Winners of Totenberg String Competition to Give Gala Concert in Newton

The First Roman Totenberg Young Musicians String Competition is sponsored by the Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs and founded by Dr. Vera Rubin, president of the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association.

Right up until his last few moments of life, renowned violinist Roman Totenberg was still teaching from his hospital bed in his Newton home.

As a way to honor the beloved teacher and musician, the Mayor's Office for Cultural Affairs and Massachusetts Music Teachers Association President Dr. Vera Rubin recently teamed up to launch the First Annual Roman Totenberg Young Musicians String Competition.

Now, the winners of the Totenberg competition will be giving a special gala concert this Saturday, Dec. 8. 

The concert will be held at the Newton Cultural Center and starts at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door, $5 for students and seniors.

The Totenberg String Competition was held on Dec. 2 and was open to musicians age 8-18 who were either Newton residents or students of Newton string teachers. 

Musicians competed within their age group and first, second, third and honorable mentions were awarded. First place winners received cash prizes.

Violinist Daniel Stepner and cellist Stephanie Wingfield served as judges for the competition, and Totenberg's daughters -- Jill, Amy and NPR reporter Nina Totenberg -- attended the competition, according to the press release. 

“We Totenberg sisters cannot think of a better example of our father’s legacy than this competition. Mr. T., as he was known, so enjoyed young people, and they kept him young, even in his 101st year," the sisters said in the press release. “We can almost hear him saying, 'Hurrah to all of you…and don’t be nervous. Consider this an experience! A wonderful experience!'"

Totenberg, who passed away in May at the age of 101, grew up in Poland and was known for his remarkable talent from a young age. He went on to work with a several famous 20th-century composers and play for numerous presidents, kings and dignitaries.

Rubin, who founded the event, was one of Totenberg's students and a dear friend to the legendary violinist.

A list of the Totenberg competition winners is included below:

Division 1  Ages 8-9

1st Place: Nicolas Bass - 8 years old

Lawrence Elementary School

Teacher: Debbie Thompson


2nd Place: Helen Xiao - 9 years old

Ward Elementary School

Teacher: Frank Powdermaker


3rd Place: Zoey Long - 8 years old

Sawyer Elementary School

Teacher: Vera Rubin


Division 2  Ages 10,11

1st Place: Joy Ding

Bigelow Middle School

Teacher: Lisa Crockett


2nd Place: Hayoung Song - 11 years old

F.A. Day Middle School

Teacher: Sophia Soglard


3rd Place: Kenichiro Takeoka - 10 years old

Horace Mann Elementary School

Teacher: Momoko Matsumura


Honorable Mention

Olivia Jacks - 10 years old

Underwood Elementary School

Teacher: Debbie Thompson


Division 3  Age 12,13

1st Place: Zlatomir Fung - 13 years old

Oak Meadow School

Teacher: Emmanuel Feldman


3rd Place Shared:

Angela Jin - 13 years old

R.J. Grey Junior High School

Teacher: Vera Rubin


Thomas O'Neill - 13 years old

Oak Hill Middle School

Teacher: Bekka Schellenberg



Division 4  Ages 14,15

1st Place Shared: 

Hyunnew Choi - 15 years old

Newton South High School

Teacher: Miguel Perez-Espejo


Tristan Flores - 14 years old

Lexington High School

Teacher: Peter Zazofsky


3rd Place Shared:

Young-Hoon Oh - 14 years old

Newton North High School

Teacher: Sally Martin


Arjun Sridhar - 15 years old

Newton South High School

Teacher: Vera Rubin


Honorable Mention:

Juyoung Song - 14 years old

F.A. Day Middle School

Teacher: Sophia Sogland


Division 5  Ages 16,1,7,18

1st Place: Isabel Oliart - 16 years old

Newton North High School

Teacher: Peter Zazofsky


2nd Place Shared:

Emma Churchill - 16 years old

Newton South High School

Teacher: Allison Elderidge


Aldis Elfarsdottir - 16 years old

Belmont High School

Teacher: Mark Lakirovich


3rd Place: Daniel Johnson - 18 years old

Walnut Hill School

Teacher: Joo-Mee Lee


Honorable Mention:

Saranya Ramadurai - 16 years old

Newton South High School

Teacher: Vera Rubin


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