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In addition to being named winner of this year’s Senior Symphony Concerto Competition—an honor of which he is especially proud as he is keenly aware of the high level of competition—this year he was also named a finalist for the “President’s Own” Marine Band Concerto Competition; this honor gave him the opportunity to play in the John Philip Sousa Hall at the Marine Barracks in Washington, DC. Thomas was also named a winner of the 2013 Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Auditions and will perform with the MSO at the Stars of Tomorrow Concert on June 5 at the Sharon Lynn Wilson Center.
 
Thomas would like to dedicate this performance to his parents and grandparents who have supported him in his musical endeavors for the past 14 years; whether it be financial, driving, or just attending a performance, his family has always supported his music!
 

2013 Philharmonia Concerto Competition Winner

Mercedes Cullen has been studying the violin since the age of four when she began her study with Kathy Kalfus. She now studies with Pamela Simmons. Music has long been important in her life. She enjoys improvisation and fiddling, and recently won the fiddle contest at Milwaukee’s Indian Summer. This is her fifth year in MYSO, and she is currently a member of Philharmonia. She has participated in MYSO's Chamber Ensemble Program and this year she performed in the Bach Players chamber group.  Outside of music, Mercedes enjoys soccer, volleyball, training her dog, horseback riding and working with horses, showing dairy cows at State Fair, swimming at her grandma's lake in northern Wisconsin and learning other instruments, such as the piano and guitar. She would like to thank her teachers for their instructive, patient teaching over the last ten years.