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4 excellent reasons to catch a rising star with WDPR

It’s true what they say about stars: it’s so much fun to catch them while they are on the way up.

Classical 88.1 WDPR will celebrate some of Dayton’s best up-and-coming young musicians during its black-tie optional Catch a Rising Star Gala at 7 p.m.  Friday, May 1, at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, 2600 Deweese Parkway in Dayton.

Tickets are $88.10.

Click here to purchase tickets online or contact Bradley at (937) 496-3850 or

World-renowned pianist Alpin Hong will headline the bash, but Rosemary Bradley, WDPR’s development director, said he is far from the only highlight. 

“It is catching up on the kids on their rise to stardom,” Bradley told us.

There will be complimentary beer and wine, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and confections at the gala, but there are four main reasons to go… the students. 

WDPR’s Discover Classical’s Young Talent Search winners Benjamin Gittens, Maya Vansuch and Spencer Sharp will give staggered performances in various parts of the museum.

Elsie Bradley (no relation to Rosemary Bradley) is a 2015 Young Talent Search recipient. Elsie will give a “sneak peek” of the 2015 Young Talent Search recital to be held May 31 at the Sears Recital Hall at the University of Dayton.

“These kids are (decidedly) talented and enthusiastic about the music,” Rosemary Bradley said. “The work that they put into it needs to be recognized.”

Here are the rising stars with bio info from WDPR.

Benjamin Gittens

Benjamin Gittens

Benjamin Gittens began his piano studies at age 4 and has won numerous competitions and awards. These include the Grand Prize, First Prize, and the Best Romantic Performance at the Carmel Debut International Piano Competition; First Prize in the Lana M. Bailey Piano Concerto competition; Second Prize in the Chopin Youth Piano Competition; the National Federation of Music Club’s Stillman Kelly Award for Region One of the United States; and the Dare to Dream College Scholarship in 2014. Benjamin was a 2013 Discover Classical Young Talent Search finalist and is currently a Piano Performance Major at the College-Conservatory of Music, where he studies with Michael Chertock.



Maya Vansuch

Maya Vansuch

Maya Vansuch is 19 years old and has been studying classical voice for seven years. In 2012 she was the winner of the OMTA Buckeye Auditions. She won third place in the Opera Guild of Dayton high school vocal competition in 2013, and went on to win first place in 2014. In 2013 she was one of the finalists of the Discover Classical Young Talent Search competition. She is currently a freshman studying Vocal Performance at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. There she studies with Alice Hopper and is a member of the elite Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, NOTUS.

Spencer Sharp

Spencer Sharp

Spencer Sharp began playing the violin at age 4 where it was apparent at an early age that he had a special connection with the violin and performance. By age 6 he was on stage charming audiences at local clubs, churches, and events. In the past 4 years, Spencer has won more than 18 Young Artist competitions, local, national and international. He was the youngest Grand Prize winner ever in the 2013 Mary Lane Memorial Violin Competition presented by the Women in Music of Columbus organization. In 2012, Spencer made his solo debut at Carnegie Hall with an encore second solo in 2013. Spencer was a 2014 finalist in Discover Classical’s Young Talent Search and in June, 2015, Spencer will perform solo at American Protege’s International Honors Gala Concert at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Hall. Spencer studies with Gabe Pegis, Principal Second Violinist in the Cincinnati Symphony.



Elsie Bradley

Elsie Bradley

Elsie Bradley picked up the harp when she was seven years old and has been perfecting her technique for the last nine years. She began her instruction with Bobbie Strobhar, coordinator of the Dayton Area Harp Ensemble, and is now a student of Stephanie Llacuna. Elsie is a member of the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and is a junior at Stivers School for the Arts where she “could have a chance to play with an orchestra every day.”

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