Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Announces Winners of the 2018 National Competition for Strings

Photo 1-ASC 2018 Nat Comp_John Fischer and Lee Dougherty Ross with Winners_Rod Millington (LR).jpg

Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Announces Winners of the
2018 National Competition for Strings
$21,600 Awarded To Eight Contestants

Eight gifted young musicians won prestigious recognition and thousands of dollars in prize money in this year’s competition for string players.

(Sarasota-Manatee) Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota announces the winners of the 2018 National Competition for Strings. The competition rotates between piano, voice or string instruments and is open to talented young musicians between 18 and 25 years of age who are residents of the United States. The finals of this year’s competition were held April 7 at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center in Sarasota. A total of $21,600 was awarded to eight contestants.

This year, it was eight young string players who competed in the semi-final round. Of these, four were chosen to continue to the final round. The finalists were then presented in an evening public performance that was judged by a diverse and distinguished panel of renowned musicians and educators. This year’s first-prize winner, and recipient of the $8,000 Jerold & Lee Dougherty Ross Award (funded by Artist Series Concerts Friends), is violinist Shannon Lee, 25 and a student at Curtis Institute of Music.  The second place winner and recipient of a $5,000 prize (funded by Ernest Kretzmer), is cellist Alexander Hersh, 24, a student at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, Germany. Placing third and winner of the $4,000 Mary Theines-Schunemann Award (endowed by Dr. R. Lawrence Thienes), is violinist Max Tan, 24, of Harvard and the Juilliard School.  The fourth place prize of $3,000 (funded by Edith Winston), went to violist SoHui Yun, 22, a student at the New England Conservatory. 

        This year's finals and semi-finals judges included: violinist Glenn Basham, concertmaster of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and artist faculty member of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Basham has also performed with the Detroit symphony and has been a featured musician on recordings by former Tonight Show bandleader Skitch Henderson; Linda Cerone, co-founder of the renowned Encore School for Strings and one of the country’s foremost pedagogues and adjudicators; internationally renowned bassist and educator Tom Knific; critically acclaimed composer Richard Sortomme, whose works have been commissioned and premiered by such major symphony orchestras as the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra; and Bruce Uchimura, a professor at Western Michigan University where he teaches cello, coaches chamber ensembles and conducts the critically acclaimed University Symphony Orchestra. From 1985 to 2007 Uchimura also served as head of chamber music and member of the cello faculty at the legendary Encore School for Strings under the directorship of David Cerone.

The four semi-finalists were each recognized with a $400 Donald Britt Award, funded by Donald Britt and Katherine Lauder.  Those four semi-finalists are Jiye Bae (25, Rice University), Tong Chen (20, New England Conservatory), Ismael Guerrero (19, Peabody Institute of Music) and Sophia Anna Szokolay (21, New England Conservatory).

Now in its 16th year, the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Scholarship Program sponsors one of the most prestigious competitions in Florida. Under the guidance of Lee Dougherty Ross, co-founder of Artist Series Concerts and director of outreach and competitions, the program developed in size and quality and has resulted in substantial awards funded by supporters of Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota. According to Dougherty Ross, past winners often go on to pursue successful music careers. She says that in selecting the semi-finalists, judges look for “accuracy, artistry and technique.”

“Our adjudicators are all brilliant music educators and musicians,” says Dougherty Ross. “Their participation raises the bar to a whole new level.  Being judged and counseled by such a celebrated panel of artists and teachers is exciting and an honor that will remain with the performers for a lifetime."

“One of the primary goals of the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota is to take an active role in building the next generation of professional musicians by providing support to promising young musicians,” says John Fischer, managing director of Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota. “Over the past decade we’ve awarded over $300,000 to 80 gifted young musicians. Our focus is the future. The support we get to present this competition makes that future possible.”

Since 1996 Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota has presented an ever-expanding annual season of concerts by globally renowned and emerging artists. The current season concludes on May 19 and 20 at the Historic Asolo Theater with “Patriotic Brass” a musical tribute to National Armed Forces Recognition Day. The concert features the Capital Brass Quintet from Washington DC, with baritone Bob McDonald. For more information about Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, visit or call 941-306-1202.