Student winners of the Stanford Concerto Competition play on

Earlier this year, sophomores ADDISON JADWIN and ETHAN CHI won the annual Stanford Concerto Competition. The sophomores planned to perform concertos with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra (SSO) this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted those plans.

Jadwin and Chi. (Image credit: Adriana Ramirez Mirabal)

Jadwin was to perform the Walton Viola Concerto this quarter and Chi planned to perform the Grieg Piano Concerto in the fall. They both hope that they will have that opportunity to perform when the orchestra convenes at some point in the future.

COVID-19 has not stopped the musicians from playing their instruments while sheltering at home. Jadwin and fellow sophomores KEVIN JUNG, HANNAH WALTON and NEIL WARY earned a COVID-19 Creative Community Response Grant from the Office of the Vice President for the Arts and formed StringTime, a virtual quartet. Members filmed themselves playing parts of a piece of music to create an ensemble performance via Zoom. Chi has been taking piano lessons via Zoom with FREDERICK WELDY, senior lecturer with the Department of Music in the School of Humanities and Sciences.

“Competitions provide students with a goal to work toward and a great source of motivation,” said PAUL PHILLIPS, associate professor of music and director of orchestral studies in the Department of Music.

“Winning the Concerto Competition can help students decide to pursue graduate study in music or help lead to a successful professional career,” he said. “It can also be a wonderful experience for the members of Stanford Philharmonia and the Stanford Symphony Orchestra to perform with their fellow students as soloists.”

The annual one-day competition, managed by Phillips, is open to any Stanford student, undergraduate or graduate, regardless of their area of study. This year’s judges were Robin Sutherland, a recently retired pianist with the San Francisco Symphony, and Roy Malan, former concertmaster of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.

Phillips points out that most of the competition entrants are actually not music majors, such as Jadwin, who is studying psychology and symbolic systems. One of the 2019 winners was ANDREA YU-CHIEH CHUNG, a graduate student in the Documentary Film and Video Program in the Department of Art and Art History. She performed a bassoon concerto with Stanford Philharmonia in November 2019.

Among the minority of students who are majoring in music who have won the competition are Chi, who is double majoring in computer science and music and pursuing a coterm in computer science in the School of Engineering, and NNAMDI ODITA-HONNAH, a gifted flutist who was one of the winners of the 2018 competition. He performed a flute concerto with SSO in March 2019, and he will pursue graduate study in flute performance at New England Conservatory after he graduates this year.

Neither of this year’s winners plan to play professionally, but they fully expect to continue playing beyond graduation. Chi hopes to combine his experience in computational linguistics with music in order to create new computer music algorithms.

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about Stanford has been the opportunity to balance involvement in world-class programs in both engineering and music,” said Chi. “It’s wonderful to be able to alternate between two very different disciplines, and I think Stanford makes it especially possible to dive deep into both. Indeed, I’ve found a wonderful music community here, including some of my closest friends, and I’m really grateful to be able to further my musical education.”

Jadwin says that the viola is and always will be a big part of his life.

“The music scene at Stanford has been a lot of fun so far,” he said. “Playing in SSO and in chamber music groups has been great because I’ve gotten to perform with so many talented musicians and play some of the greatest works of all time. I’m so glad I can continue to play music in a fulfilling way at Stanford alongside my academic pursuits.”