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Katarina Kenney

2024 Cello Festival

Katarina Kenney, 15, is a Scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy, a training center for advanced pre-college musicians. She currently studies cello with Cornelia Watkins. Katarina made her solo orchestral debut at the age of 13 in a side by side performance with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and WYSO Philharmonia, and has since performed with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in their Fall Youth Concerts, a side by side performance with the Wisconsin Youth Orchestra and Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Middleton Community Orchestra Young Artist Concert, the Madison Symphony Orchestra Spring Young People’s Concert and as a finalist in the Bolz Young Artist Final Forte with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, which was broadcasted live on PBS Wisconsin and Wisconsin Public Radio at Overture Hall.

Katarina currently performs in the Music Institute of Chicago Academy Chamber Orchestra under the direction of James Setapen and is a member of the Elysian Quartet. The Elysian Quartet won the gold medal at the 2024 Saint Paul String Quartet Competition, along with the BIPOC performance award and audience prize. In addition, the Elysian Quartet participated in the 2024 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and received high honors at the 2024 Rembrandt Chamber Musicians High School Chamber Music Competition. They have also performed on the Gail Borden Public Library Sunday Afternoon Concert Series and collaborated with Musicians for Hope, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds and allocating resources to support underfunded music programs. Katarina performed for four seasons with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, where she also enjoyed performing chamber music in the WYSO Honors String Quartet. As a member of the Pondrom Quartet, she won the silver medal and BIPOC performance award in the 2023 Saint Paul String Quartet Competition, received honorable mention in the 2023 Chicago National Chamber Music Competition, and was featured on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Midday Show with host Norman Gilliland.

Katarina was the first prize winner of the 2024 Madison Symphony Orchestra Bolz Final Forte Competition and received the Marian Bolz Prize for Distinguished Musical Achievement. She was also a winner of the 2024 Middleton Community Orchestra Young Artist Competition, 2023 WYSO Youth Competition, 2022 Madison Symphony Orchestra Fall Youth Competition, second prize junior division winner of the 2022 Center Stage Strings Young Artist Solo Competition and winner of the 2022 WYSO Philharmonia Competition. She has had the honor of playing in masterclasses for Clive Greensmith, Uri Vardi, Estelle Choi, Horacio Contreras, Yumi Kendall, Amy Barston, Avi Friedlander and Linc Smelser, and has spent her summers at Vivace International Music Festival, Center Stage Strings and Cincinnati Young Artists Cello Academy. In addition, Katarina is in her eighth season with the Madison Youth Choirs, where she has shared the stage at Overture Hall with the Madison Symphony and multiple area choirs for their annual holiday concert. Katarina also enjoys participating in Model UN, the Social Activism and Awareness Club and community outreach.