High School Cellist Wins Orchestra Competition

POTSDAM - A senior at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, NY, won the 2020 James and Katherine Andrews Young Artist Competition for Junior High and High School Students held recently at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam. For the fourteenth consecutive year, the event has been hosted by the Orchestra of Northern New York, the North Country’s only year-round professional symphony orchestra. 

Cellist Joyce Cheng, 17, bested six other students from around Northern New York, Central New York and the Capital Region. She performed the 4th Movement of the Elgar Cello Concerto in E Minor.  She will receive the $500 first prize and solo with ONNY when it presents its Star Wars concert at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 18 at Jefferson Community College's Sturtz Theater in Watertown, and at 3:00 p.m., Sunday, April 19 at SUNY Potsdam's Hosmer Hall.

Ms. Cheng began playing cello at age 9.  She joined the Empire State Youth Orchestra in 2015 and has been its principal cellist since 2018.  She is the daughter of Chiu-Ling Wu and Wen-Hua Cheng, Clifton Park.

Alex Wu, 15, a freshman at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, placed second for his rendition of the First Movement Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37. 

Mark Severtson, 17, a sophomore from senior at Parishville-Hopkinton Central School, won third place for his performance of the First Movement of the Vaughan Williams’ Concerto in F Minor on tuba.

Other participants from around the North Country were: Madilyn Connor, 15, a sophomore from Poland; Victoria Huffman, 14, a ninth grader from Theresa; Gabriel Schmid-Doyle, 17, a senior from Canton; and Sylvain Foisy, 17, a senior from Potsdam.

This year’s judges were: Gary Busch, Professor of Music in Piano Performance and Music History at the Crane School of Music; Mark Hartman, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in Trombone at Crane; Jennifer Kessler, Instructor of Music Education and Director of the National String Project at Crane; and Kenneth Andrews, Music Director and Conductor of ONNY since he founded it in 1988. He is a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus. Students receive valuable written feedback from the judges sent to them by competition coordinator and former ONNY violinist, Nancy Peschko, Norwood.

ONNY's Young Artist Competition was established in 2007 for talented high school students. This year, the ONNY Board of Directors opened the competition to junior high students. The program’s mission is to inspire young musicians to reach their highest level of artistry.  All performances must be played from memory.  Students also receive a taped recording of their performance to help them prepare for future performances or competitions.

For more information about next year's competition slated for February 20, 2021,  contact Nancy Peschko, Competition Coordinator at 315-391-0873 or nancypeschko@gmail.com.

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Joyce Cheng