Students Shine in Local Performances

Students Shine in Local Performances

Winners perform for Alexandria Choral Society and Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic.

Felicia Zhang has been playing the piano since she was 6 years old. Six short years laters, she is playing with a full-fledged orchestra.

At 12, she will perform with Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, a community orchestra composed of professional and non-professional musicians. Zhang lives in Centreville where she attends Rocky Run Middle School.

The winner of the WMP Concerto Competition, she performed Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor at their concert in Washington, D.C. She will perform again with the WMP on Dec. 11 at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall And Arts Center. The concert begins at 5 p.m.

“I was a little nervous, but the second time it will be easier,” Zhang said.

She learned that she was the winner shortly after the competition that was held in the spring. Zhang’s piano teacher entered her into the competition. She began practicing during the summer.

The Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Music Concerto Competition is held every year for young musicians, 18 years and under. They compete for scholarship awards in four divisions: piano, strings, winds and percussion. The overall winner performs with the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic.

THE ALEXANDRIA CHORAL SOCIETY also held a musical competition. This is the first for them and they solicited entries from local high school students.

Ari Cukierman, a 16-year-old student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology won the competition. Cukierman resides in McLean and sings in the TJ choir. He also plays piano and guitar and has played violin in the past. In addition to writing songs for his rock band, “The Jolly Rogers,” Cukierman also composes for orchestra, chorus and piano.

All entries had to be an original setting of an original or pre-existing text reflecting seasonal or cultural themes. Each entry was required to be between two and four minutes in length when performed.

Cukierman chose to use Robert Frost's “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” for his composition.

“I’m proud of myself; it’s cool to get something performed,” he said. “I’m excited to hear it performed. It’s cool to see what people do with your music.”

Cukierman's work caught the attention of the selection committee.

“We were really impressed,” said Chris Hoh, who served on the selection committee. “If he’s doing this in 11th grade, what will he be doing in 20 years? I think it’s great.”

Cukierman said that he had experimented with other pieces, but wrote this specifically for the competition. It also gave him a reason to work on something with four-part voices.

“I’m really excited and looking forward to even more entries in the future,” said Philip Cave, ACS Artistic Director. “It’s exciting for us and we’re hoping that it will bear fruit.”

Reid Adler, board member, said that it was Cave who suggested sponsoring the competition, bringing the idea with him from England.

“This is the first time we’ve done this,” Adler said. The ACS Board is hoping that young people will be encouraged to experience choral music.

"We hope they will join our Children's Chorus, listen to our concerts, compete in our Winter Carol Competition or attend our summer choral camp in 2007," Adler said. "We still have several scholarships, provided by Alexandria businesses and individuals that cover all tuition and music expenses.”