The UNC Department of Music has announced the Kenan Music Scholars Class of 2021. The four incoming students are Emma Schubart (violin) of Babylon, N.Y., Naomi Sutherland (harp) of Viroqua, Wis., Rebecca Williams (saxophone) of Asheville, N.C., and Jane Zhao (piano) of Cary, N.C.

“This year’s four Kenan scholarship winners distinguished themselves because they spoke through their instruments in distinctly personal ways,” said Evan Feldman, Kenan Music Scholars Advisor. “They had technique and fast fingers, yes, but what set them apart was their understanding of color and nuance. They made decisions about the music they played and could reflect those in the sounds and phrases they produced.

“Moreover, they were intelligent, thoughtful musicians who could self-reflect on their own playing, and they had the type of musical and non-musical academic interests that are a fit for a liberal arts university like Carolina.”

All four students come with a decorated resume of musical and academic success.

Schubart was a member of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra throughout high school and served as concertmaster for its 2016 performance in Carnegie Hall. She also served as principal second violinist of the St. Martin of Tours Symphony in Amityville, N.Y., and attended the New York All-State Conference twice.

Sutherland performed with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in a televised performance earlier this year as a finalist in the Bolz Young Artist Competition “Final Forte.” She has also performed with the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin State Honors Orchestra, and Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. She is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy.

Like Sutherland, Williams is also a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy. She participated in the saxophone quartet at Interlochen and premiered Ashley Fure’s “Bound to the Bow,” which was later a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, at the New York Philharmonic Biennial Celebration in 2016. Williams also participated in the Brevard Music Center summer festival for three years.

Zhao has placed first in more than 20 competitions, including the Young Artist Piano Auditions and National Federation of Music Clubs State Competition. She has performed statewide at UNC, East Carolina, and UNC School of the Arts and with groups such as the Chapel Hill Philharmonia, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, and the Tar River Philharmonic Orchestra. Zhao is also a recipient of the Sandra Manly Hopper and Marion Cable Scholarships.

“Each year we are more and more impressed with the level of musician who applies for a music scholarship,” Feldman said. “It makes our task daunting, but ultimately so rewarding because we get to hear such wonderful music and meet such mature young scholars.”

The Kenan Music Scholarship is the premier scholarship of the Department of Music, awarded to four incoming students annually. This generous scholarship offers a four-year full-tuition scholarship, additional funds for musical enrichment activities, access to workshops and masterclasses with internationally renowned performers, free attendance at performances through Carolina Performing Arts, and mentorship from distinguished Department faculty and former Kenan Music Scholars. The Kenan Music Scholars program is made possible by the generosity of Tom Kenan and the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust.

The Department of Music is now accepting applicants for the Kenan Music Scholars Class of 2022. After submitting an application to the university, prospective students must also fill out an audition request form. There are four dates to audition – one in November for Early Action applicants and three in late January/early February for Regular Decision applicants. After the first round of in-person and recorded auditions, the Department will invite eight semifinalists back to campus for another round of auditions and interviews around early March. From that pool, four students will be awarded the Kenan Music Scholarship.

For questions, please contact Andrew Tie at or (919) 962-1039.

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