UMass Music and Dance Announces Winners of Young Artist Awards Competition

The UMass Amherst department of music and dance has announced the winners of its inaugural Young Artist Awards competition, created this spring for Massachusetts high school student musicians. With performance opportunities so limited by the pandemic, the music faculty created this event as a means of providing younger artists with assistance in furthering their classical musical studies, as well as a chance to perform, compete and receive professional feedback.

Conducted via video recordings submitted by the entrants, the competition offered 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place cash awards of up to $1,000 in each of five categories, as well as numerous honorable mention awards, with gifts provided by competition sponsors.

The 1st place winners for 2021 are:

  • Voice 1 (9th-10th grade): Frederic Gondek, a 10th grade bass/baritone, studying with Elisabeth Gondek
  • Voice 2 (11th-12th grade): Sam Higgins, a 12th grade countertenor, studying with Corey Hart
  • Piano: Gaeun Lee, an 11th grader studying with Niva Fried
  • Strings: Melanie Chen, a 12th grade cellist, studying with Andrew Mark
  • Winds/Brass/Percussion: Emily DeNucci, a 9th grade flutist, studying with Grieg Shearer

Event coordinator and violin professor Elizabeth Chang noted, “Our judges were truly impressed with the high level of playing, dedicated teaching and rich pool of talent in Massachusetts. It was not easy in any area to choose among the excellent submissions.” The jury members wrote detailed evaluations of all the performances, which are being sent to the participants.