Stars of Tomorrow Results

Ellen Zhou Named Winner of the 2021 Forte Stars of Tomorrow Competition

Ellen Zhou, violin

Ellen is a 10th grader at Middleton High School in the Madison area. She began violin lessons at the age of five and has been studying with Liz Norton since 2012. Ellen was a winner of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra concerto competition in both 2018 and 2019 and the Interlochen Intermediate Concerto Competition, also in 2019. In addition, Ellen was a semifinalist in the Eugenie Mayer Bolz Concerto Competition sponsored by the Madison Symphony in both 2019 and 2020. In addition to fostering her passion for music, Ellen likes to downhill ski, play tennis, paint, and play with her beloved dog, Sadie.

Ellen played the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35” to wow the judges. She has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship from Forte for her outstanding musical achievement and will have the opportunity to appear as a soloist with the MSO on an education concert during the 2021.22 season.

Two Runner-Ups Named for Their Impressive Performances

Joseph Batterman, marimba

Joseph Batterman, a graduating senior and talented percussionist, attends Arrowhead High School (Hartland, WI), where he is a member of the Wind Ensemble under the direction of Mr. Jacob Polancich. He is a 5 year member of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) and is currently involved in the Youth Orchestra, directed by Mr. Kyle Knox, and the Percussion Ensemble, directed by Mrs. Vicki P. Jenks and Mr. Dane Crozier. Joseph has also attended the International Music Camp (International Peace Gardens) and Birch Creek (Door County, WI). Joseph studies private percussion with Cindy Terhune (Sun Prairie) and Julie Spencer (Bingen, Germany), and he teaches private percussion lessons in the Dr. Chops Percussion Studio. In 2019, he earned the honor of performing as one of five musicians across the nation in the President’s Own Marine Band Concerto Competition Finals.

Joseph played excerpts of all three movements of Emmanuel Sejourne’s “Concerto for Marimba and Strings” for his audition.


Cynthia Yan, flute

Cynthia is a current senior at Sussex Hamilton High School and has been playing the flute for nine years, studying under Heather Yarmel. She is a member of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Hamilton Charger Marching Band, Hamilton Wind Symphony, and Wisconsin State Honors Band and Orchestra. Additionally, Cynthia is an instructor at Mathnasium and a kid’s tennis coach. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing tennis, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Cynthia will be attending Washington University in St. Louis in the fall to study computer science.

Cynthia played Franz Doppler’s “Hungarian Pastoral Fantasy Op. 26” for her audition.


Both Joseph and Cynthia have been awarded a $1,250 scholarship from Forte for their wonderful auditions.

2021 Stars of Tomorrow Competition

The 2021 Stars of Tomorrow Competition looked a little different this year than in past years. The first round, normally held in-person in early February, transitioned to a virtual round.  48 students submitted videos of their 5 minute auditions for judging.  Each student demonstrated courage and dedication to their musicianship by sending us their recorded auditions.  11 semi-finalists were selected from these videos and were invited to a live, in-person second round of competition.

On Sunday, April 25th, these 11 student participants and their accompanists performed for three judges at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center and impressed them with their beautiful solos.

We hope to invite the winner, runner-ups, semi-finalists, and honorable mention student participants to a future Side-By-Side Event with the MSO in the fall.

A special thank you to our judges:

First Round: Paul Hauer, Hyewon Kim, Beth Breslin, Susan Babini, Kirk Ferguson, and Kevin Pearl.

Second Round: Elizabeth Tuma, Frank Almond, and Matthew Ernst


2020: Grayson Eichmeier, Ava Kenney, Grace Kim

2019: Benjamin Davies Hudson, Jonah Kartman, Amy Katzman

2018: David Pickar, Maggie Setterstrom, Monona Suzuki