Toledo Symphony Announces Winner of Young Musician Award

Published Monday, June 22, 2020 12:00 pm

Today, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) announced 17-year-old cellist Loa Cho as the winner of its Young Musician Award. The award, generously created by Stephen and Ann Stranahan in 2003, is intended to make a significant impact on the life of a young musician in the Toledo area. The recipient of the award receives a cash prize of up to $20,000 per year, renewable for two additional years, for a maximum award of $60,000 over three years.

“I am honored to be the recipient of this year’s Young Musician Award and take another step towards the professional music world,” says Loa. “With this award, I would love to create a chamber music competition for young musicians around the area. As I look back on my journey as a Toledo-grown cellist, I feel that this is an opportunity I would have loved to pursue and many would benefit from.”

Loa Cho began studying cello at the age of seven with the Toledo Symphony School of Music and eventually joined the Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestra. In 2017, she founded the Toledo Symphony Youth Ensemble, a high school chamber ensemble that has performed at over sixty events around the Toledo area. Loa is a recent graduate of Maumee Valley Country Day School and will be attending Columbia University this fall and studying Cello Performance at The Juilliard School in New York City through the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange Program.

“It’s an honor for us to recognize Loa Cho as this year’s Young Musician Award winner,” says Alain Trudel, Music Director of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. “A selection committee composed of two TSO musicians, two musicians outside of the TSO, and myself carefully reviewed all of the materials submitted by each applicant in order to choose one winner. Narrowing down the field was an extremely detailed process, and our choice was not easy since the artistry level of each applicant was so high. Loa’s musical talent, combined with her community-driven goals and experiences, really distinguished her application. We feel confident about her future.”

The Young Musician Award is designed to advance the recipients’ musical career, including, but not limited to, college tuition, instrument purchases, studio recording time, and lessons. The winner is also given the opportunity to present a local recital each year the award is granted, arranged with the Toledo Symphony. More information on the YMA award recital will be available at

“We truly believe that the arts are critical to the health of a community,” says Ann Stranahan. “We’re proud to support young musicians in our area and provide resources to further their professional development. How lucky we are to have such talent and goodness among us!”

“We can’t thank Ann and her late husband, Steve, enough for their incredible generosity and support,” says Zak Vassar, President & CEO of the Toledo Symphony. “Through this award, we’re able to establish a career-changing investment that impacts both the winner and our community for years to come.”

In addition to the Young Musician Award, the selection committee requested special recognition for percussionist Aidan Marckel for his commitment to music, obstacles he has overcome, and his community goals. Aiden recently graduated from Whitmer High School and will be attending Oberlin Conservatory of Music this fall to pursue a career in percussion performance.

For more information about the Toledo Symphony’s Young Musician Award, please contact Rachel Schultz, Director of Education and Community Engagement at 419.418.0022, email, or visit


The Toledo Symphony Orchestra is a community-supported organization of professional musicians and teachers who deliver quality performance and music education for all.

Formed in 1943 as The Friends of Music and incorporated in 1951 as the Toledo Orchestra Association, Inc., the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has grown from a core group of twenty-two part-time musicians to a regional orchestra that employs sixty-nine professional musicians who consider the Toledo Symphony their primary employer, as well as numerous extra players annually as repertoire demands.

On January 1, 2019, the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet officially merged to form the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA), a new non-profit organization dedicated to providing exceptional live music and dance performances and education for the region. This partnership promises to create new and invigorating programs, provide cost and revenue synergies in operations, and integrate the arts through shared educational missions.

The Toledo Symphony reaches more than 260,000 individuals annually through performances and education programs. The series concerts (Masterworks, Pops, Chamber, and Family Series) are the critical underpinning of the orchestra’s artistic mission and regularly draw people from 135 postal zip codes. Education programs, student performances, and community concerts are held in schools, neighborhood churches, performing arts centers, and community facilities throughout the region; many are offered at no charge or provided at a reduced fee to help expand participation.

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