Julie Albers (cello, first prize) has been principal cellist of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra since 2014. She is also a teacher of Zlatomir Fung (see 2015 JIC Winners). As a high school student, she was awarded the Grand Prize at the XIII International Competition for Young Musicians in Douai, France. She has performed in recital and with orchestras throughout the world. In 2001, she won second prize in Munich’s Internationalen Musikwettbewerbes der ARD, and was also awarded the Wilhelm-Weichsler-Musikpreis der Stadt Osnabruch. In 2003, she was named the first Gold Medal Laureate of South Korea’s Gyeongnam International Music Competition. She is currently active with the Albers String Trio and the Cortona Trio and is assistant professor and holds the Mary Jean and Charles Yates Cello Chair at the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
Denise Djokic (cello, third prize) has appeared with orchestras and as a recitalist throughout the Americas. She was a featured performer at the 2002 Grammy Awards, and her recordings have received several awards. She was the subject of a BRAVO! TV documentary entitled “Seven Days, Seven Nights” and has been a speaker at IdeaCity in Toronto and at the Queen’s Women in Leadership Conference. She was named by MacLean’s magazine as one of the top “25 Canadians who are Changing our World” and by ELLE Magazine as one of “Canada’s Most Powerful Women.”
Yumi Kendall (cello, judges’ commendation) has been assistant principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2004, and is a member of the Dryden Quartet. She has served on the faculties of the National Orchestral Institute, New York State School for Orchestral Studies, Philadelphia International Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, and Miami Summer Music Festival; serves as mentor for the Curtis Institute’s Community Artists Program; and maintains a private teaching studio. She received the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Kuhn Award in 2013, which is given annually to “the member of the Philadelphia Orchestra who has shown ability and enterprise of such character as to enhance the standards and reputation of The Philadelphia Orchestra.”
Jessica Lee (violin, honorable mention) was the grand prize winner of the 2005 Concert Artists Guild International Competition. She has appeared in solo and chamber performances all over the world. She was a long-time member of the Johannes String Quartet, which toured with the Guarneri String Quartet in its farewell season. She was a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Two and has toured frequently with Musicians from Marlboro. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and a master of music degree from the Juilliard School and was a faculty member at Rutgers University and Vassar College. She was named assistant concertmaster (fourth chair) of the Cleveland Orchestra in August 2016.
Mikhail Ovrutsky (violin, first prize and best performance of commissioned work) is a soloist and chamber musician. He is concertmaster of the Beethoven Orchestra and prizewinner at the 2005 Queen Elisabeth Competition. He is a recording artist with Warner Classics, Naxos, and Berlin Classics. He also been a teacher of Lara Boschkor (see 2015 JIC Winners).