Concerto Competitions

Announcing the 47th Annual Youth Concerto Competition

Roselle Center for the Arts 
University of Delaware
Sunday November 19, 2017

2016 Concerto Competition Winners

Isaiah Kim and Sabine Jung

isaiah-kimIsaiah Kim is a 15 years old cellist from Wallingford, PA.  He debuted with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 11 as a winner of the Children’s division of the Albert Greenfield Student Competition.  Isaiah has won numerous concerto competitions during his young musical career and has performed as a soloist with the Warminster Symphony, the Bucks County Symphony, the Old York Road Symphony, the Ambler Symphony and Temple University’s Youth Chamber orchestras.  Isaiah was also the first place winner in the junior strings division of the Tri-County Youth Festival and in March, 2014 Isaiah took top honors as the national winner at the MTNA National competition in Chicago, IL.  Isaiah was recently featured on NPR’s “From the Top”, a national radio broadcast, as a soloist performing live at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

Isaiah has been studying the cello for eleven years and he currently studies with Priscilla Lee of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  He is a member of the Youth Chamber Orchestra at the Temple University Music Prep’s Center for Gifted Young Musicians.  Isaiah attended the Meadowmount School of Music, the Heifetz International Music Institute, the Harpa International Music Festival in Reykjavík, Iceland, and the Perlman Music Program.  Isaiah has performed at master classes with Ronald Leonard, Hans Jensen, Lynn Harrell, Peter Stumpf and Timothy Eddy and has performed at numerous concerts in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.  Isaiah is a sophomore at the Strath Haven High School and when not playing the cello, he loves to sing and enjoys playing soccer, basketball, and ping pong.  Isaiah plays a John Juzek cello made in 1939, generously loaned to him by the Carlsen Cello Foundation.


sabine_jungCellist Sabine Jung, age 16, is a sophomore at Unionville High School. She is currently under the tutelage of Priscilla Lee, associate principal of the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra. Her former teachers include Dr. Mira Kang and Dr. Tomasz Rzeczycki. She started playing the cello at age eight but began her musical studies at age five with piano lessons.

Her honors and achievements for cello include High Honors in the New Jersey Music Teachers Association Recital Auditions in 2012. Sabine was a participant of the Central New Jersey Regional Intermediate Orchestra (CJMEA) and the New Jersey All-State Intermediate Orchestra (NJMEA) in 2013. She performed in a master class in 2013 with Jonathan Spitz, principal cellist of the New Jersey Orchestra. During 2014, Sabine attended the Philadelphia International Music Festival (PIMF) and received third place for the Kennett Symphony Junior Instrumental Competition for Young Artists.

Ms. Jung is also an accomplished pianist. She was a first place winner in 2012 for the Crescendo International Competition and a second place winner in 2013 for the Golden Key Festival. For both of these competitions, she has performed at Carnegie Weill Recital Hall in New York City.

Sabine’s achievement continued in 2015 as a member of the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra (PYAO); she received 1st place for PYAO’s first annual concerto competition and performed as a soloist with the orchestra in Kimmel Center. Ms. Jung also won the Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra (SPSO) Young Artists Competition and played with the orchestra, and won first place for the Kennett Symphony Junior Instrumental Competition for Young Artists. Additionally, Sabine received an honorable mention in the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra (LSO) Young Artists’ Competition and represented her middle school at the District 12 Pennsylvania 7/8th Grade Stringfest.

Ms. Jung expanded her orchestral experience by joining the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO) for their 2015-2016 season and by being selected to attend the inaugural year of the National Youth Orchestra 2 organized by the Weill Music Institute of Carnegie Hall as principal cellist. Sabine also received 2nd place for the Tri-County Concerts Youth Festival Competition in the Senior Division in 2016.

Currently, Sabine is associate principal cellist of PYO’s 2016-2017 season. She received 1st in the instrumental division of the Pottstown Rotary Club’s 7th Annual Performing Arts Competition and accepted a musical scholarship. Sabine also won the Newark Symphony’s concerto competition and will perform with the orchestra in May 2017. She will also perform in PMEA District 12’s concert as 2nd chair.

In her free time, Sabine enjoys playing with her dog, Pompom. She is an honor roll student involved in multiple clubs, including student council, the student newspaper, the Interact club partnered with the Longwood Rotary club, and Tri-M Music Honor Society. Sabine also loves to volunteer by playing cello at the A.I. Dupont children’s hospital.

NSO 2015 Competition Winners

Conor McAvinue, Viola, Concerto Competition Winner


 Conor McAvinue, viola/violin, is sixteen and a junior at Archmere Academy.  He began playing the violin at the age of four and started playing the viola three years ago.  Conor has been studying both instruments with Ms. Shelley Beard at the Music School of Delaware.  He is also an Honor’s and Certificate Program student at The Music School of Delaware.  Conor is a member of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and is in the Advanced Studies Program at Settlement Music School where he receives a full scholarship to study chamber music with former Philadelphia Orchestra member Sidney Curtiss.  In 2013-2014, Conor was the concertmaster of both the Delaware Youth Symphony Orchestra (DYSO) and Delaware Youth Soloists, the advanced ensemble of the DYSO.  He was the principal violist of both the Delaware All State Orchestra in 2015 and the Delaware Honors Orchestra Festival in 2014. Conor won the Delaware Concerto Competition for Young Musicians at the Music School of Delaware in 2014 and 2011 and was also awarded the Estella Hillersohn Frankel Award Recipient in 2014 and 2012.  Conor is also part of the Archmere Academy Mastersingers, one of the top ten high school choirs in the nation. When Conor is not playing his viola or violin, he likes to spend time playing basketball, photography, watching movies, and spending time with his family and friends.

Laura Yawney, Oboe, Concerto Competition Winner

Laura Yawney is a twenty-year-old native of Clarksville, Maryland pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in oboe performance at the University of Delaware. She has been very involved in performance since her freshman year and has served as principal oboe in the UD Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and Wind Ensemble. She is also a member of Nota Bene Winds, a woodwind quintet that performs throughout the state of Delaware. In addition, she is a member of the Con Pepe Trio, a competitive woodwind trio that has been named a finalist in the Music Teachers National Association’s chamber music competition. Last summer, Laura attended the Eastern Music Festival in LauraYawneyGreensboro, North Carolina. Under the tutelage of Karen Birch-Blundell, Laura studied and played such major orchestra repertoire as Strauss’ Alpine Symphony, Mahler’s Symphony No. 7, and Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin.
Beginning her oboe studies at age ten, Laura spent her high school years playing in various orchestras, including the Peabody Youth Orchestra and the Maryland All-State Senior Orchestra. She has studied with Barbara Girdler, Lloyd Shorter, and is currently studying with her principal teacher, Jeffrey O’Donnell.

Casey Wilkes, Clarinet, Concerto Competition Winner

CaseyWilkesWoodwind specialist Casey Wilkes originates from Pine, Colorado. A dynamic and adventurous clarinetist, Mr. Wilkes’ repertoire includes diverse selections from every period and genre of music. He enjoys a demanding performance schedule and was recently selected as the winner of the 2015 University of Delaware concerto competition and is a Delaware representative for the Eastern Divisional Music Teacher National Association Woodwind Solo competition. Among his greatest musical influences he cites Frank Zappa, Dmitri Shostakovitch, the French modernists, and Charles Mingus. Mr. Wilkes currently studies at the University of Delaware in pursuit of the Master of Music in Clarinet Performance.

Stephanie Bonk, Violin, Concerto Competition Winner

Stephanie Bonk is a Senior honors student at Exeter Township Senior High School. She has been studying vStephanieBonkiolin for nine years, currently with Sylvia Ahramjian, who she has been studying with for 7 years, and Dr. Timothy Schwarz.  In addition to being concertmistress in her high school orchestra, Stephanie is concertmistress of the Philadelphia Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra and Philadelphia Sinfonia Orchestra, and is first violin in the Philadelphia Sinfonia Piano Quintet. In 2014 and 2015, Stephanie won top prize in the Reading Symphony Orchestra League Competition and placed second in the Atonement Bach Competition. She has received numerous scholarships and 1st place awards from the Reading Musical Foundation and has also been offered a Starling Scholarship at Temple Music-Prep. Stephanie soloed with the Millersville University Orchestra and Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra and won the Allentown Symphony Orchestra’s Voorhees Concerto Competition in May 2015.  Last summer she attended the Northern Lights Music Festival, where she won the concerto competition and soloed with the Northern Lights Orchestra, and Techne Music Camp. Next year, she hopes to attend a conservatory to prepare for a career in violin performance.

2014 Competition Winners

Jennifer Nicole Campbell and Carolyn Semes

JenCampbellAward-winning pianist and composer Jennifer Nicole Campbell appears as concerto soloist, chamber musician and recitalist in the mid-Atlantic US and Europe. Described as a “sensitive colorist and intelligent musician” (New York Concert Review), she has performed at notable halls including Lincoln Center, the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, and the Musikhauset Aarhus in Denmark. Her numerous awards include First Prizes in the Rosalyn Tureck International Bach Competition, the 1000 Islands Piano Competition, and the Baltimore Music Club Competition in addition to participating in various other competitions including the Hilton Head Intl. Piano Competition and the New York International Piano Competition. As concerto soloist, Ms. Campbell has performed with the Lansdowne Symphony, the Delaware County Symphony, and the Wilmington Community Orchestra among others.

Also an avid composer, Ms. Campbell’s works have been performed by various notable artists such as members of the Philadelphia Orchestra who premiered her Piano Trio No. 1. Her compositions have won the MTNA composition competitions in both Delaware and Pennsylvania, and her solo piano works have been premiered throughout the United States including halls at the University of Miami, the University of Buffalo, Canisius College, and the Peabody Conservatory.

In her academic pursuits, Ms. Campbell was awarded the Presser Scholar Award, the Peabody Alumni Award (as Valedictorian of Peabody’s class of 2014), and most recently the Peabody Career Development Grant. She is currently studying for her Masters degree at Peabody Conservatory, studying piano with Brian Ganz and composition with Judah Adashi. She has also worked with Leon Fleisher, Richard Goode, and Seymour Lipkin among others.

For more information please visit her website at:


CarolynSemesCarolyn Semes is a Distinguished Honor Student at The University Scholars Program at PA Leadership Charter School. She studies with Masao Kawasaki at The Juilliard Pre-College where she has served as Concertmaster of The Pre-College Orchestra. Carolyn has performed as soloist with Temple University Orchestra, The Ambler, Old York Road and Delaware County Symphonies, Philadelphia Orchestra Society, The Ocean City Pops, The Macau Youth Orchestra, as part of their 10th Anniversary celebration, and The Shanghai Philharmonic. Carolyn holds a Snitzer Advanced Studies Scholarship at Settlement Music School. As part of the Snitzer Quartet she has won a prize at The Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and subsequently appeared on “From The Top”. For the past 7 summers she has attended the Aspen Music Festival.


NSO 2013 Competition Winner

daniel-kimPerforming Wieniawski Violin Concerto
No. 2 March 9, 2014

Daniel Kim

Daniel Kim, 16, is a 10th grade student at the Strath Haven High School and has been studying the violin since he was 4 years old. He currently studies with Yayoi Numazawa and Yumi Ninomiya Scott of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Daniel is a recipient of the Dorothy Richard Starling Scholarship at Temple University Music Preparatory Center for Gifted Young Musicians since 2008 where he is a member of the Youth Chamber Orchestra and various string ensembles. He is also a recipient of the Advanced Study Scholarship at the Settlement Music School in the Meyer-Schwartz Piano Trio. Daniel has performed as a soloist with the Ambler Symphony Orchestra and the Old York Road Symphony Orchestra as a winner of their Young Artist Competitions.

He was also featured as a soloist in the Mainstay Classical Concert Series in Rock Hall, MD where he was asked to return this spring. Daniel has won numerous competitions including the Tri-County Youth Festival, the Kennett Symphony instrumental competitions both in Junior and Senior divisions, Rose Tree Pops Orchestra Youth Competition, and in June 2013 was named the winner of the George H. Slick Arts Fellowship and Grant Award. Daniel has attended the Meadowmount School of Music for the past four summers where he studied with Ann Setzer and Gerardo Ribeiro, performing in several master classes and in concerts as a scholarship student. He also participated in the Yellow Barn Young Artist Program in Putney, VT, an international summer festival for outstanding young musicians, where he plans to return this summer. In addition to music, Daniel is an avid soccer player and plays in the junior varsity team at his school.

NSO 2012-2013 Competition Winners:

Ben Andrews

Alexis Meschter

Carolyn Schaffer


2011-12 Concerto Competition Winners


Alyssa Blackstone

Alyssa Blackstone began her early musical training at the age of five studying with Joanna Keay and Charles Ponall. She currently studies with Sylvia Ahramjian. At age 9, she placed first place in the Kennett Symphony’s Young Artists Competition. At age 11 she played first violin with the Delaware County Youth Orchestra and appeared on QVC as a soloist during their holiday broadcast. In 2006, she placed first in the Tri-County Concerts Association’s Annual Youth Festival. She received the Estella Frankel scholarship from the Wilmington School of Music in 2008 and placed first in a national competition in South Carolina. Summer of 2009, she attended the String International Music Festival. She was the concertmaster of the top orchestra, and she also participated in master classes with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

This past December Alyssa soloed with the Immaculate Symphony. In the spring of 2011, she was awarded the Good Citizenship Award by the Union League of Philadelphia. Also at the Union League, Alyssa was selected to play at an awards ceremony for First Lady Laura Bush. In November 2011, she won the Kennett Symphony’s Instrumental Competition and performed with the Symphony this past August. Also with the Kennett Symphony, Alyssa will be performing with them in their “Sounds of Season” performances in December. Recently, the Newark Symphony Orchestra selected her as the first place winner in their Instrumental Competition. Alyssa will be playing with the Newark Symphony in Spring 2012.

For the past three years, it has been her privilege to be the Concertmaster for the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. Alyssa has had the opportunity to work with many teachers and performers such as David Kim, Yumi Scott, Ann Fontanella, Elizabeth Pitcairn, and William and Gloria dePasquale. She also is a recipient of the Advanced Study Scholarship at Settlement Music School of Philadelphia. At Settlement, she played in the Braverman Quartet.

Working in her community, Alyssa regularly plays her violin in retirement and nursing homes. She also participates with her school in Community Work Days. She helps run her school orchestra and holds weekly sectionals. During Christmas time, making cookies and caroling at the local hospital is a customary habit of Alyssa’s. At church, teaching Children’s Church is one of Alyssa’s favorite activities. During the weekdays, she also teaches a couple individuals violin lessons. Beside music, Alyssa enjoys playing basketball, singing, and acting.



Amy is 16 years old and a junior at The University Scholars Program at the PA Leadership Charter School.

She is currently studying violin with Daniel Han of The Philadelphia Orchestra. She holds a Starling Violin Scholarship at Temple Music Prep, where she is Concertmaster of the Youth Chamber Orchestra. She also holds a Snitzer Advanced Studies Chamber Music Scholarship at Settlement Music School. On November 2011, she was heard on the NPR show, “From the Top,” as well as on WRTI’s “Crossover” with Jill Pasternak. Amy has performed as a soloist with The Ambler Symphony, the Bucks County Symphony, The Ocean City Pops, The Macau Youth Orchestra and The Shanghai Philharmonic.


Kevin K. Zhang

Kevin K. Zhang is an Honors sophomore at the University of Delaware, double-majoring in Biology and French.

He studies piano with Christine Delbeau. He was the winner and soloist of the 2011 UD Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, and has previously won awards in the Music Teachers National Association, West Chester University, Austrian-American Society, and Wilmington Community Orchestra competitions. Kevin is an alumnus of The Music School of Delaware, where he studied with the late Benjamin Whitten.

He has also attended Music in the Mountains (PA) and Delaware Governor’s School. Aside from his work as a soloist, he is also an accompanist and chamber musician. Kevin is also a leader in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.