Yamaha Young Performing Artists Program Recognizes Eleven Outstanding Musicians

Mike Lawson • News • June 27, 2019

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The Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) program recognized the 2019 winners during its annual Celebration Weekend, held June 22-25, 2019 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

The YYPA program was created in 1988 to recognize young, rising stars and provide direction and advice as their careers begin to launch. The 2019 celebration weekend was packed with workshops designed to support the aspiring musicians’ personal development and career goals. Working closely with Yamaha staff members and guest artists, the young artists set goals, developed interview skills and had honest and deep conversations about career paths. The winners also worked closely with featured guest Yamaha performing artist and renowned international jazz artist, Anders Astrand.

“My time at the YYPA Celebration Weekend was the perfect space and environment for me to launch my professional career. I feel inspired and energized to prioritize my creative vision, while maintaining a practical and sustainable career,” said Cade Gotthardt, 2019 YYPA trumpet winner.

The weekend culminated with the prestigious YYPA Celebration Concert during the Music for All Summer Symposium on Monday, June 24, which featured the YYPA Winners and Anders Astrand in solo performance.

“For more than 30 years, the YYPA program has been deeply committed to nurturing and celebrating young musical talent,” said John Wittmann, senior director of artist relations and education, Yamaha Artist Services Indianapolis. “It’s incredibly rewarding to watch the palpable impact made at the celebration weekend, and to witness the careers of these budding musicians flourish from the moment they become a part of our program.”

The 2019 YYPA winners include:

Alejandro Lombo – flute; Miramar, Florida

Freya Spence – clarinet; London, England

Bhavani Kotha – oboe; Bellevue, Washington 

Eric Zheng – saxophone; Tucson, Arizona

Cade Gotthardt – trumpet; Long Beach, California

Dave Mosko – trombone; Marlton, New Jersey

Connor Rowe – trombone; Lompoc, California

Samuel Vargas – violin; Acarigua-Araure, Venezuela

Austin Keck – percussion; Prosper, Texas

Xinzhu Ma – piano; Shenyang, China

Will Kjeer – piano; Saint Paul, Minnesota 

With the inclusion of this year’s eleven winners, more than 300 musicians have earned the “YYPA winner” distinction. Many have gone on to highly successful music careers, performing with major jazz groups, playing in top symphony orchestras or teaching at prestigious universities and conservatories. Previous winners include Conrad Jones (2008 YYPA Trumpet Winner), principal trumpet of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Carol Jantsch (2005 YYPA Tuba Winner), principal tuba of the Philadelphia Orchestra; Kenneth Tse (1994 YYPA Saxophone Winner), professor of saxophone at the University of Iowa; Aaron Parks (2000 YYPA Piano Winner), acclaimed jazz pianist; and Jake Harpster (2010 YYPA Percussion Winner), member of a prominent military ensemble.

“The amount of information I’ve learned not only from the guest artists and staff, but also from listening to the other winners, was very inspiring. Every moment of this experience has been nothing short of incredible,” said Austin Keck, 2019 YYPA percussion winner. “I am so honored to enter this legacy with YYPA.”

For instructions on how young musicians can apply for the 2020 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition, click here.

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