Nine young musicians from the Valley and Tucson took home top honors in piano during the first of six events in the 16th annual Young Musicians Competition organized by Arizona Musicfest.

Among them were Miles Fawson of Casteel High School in Gilbert, who won first place in the Division 1 (7th and 8th grades) and Micah Porter, Highland Junior High, Gilbert won 3rd Place in the piano competition.

“Each season, Arizona Musicfest provides important performance competitions for the best and brightest young musicians in the area,” said Allan E. Naplan, executive and producing director of Arizona Musicfest, in a media release. “Because we offer both generous cash prizes as well as judging by some of the area’s top professional musicians and teachers, the level of competition is consistently high.”

The non-profit arts organization based in North Scottsdale produces an annual concert festival as well as music education and youth performance opportunities for children throughout the Valley.

Additional performance competitions are scheduled in vocal (March 25), strings, harp and guitar (April 1), woodwinds, brass and percussion (April 2) and chamber ensemble (April 2).

Competitive performances are conducted at La Casa de Cristo Church, 6300 E. Bell Road in Scottsdale. A new category for composers was added for the 2016-17 competition.

Here is the full slate of winners in the piano competition:
• Division I (7th & 8th grades): 1st place – Miles Fawson, Casteel High School, Gilbert; 2nd Place – Damian Galasso, home school, Tucson; 3rd Place – Micah Porter, Highland Junior High, Gilbert.
• Division II (9th & 10th grades): 1st Place – Jessica Zhang, Corona del Sol High School, Tempe; 2nd Place – Christina Chang, Basis Scottsdale, Scottsdale; 3rd Place – Vivian Zhao, Hamilton High School, Chandler.
• Division III (11th & 12th grades): 1st Place – Alexander Fan, Hamilton High School, Chandler; 2nd Place – Joseph Galasso, home school, Tucson; 3rd Place – Sara Johnson, home school, Phoenix.
For the new composers’ competition, composers in grades 7 through 12 will write for a string quartet or subset of the ensemble. The winner will receive a cash award and a reading/recording of their work by professional musicians. The submission deadline is noon on Friday, April 7.

Meanwhile, the 26th annual Arizona Musicfest Winter Festival opens Jan. 27 with Grammy Award-winning trumpet sensation Chris Botti and runs through March 10 when Decades of Divas: From Billie and Aretha to Celine and Barbra closes the 18-concert season.

In between, among the special guests, are legendary multiple Grammy Award-winning Manhattan Transfer (Feb. 3), vocal powerhouse Cantus (Feb. 7), world renowned classical violinist Midori (Feb. 23), Grammy winner Patti Austin with The Festival Orchestra (Feb. 24) celebrating Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th\ birthday and Kennedy Center Honoree Mavis Staples (March 6).

Additional performances include The Young Musicians Winter Concert (Jan. 29), Mirage: Visions of Fleetwood Mac (Jan. 30), Nicole Pesca (Feb. 1), A Band Called Honalee: The ‘60s of Peter, Paul and Mary (Feb. 10), Kruger Brothers and Kontras Quartet (Feb. 13), A Broadway Romance (Feb. 14), Bob Moody & Friends with Broadway’s Telly Leung (Feb. 16), Festival Orchestra Chamber Players: Bach, Mozart & Stravinsky (Feb. 19), Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto and Saint Saens’ “Organ” Symphony (Feb. 21), “Italian” Symphony & Opera: Pagliacci in Concert Featuring Stars of the Metropolitan Opera (Feb. 26) and We’ve Only Just Begun: The Carpenters Remembered (March 2).

The Arizona Musicfest Festival Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Robert Moody, will feature musicians from prestigious orchestras nationwide including the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, National Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony, among others.

Details: or call 480-840-0457.