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USM School of Music Announces 2018 Competition Winners

Annual Honors Recital

On February 15, University of Southern Maine School of Music students performed pieces they’ve spent weeks perfecting before a panel of judges in a competition for spots in USM’s Honors Recital and annual Concerto/Aria Competition.

Each Spring the students are invited to audition for opportunities to perform in concerts designed to recognize the most outstanding performers. Music majors compete in the Concerto/Aria Competition and for an opportunity to be featured in the Annual Honors Recital. Students must be nominated by their teachers in order to audition and all instruments and voice types are eligible to compete. The names of the winners are engraved on the permanent plaque hanging in Corthell Hall that lists all Honors Recitalists since the inception of the event in 1978. 

Two special concerts highlighting these talents are taking place in April:

  • April 7 the Concerto/Aria Competition winners will be featured at Merrill Auditorium with the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra. The second half this concert will feature Stephen Edwards’ choral masterwork, “Requiem for My Mother,” under the baton of Nicolás Alberto Dosman. 
  • April 14 the 41st Annual Honors Recital at Corthell Concert Hall on the Gorham Campus features the student winners and recognizes excellence in undergraduate solo performance.

Congratulations to the 2018 student winners of the USM Concerto/Aria Competition and the 41st Annual Honors Recital Auditions!

DevynDevyn Adams, bassoon (Honors Recital), is a sophomore at the USM, majoring in both bassoon performance and mathematics. Devyn, originally from Limerick, Maine, and a student of Wren Saunders has been featured as a concerto soloist with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, as well as on National Public Radio’s nationally syndicated program, “From the Top.” Devyn has performed with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra at Boston University, the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra at the New England Conservatory, the Colby College Orchestra, and the North Shore Symphony Orchestra in Massachusetts. At USM Devyn has performed with the Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Composers Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, and various chamber ensembles and student recitals. Devyn is a recipient of a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship, has performed throughout the community with the USM Youth Ensembles, and participated in the Karger Scholars program at the Portland Conservatory. 


Josie DiPhilippo, piano (Concerto Competition and Honors Recital), is a sophomore majoring in piano performance, studying with Laura Kargul. She has participated in master classes with Mark Gibson, Conrad Tao, Henry Kramer, and Daniel Shapiro. Josie currently works as the community coordinator for the Portland Symphony Orchestra to present musical events for all ages. Josie attended the Music Without Borders Piano Festival for 3 years, the International Piano Festival at the Portland Conservatory for 2 years, and was a member of the USM Youth Wind Ensemble and Orchestra in 2015-2016. Honors include first prize in the Ocy Downs Competition, first prize in the Pine Tree Piano Competition, winner of the USM Youth Ensemble Scholarship Competition, second prize in the Young Artist Piano Competition, recipient of the Frank Glazer Award and recipient of the Kotzschmar Memorial Trust Scholarship. Josie went to South Portland High School and previously studied with Naydene Bowder at the Portland Conservatory of Music.



Aaron Emerson, oboe (Concerto Competition) is a first-year music performance major from Augusta, Maine. Hearing his mother play piano constantly, he always knew that when the time came he too would learn an instrument. In the fifth grade, he chose to study the oboe, studying for a short time with Billie Jo Perry-Brito. Later, as a student of Michael Albert, Aaron participated in the Maine All-State Music Festival all four years of high school. At the end of his junior year, Aaron decided to major in music performance. Now at USM Aaron studies with Neil Boyer, and is a part of the band, orchestra, and wind ensemble.




Bailey Giles, saxophone (Honors Recital), is a second-semester freshman at USM majoring in jazz saxophone performance. He attended Hampden Academy high school in Hampden, Maine. At USM, a student of Barry Saunders, he plays in jazz combos, Big Band and Concert Band. In the community, Bailey plays with the non-profit big band, The Saco River Jazz Ensemble. Two of Bailey’s greatest influences are his music teachers from high school and middle school: Hampden Academy band director, Pat Michaud, and middle school band director, Becky Mallory, whom Bailey credits for his love of jazz music.




Paul Kneller, guitar (Honors Recital), is a classical guitarist from Lisbon Falls, Maine, graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Performance from USM. Beginning his studies in 2003 with local composer, performer, and teacher John Johnstone, Paul studied a variety of styles including classical compositions by Johnstone himself. At USM he studied with Keith Crook, composer, teacher, and performer. Aside from his focus on solo performance, he has had the opportunity to perform chamber music with a variety of instrumentalists. Paul also enjoys playing and recording in non-academic ensembles, experimenting with noise elements and cassette aesthetics.





Alex Ouellette, drum set
(Honors Recital), from Fryeburg, Maine, started on drum set at the age of 8 and grew up playing drums and percussion in the Southern Maine area. He has received numerous high school jazz festival awards and has played with many highly regarded jazz musicians and educators from around Southern Maine and New Hampshire. He is currently a sophomore studying jazz at USM with jazz drummer, Les Harris Jr. and classical percussionist, Nancy Smith. His work is focused mainly on the styles of jazz, rock, fusion and folk, as these are the genres that he has grown to love since he was a child. Alex’s main project is performing and recording with the award-winning, eclectic folk-rock quintet, Junco.






Ida Santos, soprano (Concerto Competition and Honors Recital), is a second-year music major from Pembroke, New Hampshire. She has been an active choral singer and soloist since 2013 with theatrical credits including: Jekyll and Hyde, Mary Magdalene, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Dido and Aeneas (spirit), Princess Ida (Sacharissa), HMS Pinafore (Josephine), and The Vagina Monologues. Her first opera performance at USM was The Merry Wives of Windsor (Anne Page). Ida won third prize in 2017 in the Maine NATS competition and was a semifinalist in the 2017 NATS National Student Auditions. Ida studies voice at USM with Scott Wheatley.




Rachel Shukan, soprano (Concerto Competition and Honors Recital), from Woburn, Massachusetts, is a senior at USM studying with Ellen Chickering. She has been featured in USM’s Opera Workshop productions as: Marguerite in “Faust,” Sandrina in “La finta giardiniera,” Despina in “Cosí fan tutte,” the First Lady in “Die Zauberflöte,” and Leila, and the fairy, in “Iolanthe”. As a sophomore she sang the role of Drusilla in USM's complete production of “L’incoronazione di Poppea,” and in her junior year she appeared as Alice Ford in the complete production of “Merry Wives of Windsor”. She took first in her division at the Maine NATS competition in the spring of 2016, and in again in 2017 took first in Division V, was awarded the Linda Freeman Award for best Italian, as well as the Nordica Scholarship, a prize that includes a full-length recital. Rachel was also awarded the Eleanor Erdman and Diane Nixon Vocal Excellence Prize in the Bay Chamber Young Stars of Maine Competition and sang in the chorus of Opera Maine’s productions: Verdi’s “La Traviata” (2017), Bizet’s “Carmen” (2016) and Puccini’s “Tosca” (2015). She will be debuting the role of Girl in the world premiere of Dan Sonenberg’s new opera, “Girl in Six Beats,” at USM this April. Rachel was also a winner in USM’s 2016 and 2017 Honors Recital Auditions.

William Silvers, saxophone
(Honors Recital), is a 2015 graduate of Greely High School in Cumberland, Maine. He is a junior saxophone performance major at USM studying with Barry Saunders. He plays principal alto sax in the USM Concert Band and Wind Ensemble, and soprano and alto sax in the USM Saxophone Trio. While at Greely High School he was accepted to district band festivals, All-State Band, the All-State Jazz Festival, and the All-Eastern Honors Band conducted by Gary Green. He played tenor saxophone in the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble, and in the fall of 2016, he participated in a master class presented by members of the Barkada Quartet. This spring he will be playing principal alto sax at the New England Intercollegiate Band Festival. In addition to his saxophone studies, he has studied piano with Kevin Smith.


Benjamin Walker-Dubay, tenor
(Honors Recital), is originally from Kennebunkport, Maine and graduated from Kennebunk High School in 2016. Ben appeared in the High School Honors Recital Series at Carnegie Hall in New York City in his junior year of high school. Now a sophomore at USM studying musical theatre with Edward Reichert and Scott Wheatley, Ben was featured last semester as Fulton in “Of Thee I Sing,” and this semester as Ernie Lally in “A Man of No Importance.” Ben also performed in a pre-performance lecture for Leslie Odom Jr.’s concert at Merrill Auditorium.


Visit USM School of Music for more information about the program.