Winners of the 53rd annual WAMSO Young Artist Competition were announced on Sunday, January 11 after their performances at Orchestra Hall.

The competition’s First prize was awarded to Daniel Velasco, flutist. The 22-year-old native of Ecuador is currently a senior at the University of Northern Iowa, studying with Dr. Angeleita Floyd. He studied at the National Music Conservatory in Quito, Ecuador from 1992 to 2005 with Luis and Luciana Carrera. Mr. Velasco received $7,500 in WAMSO awards plus the $1,000 Mathilda Heck Woodwind Award. He also was awarded a full-tuition summer study scholarship to the Chautauqua Music Festival in Chautauqua, New York. In addition, he has won a performance on the Schubert Club Courtroom Series in Saint Paul, as well as a taped performance on McGraw Hill’s Young Artist Showcase, WQXR in New York City.

Second prize and a $4,000 WAMSO award went to tubist Aaron Tindall. Tindall, 25, currently is enrolled in doctoral work at Indiana University, where he works with Dan Perantoni. He holds a Master of Music degree from the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, England, and a Bachelor of Music Performance degree from Pennsylvania State University. Mr. Tindall was also awarded a full scholarship to the Aspen Music Festival, and he won the $1,000 Twin Cities Musicians Union Award. His second-place prize also includes a taped performance on radio WQXR in New York City.

The $2,000 Third prize went to Char Prescott, a 20-year old cellist. A senior at Northwestern University, she is a student of Hans Jorgen Jensen. Ms. Prescott, a native of Alexandria, Virginia, also received the $500 Vincent R. Bastien Memorial Cello Award.

Prizes were awarded to the three other finalists in the competition. Ben Runkel, 22, percussionist from Northern Illinois University, won a performance with The St. Paul Civic Symphony. Samuel Deason, 20, pianist who attends the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, received the $500 Mary Winston Smail Piano award as well as a $3,500 scholarship to the Madeline Island Music Camp. Jean-He Lee, 25-year old violinist from the University of Michigan received the $1,000 Elaine Louise Lagerstrom Memorial Violin Award.

Judges for the Final Round of the competition were Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vänskä, Jorja Fleezanis, Concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra, and Kathleen VanBergen, Executive Director of the Schubert Club.

The Young Artist Competition is a collaborative effort between WAMSO – Minnesota Orchestra Volunteer Association, and the Minnesota Orchestra. Musicians under the age of 26 years compete for more than $15,000 in cash prizes, scholarships, performance opportunities and summer program scholarships. This year’s finalists were drawn from an original field of 54 applicants who submitted audition CDs for the preliminary round. Twelve contestants advanced to the semifinals held at Macalester College, Saint Paul, and six were chosen for the final round.

Started in 1956, the competition now draws talented young musicians to the Twin Cities from all over the world, who are legal residents of or enrolled in schools in eleven Midwestern states or the Provinces of Manitoba or Ontario, Canada. WAMSO is in its 59th year of providing support for the Minnesota Orchestra and promoting music education throughout Minnesota.

Photographs by Greg Helgeson