CCA student wins San Diego Youth Symphony advanced solo competition

Susan Lee
Susan Lee
(Stanley Fry)

Each year, talented students from the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory’s most advanced level Ovation and intermediate level Showcase ensemble programs compete in SDYS’ solo Concerto Competitions. In addition to cash scholarship awards, the winners of both competitions gain the opportunity to perform as featured soloists in future San Diego Youth Symphony concerts.

Taking the top honor last month at the pre-professional Ovation level competition, Susan Lee, concertmaster of SDYS’ Symphony Orchestra and a junior at Canyon Crest Academy, performed Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op.63 in its entirety. She chose the work for its contemporary characteristics.

“After playing several Romantic concertos, I decided that I wanted to try something new for this competition. I settled on Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 because the concerto as a whole has a sort of fairy tale quality to it and the many gorgeous passages along with the hints of sarcasm throughout the concerto really won me over,” Susan said.

Second and third place winners in the Ovation competition included Yeonwoo Chu, also a junior at Canyon Crest Academy who performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G minor Op. 25, and Helen Zhu, a senior at Westview High School, who performed Mercadante’s Flute Concerto in E minor.

A veteran and winner of many solo competitions throughout the region, Susan has performed in Carnegie Hall as a member of NYO2 (National Youth Orchestra 2) and currently studies privately with Michael Tseitlin. A member of SDYS for six years, she values both the social and the educational aspects of being in an orchestra. “SDYS has allowed me to meet new friends and also be with friends I wouldn’t usually be able to see. While SDYS is definitely challenging, I’ve definitely learned a lot through all of the challenges we’ve faced, especially teamwork.”

Susan is looking forward to performing a full concerto as a featured soloist backed by the SDYS Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 2020 when the Youth Symphony performs its 24th annual Celebration of Music Education concerts at Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall.

“I’m excited to perform as a soloist in our upcoming spring concert,” said Susan. “The concerto has difficult parts for both the orchestra and the soloist, so I think it will be an interesting challenge for us. In the end, I know that we’ll be able to put together a wonderful performance. “

Intermediate level SDYS students also had their opportunity to compete in their own Concerto Competition, with the top honor in the Showcase division going to Lilian Franqui, an 8th grader at Pacific Beach Middle School, who performed the first movement from Haydn’s Concerto in G Major.

San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory’s 24th Celebration of Music Education

Ovation concert featuring pre-professional and orchestras, and soloist Susan Lee will be held Sunday, April 19, 2020, 4 p.m. at Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall. Visit