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Simon Updegraff

2024 Cello

Simon Updegraff, 17, is a Scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy, a program for advanced pre-college musicians. He began Suzuki cello lessons at age four and studies with Avi Friedlander.

Simon is a winner of the Chicago Chamber Music Festival Concerto Competition and has soloed with the Northeastern Illinois University Orchestra. He is a first-place winner of the Primary, Junior, and Intermediate cello division competitions of the Society of American Musicians. He received honorable mention in the 2022 Walgreens National Concerto Competition and was selected for the 2023 Illinois Music Education Association all-state honors orchestra. Simon was featured in a live solo performance on WFMT Chicago’s Introductions in 2023. He has performed in the Young Steinway Concert series at the Skokie Public Library and played twice as assistant principal in the Suzuki Youth Orchestra of the Americas at the Suzuki Association of the Americas Biennial Conference.  He has taken master classes with Natasha Brofsky, Richard Aaron, Stephen Balderston, Sarah Kim, Allen Rafferty, Melissa Kraut, Benjamin Lash, and Amy Barston.

Simon is a junior at New Trier High School where he won the school’s 2024 concerto competition and is a member of the Symphony Orchestra. He is the co-captain of New Trier’s Varsity Scholastic Bowl Team and founded the school’s Classical Music Club. He enjoys video games and ranks in the top 10 players world-wide in a multi-player online video game.