Talent beyond their years
Mukilteo Community Orchestra accompanies SCMTA Concerto winners
Last updated 1/4/2023 at 11:42am
If the five young musicians who stepped to the stage at the Snohomish County Music Teachers Association (SCMTA) Concerto Competition Winners Showcase were nervous, they didn't show it.
The five, ranging in age from 12 to 17, showed veteran poise as they performed with the Mukilteo Community Orchestra during the 2022 Winter Concert Sunday, Dec. 18, before a near-capacity audience of family, friends, and classical music enthusiasts.
The program came together in a short time. Mukilteo Community Orchestra conductor Shaun Day and the orchestra met the five pianists for the first time last week. The five students and the orchestra had a three-hour rehearsal on the Saturday before Sunday's concert.
"It was a short cycle for us," Day said. "It was wonderful. We're really happy with how things turned out."
Each of the five musicians performed pieces by five different composers, each with their own style
Jer-Shyan Chang, a 10th grader at Lakeside, opened with Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, 1st movement. Minjae Kim, a 10th grader at North Creek, followed with Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major, 1st movement, and Evan Mao, 17, performed Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto no. 2 in C minor Op. 18, 1st movement.
After intermission, Jimmy Huang, a fifth-grader at Lakeside Middle School, played Haydn: Keyboard Concerto in G major, Hob.XVIII:4, 1st movement, and Ruohan Huang, a ninth-grader at Eastlake, concluded the program with Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No.1 in G Minor, Op.25, 2nd and 3rd movements.
"They are all very different genres," Day said. "So it's very hard to just get into that mentality. The soloists, they were really amazing to work with. They had things that I just wanted to make sure that they felt comfortable with. We followed them. It was lining everything up."
Day echoed the comments of SCMTA instructor Yelena Balabanova, who praised the students' parents and teachers for their support in a short address before the performance.
"Their parents and teachers helped them through their journey," Day said. "You can see the result. I can't imagine how much work they've put in."
Balabanova thanked the Mukilteo Community Orchestra.
"I cannot express and find enough words of appreciation to this orchestra, to the board, and to Maestro Day for welcoming our students," Balabanova said. "That doesn't happen in the big city. Actually, it doesn't happen anywhere else. They dedicate an entire concert ... giving young musicians an opportunity to perform.
"This is priceless, and will be remembered by everyone for the rest of our lives."
Day's central role also didn't go unnoticed by the SCMTA and the students.
"He welcomed our students with really open arms," Balabanova said. "He treated them as professionals. He discussed music with them and made everything possible to provide them with an opportunity to do their absolute best."
Balabanova concluded her pre-show remarks with a quote from author Hans Christian Anderson.
"Where words fail, music speaks."