Lafayette Symphony selects 3 winners from 2009 Keller Competition

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Two Lafayette-West Lafayette musicians and a Rensselaer violinist are winners of the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra’s 2009 Keller Competition, LSO officials announced today (July 20).

This year’s winners are vocalist Sarah Leeper, daughter of Wendy and Steve Leeper of West Lafayette; pianist Christopher Park, son of Kinam and Haesun Park of West Lafayette; and violinist Lydia Umlauf, daughter of Donald and Janet Umlauf in Jasper County.

Sarah Leeper

Sarah Leeper

Sarah, who sang Handel’s Lascia ch’io pianga and Mozart’s Chi sa Chi sa qual sia during the open Keller competition, is taught by voice instructor Karen Goff. Christopher, who played Beethoven’s Concerto No. 1 Op. 15 1st Movement, takes lessons from piano teacher Nayda Dubikovsky. Lydia, whose instructor is Desiree Ruhstrat, performed Ravel’s Tzigane.

A panel of professional judges selected the three musicians from 22 performances for the 36th annual competition, which was held earlier this summer at Covenant Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette.
The trio will perform with the symphony Nov. 21 at the LSO’s annual Keller Concert at the Long Center for Performing Arts, 111 N. Sixth St., in downtown Lafayette.

Lydia Umlauf

Lydia Umlauf

“Congratulations to this year’s Allan W. Keller Competition winners and all who participated as finalists. We look forward to the performance by the three winners with the symphony at our annual Keller Concert in November,” said LSO music director Nicholas Palmer.

Musicians age 22 and younger are eligible to compete at the annual Keller Competition for the opportunity to perform as featured soloists with the LSO. The date for next year’s Keller Competition will be announced later this year.

The Allan W. Keller Memorial Award was established in 1973 to honor Allan Keller, a former LSO treasurer and supporter. Each year, young musicians compete for the opportunity to perform as featured soloists with the LSO and each winner is granted a cash prize.

Over the years, a number of Lafayette-West Lafayette area musicians have advanced to prominent music schools, performed at top musical venues and attained significant success with their instrument, whether that be violin, cello, voice, clarinet, trumpet, flute or percussion.

“We view the Keller Competition as a cornerstone for the LSO’s commitment to education and outreach as we grow our regional orchestra,” said LSO executive director Ken Bootsma. “Through this wonderful and longstanding program, we can tap into the local and area schools, employers and organizations to expand the symphony’s reach and offer professional performance opportunities for the region’s young musicians.”

Last year’s winners were clarinet player Anna O’Connor of Lafayette, pianist Jason Wu of West Lafayette and flutist Katie Christenson of Wheaton, Ill. The 2007 Keller Competition winners were Christian Schrock of Covington, Jinty McTavish of Lafayette and Nathan Kross of West Lafayette.

“The Keller Competition promotes quality musicianship, high achievement in musical performance for students from throughout the Lafayette-West Lafayette region,” Palmer said. “I am so proud the LSO sponsors this excellent competition because it confirms that in both school music programs and in private applied studios, quality music teaching takes place every day to support, encourage and challenge local young musicians.”

The LSO kicks off its 2009-10 season with Second Annual Outdoor Pops Concert at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Tippecanoe Amphitheater, north of West Lafayette on Indiana 43. Cost is $10 per carload.

The LSO’s formal season begins at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 with the performance “Scheherazade,” featuring pianist Chu-Fang Huang, a Young Concert Artist who won the piano competition and a finalist in the Twelfth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Texas in 2005. The concert is sponsored by Eli Lilly and Co.’s Tippecanoe Laboratories.

Launched in 1950 as a non-profit organization, the 70-person Lafayette Symphony Orchestra is focused on enriching the cultural life of the West Central Indiana community and 14 surrounding counties through excellence in orchestral music and educational experience.

About 80 percent of its patrons are from Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County, while the remainder are from the surrounding counties of Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Howard, Jasper, Montgomery, Newton, Pulaski, Tipton, Warren and White.

For more details about season-ticket specials and other information on the Lafayette Symphony’s upcoming season, go to

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