2020 Judging Panel
Diane Wittry is one of the foremost woman conductors in the US today. Frequently engaged as a guest conductor, she has led symphonic performances in more than 10 countries and throughout the U.S. She has worked with conductors Michael Tilson Thomas, Pierre Boulez, and Daniel Lewis, among others, and has been profiled in the New York Times.
The Allentown Symphony Association appointed Diane Wittry as its third Music Director and Conductor in 1995. Under her artistic leadership in the last 20 years, the Orchestra has risen to increasing standards of excellence, performing exciting music with passion and dedication, and winning the prestigious national “American Prize” for artistic quality in 2014.
During her tenure with the ASO, she has built a well-earned reputation for her innovative style of multi-media programming that uses other art forms to enhance the concert experience. Diane has expanded the concert series and developed outreach programs such as the Schadt National String Competition, Young Musicians String Festival, Phantasy Symphony for amateur musicians, Conducting Fellows Program, ASO Annual Youth and Family Concerts, Meet the Artists brown bag talks, and the Allentown Symphony Chorus.
In addition to her work with the ASO, Diane Wittry has served as the Associate Conductor of the renowned Ojai Music Festival (CA); the Artistic Director of the International Music Program with the Sarajevo Philharmonic, Bosnia; and Music Director and Conductor of the Symphony of Southeast Texas, the Norwalk Symphony (CT), and the Ridgewood Symphony (NJ).
Wittry is an award winning author, composer, and teacher. Her two books, Beyond the Baton, and Baton Basics-Communicating Music through Gestures, have become standards in the field. Hundreds of conductors from all over the world have studied conducting with her, and she regularly gives presentations at the Juilliard School of Music, the Curtis Institute, the Manhattan School of Music, and for the League of American Orchestras and the Conductors Guild National Conferences. Next January, Wittry will be the featured conducting teacher for the CODA National Conference (College Orchestra Director’s Association).
As a composer, Diane Wittry's compositions are published by Theodore Presser Company. Her pieces have been performed and recorded by orchestras in the United States and Europe. Wittry's composition "Mist, " premiered by the Allentown Symphony in 2008, will have its New York premiere in October 2015.
Awards Diane Wittry has received include the national Helen M. Thompson Award from the League of American Orchestras, the USC Thornton School of Music Outstanding Alumnus Award, the Gold Crown Award (Pasadena, CA), the Women of Excellence Award (Beaumont, TX), and the Arts Ovation Award and the Woman of Distinction Award (Allentown, PA).
Richard Weiss is first assistant principal cellist of The Cleveland Orchestra, occupying the GAR Foundation endowed chair. He is from Los Angeles. In high school, he won the national first prize of the Music Teachers National Association competition.
At the Tanglewood
Festival he won the Young Artist contest and was featured as concerto soloist. He was awarded a full merit scholarship to the Eastman School of Music. While in college, he won a position in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
During his senior year he was appointed to The Cleveland Orchestra, where he later won his titled first desk position. With TCO and other orchestras, he has appeared as soloist many times. His concerto repertoire includes Beethoven (Triple), Brahms (Double), Dvorák, Lalo, Rôsza, Saint-Saëns (A Minor and D Minor), Schumann and Tchaikovsky. An active chamber music performer, he is a member of the Cleveland Orchestra Piano Trio.
Mr. Weiss is co-chair of the cello faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He regularly coaches the cello sections of the CIM Orchestras and the New World Symphony. He has appeared as performer and teacher at several summer music programs, including the Aspen, Reno, CIM International, and Kent/Blossom Festivals.
Mr. Weiss has given many masterclasses worldwide, most recently in major Asian cities including Taipei, Macau, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing. Among his recordings is the unique Suite for Cello and Jazz Piano Trio by Claude Bolling.
He can be seen performing Ernest Bloch's Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 here
Jesús Castro-Balbi’s artistic activities encompass critically acclaimed performances and broadcasts in the US, Asia, Europe and throughout Latin America as a soloist with, among other orchestras, the Dallas and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras, the China Philharmonic, the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra (Denmark), the Leipzig MDR radio orchestra, the Mexico City Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra (Peru). He appeared in prestigious venues from Alice Tully Hall and over a dozen appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York to the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. He further performs at prominent festivals, including the Lincoln Center Festival, and in Cartagena (Colombia), Morelia (Mexico), San Miguel de Allende (Mexico) and Riga (Latvia). Beyond the beloved standard repertoire, he has developed a long-standing affinity with music of our time, whether bringing the Lutoslawski concerto to audiences from New Orleans to Lima, performing William Bolcom’s Capriccio at the Cliburn at the Modern series in Fort Worth, presenting the American premiere of Lera Auerbach’s Postscriptum in New York with Clavier Trio, or recording the complete music for cello and piano by Robert Rodriguez with pianist Gloria Lin. To date, he has presented 51 premiere performances of concerti, chamber music and cello ensemble music, the world premiere recording of 17 works, and is the dedicatee of 19 compositions. Notable among these is his 2015 recording of the cello concerto Lord of the Air by Jimmy López for Harmonia Mundi with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra led by Miguel Harth-Bedoya. This album was named Album of the Week by the Chicago Tribune, Le Choix de France-Musique, and won the Luces prize in Peru.
As a teacher of international reputation, he presents master-classes and seminars abroad at Beijing’s Central Conservatory, the Paris Conservatoire, the Leipzig and Stuttgart Hochschule, for the Japan Cello Society, and in the US at the Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music. As an adjudicator, he served on the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Lynn Harrell Competition, the Sphinx Competition (Michigan), and at the Aiqin Bei (China), Lutoslawski (Poland) and Carlos Prieto (Mexico) international cello competitions.
A professor at the Texas Christian University School of Music in Fort Worth, Texas, he has developed since 2003 a select studio of undergraduate and graduate cellists from the US and abroad. He is the founding artistic director of the TCU Cello Ensemble and of the TCU Cellofest, led the Faculty & Friends Chamber Music Series for 11 years, and received the College of Fine Arts Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher and Scholar. His commitment to the university extends to service on various forums advancing the institution’s mission ranging from the Faculty Senate to institutional strategic planning.
Of Peruvian heritage, raised in France and now a US citizen, Dr. Castro-Balbi graduated from the Conservatoire National Supérieur at Lyon, Indiana University at Bloomington, the Yale School of Music, and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Juilliard School. He had the privilege to learn from Aldo Parisot, Janos Starker, and members of the Amadeus, Borodine, Juilliard, Ravel and Tokyo String Quartets.
Previous Schadt String Competition Judges
2018 - Violin
Finals Judges: Janet Sung, Joel Smirnoff, Inna Nedorezov
Prelim Judges: Carmit Zori, Francesca DePasquale
2014 - Guitar
2004 - Cello
Prelim Judges: Orlando Cole, Paul Tobias