The Evening of Excellence for the AU School of Music, Theatre and Dance is a showcase that celebrates and honors exceptional students at the university. The night is a culmination of a year of hard work by talented students in the fields of music performance and composing.
The program was held this past Sunday night, April 22, in York Performance Hall. The auditorium was filled with the families and friends of students and was sponsored by the Elsie K. Perdiue Endowment Fund.
Dr. Christopher Holmes, associate professor of music, was the master of ceremonies for the Evening of Excellence.
“It’s exciting to be able to come together here so close to the end of the semester to honor these students and to bring this semester to a great conclusion,” says Holmes. “This is really the one time we as an entire department get to come together and celebrate our musicians, dancers and scholars.”
Students are selected through the Concerto and Aria Competition, which requires submissions and auditions before a selected group of adjudicators. The aim of this competition is to provide a rewarding opportunity for students as well as to recognize and highlight exceptional musicians and composers within the department.
“The goal of the event is to recognize the students within the department that not only have outstanding performance and compositional work, but outstanding academic work as well,” says Holmes.
The performance winners for the 2017-18 Evening of Excellence were Rachel Wolfe, Angela Shaver, Clare Lillig and Brenna Green.
Kameron Mechling was the winner of the composition award, and his string-quintet piece, “Wanderntraum,” was premiered by the AU Festival Orchestra and conducted by Dr. Richard Sowers.
The four sophomore female performers were incredibly honored and grateful to be selected for the Evening of Excellence.
Wolfe was the first performance of the night as a soprano vocalist. She performed two vocal solo pieces: “O mio babbino caro” by Giacomo Puccini and “Must Winter Come so Soon” by Samuel Barber.
“The experience of performing was amazing,” says Wolfe. “I had some nerves before I went on stage, but once I started singing, it felt extremely natural.”
Following Wolfe, Shaver performed Benedetto Marcello’s “Concerto in C minor,” which is a musical composition comprised of three movements written for the oboe.
“I am so thankful God gave me this wonderful opportunity,” says Shaver. “It was a confirmation that I’m doing well and that I’m on the right track.”
Lillig performed two soprano vocal solos with the selections of “Bester Jüngling” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and “Volta la terrea” by Giuseppe Verdi.
Lillig is a vocal performance major and also has a complimentary major in dance. This event, she says, brings together her peers in music and dance. “I have friends in my dance major who don’t realize that I can sing,” says Lillig. “It’s actually kind of fun to be like, ‘Hey, I can also do this.’”
“It’s a good night to see how talented all of our friends really are,” she says.
The show ended with the performance of “Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54” by Robert Schumann, a piece which Green has been practicing since June of last year.
“It was surreal to play with a full orchestra on a piece that, up until recently, I had played only with my teacher,” says Green.
Performing the piano concerto for an audience was a first for Green, and she says that she will cherish this “wonderful memory of my college career.”
The student composition that was selected was that of Mechling, a junior music major with a focus in composition.
The piece, “Wanderntraum,” was selected for its clarity in notation and idiomatic writing. Mechling composed in a way that effectively communicated the score and was written with an understanding of the uniqueness of each instrument. The piece featured a viola, cello, double bass and two violins.
For Mechling, winning this first composition award is a step forward in his desire to compose music professionally. Composers, he says, submit their works to competitions in order to be recognized and have their pieces performed. This competition in particular is significant because he was able to meet the quintet and work with the conductor.
“This is home,” says Mechling. “People I know got to be a part of this piece that I created.”
Sitting in the audience with his family, Mechling says that he experienced a different perspective of the piece–not that of a composer, but as a participant.
“Performance is the reason why we compose music, we write so it can be heard,” says Mechling. “It’s something that will outlive you.”