Select Page

Women in Music-Columbus is pleased to announce the winners of our Young Artists String Competition. This event is made possible by bequests from Millicent Kepke and Isabel Chandler and generous donations in memoriam of Harriet Green and Flo Ann Easton.

WMC thanks all the participants for their hard work and dedication. The judges for this online competition were Jill Wright Crist, Bruce Johnson, and Andrew Paa.

First place: Ilona Lottenbach, violin

First place: Everett Martin, cello

First place: Irena Alahakoon, cello
Honorable mention: Victoria Phillips, viola

First place: Cecilia Martin, violin
Honorable mention: Anna Linder, violin

Ilona Lottenbach is seven years old. She loves to play her violin, and she studies with Tatiana Hanna. Ilona LottenbachShe loves to play happy, sad, playful, gentle, and fiery songs, and she loves to play scales and etudes as songs as well. She likes to play characters through music, just as she likes to play with dolls and puppets. She enjoys reading and also making patterns with building blocks, paper, or fabric. She lives in woodsy Gambier, in rural Central Ohio, where she can run on forest paths, throw sticks and maple balls into creeks, look at insects, and discover birds’ nests. She also likes to swim and roller skate. She hopes to see family and friends in Hungary and Switzerland as soon as possible again.



Everett Martin, age 10, is in the fifth grade at Cassingham Elementary School. He studies cello with Pei-An Chao Everett Martin(Columbus Symphony Orchestra) and piano with Dr. Christina Tan (CCM Prep at the University of Cincinnati). Everett is in his second year as a member of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra Junior Strings, and he plays the cello in a piano trio. He has participated in the UCelli cello camp for three summers. Everett also enjoys playing tennis, pickle ball, and Minecraft.




Irena Alahakoon started learning cello at seven years of age and currently studies with Prof. Mark Rudoff. Irena AlahakoonShe achieved the award of excellence over four consecutive years at the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s Young Musicians Competition. She also plays violin and is a member of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra. Irena is a freshman at the Columbus Academy. Outside of music, she also enjoys track.




Victoria Phillips is a 15-year-old sophomore at Westerville Central High School. Her private teacher is Deborah Price, Victoria Phillipsand her school orchestra teacher is John Vermuelen. She plays viola and has been attending the Chamber Music Connection every session since winter of 2016. She also plays for the New Albany Symphony Orchestra. In 2019 she earned a first-place prize at the Ohio Viola Society Competition. Victoria has attended masterclasses at OSU and Baldwin Wallace. She was honored to participate in a summer program, Your Body is Your Strad. She learned amazing things, like the Feldenkrais technique, and worked with outstanding artists such as Uri Vivardi. In her free time, she likes running cross-country, singing, and hanging out with friends and family.



Cecilia Martin, age 17, is a junior at Bexley High School. She studies violin with Tatiana Hanna Cecilia Martin(Columbus Symphony Orchestra) and Kurt Sassmannshaus (College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati). She is the concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra. She is in her seventh year as a member, and she has performed with them as a soloist. Cecilia was the 2020 winner of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s Young Musicians Competition, and in March she performed a duet with the CSO’s concertmaster, Joanna Frankel, during the CSO’s education fundraiser concert. An avid chamber musician, Cecilia is currently a member of the CAM piano trio that will be competing in the quarterfinals of the Fischoff National Chamber Music competition in May. This summer she will continue her studies with Professor Sassmannshaus at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine. When not making music, Cecilia enjoys reading and traveling.

Anna Linder began studying violin at age 5 and currently studies with Paula Korak and Ryan Meehan. Anna LinderShe is a junior at the Columbus Academy. Anna was co-winner in the New Albany Symphony Concerto Competition in 2019 and performed as a soloist with NASO under Maestro Luis Biava. She was a finalist in the CSO’s Young Musicians Concerto Competition in 2019 and 2018. She earned second place at the Ohio MTNA Competition and received an Award of Excellence in the CSO Junior Concerto Competitions from 2012-2014. Anna was concertmaster for the Columbus Symphony Youth Cadet Orchestra for the 2016-2017 season, for the CSYO Chamber Strings Orchestra for the 2015-2016 season, and for the CSYO Junior Strings in 2014-2015. She is currently a member of the New Albany Symphony Orchestra. She joined Chamber Music Connection under the direction of Artistic Director Deborah Barret Price in 2013 and has been a member of the award-winning Dajj String Quartet since 2015. This summer Anna and the Dajj String Quartet will be studying at the Encore String Quartet Intensive under the tutelage of the Cavani Quartet.


Jill Wright Crist is adjunct professor of cello at Otterbein University and Columbus Cello School, Suzuki Talent Education. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in cello performance and is a fully trained Suzuki cello teacher. She directed Suzuki Cello at Capital University and Suzuki Music Columbus. She currently coaches ensembles for Chamber Music Connection. Jill is an active freelance and symphony musician, chamber music coach, and frequent guest teacher for workshops, institutes, and clinics across the nation. She toured Japan with the Logos String Quartet in 2006 and 2007, and in 2008 and 2009 she toured and soloed through Burgenland and Vienna, Austria, with the Classical Music Festival. Jill performs regularly with several symphonies throughout Central Ohio and is the cellist for the Bryden String Quartet. Miss Crist was named Columbus Symphony Orchestra 2021 Private and Community Educator of the Year.

Born and raised in central Ohio, violist Bruce Johnson earned his bachelor of music degree from the University of Notre Dame as a Joyce Fellow studying under Christine Rutledge, and his master’s degree at the University of Nebraska as a student of Clark Potter. Bruce served for several years as assistant principal viola of Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Omaha Symphony. More recently Bruce continues to play and teach locally in central Ohio, and in addition to musical activities, he currently serves as a Professor of Data Analytics for Western Governors University.

Akron-based violinist Andrew Paa enjoys a varied career as an educator, performer, and arts advocate. A dedicated teacher, he has worked with students privately and in music schools in South Dakota, Iowa, and Ohio. He maintains a private studio and previously taught at the Fairlawn and Hudson Schools of Music, and Firestone High School. Andrew has performed across the United States and internationally in venues such as Cleveland’s Playhouse Square, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and for three seasons in the first violin section of the Sioux City Symphony. He founded several groups including the Cuyahoga String Quartet, Enigma String Quartet, the Rosen String Quartet, and several piano trios. Andrew earned a MM in Chamber Music and Violin Performance from Kent State University where he studied with Cathy Meng Robinson (Miami String Quartet), Jung-Min Amy Lee (Assistant Concertmaster with The Cleveland Orchestra), and also members of the Miami String Quartet and the Verve Chamber Players. Prior to Kent, he earned a MM in Violin Performance from the University of South Dakota, studying violin with Dr. Eunho Kim and chamber music with members of the Rawlins Piano Trio. He earned his BA in Music from Luther College where he studied with Drs. Virginia Strauss and Jubal Fulks. Additional studies were undertaken with Frederick Halgedahl, Dan Auberbach, and Maria Peters.