Symphony Orchestra

Announcing the 2019 winners!

Lilla Keith

Lilla Keith, Soprano

Student of Dr. Carla LeFevre

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Lilla Keith is a Soprano from Campobello, SC. She received her BM in Vocal Performance from Furman University where she performed the leading role Josephine in the production HMS Pinafore. Lilla also performed with Furman’s symphony orchestra as the soprano soloist for Mozart’s Coronation Mass. She studied abroad through the Accademia Dell’arte in Arezzo, Italy, performing many solo recitals and showcases. She has participated in prestigious summer programs including Chicago Summer Opera. There, she performed Lady Billows in their production of Albert Herring. She sang the leading roles in their opera scenes productions: Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Female Chorus in the Rape of Lucretia, Angelica in Suor Angelica and First lady in Die Zauberflöte. Following Chicago, Lilla furthered her studies as a studio participant in CoOPERAtive Summer program in Princeton, NJ. Currently, Lilla is obtaining her Masters in Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro studying with Dr. Carla Lefevre. This spring Lilla will be performing as Alice Ford in the UNCG Opera Theatre production of Verdi’s Falstaff. She will also be making her Greensboro Opera debut as Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel and Gretel.

Akiko Yamazaki Headshot

Akiko Yamazaki, Piano

Student of Dr. John Salmon

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Pianist Akiko Yamazaki has performed extensively as soloist and chamber musician in venues including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. She made her orchestral debut with the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra as a recipient of the Benjamin Kilgore Gibbs award in 2004. She has appeared as a guest artist at universities including Utah State University, and University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated with the members of the North Carolina Symphony and the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At A Symposium for 21st Century Musicians, she gave the world premiere performance of Matthew Orlovich’s Dawn Rhapsody with violinist Karen Galvin. As a pedagogue, she is active as a presenter, adjudicator, and master class clinician.

Akiko is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, under the tutelage of John Salmon for piano, and Andrew Willis for harpsichord and fortepiano. Her study is generously supported by the Excellence Fellowship. Her doctoral dissertation “Pedagogical and Performance Guide of Lera Auerbach’s Images from Childhood, Op. 52” combines her passion for teaching with interests in women composers, contemporary works, and Russian music. She holds a MM from Northwestern University and a BM with highest distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her primary teachers include James Giles and Mayron Tsong. She has been on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill International Chamber Music Workshop, and UNCG Summer Music Camp.

About the Competition

The UNCG School of Music Student Artist Competition provides an annual forum for exceptional student performers to audition for the opportunity to appear in concert with the University Symphony Orchestra. Auditions typically take place in December, awarding performances on concerts scheduled between the following spring and fall semesters. Three to four student winners are normally selected for this honor.


The audition process involves two steps:

  1. A preliminary round, administered by each area of the performance department (keyboard, voice, woodwind, brass/percussion, and string)
  2. A final round, administered by the area of conducting and ensembles

The final round will take place on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 in the Music Building Recital Hall, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The finals are open to the public.



The philosophy of the Student Artist Competition is:

  1. To offer students the opportunity to appear as soloists with orchestra in the performance of full or partial concerti, arias and other short works on regularly scheduled concerts of the University Symphony Orchestra.
  2. To present outstanding School of Music students to the public in a program in which diversity is desired, but excellence in performance is the basic requirement.

The competition will occur in two rounds:

  1. The Preliminary Round, scheduled and administered by each area within the Department of Music Performance.  Students should talk to their studio teacher and/or area coordinator about specific area requirements.
  2. The Final Round, on January 29, 2019, beginning at 5:30 p.m.  Up to 15 total auditionees, selected during the preliminary round, will advance to perform in the finals.


  • Scheduled by individual areas (keyboard, voice, woodwind, brass/percussion, string), must be completed no later than December 7, 2018.
  • Memorization requirement is at the discretion of each individual area.
  • Performance proficiency requirement is at the discretion of each individual area (151-751).
  • No more that 3 students from any area will be advanced to the finals.

3 Keyboard 3 Voice
3 Woodwind 3 Brass & Percussion 3 Strings

  • The format for the preliminary round and criteria for advancing students to the final round is at the discretion of each individual area.
  • Each area will independently determine if they desire a balance between graduate and undergraduate representatives in the final round.


  • Tuesday, January 29, 2019, beginning at 5:30 p.m. – Recital Hall
  • Advertised and open to the public
  • Students will perform for up to 15 minutes in order to present complete works or movements, or samples of multiple movements.
  • Limited to a total of 15 participating students, representing their respective areas.


  1. The audition order will be determined at random, so finalists must be available for the entire block of time.  Exceptions may be made due to extenuating circumstances. Special requests for times must be communicated to the conductor by the application deadline.
  2. One original copy of the solo part must be provided to the audition committee.  If available in the UNCG music library, an orchestral score should also be provided.
  3. Each performer and accompanist should report to the audition site at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled audition time.  Performers should dress appropriately.
  4. If a soloist or accompanist is late, the audition will be cancelled and the next performer will be called.  Rescheduling the audition is at the discretion of the audition committee.
  5. If the chosen work is longer than the audition time allows, the finalist may select to perform a portion of the work as a whole, or excerpts from the entire piece.
  6. Vocalists may choose repertoire from either literature designed for concert performance with orchestra, or operatic arias.  Selection of repertoire should be done in consultation with the studio professor.
  7. A soloist may win a performing slot only once during his/her career at UNCG.
  8. An impartial committee of UNCG School of Music faculty members, plus one member from outside the School, will serve as adjudicators.  The conductor of the University Orchestra will serve as an advisor to the committee.


Questions about the viability of repertoire choices should be brought to the conductor in advance of the preliminary round.  If a student wins a performance slot with a piece that is impractical for the orchestra to perform, or that has been performed by the orchestra within the past 3 years, he/she may be asked to perform an alternate work.  Due to programming considerations, winners may be asked to perform more or less of a given work (i.e. one movement of a multi-movement work). Pieces may not be more than 20 minutes in duration. The conductor of the work may or may not be the faculty conductor of the orchestra. The conductor, in consultation with the student and studio teacher, will make final programming decisions.  


A total of two winners will be selected from the Final Round.  In an effort to diversify and improve the educational experience for students enrolled in the Orchestra and competition winners, one performance will be scheduled for April 2019 and the other during Fall 2019. Graduating students will be given scheduling preference for the April 2019 concert.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019, beginning at 5:30 p.m. – Music Building Recital Hall


Monday/Wednesday:  2:00-3:15 p.m., Rm. 111 Dress rehearsal: April 28, 7-10 p.m.

Friday:  2:00-2:50 p.m., Rm. 111 Concert:  April 29: 7:30 p.m.

Application Form

Recent Student Artist Competition Winners


Alex Whitehead, clarinet
Debussy – Premiere Rhapsodie
Student of Dr. Anthony Taylor

Jacob Warren, saxophone
Creston – Concerto for Alto Saxophone
Student of Dr. Steven Stusek


Ekin Ustunel, piano (MM)
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, mvt. 1
Student of Dr. Andrew Willis

Isaac Pyatt, marimba (junior)
Abe – Prism Rhapsody
Student of Dr. Eric Willie


Elena Flores, soprano (MM)
Grand Prize Winner
Donizetti – “O Luce di Quest’anima” from Linda di Chamoanix
Student of Prof. Clara O’Brien

Emily Loboda, saxophone (DMA)
Creston – Concerto for Alto Saxophone
Student of Dr. Steven Stusek

Colin McDearman, piano (MM)
Mendelssohn – Capriccio Brillant
Student of Dr. Andrew Willis


Kelsey Paquin, clarinet (MM)
Grand Prize Winner
McAllister – Black Dog
Student of Dr. Anthony Taylor and Dr. Kelly Burke

Lydia Pion, soprano (senior) 
Dvorák – “Song to the Moon” from Rusalka
Student of Clara O’Brien

Mengfei Xu, piano (DMA)
Rachmaninoff – Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini
Student of Dr. Andrew Willis


William Hueholt, piano (sophomore)
Grand Prize Winner
Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16
Student of Dr. Joseph DiPiazza

Justin Worley, tuba (DMA)
Strauss – Concerto No. 1 in E-flat, Op. 11
Student of Dr. Dennis AsKew

Jessica Johnson, mezzo-soprano (MM)
Ravel – “Asie” from Shéhérazade
Student of Dr. Robert Bracey


Mark Cramer, clarinet (DMA)
Grand Prize Winner
Debussy Premiere Rhapsodie
student of Dr. Anthony Taylor

Jeremy Harris, piano (senior)
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, mvt. 1
Student of Dr. John Salmon

Jourdan Laine Howell, soprano (MM)
Weber – “Eist traumte menier sel’gen Base” from Der Freischutz
student of Dr. Robert Wells


Anna Darnell, clarinet (junior)
Grand Prize Winner

Ticheli Clarinet Concerto
Student of Dr. Anthony Taylor

Xin Gao, saxophone (DMA)
Peck The Upward Stream
Student of Dr. Steven Stusek

Ryan Silvestri, violin (MM)
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
Student of Prof. Marjorie Bagley


Jason Wallace, saxophone (DMA)
Grand Prize Winner

Williams Escapades for Saxophone and Orchestra
Student of Dr. Steven Stusek

Michelle Ayres, soprano (DMA)
Beethoven Ah! Perfido
Student of Prof. Clara O’Brien

Stephanie Greco, violin (MM)
Shostakovich Violin Concerto
Student of Prof. Marjorie Bagley


Wei Jiao, piano – (DMA)
Grand Prize Winner
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1
Student of Dr. Andrew Willis

Joann Martinson, soprano (MM)
Bernstein “Glitter and Be Gay” from Candide
Student of Dr. Robert Bracey

Julie Smith, flute (MM)
Nielsen Flute Concerto
Student of Dr. Deborah Egekvist

Cicilia Yudha, piano (DMA)
Ravel – Piano Concerto in G
Student of Dr. John Salmon

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