After the concert on December 9th

Bhavani Kotha – oboe – R Strauss oboe concerto (1st movement)

Praised by the Seattle’s SunBreak Magazine for her “nuanced phrasing and smooth shaping,” oboist Bhavani Kotha is equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, and teacher. She has been featured as a soloist with the University of Southern California Concerto Chamber Orchestra, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, and Royal Conservatory Orchestra. In recent summers she has participated in Sarasota Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Marrowstone Music Festival, Hot Springs Music Festival, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Institute in Whistler.

A passionate teacher, Bhavani teaches private lessons, masterclasses, and sectionals. She is a teaching artist at Earl Haig Secondary School. Bhavani holds degrees from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and the University of Washington. She is currently pursuing her Artist Diploma at the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory where she is a student of Sarah Jeffrey.

“While I was studying at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, I heard about the NYCO Concerto Competition. It sounded like a wonderful opportunity, and my teacher Sarah Jeffrey (principal oboist of the TSO) encouraged me to compete with the Strauss Oboe Concerto. I was thrilled when I was selected as one of the winners, and would have the chance to solo with NYCO. It was a pleasure to work with the orchestra and with Maestro Rafael Luz. Winning the competition helped get my name out in the Toronto classical music scene. I got calls to play with the Toronto Concert Orchestra and sub with the Kingston Symphony. I also decided to apply to more solo competitions, because I wanted more chances to perform the concerto repertoire. A few months later, I won the Hart House Orchestra Concerto Competition, and I recently won the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition. Since most oboe players are focused on making a career by playing in orchestras, I am excited by so many solo opportunities. The experience of standing at the front of the stage and playing a solo also gives me confidence in my orchestral playing. I can apply my skills as a soloist to play pieces like Tchaikovsky’s 4th symphony and Strauss’ Don Juan, which have big orchestral solos. I am excited to record a solo album with Crystal Records this summer and a concerto album with Centaur Records and Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra next season.

Opportunities like NYCO Concerto Competition make it possible for young performers like myself to experience the thrill of performing as a soloist. I hope the competition continues to inspire the next generation of performing artists.” (Feb 2019)

Leslie Ashworth – violin – Mendelssohn violin concerto (1st movement)

Violinist, pianist, violist and composer Leslie Ashworth has performed in Carnegie Hall, Koerner Hall, and the Vancouver Convention Centre. Grand Prize winner of the Canadian Music Competition, Leslie is an alumnus of the New York String Orchestra Seminar, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, National Academy Orchestra, Banff Centre, and the Aspen Music Festival. Leslie received the Lieutenant Governor’s Community Service Youth Award for founding the Suite Melody Care volunteer program (

In addition to her classical studies in violin, viola and piano, Leslie enjoys studying and playing jazz piano. She has also studied Celtic fiddling on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Leslie loves playing chamber music with her colleagues and mentors and also enjoys teaching the violin and piano at the Oakville School of Music. Composing is another of Leslie’s favourite ways of expressing herself – she has created over 30 original pieces.

Leslie plays on a 1696 Albani violin on loan to her by a generous benefactor. A full scholarship student of Barry Shiffman and Paul Kantor, Leslie is studying her Bachelor of Music Performance at the Glenn Gould School. She has released her third CD/DVD. For dates to hear Leslie perform live, visit

“The NYCO Concerto Competition is a fantastic opportunity for emerging young artists. As a winner of the NYCO Concerto Competition, I was able to perform as soloist with the orchestra – an invaluable experience for aspiring musicians. The competition not only provides young artists with a goal in which to work towards, polishing their concerto which they work on for months for the chance to perform it in front of a jury, but it also gives the winners the ability to hone skills as a performing soloist, collaborating with a conductor and the orchestral musicians, as well as create new connections with the NYCO audience members. These are all essential tools to develop as an artist and I am grateful to the NYCO for giving me this platform!” (Feb 2019)

Naomi Wong – piano – Schumann piano concerto (1st movement)

Fifteen-year-old Toronto-born pianist, Naomi Wong, began her piano studies at age 6 with Rachel Yu. In 2010, she started lessons with Ken Marple, who currently teaches her at the University Settlement Music and Arts School. Since 2011, she has participated in various annual music festivals and competitions including the Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival, Neapolitan Music Festival, and University Settlement’s Scholarship Audition, where she has garnered many awards and scholarships. She has been selected to compete at the Provincial level for the past four years, and this year won two 2nd place awards in the ARCT Piano and Senior Concerto categories. Naomi has also provided piano accompaniment for the children’s service at her church since she was 6 years old and does extensive accompaniment for vocalists and instrumentalists at her public school and her music school. In addition to performing and accompanying, she teaches piano to students in her neighbourhood.

Currently (2017) Naomi is in grade 11 at Harbord C.I. located in downtown Toronto. As well as being an accompanist, she is also a violinist and flautist in her school orchestra. When she is not busy practising one of her three instruments or doing school work, Naomi enjoys solving math and logic puzzles, knitting, reading, and going on canoe trips. After high school, Naomi hopes to pursue post-secondary education in piano performance.

“Performing the first movement of Schumann’s Piano Concerto with NYCO was a thrilling and memorable experience. It was my first time playing as a soloist with orchestra and the performance represents a huge milestone in my musical journey. As someone who struggles with stage fright, I was surprisingly calm and comfortable on stage with the orchestra. Without a doubt, I experienced minimal nervousness because the orchestra was extremely supportive and the sound they produced was so exciting that I felt totally immersed in the music during the performance.

Since this experience, I have become increasingly confident as a performer. Playing as a soloist with NYCO also improved my collaboration skills, both on- and off- stage. I discovered that working with a full orchestra requires me to be a more sensitive listener and I also had opportunities to discuss my ideas on the concerto with the conductor. All in all, this experience really boosted my development as a young performer and I hope more aspiring musicians will be offered this wonderful opportunity.” (Feb 2019)