Winners selected in 2019-20 Youth Concerto Competition

  • Courtesy photo Winners of the 2019-20 Madeline Schatz-Harris Youth Concerto Competition Sevastyn Swan, Alexander Canicosa- Miles and Miru Hu are pictured with Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra Artistic Director and Conductor Brian Dollinger.

The 2019-2020 Madeline Schatz-Harris Youth Concerto Competition took place in September. The competition featured young performers from throughout the state and focused on the string family of instruments.

The three winners of this year’s competition were violinist Sevastyn Swan and cellists Alexander Canicosa-Miles and Miru Hu. Each won scholarship awards and the opportunity to perform with the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra during its winter concert, “Innocent Beginnings,” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, at Kahilu Theatre in Waimea.


The competition, named after the Kamuela Philharmonic’s founder and conductor emeritus, is an essential part of the orchestra’s mission and remains a focal point for one of its concerts each year. During the competition, each contestant is asked to perform one movement of a concerto from memory, with piano accompaniment, before a panel of judges.

Judges select winners in three age categories: 12 and younger, 13-15 and 16-18.

Sevastyn Swan, 11, a student of Sheryl Shohet of Honolulu for the past eight years, competed in the competition twice before. He was “shocked and glad” when his name was announced as a winner this time, but noted he was willing to put in the effort and keep going after his losses.

He will perform “Spring” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” during the January concert. He chose this concerto because he liked the challenge of working up the really fast middle section of the movement.

Alexander Canicosa-Miles, 15, a winner of the competition four years ago, studies with Jonathan Koh of Honolulu. Since his last performance with the orchestra, Canicosa-Miles has grown not only in stature but also ability. He is looking forward to again performing with the “incredibly dedicated and passionate musicians” in the Kamuela Philharmonic.

Canicosa-Miles said the highlight of the competition is being able to collaborate and share the stage with musicians who find it equally as important as he does to share the gift of music. He chose the first and second movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto to perform during “Innocent Beginnings” because of the contrasting emotional journey it portrays. To him, “the concerto starts out very powerful, then surrenders to a sense of sorrow, torment and at times cries out against life.”

Mira Hu, 16, studies with Nancy Masaki of Honolulu. She has loved the Kabalevsky Concerto since she first heard the piece. She considers the piece she will perform during the January concert to be a “hidden gem since it isn’t played that often.”

According to Hu, the piece is technically challenging and filled with various emotions. The movement begins as a march, then “the cello comes in with a hypnotic feeling.” She finds the whole piece “filled with so much energy,” and playing it with the piano gets her excited every time, so she is “thrilled to have the opportunity to play it with the Kamuela Philharmonic.”

In addition to the performances from the concerto competition winners, “Innocent Beginnings” also will feature the orchestra in performances of Beethoven’s Overture to “Fidelio” and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1.


Tickets for “Innocent Beginnings” can be purchased at

For more information about the Kamuela Philharmonic and the concerto competition, visit

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