Three Queens musicians competed in the final round of the Queens Symphony Orchestra’s 2011 Young Soloist Competition on Sunday at the Taiwan Center in Flushing, with two string performers placing in the top three in their divisions.
Violinists Ashley Park and Monica Martin of Fresh Meadows received high honors, with Park winning second place in the junior division and Martin winning third in the senior division. Taiga Ultan, whose family is from Flushing, competed as part of a flute duo and received an honorable mention.
“The level of performance in the competition gets higher and higher every year,” said Constantine Kitsopoulos, music director and conductor of the orchestra. “It’s very moving to see how much work these finalists put in to their music.”
This year’s competition — for which the Queens Chronicle again served as media sponsor — saw upward of 50 applications, Kitsopoulos said, and as always, high skill levels of many of the competitors made decisions difficult for the four judges.
Park said she wasn’t nervous at all about playing the first movement of Violin Concerto No. 1 in F Sharp Minor Opus 14 by Henryk Wieniawski, even with eight of the ten finalists being string performers. A student at The Brearley School in Manhattan, the 14-year-old who has been training since age 5 will appear as a guest performer with the orchestra in a Young People’s Concert.
Martin, 21, who studies at Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music, performed the first movement of Violin Concerto in D Minor by Aram Khachaturian. The junior violin performance major said that, as a competition ritual, she ate four bananas before her performance. She received a cash prize for her placement.
Ultan, who now lives in Flatbush, said she and her partner, Eleanor Bent, trained together for two months for the competition. The 13-year-olds, who both attend Special Music School PS 859 in Manhattan, performed the third movement of Concerto for Two Flutes in G Major by Domenico Cimerosa in matching pink outfits, explaining that in the time that they trained together they have become best friends, as well as teammates.
“It has been very exciting to work with these talented musicians, to see them learning, and for [the judges] to learn from them,” Kitsopoulos said. “Their recognition is proof that hard work really does pay off.”
In its 58th season, the Queens Symphony Orchestra is the borough’s only professional orchestra and the oldest and largest professional arts organization in Queens.
Its next public performance is the opera Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi featuring Avi Albrecht and Kate Oberjat. The event is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
PHOTOS FROM LEFT:
PHOTO 1: Monica Martin of Fresh Meadows was one of three former or current borough residents who competed in the Queens Symphony Orchestra’s Young Soloist Competition at the Taiwan Center in Flushing on March 6.
PHOTO 2, 3 AND 4: Taiga Ultan, left, whose family is from Flushing, and flute partner Eleanor Bent. Below, Queens Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor Constantine Kiotsopoulos.
PHOTO 5: Ashley Park of Fresh Meadows.