Wilmington Symphony Orchestra announces winners of student concerto competition


The Wilmington Symphony Orchestra has announced the winners of its 38th Annual Richard R. Deas Student Concerto Competition.  The co-winners of the University of North Carolina Wilmington division are James Yates, trumpet; and Jessica Small, saxophone. The winner of the High School Division is Amy Zhang, violin; and the Junior Division winner is Camden Stohl, violin. Yates will be featured in the symphony’s BachFest concert February 7. Small and Zhang will perform in the March 21 concert, Holst: The Planets; and Stohl will be accompanied by the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra for the Free Family Concert April 26.

The competition was judged by Kevin Lawrence, Chair of the String Department, North Carolina School of the Arts; Keiko Sekino, Associate Professor of Piano and Director of Applied Piano Studies at East Carolina University School of Music; and Louise Toppin, Voice Professor and Chair of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Music Department.

 James YatesJames Yates studied trumpet performance at the University of North Carolina Greensboro with Dr. Ed Bach, and was twice a finalist in the National Trumpet Competition – Ensemble Division, a finalist in the Undergraduate Solo Division. In 2009, he played on the UNCG Wind Ensemble’s orchestral album “Fireworks”, which was nominated for a Grammy Award. He is currently studying music education under Dr. John LaCognata, and is an active member of the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra.




Jessica Small_2014 UNCW co-winner

Jessica Small is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in music education at University of North Carolina Wilmington, studying saxophone under Dr. Frank Bongiorno. Jessica has performed with the UNCW Chamber Winds, Wind Symphony, Jazz Ensemble I, DubSax ensemble, and the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra.  Jessica is also the music director of the UNCW Seahawkappellas and the treasurer of the music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon.





Amy Zhang 1_2014 HS Division winner_smaller

Amy Zhang is a freshman at Topsail High School. She started violin at 7 years of age, and was accepted into the Wilmington Symphony Junior Strings in fourth grade.  She currently studies violin with Dr. Danijela Zezelj-Gualdi.  Amy plays in the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra and the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Accidentals music group.  She also advanced to the finals in the International Violin & Piano Competition of Vienna.





Camden Stohl_2014 Jr Division winner

Camden Stohl is in eighth grade at Roland Grise Middle School. She has studied violin since she was 2 years old with her mother, Anne Stohl.  Camden is currently in her fifth year with the Girls Choir of Wilmington and has been playing with the Wilmington Symphony Junior Strings for three years.  In her free time, she enjoys swimming, decorating cakes, cooking and crafts of any sort.  She also loves to play all different styles of fiddle music.

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