Fayette student musicians take home top school prize in statewide chamber music competition

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Holding their awards are (L-R) Lucas Nyman, Richard Yang, Jodie Stone, Didi Stone. Photo/Submitted.
Holding their awards are (L-R) Lucas Nyman, Richard Wang, Jodie Stone, Didi Stone. Photo/Submitted.

Quartet le Petit, a chamber ensemble group comprised of Starr’s Mill High School Orchestra students, took home the top School Award and Second Place overall in the acclaimed Franklin Pond Chamber Music Competition this Memorial Day weekend.

The string quartet comprising violinists Didi Stone (15) and Lucas Nyman (16), violist Jodie Stone (17), and cellist Richard Wang (16) received over $1500 in cash prizes to continue their music studies.

The triumph brings the Fayette County ensemble full circle. In 2017 and 2018, Quartet le Petit placed in the prestigious competition’s middle school division while students at Rising Starr Middle School.

At this year’s event Quartet Le Petit competed on stage in front of three world-renowned judges, including William Fred Scott, former Music Director of The Atlanta Opera and the protege of Robert Shaw.

“Classical music is a hugely competitive field, one in which musicians must take every opportunity to stand out among their peers, strengthen performance skills, and showcase their talents,” said Ginny Fairchild, Competition Director. “The students who enter Franklin Pond’s Chamber Competition are the state’s top young instrumentalists. These extraordinary students have persevered through a year of unprecedented strain, and what Quartet Le Petit has achieved under such circumstances is awe-inspiring.”

All four Fayette County students began their instrumental studies in elementary school, and in the fall of 2015 they joined together to form Quartet le Petit.

Professional pianist Ching Ching Yap, mother of Jodie and Didi Stone, was conducting a local youth orchestra when she first arranged for the four of them to play together.

“They got together just to have fun making music, and we started practicing different genres or repertoire,” said Yap. “In time, they began receiving requests to play at venues across Fayette and Atlanta, including nursing homes, weddings, restaurants, and local Fayette events.”

Yap’s daughter Jodie credits her mom and coach for her dedication and hard work and attributes the annual Franklin Pond Chamber Music Competition for her continued resolve.

“I have learned persistence through the Competition and the [Franklin Pond] chamber camp because both require dedication to an ensemble and a piece,” said Stone, who plays both viola and violin.

“I am proud of our chamber group and how far we have come in the last five years. When we first started in elementary school, we just enjoyed playing together. We didn’t envision participating in competitions or camps together, but it is so amazing that we can do that now. My favorite part of chamber music is playing together and listening to how the music moves and how the different parts interact. In an orchestra, you mostly just hear your section, but you get to listen to all the voices as you are playing in a chamber group. This also allows the players to react in real-time to a mistake or a musical decision one player may make,” Stone said.

Jodie Stone plans to minor in a music-related field in college. “There is a big revival in classical music culture in my generation, especially with online influencers like Two Set Violin and Ray Chen,” she remarks. “Promoting classical music and exposing more people to classical music through online mediums is currently paving the way for a generation of people who enjoy classical music.”

Franklin Pond Chamber Music educates young musicians to perform, communicate and lead through the art of chamber music. As a promoter of classical music, Franklin Pond engages the broader community in their high-quality performances, workshops, masterclasses, and special programs designed to engage music lovers of all ages.