2019 Young Artist Competition

First Place

Shota Otaguro, 21 (Sarmientos Concerto for Marimba & Orchestra)

Other Prizes

  • Second Prize - Leyla Kabuli, 19 (Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2)

  • Third Prize - Angela Tsang, 15 (Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1)

Nafisa Taghioff Award (under 16)

Erin Yu, 14 (Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, first movement)

Other finalists:

  • Jonah Cabral, 21 (Larsson Saxophone Concerto)

  • Nnamdi Odita-Honnah, 20 (Ibert Flute Concerto)

Honorable Mention was awarded to the following:

  • Spencer Cha, 14 (Schumann Piano Concerto)

  • Oliver Corro, 11 (Haydn Piano Concerto No. 11, third movement)

  • Daniel Mah, 16 (Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1)

  • Henry Smolen, 20 (Mendelssohn Piano Converto No. 1)

  • Ryan Wang, 12 (Ravel Piano Concerto in G, first movement)



The 2018 Competition was for violin, viola, cello and bass and was held on January 6-7.

The Phyllis Merrifield Award (First Prize) was awarded to Eunha Kim, 17, from Campbell, who performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto. Second Prize was awarded to both Joseph Wong, 17, of Cupertino, who performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, and Sharon Yuan, 15, from Moraga, who played Bruch's First Violin Concerto. The Nafisa Taghioff Award went to Grace Huh, 15, from San Jose, who played Ravel's Tzigane.



First Place, the Phyllis Merrifield Prize of $1000, was awarded to 21-year-old Michael Peng, a senior at UC Berkeley, who studies piano with Kaichi Zhu. Michael played Saint-Saëns’ Second Piano Concerto and performed that work with the Fremont Symphony in the 2017-18 season.

Second Prize of $500 went to 11-year-old Vivian Wang, a fifth-grader at Redwood Middle School in Saratoga, who studies piano with Sandra Shen. Vivian performed Bach’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor.

Third Prize of $250 was awarded to 19-year-old Yuzhe Chen, a sophomore at San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studies piano with Sharon Mann. Yuzhe performed Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto.

The Nafisa Taghioff Award of $150, reserved for contestants under 16 years of age, was won by 15-year-old Joey Zhu, a sophomore at California High School in San Ramon, who studies piano with Jed Galant. Joey played the first movement of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor.

Honorable Mention in the Taghioff category went to 11-year-old Feng Yang Ju, a seventh-grader at Crespi Middle School in El Sobrante, who studies oboe with Ming Jia Liu. Feng Yang played he first movement of Haydn’s Oboe Concerto in C Major.



Finals were held January 10, 2016 with violinist Ellie Kanayama and violist Meredith Kufchak competing for First Prize. Violinists Valery Breshears and Eunha Kim, and cellists Angeline Kiang, Jessica Kuo and Theresa Lee competed for the Nafisa Taghioff Award.

Meredith Kufchak won First Prize, Ellie Kanayama won Second Prize and Valery Breshears won the Taghioff Award.



1st Prize: Alice Zhu (16) – Phyllis Merrifield Award
Concerto No.1 in Em, op. 11 – Frederic Chopin

2nd Prize: Hugo Kitano (18)
Concerto No.1 in Em, op. 11 – Frederic Chopin

3rd Prize: Agata Sorotokin (16)
Concerto No.3 in C Maj, op. 26 – Serge Prokofiev

Honorable Mention:
Misha Galant (16)
Concerto No.2 in Cm, op. 18 – Sergei Rachmaninoff

Taghioff Award:
Khoi Le (10) Allegro assai from Concerto in D, op. 21 – Franz Joseph Haydn

Taghioff Award Honorable Mention
Elliot Wuu (14) – 1st movement of Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2
Kyle Fang (14) – 1st movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3

Judges for the 2017 competition were pianist Hélène Wickett, trumpeter Carole Klein, and percussionist Norman Peck, all of whom are musicians in the Fremont Symphony Orchestra.