Published: Feb. 22, 2022 By

Badura and KebedeThe College of Music's annual Honors Competition is always an exciting event when both undergraduate and graduate students hope to land the opportunity to perform with the CU Symphony Orchestra in the fall. 

On Feb. 20, flutist Courtney Badura (BM '23) and violinist Reuben Kebede (AD '22) took the "gold." 

Badura performed Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto for Flute and Strings No. 1, Op. 45, accompanied by Collaborative Piano Instructor Hsiao-Ling Lin. Kebede—a violinist with the Ivalas Quartet, the college's Graduate String Quartet in Residence—performed Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 80, accompanied by pianist Madoka Asari. Honorable mentions include cellist Matthew Wiest and mezzo soprano Gabrielle Razafinjatovo.

Says Kebede, "It means a great deal to me to have won the Honors Competition for a few reasons. Most importantly, I’m thrilled to be able to return to CU Boulder next year to work with Maestro Lewis and the talented students in the CU Symphony Orchestra to bring this wonderful but rarely performed concerto to life. It’s such a beautiful and dynamic piece, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s orchestration is sublime. I always find it incredibly rewarding to share music by underrepresented composers and I’m confident the audience will take to this work. 

"Winning the competition this year also taught me a lesson on the power of perseverance. Two years ago, I made it to the finals of the competition but did not win. Last year, I did not make it to the finals. As with anything in life, it’s important to remember that the road to success is rarely a straight line and things are likely to work out in your favor eventually if you put in the work. 

"Lastly, I’d like to sincerely thank my peers and colleagues for their support through the process and, of course, my excellent teachers Ed Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes for everything they’ve done for me."

Adds Badura in reflecting on her experience, "Winning the Honors Competition means receiving a really amazing opportunity to share myself and my music with others. As musicians, we spend a lot of time by ourselves in practice rooms making mistakes, learning and growing on a personal level. And when we finally get to perform, it means sharing that intimate side with the audience. We get to say, 'Here I am, here's my music and I hope you'll love it as much as I do.'"

She continues, "The Malcolm Arnold concerto is a really special piece because it has everything I love about music. It has fun and interesting harmonies, witty motives, poignant heartfelt moments and that firecracker of a finale. There's so much opportunity to say something with the notes and to share many different characters with the audience. 

"I'm excited to work with the orchestra and to interact with the piece in the way it was intended to be played. All of the charming moments of the piece are brought out even more with the support of the whole orchestra. It will be really special to collaborate with all of those amazing musicians to bring this piece to life." 

Congratulations to all our students who participated in this year's competition and to those who advanced to the final round:

Undergraduate competition

  • Courtney Badura, flute
  • Matthew Wiest, cello
  • Anna Kallinikos, trumpet
  • Luke Lozano, piano
  • Asha Romeo, soprano

Graduate competition

  • Reuben Kebede, violin
  • Gabrielle Razafinjatovo, mezzo soprano
  • Cade Braynen, piano
  • Tiani Butts, violin 
  • Sarah Cain, soprano
  • J.T. Holdbrooks, bassoon
  • Noah Mennenga, trumpet
  • Lisa Read + Sophia Oehlers, oboes
  • Michael Winkler, trumpet

To enjoy the winners' performances in the fall semester, visit for details.