Adam Weller, 15, is the first-place winner of the 2020 Nico Snel Young Artist Competition. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Adam Weller, 15, is the first-place winner of the 2020 Nico Snel Young Artist Competition. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Teenager takes 1st prize in symphony competition

Top three in young artist contest hail from Port Angeles, Port Townsend

Editor’s note: Due to the recent weather conditions, Pamela Roberts couldn’t make it in to be a judge at Saturday’s Nico Snel Young Artist Competition. Violist Tyrone Beatty of the Port Angeles Symphony stepped up in her stead. This has been corrected in the story.

PORT ANGELES — Fifteen-year-old Adam Weller of Port Angeles took a 172-year-old piece of music and brought it alive Saturday to win the top prize in the Nico Snel Young Artist Competition.

The contest, hosted for the 34th year by the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra, gathers musicians from across the North Olympic Peninsula to compete for more than $1,000 in cash prizes.

Adam, a high school sophomore, won $500 in cash for his performance of the Polonaise de Concert in D major by the Polish violinist Henryk Wieniawski. The composer himself was just 13 when he first conceived the Polonaise in 1848.

Karson Nicpon, a Port Angeles High School senior, won the competition’s $250 second prize with his first movement of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, while Kincaid Gould, 17, of Port Townsend,took third, for $200, with his Three Pieces for Clarinet by Stravinsky.

The field of participants also included Adam’s sister Emma Weller, a 17-year-old pianist; 16-year-old Port Angeles soprano Katie Cobb; and 14-year-old Port Townsend violinist Aliyah Cassidy Yearian.

Yau Fu, 13, of Port Angeles took the $250 first prize in the Junior Young Artist Competition. Yau, also an athlete who participates in swimming and track and field, was the lone entrant in this year’s contest for musicians 14 and younger.

“I was surprised when I learned I had placed first,” said Adam, “although I felt well-prepared for my performance thanks to my teacher, Claire Martin, and accompanist, Kristin Quigley Brye.

“I am grateful to all the nice judges,” he added. This year’s adjudicators, who provide feedback along with their rankings of contestants, were Port Angeles Symphony conductor and music director Jonathan Pasternack; flutist Sharon Snel; vocalist, pianist and educator Jolene Dalton Gailey; and violist Tyrone Beatty.

After the competition, Adam went off to Sequim to perform with the Port Angeles Symphony’s Chamber Orchestra. He’s among the symphony’s youngest players and balances his schoolwork with playing in up to nine concerts each season.

After graduation, Adam hopes to attend college as a double-major in violin performance and biology “so I can go into the medical field.”

For more about the Nico Snel Young Artist Competition and other symphony concerts and programs, see or phone the symphony office at 360-457-5579.

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