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2023 Winners

Senior Division

1st Place

Alexander Vakov




Alexander Vakov, a sophomore at Coronado High School, has been playing the oboe for 3 years. Alex began music lessons at the age of 4 under the influence of his mother who is a piano teacher. He competed and placed in several local piano competitions, and in middle school, he took interest in the oboe and began playing in his school’s band. He currently studies oboe with Dr. Stephen Caplan. In 2022, Alex was the principal oboist of the Nevada All-State Band. Currently, Alex is a member of the Dr. Shirley Linzy Las Vegas Young Artists Orchestra, and he was awarded the principal oboe position in both the Clark County Wind Symphony Honor Band and the Nevada All-State Orchestra for 2023. Alex has also won the first place prize in the LVMTA Silver State Competition’s Woodwind Solo division in both 2021 and 2022.

1st Place

Antonio McDonald







My name is Antonio McDonald I am a 17 year old Senior Cellist in the top Orchestra at Las Vegas Academy of The Arts. In my free time I like to just play Cello. Outside of solo playing I am apart of an ensemble called Cello Choir which has traveled and performed at NAU, along with performing inside the Smiths Center.I also had the opportunity to play a solo for Nevada School of the Arts Gala at the Smiths Center. I was also featured with a singer on the News in December on Morning Blend in December. Last year I was the winner of the Solo Ensemble Command, was third place in the Rotary Competition this year, I also won first Prize in the 2022 Walker Furniture “Music Magic” Competition.

2022 Lower Strings Command Winner

2nd Place

Nirav Banerji









I love how music is shaped by frequently diverging interpretations. I like to be meticulous in my practicing, expressing each and every detail to the fullest extent. Outside of my pianistic endeavors, I play tennis, scream at homework assignments, think about what college I'd like to attend, and do everything in between.

Honorable Mention

Claire Lee
Claire is a student of Palo Verde High School, bound to graduate in 2025. Her violin career started at the age of 5, and has been competitive player since then. Outside of her student and musical life, she enjoys other forms of arts and outdoor activities.

Junior Division


1st Place

Brennan Fischl








Brennan has been playing clarinet since September 2020 at Lied STEM Academy and taking lessons with Rayne Ellison since May 2021. He was invited to participate in CCSD’s Honor Band in both the ‘21-‘ 22 and ‘22-‘23 school years and is always looking for ways to learn and grow as a musician.

2nd Place

Lucas Jiang
















Lucas Jiang (8-year-old) began studying the violin when he was 4 under theinstruction of Tanya Hambourg. He showed his interest in music when he was a baby.His passion and enthusiasm for music began to blossom the following year when hecould play some music pieces. He has studied with his current teacher, Mary Straub,since September 2021. In 2020, Lucas began to compete in regional stringcompetitions. He was awarded 1st prize in the Silver State Competition (String SoloDivisions 1, 2 and 3) in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Additionally, he had the opportunity toperform in the 2021 Young Artist Prize Concert hosted by the Henderson SymphonyOrchestra. In fall 2022, Lucas joined Las Vegas Youth Orchestra, Sinfonia program,conducted by Shelly Burger. Beside violin, Lucas loves to play hockey and soccer. Heis in the Golden Knight 8U travel team and their team won the championship inOneHockey and TCS tournaments in 2022. He plays soccer in the Youth League inLas Vegas Indoor Soccer. In the future, Lucas wants to continue studying violin andbecome a professional soloist.

3rd Place

Aspen Stevens











Aspen Stevens’ (14) musical career began as a toddler, belting out Barbie songs in the family room. She showed promise in music early on and began piano lessons with mom at age five, and a year later started violin with Jenny Jackson. In 2020 she began studying piano with David Skouson and violin with Ioana Weathers. In middle school she played in Hyde Park’s Chamber Ensemble, where she also learned to play viola. She taught herself to play the organ and accompanies her church congregation when needed. Aspen is in her fourth year of performing semi-annually at the Smith Center with Zion's Youth Symphony and Chorus and is a member of Shadow Ridge High School's Chamber Ensemble. This school year she performed with both the Clark County Honor and Nevada All-State Orchestras. Last fall she won first place in Division V of the Silver State Competition and her violin chamber group also took first place. She is currently playing as a featured violinist in the pit accompanying "The Addams Family" musical at her high school.

Besides music, Aspen is a talented baker/cake decorator and started her own business two years ago, selling around 70 birthday and wedding cakes. She is president of her church youth group and attends early morning seminary before school. She runs varsity cross country for Shadow Ridge High School and was excited to make it to the state meet last fall. She is also running track this spring.

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Music Director
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