University Relations and Communications

Prolific MSU Billings piano student to play Carnegie Hall in April

March 23, 2009



Dorothea Cromley, Department of Music, 657-2042
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Ashlee Young, a Montana State University Billings student whose prowess at the piano has earned her accolades in regional, national and international competitions, will be playing at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in April.


Ashlee Young at the pianoYoung, a piano performance major from Billings, recently won the collegiate division of the American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition. The win means she will be playing with junior high, high school and amateur division winners at Carnegie Hall on April 12.


“This is a huge honor for any musician, especially for one who is so young,” said Dorothea Cromley, professor of music MSU Billings and Young’s mentor and instructor.


Young, who is working on her senior year and plans to graduate in May 2010, won the American Protégé competition with her recording of Franz Liszt’s “Hungarian Fantasy” that she played with the Great Falls Symphony last year. She said she will likely play another Liszt piece at Carnegie Hall.


While Young is an obvious advocate of relentless practice, she is also highly appreciative of Cromley’s commitment.


“I have to give a great deal of credit to Dorothea,” said Young. “She’ll push you as far as you want to go and she’ll do everything she can to get you to where you want to be.”


Cromley routinely travels with Young to performance to provide encouragement and support, Young said, a situation rarely replicated by other college students and their faculty members.


The American Protégé victory is the latest win in a long string of victories for Young.


This past winter, she won the divisional Music Teacher’s National Association piano competition held in Spokane, Wash. Also in April, Young will travel to Kingsville, Texas to complete in the Kingsville International Young Performers Competition at Texas A&M University. She will be playing in two separate divisions — the solo works and also the concerto competition. The international competition has over $20,000 in cash awards.


Young began her piano study at the age of 4 in Southern California and continued studying with various teachers after her move to Nevada. In 2001, she came to Montana where she attended high school and studied with Kathleen Guehlstorff. In 2005, she auditioned and was accepted into the music department at MSU Billings. She then began her study with her current teacher, Professor Dorothea Cromley.


Throughout her career, Young has been an active performer appearing in many recitals, festivals and competitions. In 2006, she traveled to Los Angeles to compete in the International Franz Liszt Competition where she received honorable mention. In 2006, she was also a finalist in the Coeur D’Alene Young Artist Competition.


She was the winner of the Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras Competition in January 2007. She appeared with the Great Falls Symphony in March of 2007, billed on the same program as world renowned violinist, Midori. In addition to this performance, Young appeared with the Billings Symphony Orchestra in November of 2007 and the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra in December of 2007. In November of 2007, she won the State Music Teacher’s National Association Competition at the state level and went on to compete in divisionals.


In 2007, she was a finalist in the Missoula Young Artist Competition and also the National Wideman Piano Competition. She won the VSA Arts International Young Soloist Award. In addition to her $5,000 prize, she performed at the Kennedy Center in May of 2008.


Young won the collegiate artist division of the National Liberace Piano Competition and along with her $1,000 scholarship, she will perform in Las Vegas throughout the year. In November, she got fifth place in the concerto division of the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition and was recently one of 12 finalists to compete in the International Jefferson Young Artist Competition.


Upon graduation, Young intends to pursue a career as a concert pianist and devotes most of her time to her studies and the piano.