October 1, 2023

A musical crescendo filled the air Sept. 29 at California Baptist University’s Joann Hawkins Music Building as students performed in the final round of the School of Music’s Concerto Competition.

The six finalists competed against one another for a chance to become guest soloists in CBU’s Symphony Orchestra.

This was a first-ever final round event and o ered free admission for everyone to attend.

This competition has been in preparation since the beginning of the Spring 2018 semester and was organized by Ruth Noemy Wheeler, lecturer and Symphony Orchestra director.

Gene Moon, director of Orchestra Studies and conductor, said the competition stands out from anything the school has done previously.

“This is not just a concert. I have an orchestra throughout the year, bands have concerts, University Choir and Orchestra (UCO) has concerts,” Moon said. “This is a competition. This is a situation where there is going to be a winner or winners. That is what makes it uniquely different.”

Students have spent hours practicing, playing and waiting for the time to come and show all of his or her hard work.

“They are practicing two, maybe three hours a day on sorts of music, not just what they performed on Saturday,” Moon said. “They have been preparing music for last Saturday since January, at least”

Moon said performing for the Symphony Orchestra is a huge opportunity for the students and not something every musician has the opportunity to experience.

“Playing with the Symphony Orchestra as a soloist, for most musicians, is a rare opporunity — dare I say even once in a lifetime,” Moon said.

This year only one winner was chosen for the Concerto Competition out of the six competitors.

Justine Tiu, CBU alumna and winner of the Concerto Competition, graduated in with her master’s in flute erformance and bachelor’s in harp performance .

Tiu competed with her favorite piece, “Ravel’s Introduction et Allegro,” which she also said she has performed on mul- tiple occasions.

“I try to practice every day,. When I practice this piece, I usually spend about 1-2 hours before practicing something else,” Tiu said. “Being a part of Symphony Orchestra or soloing with them is a huge a deal for me. When I was a part of Symphony, I was principal flute, and that was a great experience for me. Now that I’ve graduated, getting to solo with them on harp is exciting.”

Competing against others as musicians enhances upcoming performances and allows the competitors to build from each experience to prepare for im- portant events in the future.

“It is the same for any competition; competing against others and being chosen as the winner is pretty big and it makes you feel like all your hard work paid off,” Tiu said. “The music world is competitive and being able to put on your (graduate school) application or resume that you’ve won competitions is helpful.”

The tentative concert date is Dec. 3 for Tiu to perform with the Symphony Orchestra.

Melissa Blanco, sophomore music education and flute performance double major, said she received encouragement from her fellow competitors throughout the competition.

“It was nice to feel the sense of humbleness and support

from each one of the individuals,” Blanco said. “We know we are all in the same boat and having that sense of encourage- ment with each other was an amazing feeling, which really emphasizes being a good sport is one of the most important things to do when competing against other classmates.”

Blanco said faculty encouraged her to audition for the experience and get a better idea of what auditioning could be like in the music industry.

“As a performer, you take every opportunity you can get to become better, so I did not hesitate to audition,” Blanco said. “My flute teacher and I quickly decided on a concerto to play and I started working on it right away once I signed up.”

Moon said the Concerto Competition is planned to be held again next year for more students to participate in.

CBU will be making a name for itself by holding an event so important and students participating will gain experience and exposure.

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