Pleasanton Teen Wins Grand Prize at Philadelphia International Music Festival Competition

The prestigious Philadelphia International Music Festival awarded over $20,000 in scholarships and performance opportunities to talented young musicians who participated in PIMF’s semi-annual Online Concerto Competition.

The Grand Prize Winner is 14-year-old pianist Celicia Thendean of Pleasanton, California, who won a full scholarship to PIMF’s intensive classical music training program this summer, a featured performance on PIMF’s YouTube channel, and an invitation to perform in the annual PIMF Winners’ Circle Concert with several members of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Amador Valley High School freshman competed with Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26, I. “Andante – Allegro.”

“I chose the piece because of its energy and brilliance,” Celicia explained. “It’s so fun to learn and to play, and I hope others can also feel the excitement evident in the piece. It is also one of those few pieces where sometimes I can just let my fingers run free while the intensity carries me away.”

Celicia is a multi-talented and multi-tasking musician, starting piano at age four, cello age eight, oboe at age 11 and adding clarinet this year, which she plays in Amador Valley’s marching band.

“A lot of things in my life revolve around music,” she said. “From practicing to lessons to listening to music to band to playing pieces in my head, music is constantly present in my life. Although I do have goals such as entering the biggest competitions around or getting into the best schools, I feel like my biggest goal is to reach as many people as I can through my music. Whether it will be performing at venues or senior centers or posting online, I feel that there is a great value in sharing what I feel through music.”

Musicians in three age groups from 6 to 19 years of age submitted videos for PIMF’s competition.

“It was quite literally an outpouring of talent submitted to our Winter 2022 Virtual Concerto Competition from all over the world!” says PIMF President Sandy Marcucci, “Some 200 young musicians offered us their video performances, and the skill and artistic levels were simply dazzling.”

Adjudicator Marc Rovetti, Assistant Concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra, agrees.

“Choosing the winners was not an easy task, and that’s a great thing!” he said. “I was so pleased by how seriously everyone took this competition and enjoyed listening to young musicians at such a high level.”

Mr. Rovetti had high praise for the Grand Prize winner: “Celicia Thendean’s playing impressed me with its maturity, technical polish, warmth, and musicality. When listening to a young person play a concerto for a competition the question I always ask myself is ‘would they be able to perform this piece with orchestra tomorrow?’ With Celicia there was no question in my mind that she was thoroughly prepared to do so and would do so beautifully.”

Other adjudicators included John Koen, also of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Yu Xi Wang, Director of Keyboard Studies at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Celicia will be attending the June Session (June 17 – June 30) of the Philadelphia International Music Festival in Wayne, Pennsylvania, where she will be studying with international piano soloist Svetlana Smolina.

YOU could be the next competition winner featured by the Philadelphia International Music Festival! The PIMF Spring Concerto Competition is accepting submissions now through April 30th, 2023. Click here to complete your competition submission today. You could be the next musician to earn a FULL TUITION scholarship to study with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra.