Competition draws musicians from across Peninsula today

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — The prizes for the Port Angeles Symphony's annual Young Artist Competition are a bit richer this year.

The 20 competitors — pianists, a cellist, a flutist, a double-bassist and beyond — will play for $1,125 in cash prizes in the 27th annual contest, to start at 9:30 a.m. today at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 E. Lopez Ave.

Admission is free, and all music lovers are invited.

While the senior Young Artist Competition has a first-place prize of $500, the Junior Young Artist Competition's top musician will take home $250. And for the first time since 2008, there are second-place awards: $250 for the senior contest and $125 for the juniors.

Both come thanks to an anonymous donor, said competition organizer Bonnie Christianson.

The playing this Saturday will be inspirational, Christianson believes.

“It's a wonderful opportunity to hear some of the talented young people who live in our communities: Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend,” she said.

“People who attend are often amazed at the level of skill these students have.

“It's like going to a very fine recital . . . Many people come year after year, and some folks who come for 'just a bit' find that they stay the entire time because they can't pull themselves away.”

The Junior Young Artist Competition, open to players below ninth grade who haven't entered before, comes first from 9:30 a.m. till 11 a.m. The field's youngest is 9-year-old violinist Marley Erickson of Port Townsend, who will compete with fellow violinists Brian Choe of Port Angeles, Kate Powers of Sequim and Lum Fu of Port Angeles. Lum will also compete as a pianist, along with Port Townsend pianist Jackson Schott, Port Angeles violist Leah Haworth and Port Angeles flutist Joshua Gershon.

The competition adjudicators are Port Angeles Symphony conductor Adam Stern, symphony concertmistress Kate Dean, symphony English horn and oboe player Susan Scott and University of Puget Sound music professor and Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra bassist Michael Schermer, who is a Port Angeles native.

The four will offer their insights aloud to each performer, Christianson said. After the junior contest, they will take a break from 11 a.m. till about 1:30 a.m.

The senior Young Artists Competition is next. It's open to players in ninth grade up to age 22 who were not winners the previous year.

Competing are cellist Jeremy Choe, double-bassist Michael Helwick, violinists Selbey Jelle and Leah Marsh, pianists Sin Ka Lik, Jay Liang, Cole Urnes, Shannon Gordon and Katie Rivers, and violist Elizabeth Helwick, all of Port Angeles; cellist Madelyn Kowalski of Port Townsend and alto saxophone player Hillary Smith of Sequim.

Musicians and adjudicators will take a break between 1 p.m. and 1:15, Christianson noted. The competition is scheduled to wrap up around 3 p.m.

“Audience members can feel free to arrive or leave any time between the performances,” she added.

For more information about the Young Artist Competition and other Port Angeles Symphony events — such as the symphony orchestra's Feb. 2 concert at the Port Angeles High School auditorium — phone 360-457-5579 or visit

Last modified: January 17. 2013 6:43PM
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