Langley violinist Gloria Ferry-Brennan takes third in Washington, D.C. | KUDOS

Violinist Gloria Ferry-Brennan, 15, practices at her Langley home. Producers of NPR’s “From the Top” used this photo in a slideshow of the artist’s life on Whidbey. - Photo courtesy of Gloria Ferry-Brennan
Violinist Gloria Ferry-Brennan, 15, practices at her Langley home. Producers of NPR’s “From the Top” used this photo in a slideshow of the artist’s life on Whidbey.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Gloria Ferry-Brennan

Fifteen-year-old violinist Gloria Ferry-Brennan of Langley took third place at the Johansen International String Competition in Washington D.C. in March, and received $5,000 in addition to more performance opportunities.

The violinist competed in the Young String Players ages 13 to 17 category for which she played Beethoven’s “Violin Concerto,” Poulenc’s “Violin and Piano Sonata,” Bach’s “Partita #3,” Szymanowski’s “Nocturne and Tarantella” and a new work commissioned for the competition by Jonathan Leshnoff called “3 Minute Chaconne.”

“I would say that the competition was one of the most stressful performances I’ve done,” Ferry-Brennan said.

“I could hardly sleep the night before the semifinals because I was so excited. I had very little time to practice with the piano accompanist, not to mention get used to the time change.

I was the first to compete at 9 a.m. eastern time, which really felt like 6 a.m. to me,” the young artist said.

“Adrenaline kept me going though.”

After playing parts of each piece for the judges, Ferry-Brennan said she felt good about her performance and she and her mom celebrated by checking out the Capitol’s sites.

“It was my first time in D.C. and there was so much to see. The weather was warm and sunny and we had a wonderful time exploring the beautiful city,” she said.

When the results were announced the next evening, Gloria was happy to hear that she was a finalist and would compete the following day.

“I woke up the morning of the finals feeling a little under the weather.

I didn’t play nearly as well for the finals as I did for the semifinals. Towards the beginning, my fingers got in a tangle and I missed a few measures. I got on track though and finished the performance without too much trouble,” she said.

She was disappointed and thought she would not place. She went to the announcements that evening with little hope.

“I couldn’t believe my ears when they said  ‘… and third place goes to Gloria Ferry-Brennan.’ Even though I was disappointed with the way I played, it was encouraging to receive some kind of recognition for all the work I put in preparing for this competition,” she said.

Directly after her third-place finish, Ferry-Brennan flew to Maine where she was a guest performer on “From the Top,” a National Public Radio show dedicated to showcasing the work of America’s best young musicians. Ferry-Brennan received the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award for which she will receive $10,000 and a full scholarship to study music through graduate school.

To hear Ferry-Brennan’s inspiring performance of “Allegro con fuoco” from Sonata by Francis Poulenc on “From the Top,” recorded at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and to see a slideshow the producers put together of her life on Whidbey Island, visit


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