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Announcing the 2023 Competition Winners in Performance and Innovation

Winners of the Music Academy’s Solo Piano, Duo, and Song Competitions return in 2024 to perform commissioned premieres in recital.

The Academy sends the 12 MAX (Music Academy Exchange) fellows to London this fall to perform with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Winners of Alumni Enterprise and Fast Pitch Awards are recognized for their innovative endeavors.

"Music Academy makes an unparalleled investment in the creative futures of its fellows and alums through these competitions. In addition to significant financial support, awardees receive unique, educational experiences and career-advancing opportunities.”

Jamie Broumas, Music Academy Chief Artistic Officer

2023 Performance Competitions

The Music Academy’s annual Solo Piano, Duo, and Marilyn Horne Song Competitions offer fellows opportunities to showcase their exceptional talents. The 2023 winners are:

Solo Piano Competition:

Szuyu Su solo piano


Duo Competition (pictured):

Danny Jin violin

Ji Youn Lee collaborative piano


Marilyn Horne Song Competition: 

Navasard Hakobyan baritone

Brian Cho vocal piano

Each winner received a cash award of $5,000. They will also have a work commissioned on their behalf by the renowned composers Anthony Cheung (solo piano), Derek Bermel (duo), and Joel Thompson (song). The winners will premiere these works in recital in Music Academy’s Hahn Hall during the opening week of the 2024 Summer Festival. 

The Duo Competition is generously endowed by Leslie and Philip Bernstein

2023 MAX

2023 MAX Fellows (pictured left to right):
Chandler Currier tuba, Luke Sieve bass trombone, Michail Thompson trumpet, Tim Rinehart double bass, Oliver Leitner violin, Aaron You-Xin Li violin, Molly Prow viola, Sarah Bobrow bassoon, Mary La Blanc percussion, Alejandro Lombo flute, Jiho Seo cello, and Patrick Baek cello.

This summer, 72 instrumental fellows auditioned for the 2023 MAX (Music Academy Exchange) program with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). Five LSO guest musicians David Cohen, Gareth Davies, Clare Duckworth, Peter Moore, and Nigel Thomas worked with the fellows in person this summer and adjudicated the audition, selecting 12 winners.

The Music Academy will send the cohort to London this fall to train and perform alongside the LSO. The intensive, 10-day residency includes lessons and coaching with LSO members. Each fellow receives a $1,500 award, plus travel, housing, and meals. They will perform under the baton of Susanna Mälkki for the following two programs:

Thu, Nov 30, 2023, Barbican Centre

Susanna Mälkki conductor, Kirill Gerstein piano

GEORGE BENJAMIN Concerto for Orchestra

PAUL HINDEMITH Symphony: Mathis der Maler


Sun, Dec 3, 2023, Barbican Centre

Susanna Mälkki conductor, Kirill Gerstein piano

CLAUDE DEBUSSY Three Nocturnes

MAURICE RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand

ALEXANDER SCRIABIN Symphony No. 4, ‘The Poem of Ecstasy’

The Music Academy and the London Symphony Orchestra have had a vibrant partnership spanning six years. This transatlantic collaboration has provided 75 Music Academy alums with an opportunity to work with some of the world’s top conductors, perform side-by-side with LSO musicians, experience the European approach to music making, and share best practices in education and community engagement. Music Academy is grateful to the London Symphony Orchestra for collaborating to provide these transformative experiences for musicians on the cusp of an orchestral career .

Support for the London Symphony Orchestra partnership has been provided in part by Linda and Michael Keston.


The Innovation Institute empowers fellows and alums to use their goldmine of creative skills to blaze trails as artists of impact, seeding the musical landscape with new ideas and approaches. 

Awardee Niv Ashkenazi discusses slow motion practice technology with fellow Danny Jin.


This year, nine Music Academy alums, representing seven ventures, received Alumni Enterprise Awards (at either the Founder or Prototype Award levels). 105 applications were reviewed by 27 Music Academy leaders and affiliates.

Founder Awards were given to leaders with a track record of spearheading innovative projects. These awardees received training at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Design Thinking Program and up to $10,000 in support for entrepreneurial projects at their organization. 

 Prototype Awards were given to alums developing new ventures poised for impact. These awardees received project development opportunities at Music Academy’s Summer Festival and up to $2,500 in entrepreneurial funding. 

Applications for 2024 Alumni Enterprise Awards open Oct 16.

Founder Awardees & Projects

Molly Carr / ’07 alum, viola

New York, NY
Founder & Artistic Director, Project: Music Heals Us: global performance and education initiatives for refugees, elderly, and those hospitalized and incarcerated

Bruno Lourensetto ’12 alum, trumpet / Camila Barrientos Ossio ’11, ’12 alum, clarinet

Bolivia & Brazil
Founders & Artistic Directors, La Sociedad Boliviana de Música de Cámara | Projects: Música para Respirar Festival in Sucre, Bolivia, featuring the commission of MATILDE en las Ojeras de la Noche; Real-time video concerts for patients across Latin America

Brenda Patterson / ’00 alum, mezzo-soprano

Charlottesville, VA
Co-Founder and Director of Music, Victory Hall Opera | Projects: producing Orpheus & Erica; a ground-breaking production for Deaf and hearing performers and audiences; multi-city tour of Ned Rorem’s "Evidence of Things Not Seen"

Tim Maines / ’22 alum, trombone

New Haven, CT
@trombonetimo, social media guru / influencer with millions of views on multiple platforms, increasing exposure for classical music

Prototype Awardees & Projects

Niv Ashkenazi / ’11 alum, violin

Los Angeles, CA
Project: Eye for Technique; an online consulting practice that brings a new, slow-motion technology developed to guide violinists towards greater artistry and understanding of their own playing

John Irrera ’08 alum, violin / Annie Stevens ’06 alum, percussion

Blacksburg, VA
Project: Practice 10K; an app/practice hub that helps musicians reach their performance goals by assisting in structuring practice sessions (with functionality to plan sessions, share data, and gamify key processes)

Alexandra Smither / ’16 alum, soprano

Houston, TX
Project: New Community Songbook; expanding the tradition & impact of communal singing by creating movement songs, in collaboration with organizers, poets, and composers, that demonstrates how classical music can operate in new, vital spheres


8 new ventures were selected for the final round of the Fast Pitch Awards, presented before a live audience on July 21, 2023. Solo piano fellow Priscila Navarro was named the winner for her project Peru Piano: an anthology for inclusive education. Watch the video of her winning pitch.

Learn about all the finalists and their innovative concepts here.

The Innovation Institute is generously supported by Lead Sponsor, the Ladera Foundation, with additional support provided by Marcy Carsey, Bobby Woods, and Cheryl & Peter Ziegler.

(click to view bio)

2023 competition winner
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Brian Cho
vocal piano
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Navasard Hakobyan
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Danny Yehun Jin
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Ji Youn Lee
collaborative piano
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Priscila Navarro
Solo Piano fellow
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Szuyu Su
Solo Piano

(click to view bio)

2023 LSO MAX Winners
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Patrick Baek
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Mary La Blanc
percussion / timpani
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Sarah Bobrow
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Chandler Currier
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Oliver Leitner
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Aaron You-Xin Li
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Alejandro Lombo
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Molly Prow
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Tim Rinehart
double bass
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Jiho Seo
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Luke Sieve
bass trombone
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Michail Thompson


Located in Santa Barbara, the Music Academy creates a space where exceptional talent can thrive by encouraging artists to stretch, experiment, improvise, and play. We give artists the tools they need to become not just great musicians but great leaders. 

The Music Academys year round programs are: Sing!, a children’s choir free of charge for all participants that performs with local, national, and international partners; the annual eight-week Summer School & Festival which trains up to 140 fellows ages 18-34 and presents more than 120 performances and events, competitions, and a fully staged opera; the MAX (Music Academy Exchange) partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra; the Innovation Institute’s Alumni Enterprise Awards; and the Mariposa Series of concerts by Academy-affiliated artists. For more information, visit

released: October 11, 2023

photos: Zach Mendez

(Innovation photos courtesy of artist)


Kate Oberjat (she/her/hers)
Senior Director of Content Marketing & Digital Experience
Music Academy
805-695-7908 /


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