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.

2019

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.

2018

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.

2017

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."

2016

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.

2015

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.

2014

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.

2013

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.

2012

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.

2011

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.

2010

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.

2009

Justin RandolphJustin Randolph

Justin Randolph was a Music Performance major at SUNY Orange, where he performed with the Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers. He played tuba throughout middle school and high school. Randolph began to sing in various school vocal groups while attending Middletown High School.

During his time at SUNY Orange, Randolph was invited to perform with the Hudson Opera Theatre, appearing as the shepherd in "Tosca" and as Gastone in "La Traviata." His stage credits also included a pair of SummerStar Theatre roles: playing Henrik in "A Little Night Music" and the minister in "A New Brain."

Randolph was studying with Ron DeFesi when he won the 2009 contest and was planning to audition for major conservatories later that year.

Stephen GorgoneStephen Gorgone

Stephen Gorgone had studied viola for more than eight years under the private direction of Emily Faxon and Noriko Herndon when he won the award in 2009. In addition, he studied piano for six years under the tutelage of Celia Herman and Ron Johnson.

Gorgone performed with a variety of Monroe-Woodbury High School groups, including Chamber Orchestra (principal violist), Voice Ensemble (bass and piano accompanist), Strolling Strings, Pit Orchestra, and Chamber Winds. He was the principal violist for the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra and also performed with the College's Chamber Ensemble as a violist and pianist.

Gorgone was selected to perform with numerous music festivals including all-county, area all-state, all-state and was invited to participate in the All-Eastern Orchestra slated for March in Providence, R.I. Gorgone was the 2009 instrumental recipient of the OCMEA Scholarship, performing a solo at the All-County Festival in January. He was also a regular attendee at the New York Summer Music Festival at SUNY Oneonta.

2008

James RoseJames Rose

James Rose, who studied trumpet for nine years prior to winning the contest in 2008, performs with the Warwick Valley High School Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Pep Band, Pit Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble.

In addition to working with private teacher Eric Parks and Warwick band director Chris Persad, Rose's training included summers with the Crane Youth Music Program and other music camps. He attended master classes with the New York Philharmonic's principle trumpet player, Philip Smith, as well as with Dr. John Ellis, trumpet teacher at the Crane School of Music.

Rose also previously performed with the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra, All-County Band and All-County Jazz Band. He mentored younger musicians in the Warwick Valley Middle School Jazz Band, as well as the Concert Band trumpet players.

2007

Rachel ConklinRachel Conklin

Rachel Conklin, a home-schooled high school freshman who studied music with Elle Kang in New York City. Conklin was also taught by Karner Warner, Cheryl Blumental and Andrew Zaplatynski. She attended Eastern U.S. Music Camp, Hartwick College Summer Music Festival, and the Credo Chamber Music program at Oberlin Conservatory

Conklin was also concert mistress for OCMEA All County Music Festivals and for the Allegro Orchestra Baroque Ensemble.

2006

Clare Herceg

Clare Herceg is a junior at Warwick Valley High School where she performs with the Wind Ensemble, Pep Band, and Pit Orchestra. She has studied flute for six years including summers at Signature Music Camp and the Performing Arts Institute. A member of the New York Flute Club, she draws inspiration from their concert series and her teacher Barbara Siesel. Clare has attended master classes with Gary Schocker, Bart Feller, and Jefferey Khaner.

She enjoys playing flute and piccolo for the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra, All-County Band and Orchestra, and NY Area All-State Band. Last year, she led a flute section in Corigliano's Pied Piper Concerto appearing with Carol Vincenc and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Clare would like to thank all her teachers and family for their patience with her practicing and their unconditional support.

Emily Moore

Violist Emily Moore is a junior at Warwick Valley High School. She enjoys performing with the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall, the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra, the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble, and the Warwick Valley High School Orchestra and WVHS Pit Orchestra. She has participated in many Area All-State and All-County Orchestra festivals.

Last summer, 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 Orchestral Studies program under the direction of the esteemed conductor Russell Stanger. She has studied viola with Donna Kushner for six years and is studying presently with Noriko Herndon. She intends to pursue biochemical engineering and music in college.

2005

Lucie Jaronowski

Lucie Jaronowski is a junior at Monroe-Woodbury High Schhol and has been studying violen for eight years. She plays first violin in the school's Chamber Orchestra, Pit Orchestra, and Strolling Strings and actively participates in All-County, Area All-State, and NYSSMA. She enjoys playing chamber music and has been coached by Mrs. Marion Feldman and Mr. Arturo Delmoni of New York University. Lucie currently studies violin with th e inspirational Mrs. Theresa Gao. Lucie would like to thank all the people who have supported her and helped her mature musically over the years. She hopes to continue her musical studies and plans to be a chemistry and violen performance double-major in college.

Tim Takagi

Tim Takagi is currently a senior in the graduating class of 2005 at Middletown High School. He is an active hornist in the M.H.S. Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Marching Band, and Woodwind Quintet, and also performs regularly with the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra, O.C.C.C. Band, and the O.C.C.C. Woodwind quintet.

As a student, he has studied with Mr. Keith Riddick of the Eastman School of Music and with Mrs. Nicole Regan of the Crane School at Potsdam. He would like to thank all of those who have given him the opportunity to play and who have taught him so much about being a musician. He plans to attend the Crane School of Music at Potsdam to study music education this fall.

2004

George Courtsunis

George Courtsunis, pianist, is 16 and currently a senior at Newburgh Free Academy. He has been playing the piano since the age of seven, beginning his studies with Florence Grenis and presently studying in the preparatory division of the Manhattan School of Music with Dr. Peter Vinograde. In 1996 and 1997, George received honorable mention at the NYSMTA auditions. George has been a national and international Guild winner for seven years. Last year, George was selected to perform at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall by the Associated Music Teachers League's Young Artists auditions. He regularly performs at the Manhattan School of Music.

Radhika Shah

Radhika Shah is a senior at Warwick Valley High School. She began playing the violin at the age of three and has been udner the instruction of Mrs. Theresa Gao for the past ten years. She has been a member of the All-County Orchestra for seven years and a member of the Area-All State Orchestra for four. She was selected Concert Mistress twice in her musical career, in Elementary All-County and High School All-County. Currently, she is the concert mistress of the Warwick Valley String Orchestra under the direction of Ms. Keely Gould.

Locally, Radhika plays in the pit orchestra of school musicals under the direction of Mr.s Chris Persad. She also spends her free time teaching a sixth grader. Although she has a passion for music, her real ambition lies in medicine. She would like to major in biology and continue onto medical school. Despite her future plans, she plans on continuing her musical studies.

Radhika would like to thank her violin teacher Mrs. Theresa Gao, orchestra director Ms. Keely Gould, piano acommpanist Timothy Getz, and her friends for all of their help and support in making her musical career enjoyable and successful. She woudl also like to thank her parents and her sister for their undying love and encouragement.

2003

Sarah Tusch
Sarah Tusch is in 9th grade at Monroe-Woodbury Senior High School. She began her msucial studies at the piano at age five, and found atr age nine that her passions is playing violin. Actively involved with her school music activities, Sarah is currently the concert mistress of the MWHS Chamber Orchestra as well as a member of the Strolling Strings and Pit Orchestra for their recent performance of the Wizard of Oz. Sarah has performed in the NYSSMA Zone 9 Area All-State Orchestra and All County Music Festival Orchestras. She is concert mistress of the Allegro Baroque Orchestra with whome she has performed at the White House, Steinway Hall, and in Europe.

Ms. Tusch is a member of the SUNY College/Youth Symphony Orchestra, and this past November was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic/College Youth Symphony Virtuoso in Progress Concerto Competition. Most recently, she performed with members of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic in Circus Minimusm at the Mid-Hudson Civic Cneter. She has participated in the Hartwick College Summer Music Festival, and has been accepted to the New York State Summer School of the Arts (SPAC) this summer.

Valentina Ponochovnaya
Valentina Ponochovnaya has studied piano since the age of six when she enrolled at the Tchaikovsky School of Music in Gomel, Belarus. In 1996, she immigrated from Belarus to the United States where she resides in the Village of Monroe.

Presently, she is under the tutelage of Gregg Michalak at the Neighborhood School of Music in Chester, NY. While attending high school she participated in All-Country and State Festivals as well as NYSSMA. During the spring of 2001, she was the featured soloist on piano while performing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Monroe-Woodbury Ensemble under the direction of Richard Regan.

Ms. Ponochovnaya is attending Orange County Community College, where she is actively involved with Cultural Affairs. She pas performed at Orange Hall Gallery openings and was featured in the Rachmaninoff piano recital with classical pianist Will Duchon at the Orange Hall Theater. In may of 2003, Valentina will be graduating with a degree in mathematics.