Two Mason High School students were among six students named winners in the Cincinnati Arts Association’s annual Overture Awards Competition, which awarded $38,000 to Tri-State high school students in the area’s largest solo arts competition.
Meanwhile, Hong Cheng of Hong Cheng Violin Studio was named arts educator of the year.
The Overture Awards recognizes, encourages and rewards excellence in the arts among Tri-State students. Students are nominated by their schools and/or private studios to compete in one of six disciplines: creative writing, dance, instrumental music, theater, visual art and vocal music. The arts educator award promotes and rewards excellence in arts instruction throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Creative writing: Anna Matu, grade 11, William Mason High School. Matu is co-editor-in-chief of her school’s literary magazine and a varsity member of its academic team. Her poetry has won three scholastic art and writing silver keys, and Anna’s second love, painting, has most recently been recognized with a gold key. In her writing, she marries her love for art and art history with a vivid passion for language.
Dance: Ying Lei Pham, grade 11, Ursuline Academy / Movement Emporium. Pham trains at Movement Emporium in many genres of dance. She also enjoys learning and being exposed to other styles of choreography at conventions. She has won numerous awards, scholarships, and titles, both regionally and nationally. As a dedicated student, she intends to pursue a double major to focus on both dance and academics in college.
Instrumental music: Ari Peraza-Webb, grade 12, Wyoming High School. Peraza-Webb is a seventeen-year-old cellist and has practiced the instrument for the past fourteen years. At age six, he debuted at Carnegie Hall as winner of the AFA String Competition. He has journeyed to Germany, Switzerland, and numerous states to advance his proficiency on the cello. He has performed on NPR’s From The Top radio show with hosts Tessa Lark and Peter Dugan. He will perform the first movement of Samuel Barber’s Cello Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony in the annual “Side by Side” concert this month.
Theater: Chanduni Herath, grade 10, Notre Dame Academy / Slater Music Academy. Herath has had a passion for singing since she was very young. She decided to try out taking part in musicals at summer camps and schools, and soon learned that people seemed to enjoy her acting skills as well. Now, she is taking every opportunity she can to bring her closer to her Broadway dreams.
Visual art: Michelle Chen, grade 12, William Mason High School. Chen is a senior at Mason High School and loves creating art in all forms and mediums, including colored pencil, posca pens and acrylic. In college, she hopes to combine her interests in STEM and the arts through engineering and studying an interdisciplinary field such as product design. One of her favorite pastimes is sleeping, although she also is known for painting in her bathroom at 2 a.m.
Vocal music: Sophia Troyer, grade 12, School for Creative and Performing Arts. Troyer began studying the upright bass in seventh grade. She performs in her high school’s jazz and symphony orchestras. Her jazz director encouraged her to study voice. Troyer is the principal bassist for CSO’s Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the bassist and vocalist for CCM Prep’s Youth Jazz Orchestra. She was awarded Outstanding Vocal Soloist at the Essentially Ellington competition in 2022. Sophia is pursuing a Jazz Studies Degree in college.
Now in its 27th year, The Overture Awards was launched in 1996 by the Cinergy Foundation (now Duke Energy) and Leadership Cincinnati (a program of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber). The Overture Awards is funded and administered by the Cincinnati Arts Association and relies on hundreds of volunteers from the community who help raise funds, adjudicate and manage the competitions and nurture the program. The awards are endowed by the Otto M. Budig Family Foundation. Overture Awards presenting sponsors: The Eleanora C.U. Alms Trust, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee; Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc.; Otto M. Budig Family Foundation; Summerfair Cincinnati; and TriHealth. Scholarship sponsors are: Arthur Murray – Cincinnati, Douglas Beal, Doreen Beatrice, Bonita Brockert, Maura Garuccio, Jozsef Parragh, Punky’s Pixels, Summerfair Cincinnati, Josh Tilford, Western & Southern Financial Fund. Printing sponsor is Harlan Graphics.