Robinson Award

Festival founders, David and Louise Robinson

The Skaneateles Festival is proud to sponsor the annual Robinson Award. This prize was established in 2002 with the intent of honoring a high school student, age 13-18, who is an accomplished performer whose character, musicianship and community service reflects those treasured values of Festival founders, David and Louise Robinson: enthusiasm and dedication to music of the highest quality.

The winner will receive an $2,000 cash prize, with the presentation being made at a Skaneateles Festival concert. The recipient may also be invited to perform at a future Festival event.

Applicants will be considered from the central New York area (Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga, Tompkins, Madison, Oneida, and Cortland counties). The applicant should demonstrate a high level of commitment to his or her school music program, and/or the Skaneateles Festival.

Applications must include the following:

This should be unedited and feature 10-15 minutes of music. Include two contrasting styles of music (for example, Bach/ Brahms, Vivaldi/Copland, etc.). This should consist of works from the solo repertoire for your instrument (orchestral excerpts should not be included). Pieces written with accompaniment must be recorded with accompaniment for a more complete musical performance.

This can be submitted directly with your application via YouTube link or SoundCloud link.

Please describe a meaningful musical experience and an explanation of why it was meaningful to you. Please also describe your future musical goals, as well. This piece should be no more than 500 words.

Two letters of recommendation from an adult, preferably at least one from a school or private music teacher.
The letters of reference must speak to the applicant’s character and musicianship and the ways in which he or she reflects the values of the Robinson award: enthusiasm and dedication to music of high quality.

Letters of recommendation should be uploaded to the application below or emailed to

Applications should be submitted via the electronic application process linked below.

Previous Scholarship Winners:

Paul Di Folco, piano, (2023)

read about Paul

Paul Di Folco is a graduate of Manlius Pebble Hill School and has been a student in Russell Posegate’s studio in Ithaca for 9 years. His pianistic accomplishments include participation in the 2022 Forte/Piano Summer Academy at the Cornell-Westfield Center for Historical Keyboards, 4-time participation in the Ithaca College Summer Piano Institute, 2022 Claudette Sorel Fellow, runner-up in the 2022 CCO Youth Concerto Competition, 1st prize in the 2023 Civic Morning Musicals Youth Concerto Competition, and a live performance of the Goldberg Variations in 2021. Paul also plays the viola for his school orchestra and has participated in NYSSMA and regional festivals several times. He will be attending Stanford University in the fall to study mathematics.


Kate O’Leary, flute, (2022)

read about Kate

Kate O’Leary is a flutist, piccoloist, and alumna of Marcellus High School, Marcellus, NY.  Kate has performed in ensembles such as All-County and Area All-State festivals, as well as Symphoria Young Artists Orchestra, where she was principal flute. On May 22, Kate had the honor of performing Mozart’s Concerto in G Major with SYO after winning the Symphoria Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition.  Kate performed in multiple bands and choirs throughout high school, as well as Pit Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble, learning instruments such as saxophone and clarinet.  Additionally, Kate has participated in masterclasses with Christine Davis (2022), Hartwick College Faculty (2021), Chelsea Tanner (2020), and Mary Kay Robinson (2019).  Last year, Kate was invited by the Society for New Music to perform as a Rising Star at Cazenovia Counterpoint, where she had the honor of premiering Emily Graham’s Will-o’-Wisp.  In May, Kate was featured as Carrie Lazarus’ Extraordinary Talent of the Week.  Kate has been awarded music scholarships such as the SSMA Sally Whittle Memorial, OCMEA, and CNYAMT Scholarships. Kate will be attending Syracuse University in the fall, where she will major in Music Education and participate in the Honors Program and Syracuse University Marching Band.  Kate currently studies with Dana DiGennaro and has previously studied with Erin Tapia.  She is honored and humbled to be receiving the Robinson Award and would like to thank all of her teachers as well as her family for their constant support.


Charlie Loh, violin, (2021)

read about Charlie

During the summer of 2020, Charlie was a member of NYO2 and was featured as a soloist in a pandemic fundraiser to benefit WCNY and Symphoria. In 2019, he attended the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan as a full scholarship orchestral scholar. While there, he performed as assistant concertmaster and assistant principal second violin with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Charlie has been concertmaster for the Symphoria Young Artists Orchestra, performed with the Empire State Youth Orchestra, and played with the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. Upon graduation, he was awarded the National School Orchestra Award. He was also a violin soloist in the Society for New Music’s Cazenovia Counterpoint series during the summer of 2018 and was featured in 2017 as WSYR Carrie Lazarus’ Extraordinary Talent. Charlie will attend Brown University this fall to study math and chemistry.


Daiwei Shen, violin, (2020)

read about Daiwei

Daiwei Shen is assistant concertmaster of Symphoria Young Artists Orchestra. Daiwei won 1st prize in the Civic Morning Musicals and Symphoria Concerto Competition. He attends Northwestern University and is majoring in Computer Science.


Kaelem Michel, piano, (2019)

read about Kaelem

Kaelem Michel is 14 and began playing piano at age 9. He has won numerous local and international piano competitions, including 1st place at Steinway & Sons Junior Piano Competition in Senior Division in 2019. Kaelem is an active participant in master classes and pre-professional training in piano and chamber music. He attended an Eastman Summer Music Camp at Keuka College, NY, and the Lyra Music Festival at Smith College, MA and this summer will attend a music festival in Austria. Kaelem has given solo and clarinet-duet recitals with his younger brother at local venues and at last year’s Summer Suite event. He also performed at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla, CA and the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, NY. He has been composing solo pieces for piano and duets with other instruments and has recently been working with Texu Kim, teaching professor of Music Theory/Composition at Syracuse University.


Hannah Kang, piano, (2018)

read about Hannah

Hannah Kang has been studying the violin under James Krehbiel for the past seven years. She has served as concertmaster of her school orchestra, and has been co-concertmaster of the Symphoria Youth Orchestra. She has also served as the concertmaster of NYSSMA Area All-State in 2016, and participated in NYSSMA All-State in 2017.

Hannah has been awarded first place in the CNYAMT Instrumental Competition in 2011 and 2015. In 2015, she was a Civic Morning Musicals concerto Competition finalist, and awarded Honorable Mention in 2017. She actively participates in the B Sharp Scholarship Competition, placing first in 2017 and 2018. More recently, Hannah has been awarded Honorable Mention of the Robinson Award in 2017 and has been awarded first prize in the Empire Instrumental Competition High School Division. Hannah will be attending Washington and Lee University in the fall and plans on continuing her music studies while focusing on a business degree.


Ivan Yumagulov, piano, (2017) 

read about Ivan

Ivan is a senior at C.W. Baker High School in Baldwinsville.  Ivan is an outstanding pianist with a long list of accomplishments and awards.  He also plays accordion and is a saxophonist in the Baldwinsville High School bands.  


Christopher Spinelli, piano,(2016)

read about Christopher

Christopher is a three-consecutive year winner of the CNYAMT Piano Competition, he entered and won the senior division at age 14.  At age 12, and again at 16, he was a finalist in the Syracuse Symphony Youth Concerto Competition. He has participated in various piano competitions in Upstate New York, including the Thousand Islands International Piano Festival and Competition for Young People at Cape Vincent.  

He has also participated in the Civic Morning Musicals Wednesday Recital Series in 2014, 2015 and again in 2016.  He was the 2015 winner of the James and Katherine Andrews Young Artist Instrumental Competition held at the Crane School of Music, and was privileged to perform with The Orchestra of Northern New York. Chris looks forward to studying music performance at SUNY Oswego this fall.


Brian Gadbow, cello, (2015)

read about Brian

Brian was selected as the 2015 SYO Concerto Competition winner and the 2014 Civic Morning Musicals/Symphoria Concerto Competition winner.  Brian participated in the 2014 and 2015 NYSSMA Conference All-State Orchestras, and in the 2015 NAFME All-Eastern Honors Orchestra. He was the 1st place Senior Division winner of the 2014 CNYAMT Instrumental Competition, this year’s winner of the CNYAMT Senior Scholarship Competition, and a 3-time 1st place winner of the Jr. B Sharp String Competition in Utica.  He is also the 1st place winner of the Oneida County Music Educators Association Senior Scholarship Competition. Brian was principal cellist for two summers at Crane Youth Music, and received the Outstanding Musician of Symphony Orchestra Award. He spent a summer at the NYSSSA School of Orchestral Studies, and another at Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina where he was a principal cellist and chosen to perform in a Master Class for renowned cellist, Lynn Harrell. This summer Brian will attend the BUTI Young Artists Orchestra at Tanglewood, then will continue his study at the Eastman School of Music with a major in Cello Performance.

Erin Dowler, clarinet, (2014) 

read about Erin

Erin was awarded the OCMEA Scholarship and performed at the Everson Museum in June.  Erin is also a member of the West Genesee Wind Ensemble, Chorale and Symphony, and has performed on stage and in the pit orchestra for the school musicals. 

Along with those activities, Erin is also a member of the West Genesee Wildcat Marching Band and captain of the Varsity Swim Team.  This past fall, Erin was selected as The Post-Standard Athlete of the Week for her accomplishments of helping the swim team remain undefeated for four years and win three straight section titles, at the same time as leading the WG marching band to win a third straight New York State Championship, and a National Championship.  Erin also qualified for the NYSPHAA State Swim Meet this past fall with her relay team.  Erin plans on studying music education and clarinet performance at Ithaca College this fall.


Cheryl Fries, bassoon, (2013) 

read about Cheryl

Cheryl has performed in the Hochstein Alumni Chamber Orchestra, Greater Rochester’s Women’s Orchestra, Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra, Nazareth College Symphony Orchestra, and Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Cheryl has also performed in the Zone 2 Area All-State Orchestra and 2012 Conference All-State Symphonic Band. In 2012 Cheryl won the Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition and was honored to perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B Flat Major K.191 with the HYSO. Cheryl was the recipient of the Morning Musicale Scholarship, which recognized a member of the HYSO that strives for excellence and exhibits dedication and commitment to the orchestra.  In the fall, Cheryl will be attending the New England Conservatory of Music where she will study with Richard Svoboda and major in bassoon performance.


Ben Parks, violin, (2012)

read about Ben

Ben was a member of the NY All-State Orchestra in fall 2010 and 2011, and was selected as principal violist in 2011. He was one of three winners of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra Youth Concerto Competition, and he played the first movement of the Hoffmeister concerto with the orchestra during its Side by Side concert in March 2011. He was a member of the Syracuse Youth Orchestra for all four years of high school, and performed the first movement of Hindemith’s der Schwanendreher with the orchestra in April 2012. Ben will attend Princeton University this fall, and he plans to study viola with Toby Appel.


Katherine Yuanqi Zhang, flute,(2011)

read about Katherine

Katherine was the winner of both the 2010 SSYO Concerto Competition and the 2011 Civic Morning Musicals/Syracuse Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. She was a member of the prestigious 2010 National High School Honors Orchestra, performing in Santa Clara, California. Active in her school’s music program, she served as principal flute for the school’s Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Pit Orchestra. In December 2010, she performed with the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Conference All-State Symphony Orchestra as principal flute.  Recipient of the John Philip Sousa Band Award, the 2011 Edna B. Davis Music Scholarship Award and the Syracuse Symphony Association Sally Whittle Scholarship, Katherine will be attending the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance this fall. She will pursue a Bachelor of Music degree in flute performance with teacher certification.

Alicia Friedrichs, violin, (2010) 

read about Alicia

 Alicia has been a member of the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra for the last four years, having been named concertmaster for the 2009 1st cycle. In 2008 and 2009, she participated in the Conference All-State String Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra 1st violin sections, respectively. Last summer, Alicia attended the New York State Summer School for the Arts School of Orchestral Studies as a 2009 F. Ludwig Diehn Scholarship recipient.

In 2010, Alicia was the recipient of the Bruce McCormick Music Scholarship and the Syracuse Symphony Association Sally Whittle Scholarship. Alicia is a member of the National Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society. She has studied with Carol Sasson, a member of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, and with Nancy Fennessy. This fall, Alicia will pursue a Bachelor of Music degree with a major in violin performance at the Eastman School of Music.


Nicholas Hrynyk, piano, (2009)

read about Nicholas

Nicholas won the composer’s prize at the Cape Vincent Competition, the CNYAMT Piano Competition, the Patricia DeAngelis Festival at Le Moyne College and was selected for the first New York State School Music Association Piano Showcase. Nicholas is the president of the Auburn High School Orchestra and has performed in pit orchestras at Auburn High School, the Auburn jazz band, and given several solo piano concerts at Willard Chapel and the Everson Museum.  He will continue his education at the Eastman School of Music this fall.


Elizabeth Sutphen, mezzo-soprano, (2008)

read about Elizabeth

Elizabeth studied voice at the Tanglewood Institute and the Bel Canto Institute in Florence, Italy and with Eileen Strempel.  Recent honors include: first place in the NYSMTA Empire State Classical High School Vocal Competition and being named a recipient of an OCMEA music college scholarship. She considers her seven years in the Syracuse Children’s Chorus as instrumental in fostering her love for music. She has performed with the Syracuse Symphony, Civic Morning Musicals, and Cazenovia Counterpoint Festival Rising Stars Recital. Elizabeth will continue her education at The Juilliard School, where she will pursue her degree in Vocal Performance.  

Nina Elhassan, clarinet, (2007)

read about Nina

Nina is a member of the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra, and a music librarian for the orchestra.  Her other musical achievements include being a finalist in the Civic Morning Musicals Concerto Competition and performing in the All-State Symphonic Band. Upon graduation in 2008, Nina plans to attend a university where she can major in clarinet performance and chemistry/biochemistry.  


Laura Britton, oboe, (2006) 

read about Laura

Laura has completed her freshman year at Yale University, where she plays principal oboe and English horn in the Yale Symphony Orchestra, Berkeley College Orchestra, Saybrook College Orchestra, Opera Theater of Yale College, and Bach Society.  Laura has performed with the Sinfonietta of the Yale School of Music and recently toured Brazil with the Yale Concert Band.


Owen Kelley, violin, (2005)

read about Owen

Owen will be a junior Economics major at Princeton University this fall.  He continues to play the violin with the Princeton University Orchestra.  Owen has also remained involved in soccer, playing for the Princeton Men’s Club soccer team.  This July he traveled to Kenya to work with children, coaching soccer and spreading awareness of HIV/AIDS.


Matthew Pikarsky, piano, (2004)

read about Matthew

Matthew is a home-schooled graduate of 2004.  He is pursuing his baccalaureate degree through online programs in the field of film and cinema.  Matt aspires to be a movie director and recently started his own film business, ReelFilm Entertainment.  He continues to play the piano as a hobby.  


Stephanie Cambra, flute, (2003)

read about Stephanie

Stephanie is a junior at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she is a member of the NEC Symphony Orchestra and NEC Jordan Winds.  She recently participated in the James Pappoutsakis and National Flute Association competitions as well as several master classes.  This summer she performed in the Sound Encounters contemporary music workshop in Boston.


Adam Gay, piano, (2002)

read about Adam

Adam will be a senior at Cornell University this fall.  An economics and management major, he is interning in NYC this summer with Bear Stearns, an investment banking firm.  He serves as vice president of Finance for Student Assembly where he assembled a staff to help allocate a $3,000,000 budget for 400 student organizations.  He continues to play piano and organ for various churches and events.  



a total of 76 Grammy Awards . . .  led by Bela Fleck (with 15), and now jazz bassist Christian McBride joins our list with 8 wins!

We hope to see you soon!