For me, January is filled with music. The end of the month The Black Hills Symphony hosts the Young Artist Concerto Competition, open to any high school student in a 200 mile radius of Rapid City. It’s been going on for close to 35 years, and it is a big deal. Twenty two students have the opportunity to compete in the junior or senior age division, and 1st prize is a check for $500 and the opportunity to solo with the Black Hills Symphony.
Rapid City had the national champion high school orchestra in 2011, and has the reputation for having one of the best string programs in the country. It’s kind of crazy to think a town of 60,000 could put out that kind of musician, but it does. The competition is stiff and winners and losers are determined by very small details.
So back to the music…I have been an accompanist for this contest for six or seven years. I don’t play for many, because I am not considered the professional that others are in town, but I don’t mind. Working full time doesn’t allow me tons of time to learn multiple concerto accompaniments each year. However, I have not repeated very many pieces, so over the years I have stacked up a pretty good selection. I love working with the kids, watching them grow up and mature as individuals and musicians.
This year I am playing De Beriot’s Concerto No. 9 and Saint-Seans’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, both for violin. My daughter played the de Beriot and it has the potential be quite dynamic, though a little less difficult than some. The Saint-Saens is a famous piece that I first heard while watching 14 year old Michelle Kwan skate at the US National Championships (on TV). I don’t know if it was the music or her interpretation, maybe both, but it took my breath away. I have always loved this piece and hoped Girl# 1 would play it, but she hated it, or at least said she did at the time. 😡
This year I finally get to play it, and the young lady I’m accompanying is AMAZING! She has won the junior division the past two years and is the current All State Orchestra concertmaster. She is pretty reserved but when she begins to play, oh my! We’ve been working together for five years now, so we are very comfortable and read each other well. It is an amazing experience playing for her!
I can’t share this young lady’s recording with you, but I can provide the link to both the orchestral version and Michelle Kwan’s skate. Have a cup of tea and enjoy the music!
Itzhak Perlmen’s 1986 performance with Nyph Z Mehta conducting here
Michelle Kwan’s rendition at the 1995 world championships here