Current PPA Scholarship Winners
About the 2018 Scholarship Winners, Tyler Weston Smith and Benjamin Jacob Johnson
Tyler Weston Smith attends the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts as a senior percussion major. He also attends the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Program where he studies percussion with Christopher Nappi. Tyler began studying percussion about 8 years ago and plans to continue his studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio beginning in the fall of 2018. Tyler participated in Music for All’s 2017 Honors Orchestra of America as well as the Interlochen Summer Music Festival World Youth Symphony Orchestra and Interlochen Philharmonic. As well as having a strong classical background, Tyler is also an accomplished jazz musician both on the vibraphone and the piano. Last year he participated as the vibraphonist in the 2017 PMEA All-State Jazz Band.Tyler enjoys playing a broad range of genres from Baroque to Contemporary music and hopes to have an extensive career continuing to do what he loves.
Benjamin “Ben” Jacob Johnson attends Saucon Valley Senior High School (SVHS) as senior. Ben plans to pursue a Music/Vocal Performance Degree at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, who accepted him as a member of the Honors College. At high school Ben is a member of the National Honor Society, UNICEF, Model UN, Scholastic Scrimmage, and Reading Team. This past spring Ben played the role of Professor Harold Hill in the SVHS production of “The Music Man”. He previously appeared in SVHS’s productions of “Nice Work if You Can Get It” (Jimmy Winter), “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (Trevor Graydon III), “Pippin”, “Bye Bye Birdie”, and “Anything Goes”. In addition, Ben takes Voice, Dance, and Acting Classes and has performed in numerous plays and musicals at Pennsylvania Youth Theatre including “Elf the Musical” (Walter Hobbs), “Christmas Carol, the Musical” (Bob Cratchit), “Narnia” (Peter), and “Holiday Spectacular” (The Crooner). Ben serves as a proud member of the SVHS Choir, Chamber Choir, and earned positions in the PMEA District, Region, and State Choirs. He won a second place Award at the Schmidt Vocal Competition at the University of Colorado, Boulder and was recognized as a finalist for the 2018 New York Lyric Opera Competition. Ben also plays the Alto Sax and Piano; and performs as a member of the SVHS Marching Band, Concert Band, and Jazz Band. He currently serves as President of the SVHS Choir and Vice President of the SVHS Drama Club. This summer Ben will appear in regional productions of “Newsies” and "1776”. Ben looks forward to continuing his music and theatre studies at the college level.
About the 2017 Scholarship Winner, Shaumik Phadke
Shaumik Phadke, a senior at Parkland High School, has studied piano with Darlene Ziegler for over 3 years. He previously studied with Grace Mealey. Shaumik participates in National Piano Guild Auditions, the Dorothy Sutton Festival, and the LVMTA AAA auditions. He was the first winner of the Dr. Albert Hofammann Piano Scholarship from the Allentown Music Club. In addition, he has received an Honorary Mention in the 2015 MTNA state competition, won second place at the Friends of Music, Bethlehem Outstanding Young Artist competition and has won first place at the PFMC Aikens Cadman Piano Competition at the State level. He recently placed third in the Kutztown University Young Pianists competition. With a scholarship from the American Guild of Organists, Shaumik now enjoys organ lessons with Stephen Williams. Shaumik is also an accomplished accompanist, and his experience includes accompanying the Parkland High School Concert Choir, solo performers (voice, alto-saxophone and violin), and vocal students at the studio of voice teacher Gail Grossman. Shaumik was the keyboardist for Parkland’s 2014 production of The Wizard Of Oz, 2015 production of Into the Woods and the 2017 production of Pippin. He also serves as an assistant pianist for special services at the Zion “Liberty Bell” Church. His other activities have included volunteering as a coach for the Springhouse Middle School Science Olympiad team and participating in Math League and Scholastic Scrimmage at Parkland High School. Shaumik is also a Boy Scout and has earned the highest rank of Eagle Scout. His Eagle Scout project consisted of building three information kiosks at three parks in the North Whitehall township. In addition, Shaumik is a member of the National Honor Society, French Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society, and the Math Honor Society and is an AP scholar with distinction.
Playing the piano, either solo or as an accompanist, has been a big part of Shaumik’s life. He plans to continue that at Temple Univeristy by pursuing a double degree in Piano Performance and Mathematics.
About the 2016 Scholarship Winners, Hanna Steele and Tyler Destremps
Hannah Steele is a current senior at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. She is a student of their vocal department and a private student of the department chair David Macbeth. Hannah has studied voice privately for seven years and has participated in her church choir since kindergarten. She will be continuing her studies at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey in the fall. She works as a choral scholar at Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton, Pennsylvania.
She enjoys singing a range of genres including musical theatre, opera, and German, French and Italian art song. She has participated in her school musicals since seventh grade. Her most recent show was Promises, Promises. She sings in two different choirs daily at school including the school’s top choir. She also participates in a daily vocal techniques class and a beginning piano class every other day. She hopes for a long career in solo voice performance in New York City.
Tyler Destremps is a senior at Liberty High School of Bethlehem, where he is the Pipe Major of the Bagpipe Corps. He was accepted into Carnegie Mellon University School of Music as a bagpipe major. Tyler began playing the bagpipes his freshman year under the instruction of Scot Walker. He began competing as a Grade 5 solo player and later joined The Ulster Scottish Pipe Band. He successfully competed at a solo level and as a member of Ulster Scottish.
Over the last 4 years, he quickly progressed from a Grade 5 to a Grade 2 within Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. Tyler has been called upon to play at many different occasions from weddings to funerals, birthdays to memorial services, and judicial inductions to Irish wakes. In the fall, he will join Carnegie Mellon’s Pipe Band under the instruction of Andrew Carlisle. Tyler considers himself lucky to have found bagpiping as a lifelong commitment and passion. His goal is to reach the Professional level as a solo competitor and to teach and encourage others to understand the importance of music.
About the 2015 Scholarship Winners, Melissa Bilza and Wayne Wei
Melissa Bilza, a senior at Easton Area High School, has studied voice for 7 years, under Jennifer Laubach, Shauna Khan, and her current teacher Elsbeth Escher. Her school choir directors, Pete Deshler and John Shilanskas, have helped her develop vocally as well.
At Easton Area High School, Melissa has been in the select ensembles of Chamber Singers, Jazz Chorale, and Treble Choir all four years of high school, and in Camerata and Concert Choir her latter three years. She was twice a member of PMEA District 10 Chorus, and once a member of County Chorus. Last summer, Melissa made her opera debut as a member of the chorus in Berks Opera Company's concert setting of "Madame Butterfly". She recently achieved 3rd place for the High School Song & Aria Category in the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She is a Soprano 1 choral scholar in the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, and is a paid chorister in the choir at Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton, Pennsylvania, directed by David Macbeth. She attributes much of her performing experience to both Lehigh Valley Idol and Star of the Day Event Productions.Her music leadership entails her being the class representative for her school choir from freshmen to junior year, and her current position of Student Conductor. When not singing, Melissa can be seen handing out crayons to children at the Crayola Experience, where she has been working since 2013.
Academically, Melissa ranks 7th in her large class of over 600 students. She is on the debate team, is the Opinion Editor of her school newspaper, and is a member of the National Honor Society, Italian Honor Society, and Bible Study Club.
Although accepted to Westminster Choir College for voice performance, Melissa has decided to broaden her horizons at Lycoming College, where she will be double majoring in corporate communications and music with a voice primary.
Wayne Wei, an exchange student from the city of Guangzhou in China, attends Central Catholic High School as a senior. While in China, he started studying the piano with Haochuan Li at the age of 6. During his childhood, he also learned Chinese traditional arts, such as calligraphy and er’hu, a kind of Chinese violin with two strings.
During his music tutelage in China, Wayne concentrated on learning traditional Western classical music solo piano works by Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, and Strauss. While focusing on Chopin, he took part in the First Chopin Piano Playing Competition in Singapore 2011. He also studied Chinese piano music and played one of the most famous Chinese concertos called Yellow River for German people in Frankfurt Empire Hall as an exchange student when he was in 7th grade, an experience he claims was one of his best performances. Besides solo piano classical music, Wayne actively participated in other music activities at his Chinese school, playing music for the school choir as accompanist along with keyboardist for a school rock band. After arriving in America on August 2013, he joined and performed for the Young Musicians of the Allentown Music Club and weekly for the Saint Joseph the Worker 11:30 Contemporary Choir. He attended two master classes at Jacob’s Music Store with Awadagin Pratt and Simon Mulligan, with a half-hour one-on-one experience with Simon. His host father, Bob Premecz, currently guides his musical instruction and introduced him to American and Jazz music. He won the first place of 2014 Outstanding Young Artist Competition sponsored by The Friends of Music and Superior Placement for piano solo in the 2015 NFMC Festival.
Besides music, he possesses athletic skills at basketball and table tennis and became a team member of St. Francis’ CYO basketball.
Accepted at Berklee College of Music, Wayne intends to continue advancing his skills on piano as well as vocals along with other aspects of music performance. He would like to thank his host family and friends for their support and an unforgettable memory of Allentown.
About the 2014 Scholarship Winner, Anthony Sharp
Anthony Sharp, a senior at Emmaus High School, studies voice with Dr. Yvonne Robinson, receives vocal coaching from Rita Cortez, and studies piano with Candice Rosazza.
Anthony participated inPMEA District, Region, and All-State Chorus Festivals for the past three years. This year he placed first in the Bass 2 section at All-State Chorus. As a member of the 2013 NAfME All-Eastern Honors Mixed Ensemble, he sang under the direction of Dr. Z. Randall Stroope. As a member of the 2014 NAfME All-National Honors Chorus, he worked with Dr. Rollo A. Dilworth. Recently tied for first in the Preliminary Round of the Classical Singer Competition held at Temple University in Philadelphia, Anthony has been given the opportunity to compete in San Antonio, Texas for the Second, Semifinal, and Final Rounds held May 23-25.Anthony currently holds the position of president and accompanist of the Emmaus High School Chorale. With the Chorale, he has had the opportunity to perform at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, and throughout Germany, Austria, and Czech Republic. He is president of Emmaus’ Tri-M Music Honors Society chapter and president of “Fermata Nowhere”, an all-male a cappella group. Anthony participated for the past three years in the musicals at Emmaus, most recently performing in the role of the Beast in their 2014 production of “Beauty and the Beast”. Academically, he is a member of the National Honors Society.
Anthony will be attending Westminster Choir College of Rider University in the fall of 2014 and will be majoring in Voice Performance to pursue a career in opera.
About the 2013 Scholarship Winner, Alethea Khoo
Alethea Khoo, a senior at Emmaus High School, started her musical career on the piano under the guidance of Darlene Ziegler since the age of six. She also studied flute with Dr. Nora Suggs for the past five years.
At Emmaus HighSchool, Alethea plays the flute in the Symphonic Band, the piano in Esquires Jazz Ensemble, the keyboard in the pit orchestra for the musicals, and sings and accompanies in the Chorale and Women’s Choir. She participated in the PMEA District Band, County Band, District Chorus, Regional Chorus, Susquehanna University Honors Band, and Allentown Band Side-by-Side. Academically, Alethea is a member of the National Honor Society and the Treasurer for the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Her other musical activities included participation in Lehigh Valley Music Teacher’s Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival, Achievement Award Auditions, Hannah Young Play-a-thon, and Musikfest. She also took part in Pennsylvania Federation Music Club’s Junior Festivals and won first place in the Junior Composer Contest. This past summer, Alethea had the privilege of performing the piano solo part of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Municipal Band of Allentown for the city of Allentown and as part of the First Presbyterian Church of Allentown Concert Series. At the SATORI Student Chamber Music Competition, she won the composition competition with her piece Never More Shall Be written for flute and piano.
At Faith Evangelical Free Church in Trexlertown, Alethea serves in the music ministry, on the praise teams, and in the children’s musicals as the assistant voice coach. Recently, Alethea placed second in the Outstanding Young Artist competition sponsored by the Friends of Music and will be performing on May 19, 2013 at Wesley United Methodist Church, Bethlehem.
This fall, Alethea will attend Susquehanna University to major in Piano Performance with flute as the secondary instrument. She hopes to share her love of music with others through performing and teaching.
About the 2011 Scholarship Winner, Rachael Hendricks
Rachael Hendricks, a senior at Parkland High School, started her musical career on the piano, which she studied for 7 years. From 2003 until 2010, Rachael studied clarinet with Alfred Reimschissel. She currently studies clarinet with Deborah Andrus, as she has since 2010. She has been studying clarinet for 9 years and also been playing the alto saxophone for 8 years.
At Parkland High School, Rachael served as Drum Major of the marching band her junior and senior years. She is currently the Band President and participates in Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, and Pit Orchestra. Rachael has participated in countless PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) festivals, including PMEA District 10 Band and Orchestra, PMEA Region V Band, PMEA Region IV/V Orchestra, PMEA All-State Concert Band, PMEA All-State Orchestra, and PMEA All-State Wind Ensemble. This year at the All-State festival, she ranked 2nd in the state of Pennsylvania. Rachael was also selected for the 2011 MENC (Music Educators National Conference) All-Eastern Wind Ensemble in Baltimore, Maryland.
Academically, Rachael is a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society Spanish, Honor Society and Spanish Club.
This fall, Rachael will attend Penn State University to major in music performance on clarinet.
About the 2011 Scholarship Winner, Kendra Domotor
Kendra Domotor, a senior at Bangor Area High School, studied voice 6 years and has loved music of all kinds for as far back as she can remember. Her passion for opera sparked after hearing a live performance of Miah Persson at the Metropolitan Opera in New York sing Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte.At Bangor Area High School, Kendra sang 4 years in the High School Symphonic and Concert Choirs, danced 4 years on Jazz/Tap Dance Team, sang 2 years in Bangor Select Choir, played flute in Concert Band her senior year, and performed in 4 school musicals: Wonderful Town (Swing Dancer), Brigadoon (Feature Dancer & Soloist), White Christmas (Betty Haynes), and Bye Bye Birdie (Kim MacAfee). Kendra participated in PMEA Northampton County Choir her junior year, PMEA District 10 Choir (3 years), PMEA Region V Choir (3 years), and PMEA All-State Choir her senior year. She participated in Black Sheep Productions’ High School Musical 2: On State! at the Sherman Theatre, apprenticed at Shawnee Playhouse, and was chosen by Broadway Actress Natalie Weiss to participate in a Master Class in July 2010. Academically, Kendra ranks 6th in her Class of 2011 and is a member of the National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, serves as Class Cabinet member, Channel 21 anchor, and 2011 Discus Award winner. Kendra will attend Ithaca College as a double major in Music Education and Vocal Performance and earned the Presidential Scholarship.