The Final Forte
The Final Forte 2021
The Final Forte finalists were selected from a group of young Wisconsin artists who competed in the Bolz Young Artist Competition’s two preliminary rounds that took place virtually this year. This year’s competition will be presented virtually on a date yet to be announced in the spring of 2021. We will update this page with more information about the virtual event.
We are pleased to announce the results of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s 2021 Bolz Young Artist Competition! The four finalists performed their concerto selections with piano accompaniment for a panel of three judges. Verbal introductions of the finalists and their musical selections were made from the stage by MSO’s Music Director, John DeMain, and MSO’s Director of Education and Community Engagement, Kathryn Schwarzmann.
The Final Forte competition was captured by Audio for the Arts and Painted Post Multimedia in Overture Hall. Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte post-production will be done by PBS Wisconsin. The final production will presented online in the spring, and may also be broadcast.
First place: Sophia Jiang, piano, was awarded the Marian Bolz Prize for Distinguished Musical Achievement and a $2,000 scholarship.
Second place: Dexter Mott, violin, was awarded the Steenbock Youth Music Award and a $2,000 scholarship.
Honorable Mentions: Carrie Wang, violin and Qing Ng, violin each received a $1,000 scholarship.
Qing Ng, Carrie Wang, Dexter Mott, Sophia Jiang
Photo: Peter Rodgers
John DeMain shares his excitement about The Final Forte
All of us here at the Symphony are excited about The (virtual) Final Forte. I was simply blown away by the depth of talent and the extraordinary ability, once again, of these high-school age competitors. Since some of these contestants are seniors, if we didn’t have this competition at all, they would miss the opportunity for substantial cash prizes, opportunity, and recognition. So, I am thrilled to be able to share this event with all of you. Stay tuned to our website for more information about when you can watch the final production. – John DeMain
Kathryn Schwarzmann shares insights about The Final Forte
The 2021 Bolz Young Artist Competition was unlike anything else I have ever produced. Video auditions and masks created a barrier that was necessary and yet still so unfamiliar. But, despite this, our purpose was still the same — to celebrate the beauty of music and applaud the hard work, dedication and talent that is ever present among our young musicians. Indeed, the beauty of music has not gone anywhere — the same magnificent sounds of students who had perfected their art still rang through Overture Hall the night of the live final round. I hope students and audiences, alike, will be inspired by the competition this year, as I was. Sometimes, giving up so much of what we considered normal is a gift. We are able to see the value of the work we do and the real reasons we do it. Those real reasons are still with us — nothing can take that away. When we are all able to be together for an event in the future that looks like what we have remembered, something will be different: We will be able to cherish those things that are lasting and valuable that much more. – Kathryn Schwarzmann
Sophia Jiang shares thoughts about performing in The Final Forte
Throughout almost a year of the pandemic, music has been one of the biggest things that has given people faith and connected people around the globe. Whether it be singing on balconies, virtual orchestral performances, or concerts through screens, we have been able to share our appreciation for music. I hope that my performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major is able to touch and inspire people as much as I have been inspired through this special time.
I am very excited to play in the Overture Center for the second time. It is an honor to perform with my sister, Jessica, in such a beautiful hall, along with playing a wonderful concerto! The Ravel piano concerto is a 20th century work that displays many genres of music, including blues and Neoclassicism, demonstrating how multiple types of music can be intertwined. While this is a very difficult concerto for both the soloist and the orchestra, it is extremely fun to play together. Someday, I really hope to play it with MSO and other orchestras.
While the entire world is in lockdown, I feel so lucky to be able to collaborate with my own sister in the same household. She helped make this concerto possible. Thanks to her, we can share this wonderful concerto with other people! We are so excited and can’t wait to play.
Even though I cannot play with the Madison Symphony at this time, I truly believe it will be a thrilling, unique adventure nonetheless. Thanks to the MSO for organizing this great event and giving young artists the opportunities, despite all the difficulties that we have been experiencing. Also, thank you to my piano teacher, Mr. Bill Lutes, and to the rest of my family. – Sophia Jiang
Congratulations to our 2021 Finalists!
Sophia Jiang, Piano
Piece: Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major, Mvt. 1.& 3
School: Madison Memorial High School (Grade 9)
Sophia is a fourteen-year old freshman. She has been playing piano since she was four. Her current teacher is Mr. Bill Lutes and her previous teacher was Mrs. Linda Bramlett. In 2021, Sophia was the winner of Walter A. and Dorothy J. Oestreich Concerto Competition of the Concord Chamber Orchestra, and represented Wisconsin in the MTNA National Student Competitions in the Junior Piano category. Sophia was a winner of the National Steinway Junior Piano Competition (1st place, Division II, Appleton site, 2019; 2nd place, Division II, Madison site, 2018). She was the first place winner of the 2017 Wisconsin Youth Piano Competition organized by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and PianoArts, a winner of the 2017 Madison Symphony Orchestra Fall Youth Concerto Competition, and a winner of the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association (WMTA) State Badger Keyboard Competition from 2017 to 2019. She also won multiple prizes in the global online Great Composers Competition series in 2017, taking First Prize in Best Mozart Performance, and Second Prize in Best Chopin Performance and Artist of the Year in age group II. In 2017, Sophia also received honorable mention in the Midwest Young Artists Walgreens National Concerto Competition. She performed in various masterclasses taught by world famous pianists, including Roberto Plano, Paola Del Negro and Shai Wosner. Sophia debuted at the Overture Center in Madison, Wisconsin in 2017, and performed multiple times as the piano soloist in piano concertos with professional orchestras including the Madison Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro John DeMain in 2017, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Yaniv Dinur in 2018. As past winner, Sophia was invited to perform at the 2019 PianoArts North American Piano Competition and Festival. In 2020, Sophia was featured in the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Home Is Where the Art Is, Young Artist Series (https://madisonsymphony.org/2020-young-artist-story-sophia-jiang/). In addition to piano, Sophia also plays violin. She has been a member in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) since 2017, and is currently a 2nd violinist in the Youth Orchestra. She was a concert master in the Sinfonietta Orchestra, from which she received the inaugural Mark R. Leiser Award in 2018. She was a winner of the 2020 Philharmonia Orchestra Concerto Competition of WYSO on violin. Sophia loves music, and has participated in many musical activities including school talent shows and recitals. Besides music, she is an avid reader and writer, and excels in tennis.
Dexter Mott, Violin
Piece: Saint Saens Violin Concerto No. 3, Mvt. 1
School: La Follette High School/Madison Area Technical College (Grade 12)
Dexter Mott is a senior in high school dually enrolled at Robert M. LaFollette High School and Madison College in the Early College STEM Academy in Madison, WI. He studies violin with Eugene Purdue.
As a violinist, Dexter’s most outstanding accomplishments include performing the “Violin Concerto in D Minor” by Jean Sibelius with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras as a winner of their concerto competition in 2018, winning the Middleton Community Orchestra’s concerto competition in 2019, being a semi-finalist in both the Milwaukee Stars of Tomorrow and the Bolz Young Artist concerto competitions, and earning many honorable mentions. Other outstanding accomplishments include winning a University of Wisconsin Tuition Remission Scholarship, Interlochen Arts Camp Orchestral Scholarship and Interlochen Arts Award.
Dexter is a member of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras where he performs with the Youth Orchestra and enjoys being a musical ambassador in the chamber music program. He also works as a peer tutor for advanced math at Madison College. When he is not tutoring, studying, or practicing the violin, Dexter enjoys playing the piano, reading, running, biking, fishing, and gaming. Dexter plans to pursue music in college in the Fall of 2021.
Qing Ng, Violin
Piece: Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, Mvt. 3
School: Madison Memorial High School (Grade 10)
Qing Ng, age 16, is a sophomore at Memorial High School and plays the violin. She started playing violin when she was 8 years old, and currently studies with Davis King. She has been a member of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras for 6 years. She received an Honorable Mention in the WYSO Philharmonia Concerto Competition in 2018, and was chosen to perform 2 consecutive years for Summer Music Clinic. She was awarded MVP Award from Jefferson’s Orchestra as well as The Jefferson Award for outstanding academic achievement at the graduation ceremony in Jefferson Middle School. Besides music, she also enjoys other aspects of art such as drawing and painting. Her art was selected before to be displayed at the MMoCA Art Museum in 2013, and she won WYSO’s Art of Note Gala Contest in 2019.
Carrie Wang, Violin
Piece: Mozart, W. A.: Concerto in A Major, K. 219, Mvt. 1
School: Brookfield East High School (Grade 11)
Carrie Wang, age 16, is a 11th grader at Brookfield East High School. Carrie started violin study with Patrick Langer from the Wausau Conservatory of Music, and currently studies with Sang mee Lee at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy. She was the winner of Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra Senior Symphony concerto competition, and has received honorable mentions from Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Stars of Tomorrow competition, DePaul Music Concerto Festival and Confucius Concerto Competition. She has performed for Sibbi Bernhardsson, Danielle Belen, and Glenn Dicterow.
Meet the Judges of The Final Forte 2021
Myung Hee Chung
Professor of Piano,
Professor of Cello and Music Theory,
Associate Professor of Violin and Chamber Music Director,
Performing with the Madison Symphony Orchestra is really a remarkable experience. Working with so many great musicians and Maestro John DeMain inspired me to bring my own playing to a new level. It brought my understanding of my own musicianship and my piece to a different place. It is rare for anyone to work with such a skilled orchestra and conductor, let alone musicians of my age. To be given the entire experience of performing with an orchestra, from speaking with the conductor to the rehearsals and to the concerts, is an experience and opportunity of a lifetime. It has taught me so much as a musician and a person.
This was a deeply meaningful event for me because it was my first solo appearance with an orchestra. It truly felt like a dream.
It is an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to feel the commitment and energy of these young performers and to reflect on the central role the arts play in our lives. I look forward to these events with great joy
View photos from The Final Forte, previous performances.
Click images for captions.
About The Final Forte and Bolz Young Artist Competition
Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte is a free concert broadcast live on PBS Wisconsin and Wisconsin Public Radio. This competition has captured an enormous following and numerous honors, including an Emmy nomination, First Place in the “Special Interest” category from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association in 2007, and fifth most-watched program in the February 2007 Nielsen ratings. The 2008 broadcasts reached more than 60,000 viewers and listeners in the Madison market alone and the 2009 broadcasts reached an estimated 200,000 statewide.
The Bolz Young Artist Competition is a highly-regarded statewide competition in which Wisconsin’s young musicians compete for scholarships and the opportunity to perform as soloists with the MSO. The competition is open to Wisconsin residents in grades 9-12. Previous winners may not compete in consecutive years on the same instrument. Contracted musicians of the MSO are ineligible.
The four semi-finalists compete in The Final Forte, which we anticipate will be broadcast on PBS Wisconsin and Wisconsin Public Radio. Each winner receives a $2000 scholarship and the Marian Bolz Prize for Distinguished Musical Achievement or the Steenbock Youth Music Award. Up to two Honorable Mention scholarships of $1000 may also be awarded.
Thank you to our partners
The Bolz Young Artist Competition is made possible by a generous endowment from
The Eugenie Mayer Bolz Family Foundation
Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte concert and broadcasts are the result of a historic partnership among
Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte was funded by major support from Diane Ballweg, W. Jerome Frautschi and Fred & Mary Mohs, with additional support from Dr. A. Beyer-Mears, James Dahlberg & Elsebet Lund, Darcy Kind & Marc Vitale, Julie & Larry Midtbo, Stephen Morton, Kato Perlman, Cyrena & Lee Pondrom, Sentry Insurance Foundation, Nick & Judith Topitzes, Anders Yocom & Ann Yocom Engelman, the Focus Fund for the Arts and Friends of PBS Wisconsin.
Special thanks to Farley’s House of Pianos for providing the pianos for our Young Artist Competition auditions