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RPL announces 61st Young Artist Auditions winners

March 24, 2016

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For Immediate Release:  March 24, 2016
Media Contact:   Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795, sally@sallycohenpr.com
RPO Inforpo.org, facebook.com/RochesterPhilharmonic, twitter.com/RochesterPhil, rochesterphilharmonic.blogspot.com
RPL Inforpo.org/yaa, rpo.org/RPL

Micah Harrow from Honeoye Falls wins Special Award: opportunity to play with RPO
40 area teens competed for $4,000 in cash & scholarships last week

Rochester, NY – Founded in 1929 to support the education and outreach programs of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), the Rochester Philharmonic League (RPL) has held and funded its annual Young Artist Auditions for high school musicians since 1955. This year’s 61st competition held at the Eastman School of Music on Sunday, March 13 saw 40 talented 10th, 11th and 12th graders from a nine-county area compete for a total of $4,000 in cash awards and scholarships. 

Four cash awards of $500 were given in the female vocal, strings, piano and instrumental (woodwind, brass, percussion, harp or guitar) categories (no eligible male vocalists competed this year). Two $1,000 college scholarships were also awarded, and the Special Award winner – chosen from among the winners in the award categories – will have the opportunity to audition for a solo performance with the RPO.

This year’s Special Award winner is Micah Harrow, a home-schooled senior from Honeoye Falls and student of Ruth Cahn at the Eastman Community Music School (ECMS). Micah currently plays percussion and timpani in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, where he recently won the RPYO concerto competition and performed during the annual RPYO/RPO Side-by-Side concert in Kodak Hall. He performs chamber music with ECMS’s Drum Joy percussion ensemble, and collaborated on the world premiere of a new work with the MasterWorks Percussion Ensemble. A drum set enthusiast, Micah has performed and recorded with the Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra for the Essentially Ellington Competition. He frequently plays jazz, rock, and musical theatre gigs around the Rochester area, and will attend the Eastman School of Music this fall.


“Winning the Special Award is an honor. It signifies a culmination of a long musical journey that started years ago when I first picked up marimba mallets as a middle-schooler at the ECMS,” says Micah. “Now, I feel that I am ready to take the next step in my musical journey.” 

Here are the rest of year’s winners (name, instrument, grade, school, hometown, and private teacher):

Aldridge-Tinker Scholarship for Instrumentalists ($1000 college scholarship)
Winner:  Ji-Ze Jang, piano, grade 11, Pittsford Mendon High School, Pittsford, Vincent Lenti

Jan DeGaetani Scholarship for Vocalists ($1000 college scholarship)
Winner:  Tessa Spencer, soprano, grade 11, Odyssey Academy (Greece), Rena Monti

Helen and George Greer Instrumental Award
Winner:  Micah Harrow, marimba, grade 12, home school, Honeoye Falls, Ruth Cahn
Runner-up:  Anna Miller, flute, grade 12, Spencerport High School, Spencerport, Sophia Gibbs Kim
Honorable Mention: McKena Stickney, piccolo, grade 10, Eastridge High School (East Irondequoit), Jennifer Trimble Ford


Mildred and Julius Ness Award for Piano ($500)
Winner:  Ji-Ze Jang, piano, grade 11, Pittsford Mendon High School, Pittsford, Vincent Lenti
Runner-up:  Jarod Yap, piano, grade 11, Clarence High School, Clarence Center, Mary Handley

Ruth and Sidney Salzman Award for Strings
Winner:  Alexandria Ott, violin, grade 12, home school, Rochester, Shannon Nance
Runner-up: Samuel Nitsch, violin, grade 11, Penfield High School, Penfield, Shannon Nance

Tessa Martin Award for Female Vocalists
Winner:  Tessa Spencer, soprano, grade 11, Odyssey Academy (Greece), Rena Monti

“We celebrate the accomplishments and dedication of all our participants – the long hours of lessons and practicing – as well as the tremendous support from their parents and teachers,” says League President Eileen Ramos. “The wonderful camaraderie among the participants and volunteers is a hallmark of this competition, as is the positive encouragement from judges and accompanists.”

Judges for 2016 included several RPO musicians and renowned area music educators:

VOCAL: Jonathan Retzlaff  (Eastman School of Music), Katherine Ciesinski (Eastman School of Music), Pamela Kurau (Eastman School of Music & SUNY Geneseo)

INSTRUMENTAL: Erik Behr (Principal Oboe, RPO), Maura McCune Corvington (horn, RPO), Kristen Shiner McGuire (Nazareth College)
STRINGS: Wilfredo Deglans (Associate Concertmaster, RPO), Christopher Haritatos (cello, RPO), Lara Sipols (second violin, RPO)

PIANO: Paula Bobb (Hochstein School of Music & Dance), Johnandrew Slominski (Eastman School of Music), Beverly Smoker (Nazareth College)

SPECIAL & SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS: Kathryn Cowdrick (Eastman School of Music), Mark Kellogg (Principal Trombone, RPO & Eastman School of Music), Ahrim Kim (Principal Cello, RPO), Paul Shewan (Roberts Wesleyan College)

All award and scholarship winners are invited to perform in a free, public recital in Eastman School of Music’s Hatch Recital Hall during the summer. This year’s Young Artists in Concert - A Celebration of Winners is scheduled for Sunday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m.

The Rochester Philharmonic League (RPL) was founded in 1929 as a volunteer support group for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. For more than 80 years, the two organizations have collaborated to further their common goal of providing great music and music education in the greater Rochester community. The League’s current activities focus on educating young people about music and the RPO, and on fostering the advancement of music talent in the community’s youth. 

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 170,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Recently appointed 12th Music Director Ward Stare joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his 20-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair)—the first position of its kind in the country—the RPO reaches more than 13,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.

Media please note:  Additional photos are available, and interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.


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