String Judge Panel

Chi-Chen Madeline Tsai

Dallas Opera Conductor in Residence, Solti International Conducting Competition prize winner, Ms. Tsai is a versatile musician who has been trained as a conductor, pianist, singer, organist, and timpanist. She was the only Asian female invited to the Solti International Conducting Competition in Hungary, where she won the People’s Choice Award. Following this award, she conducted the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra in Bulgaria and the Kaohsiung Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan. She has also conducted the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra Berlin, the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lithuanian State Philharmonic Orchestra, and the National Radio Orchestra Bucharest. As a coach and accompanist, she assisted Grace Bumbry for her masterclasses on Aida and Cavalleria Rusticana in Vienna.

She was awarded a coveted place on Women Conductors Program at Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Her commitment is second-to-none and she brings an energy to the podium that is focused and dynamic.

Dallas Morning News:
"Chi-Chen Madeleine Tsai.....she had the confidence and security to lead Rossini’s Barber of Seville Overture with economical gestures that made the orchestra really watch — and listen. It was a fine and fun account."

~ Theaterjones
Tsai tore into the overture to Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, delivering an exciting performance while still keeping its humorous nature."

Lisa Shihoten

Violinist Lisa Shihoten enjoys an active career as a chamber musician, soloist, and teacher. She is a member of the prestigious New York City- based Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, where she appears regularly alongside some of the world’s most prominent musicians. Her solo appearances have included concerto performances under the direction of Kurt Masur, Robert Spano, and David Shallon. As a chamber musician and soloist, she has appeared in concert halls throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Her numerous awards include honors from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, the Caramoor Center’s Evnin Rising Stars program, the Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists, and the Paganini International Violin Competition. Her appearances at summer festivals have included the Caramoor Music Festival, the Ravinia Festival, the North Shore Chamber Music Festival, the Norfolk Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Verbier Music
Festival. She regularly performs duo recitals with her husband, organist Ken Cowan.

A native of Chicago, Ms. Shihoten earned her bachelor’s degree at The Juilliard School as a student of Dorothy DeLay and Masao Kawasaki, and her master’s degree from the Yale School of Music as a student of Peter Oundjian. After a decade on the violin faculty at Princeton University, she is currently a faculty violin instructor at the Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program at Rice University in Houston. Ms. Shihoten is also a guest instructor at the Betty Haag Academy of Music in Chicago, where she has the great honor of working with her childhood violin teacher, Betty Haag-Kuhnke.

En-Ting Hsu

A native of Taiwan, En-Ting Hsu is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the UMKC Conservatory, studying with Scott Lee. She received her Master of Music and Performer Diploma at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and obtained her Bachelor of Music degree at National Taiwan Normal University. As an orchestral musician, she has performed worldwide in the U.S., Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong. As a chamber music enthusiast, she has attended Eastern Music Festival, Bay View Music Festival, Heartland Chamber Music Festival, and the Kent/Blossom Music Festival. Her string quartet has won first prize multiple times in the National Taiwan Music Competition.

As a teacher, she is an active member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, and a member of the American String Teachers Association. En-Ting participated in several workshops in summers, such as String Teacher Workshop at Ohio State, FASE Bornoff Workshop, Karen Tuttle Viola Workshop, and more. Currently, En-Ting serves as the principal violist in the Topeka Symphony Orchestra, violin and viola instructor at the UMKC Conservatory Academy, and as a lead teacher in the String Sprouts program whose mission is to provide music education and support school readiness to children ages three to eight in Kansas City.

Sarah Grimes

Sarah Grimes joined the second violin section of the Minnesota Orchestra in 2016 and won a position in the first violin section in May 2017. Before her appointment in the Minnesota Orchestra, she performed as a full-time Guest Musician with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 2015-16, and as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago in 2014.

Raised in the Twin Cities, Grimes began studying the violin at the age of four. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, serving as concertmaster of the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra and performer and co-founder for student-led ensembles, while working as a freelance musician in the greater Chicago area. She appeared as a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra in 2005 and 2010 and with the Minnesota Sinfonia in 2012. As a chamber musician, she has recently been featured on the Minnesota Orchestra Chamber Series, Liquid Music Series, the SPCO Chamber Music Series, Bakken Trio Series, The Musical Offering, and at festivals including Kneisel Hall Chamber Music, Chamber Music Festival of the Black Hills and Astona International. She currently serves as concertmaster of the Mississippi Valley Orchestra.

Her principal teachers include Sarah Kwak and Almita Vamos.

Ho-Yin Kwok

Described by Classical Voice of North Carolina (CVNC) as an “impressive conductor...outstanding in his attention to detail and his command of the big picture”, Hong Kong-born conductor Ho-Yin Kwok is the winner of 2017-2018 Vincent C. LaGuardia, Jr. Conducting Competition. He currently serves as artistic director and conductor of the Mississippi Valley Orchestra in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, assistant conductor of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, and director of the Duluth Superior Youth Symphony.

Previously, Ho-Yin served as visiting director of orchestra and violin/viola instructor at the University of Minnesota Duluth and adjudicator for the Minnesota Orchestra Young People's Symphony Concert Association’s Concerto Competition. He is a DMA candidate at the University of Minnesota. Ho-Yin has previously studied with Gerard Schwarz, Cristian Măcelaru and Colin Metters. Ho-Yin obtained a master's degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Iowa. His principal conducting teachers are Mark Russell Smith and William LaRue Jones.