Press Release

National Chamber Ensemble’s Holiday Concert


For Immediate Release
Contact: Mary Anne Ellifritz
(703) 685-7590

National Chamber Ensemble Announces December 15 "Holiday Time Warp" Concert; and 2018 Outstanding Young Artist Achievement Award Winner

Runa Matsushita

Arlington, Virginia (December 3, 2018) At the conclusion of Saturday's live finals in Arlington, the National Chamber Ensemble is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2018 NCE Outstanding Young Artist Achievement Award. Thirteen year old violinist Runa Matsushita from Baltimore, Maryland, impressed the judges with her style and virtuosity as well as the ability to perform with ease one of the hardest compositions ever written for the violin by Niccolo Paganini.

The first round of the competition was judged through YouTube video entries. Ten finalists, two cellists and eight violinists from Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland were invited to Arlington, Virginia to perform in the live finals. The judges for the finals were NCE Artistic Director Leo Sushansky and Cristina Botnari, educator/musician and executive producer for the Royal Music Society. The National Chamber Ensemble has created performance opportunities for young musicians since its inception in 2007, including the Outstanding Young Artist Achievement Award, created 4 years ago. This year's competition was for exceptional string players ages 12 to 18. The winner of the competition receives a crystal trophy, a scholarship and a performance with the National Chamber Ensemble. The winner, Ms Matsushita will perform the fiendishly difficult Paganini Violin Concerto No.1 in D Major with NCE on December 15.

The 2018 competition also presented two more scholarship awards to talented young instrumentalists. The second prize was awarded to 12 year old violinist Ari C. Han from Harrisonburg,Virginia. The third prize was awarded to 14 year old cellist Nicole Fang from North Potomac, Maryland. Both young musicians were also invited to perform on the December 15 concert. Ari Han will perform Zigeunerweisen(Gypsy Airs), by Spanish virtuoso violinist/composer Pablo de Sarasate. Nicole Fang will perform the finale from the Cello Concerto in B flat Major by Italian composer Luigi Boccerini.

The spotlight is on extraordinary youth as the National Chamber Ensemble (NCE) presents Holiday Time Warp at 7:30 pm on December 15, 2018 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, featuring classical masterpieces, seasonal favorites, a performance by area string students and the winners of NCE's Outstanding Young Artist Achievement Award Competition.

The annual crowd-pleaser includes holiday favorites from the past and present, including Bach's Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor with violinists Jorge Orozco and artistic director Leo Sushansky(returning to the stage after an injury), a Hanukkah Medley, Johann Strauss waltzes, Leroy Anderson's famous Sleigh Ride and much more. NCE then tips its hat to the future with two not-to-be-missed performances. First, a "string extravaganza" features students from several leading local organizations, including Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras, American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras, and Levine Music join the Ensemble in a selection by Antonio Vivaldi. Second, the winner of the Outstanding Young Artist Achievement Award makes her NCE debut alongside two other prize winners.

The evening concludes with a Carols Sing-Along, led by tenor Patrick D. McCoy to get everyone in the holiday spirit. Let's toast to a fabulous holiday season!

A wine and cheese reception will follow performance.

2018 Oustanding Young Artist Achievement Award Winner, Runa Matsushita was born in Japan in 2005 and moved to the United States with her family when she was two years of age. She started playing violin at age three with her violin teacher Mrs. Irina Briskin and ever since she has been always enthusiastic about music and performance. She has been a member of Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra for 5 years. She won the first place at the BSYO concerto competition and played as soloist in 2015 and in 2017 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with the BSYO. She was also invited to perform Vivaldi “Winter” with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2016 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and in 2018 at the Oregon Ridge. Runa has won several awards at their age categories, such as the first prize at Romantic Music Competition (2016), the first prize at Vivo International Competition (2016-2018), the first prize at Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition (2017), the first prize at International Grande Music Competition (2018). Runa is now a seventh grader at the Dumbarton Middle School and studies violin with Mr. Leonid Briskin.


December 15, 2018 7:30PM

Concert location:

Unitarian Church
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Boulevard,
Arlington VA 22204
Free on-site parking

General admission tickets are $36 for adults and $18 for students, plus applicable service charges.Group discounts for 10 or more are available by calling (703) 685-7590. Tickets are available online at

The National Chamber Ensemble is supported in part by the Arlington Cultural Affairs Division of Arlington Economic Development and the Arlington Commission for the Arts. The National Chamber Ensemble is partially supported by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.