ROCHESTER, NY — It’s been quite a summer for three talented students from the Eastman School of Music, each of whom won major competitions held recently in Philadelphia, New York, and in Manchester, England.
ORGANIST WINS TOP HONORS AT NYACOP
After an intensive, year-long competition that culminated in July at the American Guild of Organists (AGO) national convention in Philadelphia, organist Timothy Olsen won first prize in the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance (NYACOP). Olsen — a doctoral candidate from Minnesota who studies with Eastman Professor of Organ David Higgs and is music director and organist at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Rochester — received a $2,000 cash prize, a recording on the Naxos label, and two years of professional management from Karen McFarlane Artists, one of the country’s top management firms for organists.
“This is an incredible opportunity for a young organist who wants to launch a professional career,” explained Higgs. “Because of this competition, Tim will have the chance to perform throughout the United States and the world during the next two years.”
Other Eastman students also fared well at the competition and convention: Doctoral student Crista Miller was a semi-finalist, and undergraduates Rico Contenti, Chris Lane, and Timothy Pyper were chosen to perform solo recitals in the “Rising Stars” series at the convention.
TRUMPETER WINS BIG IN U.K.
An ocean away, Eastman double-degree student Brian Shaw (who is pursuing a master’s degree in classical trumpet performance and jazz writing) won first place and a $1,000 prize in the solo competition at the 2002 International Trumpet Guild Conference held in Manchester, England, last month. Shaw, a native of Illinois who studies with Professor of Trumpet James Thompson, was one of only three semi-finalists from around the world who performed live in the high-profile competition, held on the fourth of July. “It was a great feeling, especially on that day, to be an American who won in Europe,” he said.
Earlier this year, Shaw won the 2002 award for best original jazz composition in the annual Down Beat student music awards. He now has won two of the highest awards granted in the disciplines of trumpet performance and jazz composition.
YOUNG PIANIST WINS FIRST-EVER NEW YORK COMPETITION
Rochester’s own Di Zhu, 18 — who has studied in Eastman’s Community Education Division (CED) for six years, most recently with Patricia Hanson — recently won first prize in the solo competition and second prize in the four-hands division at the inaugural New York Piano Competition, under the auspices of the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation. The competition, which was held at the Manhattan School of Music in late June, featured 22 young finalists from around the country, ages 14-18. As solo winner, Zhu won a cash award of $4,000 as well as concert and recital performance opportunities; as second-prize winner, she won a cash award of $1,125.
A frequent competition winner, Zhu has won numerous local and regional competitions, including the SUNY Geneseo Young Artists Competition, Ithaca College Piano Solo Competition, Penfield’s Young Artist Competition, the David Hochstein Recital Competition, and the Heddy Kilian Music Competition. A recent graduate of Greece-Arcadia High School, Zhu will be entering the Eastman School’s collegiate division this fall as a student of Professor of Piano Nelita True.
Note: Interviews with these students are available.