Madeline Schatz, Music Director and Conductor
The Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra will conduct its Third Annual Concerto Competition the first weekend in February 2014. The venue for this year’s competition will be a private residence at Makalei Estates in Kona. Young string instrument players from around the state will be eligible for the competition this year, and woodwind, brass, percussion and keyboard players next year. During the competition, contestants will perform by memory one movement of a piece chosen from standard orchestral repertoire with piano accompaniment.

The preliminary round of the contest will be Saturday, February 1, 2014, and two contestants from each age category: 12 years and under, 13-15 years, and 16-18 years, will advance to the final round on Sunday, February 2, 2014.

The winners of each age group chosen during the final round will perform at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, accompanied by the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra, on Sunday, March 30, 2014, as part of the orchestra’s spring concert. Winning contestants will also receive cash rewards.

Applications for the event are due to Kamuela Philharmonic Music Director, Dr. Madeline Schatz, no later than Thursday, January 2, 2014.

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2012 Competition

Evan Lin, 17, is in his last year at Punahou School, and has been studying piano with Joanna Fan of Honolulu for 12 years. Although most of Lin’s experience is in playing music of the classical period, he thinks Prokofiev’s “Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major” fits his personality much better, and very much enjoyed preparing the first movement, beginning last May, for the concerto competition. The composition is Prokofiev’s best-known concerto and was completed in 1921, expanding on a theme with variations he composed in 1913. This modern piece features Prokofiev’s trademark punctuation of lyrical musical passages with witty dissonances by the piano soloist, while the orchestral accompaniment rises above background to maintain a balanced partnership with the solo.

Eugene Son, 11, of Waipahu, has studied piano with Dr. Thomas Yee of Honolulu for six years. He chose the first movement of Mendelssohn’s “Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor,

Op. 25” for the concerto competition since it appealed to him most out of the works his instructor suggested. The concerto, which premiered in Munich in October 1831, featured several performance techniques unusual for the day. In the first movement, the piano enters after only a few bars of orchestral accompaniment, and contains several sections of improvisations, a specialty of Mendelssohn. Son, who is also a cellist and has played with the Honolulu Youth Symphony, worked on the piece for a year, and is looking forward to the opportunity to perform it with an orchestra.
Noe Baladad, 15, is a tenth grader at Kaiser High School on Oahu, and has studied piano with Dr. Yee for the last ten years. She did not really care for the first movement of Saint-Saens’ “Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor” when she began practicing it a year ago, but quickly grew to love it as she learned it. Considered Saint-Saens’ most popular piano concerto, the piece was composed in three weeks and premiered in 1868.

Baladad’s emotionally evocative rendition of the composition wowed concerto competition judges Doug Johnson, a Waimea teacher & percussionist; Adrienne Cherry, a North Kohala piano teacher, music educator & musician; and Karen Marie Garrett, a Waikoloa-based internationally-known composer & pianist, who were having a difficult time picking a winner from the talented pool of performers in her age group.

This is not the first time Baladad, an aspiring professional musician, has played with an orchestra, but she considers every opportunity to do so very valuable, and is excited to play with the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ten-year-old violinist Minseon Kim will be performing the first movement of Haydn’s Concerto No. 2 in G major. Kim, whose father is a Korean Air Force commander and fighter pilot on a two-year assignment in Hawaii as a military liaison, attends school at Hickam Elementary. Although she has only been studying the violin for three years, Kim placed well in a Korean national competition before her family’s move to Hawaii a year ago, and has ambitions of becoming a professional violinist.

To help her gain the experience she needs to accomplish that goal, Kim’s current teacher, Sheryl Shohet of Honolulu, helped her refine the piece she’d learned for her previous competition, and encouraged her to enter the Kamuela Philharmonic’s contest in November.

With Kim’s nearly flawless performance of Haydn’s popular work, by no means the easiest piece written by the “father of the symphony,” there was no question she deserved the prize for her age group (12 years and under) awarded by the contest judges.
Violinist Elizabeth Sekona is a 15-year-old student at the Honoka’a High School, and a member of the school’s prize-winning jazz ensemble. She will be playing Concerto No. 1 in A minor by Jean-Baptiste Accolay, who was a Belgian composer, violinist, violin teacher, and conductor. This concerto, which has only one movement, was written in 1868, and is the romantic era composer’s best known work.

Sekona has been studying violin and piano with Ursula Vietze of Kona for eight years, and currently plays in the second violin section of the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra. She decided to enter the competition as a way of motivating herself to improve her skills as a violinist, and is looking forward to the new experience of performing as a soloist with the orchestra.
Daniel Lucas will perform the Dmitri Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in E Flat Major, composed in 1959. Shostakovich, widely considered the most important Russian composer of the 20th century and the last great symphonist, wrote the concerto for his friend, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Lucas, who is a 17-year-old student at Iolani School, first heard this concerto when attending a music competition in Honolulu to hear a friend perform. He was so taken with the piece, which is considered among the more difficult works for cello, that he sought out the music and persuaded his teacher, Nancy Masaki of Honolulu, who he has been studying with for six years, to help him learn it. Once Lucas had memorized and perfected the first movement, he began to search for an opportunity to perform it, and was excited to learn about the Kamuela Philharmonic concerto competition. His great technique and energetic performance impressed the judges, allowing him to prevail in his age group (16-18 years). Lucas is even more excited that his win will now allow him the opportunity to perform his solo with an orchestra.

2011 Competition
Lin’s performance of the difficult, dramatic concerto left Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra music director Dr. Madeline Schatz commenting, “I think I saw smoke coming off the keyboard when he played!” Although Lin has also played with an orchestra before, he sees the concert as a chance to further exhibit the results of his hard work, add to his experiences as a soloist and help him attain his goal of playing music professionally.
According to Sekona, the expressiveness of the Accolay piece, which she much prefers to the Bach violin concerto she first considered playing, helped make the process of working up her performance to a competitive level in only a few months very enjoyable. Her obvious love of the piece and beautiful tone are several factors that made her a stand out in her age group (13-15 years) at the contest, despite some stiff competition.