Eleventh Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2013)

julia rupp

Julia Rupp, a senior at Warwick Valley High School, is the winner of the orchestra's 11th annual Concerto-Aria Contest. She will perform Camille Saint-Saëns' "Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33."

Rupp has played the cello for seven years, having studied with Jennifer Green, a teacher at the Pre College-Manhattan School of Music, for the past three years. Rupp is the principle cellist in her high school chamber orchestra and has twice been awarded principle cellist in the Orange County Music Educators' Association (OCMEA) All-County Symphony Orchestra.

She has participated in the Zone 9 Area All-State Symphony Orchestra for the past three years, and in December 2011 was selected to perform in the New York All-State Symphony Orchestra, in Rochester, New York. Rupp is also an active in the middle school and high school drama clubs. She has performed in the pit orchestra of "The Music Man," "Oliver," and "Cats."

In addition, Rupp has been a member of the Allegro Youth Orchestra in Monroe and has attended several summer camps, including: New England Music Camp in Sydney, Maine; New York Summer Music Festival (NYSMF) in Oneonta; and, most recently, the Aria International Summer Academy, Mt. Holyoke, Mass. She is an active member of the choir of Christ Church in Warwick and will frequently accompany the choir or perform a solo during services. She has performed contemporary music with local musician Ava Heatley at Applefest and at the Railroad Green in Warwick. She plans to pursue a degree in Instrumental Performance in college.

Tenth Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2012)

Michael KolbMichael Kolb

Kolb is 17 years old and a senior at Newburgh Free Academy. For the past three years, he has studied voice with Ron DeFesi. As a tenor, Michael performs frequently with the Hudson Opera Theater. With the Hudson Opera Theater he has sung the role of Mercury in Offenbach's Orpheus and Guccio, in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. In addition, he has participated in performances of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, Saint-Saën's Samson et Dalila, Haydn's Paukenmesse, Händel's Israel in Egypt, Mozart's Requiem and in the spring will perform in a fully staged production of Verdi's Aïda. He plays piano and guitar and also composes. Michael would like to thank his mother and father for being supportive. He plans to continue studying voice and attend college in the fall.

Erik Bjorkman

BJorkman is a senior at Monroe-Woodbury High School and has studied cello for more than eight years. For the past year, he has studied privately with Eileen Moon of the New York Philharmonic. Bjorkman performs in a variety of MWHS music ensembles including Chamber Orchestra, Voice Ensemble, Combined Symphony Orchestra, and a string quartet. Within the M-W Drama Club he has acted in "You Can't Take it with You," "Charlotte's Web," "Beauty and the Beast," "Hairspray," and the "Wizard of Oz." Erik also participated in the 2009 and 2010 Souza Scholarship Productions of "Brigadoon" and "The Secret Garden."

Musically, he has been an active participant in numerous All-County festivals, Area All-State performances, and has been named an alternate for two consecutive years at the All-State NYSSMA festival. He has also attended the Ithaca College Summer Music Camp and the New York Summer Music Festival at SUNY Oneonta. Bjorkman is also a member of the Jubilate Youth Choir of Warwick and has sung Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" at Carnegie Hall in 2010 and John Rutter's "Mass of the Children" in 2012. He was a member of the OCYS Symphony Orchestra, participating in concert tours in Bejing, China and most recently in Prague, Czech Republic. Since 2006, Erik has been a member of the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra. He plans to pursue a music education major with a minor in history in college.

Ninth Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2011)

Ashley HeilweilAshley Heilweil

Heilweil is a music performance student at SUNY Orange where she performs with the Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers under the direction of Christa Damaris.

From early in her elementary school years, she has played clarinet and sung soprano. As a student at Goshen High School, she participated in Advanced Concert Choir and Women's Choir. Her first appearances on stage were in the high school musicals "42nd Street" and "Beauty and the Beast."

At SUNY Orange, Heilweil performed the role of Ainsley in "Back Story" and participated in last year's Student Recital sponsored by the Arts and Communication Department. In the past three years, while working with the Hudson Opera Theatre, she has appeared in "Dialogues of the Carmelites," "Orpheus in the Underworld," "Sex and Violence: The World of Grand Opera," and most recently performed in concerts of the Mozart Requiem. She is currently studying with Ron DeFesi and plans to audition for major conservatories to further her music career.

Audrey ZyburaAudrey Zybura

Audrey Zybura, a senior at Washingtonville High School, serves as section leader of the school's Wind Ensemble.

She began her flute studies with Nicole Jones when she was a fifth grader. She has participated in several music festivals including the All-County, All-Area All-State, NYSBDA Honors Band, and was an alternate for the 2009 and 2010 All-State conferences. She also performs with the SUNY New Paltz College-Youth Symphony Orchestra (and Wind Ensemble) and the Hudson Valley Honors Youth Wind Ensemble. She plays nearly every Sunday morning with the Praise Band at the Monroe United Methodist Church and has attended the Crane Youth Music Summer Camp.

In 2009, Zybura visited Germany and Austria during the summer with the American Music Abroad Empire Tour and was featured in a master class given by Claire Chase, an accomplished professional flutist. Zybura also sings in her church choir and with Washingtonville High School's Chamber Choir. Last year, she completed her Girl Scout Gold Award with a project that was focused on inspiring young flutists. She plans to pursue flute performance and possibly music therapy in college.

Eighth Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2010)

Erica MooreErica Moore

Erica Moore plays the French horn in the Warwick Valley High School Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Band and Low Brass Choir.

She is a frequent member of the Middle School pit orchestras, including performing for Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” “My Fair Lady,” “Into the Woods,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” She first became a member of the horn section of the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra during the summer of 2005.

She participates in numerous All-County festivals, Area All-State performances, and two All-State NYSSMA festivals in Rochester, N.Y.

During the summer of 2008, she had the opportunity to work with musicians from the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra in the New York State Summer School of the Arts’ School of the Orchestral Studies program under the direction of conductor Luis Biava. At NYSSSA, she attended master classes with French hornist Jeffry Kirschen.

During the summer of 2009, she toured Germany and Austria with the America Music Abroad Empire Tour, performing several concerts in the musical cities of Leipzig, Salzburg, and Vienna.

Kaitlyn MesicKaitlyn Mesic

Kaitlyn Mesic performs with the orchestra and student quartets at Goshen High School.

She studied violin with Keely Gould and Emily Faxon for the seven years before winning the award in 2010. She participates in many All-County and Area All-State music festivals. For the six summers before her award, she has attended Crane Youth Music at SUNY Potsdam, playing in quartets and the symphony orchestra.

She has been a member of the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra since the Fall 2006. In the community, Mesic often played for church masses and weddings.

Seventh Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2009)

Justin RandolphJustin Randolph

Justin Randolph was a Music Performance major at SUNY Orange, where he performed with the Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers. He played tuba throughout middle school and high school. Randolph began to sing in various school vocal groups while attending Middletown High School.

During his time at SUNY Orange, Randolph was invited to perform with the Hudson Opera Theatre, appearing as the shepherd in "Tosca" and as Gastone in "La Traviata." His stage credits also included a pair of SummerStar Theatre roles: playing Henrik in "A Little Night Music" and the minister in "A New Brain."

Randolph was studying with Ron DeFesi when he won the 2009 contest and was planning to audition for major conservatories later that year.

Stephen GorgoneStephen Gorgone

Stephen Gorgone had studied viola for more than eight years under the private direction of Emily Faxon and Noriko Herndon when he won the award in 2009. In addition, he studied piano for six years under the tutelage of Celia Herman and Ron Johnson.

Gorgone performed with a variety of Monroe-Woodbury High School groups, including Chamber Orchestra (principal violist), Voice Ensemble (bass and piano accompanist), Strolling Strings, Pit Orchestra, and Chamber Winds. He was the principal violist for the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra and also performed with the College's Chamber Ensemble as a violist and pianist.

Gorgone was selected to perform with numerous music festivals including all-county, area all-state, all-state and was invited to participate in the All-Eastern Orchestra slated for March in Providence, R.I. Gorgone was the 2009 instrumental recipient of the OCMEA Scholarship, performing a solo at the All-County Festival in January. He was also a regular attendee at the New York Summer Music Festival at SUNY Oneonta.

Sixth Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2008)

James RoseJames Rose

James Rose, who studied trumpet for nine years prior to winning the contest in 2008, performs with the Warwick Valley High School Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Pep Band, Pit Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble.

In addition to working with private teacher Eric Parks and Warwick band director Chris Persad, Rose's training included summers with the Crane Youth Music Program and other music camps. He attended master classes with the New York Philharmonic's principle trumpet player, Philip Smith, as well as with Dr. John Ellis, trumpet teacher at the Crane School of Music.

Rose also previously performed with the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra, All-County Band and All-County Jazz Band. He mentored younger musicians in the Warwick Valley Middle School Jazz Band, as well as the Concert Band trumpet players.

Fifth Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2007)

Rachel ConklinRachel Conklin

Rachel Conklin, a home-schooled high school freshman who studied music with Elle Kang in New York City. Conklin was also taught by Karner Warner, Cheryl Blumental and Andrew Zaplatynski. She attended Eastern U.S. Music Camp, Hartwick College Summer Music Festival, and the Credo Chamber Music program at Oberlin Conservatory

Conklin was also concert mistress for OCMEA All County Music Festivals and for the Allegro Orchestra Baroque Ensemble.

Fourth Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2006)

Clare Herceg

Clare Herceg is a junior at Warwick Valley High School where she performs with the Wind Ensemble, Pep Band, and Pit Orchestra. She has studied flute for six years including summers at Signature Music Camp and the Performing Arts Institute. A member of the New York Flute Club, she draws inspiration from their concert series and her teacher Barbara Siesel. Clare has attended master classes with Gary Schocker, Bart Feller, and Jefferey Khaner.

She enjoys playing flute and piccolo for the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra, All-County Band and Orchestra, and NY Area All-State Band. Last year, she led a flute section in Corigliano's Pied Piper Concerto appearing with Carol Vincenc and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Clare would like to thank all her teachers and family for their patience with her practicing and their unconditional support.

Emily Moore

Violist Emily Moore is a junior at Warwick Valley High School. She enjoys performing with the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall, the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra, the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble, and the Warwick Valley High School Orchestra and WVHS Pit Orchestra. She has participated in many Area All-State and All-County Orchestra festivals.

Last summer, she had the opportunity to work with musicians from the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra in the New York State Summer School of the Arts, School of Orchestral Studies program under the direction of the esteemed conductor Russell Stanger. She has studied viola with Donna Kushner for six years and is studying presently with Noriko Herndon. She intends to pursue biochemical engineering and music in college.

Third Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2005)

Lucie Jaronowski

Lucie Jaronowski is a junior at Monroe-Woodbury High Schhol and has been studying violen for eight years. She plays first violin in the school's Chamber Orchestra, Pit Orchestra, and Strolling Strings and actively participates in All-County, Area All-State, and NYSSMA. She enjoys playing chamber music and has been coached by Mrs. Marion Feldman and Mr. Arturo Delmoni of New York University. Lucie currently studies violin with th e inspirational Mrs. Theresa Gao. Lucie would like to thank all the people who have supported her and helped her mature musically over the years. She hopes to continue her musical studies and plans to be a chemistry and violen performance double-major in college.

Tim Takagi

Tim Takagi is currently a senior in the graduating class of 2005 at Middletown High School. He is an active hornist in the M.H.S. Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Marching Band, and Woodwind Quintet, and also performs regularly with the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra, O.C.C.C. Band, and the O.C.C.C. Woodwind quintet.

As a student, he has studied with Mr. Keith Riddick of the Eastman School of Music and with Mrs. Nicole Regan of the Crane School at Potsdam. He would like to thank all of those who have given him the opportunity to play and who have taught him so much about being a musician. He plans to attend the Crane School of Music at Potsdam to study music education this fall.

Second Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2004)

George Courtsunis

George Courtsunis, pianist, is 16 and currently a senior at Newburgh Free Academy. He has been playing the piano since the age of seven, beginning his studies with Florence Grenis and presently studying in the preparatory division of the Manhattan School of Music with Dr. Peter Vinograde. In 1996 and 1997, George received honorable mention at the NYSMTA auditions. George has been a national and international Guild winner for seven years. Last year, George was selected to perform at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall by the Associated Music Teachers League's Young Artists auditions. He regularly performs at the Manhattan School of Music.

Radhika Shah

Radhika Shah is a senior at Warwick Valley High School. She began playing the violin at the age of three and has been udner the instruction of Mrs. Theresa Gao for the past ten years. She has been a member of the All-County Orchestra for seven years and a member of the Area-All State Orchestra for four. She was selected Concert Mistress twice in her musical career, in Elementary All-County and High School All-County. Currently, she is the concert mistress of the Warwick Valley String Orchestra under the direction of Ms. Keely Gould.

Locally, Radhika plays in the pit orchestra of school musicals under the direction of Mr.s Chris Persad. She also spends her free time teaching a sixth grader. Although she has a passion for music, her real ambition lies in medicine. She would like to major in biology and continue onto medical school. Despite her future plans, she plans on continuing her musical studies.

Radhika would like to thank her violin teacher Mrs. Theresa Gao, orchestra director Ms. Keely Gould, piano acommpanist Timothy Getz, and her friends for all of their help and support in making her musical career enjoyable and successful. She woudl also like to thank her parents and her sister for their undying love and encouragement.

First Concerto/Aria Contest Winners (2003)

Sarah tusch

Sarah Tusch is in 9th grade at Monroe-Woodbury Senior High School. She began her msucial studies at the piano at age five, and found atr age nine that her passions is playing violin. Actively involved with her school music activities, Sarah is currently the concert mistress of the MWHS Chamber Orchestra as well as a member of the Strolling Strings and Pit Orchestra for their recent performance of the Wizard of Oz. Sarah has performed in the NYSSMA Zone 9 Area All-State Orchestra and All County Music Festival Orchestras. She is concert mistress of the Allegro Baroque Orchestra with whome she has performed at the White House, Steinway Hall, and in Europe.

Ms. Tusch is a member of the SUNY College/Youth Symphony Orchestra, and this past November was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic/College Youth Symphony Virtuoso in Progress Concerto Competition. Most recently, she performed with members of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic in Circus Minimusm at the Mid-Hudson Civic Cneter. She has participated in the Hartwick College Summer Music Festival, and has been accepted to the New York State Summer School of the Arts (SPAC) this summer.


Valentina Ponochovnaya has studied piano since the age of six when she enrolled at the Tchaikovsky School of Music in Gomel, Belarus. In 1996, she immigrated from Belarus to the United States where she resides in the Village of Monroe.

Presently, she is under the tutelage of Gregg Michalak at the Neighborhood School of Music in Chester, NY. While attending high school she participated in All-Country and State Festivals as well as NYSSMA. During the spring of 2001, she was the featured soloist on piano while performing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Monroe-Woodbury Ensemble under the direction of Richard Regan.

Ms. Ponochovnaya is attending Orange County Community College, where she is actively involved with Cultural Affairs. She pas performed at Orange Hall Gallery openings and was featured in the Rachmaninoff piano recital with classical pianist Will Duchon at the Orange Hall Theater. In may of 2003, Valentina will be graduating with a degree in mathematics.