Avent Concerto Competition Winners Announced
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Winners of the Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition were determined last week. Sewanee Summer Music Festival artistic director John Kilkenny said 73 students entered the competition, and the number was then whittled down to seven.
Hsin-Yi Huang, piano, Katherine Butler, horn, Natalie Sweasy, horn, Stephen Kyle Moore, bass trombone, Brandon Aguilon, horn, and Joshua Sheppard and Shane Powell, marimba & vibraphone, were all selected to compete in the competition.
The Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition was established in 2007 by University graduate Walter Nance and Sewanee resident Mayna Avent Nance in honor of Mayna’s elder sister. All students of orchestral instruments or piano at the festival are invited to enter the Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition. Students compete for recognition of their musical achievements as well as a scholarship to attend the festival next year.
“This opportunity is made possible by an endowment by Walter and Mayna Nance in honor of Jacqueline Avent, and the winners of the competition will perform with the festival orchestra under the direction of Gene Moon,” Kilkenny said.
Shane Powell said upon hearing of the festival’s percussion faculty, he was sold on Sewanee.
“Then seeing the orchestra/chamber repertoire made me decide Sewanee was my first choice this summer. My concerto partner Josh Sheppard showed me the piece at the beginning of the summer; we both figured a double concerto would be an interesting challenge and fun project,” he said. “I am getting a better overall sense of the field I am going into, and being at the festival really will help prepare me for real-world situations.”
Katherine Butler, who has been playing the violin since she was 4-years-old, returned this summer for her third season on the Mountain.
“I keep coming back to the festival for so many reasons — the chance to play incredible repertoire in a professional-level orchestra and the amount of musical growth I’ve experienced in past years is incredible,” she said. “And as for the competition, it’s always a great experience to perform under pressure regardless of the results, and soloing with orchestra is a rare and fun opportunity.”
For Hsin-Yi Huang, who is on the Mountain for the first time this year, said playing with an orchestra is like a dream for most musicians, and the opportunity to do so as a part of the competition drew him in. Josh Sheppard said the same.
“Whenever I play, I feel like I’m in a different world and that everything else fades into the background. I feel like I am making something significant and meaningful to share with others, and I had a piece that I loved and have wanted to play for a long time. Getting to hear a lot of different opinions on music from other like-minded people and get to work with an amazing staff at the festival has been wonderful.”
The Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition winners will perform at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 11. Tickets for the show can be purchased at