The Board of Directors of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra has announced the winners of the 25th annual Young Artists Competition, held during the month of February. Although the final event has always been held live in the past, the Symphony’s Artistry Committee made the decision to continue with the competition but held it virtually in the presence of the pandemic. This competition began in 1996 to encourage professional standards of performance among young musicians. The founder of the Young Artists Competition was the late Dr. Barbara Kaplan who served as an active member of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors from 1992 to 2005.
The 2021 Winners
The Dorothy Allen Turner Award for first place went to pianist Angelina Ning who performed the first movement of Concerto No. 3 by Sergei Prokofiev. The sixteen-year-old Florida native is a student at the American Heritage School in Boca Delray. She currently studies with Professor Tian Ying. Her past awards include Grand Prizes at the 2016 Carmel Klavier International Piano Competition in the intermediate solo and concerto divisions, first prize and best performance of a solo piece at the 2016 East Carolina University Young Artists Competition, first prizes at the North Carolina and South Carolina Music Teachers National Association, and first prize at the 2017 Peter Perret Youth Talent Search Concerto Competition. She won alternate in the Southern division of MTNA, third prize at the David Dubois Piano Competition, and second place at the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition.
Angelina has performed with the Alicante Symphony Orchestra and the Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra. She was the first-place winner of the 2019 Miami Steinway Son Piano competition, division III. Ms. Ning also won first place in the 2019 FIU high school concerto competition and the Alhambra Orchestra’s 16th Annual Ray Millette Young Artist Concert Competition. She also appeared on the From the Top Show 373 in San Marcos, Texas in June 2019.
As first place winner, Ms. Ning will receive $1,500 and perform as the featured soloist with the LaGrange Symphony in a regular season concert once live concerts resume post-pandemic.
The Max Kaplan Award for second place and a $1,000 cash award was won by pianist Luke Turner, a seventeen-year-old student from Birmingham, Alabama who studies with Heather Conner at Vanderbilt University. He is the Myra Jackson Blair Scholar in Piano. Mr. Turner is a Chopin Foundation Scholarship Recipient in 2020-2021, 2020 winner of the Lois Pickard Concerto Competition in Piano, and won third prize in the National Division of the Music Teachers National Association in 2020. He participated in the 2020 Emory University Piano Competition, the 2019 Cliburn Junior International Piano Festival and won third prize in the 2019 Lee University International Piano Competition. He was the Grand Prize winner of the 2019 Curb Concerto Competition and the Junior Piano winner in the 2018 Southern Division of the Music Teachers National Association competition. Mr. Turner performed Concerto No. 3, Op. 26 III by Sergei Prokofiev.
Winner of the NOTE Award for third place and a $500 cash award was pianist Arturo Fernandez of Fort Myers, Florida, a student at Florida Gulf Coast University who studies with Dr. Michael Barron. At the age of six, he performed with the Trujillo Symphony Orchestra in his native Peru. Mr. Fernandez participated in several music festivals in his home country and was a prize-winner in the “Music Patronage Competition” in Peru. He was the overall winner of the Southwest Florida Symphony Young Artist Competition and will perform with that orchestra next season. He also won the Music Teachers National Association Senior Competition for the state of Florida in 2019 and the Gray Perry Piano Competition in 2020. Mr. Fernandez performed movements 3 and 4 of Concerto No. 1 by Franz Liszt.
Judges of the 2021Young Artists Competition were Maestro Richard Prior, award winning composer and conductor who is the Music Director and Conductor of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra; William Ransom, pianist, artistic director, master teacher, editor and judge for international competitions and the Mary Emerson Professor of Piano at Emory University; and Vijay Venkatesh, an immersive and versatile soloist and top prizewinner in international; competitions who has performed globally with multiple orchestras and is recognized on three continents as a pianist with profound musicianship. All three judges were impressed by the quality of the entrants who were judged on musicianship, technical ability, and poise.
The competition this year was open to participants from Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee who were under age 26 and played Piano.