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SMTD Announces Winners of 2023 Concerto Competition

Jan 24, 2023 | Awards & Accolades, Students

Recently, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance held its annual Concerto Competition, with undergraduate students competing on January 4 and graduate students on January 5.

The undergraduate winners are Ben Deighton (BM ’24, cello) and Nathan Landers (BM ’24, clarinet). The graduate winners are James Koo (MM ’24, percussion) and Nhi Luong (DMA ’24, piano). 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

Accompanied by collaborative pianist Narae Joo, junior Ben Deighton performed the Cello Concerto no. 2 in C major, op. 77, composed by Dmitry Kabalevsky.

Junior Nathan Landers performed Oscar Navarro’s II Concerto, accompanied by collaborative pianist Kathryn Goodson. At SMTD, Landers studies with Chad Burrow, associate professor of music, and Daniel Gilbert, associate professor of music and chair of the Department of Winds & Percussion.

“It means the world to me to be named as one of the winners of such a prestigious competition,” Landers said. “After the countless hours I poured into preparing this piece, it feels amazing to be recognized for my effort.”

Landers gratefully acknowledged the support of many people in his life: “I couldn’t have done this without the love and support of my family and friends. I’d specifically like to thank my professors, Dan and Chad, for helping me prepare this incredible piece. I’d like to thank my accompanist, Kathryn, for being an amazing collaborator and advocate. Finally, I’d like to thank my girlfriend, Adria, for supporting me entirely during this stressful endeavor and for giving me pep talks when the nerves started to get to me. I am incredibly grateful to have these people in my life and I look forward to the opportunity to perform this piece with one of the amazing SMTD orchestras!”

Nathan Landers

Graduate Competition Winners

Accompanied by pianist Joshua Marzan, James Koo performed Percussion Concerto, composed by Chen Yi. At SMTD, Koo studies with Doug Perkins, associate professor of music and director of percussion, and Ian Antonio, associate professor of music.

“I am very excited and humbled to be given this opportunity to share a piece of my culture with the SMTD and greater Michigan community,” Koo said. Explaining why he chose the piece he performed, he said, “This concerto is very personal to me, as it is in many ways a tribute to my upbringing in traditional Chinese music. My mother and I both studied traditional Chinese percussion with the great Yim Hok Man| 閻學敏 at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and I followed in her footsteps.”

Koo expressed his gratitude to “Joshua Marzan who was so instrumental in making this piece work; Professors Doug Perkins and Ian Antonio for their continued guidance and trust in me; Professors Chau Chin Tung and Yim Hok Man for raising me at the age of six in this unique percussion village; and a very special thanks to Mom who continues to be one of my biggest supporters in life!”

James Koo. Photo credit: Dave Green Photography.

Nhi Luong, accompanied by Muse Ye (DMA, collaborative piano), performed Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 3 in C Major, op. 26. At SMTD Luong studies with Christopher Harding, professor of music and chair of the Department of Piano.

“I am very honored to be named as one of the winners of the Concerto Competition,” Luong said. “I can’t wait to perform my favorite concerto with the University Orchestra in the fall.”

Luong expressed appreciation for her supporters: “I would like to thank Professor Harding for his immense support and guidance, and Muse for always being with me through my ups and downs. Moreover, I feel so blessed to be loved by my friends and family members, who are always by my side and supporting me unconditionally.”

Nhi Luong

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