2023 Youth Concerto Competition Winners

The Clear Lake Symphony held its annual Youth Concerto Competition on January  7 & 8, 2023 for young artists from Houston area high schools, junior highs, and elementary schools.  The winners will be provided with a scholarship and will perform as a featured soloist with the Clear Lake Symphony at the March 24th, 2023 concert at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church at 18220 Upper Bay Road, in Nassau Bay.   A total of forty three (43) contestants participated in this year’s competition.


Pictured from left to right: Takeru Nihara, Maureen Min, Catherine Lawson, Quynn McCoy, Aaron Zhu and Wendy Zhou

Click on the above pictures to download and/or print


Quynn McCoy (Oboe) Winner, Junior Wind Division

Handel Sonata No. 1, Mvt. I & II”

Quynn is the daughter of Matthew and Alice McCoy.  She is currently in 8th grade (age 13) at Seabrook Intermediate School in Clear Creek ISD.  She has studied oboe for 2 years and her music teacher is Ashley Guillot.

Quynn’s musical achievements are: 2022 Region Band – 1st  Chair, Region Band – 5th Chair in 2021 and Gold medal in solo and ensemble contest.

Quynn also plays violin and would say she is accomplished. She runs cross country for her school. Quynn hopes to use her instruments to earn scholarships and hopefully go to Duke. She wants to study medicine, but not sure yet what area of specialization.

Catherine Lawson (Trombone) Winner, Senior Wind Division

JacobTrombone Concerto for Denis Wick, Mvt. I”

Catherine is the daughter of Curtis and Amy Lawson.  She is a currently a Junior (age 17) at Kinder High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.  She has studied trombone for 7 years and her music teacher is Thomas Hulten.

Catherine’s musical achievements are: 2023 All-State Band. Jazz Houston Youth Orchestra in 2021 to present and 1st Chair placement in region jazz, orchestra, band, and area competitions.

Catherine enjoys geology and other activities outside, such as hunting and exploring. She also loves to bake and spend time with her family, friends and pets.


Wendy Zhou (Piano), Winner, Junior Piano Division

MozartPiano Concerto No. 23, Mvt III

Wendy is the daughter of Peilin Yang & Jun Zhou.  She is the 4th grade (age 9) at Keiko Davidson Elementary School in Katy ISD.  She has studied piano for 5 years and is a student of Professor Timothy Hester.

Wendy’s musical achievements are: Gold Medal in the Twelfth International Chopin Youth Competition in 2021, 1st Place in the Rochelle Liebling Kahan Child Piano Prodigies Competition in 2020 and 3rd Prize in the Houston International Music Competition in 2021.

Wendy, other than playing the piano, also enjoys swimming, reading, gymnastics and art.

Aaron Zhu (Piano), Winner, Senior Piano Division

Rachmaninoff – “Piano Concerto No. 1 in F# minor, Mvt. I”

Aaron is the son of Hailing Zang & Guozhong Zhu.  He is a  Junior (age 16) at Seven Lakes High School in Katy ISD. He has been studying piano for 8 years and his previous music teacher was Douglas Rose and his current music teachers are John & Nancy Weems.

Aaron’s musical achievements are: Canadian Music Competition National Round – 3rd place (2019) & 5th Place (2022) and Edmonton Kawanis Music Festival Scholarship winner (2016-2019).

In addition to music, Aaron greatly enjoys reading, writing, and solving crosswords. He has an interest in the biomedical and neurological sciences, hoping to pursue these studies in a university alongside the continued development of his musical and pianistic capacities.

Honorable Mention – Fu Chen

Liszt – “Piano Concerto No. 1 in F# Minor, Op. 1, Mvt. I”


Maureen Min (Violin), Winner, Junior String Division

Wieniawski – “Violin Concerto No. 2, Mvt. I”

Maureen is the daughter of Mikyoung Jun & Hank Min.  She is currently a Freshman (age 14) at The Kinkaid School for the Performing Arts.  She has been studying violin for 8 years and is the student of Dr. Mauricio Oliveros.

Maureen’s musical achievements are: 2nd Place in the 23rd Annual Immanuel and Helen B. Olshan Foundation Concerto Competition, she became a Houston Young Artist for 2022-2023 and ranked Number One in 2021 TMEA Region 27.

Maureen enjoys musical theater, running cross-country, and playing tennis alongside with playing the violin. She hopes to become a dermatologist in the future, and she also wants to minor in violin performance in college to continue her musical journey forward.

1st Honorable Mention – Alvin Zhou (Cello)

Saint-Saens – Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 33, Mvt I-III”

            2nd Honorable Mention – Arjun Chandupatla (Violin)

      Sibelius – “Violin Concerto in D Minor, Mvt. III”

Takeru Niihara (Violin), Winner, Senior String Division

Sibelius –Violin Concerto, Op. 47, Mvt. I”

Takeru is a Junior (age 17) at Kinder High School for the Performing Arts. He has been studying violin for 13 years and his initial music studies were in Japan and his current music teacher is Dr. Kirsten Yon.

Takeru’s musical achievement are: Liberec International Violin Academy, Madeline Island Chamber Music, Bowdoin International Music Festival. Concertmaster Region Orchestra (2021), Associate Concertmaster TMEA All-State Symphony (2022), HSPVA Concerto Competition Winner (2022) and Coltman Chamber Music Competition quartet semi-finalist (2022).

In Takeru’s free time, he loves to build plastic models.

Honorable Mention – Madeleine Hearn (Cello)

Elgar – “Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85, Mvt. I”



Thank You Melodie Shelton!

Many thanks go to Competition Co-Coordinator, Melodie Shelton for her tireless work to put this competition and concert together.  A big thank you also goes to their committee  who helped during the competition and the judges on January 7 & 8, 2023.

A fine job was done by the competition Judges.  This year’s judges were the following:

Dr. Charles Johnson
Music Director & Conductor – Clear Lake Symphony
Violist – Houston Ballet Orchestra (retired)

Robert Wall
Associate Conductor – Clear Lake Symphony
Orchestra Director – University Baptist Church
Principal Clarinetist – Clear Lake Symphony

Michael Smith
Band Director – retired
French Horn player – Clear Lake Symphony

Dr. So Yoon Lee
Piano Professor – Lone Star College

Dr. Charles Johnson
Music Director & Conductor – Clear Lake Symphony
Violist – Houston Ballet Orchestra (retired)

Bart Morrison
Worship Pastor – University Baptist Church
Pianist, Organist

Fernando Medina-Caceres
Concertmaster – Clear Lake Symphony
Orchestra Director – Fort Bend ISD

Sara Styskel
Orchestra Director – Clear Creek ISD
Cellist – Clear Lake Symphony

Megan Miller
Adjunct Strings Instructor – College of the Mainland
Music Director – St. Mary’s Catholic School 
Violist – Clear Lake Symphony