Upper Arlington High School senior Nathaniel West was one of only two Ohio students chosen to perform at the national youngARTS Week competition, held Jan. 12-17 in Miami, Fla.

Upper Arlington High School senior Nathaniel West was one of only two Ohio students chosen to perform at the national youngARTS Week competition, held Jan. 12-17 in Miami, Fla.

The competition is presented by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. West and Meena Thatikunta, of Cincinnati's Sycamore High School, were among 141 young musicians and actors selected from a pool of 8,000 applicants to participate in youngARTS.

"We are honored to recognize these fine young artists," said NFAA president Christina DePaul. "They represent the next generation of extraordinary artistic talent and it is our hope that their experience with youngARTS will not only provide them with the tools they need through scholarships and valuable educational lessons, but also compel them to pursue their passion."

West, who plays bass in the UAHS Symphony, was selected to participate in youngARTS from an audition DVD he submitted. Rather than being intimidated by the competition, West said he felt a kinship with the other youngARTS musicians since he knew several of them from the Aspen Music Festival summer program and other music events.

"We weren't really competitive, because no one was expecting to win," West said. "We were trying to make friends with each other."

YoungARTS was founded in 1981 by Carnival Cruise Lines creator, the late Ted Arison and his wife Lin, to identify gifted young artists and assist them both financially and educationally. The youngARTS alumni roster includes actress/singer Vanessa Williams, pop star Josh Groban and New York Philharmonic guest solo violinist Jennifer Koh.

West will find out next month whether he is a finalist in this year's youngARTS competition, which could include up to a $10,000 prize and the opportunity to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. The designation would enable him to meet President Barack Obama and perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

While he awaits the results of the youngARTS competition, West will spend the next couple of months auditioning for music programs at colleges around the country. His top choice is the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

"It's a great school," West said. "All the students there are amazing."

John Deliman, director of the UAHS Symphony, said he sees a lot of potential in West and foresees a bright future for his star pupil.

"This kid is just going to have a career like you can't believe," Deliman said.

West said he would like to become a professional musician and play in a symphony orchestra in Cleveland, Chicago, New York or Boston.

"Hopefully I'll get to play with one of those orchestras, maybe as principal bassist," he said, "if I work hard enough."

cbournea@thisweeknews.com