Press release:

A record number of young chamber groups entered our eighth annual regional SPCO Youth Chamber Music Competition. Eight of them performed in the Finalists Recital in Sundin Hall at Hamline University on Saturday, February 23, and the winners are:

SENIOR DIVISION (for non-college students age 19 and under)
Winning First Place and the Grand Prize, which offers a performance at the Ordway Concert Hall preceding an SPCO concert, was the Des Moines Symphony Academy Quartet: Beau Henson (violin), Olivia Wong (violin), Dorothy Junginger (viola), and Joanna Kim (cello). Their coach is Mary Pshonik. They performed the first movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 7, Op. 59, No. 1. The judges praised their excellent communication with one another.

Tied for Second Place were the Andreas Piano Trio, performing the Arensky Piano Trio No. 1, 1st movement, and the Whipple Piano Quintet, performing Dvorak’s Piano Quintet No. 2, 1st movement. Members of the Andreas Piano Trio are Vinh Nguyen (piano), Cate Carson (violin), and Harrison Oh (cello). Members of the Whipple Piano Quintet are James Thompson (violin), Cate Carson (violin), Ana Dinis Perez (viola), Juntak Lee (cello), and Kirill Nazarov (piano). Both ensembles are coached by Eric Olson in the Shattuck-St. Mary’s School Pre-Conservatory Program.

Third Place winner was Trio Luminoso: Emily Kleiber (violin), Joseph Caswell (piano), and Andrea Wallick (cello) performing the Arensky Piano Trio No. 1, 1st movement. They are coached by Tom Rosenberg at the Saint Paul Conservatory of Music’s Chamber Music Academy.

The Judges’ Discretionary Prize for an Outstanding Performance went to the Ascolta String Trio: Amina Knapp (violin), Daniel Knapp (cello), and Maggie Liss (viola) performing Beethoven’s String Trio in G, 1st movement. Their coach is Ray Shows of the Artaria Chamber Music School.

JUNIOR DIVISION (for student groups, the majority of whom are age 15 and under)
First Place winner was the Elysian Quartet: Breanna Lee (violin), Elise Wallenfriedman (violin), Asla Hashel (viola), and Ella Swalley (cello) performing Beethoven’s Quartet No. 4, Op. 18, 1st movement. They are coached by Patty Ryan of the Artaria Chamber Music School.

Second Place and the Audience Choice Award went to Quartet Spiritoso: Cecil Mummey (violin), Vladimir Tsiper (violin), Claire Chen (viola), and Marcus Chen (cello), performing Haydn’s String Quartet No. 4, 4th movement. Their coach is Tom Rosenberg.

CREATIVE DIVISION (for performers of non-classical music genres)
The winning group was the Center for Irish Music Ensemble: Cathal Mee (accordion), Ian McKenna (accordion), Nadia Simons (fiddle), Declan Coleman (banjo, guitar), Joe De Georgeo (fiddle), Ava Sackaroff (flute, bodhrán), Carmen Pasquerella (flute), and Olivia Wenner (concertina, banjo, guitar). They are coached by Norah Rendell and Brian Miller of the Center for Irish Music.

Judges were Daria Adams, violinist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Mina Fisher, cellist, master teacher, and past performer with Ensemble Capriccio and the Bakken Trio; Korey Konkol, violist and professor of viola at the University of Minnesota; Russell Peterson, classical and jazz saxophonist, bassoonist, and composer; and Dr. Jeffrey Stirling, music director of the Saint Paul Civic Symphony, Northeast Orchestra, and Minnetonka Symphony Orchestra.

The competition is coordinated by the Friends of the SPCO, the volunteer organization that supports the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra through educational, social, and fundraising activities. Their goal for this competition is to encourage student musicians to form chamber ensembles, to expand their knowledge of the wonderful world of chamber music, and to achieve a high level of proficiency.