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Orchestra to feature concerto competition winners

By Kara Pietrowski, For The Miami Student

The final Miami University Symphony Orchestra (MUSO) concert of the semester will be held 7:30 p.m. April 29 in Hall Auditorium. This year's finale will feature the winners of Miami's annual concerto competition.

Each winner will perform one movement from their respective concerto with MUSO in a semester-closing performance that will also highlight Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture and a brass fanfare.

Twelve Miami students competed for the opportunity to perform their concertos with an orchestral accompaniment in November. The 12 competitors were the best from the preliminary rounds held for their respective sections: brass, woodwind, strings and piano. Final audition decisions were not made by filling a quota per section, but rather based on the individual performances.

"We need the best, so we base our decision on the musicology, the focus and the technical ability of the student," said Ricardo Averbach, MUSO conductor.

The competition provides the students with the opportunity to perform alongside an orchestra. According to Averbach, without this competition, it would be very difficult logistically for students to play a concerto with an orchestra.

As the concert approaches, this year's winners, Kaila Washington, Opal Harrod and Christian Sugarev, continue to practice and perfect their concertos. Each seems driven by the prestige of the honor as a finalist.

Winning the competition boosted the confidence of Washington, a graduate student in pursuit of her Masters of Performance.

"It's important for me to know I can stand up and play in a high pressure situation," said the Kentucky native who will be playing the Khachaturian Concerto for flute and orchestra. "The concert is important to me because I will be showing off my life's work."

Washington has been playing the flute for 15 years and said she discovered her passion to pursue music during her senior year of high school, when she had the opportunity to play with the U.S. Army Field Band. In the future, she plans to join the Army Bands and one day hopes to play the piccolo in an orchestra.

Harrod, an Oxford native, excitedly awaits the concert and the opportunity to share Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto with a larger audience.

"Sharing this beautiful and inspiring piece of music with the audience is definitely the best part," she said.

Harrod has been playing the piano since she was five and, shortly after, discovered that playing a concerto with an orchestra was one of her dreams.

"Music will always be a part of my life in some way," Harrod said after revealing that she is a botany major and a music performance minor.

She plans to attend graduate school to study in the field of organic/sustainable agriculture and plant breeding. Still Harrod insists music has helped shape him as a person.

"Music is one of the biggest aspects of what makes me who I am," he said.

The final featured performer, Sugarev, is working towards his Masters of Music Performance and will be performing Forsyth's Viola Concerto in G minor.

A graduate from the National Academy of Music in Bulgaria, Sugarev is no stranger to performing with an orchestra accompanying him. This will be his fifth time performing with an orchestra accompaniment, but he is just as excited as the other winners.

"Every musician wants to play with an orchestra and have their moment," Sugarev said.

He started playing the violin when he was seven, but later switched to viola in the fifth grade. In his spare time, he branches out and learns other instruments, like guitar and harmonica.

Sugarev said he hopes to stay in the United States and pursue his doctorate before working as a performer.