(Click on photos for biographies)
Veronica Leahy is a senior at Charlotte Latin School. She has received national recognition in both classical and jazz saxophone through her selection in the 2017 and 2018 Honor Band of America, the 2018 Grammy Jazz Band, the 2018 National YoungArts Foundation jazz combo, and the 2016 and 2017 National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National Jazz Ensembles. She has placed first chair in North Carolina All-State concert and jazz bands for the past five years.
She worked with Wynton Marsalis and other Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra members at their 2017 and 2018 Summer Jazz Academy. Veronica also studied at the Eastman School of Music at the 2016 Summer Saxophone Institute with Dr. Chien-Kwan Lin. She is an active member in the Jazz Arts Initiative All-Star Youth Ensemble and is the 2016 winner of the Loonis McGlohon Young Jazz Artist Competition.
In addition to playing all types of saxophones, she has served as the pianist for the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra. She is also a multi-woodwind player and studies both flute and clarinet. Veronica studies with Debra Richtmeyer (the professor of classical saxophone at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Ted Nash (Grammy award-winning woodwind player in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra), Dr. Phil Thompson (retired woodwind professor from Winthrop University), and Dr. Will Campbell (Professor of Saxophone at UNC-Charlotte).
Andrew DeWeese is a junior at Charlotte Latin School and began studying violin at the age of 4. He has served as concertmaster of the 2018 Honor Orchestra of America with Maestro Larry Livingston, concertmaster of the 2018 NC Western Regionals Honors Orchestra, concertmaster at the 2017 Philadelphia International Music Festival, and first violinist with the 2017 NC All-State, Western Regionals Honors Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Youth Orchestra of Charlotte. Andrew studies with Dr. Ernest Pereira, violinist with the Charlotte Symphony and music director of the Youth Orchestras of Charlotte, as well as with Marc Rovetti, Assistant Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. This summer, he will be traveling to Australia amongst other musicians from 43 states and 7 countries across the world as part of the 2018 Honors Performance Series Symphony Orchestra, which culminates in a concert at the Sydney Opera House. Additionally, Andrew has performed in orchestras throughout North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and in Carnegie Hall in New York City. He has also participated in a promotional video filmed and broadcasted by the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Andrew is additionally a current and founding member of the Charlotte Youth String Quartet, which puts on a season of free concerts for the community each year.
Arella Flur is a recent graduate of Charlotte Latin School. She currently works as the first ever Arts Administration Apprentice for Blumenthal Performing Arts and is serving as a leader of Children’s Theatre of Charlotte’s Teen Advisory Council.
Arella is most recognizable across the Charlotte community for her work as a performer. She has performed frequently at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, where she was part of the original cast of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the Musical. She has also been seen in performances at the JStage including Pippin, The Little Mermaid, and Once Upon a Mattress. Most recently she won the 2019 Blumenthal Performing Arts Blumey Award for Best Leading Actress for playing the title role in Charlotte Latin School’s production of Mary Poppins. She then went on to represent Charlotte in the 2019 National High School Musical Theatre Awards (a.k.a., The Jimmy Awards) sponsored by The Broadway League, The Nederlander Organization, and Pittsburgh C.L.O. She performed with 85 students from across the country on the Minskoff stage on Broadway.
She has a strong passion for helping keep the arts alive and plans to pursue arts administration & theatre management at Northwestern University starting in Fall 2019.
Drew Dansby is 17 years old and a homeschooled senior. Drew began the violin on his 4th birthday and added the cello 6 months later. This year marks Drew's 9th season with the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras, and he has alternated every year between cello and violin. In the past few years with the CSYO, Drew has achieved the leadership positions of concertmaster, assistant concertmaster, and principal cellist. In addition, Drew has served as concertmaster and principal cellist of the NC Western Regional Honors Orchestra and assistant concertmaster and assistant principal cellist of the NC All-state Honors Orchestra.
Drew has performed as soloist with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra, and Eastern Music Festival's Young Artists Orchestra. As a student of Charlotte's Community School of the Arts, Drew has been the recipient of merit scholarships for 8 consecutive years, including being awarded the Neiman Marcus Scholarship for the past 5 years. Drew is also a founding member of the Charlotte Youth String Quartet. In the summer of 2017, Drew was selected as a cellist in the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, and in the summer of 2018 he will join the orchestra again as a violinist.
Gabija Žilinskaitė is 17 years old and a senior at Fort Mill High School in Fort Mill, South Carolina. She first took up the violin at the age of 5. She has been a member of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras for 9 years, and has served as associate concertmaster for the past two seasons. This will be Gabija’s second year performing in the Charlotte Youth String Quartet. In 2018, she was String Section Winner for the Symphony Guild of Charlotte's Young Artist Concerto Competition. Gabija has additionally performed in Winston-Salem, Atlanta, and Indianapolis at Bands of America competitions as a soloist with her local marching band. Gabija is an active member of her church, Tega Cay Baptist, and plays in the worship band Sunday mornings.
She currently studies violin with Dr. Ernest Pereira, music director and conductor of the Youth Orchestras of Charlotte, and Nijole Prasevičienė, professor of violin at the First Music School in Šiauliai, Lithuania.
In addition to the violin, Gabija enjoys playing the oboe in the Fort Mill High School Wind Symphony. She has a position in the top ensemble, and has placed in the Regional and All-State Bands in South Carolina for 3 years.
Brooks Finby is a current junior at Charlotte Latin School. Brooks enjoys playing cello in his school orchestra and has previously played in the Junior Youth Symphony of Charlotte. Outside of strings, Brooks enjoys Model United Nations and has represented his school at various conferences, including Harvard’s and William & Mary’s. Additionally, Brooks is currently obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout, having just finished his eagle project: a specialized birthday chair and table for the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. He has also worked with Dr. Malcolm Campbell in the Biology Department of Davidson College for the past three summers. His research in education regarding the amount of interpretation and data in undergraduate biology textbooks is expected to be published in the scientific education journal, Life Sciences Education, this upcoming spring.
Aron Stornaiuolo is a current sophomore at South Mecklenburg High School. Aron is a talented young musician with an “old soul.” Aron has studied guitar under Dale Eckholm, Stan Jacques, & Troy Conn. His vocal coach is Dawn Anthony. Aron is actively involved with the South Mecklenburg High School Jazz band, Jazz Arts Initiative, Charlotte Folk Society, and the Sharon Presbyterian Youth Ensemble. Aron has performed at the Mint Museum, Spirit Square, The Jazz Room, McGlohon Theater, The Knight's Stadium, Festival in the Park, Cotswold Farmer's Market, various other venues and also with the Charlotte Jazz Orchestra.