The Abilene Philharmonic’s Nelda Hodges Young Artist Competition was established in 2008 to help support outstanding young musicians in the Abilene area. The competition is open to woodwind, brass, percussion, string, and piano students between the ages of 12-18 that live in Texas School Regions 7, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and have not yet graduated high school.
Nelda and Eddie Hodges were generous donors, active volunteers, and innovative leaders of the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, Foundation, and Guild for almost sixty years. Eddie Hodges honored his wife with the establishment of the Nelda Hodges Young Artist Competition Endowment to inspire and reward young people’s love for music.
Oboist, Owen Bailey, resides in Abilene, TX. He currently serves as principal oboist for the Abilene Youth Orchestra and Cooper High School Band. He studies oboe with Susie Rocket. Prior to his move to Abilene, Owen was raised in Katy, TX where he studied oboe with Abby Yeakle-Held and Pablo Moreno. He was a founding member of the Quintessential Winds, a woodwind quintet organized by five young musicians seeking out performance opportunities beyond the scope of their school music programs. Owen is a three-time area finalist in the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Band Auditions. He has also finished second chair TMEA Region 23 Orchestra, fifth chair TMEA Region 23 Band, twice as first chair in the TMEA Region 6 Band and Orchestra. Owen has received first division ratings on all local and U.I.L. Solo and Ensemble performances for six years. Owen is also active in his community. He is a member of the Pioneer Drive Baptist Church Orchestra where he also leads a bible study class for 8th grade students. He also serves on the Cooper High School Student Council, an active community service organization serving Abilene and beyond. A high school junior, Owen plans to study music performance after graduation.
Sarah Ellyce Chen (age 14) is a 9th grader at Talkington School for Young Women Leaders in Lubbock, TX. She has been studying under the tutelage of Ya-Li Chung Pekowski since she was 5 ½ years old. She is a seven time All-State winner of the Texas Federation of Music Clubs State Festival and Competition, a six-time 1st place winner of the Lubbock Music Teachers Association’s Sonatina and Sonata Contest, a 1st place winner in the 2019 Junior Division and 2nd place winner in the 2021 Senior Division of the Wayland Baptist University Piano Competition, and a 3rd place winter in the 2020 Nelda Hodges Young Artist Competition. She has won several competitions with the Great Composers Competitions, including 1st place in the 2018 and 2021 Rising Talents of Americas, 2nd place in the 2020 Best Haydn Performance and 2019 Music of Northern Europe, and 3rd place in the 2019 Best of Chopin. Sarah has also been playing the violin for 7 years, has been a member of Region 16’s top orchestra for 3 years, has been a member of the Youth Orchestras of Lubbock (YOL) for 6 years, and was the concert-mistress of the YOL’s Philharmonic Orchestra. She enjoys academic competitions, consistently placing in the top across multiple subjects in the University Interscholastic League (UIL) over the past few years. She recently represented her school at the Texas state level Academic Decathalon meet, placing 1st and 2nd (Music and Literature). Sarah is also a certified second degree black belt in Tang Soo Do karate and a 3rd brown belt in American Kenpo karate. She enjoys reading, travelling, socializing, participating in church activities, and learning new things. Her dream is to one day play at Carnegie Hall. She hopes to also become a doctor, is fascinated by the relationship between music and the brain, and is passionate about empowering girls to become leaders and giving voice to those who have none.
Gregory Faught is a junior at Central High School in San Angelo, Texas, where he serves as concertmaster of the Central High School Symphony Orchestra and principal bassist of the Central High School Chamber Orchestra, directed by Emilee Rocha and Mykel Martin. Gregory has been selected for the TMEA All-Region Orchestra on both the violin (2020 and 2021) and bass (2020, 2021, & 2022), the TMEA All-Area Orchestra on bass (2021 and 2022), and as principal bassist for the TMEA All-State Sinfonietta Orchestra (2022). Gregory is the only string player to place in his age division on the state level of the OPUS Competition and will soon participate in the national round. This summer he will travel to Michigan to participate in the Interlochen Double Bass Intensive Workshop.
Gregory studied violin with Ms. Paula Woyton and is currently a bass student of Dr. Mark Morton of Texas Tech University.
John David King is a member of the Cooper High School Class of 2022. After he graduates in May, he plans to attend Hardin-Simmons University where he will major in Music Education.
John David began playing the Tuba in 6th grade at Madison Middle School and over the years has committed countless hours to practicing, performing, and developing as a musician. He is finishing his fourth year in the Awesome Cooper Band where he also served as section leader for the past two years. John David has also been a member of the Abilene Youth Orchestra for the past four years. He earned a spot in the Region 6 All-Region Band all four years and advanced to the Area competition in three of those years. He also earned a spot in the All-Region Orchestra one year. John David competed in UIL Solo & Ensemble and earned a Division I rating all four years. He qualified to compete at the state level three of those years; however, due to COVID, this May will be his first opportunity to travel to Austin to compete. He is also a member of a state-qualifying ensemble this year and will have a chance to play with the group in Austin as well. John David was recognized for two years as a Texas Music Educators Scholar, and has had the opportunity to play in a church ensemble on a few occasions.
John David is the son of Jason and Rachel King, the older brother of Caroline, Adah, and Margaret, and the grandson of Martha Rau and Dave and Dorothy King. He and his family offer special thanks to his teachers in AISD for the many opportunities they have given him to learn and develop as both a musician and a leader. Very special thanks go to Mr. Clay Johnson, John David’s band director at CHS during his freshman year and private lesson instructor for the past four years. Mr. Johnson’s commitment to teaching and encouraging John David has given him the opportunity to dream and plan a future for himself as a music educator.
Based in Lubbock, Texas, Khang Ma is an amateur classical pianist seeking to pursue higher education in music. Originally only playing the piano as a hobby, Khang has been studying with Dr. Leobardo Guerrero for a little over two years. In addition, Khang has also worked with Dr. Ruth Holmes, Dr. Jeyeon Kim, and Dr. Mauricio Starosta. He is currently a senior at Lubbock High School, and plans to attend Texas Tech University in pursuance of a degree in Piano Performance under Prof. Daniel del Pino.
Among Khang’s accomplishments in music includes the First Prize at the 4th Wayland Baptist Piano Competition (2022), the Second Prize and the Prize for the Best Performance of a Beethoven Work at the 2nd Wayland Baptist Piano Competition (2020), and Outstanding Performer at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest (2021). His recent performances include a solo recital at Lubbock Christian University consisting of works by Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin. He has also collaborated with a cellist and a violinist to play Beethoven’s Piano Trio in C Minor. In the near future, Khang will perform the Mozart Piano Concerto in A Major with a string quartet.
In his free time, Khang enjoys watching movies and shows, reading books and comics, and cooking. He also likes interacting with animals and feeding strays. He is a musical theatre enthusiast and an avid enjoyer of boba tea. Outside of music, Khang’s academic interests consist of the social sciences, particularly Economics and Philosophy.
These five finalists will compete Saturday, April 2nd, 2022 at 3:00pm. These performances will be open and free to the public. If you have any questions, please contact us through our Facebook page