The final round of the 2014 Young Artists Competition began at 8:30 am in the Choral Room of the LSU School of Music. The final round judges were Deborah Bish, Antonio Fraioli, Jonathan Holden, Pedro Rubio and Radovan Cavallin Zerjal. The competition was coordinated by Maxine Ramey, and pianist Henry Jones performed the difficult accompaniments with aplomb.
The competitors performed three works. The first was the slow movement of the Sonata by Charles Stanford, which Jose Pinto of Portugal performed with refined elegance and impressive control. Diana Sampaio, also of Portugal, presented a lyrical interpretation that emphasized the work’s soaring melodies. Rucha Trivedi of the USA played the forte passages with full-throated intensity and brought great drama to the different characters represented in the movement. Jose Viana of Portugal played with balance and an excellent sense of the movement’s overall design, while Kristen Thompson of the USA brought the contrasts of the work to life with remarkable intensity.
The second work performed was Eric Mandat’s Étude for Barney. Hila Zamir of Israel played this selection with great energy, bringing out its playfulness and impish qualities, while Rucha Trivedi suggested a funkier reading, emphasizing its rhythmic grooves. Kristen Thompson’s dynamic interpretation found excitement in the piece’s scurrying lines and offhand comments, finishing with a nearly-inaudible final note.
The final selection was the Copland concerto, performed in its entirety. Hila Zamir stretched the long melodic lines of the opening with remarkable patience, and Diana Sampaio executed the athletic skips with a rich, liquid tone. Jose Pinto played with quicksilver agility in the cadenza section, while Jose Viana brought rhythmic vitality and a wide palette of tone colors to the dance-like final section.
The winners were announced shortly after the performances finished. As Deborah Bish put it, the judges’ decision was “wonderfully difficult.” Third place went to Hila Zamir, second place to Jose Viana, and the Young Artist competition winner was Jose Pinto.
The musical selections were well chosen to demonstrate different aspects of each performer’s musical style, and it was fascinating for the audience to hear each clarinetist establish their own musical personality, rendering the selections unique in six individual ways. Every performer demonstrated whole-hearted commitment, and there was much to enjoy and admire in every one of these impassioned, imaginative performances.
–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.