Paige Zalman is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Performance at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She began playing percussion at age nine and has studied with instructors Matt Andrade, James Boyce, and currently, John Rack. In middle and high school she attended All-District Band five years in a row and received the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award from her high school band director, Jorge Benitez. Since becoming a student at UNCW, she has performed with the Chamber Winds, Wind Symphony, Jazz Ensemble II, and jazz combos, as well as the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed in multiple Honors Recitals and received the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Award for having the top score during the Fall 2015 Honors Recital. Paige is the music tutor at the University Learning Center, instructs percussion students at local high schools, teaches private percussion lessons, and performs around Wilmington with various groups including church ensembles and theater associations. She has plans to go to graduate school after completing her bachelor's degree.
Violinist Alexei Mejouev is a junior in high school and the youngest member ever to join the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. He also plays in the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra, The Accidentals (UNCW based chamber ensemble), his own string quartet, and sings in The Voyagers (advanced choral ensemble at Hoggard High School). Outside of the classical music genre, Alexei plays with a nationally touring Dave Matthews Tribute Band, including a performance at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach and the Downtown Sundown concert series in Wilmington. In addition to his performing schedule, Alexei teaches at a local violin camp in the summer called Fiddlers By the Sea. Not surprisingly, Alexei comes from a musical family. His mother graduated from a music school in Russia and sang with a choir all over Europe, including a performance for the Pope. The family immigrated to the U.S. when Alexei was only 15 months old, and they speak only Russian at home.
David Oh is a senior attending Hoggard High School. He was born in South Korea in 1998 and he moved to the U.S. with his family at the age of three. He has studied the piano for twelve years. In 2013, he received the highest rating, "Superior", as a Senior B competitor at the state contest of the North Carolina Music Teachers Association (NCMTA). He is also the first runner-up and vice-president of the North Carolina Music Association (NCMA) student chapter. He is also a member of National Honors Society and Beta Club and he holds an officer position for Hoggard's Academic Tutoring Program. He attended honorable summer programs sponsored by the state of North Carolina, such as Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics in 2014 and Governor's School of North Carolina as a math student in 2015.
Amelia Smith is 12 years old, and is home-schooled in the 8th grade. She has studied Suzuki violin since age 3 with Anne Stevenson-Stohl and Ashley Kovacs. She has attended several fiddle camps and started playing with the Stevenson-Stohl Studio Tour Group when she was 9. In 2014 she attended the Lamar Stringfield Honors Music Camp at Meredith College. She plans to continue studying violin and is currently working on forming a quintet. She also enjoy ballet, drawing, knitting, sewing, making jewelry, swimming and biking.
The competition was judged by Derison Duarte (Piano Professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina Central University and Duke University), Kevin Lawrence (String Department Chair at the North Carolina School of the Arts), and Jamie Rhodes (Assistant Professor of Voice at East Carolina University). Biographies of judges are available upon request.
Dr. Richard R. Deas helped create the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra in 1971. As the then-Chair of the UNCW Department of Music he assisted in developing the competition in 1976 as a way to give talented young musicians an opportunity to perform with a symphony orchestra.