Published January 28th, 2015
Concert Features Three Concerto Competition Winners, Two from Lafayette
Submitted by Keith Gleason
From left: Ellie Kanayama, Katherine Chen, and Oliver Taylor Photo Vladimir Gurevich
Young People's Symphony Orchestra's (YPSO) Winter Concert will feature three Concerto Competition winners - two from Lafayette, one from Albany - in a program of Gershwin's An American in Paris, Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain with Katherine Chen on piano, Wieniawski's Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor with Ellie Kanayama on violin, Arutiunian's Trumpet Concerto with Oliver Taylor on trumpet, and Ravel's Rapsodie Espagnole.
Each season, YPSO offers all members who have been in the orchestra for at least one full season the opportunity to enter the Concerto Competition to compete for the opportunity to play one movement of a concerto with the orchestra at a regular concert. This year's judges were music director/conductor David Ramadanoff, violist and conductor Rem Djemilev, who is music director of Young People's Chamber Orchestra, and Monica Scott, who is a cellist and cello teacher. This season's concerto competition had 15 competitors. Seven winners were selected in total.
Pianist Katherine Chen, of Lafayette, will play the first movement of the Falla, En el Generalife, which is about the jasmine gardens around the Alhambra. "I love the first movement because there are parts of it that imitate rippling water or gurgling fountains. I also like that the piece is more of a balanced collaboration between piano and the orchestra," says Chen, who is a sophomore at The College Preparatory School in Oakland. Katherine began her piano studies at age 3 in China. At age 11, she began studying under two private studios and was actively participating in CCMA competitions and festivals. She is currently studying with Armando Pino. In fifth grade, she took up violin as well, fulfilling a childhood dream, and she became the concertmaster of her middle school orchestra in seventh grade. She now plays in YPSO's first violin section, and this is her third year with the orchestra.
Acalanes High School senior Oliver Taylor will play the complete Arutiunian Trumpet Concerto. "I love how the energy changes throughout this concerto. The excitement of the fast parts is contrasted by the slower mini-movements, which are very lyrical and beautiful. The juxtaposition between the fast and slow movements keeps it exciting and fun to play but also difficult. Navigating a piece like this is hard not only for the soloist but the orchestra as well," says Taylor. He currently studies trumpet with Jay Rizzeto and has played with the likes of Wayne Wallace, Wynton Marsalis, Erik Jekabson and Mic Gillette. During his four years in YPSO, Taylor has visited Prague, Bratislava, and Vienna on the 2012 Central Europe Tour and played at Carnegie Hall, Central Park and Harvard University during the 2014 East Coast Tour. In addition to YPSO, he plays in the Acalanes High School Wind and Jazz Ensembles and in a private jazz combo. Taylor has won many awards over the years for jazz and classical music, including YPSO's 2013 Concerto Competition where he played the Hummel Trumpet Concerto. To watch Taylor's performance of the Hummel go to
Ellie Kanayama, a 15-year-old freshman at Albany High School, will play the first movement of the Wieniawski Violin Concerto No. 2.
The final work on the program, which includes 103 young musicians ages 12 to 18, will be Maurice Ravel's Rapsodie Espagnole. The Winter Concert will be held at 8 p.m. Jan. 31 at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, and at 3 p.m. Feb. 1 at Dean Lesher Center for the Arts. For more information about YPSO, visit, email or call (510) 849-9776. For tickets and information, call (510) 849-YPSO (9776), email at or go to

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