Cultural Trust Blog: WQED Musical Kids

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At a time when music and arts programs are being cut from school programs, WQED is working hard to ensure that musical kids are getting recognition and opportunities to demonstrate their talents. Joanna Marie from WQED says that “Musical kids was an initiative to support and acknowledge young musicians.”

The contest is one that WQED has held in years past, but was suspended in recent years. This year, the contest returned with a new online component but the goal was the same: to ensure that musical kids have an opportunity to shine.

This year’s contest was open to middle school students from all over Pennsylvania and a panel of judges narrowed down over 60 applicants to a select 15. Each contestant sent in a recording of their performance and a short essay. Judged on various abilities, including their technicality and musicality, the finalists performed for the judges at WQED and the community was able to vote for one winner online at The panel of judges chose the remaining finalists. The winner of the public contest was a young pianist named Lily Wang and the other five were violinist Joseph Comella and pianists Fiona Stauffer, Rebecca Chen, Nathan Pallotta, and Suvir Mirchandani. All six winners came to Pittsburgh and recorded a radio program at WQED with Jim Cunningham. They were also honored at a special WQED night with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and they will all also be performing at this year’s Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Joanna Marie of WQED says that “these kids are the future of classical music,” and WQED is working hard to make sure that they get the recognition of their peers at their own schools, where each of them will be receiving a plaque. She says that ‘the life of a musician can be very solitary’ so the radio station wants to make sure that these young musicians are acknowledged for their hard work and skill.

Along with their performances at this year’s Arts Festival, these kids will also likely be performing at WQED’s Radical Days in the fall. You can see them perform at the Arts Festival on June 10th. Rebecca Chen, Joey Comella, and Lily Wang will perform at 1pm and Nathan Pallotta, Fiona Stauffer, and Suvir Mirchandani will perform at 5pm at the Dollar Bank Stage.

For more information, and to see videos of this year’s winners, please visit


Originally posted June 10, 2013 12:00pm by Emily O’Donnell at

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