Courtney Van Cleef is a passionate cello pedagogue, inspiring students to love music first and map their individual musical journeys second. She will earn a Doctor of Musical Arts in Cello Performance at the University of Minnesota in May 2017 as a student of Tanya Remenikova. Other completed degrees include a Master of Music in Cello Performance from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford (under Professor Mihai Tetel) and a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance at Stetson University (under Professor David Bjella).
Courtney teaches from her private cello studio based in the Twin Cities. Studying the cello since 2001 and teaching since 2010, she has cultivated a philosophy that emphasizes working smart, not hard. Additional experience working with young cellists comes from her summers as the cello teaching intern at the Upper Midwest String Camp in St. Joseph and counselor at Michigan’s Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp where she lived alongside campers and served as a musical mentor. She has worked closely with the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony as the rehearsal assistant for the novice orchestra, Philharmonia East. Courtney designed and is teaching “Music and Terror: The Lives of Prokofiev and Shostakovich” as a University of Minnesota Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Scholar Adviser in spring term 2017.
Recent diverse performance projects include 7th House Theater’s critically acclaimed new musical “The Passage: Or What Comes of Searching in the Dark”. The production was hosted by the Guthrie Theater as part of its 2016 “Level Nine Series”, devoted to community dialogue about today’s most significant topics and questions. Other professional Minnesotan theaters Courtney has played for include Mixed Precipitation’s touring theater in their original production of “Donald Giovanni in Cornlandia: A Picnic Operetta” and the Yellow Tree Theater, appearing in their productions of “Next to Normal” and “Violet“. Courtney is slated to play in Old Log Theater’s production of “Ghost the Musical” during the summer 2017 season. In 2014, Courtney was a featured artist in the award-winning Spirit of Broadway Theater’s production of the new musical “Bleeding Love”. Courtney regularly performs with professional regional orchestras including the Mankato Symphony Orchestra and the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra. She appeared with pop artist Michael Bublé during his 2013 Hartford performance of the “To be Loved” tour. From 2009-2012, Courtney performed with Stetson University’s endowed and elite Barron String Quartet as its cellist and also served as the quartet’s manager. Courtney is the sole proprietor of the Minneapolis gigging service, Quartetto Dolce.
Summer programs she has attended include the Northern Lights Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, and Credo Chamber Music Festival at the Oberlin Conservatory. At Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Courtney held a leadership role among the counselors in the staff Festival Orchestra and was chosen as the cellist of the staff string quartet. Other major honors include winning the 2008 Florida Young Artists Orchestra (FYAO) Concerto Competition, and receiving the FYAO Tabachnik Scholarship for leadership and musicianship. She is a sister of the national fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota for professional women musicians and a member of Suzuki Association of the Americas. Courtney ultimately aspires to become a college professor of cello. She hopes to use her position as a music instructor to teach topics in Russian music history, a genre that has inspired her throughout her musical career.