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Concerts Featuring Concerto Competition Winners to Begin


While many college students spend the winter break enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation, students entered in the annual Concerto Competition at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) devote much of their holiday vacation to practicing. With the competition looming just a week after classes resume in January, these talented instrumentalists and singers are preparing for one of the most important moments of their college careers. Aside from the prestige of being named a winner, the contest's victors will perform with one of the University orchestras in an upcoming concert at Hill Auditorium, an exceptional opportunity to grow and gain experience as a soloist.

Now, less than a month after the 2013 Concerto Competition, the first concert featuring a winning soloist will take place on Wednesday, February 6 at 8 p.m. when Yihua Eva Cao, a junior, will perform Piano Concerto no. 2 by Camille Saint-Saëns with the University Philharmonia Orchestra under the direction of Christopher Lees, assistant professor of conducting and associate director of orchestras. The program also features Dvořák's Symphony No. 6 and Beethoven's Overture to Fidelio.

On Thursday, February 28 at 8 p.m., the competition's other undergraduate winner, Nathaniel Pierce, a senior, will perform Robert Schumann's Cello Concerto with the University Symphony Orchestra, which is being paired with Stravinsky's powerhouse, The Rite of Spring, led by Ken Kiesler, director of university orchestras and professor of conducting. Both concerts, at Hill Auditorium, are free and open to the public.

The graduate division winners of the competition were Zachary Stern, saxophone, who performed Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra by Paul Creston, and Katherine Calcamuggio, mezzo-soprano, who sang Mr. Tambourine Man by John Corigliano. Both first year master's students, they will perform with the USO in the 2013-14 academic year.

"Being selected as a winner of the Concerto Competition is definitely one of the highlights of my college career," said Stern, echoing the sentiments of all the winners. "It is an enormous honor, especially considering the caliber of everyone else in the competition. It has been one of my goals since coming to Michigan several years ago."

"Musicians and singers are always perfecting their art and craft in hopes of having opportunities to perform," said Kiesler, "Winning this competition is an achievement, but it's also an opportunity to grow from an experience that teaches a great many lessons. To collaborate with a conductor and the musicians of the orchestra is a singular experience."

After the winners were announced on January 10, Kiesler began the process of carefully working out which concerts, and with which orchestras, the winners would perform. The decision is determined by both the difficulty of the piece (with the most challenging works performed by the USO) and by the other repertoire on the concert program.  For example, Schumann's melodic and expressive Cello Concerto was quickly identified as an excellent complement to the heart-thumping thrill of The Rite of Spring.

Nathaniel Pierce said that the Schumann Concerto is a piece that is close to his heart. His experience of playing it, however, is only with piano accompaniment. "Getting to experience how the piece is meant to be performed--with orchestra rather than piano--will strengthen my knowledge of it and inform my interpretation," he said. "Anytime you play with an orchestra, you realize what is important: projection, and rhythm. You have to be heard, and the orchestra has to be able to follow you. I'm always looking for the opportunity to work on those skills. I just try to soak up as much as I can."



past news

September 2017
March 2014

U-M UpstART Festival Begins 03/31/2014

Students Present "Wall-to-Wall Theatre Festival" 03/27/2014

First-Ever SMTD Chamber Music Competition Launches April 5 03/27/2014

Doctoral Fellow Named MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year 03/26/2014

Theatre Student Lands Major TV Role 03/25/2014

Elizabeth Batiuk (ethnomusicology) has been chosen as a fellow at the Sweetland/Rackham Dissertation Writing Institute for spring 2014 and James McNally (ethnomusicology) received a summer and academic year FLAS for the study of Portuguese.    03/17/2014

Musicology graduate student Elizabeth McLain has been awarded a prestigious Lurcy Fellowship for research in France during the 2014-2015 academic year.   03/14/2014

December 2013

SMTD students Zoe Kumagai, Stephanie Aboukasm, and Adam DesJardins are among students profiled in an LSA article about the "Michigan in Washington" program, in which students intern at various Washington, DC organizations and businesses, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center, and the Washington Performing Arts Society.    12/10/2013

October 2013
August 2013

Evan Zegiel, a sophomore who studies with Fritz Kaenzig, was the First Place winner in the Tuba Student division of the 2013 Leonard Falcone International Euphonium & Tuba Festival.     08/21/2013

July 2013

Professor Ashley Lucas and three Theatre & Drama students are engaged in an intensive exchange program with UniRio in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this summer, where they are blogging about their experiences in UniRio's prison arts program and more.   07/12/2013

November 2011
August 2011
June 2011
Yihua Eva Cao
Current Student News
DMA Piano Students Perform with Ann Arbor Symphony more
2018 SMTD Concerto Competition Winners Announcedmore

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower