Two students received top honors in Concerto Competition

Sam Houston State University hosted its inaugural Concerto Competition Tuesday night where two students were awarded first place and invited to play with the Sam Houston State University Symphony Orchestra later this semester.

Three guest judges critiqued the competition, where senior music major and saxophonist Brendan Johnson, along with masters of music student and pianist Mihai Vatca received top honors as first prizewinners. Vatca was thankful to have been given the opportunity to be in the competition and said the night was a memorable one.

“It was an amazing event,” Vatca said. “There were ten competitors in the Concerto Competition Final. I was honored to be selected to participate in the final.”

Having practiced for the competition beginning last fall, Vatca believed all the competitors brought solid performances making winning the event even more special.

“The competition was fierce,” Vatca said. “I also think that it was very difficult for the judges to choose a winner because of the high level of performance done by all competitors.”

Each musician prepared different solo and orchestral pieces to perform for the judges. Practicing their pieces on their own was a big factor in the competition, but they also received guidance from their professors and mentors throughout preparation.

The students gave credit to all the mentors who have helped them throughout preparation and during the competition.

“Last night I was accompanied on the 2nd piano by my professor Dr. Ilonka Rus whom I am thankful for everything that she did for me,” Vatca said. “The piece that I played is the 3rd Movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto opus 18. I can say that this Concerto is one of my favorite pieces.”

Trombone player and senior music major Ramsey Hampton took the second place spot in the competition. He said that experience to perform and compete against fellow musicians was a memorable one.

“It was a fantastic experience,” Hampton said. “The competition was really tight and there were a lot of great performers. I left in awe of the way some of my colleagues played.”

“For me, music means everything in my life,” Vatca said. “It is the precious gift that God gave it to me and I feel like I need to praise Him every day through it!”

Pianist Pablo Martinez took the third place spot. Cash prizes were awarded to those who placed in the event.

According to Jonathan Pasternack, visiting assistant professor of orchestral conducting, the first place prizewinners will be featured in the SHSU Symphony Orchestra concert on April 18 at 7:30 pm.

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