Young Artists in Action: Watch and Vote!

Update: Congratulations to 13-year old cellist Olivia Marckx of Bellevue and 18-year old violinist Sarah Hall of Arlington, who were named the 2013 winners of the Young Artist Awards for 2013. Both Hall and Marckx will perform in a special live broadcast on NW Focus Live on Friday, May 24 at 8 p.m. on 98.1 FM. Hall’s performance on the violin and Marckx’s cello performance may be viewed online at

Young Artist AwardsWhat if nobody performed the classics anymore? No Shakespeare. No Tennessee Williams. No Bach, Beethoven, or Bernstein. How would we know how wondrous the human spirit can be if no one challenged themselves to learn the skills to keep these great spirits alive?

To nurture the next generation of classical music performers, the team of Seattle Chamber Music Society and 98.1 Classical KING FM are inviting the public to vote this week on the eleven finalists in their second annual Young Artist Awards Competition.

You can vote on the young contestants’ posted YouTube videos now through May 13, thus helping decide which two young Seattle-area talents will win the invitations to perform at the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s 2013 Summer Festival. Winners will also perform in an extended live broadcast on Classical KING FM later this month, and at parks around town all summer long.

Who are these talented young performers? Grade-school-age pianists, in concert gowns or a sober black shirt, toss off fistfuls of notes that make sense in a new way. A pair of young flutists show what close harmony can do. A girl with a glittery headband takes a no-nonsense approach to her cello. And those are just the 6-13 year olds. Among the older kids, there’s an opera singer, a piano trio, violinists, and a bassoon player. Some videos look professional. Some could have used a tripod. All document a brave moment in these lives.

cello-groupHow to vote, what to listen for

To vote, watch the video entries at, or at Seattle Chamber Music's site. Assess each one’s performance on a scale of 1 to 4.

If you're new to assessing classical performance, here are some factors to consider:

- How does the performer engage with the music? Tossing it off? Concentrating?

- If it’s a group, do they play as though they were engaged in a good conversation? Sounding the notes clearly matters, but interpreting them matters even more: is the performer speaking through the music?

- Does the instrument seem to sing?

- Does the performance leave you excited? Did you discover something new?

The field of eleven finalists was narrowed from an original 70 five-minute audition videos. Applicants chose their own music and made their own videos.

violinThe public results will be combined into one vote, adding one more voice to the votes of nine local classical music experts. Two winners will be declared, one for each age group: 6-13 and 14-20.

According to Bryan Lowe, KING FM Program Director, each website visitor is allowed one set of votes once a day. The judges will review their own decisions after the public voting period ends, and announce the two winners on May 14.

“We want to encourage children to perform and experience that there are real-life opportunities to perform around town,” continued Lowe. “It’s not about the winning as much as the experience.”

On Friday, May 10, five finalists get to supplement their videos by showing how they handle a live concert experience. They’ll be on Northwest Focus Live at 8 pm on 98.1 KING FM, introduced by host Sean Maclean. Seven of the finalists had their turn at the microphones on Northwest Focus Live on May 3. The audio from that broadcast is available at the Classical KING FM 98.1 Facebook page throughout this week.

Fourteen-year-old Shannon Cassady, a contestant last year, told KING FM Community Relations Director Mary Ann Wagner that she “particularly liked the YouTube aspect of the voting page, so my friends could see me perform.”

Craig Sheppard, a pianist and UW School of Music faculty member who is one of the judges, cautions voters not to watch only portions of a performance, but to give each finalist full attention. Based on his experience, he says, the beginning of a performance is often not the real story of the talent.

About the author: Gigi Yellen is a veteran Seattle writer and talker about all things classical music.

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