Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition

About the Competition

The 2016 Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition is open to all Texas Music Festival Orchestra Fellows. All finalists will receive a cash prize and a medal.  Subject to approval of the conductor and the availability of orchestral parts, the 2016 winner will perform with the Festival Orchestra under the baton of Maestra Mei-Ann Chen at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion in The Woodlands on Friday, June 24, 2016 at 8 p.m. and also at the Moores Opera House on Saturday, June 25, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. The winner may also be invited to appear as a soloist with the Akademisches Orchester in Leipzig, Germany at the famed Gewandhaus.

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition Requirements

  • All competitors must pay the $25 non-refundable registration fee to compete (indicate on the TMF Orchestra Fellow Information Form).
  • Piece must be no longer than 15 minutes in total, including all full orchestral tuttis. Competitors may only compete with a standard concerto, concerto movement, or solo work for instrument and orchestra. Competitors may NOT compete with any work that does not meet these specifications.
  • Work must be performed from memory at all levels of adjudication.
  • Competitors must bring, and provide, a piano score for accompanist for the Preliminary Round. Piano score must be an orchestral reduction—no chamber music allowed.
  • Preliminary Round: Thursday, June 9, 2016, 7 p.m. Contestants will only be allowed an 8-12 minute performance time.
  • Final Round: Sunday, June 12, 2016, 2 p.m. Final Round is open to the public, and the full work will be performed.
  • TMF reserves the right to reject any request to compete with repertoire that does not meet the requirements listed above

"There is no doubt that as a musician performing at the Gewandhaus was an amazing experience for me. It was the first step towards realizing my dream of performing on a worldwide music stage. I have played with several orchestras before, however, playing at the beautiful Gewandhaus was very special. I could feel the enthusiastic audience understand and cheer for me, and their enthusiasm made me more passionate about the music. Also, working with Maestro Foerster and the Akademisches Orchester Leipzig inspired me and helped me achieve my success on stage. Indeed, I am thankful for the Texas Music Festival and I had a great time during TMF 2010. In addition, I had the chance to meet my fantastic teacher during the festival, Ms. Lucie Robert, who helped me win the competition at TMF. As the winner, TMF offered me the opportunity to perform at the Gewandhaus and I really want to say thanks for helping with the progress towards reaching my ultimate goal." -- Shuaili Du, violin (winner, 2010 Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition)

Winner – 2015

Photo of Tian

Yuan Tian, violin
Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 25
Cadenza - IV. Burlesque

Yuan Tian was the First Prize winner of the 2001 China National Young Artist Competition, the recipient of the Special Prize in the 2010 Cuellar-Nathan Chamber Music Competition, winner of the 2014 Fuchs Chamber Music Competition, and Second Prize winner in the 2015 Eisenberg-Fried String Concerto Competition.

Born in Shandong, China, Yuan had his first violin lesson at the age of six with professor Zhang Sen. At 13 years of age, he moved to Beijing to study with professor Liu Peiyan, Wen Wei and Zhang Ti at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing where he served as concertmaster of the China Youth Symphony Orchestra, giving concerts throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from the Central Conservatory of Music, where he additionally served on the violin faculty of the College of Continuing Education. He moved to New York in 2014. He will attend the Music@Menlo Chamber Music Festival in 2015.

Currently, he is pursuing his second master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music with Ms. Lucie Robert.

Second Place – 2015 (TIE)

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Ahra Cho, violin
Sarasate Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25

Ahra Cho started playing violin at the age of 5, received a certificate from pre-school in Korea National University of Art (2001~2005). She has performed with numerous orchestras including Jeonju Philharmonic Orchestra as her debut at age 11 as well as Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Yewon annual concert, Korean Chamber Orchestra, Sejong soloists Concert, Seoul Nat’l University symphony orchestra. She has also performed recitals at Kumho Art Hall supported by the Kumho Cultural Foundation and Ewon Cultural Center. Her competition career includes: First prizes in Strad, Seongjung Music Competition, Sejong Music Competition and second or third prizes in many Korean competitions. Besides, she took part and played in San Francisco International Music Festival, Vianden Music Festival and 2014 Musetica Festival in Spain. She graduated from Yewon School, Seoul Arts High School and Seoul National University as an honor student at 2013. She studied under professor Ju-young Baek and is now studying at Manhattan School of Music for her Masters degree under professor Lucie Robert.

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Christen Sparago, flute – Audience Favorite Award
Gordeli Concerto for Flute in D Major, Op. 8, Movement I

Christen Sparago graduated in May from Rice University with her bachelor’s of music, where she studied flute with Leone Buyse. A founding member of the Meraki trio, Christen recently performed five world premiers as a part of Meraki’s new music commissioning project to expand the repertoire for the flute, viola, and piano ensemble. Originally from Western Massachusetts, Christen studied with Janet Arms and Linda Chesis before she came to Rice.

Third Place – 2015

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David Derrico, viola
York Bowen Viola Concerto in C Minor, Op. 25, Movement I

David Derrico is A New York City based violist. Originally from Gainesville Fl. Mr. Derrico Came to NYC to pursue his ungraduated and master’s degrees at the Manhattan School of Music studying with Karen Dreyfus. He won top prize at the FSMTA String Concerto Competition and The Philadelphia International Music Festival Concerto Competition and multiple prize winner at the Fuchs Chamber Competition. Since his graduation Mr. Derrico has been an active freelance violist around the greater New York area. He is excited to be returning to MSM this fall as part of the Orchestral Performance program studying with Irene Breslaw.

2015 Finalists

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Claire Kostic, oboe
Mozart Oboe Concerto in C Major, K. 314, Movement I

Born on Long Island, NY, 22-year-old Claire Kostic, is recent graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music under the tutelage of Frank Rosenwein. She also is a graduate of the Juilliard Pre-College Division where she studied with Richard Dallessio. This is Claire's second summer at TMF and she is excited to return. Claire will be moving to Houston in the fall to pursue her Masters of Music at Rice University where she will be studying with Robert Atherholt.

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Oleg Larshin, violin
Chausson Poeme for Violin, Op. 25

Past Winners