Students Win Big Prizes at Solo String Festival

Winners Announced
Eden Pawlos

Eden Pawlos received first place in the Jessie Montgomery Competitive Division and the Key to Change Concerto Competition. She will make her solo debut with the Seattle Symphony, Federal Way Symphony, and Northwest Symphony Orchestra this fall.

This past weekend, May 5-7, students from the Key to Change Studio competed in the annual Solo String Festival, held at Benaroya Hall. Students competed for college scholarships, cash prizes, instruments, tuition-free scholarships to summer music programs, performance opportunities on Classical KING FM, and other special prizes. 

Eden Pawlos, a sophomore at Kentridge High School was awarded first place in the Jessie Montgomery Competitive Division. She will receive a tuition-free scholarship to continue lessons for the next academic year, receive a $1000 college scholarship, and make her solo debut with the Federal Way Symphony Orchestra, and return as a soloist with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, she will be allowed to play on a handcrafted violin, donated by David Van Zandt, a Pacific Northwest violin maker. She will also perform on Classical KING FM later in the year.

Second and third winners of the Jessie Montgomery Competitive Division included Avi Spillers and Madison Cole, who both received a pair of strings and both perform in guest masterclasses with a member of the Seattle Symphony and on the radio and video show Unmute The Voices on Classical KING. Avi was also awarded a new violin to own, courtesy of a private donor and Madison was awarded a violin to use from the Key to Change instrument library, donated by Rafael Carraba. 

Avi is an 8th grader at Sylvester Middle School and Madison Cole is a junior at Garfield High School. Both Eden, Avi and Maddie are all students in our prestigious Young Artist Academy program. 

Lynn Terao took first place in the Debut Competitive Division and will receive a $500 college scholarship, an opportunity to perform in a guest masterclass for am member of the Seattle Symphony, a set of high quality strings, and an opportunity to perform on Unmute The Voices on Classical KING FM.

Natalie Anderson took second place and will receive a $50 gift card to a string shop, a tuition-free scholarship for lessons at Key to Change for the 2023-2024 year, and a set of high-quality strings. Alena Kang took third place and will receive a $50 gift card to a string shop and be invited to perform at select events sponsored by Key to Change.

Lynn and Alena are seniors at Tyee High School in the Highline School District, and Natalie is an 8th grader at Madison Middle School. 

Lynn, Natalie and Alena are all enrolled in our group string lessons. 

Olivia Brown took first place in our Community Competitive Division and will receive a $250 cash prize and her school orchestra will also receive $250 and a set of new strings. She is a sophomore at Kentridge High School. 

Mason Nguyen

Mason Nyugen won the use of a 15 ½ viola as a special prize for the Debut Competitive Division. The viola was donated to the Key to Change library by Starkie Lutherie.

Additionally, the following students received special prizes from the jury for their performances:

Bow Rehairs
Courtesy of Barry and Barnes Fine Violins 

Justice Johnson, 8th grader at Cascade Middle School

Isabella Media, freshman at Renton High School

Malak Ali, junior at Kent Meridian High School

Elijah Stallworth, freshman at Lindbergh High School

Chris Ramirez, 8th grader at Dimmitt Middle School

Darryl Angkico, sophomore at Highline High School 

New Rosin
Courtesy of Lasley Violins 

Eliza Stallworth and Atalya Macharia 

Two Gift Certificates
Courtesy of Bischofberger Violins

Lenya Le and Emeraude Tshidibi 

Winner of a 15 ½ Viola
Courtesy of Starkie Lutherie
Mason Nguyen, freshman at Hazen High School 

New music stand
Courtesy of Balmforth & Balmforth

Derek and Devin Nguyen

Elijah and Eliza Stallworth 

Set of Dominant Full-size Strings

Ashley Contrera-Avila, freshman at Raisbeck Aviation High School

Winner of a Set of Alphague Viola Strings

Anthony Roberts, junior at Renton High School 

Winners of a Full Tuition Scholarship to Chamber Music Guild Summer Program

Alena Kang, senior at Tyee High School

Lynn Terao, senior at Tyee High School

Olivia Brown, sophomore at Kentridge High School

Madison Cole, junior at Garfield High School 

In addition to the students competing, they performed in guest artists masterclasses for professors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The instructors included Dr. LaTannia Ellerbe, strings professor at Jackson State University and Dr. Tami Lee Hughes, violin professor at Spelman College. 

The adjudicators for the competitive and non-competitive divisions included Jason Amos, Paula Nava Madrigal, Robert Simonds, and Dr. Anthony Spain. 

The Solo String Festival was funded by the Seattle Symphony Community Stages Fund, supported by the Tagney Jones Family Fund, 4Culture, Douglas Smith and Stephanie Ellis-Smith, the Nesholm Foundation, US Bank, City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, Renton Municipal Arts Commission, Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation, United Negro College Fund, and Rafael Carraba Violins.

Watch the 2023 Solo String Festival

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