Talented students from Southern Adventist University and around the community put their best foot forward during the School of Music’s annual Concerto Competition. Coordinated by Laurie Minner, associate professor at the School of Music, the competition culminates in a free performance on January 29 at 4 p.m. in the Colledgedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists. The following five students were selected as winners based on interpretation, accuracy, stage presence and memorization.
Walking up the stairs onto the stage in Ackerman Auditorium, Tyler Rand, sophomore music performance major and member of Southern’s Symphony Orchestra, mentally prepared himself to face the panel of judges waiting in the audience. Carrying the last movement of David Mullikin’s Oboe Concerto by memory, Tyler stepped into the spotlight, adjusted his oboe into the correct position, and began to play.
Tyler has had many experiences competing in music competitions. Unlike most auditions before, this time Tyler knew he had friends and staff who were with him every step of the way.
“I enjoyed the sense of community and support I felt throughout the competition,” Tyler said. “Other competitions get very cutthroat. It was nice to be competing with people instead of against people.”
Tyler has chosen for his solo the last movement of Mullikin’s Oboe Concerto. He said this fairly unknown exposition is one of the most exciting pieces he’s heard in a while.
“It’s not just the traditional classical repertoire,” Tyler said. “I enjoy bringing new music to audiences.”
Michael Pichette, senior music education major at Southern, is very comfortable playing the trumpet. After studying the instrument for the past ten years and being a member of Southern’s Symphony Orchestra, he has had plenty of experience performing. Despite this, Michael admitted that being in front of these judges was a bit more intense.
“Performing for judges that know the piece you’re playing raises the bar and turns up the adrenaline,” Michael said.
Turns out the energy he felt while performing helped instead of hindered as he was named one of the winners of the competition. Now Michael is planning to have that adrenaline help him again during the solo he will perform at the Concerto Competition Concert.
“It’s a unique experience,” Michael said. “Not a lot of people get the chance to have an orchestra learn their accompaniment while they perform a big solo.”
For his solo, Michael has chosen the first movement of Neruda’sTrumpet Concerto in Eb major since there is not a lot of standard repertoire in the piece. What makes his solo so unique is that Michael composed his own cadenza ending for the piece and he looks forward to performing it at the concert.
Annabelle Kyle, sophomore psychology major, has been playing the violin since she was five, including recent stints with Southern’s Symphony Orchestra. During the final round of auditions, she admits being quite nervous. Two minutes into the performance, however, she had forgotten all about the judges and was just having fun. That led to a satisfaction that transcends results.
“When I played the last note of my piece during the auditions, I knew I had truly done my best, no matter what the outcome of the results happened to be.”
Fortunately for Annabelle, the results turned out to be positive. When the judges announced the five winners, she was on the list. Annabelle has chosen to play a movement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor for the Concerto Competition Concert.
And while performing a solo with the orchestra does represent the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and countless hours of training, Annabelle is keeping the event in perspective.
“Getting to play with the orchestra while wearing a fancy dress will be fun!”
The School of Music was excited to have students not only from Southern, but also from neighboring universities audition for the Concerto Competition. Lee University students Knar Abrahamyan, senior piano performance and communication major, and Matthew Wilkinson, junior piano performance major, heard of the Concerto Competition from friends who had won in the past. They decided to audition and were both selected for their excellent performances on the piano.
For Knar’s solo, she chose to play the first movement of Scriabin’s Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, seeing it as a fresh and beautiful piece the audience will enjoy. Matthew chose the first movement of Rachamaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, since he has played it since high school and feels a strong connection to the piece.
“I’m looking forward to experiencing the dynamic of soloing in response to a full ensemble,” Matthew said.
With the promise of excellent performances from the winners, Minner and others are looking forward to one of the Symphony Orchestra’s most popular annual concerts. The Concerto Competition Concert will be held on January 29 at 4 p.m. at the Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church. The event is free and open to the public.