Nathanial Yue, a 15-year-old cellist from San Marino, was a first prize award winner in the strings category at the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts 35th instrumental competition.
Yue competed with eight other finalists in the competition, which was held on March 19 at Pasadena Conservatory of Music’s Barrett Hall. The finalists ages 14-19 demonstrated their musical talents competing for monetary prizes totaling $18,500.
Yue is a student at San Marino High School in addition to his music studies at the Colburn School. He has won at least five first-place awards and scholarships in 2022 alone and has also participated in the Back to Bach project and the Tuesday Musicale Juniors. The freshman says he loves music and computer science and really enjoys being on the San Marino High School’s Titanium robotics team.
Yue began learning to play the cello at age 5. He became interested in music because his brother played in an orchestra and he wanted to join him. Excited for the win, Yue said “I was very surprised and grateful to hear that I had placed first because I was playing with some very talented musicians. I have so many people to thank.”
Yue gave credit to Hans Weisshaar musical instruments in San Marino. “I really appreciated the generosity of Mr. Georg Eittenger for loaning me the beautiful Thomas Dodd cello to play in the competition.”
This year marked the first year that the age level of the competitors was changed to high school-aged students. That decision was made when the instrumental competition was put on hold in 2021 due to the pandemic.
“We took that opportunity to reflect on the competition and see how we can improve it going forward,” said PSHA President, Marti Farley. “We decided to address a younger audience because we felt there is such talent in that age group and this would be a great time for them to experience this,” she said. “It also allows us to give back to the surrounding communities that support us.”
Sally Hazen, chair of the 2022 instrumental competition said the comments that were shared by the judges and attendees proved that the new direction was a success.
“The results were astounding,” she said. “Each one of the students reflected a true dedication to their instrument and great talent was revealed in their performances.”
Hazen noted the team of judges, all members of the L.A. Phil, were not told the student’s name, age or school until after the winning decisions were made. “They thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were so surprised when they learned the ages of the students,” she said. “We were so impressed with these young musicians and know that they have a very bright future.”
Pasadena Showcase has awarded more than $685,000 in prizes to promising music students since the instrumental competition began in 1985.