The Quad City Symphony Youth Ensembles (QCSYE) proudly announce the winners of the Concerto Competition held on December 3, 2023. The competition consisted of thirteen accomplished student musicians performing selections of their choice for the chance to win two prestigious prizes. 

The winner of the Grand Prize is cellist Keira Cromwell. Cromwell’s exemplary talent and dedication have earned her the honor of performing the Lalo Cello Concerto with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra at the QCSO/QCSYE Side-by-Side Concert on Sunday, April 28, 2024, at 3:00 PM at the Adler Theatre. 

Keira Cromwell is a freshman and National Junior Honor Society member at Laurel Springs Academy. She began her cello journey at the age of 3, studying at Preucil School of Music in Iowa City under the guidance of Laura Shaw. She was enthralled with music for its pure joy as a child but came to appreciate it as a tool for communication and therapy over time. Her early start led to her joining the Preucil orchestra at 6 years of age, and subsequently playing in Cello Choir for the past 8 years. Most recently, she joined the Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2023. Keira’s musical repertoire extends beyond the cello, as she also studies piano with Chiaki Kubota and flute with Sasha Garver. 

Keira has participated in a variety of cello programs both nationally and internationally including the University of Wisconsin Aber Suzuki Institute, the Colorado Suzuki Institute, the International Academy of the Suzuki Method, the Chicago Suzuki Institute, the Alaska Cello Intensive Program, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and most recently, the Ascent Music Cello Festival at the University of Cincinnati. 

Her achievements include participating in the Suzuki National Conference in 2016 and 2018. In 2023, she served as the Iowa Music Teachers Association representative to the national conference for Junior Strings. Additionally, she was recognized with an honorable mention from the IMTA in 2016-2017 for her piano performance. 

Keira is also a competitive fencer, specializing in foil at the Iowa City Fencing Center under the instruction of Judy O’Donnell. When not busy with music and fencing, she enjoys cooking with her family.  

The YSO Prize has been awarded to Morgan Smith, a senior flutist hailing from Davenport North High School. Smith’s outstanding performance secured her the opportunity to perform Charles T. Griffe’s Poem for Flute and Orchestra at the YSO Finale Concert on Sunday, May 12, 2024, at 3:00 PM at the Bartlett Performing Arts Center. 

Morgan Smith is a senior at Davenport North High School and has been playing flute since seventh grade. Her teachers include Suzanne Benhart, Kaci Stirling, Dr. Yana Zixuan Yan, and Rose Bishop. She has been actively involved in band, musical pit, show choir pit, orchestra winds, and has made the All-State Band and Orchestra for three years. She has also been an active member of the Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestra, where she has played principal flute. Last summer she had the great experience of performing with the Youth Symphony on a European tour and plans on playing in Austria with World Youth Wind Orchestra Project. Next year Morgan plans to double major in flute performance and music education. After graduation, she hopes to earn a graduate degree in either performance or conducting. 


About the Quad City Symphony Youth Ensembles

The Quad City Symphony Youth Ensembles (QCSYE) program consists of five performance groups (four youth orchestras and a youth choir) for students in grades two through twelve. Under the direction of the outstanding QCSYE conducting staff, members have the opportunity to perform great orchestral and choral repertoire with the most talented young musicians in the area and learn from the mentorship of professional musicians from throughout the region. Ensemble members come from the greater Quad Cities, as well as other communities in southeast Iowa and northwest Illinois.

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Article by
Chelsea Sammons
Director of Education and Community Engagement

Funding for the QCSO website provided by the Scott County Regional Authority