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Showcase House Hosts Instrumental Competition

Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts (PSHA) has awarded $31,000 in prize money to 14 young musicians at its 21st annual Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition.

The finals were the culmination of a three-day competition at the First United Methodist Church in Pasadena where the 14 finalists were selected from a total of 65 musicians competing in the categories of woodwinds, brass and strings.

PSHA initiated the Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition in 1985 and it has become one of the most prestigious events of its kind.

The Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition was judged by a panel comprised of members from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Southwest Chamber Music under the chairmanship of Mitchell Newman, Los Angeles Philharmonic first violinist.


Other members of the panel were: Peter Stumpf, Los Angeles Philharmonic Principal, cello; Beth Cook-Shen, Los Angeles Philharmonic second horn; James Miller, Los Angeles Philharmonic Associate Principal, trombone; Lorin Levee, Los Angeles Philharmonic Principal, clarinet; Larry Kaplan, Southwest Chamber Music, flute; and Roland Kato, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Principal, viola.

It was the judges’ task to select first and second prize recipients in each of the competition categories, as well as to recognize musicians for receipt of the Jack Smith Memorial Award for Most Promising Talent and the Barbara Ehrlich Memorial Award for Outstanding Showcase Regional Musician.

The “Grand Prize” award was also given to one of the contestants for “Exceptional Talent”. Before giving out the awards, the Head Judge, Mitchell Newman, thanked PSHA for “making what could have been a difficult process, a wonderful experience.”

The Grand Prize award of $6,000 was presented to Ilana Setapen for her exceptional talent on the violin. Setapen received her bachelor of music degree from USC and is currently a student of violin performance at the Colburn Conservatory. She has received the Bronze Medal in the Irving M. Klein String Competition and served as co-concertmaster of the American Youth Symphony since 2003.


First Prize awards of $4000 were presented in the categories of brass, strings and woodwinds. The recipients were: Zach Collins, who plays the tuba and is pursuing a doctor of musical Arts degree at USC, where he previously received his master of music in tuba performance; Arnold Choi, who plays the cello and is studying for his bachelor degree at the Colburn Conservatory; and Michael Byerly, who plays the clarinet and is working on his master of music degree at USC.

Second Prize awards of $2500 were presented to: Benjamin Jaber, who plays the horn and is currently a master of music candidate at UCLA; Pasha Tseitlin, a violinist who is a sophomore at USC; and Christina Havens, a bassoonist who obtained her bachelor of music degree from the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and is pursuing a master of music in performance at USC.

Named for the former Los Angeles Times columnist, the Jack Smith Memorial Award for “Most Promising Talent” was presented to Jia Kim, who has studied cello for 7 years and attends the Colburn School of Performing Arts.

The Barbara Ehrlich Memorial Award for Outstanding Showcase Regional Musician ($1000), given in memory of a former PSHA president, was awarded to Christina Havens, who was also the Second Prize winner in the Woodwinds category.

Honorable Mentions included: Stephen Hughes, bass trombone; Kolio Plachkov, French horn; Timothy Braun, violin; Min Na Lee, clarinet; Alexander Lipay, flute; and Kelly Sulick, flute.

Officiating at the awards ceremony were Charlotte Varner, PSHA’s President, and Kathy Feely, Chairman of the 2005 Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition.

“It is so gratifying to me that PSHA continues to support and to fund its Instrumental Competition,” Feely said. “Because of this annual event, many talented young musicians receive invaluable encouragement in their careers, through monetary awards and the judges who hear them play. I found the entire competition to be extremely rewarding.”

Varner said, “When people think of our organization, some only think of the Pasadena Showcase House of Design. The beauty of being a member of PSHA is that we also have the opportunity to be involved with music at so many levels.”