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Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra 2019–2020 Young Artist Winner, Panist Jonah Payne, in concert December 8, 2019

Lincoln, Nebraska, USA - Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is proud to announce the selection of percussionist Jonah Payne as the LSO Young Artist Competition Winner for the 2019–20 season.

Payne, a junior percussion performance major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studies percussion with Dr. Dave Hall and steelpan with Louis Raymond-Kolker.  Payne will perform Liam Teague’s ‘The Visit’ for tenor steelpan, arranged for orchestra by Jamie Wind Whitmarsh, with Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

“The judges were very impressed with the overall level of playing at this year’s competition. All of the students displayed great skill, and Jonah Payne in particular blew us away with his technique, musicianship, and mastery of the instrument,” says Edward Polochick, Music Director of Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra. “We look forward to featuring Jonah on our holiday concerts.”

As winner of the LSO Young Artist Competition, Payne receives the title of LSO Young Artist Winner for the 2019–20 season; publicity exposure; a private rehearsal and coaching from LSO Guest Conductor Lucas Waldin; solo performances at LSO’s concerts on December 8, 2019; and a cash prize.

“I’m very excited to be working with Jonah Payne,” Waldin adds. “His audition demonstrated high technical proficiency coupled with a clear and confident musicality. His instrument, the steelpan, may be a new experience for many in the audience and orchestra, but I have no doubt it will be a memorable performance of a very colorful concerto.”

From The Daily Nebraskan:  “I’m super excited for the performance,” Payne said. “The instrument I’m playing with them is the steel pan, and it’s not an instrument typically found in orchestral setting, so it’ll be really interesting.”

Payne said he found out about the competition only a few weeks before the deadline, and sent a picture of it to his mentor, graduate student Louis Raymond-Kolker, who advised him to enter.

“Louis was super excited about it,” Payne said. “I was already preparing a piece to play for UNL concerto competition, so basically I was able to just double dip and use the same piece for both, so it just seemed like it was the right thing to do.”

Payne said he plays almost every kind of percussion, including snare drum, drum set, steel pans, timpani and mallet instruments like marimba.

Fourteen elementary, middle, high school, and college music students participated in LSO’s Young Artist Competition this year, which is funded in part by the J. Edmund & Thelma D. Miller Fund at the Lincoln Community Foundation. The competition requires that applicants be 20 years old or younger and perform a movement of a concerto on their instrument in a formal audition. Past Young Artist Competition winners include Derek Hwang, cellist from Sioux City, IA; Isabella Amador, violinist from Omaha; Lukas McIlhaney, flutist from Wahoo; Nicholas May, saxophonist from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln; and William White, trombonist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

....Founded in 1927, Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra has a mission to present inspiring experiences that welcome all members of our community to discover and cultivate a profound, personal connection with live orchestral music. For more information about Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, call 402.476.2211 or visit .


About Jonah Payne

Jonah Payne is a junior percussion performance major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has participated in a variety of musical ensembles since middle school. In addition to school concert band, he played in PANgea, a Lincoln Public Schools-sponsored steeldrum band, from 6th through 12th grade. He began playing in the jazz band at Scott Middle School in 8th grade, continued throughout high school at Lincoln Southwest (LSW), and is now in his 5th semester with the UNL Big Band. In high school, Jonah was introduced to orchestral music when he played in the Lincoln Youth Symphony – he played in the ensemble for four years and, as a senior, he was selected as one of the winners of their concerto competition in 2016. He is currently in his second semester with the UNL Symphony Orchestra.

Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra 2019–2020 Young Artist Winner, Panist Jonah Payne
Jonah Payne, a junior percussion performance major, plays the steel pan inside of the Westbrook Music Building on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska  -  Photo by Jordan Opp

In addition to performing in the LSW marching band for four years, and in the Cornhusker Marching Band for two years, Jonah spent the summer of 2018 on tour with the world class Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps. Additionally, he has participated in the UNL Percussion Ensemble, UNL Varsity Men’s Chorus, and several more ensembles.

Though he had played steel pan for years, Jonah’s fascination with pan has only grown in college. Jonah has played three different types of pan in Nebraska Steel and Steel2 (UNL’s two steel drum ensembles): tenor pan, double seconds, and triple guitars. He composed a piece, “Jamboree,” for beginner-level steel band and led Steel2 in rehearsals, culminating in a premiere performance in the spring of 2019.  In addition, Jonah transcribed and arranged a piece written by a world-renowned pan player, Jonathan Scales, for his sophomore recital. This led to Jonah playing double seconds on Scales’ newest album, Mindstate Music.

Jonah is highly active across UNL’s campus. He is the Vice President of Students Together Against Cancer (STAC), a UNL club and registered non-profit that aids local cancer patients with their food and utility costs. He is currently serving his second school year on the Undergraduate Advisory Board for his college. In addition, Jonah is a member of the UNL Honors Program, and he plans to write his honors thesis about steel drums. After graduating UNL, he plans to pursue further education in percussion performance, and hopes to teach music at the university level.

Jonah currently studies percussion with Dr. Dave Hall and steelpan with Louis Raymond-Kolker. He has previously studied percussion with Zach Paris and Joe Holmquist.

Press Release:
Media Contacts:
Barbara Zach Lee: 402.476.2211
Edward Polochick: 443.416.5050

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