What Summer Means to From the Top Alumni

Our alumni didn’t spend their summer vacations catching rays on beaches, they were far too busy making waves of their own. From major awards to music videos, here is what our alumni did on summer break:

Pianist Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, who appeared on Show 240 in Boston, Massachusetts, joins a number of other distinguished From the Top alums such as Conrad Tao, George Li, and Charlie Albright to receive a Gilmore Young Artist Award.

“The Gilmore Young Artist Award is presented every two years to single out the most promising of the new generation of U.S. pianists, age 22 and younger. Nominations are made by music professionals from around the world, and an anonymous selection committee evaluates the nominees over a period of time. Candidates for the Award are unaware that they are under consideration. Each Gilmore Young Artist receives a $15,000 stipend to further their musical career and educational development, as well as $10,000 to commission a new piano composition for which the artist will have exclusive performance rights for one year. ” Read more about the award here.

From the Top alumni made an impressive showing in the concerto competitions at Aspen Music Festival and School this summer. William Hagen (Show 194, Buffalo, New York) won the Dorothy DeLay Fellowship; Hannah Cho (Show 209, Waimea, Hawaii) won the Violin Concerto Competition; Qi Kong (Show 218, Ames, Iowa) took top prize in the Piano Concerto Competition; Austin Huntington (Show 239, Ocean City, New Jersey) won the Low Strings Concerto Competition; and Fabiola Kim (Show 158, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) received top prize in the AACA Violin Concerto Competition, while Tengku Irfan (Show 267, Boston, Massachusetts) won the AACA Piano Concerto Competition.

nyopic.jpgEleven From the Top alumni joined Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra  in its inaugural year and performed in Washington, D.C., Moscow, St. Petersburg, and London. They are: Erika Gray (Show 262, Greensburg, Pennsylvania), Nora Doyle (Show 270, Athens, Georgia), Amy Semes (Show 239, Ocean City, New Jersey; Show 246, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Annie Wu (Show 263, Davis, California), Eric Goldberg (Show 206, Dallas, TexasShow 244, Kalamazoo, Michigan; Show 271, New Albany, Ohio), Annika Jenkins (Show 234, Virginia Beach, Virginia), Demi Fang (Show 239, Ocean City, New Jersey), Sean Byrne (Show 252, Chattanooga, Tennessee), Elizabeth Sperry (Show 240, Boston, Massachusetts), Jacob Mezera (Show 214, Iowa City, Iowa; Show 238, Chicago, Illinois), and Tanner Jackson (Show 214, Iowa City, Iowa).

Annie Wu (who provided the photo to the right) said of the experience: “NYO was completely incredible down to the last details,. They took such great care of us, giving us the best training from principal members of major orchestras, planning our whole trip, and giving us the time of our lives. Playing under Maestro Valery Gergiev was unbelievable.  To be under such mastery, musical originality, and energy really gave our new orchestra the vitality it needed. Also, playing principal flute on the Shostakovich Symphony No. 10 was something I’ll never forget. All of my fellow musicians were so talented and supportive and each concert kept getting better and better until our final one at the BBC Proms in Royal Albert Hall, which seated around 7,000!”

Austen Yueh (Show 269, Mesa, Arizona) spent the summer at Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute at Mountain View, California. Her team worked on a small web application which allows you to record music or lecture notes or other audio directly in the browser, then play back, download, or share. This fall, she’ll begin her freshman year at MIT, where she plans to continue studying and performing clarinet.

Wickliffe Simmons (Show 270, Athens, Georgia) spent the summer making this amazing music video with a group of contemporary dancers. He recorded every sound in the video with his cello, including percussion and bass lines. He says, “A lot of the inspiration to do this definitely stemmed from the Arts Leadership Orientation Workshop I did with From the Top – I started working on this almost immediately after being on From the Top.”