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Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition

About the Competition

The 2017 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 2017 winner will perform with the Festival Orchestra under the baton of Brett Mitchell at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion in The Woodlands on Friday, June 23, 2017 at 8 p.m. and also at the Moores Opera House on Saturday, June 24, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

First Place & Audience Favorite Prize

Matthew Lee, violin
Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 99, Cadenza & Mvt. IV

Matthew Lee is a graduated senior from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a Bachelor of Science in music performance and biology. Matthew played in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras in grade school, serving as concertmaster for Youth Orchestra from 2011-12, and won their 2013 Concerto Competition. At UW-Madison Matthew studied with Eugene Purdue for two years, then with Soh-Hyun Park Altino for his last two. In 2016 Matthew was a winner of the UW Concerto Competition, and performed with the UW Symphony Orchestra this February. This Fall, he will attend UT-Austin for his M.M. degree with Sandy Yamamoto.

Second Place

James Blanchard, flute
Nielsen Flute Concerto, Movement I


Flutist James Blanchard has performed with esteemed groups such as the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble and the Prismatics Woodwind Quintet. The quintet won the Bronze Medal at the 2015 Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition and was a finalist in the 69th Coleman Chamber Music Competition.Mr. Blanchard's rendition of Mozart's Flute Quartet in D Major was a featured performance at the 2016 Sarasota Music Festival's Artists' Concerts and was later broadcast on Sarasota Public Radio. Recently, James won 2nd Place in the 2017 New York Flute Club Young Artist competition. James currently studies with Robert Langevin at the Juilliard School.

Third Place

Jay Shankar, clarinet
Copland Clarinet Concerto


Jay Shankar is a James Backas Memorial Scholar at the Peabody Institute studying as a freshman under Professor Eugene Mondie. He has performed as a clarinetists in several youth orchestras including the National Youth Orchestra of the USA in 2016. In 2015, he participated in the Tanglewood Institute Summer Program and played principal clarinet for the SD Youth Symphony China tour. He currently plays in both the Peabody Concert and Symphony Orchestras. He was awarded first prize in the San Diego Clarinet Society competition and was a finalist of the San Diego Symphony's HotShots Concerto Competition.


Jisu Choi, violin
Stravinsky Violin Concerto in D Major, Movements III & IV


Acclaimed as a brilliant and captivating performer, violinist Jisu Choi is rapidly establishing her solo career by participating in various competitions. Ms. Choi has won various prizes in both solo and chamber categories at numerous competitions. Ms. Choi has given a winner's recital at Carnegie Weill Recital Hall with a program of Dvorak Piano Quartet. She also has given her first solo recital at Weill Recital Hall in May 2017, featuring works by Bach, Stravinsky, and Wieniawski. Ms. Choi will be pursuing her Master's degree at Manhattan School of Music as a scholarship student under the tutelage of Ms. Lucie Robert.

Past Winners