On Friday, April 2, BIG ARTS hosted 12 young aspiring classical musicians on the Christensen Performance Hall stage for the BIG ARTS Classical Scholarship Auditions. The BIG ARTS Classical Music Scholarship program is meant to assist highly proficient and talented undergraduate students who plan to continue their education and training in the field of classical music. This scholarship may be awarded to up to three students annually, in the amounts of $15,000 (1st prize), $10,000 (2nd prize), and $5,000 (3rd prize) respectively. This year, three students, Arturo Fernandez (piano), Christopher Tavernier (piano), and Isabelle Scott (Harp) were awarded scholarships.

“It’s such a joy to have these incredibly talented young musicians on the BIG ARTS stage,” said Executive Director Lee Ellen Harder. “Supporting arts in the community is at the core of the BIG ARTS mission, and I can’t think of a more rewarding way to give back than by helping young aspiring musicians pursue their dreams.”

This year’s first prize winner, Arturo Fernandez, is seeking a degree in piano performance from Florida Gulf Coast University. Arturo started playing piano when he was 4 years old in his home country, Peru. He performed his first solo concert at the age of 12 and moved to the U.S. in 2019 to attend school. He won first prize in the Jillian Prescott Concerto Competition of the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and was the state winner of the senior MTNA solo piano competition. Arturo plans to continue his education by attending graduate school and pursuing a doctorate in piano performance.

Second place was awarded to pianist Christopher Tavernier, who is seeking a degree in piano performance from Florida State University. Christopher made his orchestral debut with the Tar River Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 13, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Since then, he has won numerous competitions throughout the Appalachian region, including the Hendersonville, Asheville, Augusta, and Charlotte Symphony concerto competitions. Christopher is half of a chamber music duo, “88 Keys and a Reed,” a joint project with clarinetist Matthew Hannah to explore the vast variety of repertoire for piano and clarinet.

The third-place award went to Isabelle Scott, who is seeking a degree in harp performance from the University of Miami Frost School of Music. As a harpist, Isabelle has especially enjoyed playing in orchestras throughout her high school and college career. Among them are the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Jacksonville University Orchestra, the Converse Symphony Orchestra, and more recently, the Frost School of Music Orchestras. Her goal is to become an orchestral harpist, soloist and educator.

The BIG ARTS Classical Music Scholarship is offered annually in the spring. To learn more about the BIG ARTS Classical Music Scholarship program, visit www.BIGARTS.org.


BIG ARTS, established in 1979, is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing quality artistic, cultural, and educational experiences to Sanibel and Captiva residents and visitors. Visit www.BIGARTS.org to learn more about BIG ARTS, and stay tuned for our 2022 season; and don’t forget to visit us on Facebook!