2018 Overture Awards Finals Competition | Sat., March 3 | Aronoff Center

CAA_Overture Awards logoCINCINNATI, OH – The Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA) is proud to present the 2018 Overture Awards Finals Competition. The Overture Awards provides $4,000 to six area high school students for education and training expenses, with eighteen finalists each winning $1,000. The program also provides a $2,500 Arts Educator Award for Excellence in Arts Instruction.

The Overture Awards Finals Competition and Awards Ceremony will be held on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 1:00 PM at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater. Winners will be announced immediately following the competition.

This year, 416 students were nominated by their schools or studios to compete in one of six artistic disciplines: Creative Writing, Dance, Instrumental Music, Theater, Visual Art, and Vocal Music. The Overture Awards was developed to recognize, encourage, and reward excellence in the arts among Tri-state students in grades 9-12. It also provides students an opportunity to share their talents and interests among their peers in a supportive environment outside of their individual schools. There are three levels of competition: Regional, Semi-Final, and Final.

The Overture Awards Regional Competitions were held on January 20 at the Northern Kentucky School of Music at Immanuel, Northern Kentucky University, and Mount Saint Joseph University. The top 20 percent of competitors in each discipline advanced to the Semi-Finals, which were held at the Aronoff Center on February 2-3. Twenty-four finalists (four in each discipline) will compete in the Finals Competition at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater on March 3.

Now in its twenty-second year, The Overture Awards was launched in 1996 by the Cinergy Foundation (now Duke Energy) and Leadership Cincinnati (a program of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce). The Overture Awards is funded and administered by the Cincinnati Arts Association, which operates and manages the Aronoff Center and Music Hall. The Overture Awards also relies on hundreds of volunteers from the community who help raise funds, adjudicate and manage the competitions, and nurture the program. 


Overture Awards Presenting Sponsors:  TriHealth; The Eleanora C.U. Alms Trust, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee; Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc.; Otto M. Budig Family Foundation; Summerfair Cincinnati

Scholarship Sponsors:  Arthur Murray – Cincinnati, Doreen Beatrice, Douglas Beal, Bonita Brockert, Cincinnati Ballroom Company, Jozsef Parragh, Pebble Creek Group, Phoenix Rising Ballroom,  Summerfair Cincinnati, Josh Tilford, Western & Southern Financial Fund, The William O. Purdy, Jr. Foundation

Competition Sponsors:  Northern Kentucky School of Music at Immanuel, Northern Kentucky University, Mount Saint Joseph University

Printing Sponsor:  Graphic Village 



  • Jenna Bao – grade 12, Sycamore High School
  • Hope Neyer – grade 11, Mount Notre Dame High School
  • Frances Timberlake – grade 12, School for Creative & Performing Arts
  • Lauren Timmins – grade 12, Loveland High School


  • Regan Lawler – grade 12, Erickson Academy of Irish Dance / Summit Country Day School
  • Drake Phouasavanh – grade 12, Conner High School
  • Ava Sine – grade 10, School for Creative & Performing Arts / Just Off Broadway
  • Ryan Sohmer – grade 10, The Studio for Dance / School for Creative & Performing Arts


  • Ione Sally – grade 12, School for Creative & Performing Arts
  • Kash Sewell – grade 12, Beechwood High School
  • Madeline Wolfe – grade 9, Leung Studio / Ursuline Academy
  • Andrew Yang – grade 9, Seven Hills School / University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music


  • Margot Grom-Mansencal – grade 12, McCready Voice Studio / Wyoming High School
  • Maxwell Metsch – grade 11, Lincoln Chapman Studio / School for Creative & Performing Arts
  • Ellie O’Hara – grade 11, Marilyn Zelcer Studio / Notre Dame Academy High School
  • Kat Sweeney – grade 10, St. Ursula Academy / Karl Resnik Studio


  • Geneva Huffman – grade 11, School for Creative & Performing Arts
  • Anne Knellinger – grade 12, Walnut Hills High School
  • Dominic Pham – grade 11, St. Xavier High School
  • Cynthia Zhang – grade 12, Indian Hill High School


  • Natalie Choo – grade 12, Karl Resnik Studio / Seven Hills School
  • Reed Gnepper – grade 11, School for Creative & Performing Arts/ University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory
  • Lauren Maynus – grade 11, Alison Acord / Ursuline Academy
  • Sarah Moser – grade 12, Keen Voice Studio / Campbell County High School

Arts Educator Award For Excellence in Arts Instruction

The Arts Educator Award promotes and rewards excellence in arts instruction throughout Greater Cincinnati. An educator who teaches any of the following arts disciplines may be nominated: Creative Writing, Dance, Instrumental Music, Theater, Visual Art, and Vocal Music. They can be a high school arts specialist, teaching artist working with high school students, or an arts professional or educator providing private lessons or instruction. Nominations for the award must come from students between the ages of 14-19 who are currently enrolled in high school. Nominations are made by submitting an on-line application with a three-minute video about why the nominee is an exemplary arts educator.

The winner of the 2018 award will receive $2,500, and two finalists will receive $500 each. The recipients of the Arts Educator Award may utilize the monetary award to strengthen their program or practice, e.g. an artist fee for a guest lecturer or master class, the purchase of equipment, or a professional learning opportunity such as tuition assistance for either the educator or for students to study with the recipient or another professional.

Arts Educator Award Finalists

Susan Herrick, Voice of Indiana
Discipline: Vocal/Choral Performance
Nominated by Connie Walker

Karon Lehman, University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music
Discipline: Dance
Nominated by Ndaya Hoskins

Kathy Louder, Mount Notre Dame High School
Discipline: Creative Writing
Nominated by Cara Wagner

Arts Educator Award Honorable Mentions

Lara Koogler, Calvary Christian School
Discipline: Piano
Nominated by Mitchell Ward

Karl Resnik, The Musical Arts Center
Discipline: Vocal Music
Nominated by Natalie Choo

Bing Yang, Liao Ning Professional Performing Arts School
Discipline: Dance
Nominated by Judi Hu

Founded in 1992, the Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA) is a not-for-profit organization that oversees the programming and management of two of the Tri-state’s finest performing arts venues – the Aronoff Center for the Arts and Music Hall – and is dedicated to supporting performing and visual arts. Each year, CAA presents a diverse schedule of events; serves upwards of 700,000 people in its venues; features the work of talented local, regional, and national artists in the Weston Art Gallery (located in the Aronoff Center); and supports the work of more than one dozen resident companies. Since the inception of its acclaimed arts education programs in 1995, CAA has reached more than 1.6 million students.

CAA is proud to be a member of Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Greater Cincinnati Alliance for Arts Education, Greater Cincinnati Convention & Visitors Bureau, Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce, and Performing Arts Center Consortium.

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