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NRO presents even younger orchestral musicians in Breck

by Kimberly Nicoletti

BRECKENRIDGE – As if the talent of young musicians in their 20s wasn’t impressive enough, the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) presents three Yamaha Piano Competition Winners, ages 12-16, at a free Children’s Concert Monday, June 17. Then the NRO features 21-year-old violinist Jeffrey Zehngut Wednesday, June 19.

The free Children’s Concert is funded through a grant from the Summit Foundation and will focus on intercultural diversity. Each musician will introduce his or her piece in either Chinese, Japanese or French.

Pianist Sharon Wu, 12, will perform the third movement of the Mozart “Piano Concerto No. 15, K. 450” at the Children’s Concert and explain it in Chinese.

“It’s a really happy, joyful and exciting piece, and most of it is fast-moving,” Wu said. She has won numerous awards, including the Yamaha/Wells Piano Competition, the Boulder International festival and the Colorado State Music Teacher Association Concerto Competition.

Francesco Lecce-Chong, 15, will perform the first movement of Grieg’s “Piano Concerto.” He has performed with the Mostly Strauss Orchestra, the Littleton Symphony and the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra and has received awards for his music composition. He has taught children about music appreciation and volunteered with the music care program at Boulder Community Hospital.

Genevieve Sherman, 16, will perform the first movement of Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 3.”

“It’s pretty dramatic and passionate,” Sherman said. “It has a lot of fury, but it also has beautiful melodies.”

This year, she was the alternate winner of both Colorado State Music Teachers’ Association Piano Concerto Competition and the Colorado Music Teachers’ National Association Music Competition.

Children and adults will have an opportunity to play with various instruments at an “instrument petting zoo,” following the concert.

The NRO’s second concert of the week, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, includes pieces by Rossini, Schumann and Sibelius. Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” a light-hearted piece with influences of the old American West, was featured in the television show “The Lone Ranger.” Schumann’s “Symphony No. 2” celebrates Rhineland and the great cathedral in Cologne. Sibelius composed “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra” with the idea of writing a piece too difficult to play, soloist Zehngut said.

“It’s such a beautiful piece,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to play, so it’s not a chore to learn it.”

Zehngut practices four hours a day and performs with the Canton Symphony, the Erie Philharmonic and the Cleveland Institute of Music

Symphony Orchestra. Next year, he will finish his bachelor’s of music degree and plans on completing a master’s degree, then hopes to join a major orchestra and teach music at a university.

He began playing violin when his older sister outgrew her violin, and his enthusiasm for the instrument grew in high school, when he attended summer programs.

“When I went to the Interlocken program in 10th grade, I thought “maybe I could deal with this for the rest of my life,'” he said. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. My mind was always on the music we were playing.”

He’s relieved that his solo is early this summer, because last year he played his solo at one of the last concerts, which prolonged the nervousness he felt, he said. This year, he’ll be able to hike Quandary Peak and bike with the freedom that comes with having already performed his solo.

Food and clothing donations for the Family and Intercultural Resource Center will be accepted at the free children’s concert at 2 p.m., Monday, June 17. Tickets to the June 19 concert are $17, $22 and $27 and may be purchased in person from the Riverwalk Center Box Office at 150 W. Adams St., Breckenridge, or by calling (970) 547-3100.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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