COEUR d'ALENE - They are, says Jill Cathey, simply the best young musicians from throughout the country.
And they are coming to Coeur d'Alene.
"They're world class," she said. "It's really exciting to have them come here."
Cathey is a member of the Coeur d'Alene Symphony that will be on stage with winners of the National Young Artist Competition on March 8 and 9.
It will bring six high school and college students, and a professional singer, to North Idaho for two performances at the Kroc Center.
Among them are two 16-year-old Seattle high schoolers, Hana Cohon, cello, and Felicity James, violin. College students include Ashley Hoe, 18, piano, Lake Forest, Calif., Seula Lee, 21, violin, Carollton, Texas; Colin McCall, 22, marimba, Rochester, N.Y., and Courtney Ruckman, 25, soprano, Mount Vernon, Wash.; Professional, Catherine Daniel, mezzo soprano, Edmonton.
Applications for the Young Artist Competition are emailed to thousands of schools across the country.
From there, it's narrowed to 150 applicants. Ten finalists in each category - high school, college winds/percussion, college string, college voice, college piano and professional voice - are asked to fly in and perform for a panel of professional musicians.
Then, the final few are left.
The competition has been around 10 years and continues to grow in popularity.
Several of the second-place people have come back a year later and won, Cathey said.
It started with "humble beginnings," but artistic director David Demand saw that it could be a national event.
"It's pretty exciting to see where it's come from," Cathey said.
Symphony supporter Bob Bittick said the group is talented enough to command a national stage.
"The quality of what comes out is just second to none."
The musicians will play with the Coeur d'Alene Symphony. Selections will include Brahms Violin Concerto, the Schumann Piano Concerto, and Ernest Bloch's Schelomo for cello.
"It's amazing," Cathey said. "Sometimes, it's so hard to choose. These kids come in and just blow you away."
Bittick said more and more musicians are vying for the program because of its quality, and because having the National Young Artist Competition on their resume is priceless.
"Every one of them wants that on their resume. Every one," he said.
Cathey said such is the talent, some are already preparing for a professional career.
The young artists will arrive in Coeur d'Alene next week and stay with host families.
Bittick said this is a must-see concert.
"These people are incredible. They have dedicated their best in the things they do," he said. "You're lucky to see them anywhere, this kind of quality."
If you go
Coeur d'Alene Symphony presents the winners of the National Young Artist Competition 7:30 p.m. March 8 and 2 p.m. March 9 at the Kroc Center. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, $8 youth and students with ID. They are available at the Symphony Office, Burt's Music, Great Harvest Bread and online.
Info: 765-3833 or www.cdasymphony.org