Summit Community Orchestra recognizes Youth Musical Showcase winners
If you go
What: Summit Community Orchestra spring concert, featuring Youth Musical Showcase top performers Ethan Minard and Lucas Lebow
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 29
Where: Dillon Community Church, 371 La Bonte St., Dillon
Cost: Free, donations gratefully accepted
More information: Visit www.summitorchestra.org
The Summit Community Orchestra will perform its annual spring concert on Sunday, March 29, at the Dillon Community Church, featuring the winners of this year’s Youth Musical Showcase.
Repertoire for the concert includes Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture,” Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dance” and Bizet’s “Carmen Suite,” along with Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in E Major, “Spring,” performed by violinist Lucas Lebow, the Youth Musical Showcase junior division winner, and Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Opus 102, Andante, performed by pianist Ethan Minard, the competition’s senior division winner.
The Summit Community Orchestra has been holding its Youth Musical Showcase competition for more than a decade, said Beth Steele, conductor. This year, auditions were held in February, and a panel of judges, including Steele, former conductor Kenny Evans and Greely Philharmonic Orchestra concertmaster Chris Jusell, reviewed each student’s performance and selected the winners.
“Because it’s required to be played from memory, we do look for their poise under pressure because that does add an extra layer of pressure for them,” Steele said. “We look for musicianship, the phrasing and dynamics and also their technical ability.”
Applicants were divided into two groups: a junior division for grades six through eight and a senior division for high school musicians. Steele said she was impressed by the winning auditions from Lucas and Ethan.
“Lucas, in particular — he’s a youngster, he’s junior division — he was really well prepared, very poised and just expressed great musicianship at a really young age, which is quite impressive,” Steele said. “He had good technique; his sound was quite mature for a youngster.
“And with Ethan, his piece is not especially technically challenging, but it’s musically very demanding and he played it quite well and made some great music and showed some great maturity in his musicianship.”
Once selected, the two young musicians joined the orchestra’s rehearsals. Concertmaster Cecile Forsberg said what stood out about both musicians was how well prepared they were and how they were comfortable with the pieces they were playing.
“Those pieces are challenging pieces, and it’s nice to see young musicians really delving into the depths of what those pieces look like, especially for the age level that they’re at,” she said. “There are definitely some really beautiful moments that they are able to create.
“They both have been very, very professional, too, which is exciting to see. … It’s not every day that you get a soloist who is that prepared and can come to rehearsal and say, ‘What about this? What are we doing here? Can we do that again?’”
Stepping it up
Lucas, an eighth-grader, said he was nervous when he auditioned for the showcase and worried about “messing up.” He said it’s nice to rehearse with the orchestra and hear the different parts of his piece, Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in E Major, “Spring.”
“It’s a pretty fast piece, and it kind of goes with Summit County right now in the spring,” he said, adding that he likes how the various instruments come in and then thin out. “It’s pretty high up on the scale, so the noises that everybody makes together, it sounds like spring and earth.”
Lucas said though he’s a little nervous about performing with the orchestra, he’s also excited for the opportunity.
“I would like to thank my teacher, Natalie Koob,” he said. “She introduced the piece to me and helped me work through each part and practically got me to this point.”
Ethan, a junior in high school and the senior division showcase winner, said he was able to see Lucas rehearse and was impressed by the young musician’s abilities.
“I’ve never seen somebody that age play Vivaldi before,” Ethan said. “I haven’t fully watched the rehearsals, but I watched one, and from what I saw, he’s really good and it’s impressive to see someone that young be so good. He has a lot of potential.”
Ethan was working on his own piece, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Opus 102, Andante, in preparation for another judged performance when his teacher suggested he use it to audition for the showcase, as well.
“It’s a slow, kind of emotional piece,” he said. “There are others like it, but more are written to show off the virtuosity of the player. This one is a little more emotional, a little bit slower. It’s really good, I think — it’s not like what you would expect from a concerto, per say.”
Ethan said he’s performed with the Summit Concert Band, where he also worked with Steele, but he’s never played a solo with the orchestra before, and it’s fun to hear the full sound behind him when he plays.
“I really enjoy playing in front of people, and I like having all of my hard work pay off in front of people,” he said. “I really enjoy succeeding in what I try to do, and I think this will be a success for me in doing this and it will be a good step in my career as a musician.”
Forsberg said she’s been performing as a violinist for a long time, and getting to be a part of a community orchestra, especially one that is supportive of young musicians, is a beautiful thing.
“I think it’s a really important facet of what this community orchestra does because it’s providing an opportunity for young musicians in Summit County to perform and see what it’s like to go through that audition process for a solo competition and things of that nature,” she said of the showcase. “It’s providing those additional opportunities for those musicians who are interested in performing.”
Steele said all of the members of the Summit Community Orchestra likely picked up their first instruments as kids, and having the two students perform alongside the adults helps show them that music can be a lifelong pursuit.
“We have a couple of students who are playing in the orchestra, as well,” she said. “One of the trumpet players is a student, and he sits next to our oldest member, who is 82. There aren’t many other organizations where you have generations of the same thing, having the same goals, and that’s really good to do. Hopefully, it inspires other young people to say, ‘If Ethan and Lucas can do that, I can do that, too.’”
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