Photo courtesy of Sweet Bee Studios, Tampa. Myra Sexton, a resident of Lithia and an eighth grade student at Progress Village Middle.

Each year, The Florida Orchestra Musicians Association holds the Justine LeBaron Young Artists Competition. This year, the competition was held on March 23 at the Music Center on the Gibbs Campus of St. Petersburg College.

The competition is named in remembrance of the former Principal French Horn of the Florida Orchestra. This year’s competition involved 37 young classical music students from Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. The students competed in the senior and junior divisions in piano and instrumental categories. The competition was open to students ages 8 to 22, winners received cash prizes totaling $4,600.

Locally, one student placed in her respective category. Myra Sexton is a resident of Lithia and an eighth grade student at Progress Village Middle Magnet School of the Arts who plays the violin. She earned First Place in the Junior Instrumental Division (under age 15). Sexton performed the first movement on Concerto No. 9 in A minor Op. 104 by Charles Auguste de Bériot, accompanied by Melissa Petrescue. This is the fourth time that Sexton has competed in the competition.

Sexton competed against 13 other young musicians. Sexton said, “The competition was very professional and welcoming. The judges created an environment where young musicians could showcase their hard work and musicality while receiving feedback to better their future playing and musical experience.”

Sexton added, “A big shout out to Bill Mickelsen, Principal Tuba of the Florida Orchestra, who spent countless hours organizing this year’s competition.”

Sexton studies under Lauren Murphy of Tampa Suzuki Strings. Sexton is the Concertmaster of her school’s Honors Orchestra. She is also the Principal Musician, Violin 2 section of the TMYO’s Symphony Orchestra and violinist for Into the Forest, a local synth-rock band that released two EPs in 2018.

Sexton also participated in the Perlman Music Program/Suncoast Super Strings Program. In 2017, she participated in the Mark Wood Electrify Your Strings Program. For info, visit www.floridaorchestra.org.