Astral to debut its 2018 National Auditions Winners

PHILADELPHIA, PA—On October 9, Astral will debut its four 2018 National Auditions winners at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Eric Huckins, horn; Antonina Styczeń, flute; Hannah Tarley, violin; and the Vera Quartet, string quartet. Selected from an initial pool of applicants from across the U.S., and following a competitive audition and interview process, these exceptionally gifted rising-star artists have been invited to join Astral’s prestigious roster and will be presented to Philadelphia audiences for the first time.

“We’re thrilled to welcome these four newest audition winners to our roster,” says Astral’s Artistic Director Dan Visconti. “These artists passed multiple rounds of review before national panels, interviewed with our selection panel, and masterfully articulated their vision in videos they submitted as part of the audition process.”

The Astral National Auditions is a nationally esteemed competition. “Not since the Pavarotti International Voice Competition in the 1990’s has Philadelphia had a major classical music competition with a national following enrich the city’s cultural calendar,” says Executive Director Julia Rubio.

The Astral National Auditions 2018 Winners Concert will take place in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Perelman Theater on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 at 7:00pm. Tickets for the concert are on sale through Ticket Philadelphia, at 215.893.1999. Concert tickets are $35 and general admission.

Following the Winners Concert, a post-concert celebration will be held at The Union League of Philadelphia. The separate reception admission ticket will not only support Astral’s important work, but attendees will meet the audition winners and enjoy wine and seasonal desserts in the splendid surroundings of Philadelphia’s premier private club.


Hannah Tarley, violin
Camille Saint-Saëns Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28
Sergei Rachmaninoff Vocalise

Eric Huckins, horn
Vaclav Nelhybel Scherzo Concertante
Nick DiBerardino With Pinions of Immense Desire (World premiere)
Steven Franklin Bagatelle

Antonina Styczeń, flute
Sergei Prokofiev Flute Sonata, Op. 94; I. Moderato, II. Scherzo
Robert Dick Fish Are Jumping

Vera Quartet, string quartet
Luigi Boccherini String Quartet, Op. 32, No. 5 in G minor; I. Allegro comodo
Joaquín Turina La oración del torero, Op. 34
Maurice Ravel String Quartet in F Major, IV; Vif et agité


In just the past two years, Eric Huckins has commissioned and premiered over 50 works for solo horn as well as horn in chamber settings. A founding member of brass sextet The Brass Project and Tangent Winds, which received the Bronze Medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, he has appeared at Music from Angel Fire and the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. He is a co-founder and the Artistic Coordinator of The Arts at Blessed Sacrament in New York City, which features young artists in chamber music, orchestral concerts, dance, and art installations. He has performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, the American Ballet Theater, and The American Brass Quintet. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School.

Antonina Styczen’s debut album, with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, was nominated for the 2017 International Classical Music Award and the Prize of German Critics. Comfortable in classical, jazz, rock, and improvised idioms, she works as a producer on recital projects that include deejay and her own compositions, as well as an electronic reimagining of Telemann’s 12 Fantasias for Solo Flute. A four-time recipient of the prize for extraordinary artistic achievements from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, she also won First Prize at the Virtuoso Competition in London’s Royal Albert Hall and at the Miami Music Festival Concerto Competition. A graduate of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw and Madrid’s Reina Sofía College of Music, she holds a Professional Studies Certificate from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where she currently pursues an Artist Diploma.

Hannah Tarley has appeared as soloist with the Detroit Symphony, Knoxville Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Kiev Soloists, and others. She debuted in Carnegie Hall as a First Prize winner of the New York Concerti Sinfonietta’s International Shining Stars Competition, and recently received Third Prize in Florida’s Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition. At age 12, she was appointed the youngest concertmaster in the history of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. The Founder and Artistic Director of Notes By The Bay Music Festival, a children’s music program in California, she also performs with Violins of Hope, which brings to life the history of the Holocaust and the stories of its victims and their violins. She studied at the Colburn School, and holds a Bachelor’s degree from London’s Royal College of Music and a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School.

VERA QUARTET, string quartet
The Grand Prize winner of both the 2017 Plowman and Yellow Springs chamber music competitions, the Vera Quartet is the current String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music. They also won Second Prize at the 2017 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition and the St. Lawrence Award at the 2018 Wigmore Hall String Quartet Competition. The quartet held a residency at the Beethovenhaus in Bonn, Germany, was the Graduate Quartet-in-Residence at Indiana’s Jacobs School of Music, and was selected by NPR’s “Performance Today” as a Young Artist in Residence. With its members hailing from across the globe, the ensemble shares a deep commitment to exploring and programming the music of its roots along with the great masterworks of the string quartet repertoire.

Each year Astral auditions 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 process, 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.

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