CAA Announces 2019 Overture Award Winners

CAA_Overture Awards$45,500 Awarded for Excellence in the Arts
Arts Educator Award Winner Also Announced    

CINCINNATI, OH – The Cincinnati Arts Association is pleased to announce the winners of its Overture Awards Competition, held on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater, and the winner of its Arts Educator Award for Excellence in Arts Instruction. The competition awarded $4,000 to six area students for education and training, with 18 runners-up each winning $1,000, while the Arts Educator Award winner received $2,500 and two finalists were awarded $500 each.

The Overture Awards recognizes, encourages, and rewards excellence in the arts among Tri-state students in grades 9-12 and is the area’s largest solo arts competition. Students are nominated by their schools and/or private studios to compete in one of six disciplines: Creative Writing, Dance, Instrumental Music, Theater, Visual Art, and Vocal Music. There are three levels of competition: Regional, Semi-Final, and Final.

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. The Arts Educator Award finalists and winner are selected by a panel of judges who are arts professionals.


CREATIVE WRITING: Maura O’Dea – grade 12, Ursuline Academy
HOMETOWN: Blue Ash, OH – Maura spends her time working backstage as a stage manager, editing the creative writing section of the newspaper, and running the writing club she co-founded. Maura’s plans for the future include pursuing an English degree and publishing something beautiful one day.

DANCE: Jordan Slemons – grade 12, Anderson High School / Just Off Broadway
HOMETOWN: Anderson, OH – Jordan has been dancing for fifteen years at Just Off Broadway. She couldn’t be happier to have been given this amazing opportunity to be a an Overture Awards finalist. She wants to thank her family, teachers, and friends for always supporting her.

INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC: Simon Bakos – grade 11, William Mason High School / DCG Studio
HOMETOWN: Mason, OH – Simon has been studying clarinet and bass clarinet for the past five years. He currently participates in the clarinet section of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. He was principal clarinet in the 2019 Ohio All-State Orchestra, and has performed with the William Mason Wind Symphony at the Midwest Clinic. He enjoys performing with his high school marching band, and looks forward to enjoying and supporting music in the future.

THEATER: Jonah Sorscher – grade 11, Indian Hill High School / Musical Arts Center
HOMETOWN: Camp Dennison, OH – Jonah is thrilled to perform at the Overture Awards! Besides performing, he loves to write his own theater, producing an original musical, Alibi, this summer. He thanks the Cincinnati Actor’s Studio & Academy, Musical Arts Center, Becky Childs, and his family and friends for their love and support.

VISUAL ART: Alyson Power – grade 12, Lakota West High School
HOMETOWN: West Chester, OH – Alyson’s mother, an art teacher, introduced her to art very early. Alyson has explored art her whole life. She will be majoring in Fine Art at either Miami or Ohio University. She’s won twenty Scholastic Art awards, including one National Medal, five Governor’s Art Awards, and has displayed work at The Xavier Juried Exhibition.

VOCAL MUSIC: Lauren Maynus – grade 12, Ursuline Academy / Alison Acord
HOMETOWN: Amberly Village, OH – Lauren studies voice with Dr. Alison Acord, is a section leader with the Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church choir under the direction of Dr. Tom Merrill, is on the Student Board at TX, and is honored to participate in the Overture Awards Finals again this year! Lauren has been selected for the Met’s High School Opera Singer Intensive program this winter, will attend Schmidt Vocal Institute this summer, and plans to study Vocal Performance in the Fall.


Benita Tse- Leung, Leung Studio
Discipline: Piano
Nominated by Jenny Hu

The Overture Awards Regional Competitions were held on January 26 at the Immanuel School of Music, Northern Kentucky University, and Mount Saint Joseph University. The top twenty percent of competitors in each discipline advanced to the Semi-Finals, which were held at the Aronoff Center on February 7-9.

Now in its twenty-third year, The Overture Awards was launched in 1996 by the Cinergy Foundation (now Duke Energy) and Leadership Cincinnati (a program of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber). 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; Brandon Etheridge; Jozsef Parragh; Pebble Creek Group; Phoenix Rising Ballroom; Summerfair Cincinnati; Josh Tilford; Western & Southern Financial Fund; The William O. Purdy, Jr. Foundation

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

Printing Sponsor: Graphic Village

Winners listed in bold 


  • Sam Bowden – grade 11, Wyoming High School
  • Iris LeCates – grade 11, Walnut Hills High School
  • Maura O’Dea – grade 12, Ursuline Academy
  • Molly Tierney – grade 12, Beechwood High School 


  • Krupa Hegde – grade 10, Larry A. Ryle High School  / Cultural Centre of India
  • Hanna Hopple – grade 12, Saint  Ursula Academy / McGing Irish Dancers
  • Ava Sine – grade 11, School for Creative & Performing Arts / Just Off Broadway
  • Jordan Slemons – grade 12, Anderson High School / Just Off Broadway


  • Simon Bakos – grade 11, William Mason High School / DCG Studio
  • Liam Hedrick – grade 12, Homeschool / UC-CCM Preparatory
  • Kasey M. Shao – grade 10, Walnut Hills High School / CCM
  • Andrew Yang – grade 10, Seven Hills School / CCM 


  • Eleanor Donnelly  – grade 12, Wyoming High School / Bill Seale
  • Jake Jervis – grade 10, Sycamore High School / McCready Voice Studio
  • Maxwell Metsch  – grade 12, School for Creative & Performing Arts / Lincoln Chapman Studio
  • Jonah Sorscher – grade 11, Indian Hill High School / Musical Arts Center 


  • Geneva Huffman – grade 12, School for Creative & Performing Arts
  • Alyson Power – grade 12, Lakota West High School
  • Trey Small – grade 12, Lakota West High School
  • Grace Vanderwoude – grade 12, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy


  • Reed Gnepper – grade 12, School for Creative & Performing Arts / UC-CCM Preparatory
  • Amy Helms – grade 12, Kings High School / Musical Arts Center
  • Sarah Koopman – grade 12, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy / Karl Resnik Studio
  • Lauren Maynus – grade 12, Ursuline Academy / Alison Acord


Winner listed in bold

Lincoln Chapman, Private Teacher
Discipline: Vocal Music
Nominated by: Maxwell Metsch 

Catherine Keen, The Keen Voice Studio
Discipline: Vocal Music
Nominated by: Grace Caccavari

Benita Tse-Leung, Leung Studio
Discipline: Piano
Nominated by: Jenny 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 1.7 million students. 

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