Spotlight Columns

Classical Masters Music Festival seeks young talent

By From page B2 | April 13, 2012

The artistic and musical talent of the youth in the Sacramento region never fails to amaze adults in the audience. Young people are emerging from theater troupes — such as El Dorado Musical Theatre — and making their way to Broadway in New York City. Musicians like young Chase Onadera of Sacramento are playing classical guitar at Carnegie Hall at the tender age of 11.

This isn’t the talent seen on school stages even as recently as 20 years ago. The bar is much, much higher today.

This rising tide of talent is due to a number of factors: excellent teachers who choose to live in the Sacramento region because they like the area, parents who personally invest in their children’s extracurricular education, and members of the community — both individuals and businesses — who provide opportunities for emerging talent to shine and be recognized.

One such venue for young people is the Classical Masters Music Festival. It was founded by Austin Lee, a 16-year-old resident of Granite Bay. Lee’s vision was to provide “an annual performing arts festival for young musicians in a remarkable venue within our wonderful Sacramento region.” The event is held at the Three Stages Arts Center in Folsom, a part of the Los Rios Community College system.

The festival is a classical music competition for musicians ranging from ages 4 to 18. It includes both competitive and non-competitive categories for piano and string ensembles. Exceptional local young musicians and an international competitor will perform during the festival. Music lovers are invited to enjoy an impressive two-day event filled with concerts, competitions and master lectures.

This year’s event will be held June 9 and 10. Young people from throughout the Sacramento region and Northern California will be competing for musical prizes and recognition. There will also be master classes for music teachers, aspiring novice pianists, chamber music ensembles and advance young pianists.

The opening concert will feature two of last year’s competition winners, both young and talented pianists: Dominic Pang, Category A (ages 4-7) winner and Christopher Son Richardson, Category B2 (ages 11-12) winner.

The featured guest pianist will be Yeol Eum Son, the Silver Medalist of the 13th Van Cliburn 2009 International Piano Competition and the Steven De Groote Memorial Award for the Best Performance of Chamber Music. A native of South Korea’s Kangwon Province, she is on the list of young international artists to watch in the world of classical music.

Local youth musicians are encouraged to apply now for festival competition. There are many different categories for musicians. The application deadline is May 1.
Information on how to sign up to perform at the event is available online at

Ticket information for those who wish to attend the festival is available at or call (916) 608-6888.

Lee’s vision for this event is receiving a groundswell of support from local businesses and education leaders who believe in the importance and value in the lives of young people. Having a competitor from the internationally respected Van Cliburn competition headline the event brings credibility to this event, as well.

Today’s arts have come a long way. Take a moment to experience these moments in musical history. You may well find yourself saying, “I saw him/her perform years ago, back in 2012…”

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected].

Susan Laird


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