Park Ridge Civic Orchestra announces scholarship winners

Percussionist Benjamin Heim is winner of the Rotary International Educational Scholarship underwritten by the Rotary Club of Park Ridge. Heim is a Des Plaines resident and a senior at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, under the band direction of Bernie Gerstmayr. Heim has been playing percussion for nine years, and is currently the percussion section leader at Maine West. He is the section leader of the school’s Front Ensemble, the vibist in the Jazz Band, the drum set player in Warrior Strings, and the percussionist in the Pit Orchestra for Maine West’s school musicals. He has also composed two original pieces for the school’s annual Variety Show.

Since his sophomore year, Heim has been enrolled in the Tuition Free Conservatory at Merit School of Music. He spends his Saturdays there, participating in many of the school’s top ensembles, including the Philharmonic Orchestra and a percussion ensemble. The percussion ensemble, dubbed “Sticks and Stones,” is a competitive chamber group, under the direction of Brandon Podjasek, and has earned accolades from the Rembrandt and Barnett Chamber Music Competitions.

Heim plans on studying Music Composition and Technology at Northeastern University in Boston.

Violinist Steven Song is winner of the Mark Waltz Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is underwritten by Karin Waltz in memory of Waltz, a long-time string bass player with the PRCOrchestra. Song, 18, is a scholarship recipient at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy program. He currently studies with Gerardo Ribeiro and previously studied with Jin Zhang for seven years. Song has received awards in a number of competitions including Geneva Granquist Music Competition, Walgreens National Concerto Competition, De Paul Concerto Festival, and Society of American Musicians competition. He also participated in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

Song is a long-time member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) and has attended the Meadowmount School of Music in upstate New York on merit scholarship. He has played in master classes for James Ehnes, William van der Sloot, Tong Wei Dong, Frank Almond, Ilya Kaler, Gudny Gudmundsdottir, Joseph Silverstein, and Noah Bendix-Balgley. In addition to violin, Song has studied piano for many years, appearing once on WFMT 98.7 and placing in the Steinway Piano Competition. Outside of music, Song enjoys being with friends and playing sports.

Recipients are selected through professionally judged live auditions and other criteria and receive a $1,000 college scholarship.

“It takes tremendous dedication along with talent to become a fine musician, so we think a professional concert is the perfect place to introduce our scholarship recipients,” says PRCOrchestra Music Director Victor Muenzer. “Ben and Steven have already exhibited these qualities. We’re so grateful to Karin Waltz and Rotary; It’s wonderful to be able to help serious young musicians continue their studies so that the next generation can produce and enjoy great music, too.”

The Park Ridge Civic Orchestra brings live, professional symphonic concerts to convenient local venues including the historic Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge and the modern North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. From fall to spring, the Chicago area’s finest instrumentalists and renowned guest soloists, led by Music Director Victor Muenzer, perform towering classics, blockbuster movie scores and audience favorites to please a wide range of musical tastes. Park Ridge Civic Orchestra was founded in 1994 by Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinist Edgar Muenzer, his wife Nancy and local volunteers to make professional, live symphonic performances affordable and accessible to patrons of all ages.




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