Young Artists Competition

2024 Young Artist Winners

The concert will be May 19, 2024 at WEAC in Willmar

Brandon Valladares is a junior at Willmar Senior High School and is the son of Rossana Valladares. For the past three years, he has been taking lessons with James Devoll, a flautist in the twin cities. He was in the 2024 All State Orchestra, was the principal flautist in the Minnesota Band Directors Association 9-10 State Honor band in 2021 & 2022, received best at site awards for solo & ensemble in 2022 & 2024 for solo flute performances, and has received other awards for violin and viola performances. In addition to playing flute, Brandon is a captain of the Willmar Speech Team, captain of the Willmar Boys Varsity Tennis team, has been apart of the Willmar orchestra, chamber orchestra, and jazz band, and was a member of the Willmar Symphony Orchestra in 2021. Brandon is currently unsure on his plans for college, but will most likely go on a pre law track and obtain a major in flute performance. He will be performing “Concertino” By Cecile Chaminade.

Charlie Bortnem attends Dassel-Cokato High School where he is active in choir, band, jazz band and string ensemble. Music mentors are many and include his violin teacher since the age of three, Nathan Wilson, Community Strings founder, Jack Noennig, and older brother/bandmate, Soren Bortnem. A lover of all music genres, he is a member of the jazz combo Close Call, cover band Airborne Attraction, and was a longtime player with the Community Strings. Outside of music, he loves running, trying new foods and spending time with family and friends. He is grateful for this opportunity to play with WASO!

Application for Young Artist Competition

Young Artist Requirements

Former Young Artists

Meet our 2023 Young Artist Competition Winners

Cecilia Buzzeo is a senior at Willmar Senior High School and is the daughter of Christopher and Carla Buzzeo.  For the past 6 years, Cecilia has been a vocal student of Cheryl Schmidt.  She was a member of the 2022 and 2023 Minnesota All-State Choir.  Cecilia received Best of Site awards at the Solo and Ensemble Contest in 2022 and in 2023, earning the honor for both duets and solo pieces. Cecilia is Willmar Sr. High Schools' Class President, Student Council President, and a Captain of the SpeechTeam.  In addition,Cecilia enjoys musical theater, and orchestra.  Cecilia will attend Concordia College in Moorhead, MN this fall and is a proud recipient of Concordia College's Christiansen Award.

Jacob Loerzel is a cellist in the class of 2024 at Willmar Senior High School. He will be performing the first movement of Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor. Jacob is the son of Gregory and Maria Loerzel. He is currently taking weekly online private lessons through the MacPhail Center for Music with James  and Joe Kaiser, funded in part by Music Matters. In addition to playing the cello, Jacob swims for Willmar High School and works as a lifeguard at the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA. Jacob is currently undecided in his college plans, but hopes to continue his cello performance studies and his swimming hobby in college.

Meet our 2022 Young Artist Competition Winner!

Caroline Becker is a senior at Willmar Senior High School. Caroline is the daughter of Shannon and Dale Becker, and has previously taken lessons from Marie Nelson.  She is a current member of the Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra, and was also a participant in the 2021 and 2022 MMEA All-State Orchestras. In addition to playing cello in the Willmar High School orchestra, Caroline also plays the French horn, sings in choir, plays in jazz band, and has been a member of the pit orchestra in multiple high school musical productions.  Caroline plans to continue to play her cello in college starting this fall.

Meet our 2021 Young Artist Competition Winners!

Greta Hulterstrum is a junior at Litchfield High School. She will be playing Concertino by Chaminade with the orchestra. Greta is the daughter of John and Katie Hulterstrum. She is studying flute with Bethany Gonella, and previously studied with Yvonne Rammel. She was a member of the 2020/2021 MMEA All-State Symphonic Band and received Best at Site for solo and ensemble contest in 2019.  Greta is involved in her school’s band, marching band, choir, and theater programs.  Outside of school Greta works at Meeker Manor, and likes to spend her free time biking, or skiing in the winter. 

Rachel Lanning is a senior at Willmar Senior High School. She will be singing “Son Pietosa, son bonina” by Joseph Haydn. Rachel is the daughter of David and Margaret Lanning. She loves every minute of studying vocal music with Cheryl Schmidt. Rachel is involved in many fine arts activities, such as theatre, choir, violin and voice lessons, and speech. Her favorite four-legged friend is her five-year-old husky named Kira.

Meet our 2019 Young Artist Competition Winners!

Natasha Klatt is a senior at Willmar Senior High School. She studies voice with Cheryl Schmidt, and studies piano with Chris Schneider. She was a member of the 2019/2020 MMEA Allstate Women’s Choir and received three best of sites at the 2020 MSHSL Section 8AA solo and ensemble contest. Natasha also plays trumpet in her school’s Cardinal Band and Jazz Band. She enjoys singing classical pieces and musical theatre. Natasha had the privilege of studying musical theatre with Rebecca Rapoport-Cole in New York City this past summer.

Natasha is the daughter of Jennifer Klatt and Nathan Klatt.

Jacob Meyer is a graduating senior at Willmar Senior High. Since the age of six, he has played the piano under the direction of Ron Hagemeyer, Gayle Marcus, and currently, Georgia Hanson of Montevideo. Over the years, he has performed and competed in MMTA sponsored events, the Minnesota State Fair, and other local competitions. Finally, Jacob is an active participant of many high school activities. These include performing in multiple band and choral ensembles as well as acting in musical productions. 

Jacob is the son of Paul and Elizabeth Meyer.

Meet our 2019 Young Artist Competition Winners!
Ellie Hu is sixteen and a foreign exchange student from Taiwan. She is attending ACGC for this school year. Ellie started playing violin when she was six and joined her school orchestra at age eight. She loves listening to all kinds of music, especially jazz and classical music. Her favorite composer is Tchaikovsky and her favorite piece is the 1812 Overture.  Ellie will perform the 1st movement of Bruch's Violin Concerto, op. 26 with the orchestra.

Jeremy Pierskalla is a senior at Willmar Senior High School. He studies voice with Cheryl Schmidt, and he plays the cello and french horn in his school’s orchestra and band programs. Jeremy has received consistent superior ratings at the MSHSL Section 8AA Solo and Ensemble Contests for band, choir, and orchestra. He attended All-State Choir as a baritone in the 2018- 2019 TTBB choir. This is Jeremy’s fourth season as a cellist with the Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra. As a baritone vocalist, Jeremy will perform the recitative, "Frondi Tenere" and the aria, "Ombra Mai Fu" by George Frederic Handel with the orchestra.

Meet our 2018 Young Artist Competition Winners!

James Bakker
James Bakker is a junior homeschool student from Willmar and studies voice with Cheryl Schmidt. In addition to voice, he studies piano with Kristen
Castiglione and cello with Marie Nelson. This the fourth year James 
has been a cellist with the Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra.
Maeve Winter
Maeve Winter is a junior at Willmar Senior High School. She has been playing bass for 8 years and currently studies with Mark Kausch. She is the 2016 winner of the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra Young Performers Competition and received a Best of Site distinction at the 2018 MSHSL Section 8AA Solo and Ensemble Contest. She also sings and plays several other instruments with varying degrees of mastery.

Meet our 2017 Young Artist Competition Winners!

Jared Campbell is 17 pianist, attends Paynesville High School, and is the son of Chad and Jackie Campbell

 I have taken piano lessons since kindergarten and learned from four wonderful piano teachers; Sharon Bergman, Kari Shumaker, Jeanine Barrett, and since 7th grade, the Dr. Paul Wirth.  Paynesville is a small school and community, yet they strongly support the arts.  I have performed in their annual talent show since 4th grade.  Piano camp is probably my favorite thing I do all year and I’ve attended seven; one at U of M MacPhail, two at Northwestern-Roseville, and four at the Young Artist World Piano Festival at Bethel.

Meet our 2016 Young Artist Competition Winners!n

Ashley Olson, Clarinet
Ashley will play Concertino in E Flat Major for Clarinet and Orchestra by C. M. Von Weber

I'm a senior at Willmar Senior High. I've been playing my clarinet since 5th grade, and I plan to continue playing as I attend Concordia College in Moorhead for music education. I've attended All-State Band and the CLC Jazz Festival on tenor sax, both for 2 years. Music has been a big part of my life, but I also enjoy dancing, swimming, and adventuring/being outside.

Abigail Goetzman, Piano
Abigail will play the First Movement of the Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 50 by Dmitiri Kabalevsky

Abigail is a sixteen year-old homeschool student from Spicer. For the past four years, she has been participated in the MMTA piano competition, performing multiple times in the State Recital at the Convention Center in Minneapolis. A former student of Gayle Marcus,

Abigail currently studies piano with David Severtson of Spicer. In addition to piano, she studies violin with Barb Swanson and has been part of the Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra. Abigail plays keyboard in the Youth for Christ Band, On Call. She enjoys teaching piano and currently has seven students from the NLS area.

Emilie Ziebarth and Maeve Winter, both of Willmar have been named Honorable Mention Winners of this competition and have  been invited to participate in a Chamber Music Recital to be held at Whitney Music on Thursday, May 5 at 6 p.m

Meet our 2015 Young Artist Competition Winners!

Brock Geselius, tenor, is a 2015 graduate of Willmar High School who will begin studies at Columbia College of Chicago this fall.

Brock studied voice with Cheryl Schmidt,
and his parents are Jean and Todd Geselius of Willmar.

He performed selections from "Phantom of the Opera" with the orchestra at their May 2015 concert.

Young Artists Application Form

Young Artists Information Letter

Young Artists Repertoire List