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Composite image of 4 winners performing on percussion, saxophone, cello, and piano

SMTD Announces Winners of 2024 Concerto Competition

Jan 30, 2024 | Announcements, Awards & Accolades, News, Performance, Students

On January 11 and 12, SMTD held its annual Concerto Competition for undergraduate and graduate students. The undergraduate winners are Karl Rueterbusch (BM ’26, percussion) and Aleks Shameti (BM ’25, piano). The graduate winners are Leo Schlaifer (MM ’24, saxophone, chamber music) and Sarina Zhang (DMA ’25, cello). Each of the winners will perform their competition piece with one of the school’s orchestras in a future concert at Hill Auditorium.

Undergraduate Competition Winners

“I am incredibly honored to have been selected as one of the winners of the SMTD Concerto Competition,” Rueterbusch said. He performed Sieidi, Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, by Kalevi Aho, accompanied by Liz Ames (lecturer, collaborative piano).

Rueterbusch expressed his gratitude to those who have supported him: “I would like to thank my family for their unwavering love and support, and my professors, Dr. Doug Perkins, Dr. Ian Antonio, and Jeremy Epp for their invaluable advice, encouragement, and guidance. I could not have done this without them. I would also like to thank my brilliant accompanist, Dr. Liz Ames, for her collaboration and support throughout the entire process. Finally, I would like to thank my amazing colleagues in the percussion studio for their constant encouragement and support.”

Karl Rueterbusch performs marimba on stage

Karl Rueterbusch

Accompanied by Muse Ye (DMA ’25, collaborative piano), Shameti performed Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major during the competition. “I am extremely grateful for and overjoyed by the opportunity given to me,” he said. “I would like to say thank you to all of the amazing people who have supported me throughout my journey at SMTD, including my professor, Christopher Harding, my family, and my friends.”

Two pianists play on side-by-side grand pianos on stage

Aleks Shameti (left) with accompanist Muse Ye

Graduate Competition Winners

Schlaifer performed Joel Love’s Solace: A Lyric Concerto and was accompanied by John Solari (MM ’24, chamber music; DMA ’25, piano). “I’m incredibly honored to represent the saxophone community alongside the U-M Symphony Band next year,” Schlaifer shared. “Winning this competition was truly a dream for me, and I cannot wait for the opportunity to collaborate with so many friends and colleagues across SMTD.”

Two pianists play on side-by-side grand pianos on stage

Leo Schlaifer

Accompanied by Narae Joo, a collaborative pianist in the Department of Strings, Zhang performed Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra, by Friedrich Gulda. She acknowledged her gratitude and appreciation: “I’m so grateful to my professor, Richard Aaron, for his constant support of me, both as a musician and person. I’m humbled to have been selected amongst my amazing peers. To be able to perform the Gulda concerto with its intended instrumentation and have more people hear this unique piece is a dream come true!”

Two pianists play on side-by-side grand pianos on stage

Sarina Zhang

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