HS Musician's Quintet Earn First Prize

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High school music student Michael Stevens recently performed with his woodwind group, the Noname Quintet, in the first ever M-Prize International Chamber Competition, taking the $5,000 first prize in the Junior Winds Division.

The competition took place in May at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where two intensive performance rounds were held. The semifinalists were chosen from over 170 chamber groups from 13 countries, making this competition – which offered a $100K grand prize in the Senior Division – bigger than any other competition of its type.

“In February, during our regular quintet rehearsal, we recorded ourselves and just decided to send it in,” said Stevens, who begins his senior year in September. “We didn’t expect this.”

After being informed that they had made the live semifinal rounds, the young student-musicians had their work cut out for them.

“In the period of just less than a month, we prepared enough music to give two full-length recitals,” said Stevens. “Our coach at Juilliard had us perform every week up until the trip, and in some cases, we would start a piece at our 9 a.m. Saturday rehearsal, then perform it that night in a recital. It was crazy how much we crammed in.”

The Noname Quintet, as they are called, stem from the Juilliard PreCollege Division and are coached by Prof. Bärli Nugent. In addition to Stevens, the group includes four New York area music students, all of whom graduated high school in June: bassoonist, Steven Ekert (Harvard Class of 2020), flutist Nicholas Ioffreda (Princeton Class of 2020), clarinetist Alec Manasse (Juilliard Class of 2020) and oboist Laura Michael (Yale Class of 2020).

Stevens has been playing French horn and piano since the age of five. He current serves as principal horn of the Juilliard PreCollege Orchestra and as a member of the New York Youth Symphony. He is touring Europe this summer as co-principal horn of the Carnegie Hall National Youth Orchestra.