Young Texas Artists Music Competition winners announced at concert following successful fundraiser

Mar 13, 2012

CONROE, Texas -- Following a sell-out gala on the same evening, the 28th Annual Young Texas Artists Music Competition filled the Crighton Theatre on Saturday, March 10 with fans and patrons who came to see eight talented finalists perform at the Entergy Finalists’ Concert & Awards.

After enjoying an evening of “Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue” in a Texas-sized tent just outside the theatre - an event that included a lively auction led by Lyn Howard and sightings of Bach and Beethoven – guests were ushered into the historic Crighton Theatre.

The concert was presented by the Montgomery County Performing Arts Society, and before the night was over, a total of $20,000 in cash prizes had been awarded, along with performance opportunities, to the top performers. Winners were selected by a distinguished panel of judges, with honors also going to an audience favorite.

Cellist Coleman Itzkoff won the Gold Medal in the Strings Division. He also took home the Entergy Grand Prize with his performance of Edward Elgar’s Concerto in E minor, Op. 85,granting him an opportunity for a solo appearance with the Allen Philharmonic Orchestra. Itzkoff is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is currently a sophomore at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studies with Desmond Hoebig.

Itzkoff also received a Texas flag that flew over the capitol in Austin on March 2, Texas Independence Day.

Wanting Zhao was awarded the Gold in the Piano Division, also winning the Audience Choice Award, which affords her an invitation to perform with the Conroe Symphony Orchestra. She attends Texas Christian University where she studies with Van Cliburn Gold Medalist José Feghali.

Flutist Gina Choi, who will graduate from Rice University in May 2012, took home the top prize in the Winds, Brass, Percussion, Harp and Guitar Division.

In the Voice Division, it was baritone James D. Rodriguez who captured the Gold. He is working on his doctorate at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music where he studies with Joseph Evans.

Silver Medals went to baritone Noel Bouley, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, in the Voice Division; cellist Lachezar Kostov, Rice University, in the Strings Division; Matthew Moore, Texas Christian University, on the marimba in the Winds, Brass, Percussion, Harp and Guitar Division; and Hui Shan Chin, Rice University, in the Piano Division.

Chris Johnson, host of Classical 91.7FM/Houston Public Radio’s The Afternoon Concert, served as Master of Ceremonies.

Emelyne Bingham, Young Texas Artists artistic director, brought together an impressive panel of judges for the competition. Jurors were Joan Kwuon, Cleveland Institute of Music; Miyoko Lotto, Manhattan School of Music; Eric Mitchko, North Carolina Opera; and Becky Tobin, Houston Chamber Choir.

“We were honored to welcome these esteemed music professionals to Young Texas Artists this year,” said Bingham. “Their expertise and standing in the music community, along with the increasing level of talent from the competitors, makes this a truly outstanding competition.”

“We appreciate all of our patrons and sponsors who came out to support the competition and the gala. Their support is invaluable, as is the hard work of our YTA committee,” said Susie Pokorski, chair of the Young Texas Artists Music Competition.

Pokorski said that the Competition depends on donations to further its mission of encouraging young classical artists in their pursuit of successful music careers. “We are grateful to Entergy Texas for their generous support over the past 14 years.” Pokorski said that other support includes Classical 91.7FM/Houston Public Radio, Streater-Smith Honda-Nissan, Ann and Richard Griffin, and Carol and Dr. Douglas Aycock.

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