Young Artists Competition
Young Artist Competition 2016

UPDATE: May 13th, 2016: Congratulations to everyone who applied to the 2016 Young Artists Competition of the Idaho Falls Symphony. Our 5-person panel was overwhelmed by the level of playing in this year's highly competitive Preliminary Round. The following musicians were selected to advance to the Final Recital, scheduled for Saturday, October 29th, at 2:00pm in the Colonial Theater:

Senior Division Finalists:
Lauren Avondet Anderson, violin
Crystal Erekson, flute
Elizabeth Shill, French horn
Joe Van Duren, cello

Junior Division Finalists:
Matthew Decker, piano
Katie Killpack, piano
Jane Shumway, violin
Drew Stanley, French horn
Elizabeth Stewart, piano
Laurana Wheeler, violin

Tickets to the Final Recital will be general admission. For more information please call our office at (208) 529-1080.

Final Recital: Saturday, October 29th, 2016, Colonial Theater, Idaho Falls
Winners Concert: Saturday, April 29th, 2017, Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium




Previous Young Artists Competition Winners:


ChrisYoung2014 242x350-w350Christopher Young, cello - 2014 Senior Division Winner

Christopher Young, cello, grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he began his cello studies at the age of 8 with Janet McIntosh. He attended Skyline High School to study with Dr. Robert Tueller of Brigham Young University - Idaho. For his senior year of high school, Christopher attended Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan, where he studied with Crispin Campbell and served for several concert cycles as principal cello of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. In April 2010, he was honored as a National Merit Scholar, and he graduated from Interlochen with summa cum laude honors.


While in Idaho, Young served as principal cello in the Idaho Falls Youth Symphony, and in 2009 performed the Haydn D Major Cello Concerto in the youth symphony’s concerto competition. That same year, he also was invited to participate in an inter-northwest honors orchestra conducted by Gerald Schwarz at MENC’s All-Northwest Music Conference.


Chris went on to major in Instrumental Performance at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, where he was a Stamps Distinguished Ensemble Scholar and a member of the Stamps String Quintet, Class of 2014, coached by faculty mentor Ross Harbaugh. The Stamps String Quartet performed classic and contemporary string quartet repertoire, tangos, jazz-inspired works, and more. Chris Young also performed in the Frost Symphony Orchestra, Frost Opera Theater and the Frost School’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, as well as chamber groups throughout the South Florida region. He studied privately with Ross Harbaugh.


As a member of the Stamps Strings Quartet at the Frost School of Music, Young performed in a Texas Music Educators Clinic in San Antonio, the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar in New York City, and the Orfeo Music Festival in Italy. He has collaborated with artists Alexander Markov, Mark O’Connor, Pavel Vernikov, Eli Matthews of the Cleveland Orchestra, and hip-hop producer Chip Williams.


Upon graduating from the Frost School of Music, Christopher Young was awarded a scholarship to pursue a Master of Music degree at the University of Michigan, studying with Richard Aaron. Currently, Christopher is playing a cello made by Christopher Dungey, on loan from the Art and Patricia Van Dyck Cello Library.



sarah close9383 color-w350Sarah Close, harp - 2014 Junior Division Winner

A native of Eastern Idaho, Sarah began playing the harp at age five and won her first state music competition at age eight on a small 22-string lap harp with an original composition. As she and the harps have grown together, she has gone on to win many local, regional and state competitions. These include winning twice at the competitive Sun Valley Summer Soloist Competition where she was selected to perform at the famous Pavilion, The Idaho Falls Youth Symphony Concerto Competition and honors from the Upper Valley Music Teachers Association.


Sarah has been named the principal harpist for the Idaho Falls Youth Symphony, the State level Sun Valley Summer Youth Orchestra and the National level Young Musicians Summer Festival in Utah. An active soloist, she has performed for many functions in Eastern Idaho, Boise, and Park City, Utah and for such award-winning, international artists as Jenny Oaks Baker, Michael Ballam, Janice Kapp Perry, Mindy Gledhill and 24 different conductors since the age of twelve.


Her current teacher is Dr. Alicia McQuay, Principal Harpist of the Idaho Falls Symphony and Professor of Harp at BYU-Idaho. Sarah has studied summers with International Harpists Dr. Carrol McLaughlin, Distinguished Professor University of Arizona, Gretchen Van Housen, Principal, Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra, and Professor at Carnegie Mellon/ Duquesne Universities, Heidi Gorton, Principal, Toronto Symphony and has been part of Juilliard’s precollege program.


A believer in giving back, Sarah has taken her harp to volunteer for many non-profit organizations, care centers, and hospitals. She has been recognized by the highest level of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award twice, The Congressional Award and The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. At age 16, she is a sophomore in High School and a member of the National Honor Society.




Annie Brown 300Annie Brown, piano - 2012 Junior Division Winner

Annie was raised in a music-filled home, where she immediately connected with great musical literature. She began her formal training at age 7 on both piano and violin, and ultimately chose piano as her primary emphasis. Now age 16, Annie has been a frequent winner of local, regional, and state piano competitions. She placed first at the Upper Valley Music Teacher's Association Scholarship Competition in 2011 and 2012, first in her division at the Musician's West Piano Competition in 2010 and 2011, and she won top prizes at the Eastern Idaho Music Teacher’s Association Competition in 2010 and 2011. Not only does Annie relish live classical performances, but she also loves to serve others through music in her church, her community, and in her family.  Annie has been violin Concertmaster of the Madison High School Orchestra and currently plays violin with the Rexburg Tabernacle Orchestra. She works at Ferguson Music Company and teaches piano performance in her own studio. After graduation from high school, she plans to major in piano performance. Annie currently studies piano with Cheryl Hansen and is a former student of Jacquelin Shaw.



Stephen Busath

Stephen Busath, percussion - 2012 Senior Division Winner

Stephen Busath is a 23-year-old senior studying Music Education at BYU-Idaho. He is originally from Elk Grove, California. Stephen started a music program in the 7th grade and began serious study in the 11th grade. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in New England, speaking Spanish, before serving another mission in Illinois and playing for the Nauvoo Brass Band. Stephen is the youngest of five coming from a family full of people in the performing arts.




Claire_TuellerClaire Tueller, piano - 2010 Junior Division Winner

Claire began formal piano study at age five, although spent many hours at the keyboard years earlier with storybooks as her music. Now age 17, she is a frequent winner of local, regional and state piano awards. In 2009, she won the Idaho Music Teacher's Association Senior Piano Competition held in Boise. She received top prizes in multiple divisions of the USU Piano Festival in 2009 and 2010, takin gfirst place in both Late Romantic and Contemporary genres. She won Upper Valley Music Teacher's Association scholarship auditions in 2008, 2009 and 2010. She took first place in her division at the Musician's West Piano Competition in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and received first place finishes at the Eastern Idaho Music Teacher's Association Sonatina Festival in 2003, 2004 and 2006. She currently studies with Professor Gary Amano, Director of Piano Studies at Utah State University. Former piano teachers include Cheryl Hansen and Joan McGann. Claire loves playing piano, loves studying with Professor Amano and loves attending piano camp more than any other summer activity. When she isn't practicing piano, she also plays cello, sings in her high school choir and ballroom dances. She plans to major in Piano Performance after graduating from Madison High School in May.


Jessica Cooley, violin - 2010 Senior Division Winner

Jessica_CooleyJessica began violin at an early age, making her impromptu debut while standing atop a refreshment table at her first violin teacher's wedding. Her childhood love of music continued to grow as she performed concerts with her seven siblings for community and church events. Jessica participated in the Idaho Falls Youth Symphony, and later became a member of the Idaho Falls Symphony. Jessica is currently pursuing a Masters of Music degree in violin performance at Miami University of Ohio where she serves as a graduate assistant, concertmaster of the Miami University Symphony Orchestra, a member of the graduate octet, and a teacher in the Virginia Pearce-Glick Young Musician's Program. Jessica received her bachelor's degree in violin performance, graduating summa cum laude from Brigham Young University-Idaho. While attending BYU-Idaho on scholarship, Jessica acted as the concertmaster of the BYU-Idaho Sinfonietta and was a first violinist in the BYU-Idaho Symphony, Chamber, and Baroque Ensembles. Jessica has had the opportunity to perform in master classes for Eli Matthews of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, for the New York Chamber Soloists, and for the Cavani, Shanghai, and Ying Quartets. Jessica's teachers have included Judy Fletcher-Davis, Shannon Packer, Monte Belknap, Ted Ashton, and Emma Rubinstein. She is currently a student of Dr. Harvey Thurmer. In addition to performance, Jessica has received teacher training in Suzuki and other pedagogy methods. She has maintained an active teachering studio since 2004. Jessica also has a passion for history, physics, chemistry, camping and travel.


Kristina Willey, Viola – 2008 Winnerkristina-willey

Kristina began music lessons at 18 months, on a 32nd size violin/viola; she now studies viola with Dr. Kevin Call at BYU-Idaho on full music scholarships as a Music Major with an emphasis in Viola Performance; former teachers include Dr. David Dalton, Dr. Claudine Bigelow, and Dr. Irene Peery-Fox on piano. A native of Pleasant Grove, Utah, she has won first prize three times in the Utah State Fair, soloed with the Utah Symphony in 2003, and was featured on the national radio program "From the Top" in April 2005. Kristina is a missionary in the Orchestra at Temple Square, was twice principal violist of Utah's All-State Orchestra and Annenberg Debut Symphony in Malibu. She was Utah's Emersen Scholarship winner at Interlochen Arts Camp in 2004. She also participated for 2 years in the Disney Young Musicians' Symphony Orchestra, in the National High School Honors Orchestra, and won the Utah Symphony Youth Guild Competition three times. Kristina is a trained Suzuki violin/viola teacher, and enjoys teaching her students, ages 4-12. Kristina also enjoys drawing, reading, and writing. Kristina performed the Walton Viola Concerto with the Idaho Falls Symphony on February 28, 2009.

Zina Heningway, Soprano – 2006 Winner

Emily Nelson, Cello – 2005 Winner


Thank you for visiting the Idaho Falls Symphony

440 N. Capital Ave., Suite B
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
(208) 529-1080, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We are proud and honored to have been part of the Idaho Falls community since 1949. Our mission to perform the world’s great music continues thanks to our dedicated team of musicians, our generous sponsors, and the tireless volunteers that make up the Symphony family. 

In consideration of our patrons and artists, children must be age six to attend performances of the Idaho Falls Symphony.

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