Abilene Philharmonic announces Nelda Hodges Young Artist Competition winners


Abilene, Texas (Press Release) – The Abilene Philharmonic’s (APO) 2021 Nelda Hodges Young Artist Competition concluded on March 20th. Of the six students chosen from the pool of contestants for the final round, three placed in the prestigious competition.

The overall winner of the competition was Daniel Bae, an 18-year-old violinist from Lubbock, TX. Daniel is already a seasoned solo competitor, having previously won the Vernell Gregg Young Artist Competition, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition, and Lynn Harrell Concerto Competition, among others. Daniel was also named as a finalist in the Stulberg International String Competition in 2020 and

appeared on NPR’s From the Top in 2018. Daniel performed “Café 1930” from Astor Piazzolla’s “Histoire du tango” and the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D major.” Daniel received a $1,500 scholarship for his placement in the competition.

Second place was award to Christopher Dechant, a 16-year-old clarinetist at Lovejoy High School in Lucas, TX. Christopher is a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra in the prestigious Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra and has been a member of the TMEA All-State Band and Orchestra programs each of the last two years. Christopher performed the first movement of Mozart’s “Concerto in A major” and Bela Kovac’s “Hommage a JS Bach.” Christopher received a $1,000 scholarship for his placement in the competition.

Third place was awarded to Kyle Boschen, an 18-year-old euphonium player at Randall High School in Amarillo, TX. Kyle has been an active competitor around Texas, being named to the Texas 6A All-State Band in all of his sophomore, junior, and senior years. Kyle performed Jiro Censhu’s “A Walk in the Woods” and Herbert Clarke’s “Carnival of Venice.” Kyle received a $750 scholarship for his placement in the competition.

The scholarship prizes can be used by the winners in ways that allow them to further their music education, including things like instrument repairs, supplies, private lessons, and music camps.

This year’s other finalists were (name, age, instrument, city):

  • Owen Bailey, 16, oboe, Abilene
  • Sarah Ellyce Chen, 13, piano, Lubbock
  • Abigail Ketchum, 17, violin, San Angelo

“These students were simply unbelievable,” said Operations Manager Richard Riedl. “They all played tremendously and you could tell they were so grateful to be performing after the way this last year has gone. I’m glad I didn’t have to choose the winners because I would still be deciding!”

The APO sought to broaden the geographical reach of the competition this year and as a result hosted finalists from San Angelo, Lubbock, Lucas, and Amarillo, as well as Abilene. In addition to having a wide range of cities represented in the final round, a wide range of ages also featured, with some contestants as old as 18 and some as young as 13.

The Nelda Hodges Young Artist Competition (NHYAC) was established through an endowment in 2008 by Eddie Hodges to honor his wife. He hoped establishing this competition would inspire and reward young peoples’ passion for music, and this year’s turnout honors that vision.

One of the most unique components of the competition has been the tradition of the prize-winners getting to perform as soloists with the Abilene Philharmonic. Former 1st place winner Halle Puckett (now a masters piano student at the Peabody Conservatory)

performed with the Philharmonic for the second time in January of 2020. Faith Fang, a more recent prize-winner, will be performing with the orchestra in Spring of 2022.

The Abilene Philharmonic unleashes the power of music to entertain, educate, and inspire through live symphonic music and community engagement.

For more information, view their website at abilenephilharmonic.org or call their box office at 325.677.6710.

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