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2021 SMTD Concerto Competition Winners Announced

On January 29th and January 30th, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance announced the winners of the 2021 Concerto Competition.


 Graduate Division Winners

Valentin Kovalev

Valentin Kovalev (MM ’22, saxophone), accompanied by Liz Ames, performed the Alto Saxophone Concerto in E-flat Major, op. 109 by Alexander Glazounov. Kovalev is a student of Professor  Timothy McAllister.

“I’m very honored to be named one of the winners of the Concerto Competition, especially being able to share the music of one of my favorite Russian composers, Alexander Glazounov,” said Kovalev. “This concerto awakens my deepest feelings and empathy towards my motherland.”

Kovalev credits his studio mates and Prof. McAllister for helping him prepare. “The Saxophone Studio is very supportive and like a big family—we help out each other in all possible ways,” said Kovalev. “Dr. Timothy McAllister helped me discover plenty of details in my musical interpretation and SMTD has supported my academic enrichment and development as a well-rounded, versatile musician.”

Alan Williams

Alan Williams (SM ’22, MM ’20, voice), accompanied by Taylor Flowers, performed Songs and Dances of Death by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky. Williams is a student of Professor Daniel Washington.

“I’m both ecstatic and humbled to have been chosen for such a high honor,” said Williams. “The concerto finalists were extraordinary, and I am pleased that my artistry resonated with the panel.”

Williams also expressed gratitude for all the individuals who helped him prepare for the competition. “I’d like to thank my voice teacher Daniel Washington; my coaches Dr. Severtson and Dr. Martin Katz; collaborative pianists Taylor Flowers and Nich Roehler; and my Russian language teacher Alexandra Tkacheva for their constant support and guidance,” said Williams. “It’s been a transformative experience working with these individuals and learning from their amazing depths of knowledge!”


Undergraduate Division Winners

Sua Lee

Sua Lee (BM ’22, piano), accompanied by Jingjing Wan, played Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in F-sharp Minor, op. 1. Lee is a student of Professor Christopher Harding.

“My motivation has been the desire of sharing, with the audience, the sound that would otherwise be only heard in myself and bringing encouragement via music, as it has to me,” said Lee. “I am grateful to the judges for giving me another opportunity to express my musical purpose.”

Lee extolled praise on those that helped her get ready for the competition. “Many thanks to Jingjing Wan, who graciously agreed to rehearse with me innumerable times,” said Lee. “The past year has been especially difficult for me to be away from family in a foreign land, but Professor Harding has given me immense guidance and support in every possible way. I couldn’t thank him enough! Moreover, what warmed my heart even more than the competition result was the video-call from my friends immediately after the announcement—I feel so blessed to be loved by them and thank them a lot.”

Dana Rath

Dana Rath (BM ’22, cello), accompanied by Narae Joo, performed the Cello Concerto in A Minor, op. 129 by Robert Schumann. Rath is a student of Professor Richard Aaron.

“I feel so honored to have been selected as a winner of the undergraduate competition,” said Rath. “I am thrilled at the opportunity to play with the University orchestra sometime in the near future!”

Rath credits Professor Aaron, among many others, with providing her a boost during a difficult year. “This semester certainly brought its own set of unique challenges, but also provided me the time and inspiration to do a deep dive into Schumann’s cello concerto,” said Rath. “I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Aaron and his studio for their continued encouragement and patience listening to my Schumann (to almost) ad nauseam; to pianist Narae Joo for her fantastic accompaniment in the competition; to Professor Knoedler who helped me with my theoretical analysis of the piece; and to my former teacher Daniel Veis, who has always generously lent an ear to my playing.”