Young Artists Competition

2024 YAC Winners

Twelve-year-old cellist Elijah Song is a student at Tamanend Middle School. His musical journey began at the age of 5, and he is currently studying under the guidance of Priscilla Lee, Associate Principal at the Philadelphia Orchestra. Elijah’s musical achievements are diverse and impressive. He has been a member of the Young Musician Debut Orchestra for a year and has participated in the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra for two years. Notably, Elijah showcases his talent in both the String Ensemble and the Swing Ensemble, where he proficiently plays the cello and the piano, respectively, at his school.

Since 2020, Elijah has been an active member of the Grace Chamber Music Youth Club, dedicated to raising awareness about disabilities and fundraising. He has had the honor of performing several times at the Special Olympics Montgomery County Fundraising Concert. Additionally, Elijah takes pride in his membership in the Global Music Partnership since 2021. He frequently performs in concerts within the local community alongside his pianist mother and his violinist sister as a member of the Song Trio. In competitions, Elijah has excelled, achieving 2nd place for piano in the 18th Young Korean Musicians Competition and 1st place for cello in the 19th edition. He also received 2nd place at the Opus Music Competition.

Since 2017, Elijah has been enrolled in the Gifted Individualized Education Plan Class and actively participates in various extracurricular activities at school, including the chess club, UNICEF club, STEM club, and Reading Olympics.

Samuel Cao is a 15 year old cellist currently based in Philadelphia, PA. He started playing the cello at 6 years old, and he studies privately with Gloria dePasquale, a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He is the assistant principal cellist of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and a member of the Myer Schwartz Piano Trio, an ensemble of the Settlement Music School Advanced Study Chamber Program. He became a member of the Philadelphia Music Alliance for the Youth Artists’ Initiative in 2020, and he has participated in masterclasses with artists like Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Raman Ramakrishnan, and Timothy Eddy. He was awarded the First Runner-Up award for the 2022 Philadelphia Young Artists’ Orchestra Concerto Competition, was the second place finalist for the 2023 Bucks County Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, and, with his trio, competed in the 51st Annual Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and was a top-four finalist in the 2024 Coltman Chamber Music Competition. He has participated in summer music programs such as the Heifetz International Music Institute and the Luzerne Music Center, where he worked with teachers like Thomas Mesa, Julia Lichten, Andrew Mark, and Minna Rose Chung. Outside of music, Samuel enjoys debating in the national circuit, watching all the Philly sports teams, and playing chess.

2023 YAC Winners

Violinist Maxwell Brown (age 12) is a student of Brian Lewis (Austin, TX) and Timothy Schwarz (Philadelphia, PA), and studied previously with Shelley Beard Santore (Lansdowne, PA). Max has enjoyed performing as a soloist with orchestras including the Rowan Strings Ensemble, Ambler Symphony, IYACC, and MYAC. Max has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Kimmel Center, and at institutes including Heifetz, the Ithaca College Preludio Program, and Northwestern University’s Bienen Institute.

Max was the Overall Winner of the 2022 Walgreens National Concerto Competition Junior Open Division, a semifinalist for the 2023 International Young Artists Concerto Competition, and winner of the 2022 MTNA junior division for his state. He has won competitions such as Bellagrande, Camerata, France Music, and Opus, and has received the Coastal Concerts, Frankel, Glotzer, and Menges awards. Max was a student artist for 2022 and 2023 ASTA masterclasses and the 2023 ASTA Board Meeting. With the Giro Quartet, he won the 2022 PMTA chamber music competition.

Jiaray Shi, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a 10th grader at Germantown Friends School (GFS). He started learning piano at age five and violin at age six. He is studying the violin with Guillaume Combet and Laura Earley. He is the co-concertmaster of the Temple University Music Prep’s Youth Chamber Orchestra, where he performed as a soloist with the orchestra in 2021. Jiaray is a recipient of the Advanced Study Scholarship from the Settlement Music School of Philadelphia, where he has been a member of the Trowbridge String Quartet since 2020.

Jiaray was a finalist in the 2019 Philadelphia Orchestra’s Albert M. Greenfield Competition. He received the fellowship to attend the 10th Swiss International Music Academy in Rheinau, Switzerland. In 2022, he won Alternate for the Senior Strings Division in the PTMA Competition.

Jiaray is also a pianist studying with Sandrine Erdely-Sayo and taking music theory lessons with Roberto Pace. He enjoys filmmaking and won the 2021 National History Day in the Asian American History Prize category for his documentary. Outside of classical music, he is interested in 70’s prog rock music and has built a Mini-Moog clone synthesizer. Jiaray enjoys writing and sports, where he is a member of the GFS cross-country and track team and a member of the school’s ultimate frisbee team.

2022 YAC Winners

Kai Freeman is currently the concertmaster of the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra and the winner of its Eighth Annual Young Artists Solo Competition. He is a recipient of the Settlement Music School’s Pre-Advanced Study scholarship and is the violinist in the Trimingham Piano Trio. He has performed in a number of ensembles including PRYSM, PRYSM Young Artists Orchestra, the Chamber Players Orchestra at Temple University’s Center for Gifted Young Musicians and All South Jersey String Ensemble. In previous summers Kai participated in Heiftez Program for Exceptionally Gifted, the Mann Center’s All City Orchestra Summer Academy, Point Counterpoint, the Philadelphia International Music Festival, and the inaugural Suzuki Conventions of the Americas in Cancun, Mexico.  This summer, Kai has been invited to join Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute and Carnegie Hall’s NYO2 program.

An 8th grader at Haddonfield Middle School, Kai began playing the violin at the age of four under Gerry Rice and presently studies with J Freivogel of the Jasper String Quartet. He has also taken lessons with Amy Oshiro and Francesca de Pasquale.  Aside from playing the violin, Kai plays trumpet in the middle school band, runs on his school’s track and cross-country teams, and enjoys reading and watching movies.

Alyssa Gabrilovich, age 16, is a sophomore at Harriton High School in Bryn Mawr, PA. She studies piano with Dr. Igor Resnianski at the NBS School of Music in Haverford, PA. Alyssa received many awards in local, regional, and international competitions including the Grand prize and a special award for the best performance of a Russian piece at the 2019 Chicago International Music Competition, and the top prize and a special award for the best performance of a contemporary piece at the 2019 Kaufman Music Center International Youth Piano Competition. She was a winner of the Pennsylvania State MTNA Competitions (2017-2019, 2021), winner (2020) and alternate (2022) of Eastern Division MTNA, a finalist in the Philadelphia Orchestra Albert M Greenfield Competition in 2020, and 2022 YoungArts winner in classical music. Alyssa is a recipient of the Chopin Foundation of the United States scholarship. She has performed as a soloist with several orchestras in the Philadelphia region as well as in venues such as the Weill Recital Hall, Kimmel Center, and Merkin Hall. Alyssa performed live at the WRTI 90.1FM studio and was featured in the WWFM broadcasted series “Kids on Keys” (2018) and in NPR’s From the Top program (2020).

Channa Lee, is a 3rd grade student in the gifted program at Gladwyne Elementary School, PA, and currently studies violin with Ms. Yayoi Numazawa. She also studies piano with Ms. Natalia Varlashova as her secondary instrument.

Channa made her first debut with Mann Music Center’s Rising Star summer event at the age of 4 and in the same year, participated in the Vivace and PIMF festival orchestra. At the age of 5, Channa won the PBS Producer Choice Award and performed at various nursing homes in Gladwyne, PA to bring the joy of music to senior citizens. She was also accepted to the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra twice but due to her demanding schedule as an instrumentalist, she declined the opportunity.

Before and after the pandemic, Channa has won several other competitions, performing as a soloist in the Elite International and Triumph Music Festivals. She has performed at the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall and the Ph iladelphia Academy of Music. Prior to Covid, Channa has performed in venues to raise money for communities and her preschool in Wayne.

In her free time, Channa enjoys reading, writing short novels, illustration, playing the piano and traveling. But most of all, she enjoys spending time with her family and spreading love and kindness to everyone, with a violin and bow in hand.

2021 YAC Winners

Kimberly Alexandra Adam (Kimmi) is a 16 year-old soprano born in the Philippines. She is a sophomore at the Villa Maria Academy High School in Malvern, Pennsylvania and is also presently a Voice student at The Juilliard School under their Precollege program where she is privileged to be under the tutelage of Ms. Lorraine Nubar, Mr. Jorge Parodi, Ms. Cynthia Sanners,  and Ms. Sooyeon Kim. 

Kimmi has always dreamed of becoming an opera singer and an actress in Broadway.  She has been singing since she was 10 years-old, but has been training classically since she was twelve. She is a member of the Philippine Opera Company’s Young Artists Series and is the youngest member of OperaJuan. She got the George London award for Juilliard Precollege students in 2019-2020.  She won Grand Prix in this year’s Music Fest Rising Talents Competition 2021. She placed second in the Music of America Vocal Competition of the Great Composers Competition Series 2021. She was recently chosen as this year’s winner of the Tri-County Youth Festival for Voice – Senior Division.

She hopes to pursue further studies in Music either in New York or in Philadelphia, hopefully fulfilling her aspirations of becoming a great opera singer following the footsteps of her idols Maria Callas, Victoria delos Angeles, Montserrat Caballe, Anna Moffo, and others.

Suri Ahn is a 7th grader at Valley Forge Middle School in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has been playing violin since the age of six. She is now attending Nelly Berman School of Music with her violin teacher, Sylvia Ahramjian.

Suri has participated in numerous recitals and music competitions. She won an honorable mention in violin from Youth Music Competition in Philadelphia Korean Musicians Association 2018. She also won an honorable mention in violin from the American Protégé International Piano & String Competition 2019 and performed at Carnegie Hall. In 2020, Suri won 1st Place in the Triumph Music Festival. She won 2nd Place in the 2021 Elite International Music Competition.
She is a scholarship recipient as one of the top three Grand Prix winners at Nelly Berman School.

Most recently, Suri won 1st Place in the 2021 Warminster Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition. She will perform as a soloist with the Warminster Symphony Orchestra in the fall. She has played in many orchestras including her school ensemble and Pennsylvania Youth Orchestra. Currently, she was in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Program, playing for YMDO, as a first violinist. Recently, she was accepted into Philadelphia Young Artist Orchestra for the 2021-2022 season.

Along with her violin achievements, Suri has also been playing piano. She has successfully completed the National Piano Guild Auditions for five consecutive years since the age of six. Besides playing the violin and piano, Suri enjoys playing golf and squash. Her hobbies include dancing, baking, biking, and hanging out with her friends and family.

2019 YAC Winners

Lea Wang, fifteen, is a distinguished honors student and sophomore at Council Rock High School South in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Lea began studying piano at age four and violin at age six. Currently, she is a first violinist in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, a recipient of the Advanced Study Scholarship from the Settlement Music School of Philadelphia in the Gail W. Snitzer String Quartet, and concertmaster of the Council Rock South Symphony Orchestra. Previously, Lea served as the co-concertmaster of the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra and the concertmaster of the Bucks County Orchestra Festivals.

In past summers, Lea attended the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, playing as the first violinist in a string quartet. She also attended the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Summer String Academy on an Artistic Merit Scholarship. She is the recipient of the Jeanne Marvin Phillips Prize and the Marie Paxson Fund Prize presented by the Delaware Valley Music Club.

Lea’s past and current teachers include Marc Rovetti, Ghislaine Fleischmann, Ellen Depasquale, and Jason Depue.

Aside from music, Lea is active in science fairs and has received top awards from the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science at its regional and state level fairs; the Bucks County Science and Engineering Fair; and the Delaware Valley Science Fair. She is the recipient of the First Prize Award in Critical Thinking from the Philadelphia Association of Critical Thinking. She enjoys writing, traveling, spending time with friends and family, and Netflix.

William Ge is a 6th grader at the Valley Forge Middle School, PA, and currently studies piano with Natalie Zhu and Joy Kiszely. He also studies music theory and composition with Ke-Chia Chen.

William made his first public appearance at age six at Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall. At age nine, he was invited to perform in the International Chopin Festival in Busko-Zdroj, Poland. In February 2018 he was interviewed and performed at the Cunningham Piano Show.

William has been a top prize winner in many regional, national, and international competitions, including the Chopin International Piano Competition at Hartford, MTNA state competition, West Chester University Annual Pre-collegiate Piano Competition, Harmony for Peace Competition, American Protégé Competition, Crescendo International Competition, Bravura Philharmonic Orchestra Young Artists Concerto Competition, and the American Fine Arts Festival Concerto Competition.

Most recently, William became the 1st Prize winner in the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition, Children’s Division.

William has performed in the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall, Verizon Hall, Perelman Theater and Poland.

William also plays the violin at his school orchestra and selective ensemble and enjoys math, science, and reading. This past spring, he and his teammates won second place in Chester County’s Mathcounts Competition. He also likes to draw comics with his friends, and loves swimming and playing basketball and football with his dad and friends.