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Monday, June 17, 2024

Musical masters of the next generation compete in Young Artists Competition

Young, talented musicians gathered from across the country last month to participate in the Mondavi Center’s annual Young Artists Competition.

The competition is one of the most prestigious in the country for young musicians. In its six years, it has showcased many talented musicians who have gone on to do greater things and perform in impressive venues, such as Carnegie Hall in New York.

The final round of this year’s competition was held on March 26, when the 16 finalists, whittled down from 135, competed for prizes.

The competition was curated by pianist Lara Downes, who performs frequently at the Mondavi Center.

This year, for the first time, the competition was opened to musicians outside of California.

In addition, there were three rounds of auditions, including taped performances and a live semifinal round in January.

Ryan Brown, a Bay Area composer, created a required piece for the competition, which may become an annual tradition. In addition, past winners will be featured in the Mondavi Center’s Debut Series.

Although most of the winners were from California, Alison Chiang, who tied for first in the piano section of the Senior Division with Carrie Chen of Sunnyvale, was from Plano, Texas.

Los Altos, Calif. resident Will Chow won for Cello. In the vocals category, Julia Heron Metzler, a mezzo soprano from San Francisco won Grand Prize, and UCLA voice major Brian Vu won the Founder’s prize. Honorable mention went to the Mondo Trio and Nicole Shorts, soprano.

Jeremy Tai, a cellist hailing from Cupertino, Calif., won grand prize in the Junior Division of the competition and then proceeded to donate his $1,000 scholarship prize to earthquake relief efforts in Japan.

“I was practicing the Elgar Cello Concerto and it was hard for me to get the emotions I wanted for the piece. Then I remembered the disaster in Japan and it helped me create the right interpretation. This moved me to donate,” Tai said in a Mondavi Center press release. “I’m glad to have a chance to help people with my talent.”

Tai has played the cello for five years and although he loves playing, he isn’t sure if he wants to make a career out of it.

“I’ve still got a lot of time to decide what I want to do,” Tai said.

Either way, Jeremy’s mother Tiffany is proud of her son.

“We are very glad Jeremy could participate. It motivated Jeremy to win the top prize and to do something with the money besides buy an iPad. We are very proud of his compassion and passion,” she said.

Another winner was Grace Zhou, an 8-year-old pianist from Irvine, Calif., who won the piano award in the Junior division. According to her father, Josh, Grace started playing piano when she was five and quickly took to it like a Davis student to biking.

“Within a couple of months, the teacher told us we should be serious about her piano playing. We thought she was just being nice but then we heard her piano recital and it was just amazing,” Zhou said.

Zhou was encouraged by his daughter’s piano teachers to enter Mondavi’s Young Artists Competition.

“We did a lot of research. We were worried about her young age but everybody assured us it was fine. Everybody was so nice. We loved the Mondavi Center and we loved the staff, Zhou said. “It was a good experience and we’ll definitely come back if Grace wants to enter the Senior category.”

Although this year’s competition just ended, the applications will be open soon for next year’s competition. If you know anybody who is musically endowed, encourage him or her to apply. Or if you want to support young talent, keep a look out for news of when the finals will take place at the Mondavi Center.

MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org

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