2016 – 2017 Youth Soloist Competition Winners

First Place Winner

Christopher Mantell – Saxophone

Christopher Mantell is a saxophonist and a junior at Randolph High School in Randolph, NJ. He has played the saxophone for seven years, and is in his second season performing in the Ridgewood Concert Band’s saxophone section. He is actively involved in Randolph High School’s music program, performing in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Pit Orchestra, Marching Band, and Concert Choir. Additionally, he has successfully auditioned for North Jersey Area Band, New Jersey Region I Band, and New Jersey All-State Band. He has been principal soprano saxophonist with the North Jersey Youth Saxophone Ensemble for four years. Most recently, Christopher won the Hanover Wind Symphony Summer Music Scholarship in March of 2017. He was selected to perform with the 2016 Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall Honor Band and The College of New Jersey High School Honors Wind Ensemble in 2015. He was named MAYO Performing Arts Center’s Jazz Musician of the Month in March 2014. Christopher aspires to study Saxophone Performance and Music Education in college and pursue a career in Music Education.

Second Place Winner

Brian Kachur – Saxophone

Brian Kachur is a 17-year-old saxophonist and a senior at Pompton Lakes High School in Pompton Lakes, NJ. Brian studies saxophone privately with Mr. Matthew Gramata, and previously studied with Mr. Timothy Hayward. Brian began playing the saxophone at age 8, and since then music has been a crucial part of his life. His true devotion to the saxophone developed in seventh grade, when he was encouraged to audition for local honor band ensembles.

Over the course of his high school career, Brian has earned placement into the All North Jersey Junior Region Band, All North Jersey Symphonic Band and Wind Ensembles (earning first chair alto saxophone in 2017), the New Jersey All State Wind Ensemble (earning first chair alto saxophone in 2016 and 2017), as well as being selected into the 2017 NAfME All-Eastern Honor Band, and earning placement into the 2016 NAfME All-National Concert Band. Brian has also participated in multiple summer music programs including William Paterson University’s Summer Jazz Improvisation Workshop, Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts Wind Band and Chamber Music Camp, and most recently the Eastman Summer Saxophone Institute at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY directed by Professor Chien-Kwan Lin. In 2016, Brian also participated in the Student Sit-In Concert with the One More Once Big Band led by Mr. Timothy Hayward and Mr. Joe Verderese.

Brian is also an active participant in musical activities at Pompton Lakes High School including Concert Band, Jazz Band, Men’s Choir Ensemble, Pit Orchestra, and Marching Band, where he has served as Woodwind Section Leader and Drum Major. Apart from performing, Brian has played on the PLHS Varsity Boys’ Tennis team for four years, serving two years as a Co-Captain. He also enjoys working as a light board operator at the Rhino Theatre in Pompton Lakes in many of their major productions. Brian would like to thank his family, friends, fellow musicians, private instructors, and school music directors for all of their help and inspiration in getting him where he is today. Brian will be pursuing a degree in Music Performance and plans to attend the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance in the fall.

Third Place Winner

Esther Moon – Clarinet

Esther Moon is a senior at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan. She is currently a student of Jeffrey Bittner, the band director at Mahwah High School and a member of the Ridgewood Concert Band.

At school, Esther is involved with the NVOT Wind Symphony, Full Orchestra, Pit Orchestra, and Marching Band, where she plays clarinet. She has also played alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, and trombone in the jazz ensemble. Additionally, she plays piano and bass clarinet. In her school’s marching band, she served as the junior drum major and senior drum major. She was also the secretary as a junior, then president her senior year for Tri-M Music Honor Society. In 2015, she received the third place prize for the New York Artists International Competition and performed solo at Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center. Esther was a part of the MEBCI County Band, NJSMA Region I Symphonic Band, and the NJMEA All-State Symphonic Band. This past summer, Esther attended the Ithaca College Summer Music Academy, where she was the second chair clarinet of the Wind Ensemble. She also participated in the TCNJ Honors Wind Ensemble her senior year.

Esther would like to graduate college with a Bachelor’s degree in music education and music performance, and a Master’s degree in music performance from a music conservatory. Her career goal is to become a music educator and/or professional player for a major symphony orchestra. She will be attending Ithaca College School of Music for music education this fall.