From the Top Alumni Take Beijing by Storm!

Friday, April 6th, began the 2012 Menuhin International Violin Competition, taking place in Beijing. Among the 42 competitors, From the Top was represented by 11 alumni, including:

Among Senior competitors (under 22):

1. Hannah Cho (Show 209/Waimea)
2. Piotr Filochowski (Show 149/Mercersburg)
3. Eric Gratz (Show 177/New Albany & Show 180/Berkeley)
4. Zenas Hsu (Show 161/San Francisco)*
5. Alexi Kenney (Show 200/Wolfeboro)*
6. Eunice Kim (Show 94/Boston)*
7. Anna Lee (Shows 152, 174, 204 & TV)*
8. Kenneth Renshaw (Shows 186, 211 & 228)*

*These competitors have gone on to be in the semi-final round, taking place on Wednesday!

Among Junior competitors (under 16):

1. Alina Kobialka (Show 252/Chattanooga)
2. Jieming Tang (Show 251/Potsdam)
3. Jacqueline Tso (Show 244/Kalamazoo)

Good Luck to all!

Want to see the competition? Click here to view the livestream of the competition. Performances begin at 10:00am Beijing Time!

UPDATE, 4/11/2012: As of Wednesday, from a record number of 238 hopeful entrants to the Menuhin International Violin Competition, 3 out of the 4 finalists are From the Top alumni. Congratulations to Alexi KenneyJi Eun Anna Lee, and Kenneth Arthur Renshaw (Click on the name to see their performance video from the competition!). Also, we wish good luck to Alina Kobialka who’ll be competing on Friday in the Junior Finals! Click here to see more competitor videos!

UPDATE, 4/17/2012: The results are in! In the senior competition, From the Top Alumni received First, Second, and Third place! Congratulations to all of the competitors!
1st place: Kenneth Renshaw
2nd Place: Anna Lee
3rd Place: Alexi Kenney
4th Place: Siyan Guo

From the Top Alums Perform in Singapore!

Simone Performs in Highland Park

Two From the Top alums are performing in Singapore this week as part of the Great Eastern International Kids Performing Festival: violinist Simone Porter and cellist Nathan Chan.

Simone appeared on From the Top’s Highland Park, Illinois show in 2007 when was eleven years old, at which point she was basically a veteran violinist – she started playing when she was just three. In March 2008 Simone appeared on our PBS series, From the Top at Carnegie Hall. Two years later, Simone has excelled greatly and is one of five young international musicians to perform at the festival in Singapore this week.

Nathan Performs in Stanford

Cellist Nathan Chan appeared on From the Top’s December 2009 show in Stanford, California. You may not know this, but Nathan originally got into classical music as a conductor – at the age of two! He used to mimic the movements of conductors on TV and was incredibly accurate at it. Three years later he picked up a cello and began his formal study of music. Nathan’s accomplishments are many – just check out his summary on the festival website – and performing in Singapore is yet another wonderful honor for him.

Simone and Nathan, along with From the Top alum Anna DeLoi, are also featured in a 2009 BBC 4 documentary series that’s about to air on WGBH. We mentioned this mini-series, titled “The World’s Greatest Musical Prodigies,” back in April. It features a young composer and conductor from England named Alexander Prior. He’s on a mission to find the best young performing talent in the world, and he will write a multi-instrument concerto for them to perform with the Northern Sinfonia in England.

It’s a small world because Alex will actually be at Tanglewood this summer, along with our 10th Anniversary alum Keitaro Harada (saxophone/conductor).

Click here for air dates/times of this show.

Classical Music for $0-$20: Midwest Edition

Happy belated Fourth of July!

Happy belated Fourth of July! (By caruba on Flickr).

I have to admit it. I had no idea there were so many classical concerts to be heard in the Midwest, beyond Interlochen and Ravinia. The good news is, I was wrong. There are dozens of them – and you can get into plenty for under 20 bucks.

-Lily Kaiser

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Classical Music for $0-$20: New England Edition

SunflowerWhen you’re a student, it’s hard to see classical music. You have to find a concert that fits your schedule, sometimes on short notice, persuade someone to come with you, (if you don’t have a lot of friends who love classical music), and, hardest of all, keep the whole night inside your budget.

Good news: I’ve been scouring the internet looking for deals in the Northeast – and there are a lot of them. In New England, with summer music festival season upon us, concerts are more informal, and generally, cheaper. There are plenty of ways to see some classical music for $20 or less. Here are some ideas to get you started.
-Lily Kaiser

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IFCP’s June Concert Series is under way

IFCP 2009

If you’ll be in New York any time from now until June 24, check out the Institute and Festival For Contemporary Performance’s sixth annual June Concert Series at Mannes College: The New  School for Music. Through the weeklong smorgasbord of concerts, workshops, master classes lectures, and symposiums, IFCP participants will push the boundaries of contemporary classical music while acknowledging its connections to the past and to other genres.

Who’s on the program? Renowned musicians Joel Krosnick (cello), Rolf Schulte (violin), Marc Ponthus (IFCP founder and pianist), and chamber ensemble Speculum Musicae are performing, as well as IFCP students, whose performances are free.

There are workshops for flute, clarinet, strings, piano and percussion with some big names, like Joel Lester, dean of Mannes, and pianist Aleck Karis.

The series also features prominent contemporary classical composers, including Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, Richard Wernick, Gunther Schuller, Donald Martino, Roger Sessions, Gyorgy Kurtag, Earl Kim, George Crumb, Anton Webern, David Sanford, Peter Lieberson, Maio Davidovsky, and David Rakowski.
Didn’t make plans to attend the series ahead of time? Don’t worry. Tickets are available at the door starting one hour before each performance.

Robert McDuffie and Friends Labor Day Festival for Strings

by Roving Reporter Caeli Smith (excerpt from

As back-to-school season crept up on us and the few precious days left of summer were trickling away, fifteen of my fellow teenage string players and myself decided to spend them sweating it out in Atlanta at the Robert McDuffie and Friends Labor Day Festival for Strings!

Caeli's quartet with their coach, David Halen

Caeli's quartet with their coach, David Halen

The Festival is five days long, carried out over Labor Day weekend. Sixteen kids, rising juniors or seniors in high school, were treated to an all-expense paid preview of conservatory life at the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings, a two-year old program at Mercer University in Macon, GA. Read more.

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