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Scholarship Winners

Solomon Leonard, viola

National First Place Winner

2023 Competition for Strings and Harp

Western Region

Solomon Leonard, a 20-year-old violist, began playing in middle school at the age of 11. He is currently a rising Junior at Oberlin College and Conservatory, where he is majoring in Viola Performance with a minor in African American Music. Solomon’s goal is to create and play timeless music that touches people worldwide, primarily as a soloist with orchestras and as a leader of his own band. Dedicated to Viola with its warm tones that Solomon compares to the human heartbeat, he has also embraced playing the drums, piano, and Djembe.


Contributing greatly to the love and joy of the Viola, and music overall, are the diverse performing opportunities from Disney Hall to the Getty and the California African American Museum, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and many churches and concert halls throughout Los Angeles.


Solomon’s musical leadership began early in middle school with the responsibilities of holding the position of Principal Violist with the Philharmonic Orchestra in seventh grade. He has been a member of the Inner-City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles since 2017 and a member of the Watts Willowbrook Jazz Ensemble since 2019. He has been a member of various Chamber Music Ensembles, with the Colburn School Chamber Program, and with the Junior Chamber Music of Los Angeles, where his ensemble has been designated an Honors Chamber Group. Solomon has also performed professionally with the Riverside Philharmonic.


Solomon’s experience ranges from his first performance of jazz music at the historic Catalina Club Bar & Grill as a member of the Watts-Willowbook Conservatory and Youth Symphony, under the direction of Billy Mitchell, performing with violinist Karen Briggs. Also, on the Big Screen with members of the LACHSA Orchestra, Solomon performed at the 2020 Grammy’s during a Performance Tribute to long-time Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich, for his commitment to Arts in Education along with artists such as Common, Camila Cabello Joshua Bell, Lang Lang, and more. He is also the 2021 NAACP ACT-SO Gold Medal winner in Instrumental Music-Classical.


When in Los Angeles, he studies and works with Dr. Minor Wetzel, a member of the LA Philharmonic. At Oberlin Conservatory, he studies with Peter Slowik, Jamey Haddad, and Weedie Braimah, among other Oberlin faculty and guest artists. He is a member of the Oberlin Orchestra, Contemporary Music Ensemble, Djembe Orchestra, Performance & Improvisation Ensemble, and ‘The New Standard’ Band.


Ruth Kelley


Second Place Winner

Southeastern Region


Annokeywaa Oppong-Wadie


Honorable Mention

Central Region


Christian Harvey


Third Place Winner

Southwestern Region


Thapelo Masita


Honorable Mention

Eastern Region

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Terry Andrews, flute

National First Place Winner

2022 Competition for Winds, Brass, and Percussion


Tabitha Johnson, piano

National First Place Winner

2021 Competition for Piano & Organ

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Edwin J. Davis, bass

National First Place Winner

2019 Centennial Competition for Voice


Maguette Ndiaye, flute

National First Place Winner

2018 Competition for Winds, Brass & Percussion


Annelle K. Gregory, violin

National First Place Winner

2017 Competition for Strings

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Justin Austin, baritone

National First Place Winner

2016 Competition for Voice

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Leonard Hayes, piano

National First Place Winner

2015 Competition for Piano

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Keenan McKoy, saxophone

National First Place Winner

2014 Competition for Winds, Brass, & Percussion


Prince Namati Nyatanga, organ

National First Place Winner

2013 Competition for Organ

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Edward Kelly Sanford, violin

National First Place Winner

2012 Competition for Strings

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Rebecca Eaddy, soprano

National First Place Winner

2011 Competition for Voice

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Jeremy Jordan, piano

National First Place Winner

2010 Competition for Piano

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