By Roger Emanuels
WINNERS OF THE ANNUAL Santa Cruz Baroque Festival Youth Chamber Music Competition performed a blockbuster program at Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz on November 22. Open to students in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties, the competition encourages young musicians to participate in chamber ensembles, and has been a feature of the Baroque Festival since 2003. Students audition in February each year for cash awards and an opportunity to perform at one of the Baroque Festival concerts. The competition is not limited to Baroque music. This program featured ten musicians who performed works from all periods from the Baroque to the present, and all performed at a very high level of artistry.
Though I was unable to hear the entire concert because of a conflicting engagement, I found much to enjoy on the first half of this Emerging Artists Showcase. It appears that chamber music is defined broadly as a minimum of two instruments playing together. Eunha Kim opened the program with Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Saint-Saëns in a driving performance that nailed all the high notes. That was followed by an equally stunning performance by cellist Brian Jeong in the first movement of the Dvořák Cello Concerto. Santa Cruz violinist Laura Wang offered a quietly moving performance of the Romance from the Concerto in D Minor by Wieniawski.
A piano trio consisting of Stanley Wang, Marc Picard and Chiaki Watanabe played the “Summer” movement from The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by Piazzolla. Unfortunately the piano all but drowned out the string parts, which marred the tango quality of the piece.
Pianist Tyler Hayford, currently a student at the Eastman School, was a prizewinner with his ensemble the previous year. He was invited to perform solo, presenting the hefty Sonata No. 2 by Rachmaninoff. With complete control of this dense and large work, Tyler knew where every note was going. He also performed the Sonata No. 7 by Beethoven on the second half of the program.
The second half, which I was unable to attend, also included performances by cellist Hannah Kim and violinists Laura and Stanley Wang. The listed program closed with a string quartet movement by Mozart.
It was clear from the strong performances that the future of classical music will be in good hands with these musicians. It was a joy to hear them.
Congratulations to them and to their support team of parents and teachers.