Music, the right prescription for concerto winners

Casey Hoehn
Casey Hoehn

April 17, 2012

By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( For La Sierra University concerto competition winners Casey Hoehn and Allison Cheng, musical interests and medical pursuits are in their DNA, family talents carried into the next generation.

Hoehn, a trumpet player and Cheng, a soprano vocalist, are this year’s respective first place and runner up winners of La Sierra’s 54th Annual Concerto Competition. Both are music and pre-med majors and come from families where one or both parents hold medical degrees as well as years of experience as amateur and professional musicians.

“My parents actually met playing in orchestra during medical school,” said Cheng, a La Sierra freshman. Cheng’s parents, Karen Ulloth and Keith Cheng, are both doctors and became acquainted while members of the Loma Linda University Orchestra. Her mother plays violin and her father the piano, violin and viola.

In the future, Allison Cheng plans to apply to Loma Linda University Medical School and if that doesn’t work out, she may pursue a graduate music degree, she said.

Hoehn, a senior, will begin medical school at Loma Linda in August. “I hope to continue being involved in musical endeavors,” he said. His mother, a harpist, holds a doctorate in music from Indiana University, and his father is an emergency medicine physician who plays the cello and sings bass with the Sacramento Chorale Society. In addition, Hoehn’s brother, a bass trombonist, is finishing his Masters in Music at The Juilliard School in New York City.

Hoehn and Cheng will bring their talents to La Sierra’s stage during the 54th Annual Concerto Concert, April 21, 8:15 p.m., at La Sierra University’s Hole Memorial Auditorium. Admission is free. The La Sierra University Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Carter will accompany the performers.

Allison Cheng
Allison Cheng

Hoehn will perform Jean Thilde’s trumpet arrangement of Tomaso Albinoni’s “Concerto for Oboe in B-Flat Major, Op. 7 No. 3.” Cheng will sing “Selections from Carmen” by Georges Bizet.

In addition to the concerto winners, the program will feature a performance by Beaumont resident and award-winning pianist Ben Tecson, winner of the Inland Empire Piano Festival. He will perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15.” Tecson is under the mentorship of Elvin Rodriguez, La Sierra’s music department chair and director of music technology.

La Sierra’s concerto competition was held Feb. 17 with seven or eight student musicians giving violin, piano, horn, trumpet and voice auditions before three judges. Hoehn and Cheng each received a call that day from Carter informing them of their top placements. As first place winner, Hoehn will receive a $2,500 Marcia Specht Guy Memorial Prize named in honor of the wife of La Sierra theology professor and former LSU president Fritz Guy.

“After the initial shock subsided I felt pure elation. It is rare for a brass player to win a concerto competition,” said Hoehn. “I still had not fully gotten over the fact that I had been accepted into medical school just two weeks before. I have been truly blessed by God with my talents and I am glad that I can now go and share them with others.”

“I didn’t think I had won because I knew that I had jumbled my lyrics,” Cheng said. “I couldn't believe it because I knew that I had made mistakes and most freshmen never win.”

Ben Tecson
Ben Tecson

Hoehn’s musical career began at age 5 when he started learning piano. He began learning the trumpet at age 7. In high school, he was principal trumpet of the Sacramento Adventist Academy Band. He was also second chair in the premier level of the Sacramento Youth Symphony and studied under Michael Meeks. While at La Sierra, Hoehn has played principal trumpet in the university’s Wind Ensemble, Big Band, orchestra, and Brass Quintet. The last two years he has been a member of the 69th New York Armory Band which provides historically correct music and concerts for reenactments, dances, and educational programs for schools throughout the Los Angeles area. He is currently studying under Giovanni Santos.

Cheng, a native of Oswego, Ore., began singing in youth choirs at age 7. She has studied voice with Anne Young and Elizabeth Eklund, and participated in the Oregon Repertory Singers Youth Choir and Oregon Pro Arte Youth Chamber Orchestra. In 2011 she was the winner of the Opayco concerto competition in Portland, Ore. She is studying voice with La Sierra’s Director of Vocal Studies Raejin Lee and piano with Rodriguez, and is involved with various choral ensembles directed by Director of Choral Studies Earl Richards.

Whatever their career path, music is an important, foundational element in both students’ lives.

“What I like about music is its ability to move any person’s emotions no matter what their nationality or language is,” Hoehn said. “It is a universal language that must be shared between cultures.”

Said Cheng, “I love being able to express myself through music. Music is an extension of my thoughts.”


PR Contact: Larry Becker

Executive Director of University Relations

La Sierra University

Riverside, California

951.785.2460 (voice)

  • Last update on  April 19, 2012