2016 Suncoast Music Scholarship Winners

Suncoast Music Scholarships, a new Sarasota Music Club and Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota partnership, awarded $22,000 to nine talented young musicians from Sarasota and Manatee counties. The scholarship funds are to be used to pay for music education expenses.

There were 19 schools and 11 music disciplines represented by the 42 students who submitted applications for the awards competition held on April 2 at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center. Nine were selected by the judges to receive music scholarship awards: four high school seniors, three 11th grade students and two 10th grade students. Distinguished judges for this year’s competition were: 12th grade – Joy McIntyre, Katherine Oarr and Rich Ridenour. Judges for 10th and 11th grade auditioners were: Robyn Bell and Thomas Purviance.

The 10th grade students selected for Suncoast Music Scholarship awards of $1,000 each are: Zijiao (Emily) Liu, piano, Out-of-Door Academy; and Cypress Potter, violin, Lakewood Ranch High School.

Judges decided that three 11th grade students should receive scholarship awards, although the program was set up to offer two awards at that grade level. Sarasota Music Club’s board of directors agreed to donate the additional funds needed to support three $2,000 awards. The 11th grade winners are: André DeGrenier, percussion, Booker High School; Joshua Guaita, piano, home schooled; and Sky Stahlmann, voice, home schooled.

High school seniors selected to receive Suncoast Music Scholarships are: Jessie Chiang, violin, Braden River High School – 1st Place, $5,000; Austin B. Canon, tenor trombone, Riverview High School – 2nd Place, $4,000; Skyler Miller, piano, Booker High School – 3rd Place, $3,000; and Brandon Tyler Eggert, trumpet, Riverview High School – 4th Place, $2,000.

The winning seniors performed at the inaugural Suncoast Music Scholarships Awards Luncheon, held at Michael’s on East in Sarasota on April 23.

Although this is the first year for the Suncoast Music Scholarships, both organizations in the partnership have long histories of supporting music education through scholarship programs. Sarasota Music Club has been promoting music education and performance since 1930. An annual competition held by Artist Series Concerts that rotates between voice, piano and string instruments was expanded to a national level this year. Previously a statewide competition, over the past decade that competition has awarded nearly $275,000.

SMS committee co-chair Lee Dougherty Ross, co-founder of Artist Series Concerts and director of outreach and competitions, said, “Supporting young musicians who are aspiring to make a career in sharing music is part of the mission of Artist Series, whether in offering competitions to help acquaint them with the experience and giving them financial support through awards, or by taking performing artists to local schools for the students to observe and hear professional musicians.”

Sarasota Music Club board president Mary Webb said, “The collaboration with the Artist Series Concerts has been a wonderful partnership in that we've been able to help further the music education of so many more young people this year. In the past, Sarasota Music Club aided 12th graders in their pursuit of a musical dream in college, but this year we have not only given large scholarships to college-bound students, we've also been able to help younger high school students in their music growth, thanks to the visionary ideas of the Artist Series Concerts co-founder Lee Dougherty Ross and managing director John Fischer.”

The partnering organizations also offer music performance programs. Sarasota Music Club offers free, member- and donor-supported performances October through March, as well as a program of scholarship winner performances at the annual awards luncheon. Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota presents a 9-month schedule of performances by renowned musicians each year.

Along with Lee Dougherty Ross, the partnership committee was co-chaired by Susan Hicks. Also serving on the committee were Robert W. Barr, Stephen Fancher and John Fischer.

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