The Bert G. Phillips Award, given annually to honor the co-founder of Classic Chamber Concerts, cellist Bert Phillips, and awarded to the first place winner in either the junior or senior string competition, was won in 2016 by senior Cassie Drake, viola (left).
Cassie also won the Naples Music Club’s Turiel award (it’s given each year to the high school senior who best meets a number of criteria, including an essay, scholastic and music achievements, interview, and excellence in performance at the Winners’ Recital).
Cassie Drake, a home-schooled high school senior, is a student of J. T. Posadas. Cassie has played as viola principal in both the Artis-Naples Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Florida All-State Orchestra for a number of years, as well as performing with the World Youth Symphony at Interlochen, and in a New World Symphony Side By Side performance.
Awards and honors as a soloist won just in 2016 include being the National Young Arts Foundation Winner and the overall SWFL Prescott Awards Concerto Competition Youth winner. Prior to 2016, she distinguished herself with wins in the Philharmonic’s Youth Concerto Competition, the SWFL Bach Festival, and the Naples Music Club Scholarship Competition, as well as competing favorably in various chamber competitions. Studies at a wide variety of summer institutes and festivals have also contributed to her education.
In the fall, she will be attending the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. Opened in 2003, Colburn has become one of the nation’s leading conservatories for highly talented college-age students, providing full financial scholarships for all its students. Cassie’s long-term goal is to join a professional orchestra, but playing chamber music is her greatest passion, and she hopes to have her own teaching studio on the side as well.
It is, however, her personal essay that gives us valuable insight into her life and aspirations. She writes, “There has never been a time when I cannot remember the sound of classical music in my life. Music has become an important part of my family growing up. This story began by accident when my dad found a tiny violin, but I believe it was Divine Providence.
“Music has become something we enjoy doing together, especially on the weekend evenings when my brother, sisters and I read through string quartets together. Playing the viola has become another voice and a way for me to express myself verbally and emotionally.
“I am so blessed to be living in an area that is passionate about the arts and that has created so many opportunities for me to grow musically. This is the reason giving back to my community will always be a priority for me.”
Note: Cassie’s older sister, Misty, who won the Naples Music Club’s Turiel Award two years ago, is now completing her second year as a violin major at Eastman School of Music.