The 2014 High School Competition began at 9:00 Friday in the Black Box Theater. It featured five competitors, and the judges were Deborah Bish from Florida State University; Cecilia Kang from North Dakota State University; and John Warren of Kennesaw State Univeristy. Elizabeth Crawford coordinated the competition and kept the proceedings running smoothly, and pianist Henry Jones ably followed the five different young interpreters.
The first selections performed were movements 1, 2 and 5 of the Dance Preludes by Witold Lutoslawski. Julia Choi played the opening with exciting punch and flair, followed by a slow second movement that was beautifully sensitive, her wispy diminuendi creating a spellbinding, haunting mood. Kristin Eiffert performed the final movement with a fiery drive and crisp articulation, putting an effective exclamation point at the end of her performance.
The competitors then performed the Solo de Concours by Messager. Taylor Horn played the opening with a fine sense of breadth and expansiveness, and then performed the slow section with great refinement and sensitivity. Alec Manasse played with remarkable control of both ends of the dynamic spectrum, bringing lyricism and drama to each of the piece’s episodes. Paul Park sounded confident and assured as he played the twisting runs and brilliant arpeggios with astonishing fluidity. All of the competitors breathed an understandable sigh of relief after the difficult cadenza, but it was interesting for the audience to hear five convincing interpretations offered by these young performers.
Hearty congratulations are in order to all those who participated! The maturity and poise of these competitors was remarkable, and all of them exhibited an extraordinarily high level of musicianship and skill. The third place winner, receiving a $500 prize, was Julia Choi. The second place winner, receiving a $750 prize, was Paul Park. The first place winner, receiving a $1000 prize, was Alec Manasse. All of the competitors did a fantastic job, and it was inspiring to all those present to hear such remarkable talent.
–Notes by Michael Rowlett
Michael Rowlett is the assistant Professor of Clarinet at The University of Mississippi. You can find his CD Close to Home: Music of American Composers on Amazon and Albany Records.