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The Kennedy Center

Winners of the VSA International Young Soloists Competition

2009 Award Recipients

Bobbi Blood

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Flutist Bobbi Blood, 21, is a student at the University of Utah, where she is pursuing a degree in music performance. She has received several music awards, including first place in the 2007 Utah Music Teachers Association concerto competition and second place in the 2008 Utah State Fair Winds, Brass, and Percussion division.

Blood, who is blind, hails from Draper, Utah. She currently performs with the University of Utah Symphoynv Orchestra and the University A Capella Choir.

Emily Grissing

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Emily Grissing, 22, is a student at SUNY Fredonia studying music performance. Originally from Rochester, New York, she is the principal cellist with SUNY Fredonia's Full, Chamber, and Opera Orchestras under conductor Dr. David Rudge. She has also performed with the Erie Philharmonic, Equinox Orchestra, and Chautauqua Institute Music School Orchestra.

Grissing, who has uveitis and iritis, has worked as a volunteer mentor to young cellists. She also participated in the 2008 Summer National Orchestral Institute, where she was principal cellist under conductor Michael Stern.

Azariah Tan Peng Chay

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Classical pianist Azariah Tan Peng Chay of Singapore, a National Arts Council-Conservatory scholar, has scored distinctions in many of his piano examinations by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. He has won prizes at various competitions including the Trinity College of London Music Competition, Nis International Piano Competition, and the ASIAN and ASEAN International Chopin Piano Competitions.

Besides performing internationally and locally, the 17-year-old pianist is actively involved in fundraising events such as the 2007 ChildAid Charity Concert and the Very Special Arts Singapore 2008 Concert. Tan, who was diagnosed with a moderate to severe hearing impairment at the age of four, is a second-year student of Albert Tiu at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Singapore.

Karl Schwonik

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Jazz drummer Karl Schwonik, 24, is a native of Alberta, Canada. He has received numerous awards, including the 2008 Queen's Jubilee Award for Excellence in the Arts, the 2008 Richard Cowie Scholarship for Young Jazz Musicians, two Alberta Foundation for the Arts grants, and the Wayne and Walter Gretzky National Scholarship. He has performed with acclaimed jazz musicians Paul Bollenback and Jeff Johnston, and at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.

Schwonik , who is blind, is currently pursuing a bachelors of music degree at McGill University in Montreal, where he studies jazz drumset performance on a full scholarship. He founded a summer jazz camp in his hometown of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and hopes to teach jazz at the postsecondary level in the future.