EASTON — Four ensembles, which included the Aya Piano Trio of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Dior Quartet of Bloomington, Indiana; Soma Quartet of Bloomington, Indiana; and Zelter String Quartet of Los Angeles, California, competed for the $10,000 Lerman Gold Prize and the $5,000 Silver Prize at the Chesapeake International Chamber Music Competition for Young Professionals in Easton on April 10. The Lerman Gold Prize was awarded to the Zelter String Quartet and the Silver Prize was awarded to the Dior Quartet, which was also awarded the Competition’s Audience Choice Award.

Postponed from April 2020 due to the global pandemic, this year’s event was rescheduled and held online. The ensembles, which included members as young as 21 and no older than 31, represented a wide range of instrumental combinations including winds, strings and mixed instruments. Chesapeake Music Executive Director Don Buxton commented, “During this very challenging year, we have all learned new ways of experiencing inspiring music celebrations. Chesapeake Music finds itself presenting this wonderful day as a virtual experience ... we have tried to include some of the excitement you would get out of a live competition.”

This year’s competition judges included J. Lawrie Bloom, Ieva Jokubaviciute, and Michael Kannen. Bloom, founding artistic co-director of Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival and the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition, said, “After waiting an entire year to hear them, these groups did not disappoint. The level of technical facility and musical sophistication was spectacular . . . trying to make a decision with such wealth was a pleasure – not an easy thing to do.”

The Zelter String Quartet, comprised of violinists Kyle Gilner and Gallia Kastner, violist Nao Kubota, and cellist Allan Hon, formed in Los Angeles in 2018. The quartet presented three string quartet works in chronological order. The Dior Quartet formed their ensemble at Indiana University in 2018, but hail from Israel, Canada, St. Lucia and the U.S. Members Noa Said, violin; Tobias Sales, violin; Caleb Georges, viola; and Joanne Yesol Choi, cello, showcased the evolution of the string quartet and how its repertoire portrays a variety of human stories across centuries.

“We read and hear that the future of classical music is in danger and then you hear groups of this level at this age. I hope that it gives you the same pleasure and hope for the future as I get from it,” Bloom said.

The Chesapeake International Chamber Music Competition, a program of Chesapeake Music, is underwritten by the Talbot County Arts Council, the Maryland State Arts Council, and private benefactors. For more information about the competition events or to view this year’s competition performances, visit ChesapeakeMusic.org or call 410-819-0380.

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