January 2024 Winner: Oliver Zhang

This issue’s featured young artist award winner is Oliver Zhang, an 18-year-old trumpet player who graduated Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, Kansas last spring. Oliver is currently a freshman trumpet performance major at Northwestern University where he is studying with David Bilger.

Oliver was born in Canada and moved to Shanghai, China when he was 5-years-old. While living in China, Oliver began playing the trumpet in 2nd grade and moved to Kansas with his family when he was in 5th grade. It was then that he began playing with the Fountain City Youth Brass Band in which he continued to play all through grade school and high school, performing on flugelhorn for three years and solo cornet for five years. In his first year with the Fountain City Youth Brass Band, Oliver won the North American British Brass Band Association (NABBA) youth solo competition. In 5th and 6th grade he also performed in the Kansas City Youth Symphony. Once he was in high school, Oliver performed with the Kansas All State Band and Orchestra for all four years of high school, he performed with the All National Honor Ensemble Concert Band for three years and he performed in his high school’s wind ensemble, jazz band, pit orchestra and full orchestra throughout that time.

Oliver first started studying trumpet with Dr. Jeff Curtin in 5-8th grade and during 9th grade he studied with Dr. Jen Oliverio. He participated in the semi-finals of the National Trumpet Competition Youth Division every year since 7th grade and he won the division in 2022, performing the first Peskin Concerto and he earned 2nd place in 2023 performing the first movement of the Tomasi Concerto. From sophomore through senior year of high school he studied trumpet with Dr. Keith Benjamin who was a huge reason for his success as he always encouraged him to play music and tell a story rather than just play trumpet. He taught Oliver many life lessons and introduced him to his network without reservation. Dr. Benjamin also brought him to UMKC trumpet related events and Kansas City Symphony performances. When speaking of Oliver, Dr. Benjamin says, “His strongest talent is an amazing ability to learn things as quickly and as thoroughly as anybody I've ever taught - he has an incredible knack for hearing an idea once, then just executing that idea from that moment on, without needing to come back to the issue.”  

Oliver also credits his family as being a major supporter of him. As a young child, Oliver’s parents played classical music for him which fostered his love and passion for classical music. Throughout his development, his father pushed him to be the best he can, often sitting side-by-side with him as he learned piano and trumpet and his mother always supported his passions. Oliver says, “She's been there every single minute from start to finish, and she's been my strongest supporter in my music career. My parents have been the backbone of my life, and I am forever grateful for them.” Oliver is also very close with his older and younger brothers, David and Max, who are always there for him to offer support and encouragement. Oliver’s dream job would be to continue pursuing his passion for classical music by performing in a symphony orchestra.

Some of Oliver’s favorite trumpeters to listen to are Maurice Andre, Sergei Nakariakov, Giuliano Sommerhalder, Omar Tomasoni, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti and Eric Miyashiro. When he’s not practicing, performing or listening to trumpet, Oliver is a dedicated athlete. He has been swimming since 1st grade, competing on his high school swim team and making state for three years in a row. During his senior year, he and his teammates won the Kansas State Swimming Championship. As the January 2024 ITG Young Artist Award winner, he will receive a one-year complimentary membership to ITG. Congratulations Oliver!

October 2023 Winner: Christopher Petrella

This issue’s featured young artist award winner is Christopher Petrella, an 18-year-old trumpet player who graduated from Hudson High School in Hudson, Ohio last spring. Chris is currently a freshman trumpet performance major at the Curtis Institute of Music where he is studying with David Bilger.

Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Chris’s musical journey was greatly influenced by his participation in the Fountain City Youth Brass Academy Honor band for three years and his studying with Professor Keith Benjamin whom he studied with for five years. While living in Missouri, Chris earned a seat in the KMEA All-State Band his freshman year and was the first chair in the KMEA All-State Orchestra his sophomore year. He has also performed as a member of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City during sixth grade. Once he moved to Ohio, Chris began studying with Michael Sachs and Michael Miller of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and became principal trumpet in the Kent State Youth Winds Ensemble in addition to playing in his high school’s marching band and wind ensemble.

In 2020, he was a finalist in the Ictus International Trumpet Competition and was a semifinalist in the National Trumpet Competition, which was canceled due to covid. Additionally, in 2020, Chris was selected to perform in the NAfME  All-National Honor Band on the first trumpet part. In 2021, Chris was selected to perform in the NAfME All-National Symphony Orchestra on the first trumpet and was awarded first prize in the High School Solo Division at the National Trumpet Competition in Greensboro, North Carolina. This past year, Chris was a finalist in the Presidents Own Marine Band Concerto Competition.

Chris credits his parents with a lot of his success because they have been incredibly supportive of him and because he began his musical journey taking piano lessons with his mom. He is also very grateful for the wonderful music teachers and trumpet teachers he has had in his life. In addition to performing trumpet, Chris values staying physically active. He was a member of a swim team for eight years, swimming competitively all through high school. Chris hopes to make a living as a professional trumpet player and would love to do so as a trumpet soloist both through giving solo recitals and soloing with orchestras like some of his trumpet idols such as Maurice André and Håkan Hardenberger. As the October 2023 ITG Young Artist Award winner, he will receive a one-year complimentary membership to ITG. Congratulations Christopher!

June 2023 Winner: Joshua Kucharski

This issue’s featured young artist award winner is Joshua Kucharski, an eighteen-year-old trumpet player from Baltimore, Maryland. Josh just finished his freshman year of college at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University where he is majoring in trumpet performance. Prior to attending Peabody, he participated in the Julliard Pre-College program for four years and attended DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, MD. While attending high school, Josh performed in DeMatha’s wind ensemble and jazz ensemble for all four years and participated in several Julliard Pre-College groups including brass quintet, brass ensemble and both orchestras. During his senior year he was principal trumpet in the pre-college orchestra and principal trumpet for the Maryland All-State Orchestra. He also performed Mahler’s Symphony no. 5 throughout Europe with Daniel Harding conducting Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) during the summer of 2022.

An active competitor, Josh was awarded first prize in the Concert Artists International Competition and in 2019 he was first prize winner in the NTC junior division and also second place in the ITG junior solo competition. In 2020 he was first prize and grand prize winner in both the Bellegrande International Competition and the YMIC Metropolitan Festival. In 2022 he earned second place in the Ross-Roberts Friday Morning Music Club competition for Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion, was awarded first prize in the International Grande Music Competition and the Charleston International Music Competition, and was selected as one of the grand prize winners in the 2021 International Young Artists Competition from The National League of Performing Arts, Inc. 

In high school, Josh studied with Kevin Cobb for two years followed by Ray Mase for two years and he is now a student of William Gerlach at Peabody. According to Ray Mase, “Josh is an outstanding young trumpeter and musician in every respect. His commitment to the Juilliard Pre-College program was incredible—faithfully making the trip up to New York City from Baltimore every Saturday for four years.” Josh’s first private trumpet teacher was his dad, David Kucharski, who is a trumpeter with the United States Air Force Ceremonial Brass. He is very thankful for the support and encouragement of his parents. Since both of his parents are professional musicians, they are very supportive of him and understand the lifestyle and commitment necessary for success. In particular he is grateful that they enrolled him in piano lessons and piano competitions when he was six-years-old as he learned a lot about performing and coping with nerves at a young age. Josh is also an avid tennis player who has been playing since he was in the first grade. In addition to loving the sport, he finds that there is a lot of carryover between the mental skills of tennis to the mental skills of performing trumpet. He also loves watching sports such as his favorite basketball team the Los Angeles Lakers and Formula 1 racing by Louis Hamilton.

Josh would love to perform in an orchestra for a living some day and some of his favorite trumpeters to listen to are Phil Smith, Michael Sachs, Mattias Hoffs and Sergei Nakariakov. He had the pleasure of taking a few lessons with Mr. Nakariakov which was very inspiring for him. As the June 2023 ITG Young Artist Award winner, he will receive a one-year complimentary membership to ITG. Congratulations Joshua!


March 2023 Winner: Joshua Puente

This issue’s featured young artist award winner is Joshua Puente, an eighteen-year-old trumpet player from Marietta, GA. Joshua is currently a freshman instrumental music education and trumpet performance major at Florida State University (F.S.U.) where he studies with Dr. Christopher Moore. While attending Lassiter High School, Joshua was very active in his high school’s music program, serving as the president of the marching band, president of the Tri-M Honors Society, section leader of the trumpet section in the orchestra and ran his high school’s trumpet ensemble. As a high school freshman, he marched with his high school marching band in the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA. In addition to his high school responsibilities, Joshua was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra in 2021 and 2022. Two highlights from that ensemble were his roles as the cornet soloist in Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” and assistant principal on “Pictures at an Exhibition,” performing the Samuel Goldberg and Schmuyle solo on piccolo trumpet. He has also participated in the Georgia Music Education Association All State ensembles since his 8th grade year, culminating in principal trumpet in 2021 and 2nd chair trumpet in 2022. Joshua also competed in the quarterfinals of the National Trumpet Competition, performing the first movement of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto in 2021 and the Alexander Goedicke “Concert Etude” in 2022. He is looking forward to competing in the undergraduate solo division quarter-finals at the 2023 National Trumpet Competition performing Charlier’s Solo de Concours. Recently, Joshua earned 3rd place in the F.S.U. Bryan Goff Trumpet Solo Competition.

His previous trumpet teachers were Patrick McAvoy & Dr. Doug Lindsey of Kennesaw State University. Dr. Lindsey says “Joshua has been one of my favorite students because of his awesome attitude and work ethic. He always showed excellent leadership qualities as the top trumpet at Lassiter High School, and he regularly mentored the younger students in his section.” Joshua greatly appreciates the support of his teachers and also credits his father as a major factor in why he is pursuing trumpet as a career. His dad gave him his Bach Stradivarius trumpet when Joshua was in 8th grade and as a Blue Devils Drum and Bugel corp alumni encouraged Joshua to tour with the Phantom Regiment corp in 2022. In summer 2023, Joshua will follow in his dad’s footsteps by marching with the Blue Devils. Joshua also became interested in marching DCI thanks to Jeff Harper, his high school assistant band director, who marched in the Cadets. Joshua was thrilled to perform in a live movie theater broadcast out of Detroit last summer with Phantom and he really looks forward to returning to DCI as a Blue Devil each summer until he ages out.

Joshua’s favorite trumpeters include Maurice Andre and Rafael Mendez. In addition to being passionate about performing, he loves teaching and has ever since he became section leader at his high school and also taught middle school students. Joshua was a dedicated member of the Boy Scouts, gaining his Eagle Scout status at the beginning of the summer of 2022. He also greatly loves the outdoors, especially fishing, hiking and working out. As the March 2023 ITG Young Artist Award winner, he will receive a one-year complimentary membership to ITG. Congratulations Joshua!


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