After a year of absence due to the pandemic, the Texas Association for Symphony Orchestras (TASO) hosted the 25th anniversary of the Juanita Miller Concerto Competition on Sunday, January 9, 2022 at the University of Texas at Dallas. Contestants were student musicians in grades 9th-12th and resided in the state of Texas. The event was chaired by Terri McDowell from San Antonio and Beth Grimm from Austin. Venise Stuart, President of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League, was the location coordinator.
Just being selected as a finalist was quite an achievement for these young musicians. There were 55 applicants for the competition and 36 finalists: 13 piano, 15 strings and 8 woodwinds & Brass.
Once the first place winners were announced for each division, they each performed and were judged for the Grand Prize winner.
Piano student Bryant Li, an 11th grader from Katy, Texas was the Grand Prize winner, who exquisitely played Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The first place winners in the other divisions were Strings-Danielle Yoon, a 10th grader from Frisco, Texas and Woodwinds /Brass - Lorien Britt, a 12th grader from Fate Texas.
The first place winners will have the opportunity to perform their concerto at the TASO Conference luncheon in Lubbock, Texas on April 30th. The Grand Prize winner will perform that evening on stage, with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra.
The prestigious judges for the competition were Piano-Amy Dorfman, Vanderbilt University; Strings-Laura Hamilton, New York University; and Woodwinds/ Brass-Rick Giangiulio - Director of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra.
The Juanita Miller Concerto Competition was founded by the late Juanita Miller of Dallas. In 1997, the late Juanita and Henry S. Miller provided the initial underwriting and subsequent gifts to fund this youth competition, which bears her name. It was Mr. and Mrs. Miller’s dedication, vision, generosity and devotion to music that led to the establishment of a statewide youth competition for outstanding high school musicians.
Unwavering gratitude goes to the Juanita Miller family for their generosity throughout the years. Patsy Donosky, Juanita Miller’s daughter, in attendance to announce the Grand Prize winner and congratulate the contestants.
Countless volunteered worked to coordinate the event including the staff and students of the University of Texas at Dallas.
The students were all extremely talented, focused and dedicated young musicians. The future of music is certainly in good hands. Everyone was a winner.
Photos by Chuck Clark Photography