Congratulations to the Winners of the 2020

LMSO Young Artist Competition !

1st Place & Grand Prize Winner

Austin Huang

2nd Place & Grand Prize Winner

Julia Benitez-Nelson

3rd Place Winner

Arjun Verma

Austin Huang ,  a 16 years old sophomore at Dutch Fork High School. has studied violin since age 5 with Mrs Mary Hoyt, Dr. Rebecca Hunter, and Dr. William Terwilliger.  From 2018 through 2020, Austin has occupied the top two chairs of Midlands Region Orchestra and SC All-State Orchestra and he was the winner of Music Clubs Scholarship Audition in years 2018 and 2019.  In the summer of 2019, Austin performed as a soloist with an orchestra in the Archbishop Palace in Czech Republic.   Austin is currently the concertmaster of SC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.   In early 2020, he won the Solo Concerto Competition of SC Youth Philharmonic and the Young Artist Competition held by Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra and will perform the rigorous Symphonie Espagnole by Edouard Lalo with both orchestras in April and May 2020.

Austin also enjoys chamber music. He along with three members of SC Youth Philharmonic formed “Saluda String Quartet” to participate in UofSC Chamber Day and Competition with the Parker Quartet and got third place (pre-college) in 2019. They plan to perform Dvorak's  “American Quartet” for the competition again in April 2020. 

Austin ranks 6th place in his class at Dutch Fork High School’s STEM Program.  He is also a member of the Cross-Country Varsity Team.   

Julia Benitez-Nelson is the principal flutist of the South Carolina Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.  As part of the SCYPO, she received the Cornelia Freeman Young Musician Award for leadership, service and outstanding musicianship. She was also named the Outstanding Middle School Bandsman from the Theta Chapter (South Carolina) of the International Bandmasters Fraternity Phi Beta Mu.  Julia has been the principal flutist in the Richland 1 Honor, Festival, and Region 3 Bands, and a member of the SC All-State Band for the past 4 years.  She was the recipient of a 2017 Music Club Scholarship, winner of the 2017 South Carolina Flute Society Junior Artist Competition, and selected to play in Rising Stars Piccolo Spoleto.   In 2019, she received 1st place in the New Jersey Flute Society High School competition and 2nd place in the South Carolina Flute Society Senior Artist competition.  Julia is a student of Dr. Emily Stumpf.   In addition to music, Julia is a dedicated athlete and currently runs cross country and plays varsity soccer.  She is also an outstanding student, maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA.  She is a current 10th grader at Dreher High School, Columbia, SC.

Arjun Verma is a native of South Carolina and has lived in Irmo for his entire life.  He started playing the cello in 5th grade, but only began to take private lessons and study seriously at the beginning of his Junior year.  Having taken private  lessons for about 1-1/2 years now,  he is currently studying with Jacqueline Taylor Hendricks, and truly loves to play the cello.   Arjun has worked hard for the past 1-1/2 years to catch up with his peers who have studied for much longer, and his hard work has paid off.   He is the first chair cellist in the SC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, and recently made third chair in South Carolina's All-State Orchestra.   Arjun enjoys music from the late romantic era, and says, "my favorite composer is probably Mahler, although Saint-Saens comes close."   In addition to his love of music,  Arjun states that "I love to cook international cuisine (French and Italian foods being my favorite) and I also love to read (Dostoyevsky is my favorite author)."