An important element of the SAIPC mission was to encourage the development of pianists in Greater San Antonio and Texas. This remains a high priority under Musical Bridges Around the World and the Gurwitz Competition.  One of the most important ways we do this is through our Music Ambassador Program. These young pianists represent the Competition as we showcase the positive experiences music can bring to people of all ages and backgrounds in our community. We are delighted at the response from the community, and we hope to continue this program for many years!

This program began in the 2014 – 2015 season with five students selected. They gave 15 individual performances. In our second year, the program expanded to seven students who presented 42 individual performances!

Ambassadors are 19 years of age or younger and come to us recommended by their piano teachers.  Ambassadors could be asked to play seasonal music or a short recital, to attend or participate in a master class, or to speak with students about how they chose to play piano.  They might play for large crowds or small, and/or they could be the “opening act” at Competition-sponsored recitals by professional pianists.  Music Ambassadors receive certificates for their work and are recognized throughout the year as appropriate. Musical Bridges Around the World will be including the Music Ambassadors in selected activities with international artists throughout the MBAW season, including selected opportunities to participate in the “Kids to Concert” program.

The family of long-time SAIPC board member and founder of the Music Ambassador program, Nancy Plourde, have generously continued the support of these outreach activities to school age children.

Music Ambassadors for the 2017-2018 season are: Tarek AlShaher Belhadad, Chloe Castillo, Erin Guetzloe, Kadence Howell, Breanna Humphrey, Andrew (Andy) Li, Daniel Voeller, Elisabeth Wang, Calla Xu and Kate Zernzach.
Click here to view their bios.

SAIPC Music Ambassadors 2017-2018

Tarek AlShaher Belhadad is a Syrian, 18 years old pre-med student at UTSA, who started his journey with classic music and piano at the age of five. He was part of the Russian Music Center (RMC) in Dubai till the age of sixteen. He won First place at several International piano competitions, including the Sulhi Al WAdi Piano Competition in Syria, and the Chopin Piano International Competition in Abu Dhabi. He participated in the International Festival, Moscow Meets Friends, in Moscow at the age of 13. Tarek has participated in concerts with the RMC, in the UAE, Germany and Austria.

At the age of sixteen, Tarek moved to the USA with his parents and little brother and settled in Boerne, Texas. He attended his Junior and Senior years at Champion High School, where he was the choir’s pianist. Tarek has an advanced Certificate in Performance Arts from Trinity College London and is currently preparing with his teacher, Elena Portnaya, for the LTCL program, which consists of a 45 minutes classic music piano performance. Tarek recently became part of the Music Ambassadors Program of the San Antonio International Piano Competition, where he continues to enjoy his passion of sharing and performing music in front of others.

Chloe Castillo, age 12, studies piano with Mr. Kenneth Thompson of the Musical Arts Center of San Antonio. Over the past eight years of piano study, Chloe has achieved many honors including: 1st place in the Young Artist Piano Competition at TX State University; Bach Circle and Judge’s Choice for four consecutive years in the San Antonio Junior Tuesday Musical Club Competitions; 1st places in the Petroff Piano Competitions; Superior Plus ratings and Judge’s Choice in the SAMTA Achievement Auditions; 2nd places in the De Bose National Piano Competitions; Outstanding Performer at McLennan State Piano Competitions; and Top-Talent Circle Ratings in the National Piano Guild. Chloe has also received medals every year since the 1st grade on the Whitlock State Theory Exam.

In 2015 Chloe was selected for a position as a Music Ambassador for the San Antonio International Piano Competition. In this role Chloe has enjoyed opportunities to open recitals for concert pianists, including Mei Rui and Andrea Lam. As an Ambassador, Chloe was featured performing a Mozart Sonata on WOAI News 4 SA to help promote the 2016 San Antonio International Piano Competition. She was also highlighted as a young San Antonio pianist in the February 2016 Voices de la Luna poetry and arts magazine. Furthermore, Chloe treasures the many opportunities to share her piano music with the San Antonio community playing for retirement homes, memory care facilities, local schools, and in concerts with her fellow Ambassadors.

Chloe has expressed a desire to spread her love of music in hopes of inspiring other young musicians. When she is not playing piano, Chloe can be found enjoying archery, ping-pong, riding her bike, reading or playing with her dog and her friends.

Erin Guetzloe, a 16 year old student of Ms. A.J. Collins and 2015 MACSA Young Artist Award recipient, has placed in numerous competitions including: TMTA, Texas State, JTMC, J.K. Hodges, McLennan, Petroff, Chopin Society, and Sounds Like KPAC. 2016-17 accomplishments include: 1st in Accelerated and Winners Concert Performer-Debose; Finalist, Honorable Mention and Scholarship-McKinney Young Artist; Honorable Mention/Piano Camp Scholarship-Baylor/Waco; Finalist/Scholarship- At Home with Music, TMTA Piano Solo Finalist, and Carnegie Hall Chopin Society Winners Recital performance. Erin was selected for the Young Artist Program and received a full scholarship to attend the SMU Institute for Young Pianists for both 2016 and 2017. She serves as an SAIPC Music Ambassador and was blessed to be a Junior Jurist for the 2016 San Antonio International Piano Competition. Erin has 12 piano students of her own and has been accompanying for Michelle Mendenhall’s Voice and Flute Studio for the past three years. She also stays busy as the Lincoln Douglas and Extemporaneous Speaking Leader for her Speech and Debate Club, the president of her home school honor society, and as an avid Irish dancer.

Kadence Howell is a student of Marsha Perkins and has studied piano with her for the past 8 years. She is 12 years old and is in the 7th grade at Bradley Middle School where she has been enrolled in a Spanish Dual Language program since Kindergarten. During that time, Kadence has been an active performer in numerous local, state and national piano events. Kadence has won numerous piano competitions such as 1st place in the McLennan Community College Piano Competition in 2017, 1st place in the Petroff Piano Competition in 2017, The Bach Circle Award in the JTMC Competition in 2014-2017, Superior + and Judges’Choice performer in the SAMTA Achievement Auditions 2014-2017 and RMI Contest 1st Place 2014-2017. Along with her numerous awards, Kadence has performed in the SAIPC Summer Showcase Recital in 2014-2016, The Rose Petroff Foundation Fundraiser 2014-2017, Petroff Winner’s Recital 2014-2017 and has been a member of the JTMC since she was in the 2nd grade.

Kadence loves to perform and is also a percussionist in the Bradley Middle School Honor Band. She looks forward to many years of performing and bringing joy to others through her music.

Breanna Humphrey is a sophomore at Ronald Reagan High School and has been playing the piano from a young age. She is currently studying with Peter Steigerwald. At the age of 4 she won the Hachi Noa piano competition in Misawa, Japan. After moving to San Angelo she studied with Janelle Schlaudt and won the Young Musicians Piano Competition allowing her to play with the San Angelo Symphony. She played with the Aeolus Quartet in the San Angelo Piano Festival. She played at the TMTA conventions in solo and ensemble competitions as well as in duet competitions with her sister, where they won second place. With her sister, Breanna went to various nursing homes and hospitals and played duets for people in recitals. She participated in the Young Artist Piano Competition in San Marcos where she won honorable mention. She also participated in the Baylor/Waco Piano Solo Competition and made honorable mention. She played for Tuesday Musical Club for one year. Breanna has also been playing the cello for three years. She is in the YOSA Philharmonic group and also enjoys playing in her school’s varsity orchestra. Breanna is on the swim team for Reagan, and does club and high school swimming.

Andrew (Andy) Li, age 15, is in 9th grade at Ronald Reagan high school. He began studying piano at the age of 5 and has been studying with Ms. A.J. Collins for the past 6 years. Andy received 2nd place in Hodges contemporary piano competition in 2017, 1st place in 2017, 2015 and 2nd in 2016 (highest in Piano) in Junior Tuesday Musical Club competition and was selected to perform in the Winners’ Concerts. He was a semi-finalist in TMTA state performance contest in 2017 and 2016. Andy placed first in the Petroff Piano Competition from 2012-2016 (2nd in 2013) with invitations to perform in the Winners Concerts. In 2016 and 2014 Andy was awarded First Prize with Special Honors in the Fryderyk Chopin Society of Texas Sonatina and Sonata International Youth Piano Competition and was invited to perform in Carnegie Hall. He was awarded 3rd place in 2015 and Honorable Mention in 2016 at the Texas State Young Artist Competition. Andy was the only piano finalist in NPR “Sounds like KPAC” competition and won 3rd place in solo performance in 2015. Andy has been selected to perform in the San Antonio Music Teacher’s Associtation Judge’s Choice Recital every year. He is honored to be a SAIPC Music Ambassador and performed for the SAIPC Summer Student Showcase for past several years.

In addition to piano, Andy has studied violin for 4 years and currently studies percussion instruments in Reagan’s national awarded marching band. Other than musical training, he was also selected to join varsity swimming team in Reagan and has been swimming in a competitive swim club year-around for 8 years. Andy is the founder and captain of his award-winning FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team, which advanced the World Championship in past two years. His other hobbies include reading, video gaming, and having fun with friends.

Daniel Voeller is 11 years old. He lives with his parents and three sisters in Garden Ridge, a San Antonio suburb. Daniel is home educated and his favorite subjects in school are history, math, and science. He began violin instruction at the age of four and at the age of six began piano lessons. It wasn’t long after he began learning to play the piano that he realized how much he loved it. His first piano teacher was Deborah Koch. Deborah gave Daniel an excellent foundation, but more importantly, she planted in his heart a great love for the instrument. At age nine, Daniel began instruction with Peter Steigerwald and Kenneth Thompson. The instruction he is receiving from his new teachers is both challenging and extremely rewarding.
In 2016-2017 Daniel was invited to play at the Keeter Center at the College of the Ozarks, in Branson, Missouri. Recently, Daniel began entering piano competitions. He competed in the San Antonio Junior Tuesday Musical Club competition, and achieved the Judges Choice Award. He also received the Judge’s Choice Award for the 2017 San Antonio Music Teachers Association Achievement Auditions.
Daniel’s family enjoys playing music together and have formed a bluegrass band. In addition to piano and violin, Daniel plays the banjo, mandolin and ukulele. Daniel has had multiple opportunities to play for churches, retirement homes, nursing homes, restaurants and community events.

Elisabeth Wang is a junior at Health Careers High School and has played the piano since the age of five. She currently studies piano with Ms. A.J. Collins. In 2014 and 2016, she was awarded First Prize with Honors in the Fryderyk Chopin Society of Texas Sonatina and Sonata International Youth Piano Competition and performed in the Winner’s Concert in Carnegie Hall. In November 2016, she placed 1st in the San Antonio Ragtime Society Competition. In 2017, Elisabeth won 3rd Place at the Petroff Competition, 2nd Place at the DeBose National Competition, and 1st Place in the Janice Kay Hodges Contemporary Piano Competition for the 10th grade division. She was selected for the Judge’s Choice Recital in the Achievement Auditions in 2016 and 2017. She participated in Dr. Chan Lim’s piano masterclass in April 2017. She has received gold medals for the TMTA Theory Tests from 2007 to present. Elisabeth has been a MACSA Performance Honor Roll recipient for the past four years. In 2017 she received the MACSA Young Artist Award. Last year she served as Stage Manager for the Junior Tuesday Musical Club and this year she serves as the Historian.
Elisabeth enjoys playing the cello and piano for the YOSA Philharmonic and participated in its Central Europe tour in 2016. She was a UIL State Solo Participant for Piano and Cello in 2016 and 2017 and received a “1” rating in both categories. Elisabeth was elected Class Treasurer for the 2016 school year and this year was elected Vice-President of the Art Club. She was the principal cellist for her school’s varsity orchestra in 2015-2016. She is a member of the Phoenix Chamber Ensemble at Health Careers High School.
Calla Xu is a ninth-grader attending Ronald Reagan High School and a pianist in training for nine years. Since moving to San Antonio from Southern California in 2014, she has been studying music with Ms. A. J. Collins, a highly accomplished pianist and a wonderful music teacher. Under the tutelage of Ms. Collins, Calla has enjoyed playing a wide range of repertoire and performing in numerous recitals and concerts, with one solo recital planned for this winter featuring her favorite pieces from all four musical eras. By playing selections from composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin, she has been placed in state and nationwide competitions. Calla has also performed in several master classes and taken an AP Music Theory class.

Music is a big passion of Calla’s. As an important and effective vehicle for people to connect, it has helped shape her perspective to the history and to the world. Seeing the audience enjoy music’s grandeur and serenity makes her happier in playing it. Because of this, it will be a genuine experience of the reciprocal enrichment, in addition to being an honor, for Calla to fulfill the duty as an Ambassador of San Antonio International Piano Competition in bringing music to people who need it the most.

Music and sympathy are the two of three pillars, with the third being strong academics, in order to support Calla’s progress towards an anticipated career in an interdisciplinary area that approaches cognitive capacities. Towards the career goal, she dedicates a strong effort to various extracurricular and academic activities.  She has excelled in school since middle school, including earning perfect grades in GT/Pre-AP Math and English. She is a repeated gold medalist as well as a part of first prize-winning teams in academic competitions organized by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) of Texas.  Needless to say, amid all these “chaotic” activities, music always keeps her calm and inspired.

Kate Zernzach began piano lessons at the age of 5 while her family was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, under the tutelage of Cheri Warner and Emily Cutler. It wasn’t until her family was stationed at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, in August, 2011, that her study of piano became serious. For the past 6 years, Kate has studied piano from Marsha Perkins at the RAMAR Piano Institute. Kate’s successes include many awards from piano competitions throughout the state of Texas at various colleges including Baylor, McLennan, Texas State, and UTSA where she has been selected as Judge’s Choice 5 consecutive years. Kate placed in the Annual Petroff Competition, and selected to perform at the Rose Petroff Foundation banquet. She competed and received monetary awards with the Junior Tuesday Music Club where she currently serves as the Vice President. Additionally, Kate ranked 2nd and 3rd place nationally in her division through the Debose National Piano Competition in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Kate has received Top Talent and has been declared a District Winner, Elementary Class, the last 4 years of her participation in the National Piano Playing Auditions with the past 2 years earning Ramar top studio ranking. Kate serves as a 2017-18 SAIPC Music Ambassador.
In 2015, Kate began pipe organ lessons with Dr. Thomas Hardaway. She has performed Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E Minor and In Dir est Freude on the historic pipe organs at Travis Park United Methodist Church and the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Kate is the congregational organist each Sunday for Castle Hills Ward, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Kate is a member of the Texas Children’s Choir where she has accompanied the choir on many selections. Having joined the choir 5 years ago, Kate has had the opportunity to sing in many venues. Most notably, Kate sang with the choir at the 70th Anniversary of D-day in Normandy, France. Kate has received a Choral Scholar Award from the Young Singers Foundation.

Kids to Concerts

Kids to Concerts is a free educational outreach program that introduces San Antonio children to faraway cultures from all over the world through folk music and dance in their very own schools. KtC annually benefits more than 50,000 children in grades K-12.

Musical Sprouts

5 Concerts At Charline Mccombs Empire Theatre, 3 Concerts At San Fernando Cathedra. Be sure to join us for our grand finale concert at the empire theater for a not-to- be-missed birthday bash with russian music, dance, food, and drink!

Golden Age

Golden Age is an asset to these centers as they are freed of the logistical and financial challenges of transport and ticketing fees. This year we hope to continue to reach more senior citizens than ever before. MBAW will take the hour-long!