PHILADELPHIA, PA — Astral is pleased to announce the winners of its 2018 National Auditions. Selected from an initial pool of applicants from across the United States, and following a competitive audition and interview process, four exceptionally gifted rising-star artists have been invited to join Astral’s prestigious roster. They are:

Hannah Tarley

Vera Quartet

Antonina Styczeń

Eric Huckins

“Each year the bar rises for our National Auditions candidates,” says Executive Director Julia Rubio. “It is a testament to the extraordinary artistry and social conscientiousness that modern classical musicians bring to the field. Our four winners have excelled through a rigorous audition process and we look forward to introducing the world to the next generation of great performers and thinkers.”

Philadelphia audiences will be able to hear Astral’s newest roster artists at the 2018 Astral National Auditions Winners Concert, which takes place at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, October 9, at 7:00pm.


This year, Astral auditioned strings, small chamber ensembles, piano, woodwinds, and brass candidates for a spot on its esteemed roster of approximately 25 musicians. Applicants, if advanced, undergo a competitive three-round process. Following the application round, live auditions candidates are invited to Philadelphia, where an independent panel of industry-leading musicians, managers, and presenters from across the U.S. adjudicate each discipline. The panels then recommend candidates for the final, interview round of the National Auditions.

Once awarded a spot in Astral’s career development program, National Auditions Winners receive customized career development mentorship, a full complement of marketing materials, superior performance opportunities, community engagement experience, artistic exploration, and networking with top professionals in the field.


Eric Huckins, horn
The first-ever horn player to win Astral’s National Auditions, Eric Huckins has commissioned and premiered over 50 works for both solo horn and horn in chamber settings, in just the last two years. He is a founding member of ensembles The Brass Project and Tangent Winds, which received the Bronze Medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. He has appeared with The Philadelphia Orchestra and American Ballet Theater, and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Curtis School of Music and a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School.

Antonina Styczeń, flute
Polish flutist Antonina Styczen performs across many musical genres, including classical, jazz, rock, and in improvisatory idioms, and is also a producer of electronic music. She holds degrees from the Fryderyk Chopin Univerisity of Music in Warsaw, the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid, and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. She is the winner of numerous international competitions, and was awarded – four times – the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Prize for extraordinary artistic achievement.

Hannah Tarley, violin
A recent prizewinner at Florida’s Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition, violinist Hannah Tarley has appeared as soloist with the Detroit Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, and the Knoxville Symphony, among many others. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of Notes By The Bay Music Festival, a children’s program in California combining music and poetry. She studied at the Colburn School, and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Royal College of Music in London and a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School.

Vera Quartet, string quartet
The Grand Prize winner of both the 2017 Plowman and 2017 Yellow Springs chamber music competitions, the Vera Quartet is the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute for 2018-2020. They also served as the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Graduate Quartet-in-Residence from 2016-2018, and were one of five 2017 Young Artists in Residence for NPR’s Performance Today. The members are natives of Spain, Cuba, and the U.S., and are committed to exploring and programming music of their roots.

Comment & Share