Pioneer High School 2015 Concerto Concert

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Traditional band and orchestra performances primarily emphasize the ensemble, rather than the individual. Each March, however, several outstanding seniors in Pioneer High School’s music programs receive the opportunity to perform a concerto – a solo performance accompanied by an orchestra. The concert is steeped in tradition; 2015 marked the 59th Pioneer High School Concerto Concert. This year, among the eight concerto finalists were two Community High seniors: Marianne Cowherd on the English horn and Griffin Roy on the clarinet.

The concerto finalists (from left to right) Alex Maynard, Griffin Roy, Ellen Sauer, Marianne Cowherd, Trevor King, Michael Lee, Lydia Jang, Alexis Berry and Jonathan Glawe.

Anurima Kumar
The concerto finalists (from left to right) Alex Maynard, Griffin Roy, Ellen Sauer, Marianne Cowherd, Trevor King, Michael Lee, Lydia Jang, Alexis Berry and Jonathan Glawe.

Trevor King, who played Carl Maria von Weber’s “Concerto for Bassoon in F Major, Op. 75”

Trevor King, who played Carl Maria von Weber’s “Concerto for Bassoon in F Major, Op. 75”

Alexis Berry, who played Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s “Fantasie in G minor for Viola and Orchestra, Op. 94”

Alexis Berry, who played Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s “Fantasie in G minor for Viola and Orchestra, Op. 94”

Ellen Sauer, who played Jacques Ibert’s “Concerto pour Flute et Orchestre”

Ellen Sauer, who played Jacques Ibert’s “Concerto pour Flute et Orchestre”

Alex Maynard, who played Vaughan Williams’ “Concerto in A minor for Oboe and Strings”

Alex Maynard, who played Vaughan Williams’ “Concerto in A minor for Oboe and Strings”

Griffin Roy, who played Gioachino Antonio Rossini’s “Introduction, Theme, and Variations”

Griffin Roy, who played Gioachino Antonio Rossini’s “Introduction, Theme, and Variations”

Michael Lee, who played Camille Saint-Saens’ “Concerto No. 3, Op. 61”

Michael Lee, who played Camille Saint-Saens’ “Concerto No. 3, Op. 61”

Marianne Cowherd, who played Jean Sibelius’ “The Swan of Tuonela”

Marianne Cowherd, who played Jean Sibelius’ “The Swan of Tuonela”

Lydia Jang, who played Dmitri Kabalevsky’s “Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 49”

Lydia Jang, who played Dmitri Kabalevsky’s “Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 49”

 

This year, 22 seniors auditioned for the opportunity to perform a concerto. When Cowherd won one of the spots, along with happiness she felt it was a recognition of her work. “It was my four years in Pioneer band coming to a point at the end,” she said. “The opportunity to be able to take the music that I’ve been doing for the past four years to another level where now I’m playing with an orchestra was really exciting.”

Upon learning he was a concerto finalist, Roy felt both elated and honored. “There are a lot of really really good musicians that I was competing against for those spots,” said Roy, who had known since his sophomore year that he wanted to win a concerto. “I felt very humbled to be with those amazing musicians.”

Along with the soloists’ excellent preparation for the concert, the Pioneer Symphony Orchestra and winds learned the accompaniment for each of the solos. The orchestra was divided into two groups, and each half accompanied four soloists. Director Jonathan Glawe and assistant director Nancy Waring helped the orchestra learn both the technical and stylistic aspects of the performances. The concert required every member to do their best, allowing the concerto finalists to perform to their full potential.

Andrew Heise, a trumpet player in the orchestra, felt that the preparation was intense, because there was so much music to learn. “Despite the stress, it was a great experience to perform in a professional environment with such high level musicians,” he said.

In addition to the great applause each soloist received, they were also given many gifts ranging from flowers, watermelon and cactuses to a purple clarinet; multiple people were needed to help each soloist carry their gifts offstage. Community High junior, Natsume Ono, remarked on the performance from an audience member’s perspective: “I was touched by how close the orchestra and band community were to each other and the eight concerto soloists,” she said. “The hard work and dedication of the students chosen to perform showed in their performance, and I was in awe at their talent.”

The annual 59th Concerto Competition was truly a success that was emanated in the beaming faces of the soloists. Roy, the recipient of the purple clarinet, was thrilled with the outcome of the concert. “That was my favorite concert I’ve ever been in,” he said.

Cowherd was equally delighted. “The seven minutes I had on stage playing my concerto were some of the most fun seven minutes I’ve had playing music,” she said. “So I’m not really sad that’s it’s over, because it’s so liberating to work very hard at something, be very stressed by something and then do it and have it be fun and then have it be over.”
 

Listen to Cowherd’s and Roy’s concertos here:

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