A chilly spring rain couldn't dampen the excitement of the seventh annual Minnesota Varsity Showcase Concert at the Fitzgerald Theater, where top high school musicians from our region wowed a delighted audience with their performances and the premieres of two brand-new works. All seven had submitted applications last fall to Classical MPR's Minnesota Varsity competition, which is jointly administered by American Composers Forum. If they were surprised to find themselves appearing in a live MPR broadcast from the Fitzgerald stage that day, they needn't have been. Each of them displayed the kind of talent and dedication to music that Minnesota Varsity celebrates and spotlights.
We're pleased to bring you the complete recording of this year's Minnesota Varsity Showcase Concert. Take a listen and witness strong evidence, in the work of these young performers and composers, of a bright future for classical music!
The 2017 Showcase Artists were featured first, their selections reflecting bold choices and passionate playing. Pianist Nita Qiu, 14, of Woodbury, opened the program with Frederic Chopin's Scherzo No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20. Cellist Nygel Witherspoon, 15, of Minneapolis, played the 3rd movement of the rarely heard Solo Cello Sonata, Op. 8 (1915) by Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly. Next was pianist Emma Taggart, 14, of Blaine, with Edward MacDowell's Praeludium from his First Modern Suite (1883). Cellist Madeline Sheard, 17, of Maple Grove, performed the 1st movement of Edouard Lalo's Cello Concerto in D minor. And another infrequently heard work, Arno Babajanian's Poem (1966), was presented by pianist Mina Yuan, 17, of Maple Grove.
Closing the concert, the 2017 Showcase Composers' new works were performed by Ben Osterhouse, cello, Roque Diaz, trumpet, and Carson Rose Schneider, piano, all of whom are pursuing graduate degrees at the University of Minnesota School of Music. Those pieces were:
Nicholas Christenson, 17, of Minneapolis: The Burnt Offerings (and the Peace Offerings) for cello and piano Sam Hanson, 14, of St. Paul: Ironic Contrasts for trumpet, cello, and piano.
Get to know the 2017 Showcase Artists and Composers via their video interviews:
Showcase Round Artists Nina Qiu, 14, Piano (Woodbury)
Nygel Witherspoon, 15, Cello (Minneapolis)
Emma Taggart, 14, Piano (Blaine)
Madeline Sheard, 17, Cello (Maple Grove) – Audience Vote Winner
Mina Yuan, 17, Piano (Maple Grove)
Showcase Round Composers Nicholas Christenson, 17, (Minneapolis): Proximity for cello and piano
Sam Hanson, 14, (St. Paul): Ironic Contrasts for trumpet, cello, and piano