Tag Archives: The Final Forte

“The Final Forte” 2017 Premieres Tonight!

Above, from left to right: Violinist Julian Rhee, harpist Naomi Sutherland, pianist Michael Wu and violinist Yaoyao Chen.

Join us tonight at 7 p.m. on-air and online as four Wisconsin musical prodigies perform with Maestro John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra in the 2017 Bolz Young Artist Competition.

This year, The Final Forte features violinist Julian Rhee of Brookfield, harpist Naomi Sutherland of Viroqua, pianist Michael Wu of Sun Prairie and violinist Yaoyao Chen of Menasha, who will vie for top honors in the 2017 competition. WPR’s Lori Skelton and Jim Fleming will co-host the event.

Continue reading “The Final Forte” 2017 Premieres Tonight!

The Journey to Overture Stage

For the finalists of the prestigious Bolz Young Artist competition, the journey to Overture stage is a long one that often takes years of determination, hard work and hundreds of hours of practice to achieve.

In the first stage of the competition a pool of 30-40 contestants perform in a preliminary round of auditions for a panel of three judges. Students are separated into three areas for the audition, Strings, Piano and Brass/Woodwinds/Percussion/Harp. Approximately eight students are selected at the end of the day to move on to the semi-final round two weeks later. The stakes are higher than ever in this round of auditions as it is open to the public and recorded by Wisconsin Public Television. A new panel of judges, including Madison Symphony Orchestra Maestro John DeMain preside over the semi-final round. The four lucky finalists are announced immediately after the second round of auditions to the anxiously awaiting contestants and their families.

Then it is a long two-month wait until the final round. Finalists continue to diligently practice their piece over and over again in anticipation for the big day.

Each finalist meets with Maestro DeMain in the weeks leading up to the final competition to review his or her performance piece together. Then the week of the final competition arrives. Monday brings a rehearsal with the full orchestra and Maestro DeMain for each finalist. This rehearsal gives each student a chance to hear their performance with the full orchestra playing when previously they may only have had a chance to perform with a pianist. The Maestro and each finalist rehearse the pieces, stopping to adjust tempos, dynamics of the orchestra and coordinating the end of cadenzas. Then Tuesday night is a full dress rehearsal, followed by Wednesday, the culmination of months, sometimes years of hard work for these young performers.

No matter the result the journey is a rewarding one. Robert Rockman, the winner of last year’s Final Forte, had this to say of the experience:

“This has been the best experience of my musical career, and for me, this was never about winning the competition but enjoying every second of this amazing process and opportunity. Not winning, but learning, giving, performing, and enjoying music. Not winning, but touching people and making them feel something. So let us all go support, play, and enjoy music.”

This year’s finalists are harpist Naomi Sutherland, a senior at Interlochen Arts Academy.

Pianist, Michael Wu, a 9th grader at Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School.

Violinist Yao Yao Chen, a senior at Xavier High School.

And finally, violinist Julian Rhee, a junior at Brookfield East High School. If he looks familiar that’s because he was the winner of the 2015 Final Forte competition!

The Final Forte will be broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Television at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29th. Tune in on television or watch the live stream at wpt.org.

The Final Forte: Where Are They Now?


To watch this year’s competition at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 29, visit The Final Forte page, tune in to WPT’s livestream or listen live on WPR. If you miss the live show, you can also catch the competition by watching the broadcast on WPT

Each year, some of the most talented young artists in the state vie for top honors in the final round of the Bolz Young Artist Competition. With all of the buzz around the competition itself, it’s easy to forget that soon afterward, these amazing young musicians go on to do great things! With that in mind, producer John Gerbig set out to catch up with some of the previous contestants and discover what they’re doing today. Continue reading The Final Forte: Where Are They Now?

Meet Ephraim Sutherland – Wisconsin’s Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte

How is perfecting a concerto like building a house? Find out when you meet Viroqua high school student Ephraim Sutherland and learn how percussion has opened his eyes to the world around him and led to his mastery of the marimba.

He’s one of four finalists who will perform tonight with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in the 7 p.m. live broadcast of Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte on Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio. Tune in on air or streaming live online.

Meet Bethany Moss – Wisconsin’s Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte

How has music fueled your imagination? Meet violinist Bethany Moss and discover how her love of the arts has driven her to excel musically and in her studies as an Appleton high school student.

She’ll perform Wednesday night with the Madison Symphony Orchestra as part of the live 7 p.m. broadcast of Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte on Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio. You can meet the final competitor here tomorrow morning.

Meet Bobby Levinger – Wisconsin's Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte

How many of us knew exactly what we wanted to be when we grew up at just five years old? La Crosse high school student Bobby Levinger did.

Meet him and learn about his passion for the piano and the resulting artistry that will be on display when he performs with the Madison Symphony Orchestra as one of four finalists in Wisconsin’s Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte, live from Overture Hall on Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio 7 p.m. Wednesday. Meet the remaining contestants here over the next two days.

Meet David Cao – Wisconsin's Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte

Expert violinist, tae-kwon-do black belt, generous volunteer and high school student – Meet Madison’s David Cao, one of the talented young musicians who will perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in next Wednesday’s live 7 p.m. broadcast of Wisconsin’s Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte on Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio.

Stay tuned to meet another new finalist here each weekday until the big show!

The Final Forte

Watch Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 14 on Wisconsin Public Television.

It’s competitions like these that always make me feel a little sad inside. I mean not really, but I do wish I would have learned to play an instrument when I was growing up. Sure I could play a few simple nursery rhymes on the piano, but the music bug never really latched on. I think my sister stole all of the musical talent in the family, so instead I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy other people’s musical skills.

Year after year I am amazed by these kids. The time and dedication they have to put into their respective instruments to perform at this level at such a young age is simply astounding. Kind of makes you wonder though – is it that doing something consistently starting at a young age makes you great at it? Or are some people just lucky enough to find their special niche and a very young age?

Don’t forget to check out each competitor’s bio and learn a little more about how they got to where they are today:
C. Andrew Dunlap

Christopher Eom
Lauren McNeel
Chloé Tula

Meet the performers from The Final Forte

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, four talented young musicians from across Wisconsin will perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra at Overture Hall in Madison during The Final Forte: Wisconsin Young Artists Compete. You can be there by reserving your free tickets now at this link, or tune in to the live high-definition broadcast on Wisconsin Public Television or listen in on Wisconsin Public Radio.

These four musicians represent the finalists in the statewide Bolz Young Artists competition. After a series of qualifying rounds, they will compete for scholarship money on the state’s largest broadcast stage.

Meet the four contestants in the videos below and see just a little bit of the amazing amount of work that they and their families put into fostering their immense talent. Then, tune in March 21 to watch them perform!

Michael Doerr, piano

Watch Final Forte – Michael Doerr on PBS. See more from WPT Presents.

Charles Dieterle, trombone

Watch Final Forte – Charles Dieterle on PBS. See more from WPT Presents.

Anthony Cudzinovic, violin

Watch Final Forte – Anthony Cudzinovic on PBS. See more from WPT Presents.

Garrick Olsen, piano

Watch Final Forte – Garrick Olsen on PBS. See more from WPT Presents.