career, score study, and more
  • Stage presence sessions led by Susan Dunn
  • Lunch (and some dinners as scheduled) included
  • Hotels and breakfast are not included in the tuition, but conductors may select a comfortale, affordable and convenient hotel option arranged by ICWF at reduced rates which includes breakfast.
  • Convenient and inexpensive destination
  • Modern, Air-conditioned, concert and rehearsal hall setting for all sessions
  • All sessions will be Digitally Recorded in High Definition and concert quality audio, and ample opportunity will be provided to view session recordings. At the end of each conducting session or day, each conductor will receive a digital file of that session. Participants must provide his or her own storage media (1Tb USB 3.0 hard drive is most recommended).

Russell Miller

Levels of Participation

  • Full Conducting Participants (limited to 20)
  • Auditing - In Person or Online
  • Each Conducting Participant will get at least 90 minutes with the the ensemble
  • Sessions will be equally divided among all conductors
  • Auditing is also available both in person and online but does not include any active podium time. The auditor level is designed for those either who have little experience and training but show promise, or those with ample opportunity to conduct throughout the year, but want to use this workshop as a chance to observe master teaching. Auditing is available either for the full course or for individual sessions.

    Alicia Lieu


We will present one Chamber Concert during the workshop featuring faculty and guest artists in a program designed to illuminate the workshop repertoire. Participants will not perform on these concerts.


  • Larry Rachleff (Rice University Shepherd School of Music)
  • Donald Schleicher (University of Illinois)
  • Susan Dunn (Rice University)
  • Benjamin Loeb (Artistic Director, ICWF)


  • Brahms Symphony #1
  • Brahms Symphony #2
  • Brahms Symphony #3
  • Brahms Symphony #4

    Donald Schleicher

Sextet Sessions

  • The sextet is made of a string quintet of professional Houston area musicians (Houston Symphony and Houston ballet members) and pianist (Russell Miller) who will cover the woodwinds, brass, percussion, and string divisi.
  • During the Sextet sessions, we will cover all of the repertoire.
  • For the first sessions, we will work straight through all of the repertoire. Once we have covered everything, Conductors will be able to request specific sections to conduct.
  • Sextets are specifically designed to allow us to explore the challenges of the repertoire in great detail. There will be more stopping for feedback from the faculty.
  • Sextet time will be equally divided among the conductors.
  • All sessions will take place in the air-conditioned Seven Lakes High School Performing Arts Center.

Discussion Sessions

  • Generally at the end of each day, the faculty will hold a half hour discussion session to recap the issues discovered in that day's sessions.
  • Conductors will have the opportunity to get one-on-one feedback from all the faculty during breaks and after each session.
  • Some discussion sessions will be scheduled around topics such as rehearsal technique, score study, career paths, and more.
  • Faculty are quite available for ad hoc individual and group discussions.

    Don Schleicher and Arman Keyvanian


One of the great benefits of the workshop is the opportunity to grow and develop a supportive network of conductor colleagues. These relationships can very often lead to professional and academic opportunities as well as lifelong friendships. While we can't claim credit for every success of our ICWF alumni, we are proud of their accomplishments and know that their experience at the workshops provided some positive learning that they used to further their career and love for music. 

Here is what some of our past participants have said about their ICWF experience.

Some of our past participants now hold or have held positions such as Fresno Symphony Music DirectorEl Paso Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia OrchestraCharleston Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, London PhilharmonicDallas Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota OrchestraDetroit Symphony Orchestra, Knoxville SymphonyUtah Symphony Associate ConductorNorwalk Symphony Music Director, San Diego SymphonyAmarillo Symphony Music Director, National Symphony Assistant Conductor,  Santa Cruz Symphony Orchestra Music Director, Memphis Symphony Assistant ConductorBuffalo Philharmonic Associate Conductor, Kansas Symphony Assistant ConductorSymphony Orchestra Northwest Arkansas Assistant Conductor, and many more.  Our past participants have also been accepted into the most prestigious conducting programs in the world including at The Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Peabody Institute, Rice University, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, New England Conservatory, and many more.
ICWF 2020 Conductors


For this workshop, accommodations are not provided, but ICWF will make arrangements with a few nearby hotels to get good group rates. 

Guests accompanying conductors will also be provided lunch and free access to all public ICWF events.

Detailed schedule

Monday, July 12, 2021 10:00-13:00 Orientation and Score Study
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-17:00 Sextet 1 - Sym. #2
Tuesday, July 13, 2021 10:00-13:00 Sextet 2 - Sym #2 and #1
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-17:00 Sextet 3 - Sym. #1
17:15-17:45 Discussion
18:00-20:00 Stage Presence
Wednesday, July 14, 2021 10:00-13:00 Sextet 4 - Sym. #3
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-17:00 Sextet 5 - Sym. #4
17:15-17:45 Discussion
18:00-20:00 Stage Presence
Thursday, July 15, 2021 10:00-13:00 Sextet 6 - Sym. #4 and #1
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-17:00 Sextet 7
17:15-17:45 Discussion
18:00-20:00 Stage Presence
Friday, July 16, 2021 10:00-13:00 Sextet 8
13:00-14:00 Lunch
Saturday, July 17, 2021  10:00-13:00 Sextet 9
13:00-14:00 Lunch
19:00-20:00 Chamber Concert
20:30-22:00 Group Dinner
Sunday, July 18, 2021 10:00-13:00 Sextet 10
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-17:00 Sextet 11
Monday, July 19, 2021 9:00-12:00 Sextet 12
12:00-14:00 Lunch and Discussion

Fees and deadlines

  • Application fee $50
  • ICWF 2021: Brahms Sextet Tuition $2,295
  • ICWF 2021: Brahms Sextet In Person Auditing Full Course $720
  • ICWF 2021: Brahms Sextet In Person Auditing Individual sessions $60/session
  • ICWF 2021: Brahms Sextet Online Auditing Individual sessions $10/session
  • Hotel is not included but a list of nearby hotels will be made available to all participants.
  • Monday, May 28, 2021 First Application Deadline
  • Friday, June 4, 2021 Notifications for acceptance
  • Monday, June 7, 2021 Accepted applicants must confirm participation
  • After June 7, 2021 Applications will be reviewed and processed on a space-available basis.
  • Two weeks after notification Full tuition due. 
  • Late payment of tuition deposit or tuition payment may result in loss of spot.
  • If a conductor must cancel his or her spot, the tuition deposit and/or tuition will be refunded only if a suitable replacement is found to fill the spot.

Fees must be paid according to schedule in $US.

To apply, click here.

All tuition fees paid by credit card will have a 3.5% service fee added.

Online payments preferred, but US checks (free) and bank transfer ($45 fee) will be accepted. The application is not complete and will not be processed until the payment is received. 

Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

The Joel Fan Foundation

The International Conducting Workshop and Festival has a fiscal sponsorship relationship with the Joel Fan Foundation. This means that the ICWF can accept grants, accept tax-deductible donations, and carry on other activities under the tax-exempt status of their sponsor. To help you raise money for yourself, the Joel Fan Foundation and the ICWF can each write letters on your behalf. In the last ten years the ICWF granted over $150,000 in tuition scholarships through the generous help of the Joel Fan Foundation.

Technically, you can act as a fundraising agent for the ICWF and raise money from your own network of support for your tuition scholarship. Anyone you know who would like to help you would then send their support to the Joel Fan Foundation ArtMatch and suggest that the money go to your scholarship. Then, the Foundation will grant the ICWF the money along with the suggestion to whom the money should be applied. The ICWF would then accept the suggestion of the Joel Fan Foundation and apply the money received to the conductor. In the past, the money was 100% granted according to the suggestions. The ICWF guarantees full credit for the amount raised through the Joel Fan Foundation, even if the specific money is not allocated directly to your scholarship. The Joel Fan Foundation has generously agreed not to charge any fees for the processing of this money - the usual fees for fiscal sponsorship relationships are 3-6%.

ArtMatch Process:

  1. Make all checks to the "Joel Fan Foundation ArtMatch". Please do not indicate the name of the participant on the check.
  2. To facilitate the processing of the grants, the sponsor should say exactly the following in a cover letter:
    To The Joel Fan Foundation:
    I am making this donation to the Joel Fan Foundation ArtMatch in support of the International Conducting Workshop and Festival. I suggest that this money be applied to the tuition scholarship of [name of participant].

    [Name of Sponsor]
    [Address of Sponsor]
    [Email Address of Sponsor]
  3. Mail checks and letters to:
    The Joel Fan Foundation ArtMatch
    c/o International Conducting Workshop and Festival
    7509 Avalon Dr
    Plano TX 75025
  4. The receipt of the check will be acknowledged by the Joel Fan Foundation and the application of the tuition scholarship will be acknowledged by the ICWF.

The Joel Fan Foundation is a registered 501(3)(c) non-profit corporation and qualifies for tax-deductible contributions.
Sophie Mok
Yue Bao (ICWF alumna and Houston Symphony Fellow)

The International Conducting Workshop and Festival is also supported by the REC Music Foundation, a recognized 501(c)3. To help ICWF, please consider making a donation.


Regarding COVID-19, we will be required to adhere to all CDC, KISD, and Seven Lakes HS requirements. 

If the workshop must be canceled due to the continue pandemic, all tuition fees will be returned. However, we cannot reimburse for any travel expenses or to return the application fee. We strongly suggest that all participants purchase travel insurance that specifically covers COVID-related cancellations.


  • Dates July 12th thru July 19th
  • Location Katy, TX, USA
  • Orchestra