2020 Stars of Tomorrow Winner Announced!

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce that violinist Ava Kenney (pictured right) is the winner of the 2020 Audrey G. Baird Stars of Tomorrow Competition! She performed the first movement of the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op 61.

Ava will be a sophomore at James Madison Memorial High School in Madison. She began violin studies at age three with her mother, Heidi Kenney, through the Suzuki Strings of Madison. She currently studies with Eugene Purdue, Adjunct Professor of Music at UW-Madison. Ava is a member of WYSO, playing in multiple ensembles, and has distinguished herself in numerous competitions. She is also involved in multiple extra-curricular activities including Spartan Youth Services, JMM Shield and Sword Newspaper, and as a mentor for WYSO Music Makers. As the 2020 Stars of Tomorrow winner, Ava will receive an additional $1000 Forte scholarship and an invitation to perform on the MSO’s Concerts for Schools series next season.

The other two finalists were Grace Kim, cello, from Waunakee, who performed the fourth movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, and Grayson Eichmeier, oboe, from Mequon, who performed the first movement of the Vaughan Williams Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra. Grace and Grayson will each receive an additional $250 Forte scholarship. We commend all three finalists on their fine performances!

Due to COVID-19, this year the competition was concluded virtually. The final round judges were Frank Almond, MSO Concertmaster, Stephen Colburn, retired MSO principal oboe, and Stefan Kartman, professor of cello and string pedagogy at UW-Milwaukee.

While this year's Audrey G. Baird Stars of Tomorrow participants were not able to perform side by side with the orchestra on stage, we still wanted to celebrate their accomplishments. Enjoy an explosive excerpt from Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture Finale featuring our 2020 Stars of Tomorrow!

MSO Audrey G. Baird Stars of Tomorrow 1812 Performance


Forte’s 2020 Stars of Tomorrow Auditions were held on Saturday, February 8, 2020. These auditions are open to all Wisconsin high school string, woodwind, brass and percussion musicians. Audition slots are limited and are granted on a first-come, first served basis as applications are received. Three student musicians are named to advance to the final round.

In addition to the honor of performing as a soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony, finalists are eligible to receive up to $2,000 in scholarships. Semi-finalists and honorable mentions are given the opportunity to play side-by-side with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra musicians. In 2020 both the Finals and Side by Side experience were conducted virtually due to COVID-19.

With questions, please contact the MSO Education Department at 414.226.7812 or edu@mso.org.



2019: Benjamin Davies Hudson, Jonah Kartman, Amy Katzman

2018: David Pickar, Maggie Setterstrom, Monona Suzuki

2017: Cassidy Franzmeier, Garrison Keller, Emily Hauer