Char Prescott
Char Prescott, Cello
Grand Prize

Char Prescott is a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral cellist in New York City. She received her Master’s degree in 2011 from Manhattan School of Music, studying with Alan Stepansky, and completed her undergraduate education at Northwestern University with Hans Jensen in 2009. Char is also a graduate of the National Symphony Orchestra Fellowship Program, studying with Rachel Young.

Char Prescott is a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral cellist in New York City. She received her Master’s degree in 2011 from Manhattan School of Music, studying with Alan Stepansky, and completed her undergraduate education at Northwestern University with Hans Jensen in 2009. Char is also a graduate of the National Symphony Orchestra Fellowship Program, studying with Rachel Young.

Ms. Prescott has appeared as a soloist at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on several occasions and has soloed with the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, the Reston Chamber Symphony, the Barry Studio Orchestra, and the West Potomac Sinfonietta. She was also a featured soloist for the World Trade Center September 11th Memorial in 2009. Char’s awards include the President’s Award from Manhattan School of Music; the Karl Zeise Memorial Cello Award from the Tanglewood Music Center; the Vincent R. Bastien Cello Scholarship Award from the WAMSO Young Artists Competition; the Lena and Jules P. Flock prize at the Klein International String Competition; and 2nd prize at the Feuer String Concerto Competition. She has also been a scholarship recipient at Pinchas Zukerman’s Young Artists’ Programme in Ottawa, CN.

Ms. Prescott has performed with the New York String Seminar Orchestra under Jamie Laredo at Carnegie Hall and has been principal cellist of orchestras at the Tanglewood Music Center, Music Academy of the West, Manhattan School of Music, and Northwestern University. Char is also a founding member of the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio. An active chamber musician, Ms. Prescott has performed all over the United States and Canada, including a recent performance with the American String Quartet in New York City.

In addition to her classical performing career, Ms. Prescott is the cellist of Mason Jar Music, an arts collective in Brooklyn, NY through whom she has collaborated with popular artists such as Feist and Josh Garrels. She is also currently training to be a Suzuki Method teacher through the Cello Teacher Training course at the School for Strings in New York City, an instruction philosophy about which she is very passionate.

Laura Eckelman
Laura Eckelman, Lighting Design

Laura J. Eckelman is a theatrical lighting designer whose projects range from classical drama to contemporary performance art. A magna cum laude graduate of Middlebury College, she garnered national attention from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for her thesis project, The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Laura’s work consistently demonstrates an attraction to nuance, elegance, and careful composition.

Laura J. Eckelman is a theatrical lighting designer whose projects range from classical drama to contemporary performance art. A magna cum laude graduate of Middlebury College, she garnered national attention from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for her thesis project, The Last Night of Ballyhoo. As an undergraduate, she also studied at Royal Holloway University of London and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Upon graduation, Laura moved to New York City, where she worked for three years as a technician, designer, and assistant before returning to school. She now holds an M.F.A from Yale School of Drama, where she studied under Jennifer Tipton, Wendall Harrington, Jane Greenwood, and Ming Cho Lee.

Laura’s work consistently demonstrates an attraction to nuance, elegance, and careful composition. She often employs a tightly constrained palette, paring down the audience’s visual experience so that each subtle shift of color, angle, and intensity has a profound impact. This individual aesthetic is balanced by a commitment to collaboration and an earnest desire to serve the play rather than attract attention to its design. Her work has been seen at theatres across the country, including the Potomac Theatre Project, Perseverance Theatre, and Yale Repertory Theatre.

Read more at: www.laurajeckelman.com

Shizuo Kuwahara
Shizuo Kuwahara, Conductor

Born in Tokyo, Shizuo Z. Kuwahara studied conducting at Yale University. The first prize winner of the prestigious Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition in Germany, Mr. Kuwahara is the music director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta (SOA), formally known as The Augusta Symphony. Prior to SOA, Mr. Kuwahara’s was associated as a conducting staff with Philadelphia Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, Pacific Music Festival, and more.

The first prize winner of the prestigious Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition in Germany, Shizuo Z Kuwahara is the music director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta (SOA), formally known as The Augusta Symphony. Prior to SOA, Mr. Kuwahara’s was associated as a conducting staff with Philadelphia Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, Pacific Music Festival, Saito Kinen Festival, IPPO Philharmoniker, College of William & Mary and American University.

In Philadelphia, he was an apprentice to the Music Director Christoph Eschenbach and lead the family and student concerts and covered additional performances. In summer of 2008, he was an assistant conductor at Saito Kinen Festival, where he was an assistant to Seiji Ozawa and conducted Ozawa Jyuku Orchestra. He spent his summer of 2006 in Sapporo, Japan where he was an assistant conductor of Valery Gergiev at Pacific Music Festival.

Frequent guest conductor of the Japan Philharmonic, the Nagoya Philharmonic and the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, Mr. Kuwahara will make a debut with Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Frankfurt Museum Orchestra this season. His past guest conducting appearances includes Tokyo Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Century Orchestra Osaka, Omaha Symphony, Baton Rouge Symphony, Polish Chamber Philharmonic, Philharmonia Slaska, Sinfonieorchester den Nationalen Philharmonischen Gesellshaft der Uklaine Kiew, German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Chattanooga Symphony and Baltimore Symphony.

In addition to winning the first prize at Solti Competition, he has won awards at many international conducting competitions, including Malko International Conducting Competition, Tokyo International Music Competition for Conducting, Prokofiev International Conducting Competition and Fitelberg International Competition. He is also a recipient of Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

Born in Tokyo, Mr. Kuwahara studied conducting at Yale University, where he was awarded Charles Ives Scholarship and won Eleozar de Carvalho Prize, and at Eastman School of Music, where he was awarded George Eastman Scholarship, Performer’s Certificate and Arts Leadership Program Certificate. Mr. Kuwahara has also studied with Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, David Effron, Lawrence Leighton Smith, Timothy Muffitt and Michael Jinbo at various conducting institutions, including Aspen Festival, National Conducting Institute, Pierre Monteux School, and Chautauqua Music Institute.

Ryo Yanagitani
Ryo Yanagitani, Piano

Ryo Yanagitani has distinguished himself as one of Canada's most promising young concert artists. His most recent success includes winning the gold medal at the 10th San Antonio International Piano Competition, where he was also given special recognition for a performance of the complete Chopin Ballades.  Among other honors, he is also the grand prize winner of the Hugo Kauder International Piano competition and a laureate of the Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition, the Dr. Luis Sigall International Piano competition in Vina del Mar (Chile), and the Hilton Head International Piano Competition.

Ryo Yanagitani has distinguished himself as one of Canada's most promising young concert artists. His most recent success includes winning the gold medal at the 10th San Antonio International Piano Competition, where he was also given special recognition for a performance of the complete Chopin Ballades.  Among other honors, he is also the grand prize winner of the Hugo Kauder International Piano competition and a laureate of the Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition, the Dr. Luis Sigall International Piano competition in Vina del Mar (Chile), and the Hilton Head International Piano Competition.

Ryo has made concerto appearances with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and the Moroccan Symphony Orchestra among others.

A recipient of many scholarships and awards, Ryo has been endowed twice by the Canadian Arts Council with a grant as an Emerging Artist, and is a recipient of the Arthur Foote Scholarship from the Harvard Musical Association. He was awarded the Sony Foundation of America Career Grant through the Salon de Virtuosi of New York, and a Washington Award by S&R Foundation of Washington DC. He has also released two solo CDs consisting of works by Chopin and Debussy, as well as a CD in collaboration with the cellist Dai Miyata.

Ryo Yanagitani received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Yale School of Music under Boris Berman, a bachelor's degree in Piano Performance from the University of British Columbia under Doctor Henri-Paul Sicsic, and an Artist Diploma from the Cleveland Institute under Sergei Babayan. He was an instructor for the Chamber Music Program at Yale, as well as a visiting Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for the 2011/2012 academic year. He currently holds the post of Artist-in-residence for S&R Foundation of Washington DC, and is artistic advisor of the Overture concert series at the Evermay estate in Georgetown.