Newsroom

April 17, 2015



MEDIA CONTACTS:

Vanessa Astros
Senior Director, Communications

(713) 337-8560
vanessa.astros@houstonsymphony.org


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:
Samuel Chan
Bixby Kennedy
Zeyu Victor Li
Esther Liao
Hewen Ma
Boson Mo
Seth Morris
Stephanie Ng
Erik Wheeler
Sang Yhee


FIVE HOUSTON-AREA EMERGING ARTISTS COMPETE FOR GRAND PRIZE IN NATIONAL HOUSTON SYMPHONY IMA HOGG COMPETITION

10 semi-finalists face off at Rice University’s Stude Concert Hall on June 4

Top four musicians advance to next and final round of prestigious competition on June 6

Winner takes home $25,000 prize and performs with the Houston Symphony

HOUSTON (April 17, 2015) The Houston Symphony and the Houston Symphony League announced today the semi-finalists for the 40th annual Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition, the country’s only orchestra-run multi-instrumental competition. Half of this year’s semi-finalists are from Houston and have ties to Rice University.

The Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition – a partnership between the Houston Symphony League and the Houston Symphony – is one of the foremost instrumental competitions in the world and was named to honor the memory of Miss Ima Hogg, a co-founder of the Houston Symphony. It provides performance opportunities for musicians ages 13-30, often raising their profile in the orchestral world and helping them win significant accolades and receive principal posts with major orchestras.

Chaired by Jennifer Gravenor, an active member of the Houston Symphony League and Houston Symphony Young Associates Council, this year’s Competition will feature ten outstanding young musicians selected from a pool of nearly 100 candidates ranging from a wide variety of instruments and nationalities. Five of these rising stars are from Houston: Esther Liao (18), Hewen Ma (16), Boson Mo (25), Seth Morris (20) and Erik Wheeler (20). These Houston-area artists have appeared in various regional and national competitions, including the Montreal International Violin Competition, the International Jacques Taddei Music Competition and the National Flute Association Young Artist Competitions, among others. Semifinalists Boson, Erik and Hewen are currently pursuing degrees at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

On Thursday, June 4, the semi-finalists will perform portions of two concertos from memory in front of a judging panel for the possibility to advance to the Finals. On Saturday, June 6 – after a competitive selection process – four finalists will perform one of their concertos with the Houston Symphony in front of a live audience at Rice University’s Stude Concert Hall. The panel of judges will include a music critic, a conductor and artist managers. The Finals Concert will be broadcast live on Houston Public Media Classical 91.7 FM.

Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition Prizes

The winner of the First Prize, The Grace Woodson Memorial Award, will get a cash prize of $25,000, made possible thanks to the generosity of Symphony patrons John and Tracy Dennis in honor of his grandmother. The winner will also get the once-in-a lifetime opportunity to perform with the Houston Symphony this summer at the Houston Chronicle Dollar Concert at Jones Hall on Saturday, July 11, and will complete a week-long Education and Community Engagement residency with the Houston Symphony.

The recipient of the Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition Second Place Award – presented by the Houston Symphony League in recognition of Jerry Priest, founding Chair of the Competition and member of the Houston Symphony League – will take home a $10,000 cash prize and also get the chance to perform with the Houston Symphony this summer at Miller Outdoor Theatre on Saturday, June 27.

Air travel of the semi-finalists is generously provided by United Airlines, the official airline of the Houston Symphony. The Lancaster Hotel provides accommodations for the conductor and the panel of judges. The partnership with the Rice University allows the Symphony to host the Competition at the Shepherd School of Music year after year. The competitors' accommodations are provided thanks to the hospitality of Houston Symphony volunteer host families. The underwriting support of this prestigious annual event is provided by generous sponsors, including Mr. and Mrs. John P. Dennis III and Mr. John Neighbors.

2015 HOUSTON SYMPHONY IMA HOGG COMPETITION SEMI-FINALISTS
Samuel Chan (22 years old), marimba
Home: Hong Kong, China
Current: Boston, MA

Bixby Kennedy (23 years old), clarinet
Home: Maryville, TN
Current: New Haven, CT

Zeyu Victor Li (18 years old), violin
Home: Huainan, China
Current: Philadelphia, PA

Esther Liao (18 years old), piano
Home: Houston, TX
Current: Houston, TX

Hewen Ma (16 years old), piano
16 years old
Home: Dalian, China
Current: Houston, TX

Boson Mo (25 years old), violin
Home: Montreal, Quebec
Current: Houston, TX

Seth Morris (30 years old), flute
Home: Simpsonville, KY
Current: Houston, TX

Stephanie Ng (25 years old), piano
Home: Fremont, CA
Current: Los Angeles, CA

Erik Wheeler (20 years old), cello
Home: Houston, TX
Current: Houston, TX

Sang Yhee (26 years old), cello
Home: Tenafly, NJ
Current: Tenafly, NJ

2015 HOUSTON SYMPHONY IMA HOGG COMPETITION PRIZES
FIRST PRIZE
The Grace Woodson Memorial Award
Generously given by The Dennis Family in memory of Grace Woodson
$25,000
Solo performance with the Houston Symphony at the Houston Chronicle Dollar Concert on Saturday, July 11, 2015
Week-long Education and Community Engagement Residency with the Houston Symphony

SECOND PRIZE
The Ima Hogg Competition Second Place Award
Presented by the Houston Symphony League in recognition of Jerry Priest, founding Chair of the Competition and member of the Houston Symphony League
$10,000
Solo performance with the Houston Symphony at Miller Outdoor Theatre on Saturday, June 27, 2015

THIRD PRIZE
The Selma Neumann Memorial Award
Presented by the Houston Symphony League Bay Area in memory of Selma Neumann, Founding President of the Houston Symphony League Bay Area
$5,000

FOURTH PRIZE
The Jean Whitbread Kucera Award
Given by Lilly and Thurmon Andress in loving memory of Lilly's mother, Jean Whitbread Kucera
$1,000

AUDIENCE CHOICE
The Herman Shoss Audience Choice Award
Given by Diane and Harry Gendel in loving memory of her father, Herman Shoss, a former violinist in the Houston Symphony
$1,000

ARTISTIC ENCOURAGEMENT
The Robert and Nancy Peiser Award for Artistic Encouragement
Given by the Houston Symphony Board President and his wife to provide encouragement to one of the finalists and selected by the musicians of the Houston Symphony
$1,000

Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition Semi-Finals 
Thursday, June 4, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Rice University Stude Concert Hall In the Shepherd School of Music (at the Alice Pratt Brown Hall)
6100 Main St Houston, TX
(713) 348-4854
FREE ADMISSION

Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition Finals 
Saturday, June 6, 7:00 PM
Rice University Stude Concert Hall In the Shepherd School of Music (at the Alice Pratt Brown Hall) 
6100 Main St Houston, TX 
(713) 348-4854
Tickets: $25 (student rush tickets $15) 

About the Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition

Named and purposed after former founder and President of the Houston Symphony, Miss Ima Hogg, the Competition identifies and rewards excellence in young musicians between the ages of 13 to 30 who are pursuing a career in music. The goal is consistent with the vision of Miss Ima Hogg, whose passions included fostering young talent and supporting the Houston Symphony. It’s one of the few instrumental competitions worldwide that includes all standard orchestral instruments.

The Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition is a definitive breeding ground for fine musicians. Past winners have won numerous national and international competitions, received principal posts with some of the world’s major orchestras and even occupied seats within the Houston Symphony – Concertmaster Frank Huang, Principal Keyboardist Scott Holshouser, and Principal Harpist Megan Conley are two such players, all former winners of the Competition.

About the Houston Symphony Leagues

The Houston Symphony League and the Houston Symphony League Bay Area are dedicated to supporting the Houston Symphony through volunteer efforts and fundraising. Symphony League members are involved with the Symphony’s education programs through student music competitions and activities at Family Concerts, Student Concerts, Summer Community Concerts and Theater District Open House. Members from the Bay Area League promote music appreciation to elementary students in Clear Creek ISD through enrichment programs in the schools. Both Leagues contribute to the successful operation of the Houston Symphony League’s Concerto Competition by providing volunteers for in-hall support and hospitality.

About the Houston Symphony

During the 2014-15 season, the Houston Symphony enters its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. This season also marks the inaugural year for new Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada. The Houston Symphony is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas whose inaugural performance was held at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $29.6 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 319 performances for 330,000 people, including 97,000 children, annually. For tickets and more information, please visit www.houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.

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