FIU Concerto Competition Winners Featured in Orchestral Concert


The FIU Symphony Orchestra and the Miami Music Project orchestras, conducted by Raffaele Livio Ponti, performed on March 26 with the FIU Concerto Competition winners, pianist Monika Miodragovic and flutist Benjamin Tillinger. The concert included an eclectic program where celebrated composers Frédéric Chopin, César Franck, Cécile Chaminade met Universal’s Despicable Me.

Every year, the FIU School of Music hosts an annual concerto competition in two categories – Collegiate and High School. This competition gives promising young instrumentalists a rare opportunity to play with a full orchestra. The competition is a rigorous process involving two adjudicated rounds with both internal and external judges.

Collegiate winner of the annual FIU Concerto Competition, pianist Monika Miodragovic, performed as a soloist for Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Movement 1. She is a 23 year old rising star who has performed at Carnegie Hall as one of the winners of the American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition in 2015. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Music in Piano Performance at the FIU School of Music under the tutelage of Artist-in-Residence Kemal Gekić.

Originally from Serbia, she and her family won a green card through the U.S. Visa lottery in 2008. They then moved to Chicago where she eventually won multiple solo piano competitions, including the prized 2011 Young Artist Competition at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which enabled her to perform on the stage of Chicago Symphony Hall. She later matriculated from the University of Michigan before coming to study at the FIU School of Music.

“My lifelong dream is to perform as a soloist with the orchestra. There are not that many opportunities to play with orchestra, which is definitely something I would love to do more in the future. Playing a concerto is a combination of two genres I love- the solo and chamber- in a sense that the soloist takes a leading role, especially in a concerto by Chopin, while still being aware of the sensitive shading that the orchestra provides.” Miodragovic noted.

Later in the concert, the FIU High School Division winner and flutist Benjamin Tillinger, performed Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino for Flute and Orchestra. He is a very talented 12th grader from Cypress Bay High School in Naples, FL and is currently the Principal Flute of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the Principal Flute of the Florida Youth Orchestra. Tillinger is also the 1st place winner of the 2017 Florida Flute Association High School Young Artist competition. He is a two-time winner of the 2015 and 2016 Naples Philharmonic Concerto Competitions, and as a result, performed as a soloist with the Naples Philharmonic this past May. Tillinger was twice selected to perform side-by-side with the New World Symphony for the last two consecutive years.

Congratulations to all the participants, their teachers and families!

Collegiate Division winners include: 1st place: Monika Miodragovic, piano; 2nd place: Jose Luis Reyes Kapoudjian; violin,  3rd place: Vera Garcia, piano

High School Division winners include: 1st place: Benjamin Tillinger, flute; 2nd place: Andres Caveda, violin;  3rd place: Laura Liu, viola


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