Four Student Musicians Win SASO Youth Concerto Competition

TUCSON, AZ – Cellist Benjamin Nead won the 2013 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition presented by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra. He’ll perform with the orchestra on April 6 and 7.

Nead, 17, won the first prize of $1,000 and the opportunity to solo with SASO. In last year’s competition, he placed second and won $500. A junior at University High School, he studies with Mary Beth Tyndall. He will play selections from Saint-Saens’ Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor. Three years ago, Nead joined the SASO cello section for its first tour of China.

Three other winners were selected – including a sister and brother. The second-place winner is Carissa Powe, who received $500. The home-schooled violinist studies with Wynne Rife.

Two contestants were awarded equal third prizes – cellist Levi Powe and pianist Cameron Williams. Each received a $250 prize. Powe, Carissa’s brother, also is home schooled. Like Nead, he studies with Mary Beth Tyndall. Williams attends Basis Tucson North and studies with Tannis Gibson.

SASO Vice President Tim Secomb said, “The judges were impressed with the high quality of the performances in the competition. Selecting the winners was a difficult task. This competition clearly demonstrates that there are many talented young players in our community.”

Nead will perform with SASO on Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the DesertView Performing Arts Center in SaddleBrooke and on Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo Del Norte in northwest Tucson.

This was the fourth annual youth competition presented by SASO. The competition is open to high school students who play any orchestral instrument including piano. Named for longtime arts patron Dorothy Vanek, the competition is designed to recognize and support outstanding young musicians, encouraging them to polish performance skills and build real-life experience. Vanek is SASO’s 2012-2013 season sponsor. Previous first-place winners of the SASO youth competition are pianist Joyce Yang, a Desert View High School student from Phoenix, who won last year and performed the first movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor. Cellist Sara Page, a University High School student, won the second annual competition in 2011 and performed the first movement of Saint-Saens’ Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor. Cellist Nicholas Mariscal, also a University High School student, won first prize in 2010 and performed the first movement of the Cello Concerto in D minor by Edouard Lalo.

Founded in 1979, SASO has grown into a vital community resource that unites performers and audiences through a mutual love of music. The orchestra presents a wide range of compositions, including world premieres, seldom-performed treasures and popular classics. SASO brings together student, amateur and professional musicians with exceptional soloists, composers and conductors. Under the baton of Music Director Linus Lerner, this local community orchestra recently toured China for the second time. SASO presents five concerts each season in two locations, plus special events. For more information, visit or call 308-6226.

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