March 14, 2003

2003 Hot Shot Musicians Take Center Stage

Question: “How do you get to Copley Symphony Hall?” Answer: Practice! Practice! Well that’s exactly what the 2003 Hot Shots have done. Brilliant musicians at such a young age, this year’s four Hot Shots who have been selected to perform with the San Diego Symphony at the Young People’s Concerts on March 26 and 27, 2003 are: Julia Barnett, 17, flute, Helix High School; Crystal Chen, 15, piano, Scripps Ranch High School; Rossina Grieco, 8, piano, All Hallows Academy in La Jolla; and Cathy Litaker, 17, harp, Fallbrook High School.

The Hot Shot winners are the result of the Young Artist Competition conducted by San Diego Symphony’s education department. Judy Sjerven, the Symphony’s director of education, administers the program that is open to all full-time students in San Diego County who are 18 years of age or younger. These students must play a standard orchestral instrument and must be recommended by the student’s private music teacher.

Last month, a panel of three judges reviewed the contestants’ videotapes and then invited eight finalists to audition on stage at Copley Symphony Hall. Subsequently, a panel of six judges selected the four talented Hot Shots who will perform with the Symphony on March 26 and 27 at the Young People’s Concert.

“Our San Diego Symphony Young Artist Competition attracts young virtuosos of the highest level,” adds Sjerven. “Playing a concerto with the symphony is a much greater challenge than a solo competition. The Hot Shots are also great role models since they are all good students and have other activities and interests in addition to their devotion to music.”

2003 Hot Shots

Julia Barnett, a La Mesa resident and senior at Helix High School, was voted this year’s Most Outstanding All-Around Student by the faculty at her school. Julia, who plays the flute, is a dual citizen of Mexico and the United States. She is also a National Hispanic Merit Scholar, Advanced Placement Scholar and Bank of America Achievement Award Winner. She has played the flute in The San Diego Young Artist Symphony, The San Diego Youth Symphony and the East County Civic Youth Orchestra.


Julia Barnett

A sophomore at Scripps Ranch High School, Cyrstal Chen has been playing piano for 10 years. As young child, Crystal was drawn to the piano after attending symphony concerts and wishing she could move her fingers as fast as the professionals. She grew up in a family where the conversation topic was often about the music of Horowitz and Rubenstein. Crystal is part of quartet her mother organized that meets each Saturday evening. Also keeping her busy is Chinese school, which she has been attending for the past 10 years.

“I am so pleased to be able to play with the San Diego Symphony,” states Crystal. I didn’t think that it would actually come true. Thank goodness for my mom and dad, my piano teacher, Mrs. Bastien, and my friends for believing in me and pushing me to such heights. I hope everyone enjoys my performance.”

Rossina “Sina” Grieco, a third grade student at All Hallows Academy in La Jolla, started playing piano at age four. Six months later, she began lessons with the well-known Luba Ugorsky. With Rossina’s mother an accomplished clarinetist and her father an opera buff, Rossina is surrounded by music. In addition to playing the piano, Rossina is also learning Italian and Chinese.

Sixteen-year-old, Cathy Litaker, has been playing the harp for nine years…and the piano for even two year longer. Cathy is devoted to her music, or as she says, “It’s in my blood.” Between her other extracurricular activities at Fallbrook High School including choir this year and dance last year, Cathy practices the harp for two hours everyday. When she was younger, Cathy remembered saying, “I thought the harp was the coolest thing in the world.” When asked about it now, she responds, “And I still do!”

“The Hot Shot concert is also great fun since fellow students, family and friends have the chance to attend and see the winners on stage and on the Symphony’s big video screen,” comments Sjerven. “In a sense, the Hot Shot winners become role models for their peers as they demonstrate their talents and show that the many years of practice and hard work has paid off.”

Dates, Times, Admission

The Young People’s Concert featuring the 2003 Hot Shots will be held on Wednesday, March 26 and Thursday, March 27, at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. each day. No individual tickets are sold; however, adults and students may pay $5 each at the door the day of each performance.

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