The Department of Music holds a biennial Concerto Competition, which is open to all registered students at the University and to all members of the performance ensembles. The 2023 competition had a remarkable variety of musicians audition, demonstrating the incredible level of talent and achievement amongst our UChicago students. The judges had a difficult time choosing the winners, but ultimately decided to name two winners of this year’s Concerto Competition.
Samantha Ma, violin
Samantha Ma is a third-year at the College majoring in economics with a statistics and visual arts double-minor. From Akron, OH, Samantha began playing the violin at age 7, studying under Ping Qin of the Akron Symphony and later Wei Fang Gu of the Cleveland Orchestra. Before college, she performed with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra for six years—joining the group on two international tours to China and Europe, as well as serving the positions of Principal Second Violinist and Assistant Concertmaster. At UChicago, Samantha is a volunteer music teacher through the South Side Free Music Program and has been a member of the University Symphony Orchestra violin section since her first year. In the rest of her free time, she enjoys putting on cultural activities with UChicago’s Chinese Undergraduate Students Association, drawing, learning new instruments, and busking with friends on the streets of Cleveland.
She will perform the third movement of Antonín Dvořák's Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53 on Saturday, May 6, and Sunday, May 7 with the University Symphony Orchestra.
Catherine Charles, piano
Catherine Charles is a fourth-year studying Economics with a minor in Music and is a joint master’s degree candidate in Computer Science at the University of Chicago. Born and raised in Medan, Indonesia, Catherine started learning the piano at five years old. Catherine has placed in several local and international competitions, including claiming Third Prize at the Hong Kong Asia Pacific Beethoven Piano Competition, First Prize at the Indonesia National Piano Festival, and Second Prize at the La Pianista Piano Competition, among others. She is also a holder of the Diploma of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (DipABRSM) in piano performance. Coming to the United States for college has allowed Catherine to explore music from a different perspective and enabled her to engage further in the music community. She has been an active participant of the university’s Piano Program in all four years of college and has performed in several of the program’s Tea Time Concerts and masterclasses. Catherine previously studied with Holly Hester for almost ten years and currently studies with Dr. Eugenia Jeong.
She will perform the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 with the University Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, May 13.
The judges also selected two Honorable Mention awardees: Siyang Calvin Dai, viola (William Walton: Concerto for Viola and Orchestra) and Yini Sun, erhu (Houyuan Wu: Red Plum Capriccio for erhu and orchestra). Congratulations to all!