SOLO STRING FESTIVAL

April 8-9, 2022

Highline High School

Application Deadline: March 21st

ABOUT

Key to Change presents its annual Solo String Festival for middle and high school violin and viola middle and high school students who live and attend school in South King County.

Students who participate in their respective school orchestra programs, local youth symphony orchestra programs, and/or take private lessons with a studio teacher in South King County are all eligible. Students living in South King County who do not participate in any of the aforementioned are also eligible. All students who are currently enrolled in Key to Change are eligible to participate in the Solo String Festival.

Applicants must complete and submit the registration form no later than Monday, March 21, 2022 (11:59pm). Applicants must also complete the $25 application fee. 

  • Participants must live, attend school, and study their instrument in South King County. All students studying at Key to Change are eligible to participate. Students studying with lesson instructors outside of South King County are not eligible to participate.
  • Participants must provide music if using a piano accompanist.
  • Participants may compete on one instrument only.
  • Participants may compete in one division only.
  • Participants must provide three copies of their music for the adjudicators.
  • Participants must introduce their performance to the adjudicator and audience. Students should introduce themselves and their accompanist, name of school, title and composer of the ensemble (and, if appropriate, the movements being performed).
  • Participants will be cut off if the allotted time is exceeded.
  • Participants will receive written feedback from the adjudicator.
  • Participants must check in one hour prior to their performance.
  • The adjudicator’s decision is final and may not be appealed.
  • Winners are required to participate in the radio broadcast and select events scheduled by Key to Change. Failure to participate in such events will result in disqualification and loss of scholarship
  • All participants and guests must provide a negative COVID test taken no earlier than 24 hours prior to the festival

Am I eligible to participate in the Solo String Festival?

Participants must live, attend school, and study their instrument in South King County. All students regardless of home address studying at Key to Change are also eligible to participate. Students studying with lesson instructors outside of South King County are not eligible to participate.

What cities are included in South King County?

Auburn, Black Diamond, Burien, Covington, Des Moines, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Kent, Maple Valley, Muckleshoot Reserve, Normandy Park, Renton, SeaTac, Skyway, Tukwila, and White Center 

What if I have been exposed to COVID, or I am unable to travel to the venue? Can I still participate? 

For families with COVID-19 concerns or if they are unable to travel to the designated venue, Key to Change will allow their performance to be uploaded onto YouTube. Students must upload their performance by Friday, April 1st to be considered. 

Where will I go to perform?

Students will report to Highline High School (not the Highline Performing Arts Center) located at 225 S 152nd St, Burien, WA 98148

Do I need to be present for the entire weekend to be able to participate?

No. Students will be notified one week prior to the festival what date and time they will be performing. Students must arrive 1 hour prior to their performance and will be escorted to a room to tune and warm up prior to their performance. Various masterclasses will be offered as part of the festival which students can participate in throughout the two days.

How does the judging work?

Students will perform for three judges and receive live feedback immediately after their performance. Winners will be announced Saturday, April 9th at the awards ceremony. 

Can my family come?

Yes. Families as well as friends are welcome to attend.

Does my music have to be memorized?

One piece must be memorized if competing in the competitive divisions (see divisions for more information). Music does not need to be memorized if entering the non-competitive division. 

What kinds of music qualify?

Competitors must present two contrasting pieces (example: one fast piece and one slow piece) in the competitive round. No scales are allowed. Any piece (orchestral, chamber music, etc.) or scales is allowed for the non-competitive division. 

Who can participate in the non-competitive division?

Any middle or high school student may participate for up to 5 minutes. Scales, etudes, short pieces, or orchestra music is permitted. Students may perform with music.

What COVID safety measures are in place?

In alignment with King County's most recent COVID-19 guidance, this event will be mask optional. While masks are no longer required, people who are immunocompromised, unvaccinated, or feel sick should wear masks to protect themselves and others when in indoor public spaces.

Please respect people’s choices to continue to wear a mask or not.

MASTERCLASSES

This year, student participants will have the opportunity to attend and perform in various masterclasses throughout the festival with our guest artists. Guest artists will work with student participants on repertoire, technique and other performance related topics. Student participants from all musical levels and backgrounds are expected to participate. The guest artist masterclass instructors include Dr. LaTannia Ellerbe, instructor of violin at Jackson State University, Timothy Macek, instructor of violin and viola at Howard University and Satoko “Sandy” Yamamoto, associate professor of practice in violin at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Jessie Montgomery String Competitive Division

Grades: 6-12

Who: Students currently enrolled in Key to Change

Time limit to perform: A total of up to 20 minutes 

Repertoire requirement: Competitors must perform at least three different musical works. Concertos, sonatas, short pieces, or etudes are permitted. No scales or orchestra music is permitted. At least one piece should be memorized and must be indicated on the application. 

Please note: If a competitor elects to perform a concerto in its entirety (all movements), and it is memorized, only one additional piece is required – not two, as stated above. 

Prizes

1st place$1,000 college scholarship, a set of high-quality strings, perform in a guest masterclass for the associate concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony, perform live on the radio on Classical KING FM’s Northwest Focus Live program and Unmute The Voices. They will also receive press in the local news.

2nd place – a set of high-quality strings, perform in a guest masterclass for the associate concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony, and invited to perform at select events sponsored by Key to Change.

3rd place – a set of high-quality strings and invited to perform at select events sponsored by Key to Change.

Please note: Key to Change reserves the right to veto the judges’ decision and select other winners to make the radio appearances, in the event that the student winner(s) are not musically prepared or performance ready. The winner(s) will also forfeit their scholarship awards, radio and other performance appearances. 

 

Debut Competitive Division

Grades: 6-12

Who: Students currently enrolled in Key to Change

Time limit to perform: A total of up to 10 minutes 

Repertoire requirement: Competitors must perform a two or three octave major and minor scale and at least two pieces. At least one piece should be memorized and must be indicated on the application. An etude is permitted. 

Prizes

1st place –  $500 college scholarship, a set of high-quality strings, perform in a guest masterclass for the associate concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony, and perform live on the radio on Classical KING FM’s Northwest Focus Live program and Unmute The Voices and receive press in the local news.

2nd place – $50 gift card to David Goad Violins, a set of high-quality strings and invited to perform at select events sponsored by Key to Change. At the judges’ discretion, they may recommend a second place winner(s) to also appear on Northwest Focus Live or Unmute The Voices. 

3rd place – a set of high-quality strings and invited to perform at select events sponsored by Key to Change.

Please note: Key to Change reserves the right to veto the judges’ decision and select other winners to make the radio appearances, in the event that the student winner(s) are not musically prepared or performance ready. The winner(s) will also forfeit their scholarship awards, radio and other performance appearances. 

 

Community Competitive Division

Grades: 6-12

Who: Students not enrolled in Key to Change studio, but live and attend school in South King County are eligible.

Time limit to perform: A total of up to 15 minutes 

Repertoire requirement: Competitors must present at least two different musical works from contrasting time periods. Concertos, concertinos, sonatas, short pieces, or etudes are permitted. No scales or orchestra music is permitted. At least one piece should be memorized and must be indicated on the application.

 

Students who require piano accompaniment may bring their own piano accompanist. In the case a student does not have a piano accompanist, Key to Change can provide one for $45.00, which includes a 1 hour rehearsal and the performance. 

Prizes

1st place – $250 college scholarship and $50 gift card to David Goad Violins

2nd place – $50 gift card to David Goad Violins

3rd place – $25 gift card to David Goad Violins

 

Non-Competitive Division

Grades: 6-12

Who: Any students who live and attend school in South King County 

Time limit to perform: A total of up to 5 minutes 

Repertoire requirement: Scales, etudes, short pieces, or orchestra music is permitted. Students may perform with music.

Students who are not enrolled in Key to Change may perform music without piano accompaniment or bring their own piano accompanist. In the case a student does not have a piano accompanist, Key to Change can provide one for $15.00, which includes one 15 minute rehearsal and the performance. 

 

All students will receive a Certificate of Recognition and a Solo String Festival t-shirt.

Jessie Montgomery

“I am so moved by this special honor to serve as a role model for the young aspiring musicians of Key to Change. I hope to continue to walk with these amazing musicians and students as we work toward a more beautiful and equitable world through the arts”. – Jessie Montgomery

 

Jessie

Jessie Montgomery, a renowned, award-winning composer and violinist has agreed to lend her name to a competitive division for the annual Key to Change Solo String Festival.

Jessie is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience. Her profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life” (The Washington Post).

Jessie was born and raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1980s during a time when the neighborhood was at a major turning point in its history. Artists gravitated to the hotbed of artistic experimentation and community development. Her parents – her father a musician, her mother a theater artist and storyteller – were engaged in the activities of the neighborhood and regularly brought Jessie to rallies, performances, and parties where neighbors, activists, and artists gathered to celebrate and support the movements of the time. It is from this unique experience that Jessie has created a life that merges composing, performance, education, and advocacy.

Since 1999, Jessie has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports young African-American and Latinx string players. She currently serves as composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, the Organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble. She was a two-time laureate of the annual Sphinx Competition and was awarded a generous MPower grant to assist in the development of her debut album, Strum: Music for Strings (Azica Records). She has received additional grants and awards from the ASCAP Foundation, Chamber Music America, American Composers Orchestra, the Joyce Foundation, and the Sorel Organization.

Her growing body of work includes solo, chamber, vocal, and orchestral works. Some recent highlights include Five Slave Songs (2018) commissioned for soprano Julia Bullock by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Records from a Vanishing City (2016) for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Caught by the Wind (2016) for the Albany Symphony and the American Music Festival, and Banner (2014) – written to mark the 200th anniversary of The Star-Spangled Banner – for The Sphinx Organization and the Joyce Foundation. 

In the 2019-20 season, new commissioned works will be premiered by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the National Choral Society, and ASCAP Foundation. Jessie is also teaming up with composer-violinist Jannina Norpoth to reimagine Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha; it is being produced by Volcano Theatre and co-commissioned by Washington Performing Arts, Stanford University, Southbank Centre (London), National Arts Centre (Ottawa), and the Banff Centre for the Arts. Additionally, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony will all perform Montgomery’s works this season.

The New York Philharmonic has selected Jessie as one of the featured composers for their Project 19, which marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting equal voting rights in the United States to women. Other forthcoming works include a nonet inspired by the Great Migration, told from the perspective of Montgomery’s great-grandfather William McCauley and to be performed by Imani Winds and the Catalyst Quartet; a cello concerto for Thomas Mesa jointly commissioned by Carnegie Hall, New World Symphony, and The Sphinx Organization; and a new orchestral work for the National Symphony.

Tami Lee Hughes
Violinist 

tami lee hughes

Critics rave violinist Tami Lee Hughes “rises to considerable technical challenges,” playing with a sound “reminiscent of Perlman.” A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tami began playing violin at the age of four. She grew up in a musical family and draws from her Creole roots, performing classical music infused with jazz, blues, gospel, and hip-hop. Since making her debut with the National Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16, Tami has extensively toured the United States, Europe, and Central America, championing music of African-American composers. Her solo album, Legacy: Violin Music of African-American Composers, was heralded as one of the top ten albums of 2011 by All Music Guide, garnering acclaim from audiences and critics alike. In 2016, Tami launched The Legacy Show, a live multimedia concert inspired by her debut album to great acclaim. Her work has been broadcasted on radio stations around the world and continues to serve as a significant artistic and cultural record of American music. 

Additional credits in classical performance include appearances in Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center as a member of the acclaimed Sphinx Virtuosi Chamber Ensemble; appearances as section violinist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Opera Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra Augusta, and Charleston Symphony Orchestra among others; a live broadcast solo concert on Chicago’s WFMT radio station for the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series; and performances as a featured artist in the Ritz Chamber Players Concert Series. Classical recording credits include Ballade for Violin and Piano, a solo featured on Vocalise, a compact disc of music by composer Brian Nelson, and, Music for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, a Profil recording featuring performances by Ksenia Nosikova of works by Liszt, Mendelssohn, and Clement. 

An artist of versatility, Tami has numerous performance credits in popular music, film, and television. She performs as violinist for the film music of The Only Good Indian, a 2009 Sundance Film Festival motion picture. She also performed in orchestras for national productions of Annie and Les Misérables, and she has recorded as studio violinist for Chad “Sir Wick” Hughes and Grammy award-winning artists Aretha Franklin, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin and She’skpere. She has performed on the BET network program “Sunday Best” with Grammy-award winning artist Kirk Franklin and has appeared live in concert with Smokey Robinson and DJ Spooky. 

In addition to performing, Tami is an active teacher and advocate for music outreach. She has taught at Morehouse College, Spelman College, the University of Kansas, Marygrove College, Interlochen, and the Ann Arbor School for Performing Arts. She enjoys interacting with students of all ages, rendering concerts and serving as guest clinician at institutions across the country. Tami received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Minnesota, and Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan. Teachers include Nancy Langham, Jana Burton, Sally O’Reilly, Camilla Wicks, and Paul Kantor. 

 

Anthony Spain
Conductor

Anthony Spain

Anthony Spain has been Music Director of the Northwest Symphony Orchestra (NWSO) since 1987. Dr. Spain’s innovative programming of northwest American composers first came to national attention in 1996 with a mention in a front page Wall Street Journal article regarding up and coming arts groups. Since then both he, and the NWSO, have garnered Eight National ASCAP awards for “Programming of Contemporary Music,” and been featured several times on National Public Radio.

Dr. Spain has guest conducted orchestras and choirs throughout America and in Europe. He has conducted the Orfeo International Orchestra with the choir of L’UNESCO (the cultural branch of the United Nations) in Paris, France as well as the Bath Philharmonic in Bath, England. The Bath Chronicle exclaimed of Dr. Spain “He has a type of charisma, which extends to the far orchestral corners.” He has been a guest conductor with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and a cover conductor with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and most recently guest conducted in Hong Kong, as well as with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Honduras.

A noted conductor of works with orchestra with choir, Dr. Spain has conducted several choirs in the Seattle area including Cascadian Chorale, Choral Sounds Northwest, Northwest Boys choir, Northwest Girls choir, Northwest Chorale, Seattle Girls choir, Total Experience Gospel Choir and Vashon Chorales. Eugene Carlson, former reporter with the Wall Street Journal, wrote in March of 2008 “ever wonder if the director of a chorus- really makes a difference? Guest Director Anthony Spain took the (Vashon) Chorale to heights that seemed to surprise even the members of the chorus itself. The performance was terrific… a programming masterstroke.”

Dedicated to education Dr. Spain is an active clinician and adjudicator, and he works regularly with students throughout the Seattle and Highline area, as part of the NWSO’s “Symphony for Students” program. He has been a guest speaker at conferences such as the American Symphony Orchestra League’s National Convention, and Conductor’s Guild National Conference. Spain graduated in 1990 with a Doctorate Degree in Music from the University of Washington, and has received numerous awards and honors including a Grammy nomination in vocal jazz performance. He is also a board member of Ars Nova Music.

 

Sandy Yamamoto
Violinist

Sandy Yamamoto

Recipient of the 2016 Butler School of Music Teaching Excellence Award, Violinist Sandy Yamamoto has dazzled audiences in concert performances around the globe for the past three decades as a soloist and as a member of the Miró Quartet.

Ms. Yamamoto began her violin studies at the age of 4.  At 11, she made her solo debut with the North Carolina Symphony and has since appeared with orchestras throughout the US and Europe to critical acclaim.

With the Miró Quartet, she performed on the major concert stages of the world, regularly concertizing in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.  As a member of the Quartet, she was a recipient of the Naumburg Chamber Music and Cleveland Quartet Awards, won First Prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition and was one of the first chamber musicians to be awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant.  She has shared the stage with many prominent musicians including Leif Ove Andsnes, Joshua Bell, Eliot Fisk, Lynn Harrell, Midori, Jon Kimura Parker and Pinchas Zukerman.

Since leaving the Quartet in May 2011, she has been appointed Associate Professor of Practice in Violin Performance at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin.  She also founded the Butler Trio with Miró Quartet cellist, Joshua Gindele and pianist, Colette Valentine.  She has since been enjoying a versatile performing career, playing concertos and recitals as well as leading noted chamber orchestras throughout the United States.

Ms. Yamamoto was invited as a guest speaker and role model for the winners of the 2003 Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women Award in New York City.  In the past two years, she has given a lecture titled the “Juror’s Ear” for the Menuhin International Violin Competition as well as adjudicated for the Coleman International Chamber Music Competition.

When she is not busy teaching and performing, Ms. Yamamoto enjoys spending time with her husband, Daniel, her two sons, Adrian and Brian, and her cat, Poko.

Dr. LaTannia Ellerbe, violin and viola

A native of Charlotte, LaTannia Ellerbe endeavors to share the love of Christ through music. She has performed in the United States, Singapore, Bermuda, and Cuba.
 
LaTannia has participated in numerous festivals including Brevard Music Festival, Oskaloosa Music Festival, Medomak Conductors Retreat, Meadowmount School of Music, and the Colour of Music Festival. As an avid performer of alternative styles, she has been a member of the Bermuda School of Music Faculty Jazz Quintet and Charanga Tropical. She can be heard on albums by Tonia Hughes-Kendrick, Charanga Tropical, and Sounds of Blackness.
 
Dr. Ellerbe is currently on faculty at Jackson State University, where she serves as the strings professor and conducts the string ensemble. In addition, she frequently performs with various ensembles in the southeast, including the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra and the Meridian Symphony Orchestra. She was formerly the Suzuki Strings director at the Bermuda School of music.
 
LaTannia earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Minnesota under the guidance of Sally O’Reilly.  She received her Master of Music from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and her Bachelor of Music from Vanderbilt University as a Chancellor’s Scholar.

 

Timothy Macek, violin and viola

Violinist Timothy Maček has participated in over 3,000 performances of opera, ballet, symphonic, and musical show literature, under such conductors as Heinz Fricke, Valery Gergiev, Leonard Slatkin and Mstislav Rostropovich. A member of the Kennedy Center/Washington National Opera Orchestra for over 30 years, he is also a faculty member at Howard University, where he is the conductor of the Howard University Symphony Orchestra and Instructor of Violin and Viola. During his time at Howard, the Howard University Orchestra has grown from a small handful of players to a symphonic orchestra consisting of both student and community musicians. In the past, he has been on the faculty at the University of WisconsinEau Claire and was a member of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Tim was the founder of the Saint-Georges String Quartet at Howard and is a frequent performer of chamber music in the Washington, DC area as well as in northern New England, where he and his wife are summer residents and founded the Lakeview Chamber Players. 

Tim received his Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from West Virginia University where he studied violin with Donald Portnoy and conducting with Stephen Heyde, and his Master of Music degree from the Hartt School of Music where he studied violin with Renato Bonacini and conducting with Vytautas Marijosius.

 

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