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Fifteen young musicians participated on February 24, 2018, at Illinois Central College in the Peoria Symphony Orchestra Guild’s Annual Young Artist Competition. Each student performed a concerto or aria 6-9 minutes in length by memory. The instrumental makeup of the competition ranged from pianists and violinists to cellists and vocalists. All contestants live within a 100-mile radius of Peoria, IL.

The competition was judged by Dr. Jeffrey Brown, concert pianist and Professor of Piano, Western Illinois University; Amy Catron, Adjunct Faculty of Cello, Millikin University, and Principal Cellist, Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra; and Ian Greenlaw, Assistant Professor of Opera, Millikin University. Six finalists were selected for a final round, which was open to the public.

Regarding the performances, Julie Kotewa, co-chair of the Young Artist Competition and Director of Educational Outreach of the Peoria Symphony Guild states:

“The afternoon audition was a spectacular listening experience. We were treated to an exceptional display of talent. It was obvious that these young people were in awe listening to each other’s performance.”

The first place winner, Olivia Bolles, violin, performed Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E Minor, Allegoro Molto, Movement 1. Ms. Bolles is from Bloomington, IL. She is a freshman at University High School in Normal, IL, and studies violin with Dr. Sarah Gentry. Matthew Suh, violin, won second place, and performed Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Allegro Movement 1. Mr. Suh lives in Normal, IL, and is a junior at University High School. He studies violin with Paul Zafer at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. Amy Zhou, clarinet, placed third, and performed Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie. Ms. Zhou is a junior at Dunlap High School and lives in Peoria. She studies clarinet with Jill Potts at Dunlap High School.

Ms. Bolles will perform with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra on April 27, 2018, at the PSO Guild’s 64th ANNUAL STUDENT CONCERT held at the Peoria Civic Center at 10:00 AM and 11:45 AM. Following Olivia’s performance, the program will continue with this year’s title theme, “Rome: A Symphonic Adventure,” which will include dancers from the Central Illinois Ballet, screens featuring beautiful, historic scenes of Rome timed to the music performance, and a professional program narrator. The concert meets Illinois Learning Standard (ILS) Fine Arts Goal 25.

The Annual Student Concert has been the cornerstone of Educational Outreach for the Peoria Symphony Orchestra Guild since 1954. Students grades 3-12 from within a 75-mile+ radius of Peoria are offered the opportunity to attend our annual Student Concerts. For some, this field trip supplements a rich music curriculum in their schools. For others, it is a rare, singular exposure to classical music. The program features distinguished elements of the Orchestra for the enjoyment and education of the students attending. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults, and $2 for students qualifying for a subsidized lunch. The registration deadline is March 27, 2018. For more information, visit peoriasymphony.org/studentconcert.

Applications for grants to cover the costs of transporting students on buses are available by contacting the PSO office at 309-671-1096.

All three Young Artist Competition winners will perform at the Symphony Guild Spring Luncheon on Tuesday May 1, 2018 at 11:30 a.m. at the Country Club of Peoria. Those who wish to purchase tickets should contact Nadine Williams at 309-691-3225.

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