Winners Named in Oberlin’s 2021 Senior Concerto Competition

Four instrumentalists will perform with the Oberlin Orchestra in April and May 2022.

November 18, 2021

Cathy Partlow Strauss ’84

Leo Choi, David Lee, Johnum Palado, and Evyn Levy.
Oberlin's Senior Concerto Competition winners for 2021 (clockwise from top left): Leo Choi, David Lee, Johnum Palado, and Evyn Levy.

Oberlin Conservatory punctuated the fall semester with the annual Senior Concerto Competition. Students who brought winning performances have been awarded spring-semester solo appearances with the Oberlin Orchestra in historic Finney Chapel.

The winners and works that emerged from the 2021 field are Leo Choi in Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto, Op. 38; David Lee, who performed Sergei Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante in E Minor for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 125; Evyn Levy, with Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto; and Johnum Palado, with Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63.

Each student will present their winning repertoire in free, public concerts with the Oberlin Orchestra under the direction of Raphael Jiménez. The performances will be part of the Fridays at Finney series during April and May 2022, with specific dates to be announced at the beginning of the 2022 spring semester. These concerts are presented for in-person audiences and are streamed live.

All fourth- and fifth-year performance majors, as well as Artist Diploma students, were eligible to compete. They were adjudicated by conservatory faculty in the first round, and finalists moved forward to a public round in Finney Chapel with a guest jury.

The four esteemed artists who served on the jury included Norman Fischer ’71, professor of cello at Rice University Shepherd School of Music; Alexander Korsantia, professor of piano at New England Conservatory; Bramwell Tovey, a conductor, pianist, composer, principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra, and music director designate of the Sarasota Orchestra; and Alain Trudel, a conductor, trombonist, composer, and music director of the Toledo Symphony.

About the winners

A native of Hong Kong, Pui Wang (Leo) Choi began playing the piano at age 5 and joined the junior music program of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) at age 8. He has presented concerts in the U.S. and Hong Kong, including Oberlin’s Danenberg Honors Recital and numerous public recitals held by HKAPA. Choi has earned prizes at numerous competitions throughout China including the 2016 Asian Youth Music Competition. He has studied with pianists such as Robert Levin and Jacques Rouvier at the Mozarteum, and has attended numerous music festivals. He regularly participates in master classes presented by Oberlin Conservatory and the Beijing International Music Festival and Academy, where he has studied with Dang Thai Son, Stanislav Ioudenitch, and Yun Lin Yang. At Oberlin, Choi is a student of Angela Cheng.

Cellist David Lee was raised in Daegu, South Korea, where he studied with cellists Domzal Jaroslaw, John Koen, and Kyung-suk Park. He was selected for membership in the Daegu Genius Youth Orchestra and participated in its 2010 concert tour with performances at Philadephia’s Kimmel Center and in New York City at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. He has participated in numerous young artist music competitions, taking first prizes in the competition of the Gyeongbuk Arts High School, the Junior Cello Competition of the Music Association of Korea, and the Junior Competition of Eumak-Chunchu in Seoul. In 2014, Lee won first prize at the TBC Concours, earning a performance with the Daegu Philharmonic Orchestra. He entered Oberlin Conservatory to pursue studies with Darrett Adkins. In the United States and abroad, Lee has continued to enter music competitions. He was invited to the Czech Republic to participate and perform in the first round of the 2018 Prague Spring International Music Competition. He won third prize at the 2018 Tuesday Musical Association Scholarship Competition, and he took home the gold prize and Agnew Bach Prize from the 2019 Cleveland Cello Society Competition.

A native of St. Louis, clarinetist Evyn Levy performed as a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Webster Young People’s Symphonic Orchestra before arriving at Oberlin in 2018 to study with Richard Hawkins. Levy is a winner of the Aspiring Artist Concerto Competition, through which she earned a 2018 solo date with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra. She has attended summer festivals including Round Top Festival Institute, Eastern Music Festival, and Boston University Tanglewood Institute. At Oberlin, she has performed in leadership roles with the Oberlin Orchestra and Contemporary Music Ensemble, and has performed in two Winter Term contemporary operas. She is a recipient of the Buder Foundation Music Studies Grant.

Violinist and composer Johnum Palado of Shreveport, Louisiana, has served as concertmaster of the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble and performed in the Danenberg Honors Recitals. He gained additional training and experience at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, Texas Music Festival, and Taneycomo Festival Orchestra, among others, and he has performed in master classes with Emanuel Borok, Alexander Kerr, Ayano Ninomiya, Guillaume Sutre, and the Apple Hill String Quartet. His compositions have been performed by Presidio Brass and the clarinet-viola duo VIOLET. Palado serves in numerous churches as a violinist, pianist, and organist throughout Shreveport and Oberlin. This work has led to a collaboration, with Oberlin Conservatory cellist Simon Housner, called the Sacred Heart Concert Series, which engages the local community with student performances outside of the conservatory setting. Palado also works for the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra as an assistant conductor and sectional coach. He is a student of David Bowlin.

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