Assoc. Arts & Culture Editor
The 2013 Louis Vyner Scholarship Competition was held on Sunday, February 10 at the Ware Center in Lancaster.
Six music majors and minors competed for the Louis Vyner Performance Award, which grants a selected student a scholarship and the opportunity to perform as a soloist with the Millersville University Orchestra during their senior year.
Dr. Louis Vyner was a committed professor and conductor in the Lancaster area and in the words of Dr. Micheal Houlahan, Chair of the Music Department, he was “one of the premiere architects of musical culture in Lancaster.”
Formally the conductor and founder of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra and a professor of music at Millersville University, Dr. Vyner was passionate about his young student musicians, which is why this award is granted to a student who demonstrates excellent musicianship. Students must also meet the 3.0 QPA criteria and be of junior status.
Each student performed two pieces; five of the musicians were music majors (either for Music Education, Music Performance, or Music Business and Technology) and a single music minor competed, which is a rarity for this scholarship.
Paula Batdorf, a soprano Music Education major, sang “Neue Liebe” by Felix Mendelssohn and “Monica’s Waltz” from “The Medium” by Gian Carlo Menotti. Batdorf demonstrated passionate expression throughout her performance, engaging the audience and drawing them in to her performance.
Rachel Ficca, a Music Education major, performed “Sonata for Flute and Piano, I Moderato” by Sergei Prokofiev and “Sixth Solo de Concert” by Jules Demersseman on flute. Ficca gave a heartfelt performance and a sigh of relief after the Demersseman, a fairly lengthy and obviously difficult piece, which was well received by the audience, who applauded her for almost as long as the duration of her performance.
Chelsea Snow, a soprano Music Business and Technology major, performed “Ah! Je veux vivre” from “Romeo et Juliette” by Charles Gounod and “The Trees on the Mountains” from “Susannah” by Carlisle Floyd.
Snow, dressed in a pure white ball gown, serenaded the audience with her breathtaking tone and flawless ability to hit her higher notes with an effortless air.
Sean Kase, a music minor with a major in Government, played “Concertino for Trombone” by Ferdinand David and “Ballade for Trombone and Piano” by Frank Martin.
It is rare for a music minor to participate in the Vyner competition, but Kase gave the audience a double-whammy – he also played the trombone, an “unusual” instrument.
“As is typical of the Vyner competition, there were a lot of outstanding musicians, but what was so unusual about this year’s competition was that a trombonist made it to the final round,” said Nate Petley, who graduated in December with a Music Education degree. “This was the first time a trombonist has been a finalist in the Vyner competition.”
Kase had a strong presence on stage and his talent and commitment to his instrument was proficiently demonstrated throughout his performance.
All majors aside, he showed his skillful musicianship on a lesser-known instrument and provided the audience with a fresh glimpse of the trombone.
Kayla Klase, a Music Performance major, sang “Oh! Quante volte, oh quante” from “Capuleti e i Montecchi” by Vincenzo Bellini and “Glitter and Be Gay” from “Candide” by Leonard Bernstein.
Klase gave an outstanding performance. Her soprano voice and energetic, passionate style enchanted the audience.
She gave such a natural performance; it was as if she was born to share her talents on stage.
The final contestant, Rendel Freddie Lewis III, “Freddie”, a Music Education major, performed “Sonata, Op. 18 Allegro con brio” by Thorvald Hansen and “Prelude, Aria, and Scherzo” by Ennio Porrino on the trumpet.
Lewis added an instinctive jazzy tone to his performance, actively engaging his audience members and making his performance fun and upbeat.
His interaction with Dr. Xun Pan, the collaborative pianist for each performer, was organic and enjoyable to watch.
The pair worked well together and Lewis highlighted Dr. Pan’s performance through his own. They were a perfect illustration of what it means to share a stage with a fellow musician.
Dr. Pan has won several international piano competitions and awards, beginning with first prize in the 1986 China National Piano Competition in Beijing, the “Dr. Luis Sigall” International Piano Competition in Chile in 1987, the International Festival Piano Competition in Korea in 1990, the Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition in New York in 1992, and the Artists International Competition in New York in 1993.
His talent and assistance in this competition did not go unnoticed – as with Lewis’ performance, each student connected with Dr. Pan, which allowed for such a rich and pure musicianship to shine through.
The Music Department faculty and staff were in charge of rating each performer on their skills and musicianship. During their tabulation, Professor Rusty Banks entertained the audience on classical guitar. He performed two short pieces by Francisco Tárrega.
A few beats after Professor Banks’ performance, Dr. Houlahan brought the finalists onto the stage for the announcement of the winner.
Dr. Houlahan thanked each student, Dr. Pan, and Professor Banks for their contributions and discussed the difficulties of selecting one winner.
Each student gave a performance to be proud of and finally, Kayla Klase was named the 2013 Louis Vyner Scholarship Competition winner.
Klase has been practicing for this competition since the beginning of the fall semester and studies with Professor Kristin Sims of the music department.
When asked about her preparations, Klase said she practiced every day and reviewed her material while walking to class and listening to her pieces on her iPod, looking up background information on her pieces, and practicing during the winter break.
“For me, there is nothing else like the performing arts. Every performance is a new and unique experience. The Vyner in particular was special because the music was very challenging and enjoyable at the same time.”
Klase’s hard word paid off, but competitions like this are so difficult to judge. The talent that makes up the Millersville University Department of Music is truly remarkable – each student shared their beautiful talent with the audience, and each other, during the competition.
To the students, it wasn’t simply a “competition” – it was an opportunity to share their love of music with others.
“I got to perform with high-caliber musicians without any cut-throat competition. We were all there to share our gifts. It was an incredible feeling to know that the judges thought my performance was worthy of winning the competition, but I consider it a great honor even to have been chosen to perform with such talented musicians.”
For more information on the Department of Music and for a list of upcoming events, please visit www.millersville.edu/music or visit their Facebook under “Millersville University Department of Music.”