Class of 2019 - 2020 Accolades


1.11.20 - The DePaul Concerto Festival for Young Performers was founded in 2003 to provide an opportunity for intermediate level pianists in the Community Music Division to perform with an orchestra. In 2004, the Festival was expanded to include violin students and also offered a wider range of repertoire for pianists. In 2006, cello and flute were added to the roster of instruments. To accommodate the increasing difficulty of repertoire, a decision was made to conduct the Festival with a full symphony orchestra. A partnership was formed in 2007 with the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago under the direction of Mina Zikri. That year, thirteen winners had the privilege of performing a concerto movement in concert.  In 2008, the Festival was opened to students outside of the Community Music Division. Viola was added in 2009, clarinet in 2012, and oboe and bassoon in 2013.  Today the DePaul Concerto Festival attracts nearly 150 participants in piano, strings, and woodwinds from the Midwest who audition for a chance to perform with the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago. We invite and encourage young musicians to audition for an opportunity to participate in the Concerto Festival.


Congratulations to the following Academy Winners:



Amelia Zitoun, student of Horacio Contreras

Honorable Mention

Jan Vargas Nedvetsky, student of Horacio Contreras



Ashley Kim, student of Matthew Hagle and James Giles



Isabel Chen, student of Almita Vamos

Honorable Mention with Distinction

Esme Arias-Kim, student of Almita Vamos

Honorable Mention

Kelly Kim, student of Sang Mee Lee

Abigail Park, student of Almita Vamos


1.5.2020  - Isabella Brown, student of Almita Vamos, won the Arthur D. Montzka Young Artists Concerto Competition (Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra) this past Sunday. She will play the full Beethoven Concerto with the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra on February 22 at NIU's Boutell Memorial Concert Hall in Dekalb, IL.  Previous Academy winners include Karisa Chiu, Maya Buchanan, and John Heo.


Over 200 exceptional young musicians from all corners of the country, competed in Midwest Young Artists Conservatory's 2019 Walgreens National Concerto Competition from Dec. 28-30 at Ravinia's Bennett Gordon Hall and the MYAC Center at Fort Sheridan in Highwood.


Congratulations to the following MIC students who competed in the Open Division:


Zechary Mo, viola (Strings HM) – student of Davis King and Roland Vamos

Ashley Kim, piano (Piano HM) – student of Matthew Hagle and James Giles


Early Music Winner - Esme Arias Kim, viola -  student of Almita Vamos

Jan Nedvetsky, cello - (Strings HM) – student of Horacio Contreras



The Lakeview Orchestra Young Artist Concerto Competition is open to current high school students who play an orchestral instrument. The winner of the competition will receive a cash prize of $250 and be invited to perform their selected concerto with the Lakeview Orchestra. Sidney Lee, student of I-Hao Lee,  was named runner-up in the Lakeview Orchestra Young Artist Concerto Competition is open to current high school students who play an orchestral instrument. The winner of the competition will receive a cash prize of $250 and be invited to perform their selected concerto with the Lakeview Orchestra.


Congratulations to YoungArts 2020 winners!


YoungArts is proud to announce the 2020 YoungArts award winners—686 of the nation’s most accomplished young artists from 40 states in the visual, literary and performing arts. Selected for their caliber of artistic achievement, award winners are chosen by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. This year’s award winners represent the top 9.5% of applications across ten artistic disciplines. YoungArts award winners gain access to one of the most prestigious programs for emerging artists in the United States in which they will have opportunities for creative and professional development throughout their entire careers.


YoungArts aspires to create a community of alumni that provides a lifetime of encouragement, opportunity, and support. All winners become part of a professional network of over 20,000 alumni artists and are eligible to participate in YoungArts’ regional programs, including YoungArts Miami in February, YoungArts Los Angeles in March and YoungArts New York in April.


Congratulations to violist Zechary Mo (Faculty: Davis King and Roland Vamos) and pianist Eriko Darcy (Faculty: Matthew Hagle), Honorable Mention Winners in Classical Music, and to cellist Cameron Chiu (Faculty: Horacio Contreras), pianist Ashley Kim (Faculty: Matthew Hagle and James Giles), and violinist Noelle Naito (Faculty: Almita Vamos), Merit Winners in Classical Music.


Honorable Mention and Merit winners have the opportunity to participate in the New York Regional Program in the spring, where students spend a week fully immersed in their art form and participate in interdisciplinary and genre-specific master classes.



Recognition Levels

Finalist: The YoungArts Finalist award recognizes work that demonstrates exceptional technique; a strong, sophisticated, nuanced, and clear artistic point of view; and a depth of thinking/performance that far exceeds the level of peers at this career stage. Finalists who meet eligibility requirements are considered for nomination to the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program


Honorable Mention: The YoungArts Honorable Mention award level recognizes work that demonstrates exceptional technique; a strong sense of artistry; and a depth of thinking/performance that exceeds the level of peers at this career stage.


Merit: The YoungArts Merit award level recognizes work that has been deemed as commendable by the panel, strong technically with a clear artistic point of view.


11.23. 19 The Sphinx Competition is a national competition offering young Black and Latinx classical string players a chance to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges, and to perform with and receive mentorship from established professional musicians. 

2020 Junior Division Semi Finalist: Esme Arias-Kim


11.23. 19 Ashley Kim, piano student of James Giles and Matthew Hagle performed on WFMT’s Introductions last Saturday. Ashley performed selections of Chopin, Bach, Mozart and Rochberg.


11. 18. 19 Jonah Kartman, violin student of I-Hao Lee, is a finalist in the The Bolz Young Artist Competitionand will perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra on February 26 and 27.

Preliminary Round: Saturday, October 26   Semi-Final Round: Monday, November 18 Final Round: Wednesday, February 26, 2020 (The Final Forte)

The Bolz Young Artist Competition is a highly-regarded statewide competition in which Wisconsin’s young musicians compete for scholarships and the opportunity to perform as soloists with the MSO. The four semi-finalists compete in The Final Forte, which is broadcast on Wisconsin Public Television. Winners of the Bolz Young Artist Competition are featured as soloists with the MSO during the Spring Young People’s Concert.


11.17. 19 The Sixteenth Annual Sejong Music Competition was held on Sunday, November 17, 2019 at the University of Illinois at Chicago Performing Arts Center. The Sejong Cultural Society strives to advance awareness and understanding of Korea's cultural heritage in the United States. The goals of the Sejong Music Competition are to discover talented young musicians and encourage them in their studies, and to also introduce traditional Korean music expressed through Western media.


Dating back to 2006, the Academy has had long-standing success at the Sejong Competition.



First place: Noelle Naito, student of Almita Vamos and Davis King

Third: Jonah Kartman, student of I-Hao Lee

Honorable Mention: Esme-Arias Kim, student of Almita Vamos


The Chinese Fine Arts Society’s 34th Annual Music Festival in Honor of Confucius Competition was held on Sunday, November 24.

The Chinese Fine Arts Society (CFAS) is a Chicago-based non-profit dedicated to promoting the appreciation of Chinese culture, enhancing cultural exchange, and pursuing excellence in Chinese music, dance, and visual arts. Since 1984, CFAS has been a leading champion of Chinese culture

1st Place: Abigail Park

2nd Place: Sonya Jones


Junior II

Sameer Agrawal, student of Sang Mee Lee


Abigail Park, student of Almita Vamos

Sonya Jones, student of Almita Vamos and Davis King

Honorable Mention  

Linda Wang, student of Almita Vamos and Hye-Sun Lee


11.23.19 Yerin Yang – As the winner of the 2018 Crain-Maling Foundation CSO Young Artists Competition, Yerin will perform several concerts with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra later in November. Yerin won the competition with her performance of the first movement from the Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16, by Edvard Grieg.  Program to include selections from: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3, Beethoven Symphony No. 3, 5, 6, and 9. Yerin studies with Jim Giles and Alvin Chow.

PERFORMERS Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Erina Yashima conductor Yerin Yang piano


11. 9. 19 Sameer Agrawal – Sameer won first place in The Symphony of Oak Park & River Forest Concerto Competition and will perform the first movement of the Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto, No. 5 in A minor, on Sunday, December 1, at 4pm. The symphony is conducted by Music Director Jay Friedman at Concordia University in River Forest.  Sameer studies with Sang Mee Lee. The Symphony of Oak Park & River Forest’s Solo Competition is open to all musicians who have yet to complete their senior year of high school and whose primary residence is within 10 miles of Oak Park/River Forest.


11.2.19 Zechary Mo won the Grand Prize at the Illinois American String Teachers Association Concerto Competition on November 2nd, at Illinois State University with a performance of the Walton Viola Concerto.  Zechary studies with Roland Vamos and Davis King. The American String Teachers Association, founded more than 60 years ago, is a membership organization for string and orchestra teachers and players. The Competition is open to all string students aged 16-22 studying or living in Illinois who have an instructor who is an ASTA member.  There are separate divisions for violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, and harp, and one Grand Prize.   


10.19.19 Academy violinist Katya Moeller performed Glazunov’s Violin Concerto with the Southeast Iowa Symphony (69th season), a regional orchestra that performs in Burlington, Mt. Pleasant and Ottumwa, Iowa. In addition to rehearsals and concerts, Katya was booked on the Young Professionals of Burlington, a 30-minute program that combined performance with a discussion about music. She also gave an interview on Iowa Public Radio about the Glazunov’s performances and did the Williamsburg Library "Alive after 5" series.



10.15. 19 Abigail Park, student of Almita Vamos,  participated in a masterclass sponsored by Bein & Fushi  and The Stradivari Society on October 15. The class was led by Spanish violinist Francisco Fullana, winner of the 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant, who has received international praise as a "rising star". Abigail performed a movement from  Vieuxtemps Concerto No.


10.13.19 Academy Violinist Noelle Naito, student of Almita Vamos, was named the winner of the Music Teacher’s National Association(MTNA) state string competition in Maryland on October 13. The MTNA National Student Competitions are the most successful and prestigious student competitions in the country. Noelle will advance to the Eastern Division Online-only Video Competition. Division winners compete in the national finals at the annual MTNA National Conference in March.


Cellist Sajdah Muhammad performed with the South Side Chicago Youth Orchestra this summer, and received the opportunity to be interviewed and appear on ABC news.  

Tune in to hear Sajdah’s compelling story.


Cellist Jan Nedvetsky played live this morning on ABC’s Windy City Live celebrating Amazing Kids. The show will be repeated at 11pm tonight. Jan performed the Courante from Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major by Bach.


9.28.19 Mia Wimbiscus will be featured on "Introductions" on September 28. Introductions is WFMT’s weekly Saturday morning radio program that features talented pre-college classical musicians in the Chicago area.  

Mia’s program:

Pampeana No 2., Rhapsody for cello and piano, op 21 by Alberto Ginastera

Sonata in D Minor by Claude Debussy 

Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33 by Pyotr Tchaikovsky


Piano student Eriko Darcy will be featured on the 9th Annual Franz Liszt Birthday Gala Concert next month in Nichols Concert Hall. Watch for more information regarding tickets.


Summer Highlights


Katya Moeller, violinist in the Avita Duo, was featured in concerts across the globe this summer, appearing with her mother, pianist Ksenia Nosikova.

Isabella Brown won 3rd prize in July at the 2019 Thomas & Evon Cooper International Violin Competition – in Oberlin, Ohio, United States.  


Katya Moeller, student of Almita Vamos, won GRAND PRIZE in the ENKOR International Music Competition, Violin, 6th Edition.


Sidney Lee, student of I-Hao Lee, won 1st prize in ENKOR, Category B, ages 11-15.

ENKOR provides students with the unique opportunity to get heard and recognized by hundreds of professionals and influential people in the music industry. ENKOR is the only competition with a Jury Board consisting of 500+ members from 70+ countries on 6 continents!


News from Aspen: Violinists Noelle Naito and Katya Moeller, students of Almita Vamos, performed in a master class with violinist Paul Huang, recipient of the prestigious 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant and a 2017 Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists.