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Four Students Honored in Oberlin's 2014 Concerto Competition

October 13, 2014

Josie Davis

The four winners in concert attire
Winners of the 2014 Concerto Competition: San Jittakarn, Marika Yasuda, Jesse McCandless, and Yihui Liu (from left).
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Pianists San Jittakarn, Marika Yasuda, and Yihui Liu, and clarinetist Jesse McCandless were winners of the Oberlin Conservatory’s 2014 Concerto Competition, which took place October 11 in historic Finney Chapel.

All four students are seniors at Oberlin, and each will perform their winning repertoire in free, public concerts with Oberlin’s orchestras under the direction of Raphael Jiménez. The performances are scheduled throughout the academic year and will be held in Finney Chapel.

A native of Thailand, pianist San Jittakarn will perform Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Oberlin Orchestra on Friday, December 5. Jittakarn began playing piano at age 5 and later studied with French pianist Sébastien Koch at Thailand’s Mahidol University. He has won numerous awards abroad, including first prize in the 8th National Piano Competition in Bangkok and the HRH Galyani Vadhana Award. In the spring of 2014, he won Oberlin’s John Elvin Piano Prize and the Arthur Dann Piano Competition. Jittakarn is a student of Monique Duphil.

Pianist Marika Yasuda of Williamsburg, Virginia, will perform the Barber Piano Concerto with the Oberlin Orchestra on Saturday, April 11. A student of Alvin Chow and Philip Highfill, Yasuda is a double major in piano performance and vocal accompaniment. She has received top prizes at the Harold Protsman Classical Period Piano Competition and has performed in master classes for celebrated artists such as Leon Fleisher, Robert McDonald, Nelita True, and Stanislav Ioudenitch. In January 2013, Yasuda made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Oberlin Orchestra during its New York tour, and she performed at the Kennedy Center in the spring of 2014.

Clarinetist Jesse McCandless of Colton, California, will perform the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto with the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra on Tuesday, May 5. A student of Richard Hawkins, McCandless has participated in many chamber and orchestral ensembles throughout his time at Oberlin. He performed at the Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival with the Contemporary Music Ensemble, twice at the Kennedy Center, and as a soloist and chamber musician at the Oberlin in Oakton concert series. McCandless has collaborated with eighth blackbird and recently performed in a master class for the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic. He is a member of the reed trio Third Rail, which has served as ensemble in residence at Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings.

Senior pianist Yihui Liu will perform Prokofiev’s second piano concerto with the Oberlin Orchestra on Friday, May 8. A native of China, Liu has been awarded top prizes in numerous competitions, including the Beacon International Youth Piano Competition in Beijing, the Hong Kong-Asia Piano Open Competition, and the Shanghai International Youth Piano Competition. A student of Robert Shannon, Liu has been the recipient of the Serkin Award and the John Elvin Piano Prize.

All four performances begin at 8 p.m. and will be live-streamed at

About the Competition 

An annual tradition, the Oberlin Conservatory Concerto Competition takes place every October and is open to conservatory seniors and artist diploma students. A guest jury adjudicates the public finals round. The three esteemed guests who served on the 2014 concerto competition jury included pianist Anton Nel, trombonist Bradley Kerns, and cellist Hans Jørgen Jensen.

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