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January 27, 2010 > Young artist competition winners

Young artist competition winners

Submitted By Sue Rose

The Fremont Symphony is pleased to announce the winners of its 44th Annual Young Artist Competition which took place on January 9 and 10. Thirty-one students entered the competition.

First prize of $1,000 and an opportunity to perform with the orchestra were awarded to violinist, Stephen Waarts of Los Altos. Stephen, who is 13, performed the Brahms' Violin Concerto in D Major. An 8th grader at the School for Independent Learners, he studies violin with Alexander Barantschik, concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony. Stephen has studied the violin for eight years and has won many competitions including the Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition, the Menuhin-Dowling Young Musicians String Competition and the Music Teachers of California State Competition, ages 12 and under.

He is an Artist Member of the "Rising Stars of California with Lara Downes" program at U.C. Davis. He also performs with different ensembles at the Music @Menlo Chamber Music Institute. Stephen will be heard on the national radio program "From the Top" in February, after winning first place in KDFC's 2009 Classical Star Search, ages 10-20. He has performed in Carnegie Hall and at Moscow State University as well as with the Diablo Symphony, the Palo Alto Philharmonic and the Junior Bach Festival. In addition to music, Stephen is also interested in math, drawing, card games and table tennis.

Second prize of $500 went to 14 year old violinist, Stephen Kim of Cupertino, who played the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1. He attends Monta Vista High School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-College program and plays in the San Francisco Youth Orchestra. He has studied violin since he was 3 and a half, for the past several years with Bettina Mussumeli at the Conservatory. Stephen has received first prize in the San Francisco Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, Felix Khuner Concerto Competition and Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra Concerto competition, among others, and has been a featured soloist with the San Francisco Youth Orchestra, Stockton Symphony, Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra and Prometheus Symphony.

As a winner of the Californiz State Final ASTA Competition, he represented California, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, in the 2009 National American String Teachers Association Competition. Last spring, Stephen was invited to perform before a special screening of the film, "The Soloist". One of his hobbies is garage hockey.

Third prize of $250 was awarded to Olena Komirenko, 22 of Cupertino, a senior at U.C. Berkeley, who studies violin with Jenny Rudin.

The Nafissa Taghioff prize of $150 is reserved for contestants under 16 years of age, who must perform only a single movement from a concerto. This year the award went to 14 year old cellist Connor Kim of Monte Sereno. Connor has studied cello for six years with Kyeong Hwa Kim. He will perform with the Fremont Symphony at the Children's Concerts in Fremont on March 30 and Milpitas on April 1.

Violinists Isabella Costanza, 13 from Palo Alto and Andrea Ouyang, 12 from San Ramon, received Honorable Mention. Four Honorable Mentions were also awarded in the Taghioff category: cellist Christian Chan, 11 of Los Altos; cellist Aaron Chen, 10 of San Jose; violinist Bryan Chen 10 of San Jose and cellist Isabel Lau, 15 of San Francisco.

Judges were Fremont Symphony Conductor David Sloss, concertmaster Philip Santos and principal cellist Dan Reiter.

The Fremont Symphony Orchestra hosts a Young Artist Competition each January, open to students under 23, who live or study in any of the nine Bay Area counties. This year, competition was for string players; next year's competition will be for piano and harp.

For more information about the Fremont Symphony or the competitions visit or call (510) 794-1652.

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