Six of the University of Wyoming’s top student musicians will show off their talents Thursday as they compete in the Dorothy Jacoby Student Soloist Competition.
The biennial competition, open to music students at UW, began with fall auditions to narrow the field to six finalists. A panel of judges will choose the winner after the musicians perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with the UW Symphony Orchestra in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall, with Michael Griffith conducting. The winner receives a cash award of $4,000, with a $2,000 for second place.
Tickets are $12 for the general public, $8 for seniors and $6 for students.
The finalists include two Laramie High School graduates. Kathryn Jones is graduate student studying vocal performance, and Ross McIntosh is a sophomore viola major.
Jones is planning to sing “Song to the Moon” from Dvorak’s opera “Rusalka.” She’ll be singing in Czech, and said she chose the piece together with her voice teacher.
“It’s really lyric and showy of the higher range,” she said.
The 2013 LHS graduate returned to Laramie for graduate school after attending college in Iowa, where she majored in vocal performance and music education. Jones said she has a teaching license but decided to take time to continue her studies before embarking on a teaching career. She chose UW in part because of its supportive faculty.
“The faculty are really motivating and really care about you as a person,” she said.
McIntosh will be playing “Der Schwanendreher” by German composer Paul Hindemith. He described the 20th-century viola concerto, which he’s been working on for the last year-and-a-half, as modern sounding but melodic.
“It’s such a great example of what the viola can do in the context of a solo instrument,” he said.
McIntosh said viola concertos aren’t often performed by orchestras.
“This is a little gem that doesn’t take the stage hardly ever,” he said.
McIntosh is a 2013 LHS graduate who said studying the viola at UW was a natural decision, as he’s been playing the instrument since he was 13.
“The more experiences I had with the instrument, the more seriously I started to take it,” he said. “It wasn’t really a conscious effort to do so. It just sort of happened naturally.”
In the future, he’d love to continue playing as well as teach, he said.
The other finalists in the competition are Sophia Helmkamp playing part of the fourth violin concerto of Henri Vieuxtemps, Mikayla Peterson playing a portion of the alto sax concerto by Henri Tomasi, Lilian Schmidt playing “Fantasy on Themes from Bizet’s Carmen” by Francois Borne for flute and Yi-Chen Sung playing the first movement of Beethoven’s third piano concerto.
Judges for the competition are Silas Huff, who directs the Boulder Concert Band and University of Colorado Campus Orchestra; Andrew Todd, president of the Grand Teton Music Festival; and Barbara Thiem, a cello instructor at Colorado State University and who also performs internationally.
“I always get judges who don’t know these kids at all, and who are just going to listen to what they hear that evening,” Griffith said.
Griffith said the competition element makes for an exciting evening, while the soloists themselves are also extremely talented.
“I do want the audience to not think just in terms of the competition, but to also hear six wonderful musicians play their music beautifully, regardless of who wins,” he said.
The Jacoby competition has taken place every other year since 1999. Its namesake, Dorothy Jacoby, was a long-time supporter of classical music in Laramie. Donations from family members and friends in her honor created the endowment that funds the competition.