The Final Forte

Young Artist

The Final Forte

Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 6:45 p.m., Overture Hall

The Final Forte finalists are selected from a group of young Wisconsin artists who competed in the Bolz Young Artist Competition’s two preliminary rounds. The event gives these four artists the chance to perform a movement from a concerto with the MSO.

The performance will be rebroadcast on the following stations:

The Wisconsin Channel (WPT-2):
Friday, March 6 at 8:00 p.m. & 11:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 7 at 3:00 p.m.
Thursday, March 12 at 3:00 a.m.

Wisconsin Public Radio:
Sunday, March 1 at 12:30 p.m.

Congratulations to Michael Wu and Jessica Jiang, 2020 winners!
Learn more about all four finalists:

Jessica Jiang, Piano
Piece: Prokofiev Concerto 3, Mvt. 1
School: Madison Memorial High (Grade 11)

A 15-year-old junior, Jessica Jiang has been playing piano since she was four and has been studying piano with Mr. Bill Lutes since age 11. Jessica returns to perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra after being named a winner of the 2018 Bolz Young Artist Competition. She is also one of four finalists in the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra’s 2020 Richard Record Rising Stars Concerto Competition.

Jessica was the 2020 winner of the Kristo Orthodontics Young Artist Competition, and has recently won titles in the National Steinway & Sons Piano Competition, Wisconsin Youth Piano Competition, and the Great Composers Competition series. She has also performed at the Green Lake Festival of Music and on The Midday.

Besides playing piano, Jessica has been studying violin since she was ten and plays with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. Jessica loves art, math, writing and speech. She serves as a co-editor-in-chief of her high school paper, and is a captain of the Tennis Varsity Team.

Jonah Kartman, Violin
Piece: Saint-Saens Concerto, Mvt. 1
School: Homeschool (Grade 12), Glendale

At 18 years old, Jonah Kartman is a scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy, a training center for advanced pre-college musicians. He studies violin with I-Hao Lee at DePaul University.

Since his debut performance as soloist with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra at age 12, Jonah has been an active local performer and competitor. In recent years, Jonah has performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and earned titles in the Audrey G. Baird Concerto competition, Civic Music Milwaukee Competition, Menomonee Falls Concerto Competition, and Milwaukee’s Bach Double concerto competition. Jonah was also nominated to participate in the Chicago Philharmonic’s Spotlight Program and performed with them as a featured artist in Pick-Staiger Hall.

An avid chamber musician, Jonah has performed with his mother and father as violinist of the Antioch trio, and participated in chamber programs provided by Milwaukee Youth and Chicago Youth orchestras.

Emily Hauer, Violin
Piece: Sibelius Concerto, Mvt. 1
School: Homeschool (Grade 12), Appleton

Emily Hauer is a 12th-grade violin student of Ms. Ilana Setapen, Associate Concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Emily has been playing violin since she was two years old, and has performed with the Milwaukee, Madison, Oshkosh, and Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestras, the Green Bay Civic Symphony, and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. She has appeared on radio shows including From the Top and twice on The Midday, and recently received the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award.

Emily is currently in her fourth year as concertmaster of the Fox Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra, and will be pursuing a degree in violin performance in the fall.

Michael Wu, Piano
Piece: Liszt Totentanz
School: Sun Prairie High (Grade 12)

A senior at Sun Prairie High School, Michael Wu, age 17, has captured numerous awards ever since he started playing the piano at age 5. Michael returns to compete in The Final Forte after being named a winner in 2017.

At the age of 12, after capturing first prize at the 2015 Wisconsin Youth Piano Competition, Michael was the featured soloist in six of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Youth Outreach Concerts. Last year, Michael was appointed a Junior Juror of the PianoArts North American Competition, making him one of the youngest members in the jury’s history. He has also earned recent titles in the inaugural Steinway and Sons Competition, MTNA Wisconsin State Competitions, and WMTA State Competitions. He was a finalist in the inaugural Overture Center ‘Rising Stars’ Talent Search and has made several appearances on The Midday.

Michael studies with Mr. Bill Lutes, artist-in-residence at the UW-Madison School of Music. In addition to the piano, Michael is the principal clarinetist of his high school’s Wind Ensemble. In his spare time, Michael enjoys travel, gastronomy, physics, and spending time with his family.

View the Program for the Performance

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.

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.

– Past Finalist

This was a deeply meaningful event for me because it was my first solo appearance with an orchestra. It truly felt like a dream.

– Past Finalist

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

– John DeMain, MSO Music Director

View photos…

Click images for captions.

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 Public Radio

Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte was funded by major support from Diane Ballweg, Stephen Morton, W. Jerome Frautschi, A. Paul Jones Charitable Trust, Julie and Larry Midtbo, Fred and Mary Mohs, and Elizabeth Olson, with additional support from Bell Laboratories, James Dahlberg and Elsebet Lund, Kato Perlman, Cyrena and Lee Pondrom, Sentry Insurance Foundation, Darcy Kind and Marc Vitale, Dr. A. Beyer-Mears, Nick and Judith Topitzes, the Focus Fund for Young Performers, and Friends of PBS Wisconsin.

Special thanks to Farley’s House of Pianos for providing the pianos for our Young Artist Competition auditions

Farley's House of Pianos