Eleven Young Musicians Named Winners of 2020 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition

Mike Lawson • News • February 20, 2020

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Eleven exceptional musicians have been named the winners of the 2020 Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) Competition presented by Yamaha Corporation of America.

The YYPA Competition recognizes outstanding young musicians studying in the United States who excel in jazz, classical and contemporary genres. In addition to this year’s 11 winners, seven individuals were awarded honorable mentions.

“At Yamaha, we are committed to encouraging music makers to share their passion with the world and in turn, inspire others to do the same. The YYPA program is a true reflection of that commitment, and for over 30 years, it has played a vital role in launching the careers of young aspiring musicians,” said John Wittmann, senior director of artist relations and education, Yamaha Artist Relations Group Indianapolis. “This year’s winners are fully deserving of this recognition for their musical talent and accomplishments.”

The 2020 YYPA Winners include:

Hunter O’Brien – flute; Shepherd, Michigan; New England Conservatory

Alec Chai – oboe; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Yale University

Amer Hasan – clarinet; Tinley Park, Illinois; Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Salvador Flores – saxophone; Houston, Texas; University of Michigan

Rico Jones – saxophone; Denver, Colorado; Manhattan School of Music

Jason Donnelly – euphonium; Oviedo, Florida; University of Miami, Frost School of Music

Euan Leslie – drum set; Dumfries, Scotland, United Kingdom; Berklee College of Music

Ashley Ridenour – percussion; Denton, Texas; University of North Texas

Xizhu Liang – piano; Shanghai, China; Mannes School of Music

Joe Conticello – piano; Burlington, Connecticut; William Paterson University

Maya Anjali Buchanan – violin; Rapid City, South Dakota; Curtis Institute of Music

The 2020 YYPA winners join more than 300 exceptional musicians who have been recognized by the program over the past 32 years. Many have established successful music careers, both as performers and educators, including Ivy Ringel, principal bassoonist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Paul Cornish, keyboardist with Kanye West; Alexa Tarantino, New York saxophonist, composer, band leader and Yamaha Performing Artist; Carol Jantsch, principal tubist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yamaha Performing Artist; and Stephen Page, associate professor of saxophone at the University of Texas at Austin.

The 2020 Yamaha Young Performing Artists will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the YYPA Celebration Weekend June 20-23, 2020, which will take place during the Music for All Summer Symposium, to be held at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, from June 20-27, 2020.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will allow the young artists to perform in front of thousands, receive national press coverage and participate in workshops designed to launch a professional music career. The 2020 winners will walk away from this experience with services and support from Yamaha Artist Relations and professional audio and video recordings, as well as photography, of their live performance.

The YYPA Celebration Weekend will culminate at the annual YYPA Concert, which will be held on Monday, June 22 at Emens Auditorium. Yamaha Performing Artist and 1994 YYPA Winner, Kenneth Tse, will perform as the Featured Guest Artist with the winners. Tse is currently professor of saxophone at the University of Iowa and performs internationally as an acclaimed saxophonist. In previous years, featured guest artists have included Anders Astrand, Yamaha Performing Artist and renowned international jazz artist; Allen Vizzutti, international trumpet soloist and educator; Jauvon Gilliam, principal timpanist of the National Symphony Orchestra; and three-time Grammy Award winner Jeff Coffin, saxophonist for the Dave Matthews Band.

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