by Jessica Thomas
Assistant News Editor
On Feb. 10, eleven University of Northwestern – St. Paul students participated in the Concerto-Aria Competition in Nazareth Chapel. The competition’s two winners, Corrin Lee in the vocal category and Bowen Liu in the instrumental category, will perform as featured guests with the UNW Orchestra this May. Abigail Valine, who competed in the instrumental category, also received an honorable mention at the competition. The adjudicators for the competition were Michael Kim, Director of the School of Music at the University of Minnesota; Elsa Nilsson, professional violinist; and opera singer Adriana Zabala.
Lee, whose winning piece was “Despuis le jour” by Gustave Charpentier, received honorable mention at last year’s Concerto-Aria Competition. “That was when I started realizing how much I like performing,” she explained. “Over the past year, I’ve been really enjoying performing and now I’m pretty sure I’m going to grad school for performance.”
About winning, Lee said, “It was kind of surreal, I guess. I went into it feeling like everyone is just going to do what they do, and I was feeling very supportive of my friends, so I wasn’t really thinking about winning.” Lee’s senior recital will take place this April, and she is also involved the opera that takes place later that month. This May, she looks forward to performing with the orchestra and going on the Baltic tour with the Northwestern Choir.
This was Liu’s first year competing in the Concerto-Aria competition, and he greatly enjoyed the experience as well, performing the piece “Piano Concerto No. 2, op. 18” by Sergei Rachmaninoff. He recalled, “I accompanied my friend to the competition the last two years, and I have always been exited to compete. This year all the competitors are amazing musicians, and I was very nervous about whether I could get into the final round or not.” Liu felt as if he did not perform to his best ability in the earlier round but played with much more emotion and passion in the final. He is excited to perform at a solo competition later this month, play with the UNW Orchestra in May, and continue studying piano at a higher level after graduation from UNW.
Valine, a second-year biology major and the honorable mention winner, played “Ballade for Flute and Piano” by Frank Martin and decided to participate in the competition this year because she enjoys spending time working on a piece of music and improving it to a performance level. “Overall, Concerto-Aria was a great experience,” she said. “Everyone who participated was very supportive of everyone else. In the instrumental preliminaries, almost all the performers lurked outside the chapel doors, ready to offer hugs and genuine congratulations to the person who had just finished. There was just a strong sense of camaraderie and mutual support that I’ve never experienced in a music competition before.” Although Valine does not plan to go into music as a career, she would like to continue to participate in music in some way after graduation, possibly in a community orchestra.
Other competitors included Jordan Brown, Ann Tillotson, Brittany Faulks, Dylan Sauder and Emily Schrag in the vocal category and Joseph Tranvik, Alisha Roby and Rachel Stokes in the instrumental category. Each student performed with true passion for a night of excellent music.