Accomplished Musicians – WDPR concert showcases young talent

Seven of southwest Ohio’s finest young classical musicians will share their talents Sunday, May 16 at the University of Dayton. The teens, WDPR/Classical 88.1 FM Young Talent Search honorees, will present a “free classical concert … where everyone leaves inspired,” according to Shaun Yu, WDPR program director.

Yu described this year’s field of competitors as “very accomplished musicians with experience in tough competitions, summer festivals and at least one with experience on an international stage.”

These young musicians, from across the WDPR listening area, also represent diverse backgrounds not the least of which are the reasons they play, their inspiration to excel and how they perceive music in their futures. One thing they have in common though is a drive to invest in their musical studies, seeking out the best schools and teachers, to improve their craft.

Oboist Andra Bane, 14, from Oakwood Junior High also plays with the Oakwood High School Concert Band and Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. She attended Interlochen in 2009 and will return this summer on a merit scholarship.

Springfield’s Mariko Shimasaki, 14, studies violin at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music’s pre-college program. Shimasaki hopes that “they (the audience) feel the passion from my performance.” This summer she will tour with the Starling Chamber Orchestra in Austria and study at the Aspen Music Festival.

St. Xavier High School student Benjamin Leung, 15, began piano studies at age 3 with his parents Drs. Benita Tse and Jackson Leung whose example of a lifetime of playing and teaching inspires his quest for excellence. A winner of many competitions, including the World Piano Competition and the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music Concerto Competition, he has performed at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and the Anglican Cathedral in Bermuda. Leung plans “to incorporate the many years of music study into whatever field of work I go into.”

Diana He, 15, a student at Mason High School, is another piano student of Dr. Tse. She passed with highest honors the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music International Exams. He also plays the viola in her school orchestra and participates in the speech, debate and math teams as well as Science Olympiad.

Violinist Christopher Christman, who also plays the piano, is home-schooled. A veteran of the OFMC (Ohio Federation of Music Clubs) Junior Music Festivals, Christman, 16, placed first at the 2006 State Juniors Convention. He is in his second year of playing with Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. “I hope the audience will get a musical performance that really shows the character of the piece,” he said.

Double bassist Christian Schlorman, 17, attends Kettering-Fairmont High School and Sinclair Community College. He is a member of the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and other ensembles. Schlorman, who hopes to study at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, says “I really knew that I wanted to pursue this as a life career when I realized the power that music has on people’s emotions, the same way it has on mine.”

Centerville High School student Jon McCullough-Benner, 18, is the principal double bass for the Dayton Philharmonic Youth and Centerville Symphony Orchestras, having taken up the instrument only five years ago. He attends Interlochen Arts Camps in order to study under many respected musicians including Lawrence Hurst and Joann Faletta. He plans to pursue a bachelor of music degree.

Yu proposed the Young Talent Search, sponsored by Dr. Benjamin Schuster, Grain Berry and Sebaly, Shillito and Dyer, as “a way for the station to be involved in celebrating youth in classical music … to shine the spotlight on young musicians who rarely get it, like the double bassists.” Yu also wanted to offer something not typically found at competitions or festivals: media exposure. WDPR particularly featured the honorees during weekly on-air interviews. Yu explained that dealing with the media is a skill “and learning these skills will enhance their preparation.” He also feels the concert provides “a chance for the station to give a little something back to the community that has been so good to us.”

The honorees receive an award package of a savings bond, gifts, an on-air interview and performing in a public concert.

The WDPR/Classical 88.1 FM Young Talent Search concert will be held Sunday, May 16 at 2 p.m. in Sears Recital Hall at the University of Dayton, 300 College Park. Doors open at 1 p.m. with open seating. Admission is free. For more information, call (937) 222-9377 or visit

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