Concerto competition winners to take center stage, earn full scholarship


Since 1996, music students have competed for the chance to perform as a soloist with the FIU Symphony Orchestra by winning first place of the highly competitive annual FIU Concerto Competition each November.

Three years ago, the competition expanded into an even larger event by offering Florida high school students the opportunity to compete for a full in-state scholarship to the School of Music.

Concerto competitions not only allow students to receive recognition for their hard work and abilities, but they are important to the development of students who want to make performing arts their life’s work. Students are able to gain experience in preparing and auditioning as musicians and use this opportunity to further their music studies.

“We had an exciting afternoon of terrific performances from our FIU music students and some of the most talented high school students from Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties,” said Concerto Competition Organizer Michael Klotz. “The level and professionalism of the participants was first-class.”

Collegiate Division winners Vanessa Gentzschein, soprano (“Come Scoglio” from Cosi Fan Tutte by W.A. Mozart); Alejandro Viera, tenor (“Si, ritrovarla io giuro” from La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini); and Francesca Rossi, viola (First movement of Viola Concerto by William Walton); are all performance majors at the School of Music.

High School Division winners included Elena Lim, violin (First movement of Violin Concerto in E minor by Felix Mendelssohn), a student at American Heritage School, and also Valentina Paolucci, violin (First movement of Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor by Camille Saint-Saens), a student at Dreyfoos School of the Arts.

This year, the competition received a financial boost from Ronen Segev, owner of Park Avenue Pianos and purveyor of Pre-Owned Steinway Pianos. He sponsored the competition in an effort to honor and encourage Miami’s top young talent through this selective process at FIU.

“These young winners and their fellow competitors represent the very best of Miami: talent, passion, commitment, and humility. As a Juilliard music alumnus, I can attest to the fact that their artistic excellence is on par with the international stage.”

The winners were determined by a distinguished jury including University of Miami’s Frank Cooper, Barry University’s Giselle Elgarreta Rios and Nu Deco Ensemble’s Abigail Young.

First place winners Vanessa Gentzchein, Alejandro Viera and Elena Lim will perform their competition concerti selections in their entirety at the Wertheim Concert Hall in a celebration of Panther Alumni Week on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 7:30 pm.