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FFPA's Young Artist Competition

2011 Winners

Cherie Wehrle.
1st Place Vocalist
Cherie Wehrle
Mark Turner.
1st Place Instrumentalist
Mark Turner
Bethany Thompson.
2nd Place Instrumentalist
Bethany Thompson
Nicole Joshi.
3rd Place Instrumentalist
Nicole Joshi

This year’s Young Artist Competition, sponsored by the Fredericksburg Festival of the Arts, awarded the instrumentalist first place award to pianist, Mark Turner, a home-schooled senior while soprano Cherie Wehle was the first-place vocalist. The Competition’s second place was won by violinist, Bethany Thompson, a junior at Fredericksburg Christian High School and marimbaist Nicole Joshi, an eleventh grade student at Colonial Forge High School, won third place.

Twenty-two musical students of classical instrument and voice entered the Competition in December and Auditions were held on January 13 and 14. A team of six judges selected eleven performers for the Competition’s Finals Concert held on January 22nd at Chancellor Baptist Church in Spotsylvania.

The Fredericksburg Festival of the Arts, in partnership with the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra, encourages the development of classically-trained student musicians in Fredericksburg and the surrounding counties. Last year’s Competition winners, in addition to receiving $500 awards, were invited to solo with the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra. Flautist Jessica Stewart performed the “Carmen Fantasy for Flute” at their October concert and soprano Hope Strayer will sing with the Pops on Saturday, March 5th at 8 PM at Grace Church.

Kirk Wilke, conductor of the RPO, served as lead judge for this year’s Competition. All judges contribute their time to the competition and are highly-regarded musicians in the area. The vocal judges were Chris Ryder and Bonita Keene while the instrumental judges were Becky Riley, strings, Damien Bollino, winds, and Jessie Fillerup, piano.

Winners were judged on various aspects of their musicianship, technical ability, and presentation displayed at the auditions and at the Finals concert performance. Second and third place winners were given $500 and $200 savings bonds, respectively. All winners were also invited to perform at the FFA Chamber Festival concerts in June.

Members of the Rappahannock Youth Symphony performed chamber music while the judges selected the winners. String quartet performers included two finalists, Luke Gray and Bethany Thompson as well as Jessica Schue, viola and Mimi Wack, cello. In addition, Ashleigh Aycock, flute and Alex Peters, bassoon contributed wind duet music.

Students performing at the Preliminary Auditions included 7 Vocalist, 8 Pianists, and 7 Instrumentalists (5 violins, 1 tuba, 1 marimba). In addition to the Competition winners, finalists included Brandon Holland, piano; Luke Gray, violin; Lindsey Hardison, soprano; Christopher Yang, piano; Allison Deters, soprano; Ann Duong, piano; and Andrew Liang, piano.
YAC 2011 Finalists.
(Left to right: Kirk Wilke, lead judge; Bethany Thompson, Allison Deters, Chris Yang, Ann Duong, Lindsey Hardison, Mark Turner, Luke Gray, Nicole Joshi, Brandon Holland, Cherie Wehle, Andrew Liang)

Chancellor Baptist Church and music director McKenneth King have graciously hosted the YAC since its first year, providing an ideal venue along with staging assistance, practice rooms, accompaniment, and post-concert reception support. For seven consecutive years, Cornelia Bryant has graciously underwritten the expenses of the Competition.