CCM student wins silver medal in Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival

Watch Xianquan Mu's award-winning performance of John Stevens' Five Muses

UC College-Conservatory of Music student Xianquan Mu won the silver medal in the Tuba Artist division of the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival, which is recognized as the premier event of its kind. Rising sophomore Caroline Habig also competed as a semi-finalist in the Tuba Student division of the virtual festival.

“This is a very prestigious international solo competition for our instrument,” says Timothy Northcut, CCM Professor of Tuba and Euphonium. “I am extremely proud of the hard work Caroline and Mu put forth for this competition.”

"A huge congratulations," Northcut adds. "Your work ethic is inspirational to me and others at CCM. We are proud of you!"

This isn’t the first time CCM students found success at the international festival and competition. In 2016, Preston Light (DMA Tuba, ’19) claimed first prize in the tuba artist division.

A photo of Xianquan Mu with his tuba

Xianquan Mu. Photo/Provided.

Due to COVID-19, the competition was held virtually, which means competitors had to produce high-quality video recordings in order to advance. “All of a sudden you are no longer just the musician,” Northcut says. “You also become a recording engineer and producer trying to capture the right sound and camera angle.”

Habig and Xianquan sent Northcut video recordings frequently so he could evaluate them and help the students prepare for the final rounds of the competition, which were held August 8-9. 2020.

Xianquan Mu says the repertoire for the tuba artist division of the festival was very difficult. His semi-final round repertoire included Frank Lynn Payne's Six Bagatelles for Solo Tuba, Bruce Broughton's Turbulence and Barbara York's How Beautiful. Xianquan's final round repertoire included John Stevens' Five Muses. Watch his award-winning performance on YouTube.

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“I am very happy to be a 'Tubacat'," says Xianquan. "The tuba/euphonium studio and professor Tim Northcut have absolutely impacted me significantly. I also enjoy life here in Cincinnati. I enjoy the different culture and different food in the U.S.”

A headshot of Caroline Habig

Caroline Habig. Photo/Provided.

Habig recently finished her first year as a Bachelor of Music student studying tuba performance at CCM. “I have enjoyed CCM for the same reasons I came here — Tim’s teaching, the broad array of ensembles I can participate in and the fact that I can take classes outside of CCM,” Habig says.

"Tim has been extremely beneficial at helping me prepare for the Falcone,” Habig says. “During lessons, he and I would work on the solos for the preliminary round and when my submission was due, he actually helped me record the pieces. During the summer, I have sent him recordings of my preparation for the second and third rounds, and he has critiqued those as well.”

Habig’s semi-final round repertoire included Thomas Woodson’s Canticle for Unaccompanied Tuba and Ian Lester’s Sonata for Contrabass Tuba. Her final round repertoire included J.S. Bach’s Sonata No. 2 in E-flat Major transcribed for tuba by Wesley Jacobs and G. Buttery’s arrangement of Hijazker Longa.

“I believe Tim and the studio have impacted me most here. After only a semester, I learned pretty quickly that what I believed to be ‘hard work’ was quite far from it. Tim and the other studio members have shown me true, consistent dedication, and have given me a standard to work towards.”

About the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival

The Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival has gained recognition as the premier event of its kind. Born in 1986 as a competition for both student and artist level euphonium performers, the event evolved into a true festival in 1991 when its sponsoring committee expanded its offerings to include lessons, ensembles, seminars and clinics with some of the world's greatest euphonium virtuosi. The sponsoring committee again expanded the festival 1996 to include a full range of festival activities for tuba.

Student and artist level competitions remain integral to the Festival. The competition has a truly international flavor, with contestants attending from countries around the world.

The Falcone Festival is held each summer, over a four-day period, and has been housed since its inception at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan. In addition to the competition aspect of the Festival, participants are offered the opportunity to attend master classes and recitals provided by internationally recognized euphonium/tuba artists. For more information about Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, please visit their website at

Competition cash prizes are underwritten by foundations, companies and friends who believe in the values of the Festival. More information is available at

Feature image at top: CCM Professor Tim Northcut poses with tubas from his studio. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services.