Skip directly to content

Winners of the 2016 Musical Club of Hartford Scholarship Competition

High School Competition Winners Concert Jan 24, 2016

The winners of the 40th Annual Musical Club of Hartford High School Scholarship Competition for Voice, Piano, Strings, Brass and Woodwinds performed at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 24, 2016 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2080 Boulevard, in West Hartford,

The mission of the Musical Club of Hartford includes the goal of giving assistance to promising young artists. Now in its 125th year, the Club provides cash awards from its Gifts and Scholarships Fund to the winners of the annual High School Competition.

The young musicians who place first, second and third in each category of the Musical Club of Hartford High School Scholarship competition each receive a cash prize and an invitation to perform in the Winners Concert at the end of January.

The performers who enter the competition come from towns all across Connecticut and have studied with teachers in both music schools and private studios. Their accomplishments as they enter the competition are impressive. Some of them have studied another instrument, or voice, in addition to the instrument on which they are competing.


String competition winners:

1st Place: Alexandra Fitzgerald of Brookfield, CT

2nd Place Strings: Kayla Bryan of Guilford, CT

3rd Place Strings: Cameron Chase of Stratford CT


Strings Honorable Mention: Dora DeCaprio, of Lebanon, CT


Winds Competition Winners:

1st place: Nikki Pet, clarinet, of Glastonbury, CT

2nd Place: Eric Hirsch, flute, of Weston, CT

3rd Place: Katharine Jessen, of Winsted, CT  


Winds Honorable Mention:

Grace Helmke, flute, South Windsor, CT


Voice Competition Winners:

First Place: Anneliese Lomas, soprano, of Weston, CT

Second Place: Gabriel Garcia, tenor, of Simsbury, CT

Third Place: Maggie Walsh, soprano, of Stratford, CT


Voice Honorable Mentions:

Chris Jillson, bass, of Middletown, CT

Emma Kyzivat, alto, of Simsbury, CT


Piano Competition Winners:

First Place: Dax Avery of Enfield, CT

Second Place: Stefanie Ma of East Hartford, CT

Third Place: Leona Zhang of Simsbury, CT


Piano Honorable Mentions:

Caroline Ma of Unionville, CT

Kelly Zheng of Avon, CT


2016 Musical Club of Hartford High School Competition


Strings Competition Winners

1st Place Strings: Alexandra Fitzgerald of Brookfield, will perform Romanian Dances 1,4,5,6 by Bela Bartok (1881-1945).

Alexandra Fitzgerald, violin, is a sophomore at Brookfield High School, and a pupil of Mickey Reisman at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford. During 2015, she was first violin in the Connecticut All-State Orchestra, a selected performer in the Charles Lang Masterclass, and a scholarship recipient in the DMS Chamber Music Intensive. Alexandra was a semi-finalist in the 2014 Mannes School of Music Pre-College Concerto Competition and soloist at the Southbury Fine Arts Festival.


2nd Place Strings: Kayla Bryan, violin, of Guilford, Connecticut will play Introduction and Tarantella, Op. 43 (Moderato and Allegro Vivace) by Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908).

Kayln Bryan, violin, is a sophomore at Guilford High School, and a pupil of Donna Agai at the Hartt School community Division. She is concertmaster of the Connecticut Youth Symphony and the 2015-2016 Southern Regional Orchestra, and as a freshman, the Connecticut All-State Orchestra. She has performed in the Hartt Honors recitals. Kayla was a concerto competition winner in the David Einfeldt Chamber Music Seminar in 2014, and attended the Preludio program at Ithaca College in 2015.


3rd Place Strings: Cameron Chase, violin, of Stratford Connecticut

will play Sonata No. 8 in G major, Op. 30, 1st Movement - Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).

Cameron Chase, violin, is a sophomore, home schooled, and a pupil of Hyo Kang in the pre-college division at the Juilliard School. He is concertmaster of the Norwalk Youth Orchestra.

During 2015, Cameron was an American Chamber Orchestra Competition winner and received Honorable Mention in the

Norwalk Symphony Concerto Competition. 2014-2015 summer study included the Bowdoin International Festival and the Music Mountain Chamber program.


Strings Honorable Mention: Dora DeCaprio, viola, is home schooled, grade 12, and lives in Lebanon


2016 Musical Club of Hartford High School Competition



First Place: Anneliese Lomas, Soprano, of Weston.

concert pièce: Sposa son disprezzata, by Antonio Vivaldi

Anneliese Lomas is a senior at Weston High School and is a student of Pamela Kuhn. During the summer of 2015, she took part in a master class with Lynn Eustis of Boston University. She has performed with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in the Boston University Tanglewood Chorus, Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor. She is looking forward to pursuing a career in opera.


Second Place: Gabriel Garcia, Tenor, of Simsbury

concert piece: Non t'amo piu!, by Francesco Paolo Tosti

Accompanist: Robert James Tomasulo

Gabriel Garcia is a senior at Simsbury High School where he is co-director of the men's acapella group "Unaccompanied Minors" and a member of the SHS Simsbury Singers. He is currently an Ensign-Darling Vocal Fellow at the Bushnell and received Honorable Mention in the 2015 Musical Club of Hartford's competition. He has been a member of several Regional and National Honor Choirs. Gabriel's on-stage performances have included Les Miserables, Beauty And The Beast, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. He studies voice with Joanne Scattergood Reeves and jazz piano at Hartt and plans to pursue a degree in vocal performance.


Third Place: Maggie Walsh, Soprano, of Stratford, CT.

concert piece: Als die late Mutter, by Antonin Dvorak

Maggie Walsh is a junior at Stratford High School where she is currently preparing the role of "Nellie" in Stratford High's production of South Pacific. She has appeared as the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music and as Miss Flannery in Thoroughly Modern Millie. She has been a cantor at her church and has sung for the Blue Star Mothers Memorial Day ceremony. She is a student of Allison Fay.


Honorable Mention: Chris Jillson, Bass, student of Matthew Campisi, Xavier High School, Middletown


Honorable Mention: Emma Kyzivat, Alto, student of Sarah Kohl Simsbury High School, Simsbury


2016 Musical Club of Hartford High School Competition

Winds Competition Winners

First Place: Nikki Pet, clarinet, of Glastonbury

Concert performance piece: Claude Debussy, Premier Rhapsodie

Accompanist: Mohamed Shams

The First Place winner in the Musical Club of Hartford’s Winds Competition was Nikki Pet, a senior at Glastonbury High School.  She studies clarinet with Alan Kay of the Julliard Pre-College Program.  Her most important performing experiences include: Puccini’s Tosca, Brahms Symphony #3, Strauss Death and Transfiguration, and Mozart’s Magic Flute with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Shostakovich Sixth Symphony No,.2 with the Julliard Pre College Symphony,   Mahler Symphony #6 with the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artist Orchestra, and the Mozart Clarinet Quintet at Greenwood Music Camp in Cummington, Massachusetts last summer. Nikki received the top chamber prize in the 2015 International Grande Music Competition, and first prize in the chamber division of the January 2015 Korean Radio Broadcast Competition.


2nd Place winner: Eric Hirsch, flute

Concert performance piece: Georges Hue - Fantaisie Accompanist: Marguerita Nuller

The Second Place winner in the Winds Competition was Eric Hirsch, a junior at Weston High School.  He studies with both Wendy Stern and Gary Shocker, both of New York.

Eric is principal flute of his school Wind Ensemble, as well as the Norwalk Youth Symphony Principal Orchestra.  He won first place in this year’s Norwalk Concerto competition.

He was a blue ribbon winner in the 2014 New York Flute Club Young Artists Competition, and was first runner-up in the Danbury Symphony Concerto Competition in 2015.  He is a seasoned participant in the CT Music Educator’s Association Regional and All-State Band/Orchestra Festivals.  Eric regularly attends Gary Shocker masterclasses in New York, and has also attended the Tanglewood 2015 Summer Flute Institute, where he studied with Linda Toote.


3rd Place Winner: Katharine Jessen, clarinet

Concert performance piece: Johannes Brahms Second Sonata, Opus 120, No 2, Mvt. 1, Allegro Amabile 

Accompanist: Gay Chun

 The Third Place winner in the Winds Competition was Katharine Jessen, a junior at Northwest Catholic High School. She is a student of Alan Francis, and has also studied with Curt Blood.  Katharine is principal clarinetist of the Connecticut Youth Symphony.  For the past 2 years, she has been first chair in the Greater Hartford Youth Wind Ensemble, principal clarinet in the Northern Region Orchestra, and selected to play in the Honors Woodwind Recital at the Hartt School of Music Community Division.  She participated in the Ct Music Educators All-State Festival in 2014 and 2015.  This past summer, she played principal clarinet and e flat clarinet in the Prokofiev Fifth Symphony at the Luzerne Music Center in New York.


Winds Honorable Mention:

Grace Helmke, flute, is a freshman at South Windsor High School. She studies with Greig Shearer.


Piano Competition Winners

 Dax Avery (1st Prize)

Dax Avery is a 12th grader in Enfield, CT. He has been playing piano for eight years and he currently studies with Maggie Francis at The Hartt School. He has received several awards, including 1st place in the CSMTA Virtuoso Pianists competition in 2014; 3rd place in the same competition in 2013; and honorable mention in the Musical Club of Hartford's 2014 High School Piano Competition. Aside from his piano studies, Dax is an avid composer and has recently been selected as one of the winners of NAfME's Student Composers Competition. He hopes to study at The Hartt School, with a double major in piano and composition. 

His local newspaper is the Hartford Courant 

Piece for the Winner's Concert: Toccata op. 11, by Sergei Prokofiev


2nd place winner Stefanie Ma

Stefanie Ma is a junior who attends the Connecticut International Baccalaureate Academy in East Hartford, CT. She has been playing piano for ten years. Currently, she studies with Maggie Francis at The Hartt School. She has been selected to play for Hartt's Community Division Honors recital for the past four years. Last year, she won the Evelyn Bonar Storrs scholarship for the best performance by a high school student in 9th-11th grade. Stefanie also received 2nd place in 2015 Musical Club of Hartford's Piano competition. In addition, Stefanie has been playing bassoon for three years, and is a member of the Connecticut Youth Symphony .

Piece for the Winner's Concert: Miroirs: Une Barque sur L'Ocean, by Maurice Ravel.


 Leona Zhang (3rd prize)


Leona Zhang is a sophomore at Westminster School in Simsbury. She currently studies under the direction of Tamila Azadaliyeva. Leona started playing piano at the age of 4. She has participated in many competitions, recitals and masterclasses. Leona has won 2nd place in the 2009 Kawai Piano Competition in Shanghai, and Gold Prize in the 2010 Shanghai Piano Competition. 

Piece for the Winner's Concert: Soiree de Vienne, op. 56; Concert Paraphrase on Johann Strauss' Waltz-motives from Die Fledermaus,  by Alfred Grunfeld. 


Piano Honorable Mentions:

Caroline Ma lives in Unionville. She attends Miss Porters School, and studies piano with Maggie Francis at The Hartt School.

Kelly Zheng lives in Avon. She is a sophomore at Avon High School, and studies piano with Sima Brodsky at The Hartt School.