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Concerto/Aria Contest Winners

Each year, the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra accepts applications for its annual Concerto/Aria Contest, which provides a solo opportunity for talented young local instrumentalists and vocalists from within Orange County.

Eligibility is open to SUNY Orange students and local high school students, as well as residents of Orange County who are no older than age 23 as of Jan. 1 of the year in which they are entering.

A panel comprised of music faculty from SUNY Orange, as well as professional musicians from the Hudson Valley, judge auditions for instrumentalists and vocalists and select a winner (or winners).

Submissions are generally due in December with auditions planned for January and the solo performance accompanies the orchestra's annual February concert.


Molly Dubner

Minisink Valley freshman Molly Dubner was named the winner of the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra's 2019 Concerto/Aria Contest.

A singer and songwriter, Dubner performed "Art is Calling Me" during the orchestra's February concert.


Natalie DavidsonNatalie Davidson

A cellist who studies under the tutelage of Greg Phillips, Davidson was chosen from a number of candidates by a panel of music faculty from SUNY Orange and professional musicians from the Hudson Valley. She performed in December with the 2017 NYS School Music Association All-State Orchestra at Eastman Theatre in Rochester, N.Y.

In addition, she was principal cellist at both the Area All-State Music Festival in November and the All-County Music Festival this past January. She has been cello section leader in the Monroe-Woodbury Chamber Orchestra since her sophomore year, and was cello section leader at the 2017 WorldStrides Heritage Inaugural Concert in Washington, D.C., where the Monroe-Woodbury Chamber Orchestra received numerous first place awards.

Davidson mentors fifth graders with Central Valley Elementary Orchestra teacher Michele George, who first taught Davidson the cello. She has studied cello privately with Phillips for six years. She has studied classical piano for 11 years and will play string bass in Monroe-Woodbury’s upcoming high school musical. She plans to study both neuroscience and music in college this fall.


Angela  PrictoeThe SUNY Orange Community Orchestra has selected trombone soloist Angela Prictoe, a junior at Monroe-Woodbury High School, as winner of the orchestra’s 15th annual Concerto/Aria Contest.

Prictoe will perform Ferdinand David’s “Concertino, Op. 4 for Trombone."


Yena LeeYena Lee, a freshman at Monroe-Woodbury High School, will perform Johann Quantz’s “Flute Concerto in G” with the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra following her selection as the winner of the annual Concerto/Aria Contest.

Lee began studying piano at the age of 6 with Sunghee Yoon in Korea and started playing the flute two-and-one-half years later - winning many competitions on both instruments throughout her young career. When Lee moved to Monroe in 2011, she began studying the flute with Merryl Newler.

In addition to performing with the North Main Elementary School Band and the Monroe-Woodbury Middle School Wind Ensemble, Lee currently is a member of her high school’s Wind Ensemble. She has also played with the Orange County Youth Symphony and is the principal flutist with the Hudson Valley Honors Youth Wind Ensemble.

Lee has placed well in regional and state honor band and orchestra auditions, including the New York State Band Directors’ Association Honor Band in Syracuse and the Orange County Music Educators’ Association High School All-County Orchestra, where she won the principal flute chair. She has received A+ ratings at NYSSMA solo and ensemble festivals, including a perfect score at the highest repertoire level (6).

She also studies taekwondo, volunteers as a mentor with the Central Valley Elementary School band program, performs weekly with her church praise team, and performs at an annual holiday recital series at Glen Arden.


Olivia McCartneyLocal high school musicians Olivia McCartney of Newburgh Free Academy and Brianna Reed of Valley Central High School will perform oboe and French horn solos, respectively, as winners of the Concerto/Aria Contest.

McCartney will perform the second movement of Wolfgang Mozart’s “Concerto in C Major for Oboe, K-314” while Reed will play “Morceau de Concert por Cor, Op. 94,” by Camille Saint-Saëns. The two talented young musicians earned the chance to solo by virtue of winning the orchestra’s 13th annual Concerto/Aria Contest.

A senior at Newburgh Free Academy, McCartney has been playing the oboe since fourth grade and studies with Dr. Joel Evans. She plays in NFA’s wind ensemble as well as SUNY New Paltz’s Youth Orchestra and SUNY Ulster’s Wind Ensemble. This spring she will be performing in the dance chorus during her high school’s musical production of “Mary Poppins.”

McCartney has participated in multiple All-County music festivals since elementary school and recently played principal oboe in both the Area All-State and All-State symphony orchestra festivals. In April, she will have the honor of being first oboe in the All-Eastern band. She plans to study both music education and music performance in college.

Brianna ReedReed, a senior at Valley Central High School, has been playing French horn since she was 8 years old. Currently, she studies with Drew Mangus of the West Point Band. Reed has attended several music festivals including the All-State Conference of 2014 in Rochester, N.Y. She has played in All-County music festivals and was first chair in the Area All-State Wind Ensemble in each of the past two years.

This past summer, Reed had the opportunity to work with musicians from the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra in the New York State Summer School of the Arts’ School of the Orchestral Studies program. Since the Fall of 2011, she has played in the horn section of the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra, and has been a member of the SUNY Orange Chamber Ensemble since the Fall of 2012. She will soon be auditioning for music schools in order to pursue the next phase of her musical education.


Jared SilbernagelLocal Warwick Valley High School musicians Jared Silbernagel (French horn) and Nathan Sander (piano) were selected as winners of SUNY Orange Community Orchestra’s 12th annual Concerto/Aria Contest

Silbernagel, a senior at Warwick Valley High School, will perform Wolfgang Mozart’s “Horn Concerto, No. 2 in E flat, K. 417.” Sander, a junior, will perform Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414.” The remainder of the evening program includes “Prelude to Hänsel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck, “Classical Symphony, Op. 25” by Sergei Prokofiev and “Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor” by Alexander Borodin.

Silbernagel, who began playing guitar and piano in the second grade, has studied French horn with Keith Riddick for seven years. Currently he studies with Peter Reit, horn teacher at SUNY Purchase. Silbernagel performs with the WVHS Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band. He was selected to perform as principle hornist in the All-State Symphonic Band and Symphony Orchestra in 2012 and 2013 respectively. He has also participated in the area All-State Music Festival since 2010, All-County Music Festival since 2006 and All-County Jazz Ensemble (guitar) since 2010.

During the summers of 2012 and 2013, Silbernagel had the opportunity to work with musicians from the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra in the New York State Summer School of the Arts, School of Orchestral Studies program. He has performed with many community based ensembles like the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra, the SUNY Orange Symphonic Band, the North Jersey Concert Band and the Saint Stephen’s Brass Ensemble.

Nathan SanderSander began playing piano at the age of 5. Self-taught until the age of 13, Sander now studies with Dr. David Crone. Sander has played piano in more than 10 musicals in the area, and has accompanied the Warwick Middle School and High School choruses for the past four years. He performs with the WVHS jazz band and at venues throughout the Hudson Valley. Sander won the Woody Herman Jazz Award and was named Best Soloist at the Music in the Parks Festival. He spent the past two summers at the New York State Summer Music Festival at SUNY Oneonta, studying under Brenda Earle as well as participating in Jazz Choir, Jazz Combos, Symphony and Chamber Orchestras.

Sander also plays trumpet in the WVHS Wind Ensemble. On trumpet, he has performed in numerous All County festivals as well as with the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra last fall. A high honor roll student and a member of the National Honor Society, Sander is also an accomplished track and field athlete in the shot put.


Julia RuppJulia Rupp

Julia Rupp, a senior at Warwick Valley High School, is the winner of the orchestra's 11th annual Concerto-Aria Contest. She will perform Camille Saint-Sa ns' "Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33."

Rupp has played the cello for seven years, having studied with Jennifer Green, a teacher at the Pre College-Manhattan School of Music, for the past three years. Rupp is the principle cellist in her high school chamber orchestra and has twice been awarded principle cellist in the Orange County Music Educators' Association (OCMEA) All-County Symphony Orchestra.

She has participated in the Zone 9 Area All-State Symphony Orchestra for the past three years, and in December 2011 was selected to perform in the New York All-State Symphony Orchestra, in Rochester, New York. Rupp is also an active in the middle school and high school drama clubs. She has performed in the pit orchestra of "The Music Man," "Oliver," and "Cats."

In addition, Rupp has been a member of the Allegro Youth Orchestra in Monroe and has attended several summer camps, including: New England Music Camp in Sydney, Maine; New York Summer Music Festival (NYSMF) in Oneonta; and, most recently, the Aria International Summer Academy, Mt. Holyoke, Mass. She is an active member of the choir of Christ Church in Warwick and will frequently accompany the choir or perform a solo during services. She has performed contemporary music with local musician Ava Heatley at Applefest and at the Railroad Green in Warwick. She plans to pursue a degree in Instrumental Performance in college.


Michael KolbMichael Kolb

Kolb is 17 years old and a senior at Newburgh Free Academy. For the past three years, he has studied voice with Ron DeFesi. As a tenor, Michael performs frequently with the Hudson Opera Theater. With the Hudson Opera Theater he has sung the role of Mercury in Offenbach's Orpheus and Guccio, in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. In addition, he has participated in performances of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, Saint-Sa n's Samson et Dalila, Haydn's Paukenmesse, H ndel's Israel in Egypt, Mozart's Requiem and in the spring will perform in a fully staged production of Verdi's A da. He plays piano and guitar and also composes. Michael would like to thank his mother and father for being supportive. He plans to continue studying voice and attend college in the fall.

Erik Bjorkman

BJorkman is a senior at Monroe-Woodbury High School and has studied cello for more than eight years. For the past year, he has studied privately with Eileen Moon of the New York Philharmonic. Bjorkman performs in a variety of MWHS music ensembles including Chamber Orchestra, Voice Ensemble, Combined Symphony Orchestra, and a string quartet. Within the M-W Drama Club he has acted in "You Can't Take it with You," "Charlotte's Web," "Beauty and the Beast," "Hairspray," and the "Wizard of Oz." Erik also participated in the 2009 and 2010 Souza Scholarship Productions of "Brigadoon" and "The Secret Garden."

Musically, he has been an active participant in numerous All-County festivals, Area All-State performances, and has been named an alternate for two consecutive years at the All-State NYSSMA festival. He has also attended the Ithaca College Summer Music Camp and the New York Summer Music Festival at SUNY Oneonta. Bjorkman is also a member of the Jubilate Youth Choir of Warwick and has sung Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" at Carnegie Hall in 2010 and John Rutter's "Mass of the Children" in 2012. He was a member of the OCYS Symphony Orchestra, participating in concert tours in Bejing, China and most recently in Prague, Czech Republic. Since 2006, Erik has been a member of the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra. He plans to pursue a music education major with a minor in history in college.


Ashley HeilweilAshley Heilweil

Heilweil is a music performance student at SUNY Orange where she performs with the Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers under the direction of Christa Damaris.

From early in her elementary school years, she has played clarinet and sung soprano. As a student at Goshen High School, she participated in Advanced Concert Choir and Women's Choir. Her first appearances on stage were in the high school musicals "42nd Street" and "Beauty and the Beast."

At SUNY Orange, Heilweil performed the role of Ainsley in "Back Story" and participated in last year's Student Recital sponsored by the Arts and Communication Department. In the past three years, while working with the Hudson Opera Theatre, she has appeared in "Dialogues of the Carmelites," "Orpheus in the Underworld," "Sex and Violence: The World of Grand Opera," and most recently performed in concerts of the Mozart Requiem. She is currently studying with Ron DeFesi and plans to audition for major conservatories to further her music career.

Audrey ZyburaAudrey Zybura

Audrey Zybura, a senior at Washingtonville High School, serves as section leader of the school's Wind Ensemble.

She began her flute studies with Nicole Jones when she was a fifth grader. She has participated in several music festivals including the All-County, All-Area All-State, NYSBDA Honors Band, and was an alternate for the 2009 and 2010 All-State conferences. She also performs with the SUNY New Paltz College-Youth Symphony Orchestra (and Wind Ensemble) and the Hudson Valley Honors Youth Wind Ensemble. She plays nearly every Sunday morning with the Praise Band at the Monroe United Methodist Church and has attended the Crane Youth Music Summer Camp.

In 2009, Zybura visited Germany and Austria during the summer with the American Music Abroad Empire Tour and was featured in a master class given by Claire Chase, an accomplished professional flutist. Zybura also sings in her church choir and with Washingtonville High School's Chamber Choir. Last year, she completed her Girl Scout Gold Award with a project that was focused on inspiring young flutists. She plans to pursue flute performance and possibly music therapy in college.


Erica MooreErica Moore

Erica Moore plays the French horn in the Warwick Valley High School Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Band and Low Brass Choir.

She is a frequent member of the Middle School pit orchestras, including performing for Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” “My Fair Lady,” “Into the Woods,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” She first became a member of the horn section of the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra during the summer of 2005.

She participates in numerous All-County festivals, Area All-State performances, and two All-State NYSSMA festivals in Rochester, N.Y.

During the summer of 2008, she had the opportunity to work with musicians from the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra in the New York State Summer School of the Arts’ School of the Orchestral Studies program under the direction of conductor Luis Biava. At NYSSSA, she attended master classes with French hornist Jeffry Kirschen.

During the summer of 2009, she toured Germany and Austria with the America Music Abroad Empire Tour, performing several concerts in the musical cities of Leipzig, Salzburg, and Vienna.

Kaitlyn MesicKaitlyn Mesic

Kaitlyn Mesic performs with the orchestra and student quartets at Goshen High School.

She studied violin with Keely Gould and Emily Faxon for the seven years before winning the award in 2010. She participates in many All-County and Area All-State music festivals. For the six summers before her award, she has attended Crane Youth Music at SUNY Potsdam, playing in quartets and the symphony orchestra.

She has been a member of the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra since the Fall 2006. In the community, Mesic often played for church masses and weddings.