The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra's Youth Concerto Competition came to an exciting conclusion Saturday as musicians as young as 11 and from as far away as Mississippi and Florida competed in the annual program.
Now in its eighth year, the competition regularly draws aspiring young classical musicians from the southeastern United States.
"Being on stage is a big deal for them," said competition director Joseph Gimbel, explaining that the young competitors, who often participate in competitions as well as summer festivals, were all performing professional level repertoires.
Saturday's competition, which took place at St. Luke's Church on Hilton Head Island, featured 10 finalists chosen from a field of 48 through a competitive audition process.
Instrumentalists included several violinists, a cellist, a violist and even a xylophonist -- a first for the competition.
Haeun Kim, 15, of Hoover, Ala., took first place for her performance of Paganini's "Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6."
Kim, who started playing the violin when she was 4 years old, said she enjoys competition and playing music because it is the "universal language."
"What I practice in the practice room is for me," Kim said. "But when I perform, I want to show how beautiful the music is and (performing) allows me to share that with audiences."
Kim won a $1,200 cash prize, a scholarship to attend the Philadelphia International Music Festival and the opportunity to return to Hilton Head at a later date to perform as a soloist with the symphony orchestra.
The competition's 2015 first-prize winner, Melody Sim, will perform with the orchestra as part of its "Valentine Romance" concert on Feb. 14 and 15.
Follow reporter Mindy Lucas on Twitter at twitter.com/MindyatIPBG.