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Young Texas Artists: 30th Annual Music Competition Winners Announced

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30th Annual Young Texas Artists Music Competition Winners Announced

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CONROE, TX – March 11, 2014 – The Young Texas Artists Music Competition (YTA), presented by the Montgomery County Performing Arts Society, celebrated three decades of highlighting and supporting the state's up-and-coming stars of classical music at its Finalists' Concert & Awards on Saturday, March 8 at the Crighton Theatre in Conroe, Texas.

The Bach, Beethoven and Barbecue gala, chaired by Marge and Steve Hayward and honoring long-time YTA supporters Dr. Douglas and Carol Aycock, was held in a Texas-sized tent on Main Street outside the theatre, providing the prelude to an evening filled with music and celebration.

The three-day event is open to musicians between the ages of 18 and 32 who are Texas residents or students enrolled in a Texas college, university or music school. The musicians competed in their choice of four divisions: Voice; Piano; Strings; and Winds, Brass, Percussion, Harp and Guitar.

Susie Pokorski, chairman and executive director of YTA, led a dedicated staff and team of volunteers to produce the 2014 competition which began on Thursday, March 6 with 65 candidates accepted into this year's competition, from which eight finalists were chosen.

Master of ceremonies St. John Flynn, Arts & Culture director with Houston Public Media (Channel 8, News 88.7 and Classical 91.7), directed the program with skill and style, and special guest pianist Jade Simmons, touring and recording artist known as Classical Music's No. 1 Maverick, delighted the audience with her insightful interviews with the finalists.

Top winner of the evening was mezzo-soprano Allegra De Vita, who went home with the Gold Medal in the Voice Division and the 2014 YTA Grand Prize for her performance of "Tu, preparati a morire" from "Ariodante" by George Frideric Handel and "Parto, parto" from "La Clemenza di Tito" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. De Vita is completing her studies toward a Master of Vocal Performance degree at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music this May.

The Piano Division Gold Medal went to Hui Shan Chin, also from Rice University where she is working toward a degree in piano performance, for her engaging interpretation of "Piano Concerto No. 2 in g minor," Op. 25 by Felix Mendelssohn.

Cellist Emma Hoeft, who received a Bachelor of Music degree this past May from Rice, captured the Gold in the Strings Division with "Variations on a Rococo Theme in A Major," Op. 33 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Her winning performance charmed the crowd, also earning her the Audience Choice award.

Clarinetist Nicholas Davies drove the Gold home for Rice, where he is studying for his bachelor's, with the Gold Medal award in the Winds, Brass, Percussion, Harp and Guitar Division for his rendition of "Fantasiestücke" Op. 73 by Robert Schumann and "Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo" by Igor Stravinsky.

Silver Medalists were pianist Jun Cho, violinist Philip Marten, Soprano Julie Engel, and clarinetist Graeme Johnson. Honorable Mentions went to cellist Erik Wheeler, pianist Yuri Farnsworth, harpist Xingni Xiao, and soprano Rebekah Howell.

Each silver medalist receives $1,000, and each gold medalist receives $3,000. Winner of the Audience Choice award receives an additional $1,000. Winner of the 2014 YTA Grand Prize receives an additional $3,000 plus an invitation for a solo performance with the Allen Philharmonic, near Dallas. Invitations will be extended to additional finalists for performances with other Texas arts organizations, including Conroe Symphony, Montgomery County Choral Society, Lone Star Lyric Theater and SongFest in Los Angeles, California.

Esteemed jurists selected for the competition by YTA artistic director Emelyne Bingham were William Florescu from Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera Company, Elizabeth Buccheri from the Aspen Music Festival and School, Becky Tobin from Houston Chamber Choir, Bradley Mansell from Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and Miyoko Lotto from Manhattan School of Music. Unique to the competition, this panel of five distinguished judges and esteemed leaders provided valuable, written critique to all competitors.

Young Texas Artists Music Competition, designated as an official music contest of the State of Texas, was created in 1983 by the Montgomery County Performing Arts Society in an effort to encourage excellence in young musicians and to further artistic growth throughout Texas. For more information, visit www.youngtexasartists.org.

For sponsorship opportunities or membership in the YTA Circle, contact Susie Pokorski at susiepokorski@gmail.com or 936-756-7017.

Contact Gary Lindsay at: garylindsay.examiner@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Examiner.com.GaryLindsay
Twitter: @GaryLindsayExam
YouTube: GaryLindsayExaminer
Cell: 832.289.4475
http://www.examiner.com/performing-arts-in-houston/gary-lindsay

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