K. Bone, contributing teen writer
For 24 years, young musicians living in Mountain Crest High School (MCHS) and, most recently, Ridgeline High School (RHS) boundaries have had the unique opportunity to showcase their musical talents at the annual Young Artist Cup competition held every spring for judges and community audiences alike.
Founded in 2000 by George and Julie Whitney, the event has grown over time, boasting cash prizes and trophies in six categories: graphic art, female and male vocals, strings, piano, and brass/wind/percussion. Year after year, event organizers are amazed at the caliber of talent displayed at the competition.
This year’s strings winner Benjamin Gilbert says he decided to enter the Young Artists Cup because he loves to perform.
Benjamin Gilbert, 2023 Young Artist Cup strings winner
“I thought I might as well, and it was a really cool experience. Being just me and my viola on the stage really stretched me as a performer,” Benjamin said.
A sophomore at RHS, Benjamin started playing the viola in 4th grade in the Mountain West Strings Academy. Currently, he’s in RHS’s advanced orchestra, where he’s the viola section leader, and he recently participated in the honors recital for the Cache Valley String Festival. He also enjoys playing in a quartet he formed. During the summers, he participates in the Fry Street Chamber Music Festival at Utah State University. He’s studying with Bradley Ottesen, a member of the award-winning Fry Street Quartet.
Additionally, he stays busy with theater, acoustic guitar, singing, and school. When he’s not playing viola, he’s writing songs and just released some songs on Spotify and Amazon Music. “Music makes anything awesome,” Benjamin said. He likes sharing his music with others because he feels it is an awesome gift.
“I just love music; the feeling you get when you play with expression feels your whole body,” he said. “When you play a piece and really know it, you can create a world with it.”
This year’s winner in the brass/wind/percussion category is 17-year-old Libby Tarbert from Wellsville. Libby is homeschooled and she has played the flute for seven years and plays the piano and even the penny whistle.
She first noticed the flute during performances of the Orchestra at Temple Square. She says she was impressed with the flute’s beauty, and her love for the instrument has grown.
“When I first started playing, I just wanted to learn,” she said. “I didn’t have specific goals then, but I enjoy seeing myself getting better and focusing on what I could become. Seeing my own potential and continuing to get better encourages me. It’s all the little things that stack up. Each day I grow, and tomorrow I won’t be who I am today as I practice and improve.” Libby feels the Young Artists Cup has helped prepare her for other competitions and auditions. She’s currently auditioning for a concerto competition with the Northern Utah Youth Symphony.
Libby Tarbert, 2023 Young Artist Cup brass/wind/percussion winner
She performs with the youth symphony throughout the year and shares her music at church events and rest homes.
She hopes to continue playing in an orchestra while attending Brigham Young University or Brigham Young University — Idaho.
Libby also likes to sew, crochet, and Irish Dance. She is enrolled in the Allegro Dance Studio and loves Irish music. The Young Artists Cup, as competitive as it is, serves as an excellent opportunity for high school musicians. The prizes come with winning — yet rewards come with the experience. The Young Artists Cup will continue for the foreseeable future and will continue to boost talents such as Libby and Benjamin.
The logo for this year’s Young Artist Cup was selected from submissions by students in a competition held earlier this year. The design of Jared Hochstrasser of Hyrum was chosen to represent the 2023 Young Artist Cup. Past Young Artist Cup participants have gone on to excel in music, performing arts, and graphic design.