Arizona Musicfest Scholarship
About The Arizona Musicfest Scholarship
Since 2011, Arizona Musicfest has awarded over $100,000 to Arizona students pursuing college degrees in music through the Arizona Musicfest Scholarship Program.
Arizona Musicfest Scholarship Recipients are students and alumni of the following distinguished institutions: The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory of Music, Yale University, The Cleveland Institute of Music, San Fransico Conservatory, USC’s Thornton School of Music, Colburn Conservatory, Biola University, Arizona State University, The Eastman School of Music, Vanderbilt University, and Curtis Institute of Music.
Each year, Musicfest awards an initial scholarship to a graduating high school senior, as well as four renewing scholarships to past winners currently enrolled and excelling in their collegiate academic and music studies. Scholarship recipients are eligible to receive four years of Musicfest funding to aid in their pursuit of an undergraduate music degree.
As a non-profit performing arts organization, Arizona Musicfest is unique among its industry colleagues in providing this type of on-going financial support to college-level musicians.
To adjudicate the scholarship process, both for new applicants and renewing candidates, Arizona Musicfest annually assembles a distinguished review panel of professional musicians and educators to review each candidate’s application, performance videos, academic record, musical accomplishments, professional references, and written essays.
Through our patrons’ generous support of the Arizona Musicfest Scholarship Fund, Arizona Musicfest provides some of the Valley’s most accomplished and deserving Young Musicians with not only valuable financial aid, but also with a community of enthusiastic fans who stand behind these aspiring young musicians and help them to realize their dreams.
2020 Arizona Musicfest First Year Scholarship Recipients
Gracie Potter, trombone (Phoenix), and Eddie Virtgaym, percussion (Chandler), were chosen from an exciting and talented group of applicants for their artistic excellence, musical and academic achievement, dedication to their craft, and involvement in their communities. A jury comprised of professional musicians, educators, and arts administrators from around the Valley reviewed student applications and performance video submissions and were emphatic in their selections of Gracie and Eddie.
Beginning in the Fall, Ms. Potter will attend The Colburn School, while Mr. Virtgaym will begin his studies at The San Francisco Conservatory.
San Francisco Conservatory, 2020-2024
Percussionist Eddie Virtgaym is a performer and advocate of all styles of music. He regularly performs classical music and jazz in small and large ensembles across the Valley. He is a collaborator at heart, always seeking avenues to create music with peers.
At Perry High School, he was a leader in his school’s Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, Wind Bands, Marching Band, and Indoor Percussion Ensemble. There, he also volunteered often to perform percussion with the orchestras and choirs at his school. He also played vibraphone and drumset in the Young Sounds of Arizona, the Valley’s premier youth jazz big band and combo. He has participated in percussion ensembles and jazz combos at Scottsdale Community College and Chandler-Gilbert Community College, participated in Regional and All-State Wind Bands, Orchestras, and Jazz Bands, and received Superior ratings in several Solo performance festivals. Additionally, he often performs small-group jazz with peers at restaurants in Phoenix, and even has an 80’s cover band Polybius that regularly performs at StarFighters Arcade.
In 2019, Eddie received the Arizona Percussive Arts Society Summer Camp Scholarship to attend that summer’s Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar. There, he spent two weeks with 15 other young people who care deeply about music and artistry, studying with some of the biggest names in contemporary percussion.
He was also the president of Perry High’s Tri-M Music Honors Society, where he spearheaded the organization of the 2020 CUSD Chamber Recital, which provided high school students from around Chandler solo and ensemble performance opportunities in a friendly and supportive environment.
Eddie is grateful to have studied with valley percussionist Josh Gottry throughout high school, and will be attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the fall to study with Jake Nissly, where he will continue his journey and studies of performance, collaboration, and artistry.
The Colburn School, 2020-2024
Gracie Potter graduated early from Arizona School for the Arts after completing her junior and senior years concurrently and will be attending The Colburn Conservatory of Music this fall.
For summer 2020, she received a New Horizons Fellowship from Aspen Music Festival and School. She was a Winner Finalist for the 2020 National YoungArts Foundations Competition and spent a week at the New World Center participating in masterclasses, chamber ensembles, and performances. In November 2017 and 2018, she was named Honorable Mention for the National YoungArts Foundations Competition and attended the Los Angeles Regional YoungArts program in March 2019. In January 2019 she won the Phoenix Youth Symphony’s Young Musicians Competition (PYS/YMC) Senior Division, in 2015 and 2017 she won the PYS/YMC Junior Division and in 2017, 2018, and 2019 she won the AZ Musicfest Young Musicians Competition.
In 2019 she was selected to be a member of the National Youth Orchestra and performed in multiple countries on the NYO European Tour. She also worked with world-renowned teachers such as Megumi Kanda and James Markey. In 2017 she was selected for the National Youth Orchestra 2 and had the opportunity to work and perform with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra in a side by side concert in Philadelphia and New York at Carnegie Hall. In 2018 and 2019 she attended the BUTI Tanglewood Trombone Workshop and in 2018 she was a member of the BUTI Tanglewood Young Artist Orchestra where she worked with members of The Boston Symphony Orchestra and performed three full concerts at Tanglewood.
She has been the principal trombonist for the Phoenix Youth Symphony for four years and currently studies with Mr. Chris Wolf, the principal trombonist of the Phoenix Symphony. She has taken lessons with world-renowned musicians such as Megumi Kanda, Mark Lawrence, James Markey, Matt Vaughn, Toby Oft, Douglas Yeo, and Ronald Barron. She has also had coachings with David Krauss, Don Lucas, Elizabeth Shafer, Maestro Robert Moody, Stephen Lange, and Gerard Schwartz.
Meet the Arizona Musicfest College Scholars!
Yale University, 2019-2023
University of Southern California, 2019-2023
Belle Wang, 17, has earned First Prize in numerous competitions including the ASTA State Solo Competition, MTNA State Solo Competition, Arizona Musicfest Young Musicians Competition, American Protégé International Concerto Competition, Philadelphia International Music Festival Solo Competition, and International Grande Music Competition. After her debut with the Chandler Symphony as winner of the 2016 Chandler Symphony Orchestra Competition, Belle performed in national venues like Carnegie Hall and Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. In 2017 and 2019, she performed with The Phoenix Symphony as the Grand Prize and Clotilde Otranto winner of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Concerto Competition. As a member of Phoenix Youth Symphony she has been concertmaster of the Symphonette and Youth Symphony and later, in the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp. In addition to studying with Danwen Jiang, Professor of Violin at ASU, she has been in the masterclasses of esteemed violinists including Cho-Liang Lin and Peter Zazofsky. She will begin her studies at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music with Margaret Batjer in the Fall of 2019.
The Juilliard School, 2018-2022
Oboist Alexander Mayer was born in 2001 and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. He began his musical journey at age 3 on violin, and picked up the oboe in 2013; he has gone on to receive numerous honors and awards. Alexander started taking lessons from Nikolaus Flickinger in 7th grade, and later began studying with Martin Schuring. He was a member of the Phoenix Youth Symphony for 5 years, and attended Arizona School for the Arts starting in 2016. He has performed and competed with multiple chamber groups, and has won several solo competitions over the past few years, including the Arizona Musicfest Competitions in 2017 and 2018. After graduating from high school in Summer 2018, Alexander was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, chosen to perform in Carnegie Hall and tour Asia representing the country. He is currently attending his second year at The Juilliard School studying with Nathan Hughes.
Curtis Institute of Music, 2018-2022
Claire Thai is an internationally recognized harpist, most recently having won a prestigious Lyon and Healy Award and 1st Place at the 2019 American Harp Society competition at the age of 19. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Harp Performance at the Curtis Institute of Music. Other recent successes include 1st place at the 1st international Portuguese harp competition, as well as 1st place at the Young Artist’s Harp Seminar international competition. In 2017, she performed in Hong Kong as part of the World Harp Congress, an honor only given to the top young performers across the globe.
Some of her notable performances include the Ginastera Harp Concerto with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, and the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, the Renie Harp Concerto with the TSO, the Dubois Fantasie with TPYO, the Handel Harp Concerto and the Ravel Introduction and Allegro with the Rocky Ridge Orchestra, and the Gliere Harp Concerto with the Civic Orchestra of Tucson.
Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Claire began study of the harp at age 5 and piano at age 4. She has studied with numerous world-renowned harpists including Elizabeth Hainen, Dr. Carrol McLaughlin, Dr. Christine Vivona, Lynne Aspnes, and Courtney Hershey Bress, and has performed in masterclasses for Emmanuel Ceysson, Nancy Allen, Maria Luisa Rayan, and Alice Giles. Claire has also performed under the baton of Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Mark Russel Smith, and Jose Luis Gomez.
New England Conservatory, 2017-2021
Robert “Robbie” Bui is a third-year undergraduate composer studying under Stratis Minakakis at New England Conservatory. His music is rooted from influences such as his desire for social reform, his family’s cultural history, and his early upbringing into music through cello performance.
Former experiences in groups such as the Phoenix Youth Symphony and Chandler Symphony Orchestra were some of the largest influences in his writing. He had annually received awards and scholarships from the Arizona Musicfest Organization and Phoenix Youth Symphony’s Young Musician’s competition, both as a soloist and with his former quartet, p4q. The generous support from these places has sent him places such Vienna Summer Music Festival, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Boston Conservatory High School Composition Intensive, Idyllwild Arts Symphony and Chamberfest, and Tetra String Quartet Camp.
His orchestral debut was with the Phoenix Youth Symphony with the premiere of his tone poem, “Birmingham 1963″ in April 2017 at the Orpheum Theatre in his home city of Phoenix, Arizona. Two years later, Bui won the NEC Orchestra Composition Competition and had “The Diminished, The Assembled” premiered with NEC Symphony under Hugh Wolff. His chamber string orchestra piece for four quartets and contrabass was premiered by his Mountain View High School Chamber Orchestra and taken to the American String Teacher Association’s National Orchestra Festival in Albuquerque, NM March 2018. Bui has also valued the experience of hearing performances of his chamber music. His piece “Alizarin Crimson” was performed by the Ensemble PHACE residing in Vienna in Summer 2018. His “String Quartet No. 2,” which won the Arizona Musicfest Composer’s Competition 2017 and the New England Conservatory Honors Ensemble Competition 2018 has been recorded and performed multiple times by Burn City String Quartet, Tempest String Quartet in Jordan Hall, and by his very own former string quartet, p4q at the Musical Instrument Museum. He has been awarded Arizona Musicfest’s Annual Scholarship, National School Orchestra Award in 2017, and the Director’s Award in 2015.
Outside of music, Bui enthusiastically pursues photography, learning language, collecting clothes, and doing latte art at his part-time job as a barista.
Vanderbilt University, 2016-2020
Biola University, 2015-2019
Ryanne McLaren graduated summa cum laude with a B.M. in piano performance and an organ minor from Biola University, where she was also a top student in the Torrey Honors Institute. During her time at Biola, she earned both the President’s Award and the Van Daele Scholarship for academic merit, as well as several music scholarships including the Richard Unfried and Bishop Awards. In the Spring of 2018, she was named the Presser Undergraduate Music Scholar.
With over 15 years of piano study, Ryanne has earned numerous honors including the top scholarship from the Arizona Young Musicians’ organization in 2015 and being selected to study and perform at the International Piano Institute in Cremona, Italy in 2016 and at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2017.
Throughout her undergraduate years, Ryanne worked as a staff accompanist for both the Biola Conservatory and for First Presbyterian Church of Fullerton. As an organist, she was featured by the Biola Chorale, Symphonic Strings, Symphonic Winds, and Brass Ensembles and, during her sophomore year, lead a new series of traditional worship chapels for the student body. She also enjoys dabbling in composition and was a three-time finalist/winner in the Biola Composition Competition.
Aside from music, Ryanne is also an avid reader and aspiring author who constantly seeks to combine her areas of interest, as demonstrated by her blog, ABookishCharm.com. This fall, Ryanne will begin her graduate studies in “Theology and the Arts” at the University of St. Andrew’s, Scotland and cannot wait to embark on this next adventure.
The Juilliard School, 2014-2018
Hailed by the Washington Post as “prodigiously gifted… a display of imagination, taste and pianistic firepower far beyond her years,” Anna Han strives to deliver heartfelt performances through a variety of classical piano repertoire. First prize winner of the 2016 Juilliard Gina Bachauer Piano Competition and the 2012 New York International Piano Competition, she has given solo, concerto, and chamber performances in such venues as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Alice Tully Hall, the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., The Kosciuszko Foundation, SubCulture New York, New World Center in Miami, the Lied Center of Kansas, Canisius College, Scottsdale Center for the Arts, and the Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Hall in Poland. She has soloed with the Chandler Symphony Orchestra, the Downtown Sinfonietta (in White Plains, New York), the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, the Kansas Sinfonietta, Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra, the MusicaNova Symphony Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, the West Valley Symphony, and the Verde Valley Sinfonietta.
Highlights of the past year included solo recitals at the Bohemian National Hall, Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Arts, National Arts Club, Theatre Lawrence, and Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau; appearances at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music School and Festival and Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival Winter Workshop; and concerto performances with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and West Valley Symphony Orchestra. She was the third prize winner of the 2019 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, as well a semi-finalist at the 2019 China International Music Competition. She was also awarded a 2019 Salon de Virtuosi Career Grant.
An avid chamber musician, Anna spent the last three summers at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music School and Festival, and the last four winters at Juilliard ChamberFest. She is a founding member of the Munin Piano Trio, along with violinist Rebecca Benjamin and cellist Frankie Carr. Additionally, she has done a broad exploration of ensembles, such as piano quartet, piano quintet, and clarinet trio, performing in venues from Alice Tully Hall to the New York Bar Association to Brayton Hall in the Caribbean Island of Turks and Caicos. A passionate advocate for the traditional masterpieces that have enchanted audiences for centuries, she has also explored new avenues of musical expression with an array of collaborators. Recently, she has presented the surprising sound palette of John Corigliano’s Chiaroscuro (1997) for two pianos tuned a quarter tone apart; Charles Wuorinen’s Metagong (2008) for two pianos and two percussion; a series of original arrangements of works for organ and piano duo in collaboration with organist Daniel Ficarri; Jerome Begin’s Strange Gardens (2015) for 2 pianos, 2 bass clarinets, 2 percussion, and vocoder; and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69 as a fortepianist. She commissioned Malaysian composer Tengku Irfan [What’s Up, Kid? (2018)], expanding the literature available for clarinet, cello, and piano trio.
Born in Mesa, Arizona, Anna began her musical journey in a class of four year olds at the East Valley Yamaha Music School. Classes in improvisation, ear training, composition, and other general musical skills at Yamaha would continue to supplement her training in early years. Anna started taking private piano lessons at age five with Mr. Fei Xu at New Century Conservatory in Chandler, Arizona. Over the following 13 years, he trained and inspired her to rapidly and thoughtfully learn demanding repertoire, developing a technique that undergirded her growing career at a young age. When she was eleven, she became the national first place winner of the Baldwin Junior Piano division of the 2007 Music Teachers National Association Competition, having barely made the age cutoff. In the same year, she made her orchestra debut with the Chandler Symphony Orchestra, playing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
In the following years, Anna swept prizes at numerous international piano competitions, including the New Orleans International Piano Competition for Young Artists, the Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition, the Missouri Southern International Piano Competition, and the International Institute for Young Musicians (IIYM) International Piano Competition, where she remains the only person in its 15-year history to have won first prize twice. She was named a Silver Award Winner by the National YoungArts Foundation in 2013, and a United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts in 2014. Her performances of Chopin earned her recognition as a scholarship recipient from the National Chopin Foundation of the United States and as a semi-finalist at the Ninth National Chopin Piano Competition of the United States.
Anna spent her undergraduate years at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Robert McDonald, where she developed much of her interest in both chamber music and teaching. She is currently continuing her studies in the Master of Music program at The Juilliard School, where she is a proud recipient of the Kovner Fellowship.
Anna gratefully acknowledges the support of the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, the Kovner Foundation, and Arizona Musicfest. More information can be found at www.annahan.net
Eastman School of Music, 2013-2017
Bassoonist Dana Brink enjoys a varied musical life of freelancing and private teaching in southwestern Connecticut. Dana earned a master’s degree in bassoon performance from the Yale School of Music as a student of Frank Morelli and a bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with George Sakakeeny and John Hunt. Dana also attended the University of Rochester and received a bachelor’s degree in political science, graduating magna cum laude. She has performed with ensembles such as the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the Connecticut Virtuosi and had fellowships at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and the Brevard Music Center. In 2013, Dana was the recipient of the Arizona Musicfest Scholarship. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she started a YouTube channel to showcase the many excellent works for solo and small ensemble bassoon by composers of traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. When she’s not playing bassoon, Dana loves to sew, go on hikes, and do yoga.
Cleveland Institute of Music, 2012-2016
Jeanelle Brierley, an Arizona native and current resident of Cleveland, Ohio, is a sought-after violinist with a passion for orchestral performance, chamber music, and pedagogy. Jeanelle made her solo debut with the Phoenix Symphony in 2011 and in 2016 she completed her undergraduate degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with William Preucil and was awarded the Dr. Jerome Gross prize in violin. Jeanelle has been a member of the Canton Symphony, the Verbier Festival Orchestra, and Steamboat Springs’ Strings Festival and has performed as a substitute violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra and as a guest musician of the Bermuda Piano Festival. Jeanelle has served as the concertmaster of the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, the Youngstown Symphony, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, and the orchestras of the Brevard Music Center and the Phoenix Youth Symphony. She was a member of the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Intensive Quartet Seminar and was a fellow at the Perlman Music Program’s Chamber Music Workshop in 2015. In 2018 Jeanelle joined the faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music as a chamber music coach in the Preparatory Department. Jeanelle is in her third season as a substitute violinist with The Cleveland Orchestra and has performed regularly with the ensemble in Cleveland as well as on tours throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and China.
University of Southern California, 2012-2016
Eva is an artist and 3rd year PhD student in the Performance Studies and Music program at the University of Chicago. As a scholar, Eva’s work is concerned with issues of power in arts spaces, especially for performers, students, and mentees who experience forms of systemic violence. Her dissertation project explores performances of the erotic in genres considered disreputable where trans and gender nonconforming people of color contest the material conditions of sexual and racial oppression. As an artist, Eva performs as a drag priestess under the name APoliticalGirl in Chicago, Illinois. Her work has been published in Ethnomusicology Review and the Journal for Popular Music Studies.
Arizona State University, 2011-2015
Pianist Karen Nguyen is a native of Chandler, Arizona and has established a prominent presence in the community as a solo and chamber performer and educator. Her accomplishments include competition awards and scholarships to attend international music festivals. Furthermore, Karen holds the distinction of being the first recipient of the Arizona Musicfest Scholarship. Karen has received a Master of Music in Piano Performance from Arizona State University, where she also completed her Bachelor of Music degree under Dr. Caio Pagano.
As an active performer, Karen is experienced in both traditional and contemporary repertoire. During her time at Arizona State University, Karen participated in the Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble, in which she performed and premiered numerous works by 20th– and 21st-century composers. Furthermore, Karen is experienced as a collaborator. Her most recent projects include the Beethoven Sonatas for Violin and Piano and a recording of ASU professor, Dr. Rodney Rogers’ Wild Desert Blooms.
Additionally, Karen has had the privilege to work with esteemed artists such as Paul Badura-Skoda, Luis de Moura Castro, Leslie Howard, and members of the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
Karen is currently a private piano instructor at the East Valley Yamaha Music School.