Arthur D. Montzka Young Artists Concerto Competition: 2024 winner
Neal Kotamarty Eisfeldt
Neal Kotamarty Eisfeldt, 14, is a Merit Scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy, a pre-college conservatory for advanced musicians, studying violin under the renowned pedagogue Almita Vamos and Injoo Choi.
He started his violin studies at 3.5 years with Betty Haag. He is also a fellow of the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative as well as a lifetime fellow of NPR’s From The Top youth initiative. Neal made his solo debut at the age of 10 at the Weill recital hall, winning first place at the Crescendo International Music Competition (multiple years) and his solo orchestral debut at the age of 11 with the Midwest Philharmonic.
He was recently invited to perform for esteemed violin soloist Hilary Hahn prior to which he received an invitation to play for accomplished violinist Vadim Gluzman at Symphony Hall. In addition, he just got nominated to play at the 2024 Chicago Youth in Music Festival (CYMF) comprised of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and Chicago’s most advanced young musicians, who will be led by world-renowned conductor, Giancarlo Guerrero. They will perform the Shostakovich Symphony No. 4 at Orchestra Hall.
In the summer of 2023, Neal performed with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra as winner of the concerto competition and Scott Wood scholarship recipient. At the same time his performance and interview were featured on NPR’s From the Top program. Later in the year, his Trio Scaleno was broadcast on Introductions by WFMT featuring movements by Mendelssohn, Dvořák.
In the summer of 2022, Neal embarked on his composition journey when he composed his first solo violin piece in collaboration with the Chicago Civic Orchestra and Chicago from Scratch. He named it “Ukrainian Dream and Cradle” in dedication to the pain and suffering of the Ukrainian people.
Neal has won top honors in several national and international competitions including the Society of American Musicians, Sejong, DePaul Concerto Festival, Walgreens National Concerto Competition, and the Grandquist Music Competition. He received First Prize and the Exceptional Young talent award at both the Bonn and Salzburg Grand Prize International Virtuoso competitions in Germany and Austria and was invited to perform at the Beethoven Haus in Bonn.
He was awarded both Rising Star and Top Performing Artist in the Sound Espressivo International competition with 140+ participants by an international panel of judges from major conservatories and orchestras around the world. He also won the overall Grand Prize in all categories up to 25 years old in the Enkor International festival, with a jury of 500+ members from 70+ countries.
In addition to performing solo, Neal deeply enjoys playing chamber music and plays with the Scaleno and Rosa quartet in the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy. He is also an avid orchestral musician in the Academy Orchestra and formerly in the Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra.
Neal has taken master classes from world renowned musicians such as Ani Kavafian, Ray Chen, Augustine Hadelich, and Nurit Pacht and has also received coaching from laureates such as Rachel Barton Pine, James Ehnes, Julia Fischer, and Philip Setzer. In his free time, he enjoys listening to his favorite violinists Itzhak Perlman and Jascha Heifetz, as well as cooking and spending time with his sister.
Arthur D. Montzka Young Artists Concerto Competition: 2024 Runner-Up
Aiden Yu, violin
Aiden Yu joined the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras at six years old and has won all three concerto competitions of CYSO by fourteen years old. He is currently the principal second of the Symphony Orchestra and has sat as the Concertmaster of all previous five orchestras.
Aiden was one of the four finalists of the 2023 Crain-Maling Foundation CSO Young Artist Competition, and won first place in numerous violin competitions, including the 2023 Geneva Junior Music Competition, the 2022 Tokyo International Youth Music Competition, the 2022 Charleston Contemporary Competition, the 2022 Concorso International “Citta di Villafranca VR”, the 2022 Quebec Competition, the 2022 Mimas Festival, the 2022 & 2020 Society of American Musicians Competitions (Intermediate & Junior Divisions), the 2021 Vivo International Competition, 2021 & 2019 Cremona International Competition for Strings (Intermediate & Junior Divisions), the 2021 Houston International Competition, the 2023 & 2020 DePaul Concerto Competition, the 2019 Music Competition in Honor of Confucius, and the 2019 International Brussels Grand Prize Virtuoso. He was also the absolute winner prize of 2023 Singapore International Music Competition and is a laureate of the Enkor competition, Walgreens Concerto Competition, and the Sejong competition.
Aiden made his first orchestral debut at age eleven with the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago. He has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Museo del Violino in Cremona, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and Sala Alida Ferrarini in Villafranca, Italy.
As a 9th grader at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Aiden is the class president of 2027 and a member of the golf team.
Arthur D. Montzka Young Artists Concerto Competition: 2024 Honorable Mention
Eddie Zhou, piano
Eddie Zhou, an accomplished 16-year-old pianist, started studying piano at the age of 4. Under the patient and insightful instruction of Jon Ensminger, graduate of piano pedagogy in the University of South Carolina, Eddie showcased his musical abilities in numerous competitions and performances since his youth, such as performing as a soloist with the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and placing second in the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition. Upon moving to Illinois, under the new and rigorous instruction of talented pianist Brenda Huang, Eddie has continued to refine his piano playing and recently won the opportunity to perform with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra this coming year. In addition to piano, Eddie enjoys competitive math and spending time in nature.