Seven exceptional high school musicians from across the country will convene at John Philip Sousa Band Hall at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, to compete in the final round of the Marine Band’s 2023 Concerto Competition. The winner will receive a $2,500 scholarship courtesy of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and perform their solo with the Marine Band on April 23. Second and third place winners will receive $1,000 and $500 scholarships respectively.
Learn more about the Concerto Competition for High School Musicians
This year’s pool of applicants was of exceptional ability, and were chosen from about 130 total applicants.
In this public performance, the students will play their prepared concertos before a panel of judges consisting of Marine Band Director Col. Jason K. Fettig, Assistant Directors Maj. Ryan J. Nowlin and 1st Lt. Darren Y. Lin, and guest adjudicator Timothy Roblee, director of bands at Shenandoah University.
The performance is free and open to the public and will be livestreamed.
The performances will take place at the Marine Barracks Annex at 1053 7th Street, SE, Washington, DC. Free parking is available in the gated lot under the I-695 overpass. Please allow extra time for ID checks at the gate.
Let’s meet the musicians:
Kyle Cho is a sophomore at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., and the Juilliard Pre-college in New York. He has played oboe for six years. In 2022, Kyle was the recipient of the Interlochen Frederick Fennell Scholarship and the finalist in the New York Chamber Players Orchestra Concerto Competition. In 2020, he won second place at the Asian American Music Society International Competition and third place in the Young Artist Award Competition in Gaithersburg. He also won first place on oboe in the Young Musicians Inspiring Change (YMIC) International Competition in 2019, and second place at the YMIC Metropolitan Music Festival in 2020. Kyle is also a pianist, and has won numerous competitions and awards on that instrument as well. In the Marine Band Concerto Competition, Kyle will perform Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Variations on a Theme by Glinka on oboe.
Christopher Dechant is a senior at Lovejoy High School in Lucas, Texas, and has played clarinet for seven years. In 2022 he won first place in the International Clarinet Association High School Solo Competition and the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra Philharmonic Concerto Competition. In 2021, he won the silver medal at the Abilene Philharmonic Concerto Competition. From 2020 to 2022, he performed with the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra. Christopher will perform Carl Maria von Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet, Op. 26.
Nikka Gershman is a senior at the Colburn Music Academy in Los Angeles, where she is a Jean-Yves Thibaudet Scholar, and has played flute for eight years. She is a Salon de Virtuosi Career Grant Winner, YoungArts National Finalist, and a guest performer on NPR’s From the Top. In 2022, she won first prize in the Music Teachers National Association Junior Performance Competition, the British Flute Society Young Performer Competition, and the grand prize at the Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition. In 2021, she won first prize at the Vancouver Symphony Young Artists Concerto Competition, New York Young Virtuoso Competition, Rising Stars Grand Prix in Berlin, and Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition in Bonn, Germany. In the final round of the Marine Band’s Concerto Competition, Nikka will perform Cecile Chaminade’s Concertino for Flute, Op. 107.
Elizabeth Hebing, of Henderson, Nev., is a homeschooled high school senior and has played flute for seven years. In 2023 she was selected as the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Senior Woodwind Competition Southwest division winner. In 2022 she was selected as a National Flute Association High School Masterclass Competition winner and was first prize winner in the Carol Jackson Concerto Competition, where she also won second prize in 2020. In 2021 she was the senior division first place winner in the Central Ohio Flute Association Competition. Elizabeth was a MTNA Senior Woodwind Competition Nevada state winner in 2020, as well as a MTNA Junior Woodwind Competition Southwest division winner and national finalist earlier that year. In addition, she was a MTNA Nevada state winner in 2019. In 2020, she was also selected as junior woodwind winner of the Henderson Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition and took first place in the junior division of the Las Vegas Flute Club Young Artist Competition. Elizabeth will perform Otar Gordeli’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 8.
Julianna Hollenbach, of American Fork, Utah, is a senior at American Fork High School and has played French horn for eight years. In 2022, she was selected as winner of the Lyceum Philharmonic Concerto Competition. She has also performed as principal horn in the Utah All-State Band from 2019 to 2022. Julianna will perform movements from Richard Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 1 in E-flat, Op. 11.
Christopher Petrella, of Hudson, Ohio, is a senior at Hudson High School and has played trumpet for seven years. He is a 2023 recipient of the International Trumpet Guild Young Artist Award and was first prize winner in the 2021 National Trumpet Competition’s High School Solo Division. In 2021 he performed as first chair in the NAfME All-National Symphony Orchestra, and in 2020 he was first chair in the NAfME All-National Honor Band. Christopher will perform movements from Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat.
Nathan Shepherd, of Lanesville, Ind., is a homeschooled high school senior and has played bassoon for seven years. In 2022 he won first place on bassoon and second place on piano at the West Virginia State University Concerto Competition. Also in 2022, he was a YoungArts Merit prize winner and gave a bassoon concerto solo performance with the Louisville Orchestra. In 2021, he performed as a member of the National Youth Orchestra and was a guest on NPR’s program From the Top. Nathan will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat, K. 191, Mvt. 1.