A senior at St. James Academy, Alex Brady is a multi-faceted flutist, playing in orchestras, concert bands, pit orchestras, jazz bands, and flute choirs across Kansas. Alex has had the honor of attending the Galway Summer Flute Festival, the University of Michigan MPulse Flute Institute, and the Midwestern Music Festival. He has held the position of Principal Flute for the Kansas City Youth Symphony, and is now an active member of the University of Kansas’s Flute Choir, Rock Chalk Flutes. He has performed in masterclasses for Lady Jeanne Galway, Amy Porter, Michael Gordon, and Jordan Smith. He currently studies with Dr. Daniel Velasco, and is grateful for the never-ending support of his teachers, Annie Gnojek and Dr. Helen Harrelson.
Alex performed Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino, Op. 107, on our January 21st, 2023, concert
Piano Division Winner
Wendi Wen (born 30 June 2008) started to play the piano at the age of four with the pianist XIE Yashuangzi and then Professor ZHOU Wei from Shanghai Conservatory of Music. She also plays the violin, starting at the age of six with the violinist ZHU Yue. She became a member of Shanghai Young String Chamber Ensemble at nine in 2018 and participated in the Very Young Composers Workshop at the Music in the Summer Air Festival in 2019 at eleven.
As a rising performer, she performed in the Conero International Piano Competition in Italy in the summer of 2022. She was selected to play for masterclasses and won first-prize in a chamber music category. In September 2022, she was invited to perform as a guest pianist in the Youth Trio at the Village Presbyterian Church concert series.
In addition to performing, Wendi is also an award-winning composer. She started her music composition lessons with her father Deqing Wen, a composer and composition professor of Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In 2020, she was admitted to Geneva Popular Conservatory of Music, learning composition with Arturo Corrales and piano performance with Eugénie Grenier Borel. In the same year, she composed her first orchestral work “Lady Liberty in a Thunderstorm”, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to mark the 100th anniversary of Women’s constitutional right to vote in the U.S and it was premiered by the New York Philharmonic at the Alice Tully Hall in New York in March 2022. She won the first prize of Zurich Camerata (Switzerland) with her string orchestral work “Chant d’Oiseau” in 2021. In the same year she won the first prize of the 14th Shanghai International Youth Piano Competition 2021 (Shanghai Section). In 2022, her 2021 completed work “The Triangular Prism II” for violin and piano won the first prize in the Swiss Youth Music Competition.
Currently, she is a freshman at Shawnee Mission East High School in Kansas City, USA. She is studying piano performance with Dr. Regina Tanujaya, and she continues her violin studies with Dr. Yu-Ru WU and then Yi-Miao HUANG, who is currently pursuing D.M.A in violin performance. She is also a member of Youth Symphony of Kansas City, playing the violin.
Winds Division Winner
Oliver Zhang first started playing trumpet in 2nd grade. Since 5th grade, he’s joined the fountain city youth brass band and played in the Kansas City Youth Symphony. Oliver is now a senior at Blue Valley North High School. Since freshman year, he’s made 1st and 2nd chair in the all-state band and orchestra, as well as the All-National Honor Ensemble as 1st trumpet. Last year in April of 2022, Oliver received 1st prize as the winner of the 2022 National Trumpet Competition, high school division. At Blue Valley North, Oliver is an active member in the school marching band and wind ensemble, under the direction of Mr. Daniel Freeman, and enjoys organizing his own brass ensembles performing at volunteer events or regional competitions. Oliver credits much of his success to his parents, family, and trumpet professor Dr. Keith Benjamin at the University of Missouri Kansas-City. Outside of music, Oliver loves being part of the school swim team, and hopes to continue all his passions in college.
Strings Division Winner
Andrew Anderson, a junior at Topeka High School, has played cello for two years. He is the assistant principal cellist in the Kansas City Youth Symphony Orchestra. Andrew has been selected for the KMEA District and All-state orchestras. He has received outstanding ratings in the KMEA regional and state solo and small ensemble festivals. Andrew has won the Washburn University Concerto Competition. Outside of music, he enjoys reading and tennis.