Alumni Travel to China, Participate in Documentary and More

We are always thrilled to hear from our past performers, and here is another round of news from the many From the Top alumni living all over the country.

Kevin Olusola on From the Top at Carnegie Hall

Kevin Olusola on From the Top at Carnegie Hall

Kevin Olusola writes, “I’m currently a junior at Yale University, East Asian Studies Major and Pre-Med. In Summer 2007, I was on a trip with 100 Yalies to China. President Hu Jintao invited us all to go, meet him, and understand more about China and its growth. It changed my life.  I lived in China for 6 months studying abroad and taking Chinese.  Next school year, I am taking the year off on a Yale Fellowship to study more academic Chinese and hopefully attain a very high level of linguistic competency.  After that, I’m hoping to go to music school for a while to pursue cello/beatboxing/modern music and then maybe attend medical school.” Kevin also was a favorite entry in Yo Yo Ma’s online indabamusic competition this winter.

Composer Preben Antonsen’s piece for solo piano “Dar al-Harb,” was performed by
Bay Area pianist Sarah Cahill at Merkin Hall in mid-March. According to the New York Times review, Preben’s piece “evoked the damaged psyche of his cousin, a Marine who served in Iraq, with clangorous conflict between the keyboard’s high and low ends, from which a turbulent middle-register lament emerged.”

Svetlana T. Tsoneva writes, “I am currently a member of the New York Chamber Virtuosi, the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, and give solo recitals and chamber music performances in NY and NJ throughout the season. My teaching work is very much concentrated around ISO: InterSchool Orchestras of New York, where I am the 1st Violin Coach for three of their orchestras, in addition to coaching chamber music. I also got married to a wonderful, wonderful, man and jazz drummer, and married life is treating both of us very well.”

Simone Porter is one of four young instrumentalists to be featured in a new British Documentary entitled “The World’s Greatest Prodigies.”  The documentary is about the musicians and a 16-year-old British composer, Alexander Prior. Prior traveled the world to audition and then ultimately choose instrumentalists for whom he composed “Concerto for Piano, Cello and 2 Violins ‘Velesslavista.'” The documentary comprises footage of the auditions, held in Florida in November 2008, as well as footage taken by the crew of RDF Television of Simone at home in Seattle, and will also include footage of the musicians rehearsing and premiering the concerto in England.  The concerto will be performed with the critically acclaimed Northern Sinfonia chamber orchestra at the Sage at Gateshead, on April 29.  In addition to performing the multiple concerto, Simone will also have the opportunity to perform the Haydn Concerto #1 in C major. The documentary will be broadcast on Channel 4 in England June 8, 15 and 22.  There is a good chance that it will be picked up in America and broadcast here as well. “Working with a living composer who wrote the piece with her and the other musicians in mind has been especially compelling,” says Simone’s mom.

A number of From the Top alumni participated in the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts’ youngARTS week in Miami. They include:
Benjamin Lash and Corey Dundee. Ben was also nominated for the Presidential Scholar in the Arts Program. Corey is also a National Achievement Scholarship Program Finalist and a National Society for High School Scholars Scholarship Semifinalist. He will perform with the North Carolina Symphony in the near future.

Arianna Körting won 1st prize in The Duquesne Young Artist National Competition in Pittsburgh, PA on March 6th.  She performed in The Winners’ Recital at PNC Hall at Duquesne University. She will perform with the Duquesne University Symphony Orchestra in April as a finalist in their Concerto Competition.

Ansel Norris won First Place in the High School Division of the National Trumpet Competition at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.  Danny Taubenheim came in second.

In January 2009, violinist Kenneth Renshaw won First Prize in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Bronislaw Kaper Awards competition. He will study with Itzhak Perlman and attend the Perlman Music Program in New York this summer (2009). He continues to be the concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony’s Youth Orchestra.

Congratulations to the finalists in the American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition. They will compete in Atlanta, Georgia on May 19 and 20. Our alumni finalists are: Brandon Garbot, Madalyn Parnas, Stefani Collins, Matthew Lipman , James David Larson, Matthew Allen, Emma Bobbs, Benjamin Lash, Deanna Talens, Meta Weiss, Nate West, Thales Smith, Katherine Ann Siochi, and Xiao Shelly Du.
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