The 13th Annual Henry Schwab Violin and Viola Competition is in full-swing! We are proud to announce this year's finalists: Our Category A contestants are Karl Baumgartner, Beatrice Jiang, & Skyler Lee. Our Category B finalists are Kyler Chu, Carlos Ozuna, & Leonora Vukovitz. To learn more about our talented contestants, please CLICK HERE or use the link in the sidebar.
We’re so pleased to announce this year's guest judges: Mark Kashper & Melissa Phelps. (To read more about them, please click "Meet our Guest Judges" in the menu below.)
Competition Overview & Details
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, MARK KASHPER started taking violin lessons at the age of five. In addition to being a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, where he was one of the last and favorite pupils of the legendary David Oistrakh, Kashper also graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory. As a student, he was a recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. As the assistant concertmaster and soloist with the Moscow Conservatory Chamber Orchestra, he concertized extensively throughout the Soviet Union, Europe, and Latin America.
In February 1978, Kashper arrived in the United States as a refugee, and three months later won an audition to become a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In September 1979 he was promoted to the first violin section and, after progressing steadily through its ranks, won another audition to become the orchestra’s Associate Principal Second Violin in May 1986. In March of 1987, Kashper won high praise for his performance of Luciano Berio’s Corale in its West-Coast premiere with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the direction of Pierre Boulez. He has also appeared as soloist with the Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl and at the Ojai Festival, as well as in many New Music Group and Chamber Music Society programs, collaborating with such distinguished musicians as – to name just a few – Heinz Holliger, André Previn, Emanuel Ax, and Yefim Bronfman. Between 2007 and 2011, Kashper led the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s second violin section as its Acting Principal.
An active recitalist and avid chamber music player, Kashper performs extensively in the Los Angeles area and throughout the United States. Since the creation of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony in the Spring of 1994, he has also been busy as that orchestra's founding principal concertmaster and frequent featured soloist, performing throughout Southern California and touring in New York and Israel. In February 2000, Kashper was the soloist in performances of Korngold's Violin Concerto with the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra conducted by its then-Music Director, Gisèle Ben-Dor.
In September 2001, in Japan, Kashper participated in the concerts of the Super World Orchestra – an ensemble made up of principal players from most of the world’s greatest orchestras – under the direction of Lorin Maazel. In June 2006, in France, he proudly represented the United States in the concerts of the World Philharmonic Orchestra – a unique ensemble that included principal players of the leading symphony orchestras from 80 countries.
MELISSA PHELPS, a native of Los Angeles, began her violin studies at age five. By age ten she appeared as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She is a winner of many awards and competitions including the International Coleman Competitions. She has performed as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician; some as Concertmaster and Principal Second with the festivals of Ojai, Banff, Aspen, Sun Valley, Santa Fe, Mainly Mozart, Spoleto- Italy, Japan.
Melissa has performed/recorded/toured and appeared with artists including Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zuckerman, Mstislav Rostropovich,Van Cliburn, as well as Andrea Bocelli, The Beach Boys, Madonna, Diana Ross, and Rod Stewart. Melissa has been the concertmaster and a frequent soloist of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra since 1995. In 2003 she was the soloist in the North American premiere of the Piazzolla/arr. by Desyatnikov "Four Seasons" at the Ford Theater. Melissa is co-concertmaster & soloist with the West Coast Chamber Orchestra. She has been on the music faculty at California Lutheran University since 1993.
- Applications were due no later than midnight on Sunday, April 23, 2023 and are now closed. (Audition times are assigned upon receipt of application.)
- Preliminaries for the 2023 Competition were held April 29 & 30, 2023.
- The final Competition will take place July 22 & 23, 2023.
There will be two categories of competition (please specify your category upon entry form submission).
(A) Competition participants will perform a full concerto of their choosing from memory at the final competition
(B) Competition participants will perform a movement of their choosing from the 17th or 18th century repertoire at the final competition, sheet music may be used.
The Preliminary Audition Competition
- Students will arrange their own piano accompanist for preliminary competition
- Students will be notified through email concerning their selection to advance to the final competition
- Preliminary Auditions will take place at Ventura College PAC on April 29 & 30, 2023.
Two Judges selected from the Schwab Academy will view auditions
- Judges will choose three students from category (a) to move forward to the finals
- Judges will choose five students from category (b) to move forward to the finals
All students audition with their own accompanist - one movement and a Bach partita (sheet Music may be used).
Category (A) – student will perform one movement from their chosen multi-movement concerto that they will perform at the final if chosen to move on to the finals.
Category (B) – student will perform the one movement they will perform from the 17th or 18th century repertoire (one movement 19th century exceptions may be approved) the same composition they will use if chosen to move on to the finals.
Audition for category A
- Play one movement from the concerto you intend to perform at the final competition
- Play one movement from J.S Bach’s Sonatas or Partitas for solo Violin, Violas may choose a movement from J.S. Bach’s cello suite
- The selections may be performed with sheet music
- Mail 2 copies of the partita and movement of the concerto you will perform at the VC campus (address will be provided in separate email)
- Participant must provide their own Accompanist.
Audition for category B
- Play the movement from the concerto you intend to perform at the final competition
- Play one movement from J.S Bach’s Sonatas, Partitas, or study for solo Violin, Violas may choose a movement from J.S. Bach’s cello suite, or study
- The selections may be performed with sheet music
- Mail 2 copies of the partita and movement of the concerto you will perform at the VC campus (address will be provided in separate email)
- Participant must provide their own Accompanist
To audition, students must fill out and submit the competition application form by the deadline. Contestants will be notified of their audition time and date after sending in application form.
- Two Judges selected from the Schwab Academy will judge the finalists.
- Certificates and Awards will be given at the final performances.
- Rehearsals and performances will take place in the Helen Yunker Auditorium with Academy Symphony Orchestra.
CATEGORY (A) Three finalists selected from the preliminary competition by the panel of judges will advance.
CATEGORY (B) Five finalists selected from the preliminary competition by the panel of judges will advance.
- Category A
At the Final Competition, participants will perform a full multi-movement concerto of their choosing from memory with the Schwab Academy Symphony Orchestra at the final competition.
- Category B
Competition participants will perform a movement of their choosing from the 17th or 18th century repertoire with the Schwab Academy Symphony Orchestra at the final competition.
Final Competition Dates
- Saturday, 7/22: 7:30 PM Henry Schwab Violin and Viola Competition (Category A with orchestra) (Dress rehearsal 2-5 PM)
- Sunday, 7/23: 2:30 PM Henry Schwab Violin and Viola Competition (Category B with orchestra) (Dress rehearsal 10-1 PM)
All participants will receive a certificate of achievement
Judging Criteria: - Finalists will be chosen based on their stage presences, accuracy, articulation, intonation, and overall musicianship skills. Judges will consider the difficulty of the repertoire as well as accurate interpretation of style.
Eligibility requirements to compete as a Soloist in the Henry Schwab Violin & Viola Competition
- Student age is 8 to 23 on or before the final competition
- Must be a registered resident of Ventura County or Santa Barbara County,
- Or currently studying with a Ventura County registered resident, recognized by the HSV&VC board as an established prominent string instructor in Ventura county.
- Or con-currently enrolled in Schwab Summer Academy of Music on the campus of Ventura College. All Academy students regardless of their registered resident location are eligible to apply and compete in the competition).
Financial awards and certificates will be given to each finalist.
- Awards – Category A:
- 1st prize $2000
- 2nd prize $1500
- 3rd prize $1000
- Awards – Category B:
- 1st prize $1000
- 2nd prize $750
- 3rd prize $500
SKYLER LEE, First Place
ZEPHAN BORNFREUND, Second Place
BRYAN HUANG, Third Place
WILLIAM CHEN, First Place
KYLER CHU, Second Place
KARL BAUMGARTNER, Third Place
First Place, Category A
Skyler Lee (17) is an 11th grade student at Newbury Park High School. He was introduced to music through Conejo Valley Unified School District’s elementary strings program. He is a student of Sam Fischer at the Colburn School. Skyler is concertmaster of The Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra and a member of California Young Artists Symphony. He served as a co-concert- master at California All State Junior High Orchestra. Skyler won 1st place Conejo Valley branch MTAC VOCE violin competition from 2017-2019 and 3rd place ENKOR International Music competition in 2020. He was selected as a Channel Islands Chamber Orchestra Young Artist (2020), and he won 2nd prize at the 11th annual Henry Schwab Competition (2021). In 2022, Skyler had a solo performance with Thousand Oaks Philharmonic in Opus 58 concert, and he was chosen to perform as a rising star of Ventura Music Festival.
Second Place, Category A
Zephan Bornfreund, a senior at San Marcos High School, has been playing violin for twelve years, four of those years with Santa Barbara Youth Symphony. Zephan is currently studying violin with Mrs. Joyce Osborn at Woodland Hills. In 2020, Zephan had the honor of winning the SBYS Concerto Competition. Last summer, Zephan also competed in the 11th Annual Henry Schwab Violin & Viola Competition as a finalist. During other summers, Zephan attended Indiana University's String Academy, Montecito International Music Festival, and the Merit Program at the Music Academy of the West. In addition to music, Zephan participated in cross country and track teams throughout high school, and is an avid member of Riveria Robotics in Goleta. This fall, Zephan plans to study mechanical engineering and continue making music at the University of California, Berkeley.
Third Place, Category A
Bryan Huang, Westlake High School class of 2024, has studied the violin for nine years under the instruction of Mrs. Shuwei Liu. Bryan has participated in Conejo Valley Youth Orchestras since 2016, where he holds a principal violin position in the Youth Orchestra and Virtuosi Ensemble. He recently won a fellowship with the California Young Artists Symphony as a distinguished young musician in the local region. In July 2021, Bryan performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto at the 11th annual Henry Schwab Violin and Viola competition and won third prize. He has also won a gold medal at Conejo Valley branch MTAC VOCE violin competition 2019. Bryan participates in community performances with local festivals and church events. Aside from playing the violin, Bryan is an elite swimmer on Westlake High School's varsity team and on the championship team of Class Aquatics swim club.
First Place, Category B
William Chen attends Westlake High School. He is 17 years old currently and began studying violin at age 10 with Shuwei Liu. In addition to this, William began studying piano at age 6, and currently studies at the Colburn School. He has received awards in numerous events, including MTAC events, regional festivals, SYMF, among other competitions. William also plays in Westlake High School’s Chamber Orchestra, and participates in various music-related volunteer activities outside of school.
Second Place, Category B
Kyler Chu is a 5th grade homeschooler from Camarillo, who has been playing the violin since the age of 4. He is a member of the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra which will be performing in Carnegie Hall this summer, and previously played with the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra. Kyler is an avid tennis player, and he has been competing in the USTA and VCJTA tournaments. He enjoys science and robotics, and recently completed a week-long intensive robotics camp where he built and programmed a self-driving robot. He also enjoys exploring the abundance of available outdoor hiking and bike trails in the Conejo Valley. He is a student of Shuwei Liu.
Third Place, Category B
Karl Baumgartner, age 15, is a 5th generation Ventura County native and a 9th grade honor student at West Ranch High School. He began playing violin at five years old and currently studies violin with Alexander Treger. In addition, he studies piano with Maria Shcherbakova. He is a member of the West Ranch High School Orchestra and has participated in the Ventura College Orchestra. Karl is a prize winner in local and regional violin competitions. He is a first-degree black belt in Taekwondo and Hapkido, and trains in Krav Maga and Jiu Jitsu. Karl enjoys riding horses, swimming, skiing and, of course, playing computer games.
Brandon T. King / Theotus Media (July 23)
Zach Mendez Photo + Video (July 24)
Martin Chalifour will begin his 25th season as Principal Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic this fall. He graduated with honors from the Montreal Conservatory at the age of 18 and then moved to the United States to continue studies at the famed Curtis Institute of Music.
Chalifour received a Certificate of Honor at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and is also a laureate of the prestigious Montreal International Competition. Apart from his LA Phil duties, he maintains an active solo career, playing a diverse repertoire of more than 60 concertos. Chalifour has appeared as soloist with conductors Pierre Boulez, Gustavo Dudamel, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Sir Neville Marriner, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Outside the U.S., he has played solos with the Auckland Philharmonia, the Montreal Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the National Orchestra of Taiwan, and the Malaysian Philharmonic, among others.
Chalifour began his orchestral career with the late Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony, playing as Associate Concertmaster for six years. Subsequently, for five years he occupied the same position in the Cleveland Orchestra, where he also served as Acting Concertmaster under Christoph von Dohnányi. While in Cleveland, Chalifour taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music and was a founding member of the Cleveland Orchestra Piano Trio.
Chalifour is a frequent guest at several summer music festivals, including the Sarasota Festival, the Mainly Mozart Festival, and the Reno Chamber Music Festival, where he served as Music Director last year. Maintaining close ties with his native country, he has returned there often to teach and perform as soloist with various Canadian orchestras, most recently in Vancouver with Bramwell Tovey and in Hamilton with Gemma New. Martin Chalifour has recorded solo and chamber music for the Telarc, Northstar, and Yarlung labels. He teaches at Caltech and at the USC Thornton School of Music.
LA-based composer/violinist/violist/baroque violinist Andrew McIntosh has a unique and multifaceted career spanning solo, chamber, and early music engagements across the US and in Europe. His compositions have been described as “a shining example of the extraordinary music that the youngest generation of American experimentalists has to offer"(TEMPO), and have been featured at major venues in The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Los Angeles, and New York, including several recent performances at the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Green Umbrella series in Walt Disney Concert Hall and at Monday Evening Concerts in Zipper Hall (Los Angeles).
As a solo artist he has appeared recently at the San Francisco Symphony's SoundBox series, and past highlights include solo performances at Stanford University, REDCAT (Los Angeles), the Wulf (Los Angeles), Unruly Music (Milwaukee), Hamburger Klangwerktage (Hamburg), Bludenzer Tage Zeitgemasse Muzik (Austria), Moments Musicaux Aarau (Switzerland), the Pianola Museum (Amsterdam), the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), and KPFK Pacifica Radio. He also was the viola soloist in the US premiere of Gèrard Grisey’s Les Espaces Acoustiques, for which performance the LA Times said he “played with commanding beauty.”
As a chamber musician he is known primarily for his work with the Formalist Quartet, currently in its 10th season, and for being a member of the new music ensemble wild Up. He has also performed with artists such as Wadada Leo Smith, Quatuor Bozzini, Wet Ink Ensemble, Rohan de Saram, Marc Sabat, Jürg Frey, and Dante Boon. He has recorded on several dozen albums including releases on New World Records, Innova, Mode Records, Populist Records, Wandelweiser Editions, hat[now] ART, Darla Records, and Care/Of Editions, and has worked personally with a wide range of composers including Christian Wolff, Sofia Gubaidulina, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Helmut Lachenmann, Tom Johnson, and Jürg Frey.
As a baroque performer McIntosh has concertized with the American Bach Soloists, Bach Collegium San Diego, Musica Angelica, LA Master Chorale, Les Surprises, Tesserae, Musica Pacifica, Preethi de Silva, and the Corona del Mar Baroque Festival. He also directs a small period instrument ensemble which focuses on 17th century French and Austrian violin repertoire, in particular the complete Rosary Sonatas of Biber, and has performed at the Getty Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Museum of Jurassic Technology.
Ventura College Music Department is recognized as a leader in music education and has a comprehensive course schedule throughout the year, providing professional instruction and leadership to students. Register for courses including: Theory, History and Literature, Vocal, Instrumental, Jazz, Technology, and ensembles, including Opera, Choir, Orchestra, Chamber & Jazz, designed to educate your knowledge of music.