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April 19, 2013/For Immediate Release, high res. photo available

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu



Fischoff Competition is May 10-12 at University of Notre Dame


(Winston-Salem) While most high school students at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) will spend the second weekend in May cramming for final exams, four from the School of Music will be at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., performing in the nation’s largest chamber music competition.

The Jia Quartet, whose members have also excelled as solos musicians, will compete in the quarterfinal round of the Fischoff Competition on Friday, May 10. The competition concludes on Sunday, May 12, and the 11th- and 12th-graders will arrive back at school in time to begin their final exams on Monday, May 13.

The Jia Quartet, from left to right: Dustin Wilkes-Kim, Amber Wang, Maura Shawn Scanlin, and Sarah Huesman

The Jia Quartet includes Sarah Huesman, an 11th-grade cellist from Winston-Salem who studies with Brooks Whitehouse; Maura Shawn Scanlin, a 12th-grade violinist from Boone who studies with Sarah Johnson; Amber Wang, a 12th-grade violist from Cary who studies with Sheila Browne; and Dustin Wilkes-Kim, an 11th-grade violinist from Winston-Salem who studies with Sarah Johnson. The quartet is coached by Browne.

To raise money for the trip, the quartet will perform a benefit concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at Parkway United Church of Christ, 2151 Silas Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem.

“The Fischoff is one of the most prestigious competitions in the world for student musicians,” said School of Music Dean Wade Weast. “It is an impressive accomplishment for these young musicians, and for the faculty who mentor them.”

It is also challenging for high school students who are juggling a full load of rigorous academic courses, but Jill Lane, UNCSA’s Headmaster and Dean of High School Academics, is not worried. “They are all excellent students, academically as well as musically,” she said. “I am confident they will come fully prepared for their exams.”

Huesman said she plans to study on the plane to and from Indiana. “It will definitely be quite the balancing act,” she said. “I think we will handle it well. It is a skill that is required in order to succeed at UNCSA.”

The Fischoff competition was founded in 1973 by members of the South Bend Chamber Music Society as an innovative way of encouraging young people to pursue chamber music study and performance.  Each year, an average of 125 ensembles, representing 22 nationalities, enter in either the wind or string categories of three to six performers.  Since its founding, more than 5,000 musicians have participated, many of whom have gone on to distinguished careers in music performance and education.

The Jia Quartet auditioned via videotape.  For the competition, they will perform works by Haydn, Beethoven, and Debussy.

"The young artists of the Jia String Quartet have a compelling synergy and interpretation of this incredible music that never fails to impress an audience," said Browne.    

If they win, the four teens will split $2,300 and will have an opportunity to perform on NPR’s  From the Top, a weekly, hour-long radio showcase of America's top young classical musicians hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O'Riley.

The students are not distracted by the prizes, but are looking forward to the experience of being at Fischoff. “I'm very excited, not just for the competition, but for the experience of hearing some amazing groups who are just as enthusiastic and driven about quartet music as we are,” Wang said.

Jia, pronounced jaw, is mandarin for home, and members say it describes the way they feel about UNCSA. “This place in time will always be very important to us,” said Wang, who chose the name. “These have been our formative years as young artists, and as two of us graduate to continue our studies elsewhere, it will be bittersweet to say goodbye.”

Wang and Scanlin are off to college: both have been accepted to multiple prestigious music programs. Huesman and Wilkes-Kim hope to be in an ensemble together next year at UNCSA. They all look forward to Jia reunions.

“It is a pleasure to play music in a quartet with some of my closest friends,” Scanlin said. “I will miss them next year, but I'm sure we will play music together again in the future. The world of professional musicians is small, and I am sure we will make a point of playing music together.”

Goodbye will be hard for their instructors and mentors as well. “This group represents some of the best talent of UNCSA. They have all been in this high school program for three, some for four years,” said Browne. “They will be wonderful representatives for us in every way, at the competition, and as they progress in their education and in their careers.”

Quartet members have distinguished themselves as an ensemble and as soloists.

Cellist Huesman won first place in the high school senior division of the Music Academy of North Carolina String Competition. She played Rococo Variations by Rachmaninoff at the competition held in March in Greensboro.

Violinist Scanlin recently won first place in the American String Teachers Association competition held on campus, and on the same day she won the Asheville Symphony Competition. In 2012, she won first prize in the open division of the U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Competition in Edinboro, Pa.

Violinist Wilkes-Kim recently won second place at the Hilton Head (S.C.) Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, among many other prizes.

Previously, at least three groups associated with UNCSA have competed in the Fischoff Competition.


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.