Two local students win San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory’s annual Concerto Competitions

Janice Hu, Ovation CC winner
Janice Hu, Ovation CC winner


Each year, talented students from San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory’s pre-professional 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 at the pre-professional Ovation level competition earlier this month, Janice Hu is SDYS’ John Michael Brooks Memorial First Assistant Principal Chair Violin in the Chamber Orchestra and a senior at Canyon Crest Academy. She performed the first movement of the Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 by Jean Sibelius, choosing the work for its diversity of musical emotions.

For the record:

4:49 a.m. Dec. 8, 2020This story has been updated to correct two results.

“Sibelius’ Violin Concerto is a profound debate between violin and orchestra, struggle and desire, hesitation and confidence,” shares Janice. “The deeper I find myself drawn into playing the concerto, the stronger I am able to connect the fervor and storm of ideas I perceive from the music with my own feelings and experiences.”

Anthony Kim, Showcase CC winner
Anthony Kim, Showcase CC winner

Solo recital competitions traditionally provide musicians with valuable performance training, which is enhanced by the presence of both judges and a live audience. This year, finalists performed live, yet virtually from their homes for Zoom audiences. Virtual performances, as well as online rehearsals, are a major change for SDYS students who are accustomed to in-person rehearsals but some, like Janice, see hidden benefits in a safe approach to distanced practice.

“I miss playing music with my ensembles in person, but I also recognize the abundant opportunity that has arisen from this period of virtual education. It has been a lot of fun learning how to use digital music tools for composing and recording. If anything, 2020 has only helped my musical creative outlet become more versatile.”

“The arts have been immensely impacted during this time and like many other organizations, SDYS has kept creativity and resourcefulness at the forefront while continuing to reimagine what meaningful programming and music-making looks like,” says Dr. Lauren Rausch, SDYS’ Conservatory Program manager. “We are fortunate to have access to technologies that support this type of live performance, while also maintaining safety for our students and audiences.”

Second and third place winners in the Ovation competition included Canyon Crest Academy sophomore Erica Wang, flute, who performed Mozart’s Concerto No. 1 in G Major, K. 313, Allegro Maestoso, and Westview High School senior Andy Yang, cello, who performed Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante in E minor, Op. 125, Andante.

Solo recital competitions provide musicians, both new and accomplished, with valuable performance training, inspiration from great performances by their fellow musicians, and a goal to strive toward in practicing and perfecting their craft.

“I personally strive for empathy,” shares Janice. “When I listen to music, I imagine myself in the places of the composer and performer. When I get deep into my performance, it’s my soul that radiates from my violin, in all its imperfect glory. It’s human, and that’s what people relate to.”

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 Anthony Kim, a 7th grader at Carmel Valley Middle School, who chose to perform the first movement from Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 based on the composer and era.

“Classical and Romantic periods are my favorite. I especially love Mozart’s beautiful melody and various expressions,” Anthony said.

Now in its 75th year, the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory is committed to providing quality music education experiences while operating virtually, and has plans for greater growth once in-person activities can safely resume.

“We continue to celebrate the resilience of this historic organization,” says President and CEO Dr. Michael Remson. “We will endure and we will always maintain our focus on young people and building the pathways that will put them on a road to success.”