Soloists take center stage as ASU symphony comes to life

Although ASU provides its students numerous opportunities to showcase their talents, perhaps the most unique of these opportunities is the annual Concert of Soloists.

Sponsored by the School of Music, the Concert of Soloists is an annual event that allows student musicians, composers and conductors to showcase their talent. This year’s event shone the spotlight on four musicians, four conductors and a composer, all of whom performed on Feb. 12.

The evening began with an ensemble piece performed by the entire ASU Symphony Orchestra, orchestrated by JungHwan Kwon. Kwon, who was born in Incheon, Korea and received First Prize in 2009 for both the International Conducting Competition at the University of Congshin and at the 13th Seoul Oratorio Festival, is currently a Musical Artsin conducting PhD candidate under the guidance of Dr. Timothy Russell. Kwon currently serves as the Assistant Conductor for the ASU Symphony Orchestra.



The first soloist to take the stage was first Kristi Hanno, a first-year Clarinet Performance student in the Master of Music program. Hanno, who won the Drake University concerto competition in 2012, performed Henri Tomasi’s “Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra” under the conduction of Andrew Pease, a student in the Doctor of Musical Arts in Wind Conducting program. Pease currently conducts the Concert Band and has previously served as the music director of the Columbia University Wind Ensemble.

Kwon returned to the stage to conduct for the evening’s third piece, “In Light Surrounded,” written by Joshua Jandreau, a master’s candidate in Music Composition. Jandreau’s music has also been performed by the Yakima Symphony Chamber Orchestra and the University of Maine Symphonic Band, among others. Kwon stayed on stage while Yuanmiao Li played Erich Korngold’s “Violin Concerto in D Major, Op 35.” Li, a violin performance major, has played violin since she was five. At 7 years old, Li was chosen to play with the Beijing Sun Youth Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in Beijing Concert Hall. She has played across the country as a soloist ever since.

Serena Weren, a second-year student in the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in wind conducting, took the stage next as she conducted Music Performance senior Marc Placencia, who played Rolf Wilhelm’s “Concertino for Tuba.”

To top off the evening, keyboard performance sophomore Andrew Boyle performed Edvard Grieg’s “Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16.” Vlad Vizireanu conducted Boyle, who is in the piano performance program. Vizreanu also conducted the evening’s final piece, Georges Enescu’s “Roumanian Rhapsody No. 1,” which brought the entire ensemble back together.

Although the soloists’ performances took place in February, the audition process began in October, when each of the six performance areas (woodwinds, strings, brass, keyboard, voice, and percussion/guitar/harp) had their own preliminary competitions as to who would go onto audition for a spot in the final concert. In order to be eligible to audition, students must have been studying in the 11 or 27 series during the semester of the audition as well as that of the performance. Soloists could perform any piece they chose and saw fit, as long as it did not exceed the 20-minute time limit.

Early in November, each of the areas presented two finalists to audition for a spot in the final performance. Each fields was represented by one judge, as well as representatives from the music history/theory and music therapy/education divisions, as well as Director of Orchestra’s Timothy Russell, who served as chair of the judging panel.

The ASU Symphony Orchestra has three more major performances remaining this year, the first occurring on March 5 in Gammage Auditorium. The Concert of Soloists is an annual event that occurs near the beginning of February each year.

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