And now for something brand new in this new year for the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and the rest of us. The inaugural Elizabeth Loker Concerto Competition moves into its final round Thursday night, January 9, at the Avalon Theatre with six solo musicians performing concertos they have selected for their particular instrumental skills. The winner, chosen by a pair of musician jurists, will be announced on stage shortly after the last note of the concertos is played.
“We’ve been looking to reach out and discover new talent,” says Dane Krich, general manager of the MSO as well as one of the orchestra’s percussionists. “We wanted to find the next young person we’d like to showcase.”
The winner takes home a $2,000 check and a trip back to Easton for a March 5 showcase, plus two reprise matinee performances in Ocean View, Delaware, and Ocean Pines, Maryland March 7 and 8. The March concerts also feature the full Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Mozart’s Symphony No. 33.
“The competition is named for a longtime supporter of the orchestra, Elizabeth Loker, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago,” Krich says. “So, this is in her memory.”
“The competition is the brainchild of our board president,” Terry Ewell says of Jeffrey Parker. “He and Julian Benichou have been wanting to make this happen,” he added, referring to the MSO music director now in his 15th season.
One reason Ewell, graduate director of music at Towson University, and a bassoonist with the MSO, was brought on board for the project was his administrative experience, especially in running competitions such as this one. “You’ve got to know who and where to send letters and applications and how to set up the judging,” he says.
Letters went out at the start of the MSO current season in September. Approximately 40 applicants submitted video performances by way of YouTub for a blind first-round competition. They came from as far as Austin, Texas, Miami, Florida, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, and as nearby as several cities in Maryland. “We sent our jurists only the audio of the recordings, identified by number. Neither of the judges saw any names or any video,” Krich says. “Their decisions were based solely on how each musician played their instrument and how they interpreted the concerto they selected.”
Of these contestants, jurors were given until December 12 to choose six finalists ranging in age from 12 to 25.
The six musicians and the concertos they’re performing Thursday at the Avalon are:
Tae Ho Hwang, 25, saxophone: Alexander Glazunov, Concerto in E-flat Major
Yejin Hong, 22: Dvorak, Cello Concerto
Joseph McNure, saxophone, 22: Paul Creston, Concerto for Alto Saxophone
Joshua Lauretig, 25 oboe: Antonio Vivaldi, Concerto in C Major RV 447
Sophia Lin,12 piano: Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K 453
Eunghee Cho,22 cello: Dvorak, Cello Concerto
ELIZABETH LOKER CONCERTO COMPETITION, final round..
7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, Avalon Theatre, 40 E. Dover St., Easton
Tickets: $10; 410-822-0345
. . . and the winner’s concert performance
7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5, Easton Church of God, 1009 N. Washington St.; Ocean View Church of Christ, 55 West Ave., Ocean View, Delaware; Community Church, Route 589 and Racetrack Road, Ocean Pines, Maryland
Tickets: $45; 888-846-8600
Steve Parks is a retired journalist, arts writer and editor now living in Easton.
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