From the Top Announces 2024 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Awards

“Proof that classical music in America is alive and kicking…” –NPR Music

From the Top Announces 2024 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Awards

$10,000 Grants Increase Access to Highly Competitive Classical Music Training

 2024 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award recipient Sage Mae Lima-Jeffries, a 17-year-old cellist from Atlanta, records with From the Top host Peter Dugan. Photo by Qu West.

BOSTON, MA – February 13, 2024 – Today From the Top, America’s largest national platform celebrating young classically trained musicians, announces the 2024 recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. Out of more than 250 applicants, 21 exceptionally promising pre-collegiate musicians with demonstrated need were chosen to receive up to $10,000 each. These funds are made available for instrument purchases, summer camp tuition, college audition expenses, private lessons, and other music-related needs.

From the Top is best known for its flagship broadcast of the same name, which airs weekly on nearly 200 radio stations nationwide. NPR Music calls the program “proof that classical music in America is alive and kicking…a potent antidote to any gloom-and-doom doubter. For over 20 years, From the Top has built an impressive platform to celebrate the music, lives, and stories of youngsters playing classical music.”

Off the airwaves, From the Top seeks to fill gaps in classical music training, giving young musicians practical experiences in media and technology, community engagement, and storytelling and communication. In addition to recording performance episodes with host Peter Dugan, all Jack Kent Cooke Young Artists participate in From the Top’s Learning and Media Lab. Through a four-week remote program, they plan and implement a community engagement activity, explore ways to make an impact through music both now and in the future, and learn about the multiple career avenues available for a musician today. Awardees also join a growing cohort of diverse young people from across the country, supported by a network of industry professionals with a genuine desire to empower young musicians.

“From the Top is making a long-term investment in the arts, and this award was instrumental to my own career,” said Gabriel Campos Zamora, Principal Clarinet of the Minnesota Orchestra. “When I received the grant in 2008, I was finally able to buy my first clarinets and audition for college programs, which I would not have had the resources to do on my own. I also discovered a network of compassionate mentors who were eager to see me succeed. Their knowledge and leadership prepared me to take the next steps in my classical music career, and I’m delighted that this transformative award continues to change lives. The future of classical music will be in the hands of these talented young people.”

From the Top’s longstanding partnership with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has been one of the most impactful collaborations in From the Top’s history. Since the program’s establishment in 2005, over $4 million has been granted to more than 400 remarkable young artists striving to attain excellence in music despite financial barriers. The award is used to help offset the often prohibitively expensive costs of studying classical music at a high level, offering these driven musicians a better chance of succeeding in a highly competitive art form and fulfilling Jack Kent Cooke’s vision of enabling promising students with financial need to develop their talents.

“This award and the exceptional artists it supports are changing the face of classical music,” said From the Top Executive Director Gretchen Nielsen. “Focusing our efforts to recruit and champion musicians with high financial need has also fundamentally changed From the Top as an organization. The costs of high-level study, instruments, and auditions have historically been huge barriers, keeping talented performers from reaching their full potential. We are proud to connect these dedicated young artists with the resources and encouragement needed to pursue a career in music, and we can already see the ripple effects as our earlier awardees are now successful professionals and mentors themselves.”

The positive impact of increasing access to high-level classical music study extends well beyond the few hundred lucky recipients of this award. New generations of creatives are now able to see themselves reflected onstage, as awardees like pianist and Cliburn finalist Clayton Stephenson, cellist and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient Sterling Elliott, opera singer Samantha Hankey, harpist Angelica Hairston, violist Matthew Lipman, and recent Latin Grammy nominee Daniela Santiago Martinez continue to earn their success. As Philanthropy Roundtable noted in a profile of Jack Kent Cooke himself: “The health of our culture is in their hands.”

Meet From the Top's 2024 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artists

2024 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Awardees

Ian Dodd, 18 • Clarinet
Putney, VT

Daniel De La Cruz, 17 • Viola
Laguna Niguel, CA

Rhyuhn Green, 17 • Piano/Composition
Brookhaven, PA

Gavin Hardy, 18 • Double Bass
Lexington, NC

Abraham Kim, 17 • Cello
Laveen, AZ

Juhee Kim, 17 • Viola
Palisades Park, NJ

Ricardo Lazaro, 16 • Trumpet
San Antonio, TX

Rebecca Marchan, 17 • Mezzo-Soprano
Astoria, NY

Eunice Park, 17 • Harp
Springfield, VA

Joshua Rascón, 18 • Flute
Greely, CO

Laura Wang, 18 • Violin
Lexington, MA

Pataranon Boontagarnon, 17 Piano
Hilliard, OH

Anthony Dorsey, 17 Violin
Cincinnati, OH

Laurel Harned, 17 Guitar
Redlands, CA

Sage Mae Lima-Jeffries, 17 Cello
Atlanta, GA

Fabrizio Milcent, 17 Bassoon
Chicago, IL

Luis Diego Montero Hernández, 17 Clarinet
Costa Rica & Interlochen, MI

Daniel Perez Ponce, 17 Percussion
New York, NY

Jiyu Oh, 17 Violin
Seoul, Korea & Natick, MA

Gabriela Salvador Riera, 16 Violin
Wilmington, DE

Benjamin Smith, 17 Cello
Columbia, MO

About From the Top

From the Top is a non-profit organization based in Boston dedicated to celebrating and empowering young musicians. Through its weekly NPR radio program and digital media, Learning and Media Lab Fellowship, awards, and Daily-Joy.org, From the Top provides young musicians with a platform to share their artistry and stories, and a space to learn about the power of community engagement and the life of an artist. These programs connect young musicians and music lovers of all ages. From the Top receives funding support from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and contributions from generous individuals. Learn more at fromthetop.org.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded almost $282 million in scholarships to nearly 3,300 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive academic advising, career pathway counseling and other support services. The Foundation has also provided $133 million in grants to organizations that serve such students as they develop their academic and artistic talents.

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