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The Kennedy Center

Winners of the VSA International Young Soloists Competition

2008 VSA Arts International Young Soloists Award Recipients

VSA arts is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2008 International Young Soloists Award. They are: the MacIntyre Family Singers, a vocal ensemble from Scottsdale, AZ; Ashlee Young, a 20-year-old classical pianist from Billings, MT; Issam Ibrahim Elayyan, a 21-year-old oud player from Amman, Jordan; and Avocat Rap Bi, a hip hop ensemble from Dakar, Senegal. These recipients will perform together at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater on May 29, 2008 at 7:30 pm.

MacIntyre Family Singers

Picture of MacIntyre Family Singers A captivating sibling trio, the MacIntyre Family Singers have performed across the U.S., eastern Canada, and the U.K. Comprising siblings Scott, 22, Todd, 19, and Katelyn, 16, the MacIntyre Family Singers have drawn comparisons to Manhattan Transfer, Billy Joel, and Josh Groban. Individually and as a group, they have garnered musical and academic awards from Royal Conservatory of Music (Canada), Royal College of Music (U.K.), Universität Mozarteum (Austria), Boston University, Tanglewood Institute, Arizona State University, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, USAToday, National Association of Teachers of Singing, and many others. Scott and Todd are both summa-cum-laude Arizona State University graduates. Katelyn is a high school junior. Both Scott and Katelyn were born with congenital blindness. More information is available at

Ashlee Young

Picture of Ashlee Young

Classical pianist Ashlee Young, 20, is a sophomore at Montana State University-Billings. She won the 2007 Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras Competition and appeared with the Great Falls Symphony on the same bill as world-renowned violinist Midori. She also appeared with the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Bozeman Symphony Orchestra in 2007.

Young, who has scoliosis and depression, earned an honorable mention in the 2006 International Franz Liszt Competition and was a finalist in the 2006 Coeur D' Alene Young Artist Competition. She maintains a piano studio of 11 students and intends to pursue a career as a concert pianist.

Issam Elayyan

Picture of Issam Elayyan

Born in Amman, Jordan, Issam Elayyan will receive his bachelor's degree from The National Music Conservatory of Jordan in June 2008 with a specialization in Arab music. As a member of the Amman Arab Music Quartet, the 21-year-old oud player has performed in festivals and concerts worldwide, including in France, Cyprus, Egypt, and Bahrain. He was featured in a performance with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra (North Carolina) in 2006. Elayyan, who began losing his vision at the age of seven, also studies classical violin.

Avocat Rap Bi

Picture of Avocat Rap Bi

Fusing hip-hop beats with traditional African elements and positive messages, Avocat Rap Bi reaches out to its community in the Grand Médine neighborhood of Dakar, Senegal. Ensemble members Mandaw Gning, 27, Idrissa Fall, 21, and Mbène Amare, 22, initiated an annual festival of rap in Grand Médine and perform regularly throughout Dakar.

Lead vocalist Mandaw Gning, who is a polio survivor, and his two fellow band members formed Avocat Rap Bi in 1999. The group has performed in the annual Nescafe Africa Revelation talent competition several times.