Musicians prepare for competition

Tim Sampson and Tim Sampson

Many eager, young musicians are nervously pacing the halls of the Moore Musical Arts Center, waiting for the chance to show off their well-honed skills.

Preliminary auditions continue today for the 40th Annual Competition in Musical Performance in the College of Musical Arts. The competition seeks out the best student performers and composers to appear in a free gala concert scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow in Kobacker Hall in the Musical Arts Center.

‘The competition is narrowed down all week until we’re left with the very best performers from the graduate and undergraduate level,’ said Andrew Pelletier, the competition coordinator.

Tomorrow night’s performance will feature eight student musicians, four each from the graduate and undergraduate divisions.

Auditions were open to all students in the College of Musical Arts. Over 50 musicians went before the judges for a chance to compete in tomorrow morning’s semi-final round which will ultimately determine the line-up for the evening’s concert.

Tomorrow night’s audience will then be invited to vote for their favorite performer and accompanist in order to determine the awarding of cash prizes. The top two performers from each division will also be invited to perform their piece, in its entirety, at a concert in the spring.

When selecting the finalist to appear in tomorrow’s show, the judges look at the field of competitors as a whole.

‘We’re judging students purely on the basis of the quality of the performance,’ said Shannon Ford, one of the judges. ‘We’re not selecting the best violinist or the best pianist; it’s purely on an overall basis.’

According to Ford, the competition has featured a lot of diverse performances.

‘There’s a tremendous variety in style of works and in era of works,’ she said.

This tremendous variety of music has required a major amount of preparation on the part of the performers.

The musicians take the competition very seriously, putting in countless hours of practice all semester for their 15 minute audition.

‘I’ve spent hours and hours and hours,’ said Sarah Roth, a junior auditioning on trumpet. ‘I’ve lived and breathed this concerto.’

In addition to the performance category, there is also a competition for composers.

This year, seven graduate students submitted taped compositions to a jury of music college faculty members who choose several finalists to be sent to a second jury that ultimately selects a winner to be announced at tomorrow’s concert.

The winning composer, in addition to receiving a cash prize, will have their composition performed next fall in the annual New Music and Art Festival of the College of Musical Arts.

‘The real prize is the performance of the piece in a big, professional way,’ said Mikel Kuehn, composition professor. ‘It’s great exposure on a national level for these young composers.’