2015-2016 Competition Winner – Mitsuru Yonezaki, violin

Mitsuru_YonezakiRecently featured as the young artist of Winsor Music and a rising star at the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra’s gala, Mitsuru Yonezaki studies with Joanna Kurkowicz, having begun the violin with Fudeko Takahashi. During her time at the NEC Prep School, Mitsuru was frequently the youngest member of the orchestras, including the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra at age 11. In 2012, Mitsuru was a junior finalist at the Music Teachers National Association as the state and regional representative. She also earned the Grand Prix and Special Award for Artistic Excellence at the Kobe International Music Competition, which resulted in performance engagements in Japan and Italy. Other travel experiences include tours to Costa Rica, Slovakia, Austria, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland, which have led to performances in Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Berlin Philharmonie, among other venues. She anticipates a tour to Brazil this summer with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, of which she is the current co-concertmaster, and will return to the Perlman Music Program Summer Music School for her fifth summer.

2014-2015 Competition Winner – Haig Aram Hovsepian, violin

hovsepianHaig Aram Hovsepian, 16 years old, is a sophomore at Belmont High School. He started playing violin at the age of 4, studying privately with Narine Dolukhanian, Anna Korsunsky, and Mark Lakirovich. Currently he studies with Kyoko Horowitz at the New England Conservatory Prep Department. At the age of 11, Haig received his first award at the statewide Music Teachers’ Association competition. In 2010 he won the Gold Medal at the Classival Music Competition in Canada, in June of 2010 became a winner of the Young Promise International Competition, and in 2013 was the finalist in the Armenian Youth Talent Music Competition. In 2015 he became the finalist in the BSO Concerto Competition and won two other Concerto Competitions: the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra and Belmont High School. He also made an appearance in a YouTube video production by the popular NPR program “From the Top.” From a very young age Haig started to perform at various community and charity events, churches, and nursing homes. He appeared on Belmont and Needham (MA) television featuring talented young musicians. Since its inception he has been a regular contributor/performer at the annual Belmont Cable Telethon aimed at raising funds for the local food pantry. Together with a group of other young performers he took part in a production benefiting the Joslin Diabetes Center. He also appeared in Our Young Stars and Music for Life recitals benefiting Boston Children’s Hospital, and the schools and orphanages destroyed by the earthquake in Armenia. Among various venues in which Haig has performed are: Carnegie Hall (New York), Massachusetts State House (Boston), Salle de Vallee des Champs (Montreal, Canada), Museum of Our National Heritage (Lexington), Belmont and Waltham Public Libraries, and the Armenian Library and Museum of America (Watertown). As a violinist, Haig has been an active member of chamber groups and orchestras at NEC. He is also an avid saxophone player and a proud member of Belmont High School’s Wind Ensemble, which was recently selected to perform at the Mass District Festival Concert 2015. In addition to classical music, Haig loves exploring jazz music by being part of his High School Jazz Band, and paying homage to pop music by occasional break-dancing.

2013-2014 Competition Winner – Chloe Lee, violin

cleeChloe Lee is 15 years old and is a first-year student at Phillips Academy in Andover. In addition to being the 2013-2014 Waltham Concerto Competition winner, Chloe is also the winner of the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra Competition and honorable mention recipient in the Brockton Symphony Feinberg Competition. She recently commenced her studies with Xiang Yu at the New England Conservatory. Chloe is a native of Chicago and is a student of Desiree Ruhstrat of the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio. In Illinois, Chloe was the 2013 Winner of the Northwest Symphony Concerto competition, the 2011 Winner of the Chinese Fine Arts Competition, and 2011 Second Prize Winner of Society of American Musicians. She has performed at the Chicago Cultural Center, Wrigley Field, and at Opening and Closing ceremonies at the 2012 Ryder Cup. In her free time, Chloe manages her fashion blogs, watches BBC’s “Sherlock” with her friends, and dreams of entrepreneurial ventures.

2012-2013 Competition Winner – Keith Williams, cello

kwilliamsKeith Williams started cello lessons when he was five years old. He is currently studying with Eugene Kim at the New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School where he also studies chamber music with Natasha Brofsky and Roger Tapping. He is co-principle cellist of the Boston Youth Philharmonic Orchestra under Benjamin Zander. As part of the inaugural class for From the Top’s year-long Center for the Development of Arts Leadership program, Keith and his team developed a program to bring music into the lives of patients undergoing cancer treatment at Boston’s AstraZeneca Hope Lodge. The previous summer, he collaborated with friends to form a chamber group which played concerts raising money for CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. Then and now, he volunteers his time to play concerts in hospitals and nursing homes. Keith has received numerous awards in competitions. At 15, he won New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School concerto competition and performed in Jordan Hall. He placed second in the American Association of Christian Schools’ nationwide competition after placing first in the Massachusetts chapter of the competition. Other awards include second place in the Brockton-Feinberg 2012 competition, honorable mention in the Boston Symphony Orchestra 2013 competition, and a merit award from the 2012-2013 national Young Arts competition. Keith has performed in masterclasses with such artists as Scott Kluksdahl, Timothy Eddy, and the Borromeo and Colorado string quartets, and collaborated with esteemed artists such as pianist Max Levinson and oboist Peggy Pearson. He won the cello fellowship to attend Foulger International Music Festival last summer, and this summer he will be attending the prestigious Heifetz Institute.

2011-2012 Competition Winner – Ben Baker, cello

benbakerBen Baker is a student of Eugene Kim’s at NEC Preparatory School. He began his cello studies at age four with the late Sheila Korzep, and has also studied with Kristen Miller, Nicole Johnson and Steven Doane. As a member of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, he has toured Germany and the Czech Republic. Ben is an avid chamber musician, and has been featured in recital in Jordan Hall, at the Bay Chamber Festival, Hartwick College Music Festival, and at the Killington Music Festival, where he has spent the last two summers. Ben placed second in the NEC Prep concerto competition in 2010, and was the featured soloist with The Merrimack Valley Philharmonic in Sept. of 2011, as well as playing in the final round of the BSO Concerto Competition. He has performed in master classes with Lynn Chang, Allison Eldredge, Yoshi Akimoto, Marcus Thompson, John Ziarko, Max Levinson and The Boston Trio. Ben is an honors student and senior at Pentucket Regional High School in West Newbury. He will be pursuing his studies this Fall as a cello performance major.

2008-2009 Competition Winner – Nicole DiBlasi, violin

ndiblasiNicole DiBlasi, age 16, began her violin studies at age 5. As a Classics for Kids winner in 2005, she was soloist with the Brockton Symphony Orchestra. She has also appeared as soloist with the Salem Philharmonic, the Reading Symphony, and the Hillyer Festival Orchestra and was invited to rejoin them on the Hatch Shell as part of the WCRB Classical Concert Series. Nicole was prizewinner in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and New England Conservatory Youth Concerto Competitions, and her chamber group, the Bouty String Quartet, received third prize in the 2008 International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition. As a high school honors student and violin student of Professor Yuri Mazurkevich at Boston University, she is also a member of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. She has previously studied with Jin-Kyung Joen and Marylou Speaker Churchill. Nicole also was recently selected as a candidate for Miss Massachusetts Teen USA.

2007-2008 Competition Winner – Daisy Joo, violin

djooDaisy Joo, a junior in high school and violin student of Jin-Kyung Joen, started lessons at age 4. She is a first violinist in New England Conservatory’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom she has traveled to Brazil, Venezuela, and China. Daisy has won Parkway Concert Orchestra’s Violin Competition, New England Philharmonic’s Young Artist competition and Quincy Symphony’s “Young Artist Performs” Competition. Daisy also has placed in NEC’s Preparatory School’s Concerto Competitions and the Rhode Island Philharmonic’s Concerto Competition. She has received scholarships from the Sharon Chamber Music Association and attended the Killington Music Festival as a select “Junior Apprentice”. There Daisy collaborated with Max Levinson and studied with Juliette Kang, Yehonatan Berick, and Miriam Fried. This past summer she attended Le Domaine Forget with scholarship and studied with Mark Fewer, Yehonatan Berick, and the Arthur-Leblanc String Quartet. Daisy has participated in masterclasses by Irina Muresanu, Miriam Fried, Lynn Chang, Regis Pasquier, and James Ehnes.

2006-2007 Competition Winner – Eva Belmont, piano

ebelmont1Eva Belmont is a student at Buckingham Browne and Nichols high school. She studies piano privately with Mr. Jonathan Bass through New England Conservatory Preparatory Division. In 2005, Eva won the New England Piano Teachers Association Ruth Davidson competition, as well as the Rivera prize for contemporary music. In 2006, she won second prize at the Steinway Society of Massachusetts piano competition. In addition to studying solo music, she also enjoys playing chamber music. Eva is currently a member of a piano trio at New England Conservatory Preparatory and attended the Yellow Barn Young Artists Program for the last two summers.

2005-2006 Competition Winner – Sarah Koenig-Plonskier, violin

skoenigplonskierSarah Koenig-Plonskier is currently the Concertmaster of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of the New England Conservatory led by Benjamin Zander. In 2005, she was a guest soloist with the Lowell Philharmonic and performed with the Walnut Hill String Quartet in a live radio broadcast from Boston’s Symphony Hall on WGBH. In 2006, Ms. Koenig-Plonskier will be performing as guest soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Brockton Symphony Orchestra, the Quincy Symphony Orchestra and the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra. She has received numerous awards, including First Place in the 2006 Boston Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. Ms. Koenig-Plonskier has been closely involved in programs which help to bring music to disadvantaged communities, both in the United States and abroad. In 2004 and 2005, she partnered with Boston Ballet Conductor Jonathan McPhee in a Community Leadership Program to bring classical music to Boston area inner city schools. She traveled to Guatemala, Panama, Brazil and Venezuela with the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra on tours aimed at bridging cultural, language and socioeconomic gaps with music and performance. Ms. Koenig-Plonskier began her violin studies at age 4, and has studied with Lisa Lederer, Jennifer Elowitch, and Fudeko Takahashi. She currently studies with Professor Yuri Mazurkevich. Sarah will attend The Juilliard School in the fall of 2006.