Christopher Wheaton and Jack Gallahan

Venice Musicale 2019 scholarship award winners Christopher Wheaton, left, and Jack Gallahan.

Venice Musicale granted nearly $8,000 in scholarship awards to talented student musicians in the 2019 scholarship competition. Selected elementary and secondary students from South Sarasota and Charlotte County auditioned before a panel of professional judges to compete for awards to fund summer music camp, first-year college music performance programs or private lessons. Awardees performed their audition pieces for the public in concert on May 2.

The first place award winner, senior division, was cellist Jack Gallahan, a junior at Pine View School, who studies cello with Dr. Ann Alton.

Jack is a member of the Sarasota Youth Orchestra and recently won the Sarasota Orchestra’s Young Artists Concerto Competition. Last year he was selected as a Florida All-State cellist. He has been a soloist with the Venice Community Orchestra and recently performed in a side-by-side concert in Miami with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony.

Jack will use his award funds to take lessons and make a down payment on a commissioned cello to replace one he is currently borrowing from his instructor.

Violinist Christopher Wheaton, a 14-year-old freshman at North Port High School, won second place in the senior division. He is a member of two orchestras and a chamber group as part of the Visual and Performing Arts program. He studies music at the Sarasota Music Conservatory and enjoys playing the violin, piano and loves composing. Christopher performs in recitals at assisted living homes and churches. He would like to be a concert violinist and pianist some day, and to play his own compositions.

Christopher will use his scholarship award to attend the Minaret Chamber Music Workshop at University of Tampa and will also take some lessons.

Tenor Beckett Wilson, a junior at Venice High School, was the third place senior division winner. Although fluent in guitar, bass guitar, and drums, playing since he was seven years old, Beckett found his real passion in vocal performance. He is honored to have served as a Venice Chorale apprentice for three years, and has been a regular performer at Venice Theater, most recently as the Baker in “Into the Woods.” He is also a member of the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Choir.

This summer, Beckett will attend the renowned Stagedoor Manor musical theater camp in New York. After high school, he plans to attend the University of Miami Frost School of Music and major in music business and performance.

A junior division scholarship was granted to pianist Leo Chen, a 6-year-old first grader at Laurel Nokomis School. Leo started piano in January 2018 and is a student of Tatiana Hall. He has participated in recitals organized by area Music Teacher Associations and won the March 2019 Sonatina Contest. He also achieved the highest rating of “superior” in Piano Solo, Piano Concerto and Piano Patriotic categories during the February Sarasota Festival. Leo participates in the monthly “Piano Friends” concerts, in school and church recitals, and competed this spring in the District 8 Concerto Competition.

His scholarship award will help fund music lessons.

Honorable Mention awards were presented to violinists Vanessa Belous and Diana Labrador, flutist Annie Gritton, bassist Haley Sprague, soprano Jillian Steffens, and jazz trumpeter Luca Stine.

For more information about Venice Musicale and the scholarship program, email or visit:


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