The Sterling Lions Club is pleased to announce the Winners of their 2024 Club Level Contest of the Lions of Virginia James A Bland Music Scholarship Competition

This was the entry level of the three-stage annual contest.  Winners of this Club Level will advance to the District Level at 1:45 PM on April 7, 2024, at the Lyceum in Alexandria, and those winners will go on to the State Level at 7:30 PM on April 26, 2024, at the Lions State Convention located at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Dulles, VA.  

The Contest was for Musically Gifted Virginia Students in Grades K through 12, enrolled in a Virginia School (Public or Private) or is being Home Schooled at those levels in Virginia, and has not previously won a Scholarship at the State Level, can enter this contest in either the Instrumental or Vocal Division.  Applicants can only enter ONE Club level contest, submitting multiple applications and or competing in different Virginia Lions Club Level Contests may lead to permanent disqualification from this year’s and future competitions. 

Cash and Scholarship prizes will be awarded at each Level starting at $50 for the Second Place Club Level in each category, up to $3,000 for the Grand Prize at the State Level in each Category.  Over $20,000 in total will be awarded.  

This Year's Sterling Lions Club Level Contest was held on

Saturday, February 10, 2024, at 1:00 PM. 

The contest was adjudicated in the

Sanctuary of the Community Lutheran Church

21014 Whitfield Place, Sterling, VA  20165.

The Sterling Lions had 11 Contestants compete in their 2024 Club Level Contest.  We had Four Vocalists, and 7 Instrumentalists.  

The Vocalist were:  Solane E. White (Soprano), Lidia Yang (Mezo-Soprano), Karis Yang (Mezo-Soprano), and Abbigna Yanaganyi (Soprano).  

The Instrumentalists were:  Angela Cheng (Piano), Adrian M. Pezzimenti (Piano), Navyaa Deepak (Piano), Jessica Chen (Piano), Amelia C. Newman (Bassoon), Maxim L. Balabanski (Guitar), and Daniel A. Cherkasskiy (Piano).

The Winners were:  

2nd Place Vocalist:  Sloane E. White

2nd Place Instrumentalist:  Daniel A. Cherkasskiy

1st Place Vocalist:  Abhigna Yanaganti

1st Place Instrumentalist:  Jessica Chen

The first-place contestants received a $100 award, and will advance to the District Level Contest on April 7, 2024

The second-place contestants received a $50 award and will serve as an alternate at the District Contest, should the first-place contestant not be able to complete on that date.  

See the home page for photos of this year's contestants and winners.


The 2023 Sterling Lions Entry Level Contest Has Been Adjudicated, and the Winners Will Proceed to the Next Level.

We had 13 Contestants in total, Eight in the Instrumental Category and Five in the Vocal Category. 

See more about the contestants and winners of the 2023 contest on our Home Page.


For more information about this contest or the Lions of Virginia Bland Foundation:  contact Lion Mike Winthrop at: or call and leave a message on our Help Line:  (703)723-0077


Here are the details about our 2023 Contest.   

We had 13 Contestants in total, Eight in the Instrumental Category and Five in the Vocal Category.  We are happy to announce that our Instrumental Winner at this Club Level Contest went on to Represent Northern Virginia at the State Level Contest in May 2023, and Jessica Chen took Second Place Honors at that State Level Contest.  

Out of the eight Instrumental Competitors, we had seven pianists, and one violinist.  On the Vocal side of the contest, we had two Sopranos, two Altos and one Mezzo-Soprano. They were all a very talented group of students representing the ages of 9 through 18.


Pictured from Left to Right: 1st Place Instrumentalist:  Jessica Chen: 1st Place Vocalist:  Kala J Greene; Sterling Lions Bland Contest Chairman: Lion Michael Winthrop; Sterling Lions Club President: Lion Cindy Berg; 2nd Place Vocalist:  Ani P Dykes; and 2nd Place Instrumentalist:  Anna Elizabeth Bray

More about our winners: 

The 1st Place Instrumentalist; Jessica Chen is a student at Thomas Jefferson School for Science & Technology and is a music student of Ms. Lisa Emanheiser Sarratt.  She performed Freidrich Chopin’s Piano “Ballade No. 1 in G Minor Opus 23”.  She went on to take 2nd Place at the State Level in May 2023.  

Our 1st Place Vocalist ; Kala J Greene, a Soprano, is a student at Rock Ridge High School and studies music under Choral Director Jordan Markwood.  She performed “I don’t need a roof, from Big Fish, the Musical” by Andrew Lippa.  She was accompanied on the piano by Mr. Arjun Tarafdar.  

Our 2nd Place Vocalist, Alto, Ani P Dykes is a student at Potomac High School and studies under Ms. Tina Smothers.  The composition she performed was “Love in the Dark” by Adele. 

The 2nd Place Instrumentalist, Pianist, Anna Elizabeth Bray, a student at the Trinity Schoolat Meadowview, and studies under Mr. Alexander Shtarkman.  She performed Maurice Ravel’s “Gaspard de la Muit, I: Ondine”. 

The 2nd place contestants will serve as understudies, and step in, should the 1st Place Winners not be able to perform at the next level of this progressive competition.  At this entry level contest, our first place winners each received a $100 prize, and the 2nd place contestants each received $50.00. Prizes continue to increase as the contestants progress up into the competition towards the State Championship. 


Our Contestants and Contest Organizers, from Left to Right:  Alto Ani P Dykes (2nd Place Vocalist), Pianist Ellin Kwak, Pianist Sophia Lin, Soprano Kala J Greene (1st Place Vocalist), Mezza-Soprano Karis Young, Pianist Derek Nguyen, Bland Contest Chairman Lion Michael Winthrop, Soprano Sloane E White, Sterling Lions President Lion Cindy Berg, Pianist Karissa Lin, Pianist Anna Elizabeth Bray (2nd Place Instrumentalist), Pianist Jessica Chin (1st Place Instrumentalist), Alto Angelina Rubi Cisneros, Violinist Geoffrey R Yuan, and Pianist Ethan Min-Woo Chung. 



We are happy to announce the results of the 2022 Sterling Lions Club Level James Bland Music Scholarship Competition

The event was held on February 5, 2022, at 1:00 PM at the



The contest was open to all Virginia School Aged Students in K through 12 or being Home Schooled at those levels.  They were Judged in two categories; Vocal and Instrumental.

Who were out Judges? 

In the Vocal Category:  Arthur Roach served as president of the board of Opera Camerata of Washington, and has conducted choral ensembles throughout the DC Metropolitan Area. As a performer for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, he sang for distinguished guests en route to Washington. These included King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden, the Shah of Iran during his final visit to the United States, and the president of Germany. He has directed opera productions for the Emory Opera and Sinfonicron Opera Company. He holds degrees in English and Theatre from The College of William & Mary.

Also in the Vocal Category:  Katie Katinas is a lyric soprano, who has been singing professionally in the Washington area since 1993. She received her Bachelor of Music at Catholic University and her Master of Music at the University of Maryland. Ms. Katinas has sung with The Washington Singers, an 18 member professional singing ensemble under the baton of Paul Hill. She toured with The Creative Opera Ensemble performing operas in local schools and other venues including The National Theater and Wolf Trap. Ms. Katinas was a member of the Washington National Opera for 18 years and has been a soloist with The Alexandria Chorale, The New Dominion Chorale and The Washington Choral Ensemble. Ms. Katinas has a private voice studio in Bethesda. She is delighted to participate as a judge in this competition

Our Instrumental Judge was:  Sonja Jewell received a full scholarship to attend the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio. She completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, Summa Cum Laude, with a double major in trumpet and voice. She was a trumpet player and solo singer of the highly decorated " Youngstown State Jazz Band One," under director Tony Leonardi. She next earned a Master’s degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, in Music Education with a Major in Instrumental Conducting and a Specialization Area in Trumpet. Sonja feels fortunate to have studied with world class teachers and performers such as Esotto Pelligrini, trumpet, Charles Gorham, trumpet, and David Baker, jazz studies. She completed post graduate courses in voice at Indiana University with past voice chair Dr. Roger Hvronek. Mrs. Jewell taught undergraduate music education courses at IU, as well as later teaching high school choir and orchestra in Indiana. After a move to Virginia, she has been the Director of Music at Loudoun Country Day School in Leesburg since 1997. At LCDS, she started the string orchestra and band programs, and expanded the vocal music and general music. Sonja loves family time, cooking, reading, playing and coaching tennis, and kayaking. She also enjoys teaching private lessons and will be sad when three of her students she started in fourth grade go to college next fall! She is a past Executive Board Member and trumpet player of the Loudoun Symphony, and continues to freelance as a singer, trumpeter, narrator, festival judge, and conductor.

Who were the Contestants?

Hudson K Kooce, Age 15, "I Like It", A Bronx Tale by Alan Menkin, Tenor, Acellus Academy [Online/Home-School], Teacher: Ms. Nikole James. Accompanist, Mr. Daniel Burbano.

Ananya Akula, Age 15, With You, by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard,, Alto 2, Rock Ridge High School, Teacher: Mr. Jordan Markwood, Accompanist, Ms. Caroline Abbott.

Andreas Herder Age 5, Twinkle Variations, Suzuki, Violin, Oak Hill Christian School, Teacher: Ms. Monika Dorosheff, Accompanist: Ms. Marina Herder.

Kala J Greene, Age 15, Pur Dichesti O Bocca Belle, by Antonio Lotti, Soprano, Rock Ridge High School, Teacher: Ms. Jennifer Tyler (Storm Music). Accompanist, Ms. Lori Taylor.

Talia Elizabeth Lytle, Age 15, Bel Piacece, by George Frideric Handel, Mezzo Soprano, Rock Ridge High School, Teacher: Mr. Jordan Markwood.

Connor P Teale Age 15, Deux Arabesques - 1, by Claude Debussy, Piano, James Madison High School, Teacher: Mr. Luis Gonzalez.

Karis Yang, Age 15, Burn, by Linn Manuel Miranda, Mezzo Soprano, Potomac Falls High School, Teacher: Ms. Nikole James, Accompanist Mr. Daniel Burbano.

Sneha Khandavalli, Age 16, "Still Hurting" from "The Last Five Years", by Jason Robert Brown, Alto 1, Rock Ridge High School, Teacher: Mr. Jordan Markwood, Self Accompanied.

Paige E Simpkins, Age 15, Sonata Op 27 Number 2, 3rd Movement, by L. V. Beethoven, Piano, Tuscarora High School, Teacher: Mr. Brian Ganz.

Katy C Price, Age 16, Sebben Crudelle, by Antonio Caldara, Soprano 1, Dominion High School, Teacher: Ms. Linda Sill, Accompanist Ms. Lori Taylor.

Angelina Rubi Cisneros, Age 16, "She Used To Be Mine" - Songs from Waitress, Sara Bareilles, Alto, Chantilly High School, Teacher: Ms. Nikole James. Accompanist, Mr. Daniel Burbano.

Kathleen F Nail, Age 17, Arabesque No. 1 in E Major, by Claude Debussy, piano, Independence High School, Teacher, Ms. Jen Quinones.

Riley Freck, Age 16, V'adoro, pupille, by George Frideric Handel, Soprano, Potomac Falls High School, Teacher, Ms. Nikole James, Accompanist, Mr. Daniel Burbano.

Hannah Maghaddar, Age 16, L'oiseau blau, by Emile Jaques Dalcroze, Soprano, Teacher, Ms. Nancy MacArthur Smith, Accompanist, Mr. Janghyo Yoo

Brandon Allen Askew, Age 18, "The Girl With the Flaxen Hair", by Claude Debussy, piano, Smithfield High School.

Julia A Freeman, Age 16, "Magic In The Man", by Andrew Lippa, Mezzo Soprano, Teacher, Ms. Jennifer Tyler, Accompanist, Ms. Lori Taylor.

Hannan E Depew, Age 16, "Love In The Dictopnary", by Celius Dougherty, Soprano, Teacher, Ms. Kay Willett, Accompanist, Ms. Kay Willett.

Lauren J Kim, Age 17, Scherzo Op. 20 No. 1 in B Minor, by Frédéric Chopin, piano, Teacher, Ms. Lisa Emenheiser Sarratt.

Back row Left to Right:  Lauren J Kim, Hannah Maghaddar, Riley Freck, Kala J Greene, Julia A Freeman, Sterling Lions President and Contest Co-Chair- Lion Mike Winthrop, Paige E Simpkins, Sneha Khandavalli, Connor P Teale and Karis Yang.  Front Row Left to Right:  Hannan E Depew,  Kathleen F Nail, Andreas Herder, Hudson Koonce, Angelina Rubi Cisneros, Talia Elizabeth Lytle, Katy C Price and Ananya Akula.  Not pictured:  Brandon Allen Askew.

Now for the Winners!

First Place Vocalist: 

- - - - - Angelina Rubi Cisneros - - - - -

First Place Instrumentalist:

- - - - - Lauren J Kim - - - - -

Second Place Vocalist:

- - - - - Kala Green - - - - -

Second Place Instrumentalist:

- - - - - Kathleen F Nail - - - - -

Winners - left to right: Second Place Instrumentalist - Kathleen F Nail.  Second Place Vocalist - Kala Greene.  Sterling Lions President and Contest Co-Chair - Mike Winthrop.  First Place Vocalist - Angelina Rubi Cisneros.  First Place Instrumentalist - Lauren J Kim.

The Winners will go on to compete in the District 24-L Competition to be held at the Lyceum in Alexandria on Sunday, April 3, 2022 at 2:00 PM.  If for some reason, the First Place Contestant can not perform on the date of the District Contest, the Second Place Contestant will fill that slot.  The Winners of the District Contest will go on to the State Finals, to be held Friday, April 29, 2022, 7:30 PM, at Lions State Convention, in Chesapeake, VA.



THE CONTEST REGISTRATION IS OPEN TO ALL VIRGINIA STUDENTS FROM GRADE K TO 12.  Registration priority was is given to students who live or study music in the Eastern Loudoun area.  ______________________________________________

The Contest is open to all Kindergarten through 12th grade students being schooled or home schooled in Virginia that have not previously won the State Title in either the Vocal or Instrumental Category.

On the day of the event, guests are welcomed to attend the contest which is adjudicated in a recital format.  There is was no admission. 

For More Information: 

Lion Michael Winthrop, or Lion Cindy Berg, Bland Contest Co-Chairs

Sterling Lions Club

P.O. Box 45

Sterling, VA  20167-0045


Phone:  (703)723-0077



"Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny" was written by James A. Bland.

This is special music to the Lions in Virginia. The Lions Clubs of Virginia sponsor a music contest for school students called the "Bland Contest" in honor of James A. Bland.

The Annual Bland Music Scholarships Program was established in 1948 to assist and promote cultural and educational opportunities for the musically talented youth of Virginia. The program consists of elimination contests starting at club level and continuing through “State Final Contest.” The program is open to any boy or girl, vocalist or instrumentalist, properly sponsored by a Virginia Lions Club.

For more information on the Bland Music Competition..


The 2020 Sterling Lions James A Bland Music Scholarship Competition Winners and Contestants:



The 2016 Sterling Lions James A Bland Music Scholarship Competition Winners and Contestants: 


The Winners:  (Pictured From Left to Right):  PDG Mike Ryan, Contest Co-Chair. Second Place Instrumentalist, Clara Seon-Woo Na. First Place Instrumentalist, Masato Alexander Chang. First Place Vocalist, Isabella Turilli. Sterling Lions Club President, Lion Betsy Ryan. Second Place Vocalist, Jessica Pressley.

First Place Vocalist: 

Isabella Turilli, a 16 year old junior at Washington and Lee High School in Arlington, VA.  She is a Mezzo Soprano and performed "Voi Che Sapete" from "Le Nozze di Figaro" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  She was accompanied by Nikola Paskalov and studies under the direction of Maria Dolan. 





First Place Instrumentalist:

Masato Alexander Chang, a 13 year old 8th Grader at Longfellow Middle School in Vienna, VA.  He played the Violin and performed the “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” by Camille Saint-Saëns.  He is a student of Amy Beth Horman and was accompanied by Brad Clark on the Piano. 





Second Place Vocalist:

Jessica Pressley, a 17 year old junior at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, VA.  Her Soprano Composition was “Plaisir d'amour” by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini.  She studies under Joyce Lundy and was accompanied by Lori Taylor on the Piano.






Second Place Instrumentalist: 

Clara Seon-Woo Na, is a 16 year old junior at Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, VA.  Her Piano Composition was “Prelude Op. 32 No. 12” by Sergei Rachmaninoff.  She is a student of Elizabeth Stephenson.














    Kayleigh Y Kim - Violinist                                                                                                            Ava A Nguyen - Pianist







       Akira Dasgupta - Vocalist                                                                                                              Alexis N Lovern - Pianist







     Anya A Raval - Pianist                                                                                                                  Mikayla B Connolly - Vocalist







        Kelly Zhou - Pianist                                                                                                                     Ria A Raval - Pianist







       George Jackson Pope - Violinist                                                                                                Carleton K Draughn - Pianist






      Mika Nakama Cutler -Violinist                                                                                                     Esther Yang - Violinist







    Annamaria Kendrat - Vocalist                                                                                                     Marisa C Liles - Violinist







    Michelle M Mullany - Vocalist                                                                                                       Penelope B Mort Ranta - Violaist


                                                                            Anchy Cho - Pianist

* In all of the above pictures: the winners are accompanied by the Contest Co-Chair, PDG Mike Ryan and Sterling Lions President, Betsy Ryan.




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