On Sunday afternoon, July 13, Sunset Center Theatre was the site of the 2014 Young Musician Showcase concert. And, what a showcase it was! This annual event, now in its twelfth year, is one of the highlights of the festival and gives us a glimpse of some future young performers. The fourteen young musicians between the ages of 5 and 16 show talent and skills that will only grow with maturity. Although during the past century traditional music education and performing opportunities in most schools has weakened (as compared to sports activities), there are still many talented young people who develop their musical skill with private instructors and family encouragement.
David Gordon, master of ceremonies, gave us information not only about each performer but also some information about the works we would be hearing. Beginning the program was 16-year-old pianist Sam Fenstermaker, a pupil of Barbara Ruzicka, playing a charming and rarely-heard Scarlatti Sonata. Following him was the afternoon’s youngest performer, five-year-old Nicholas Brady, a pupil of Farkhad Khudyev, playing the first movement of the Bach Concerto in A Minor, BWV 1041, on what appeared to be a tiny quarter-sized violin with all the poise of an instrumentalist several times his age!
Two sets of siblings appeared on the program. Laura Wang, 9, and Stanley Wang, 13, violin pupils of Cynthia Baehr, both played movements from challenging works for solo unaccompanied violin by J. S. Bach, and then Laura Wang performed a movement of the Bach Sonata in C Minor, BWV 1017, with 16-year-old pianist Derek Hamersly, a pupil of Susan Bruckner (Hamersly also appeared toward the end of the program performing one of the Preludes & Fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier).
Also on the program we heard another set of siblings, Nathan Chen, 8, and Annabel Chen, 12, both piano pupils of Janet Hayslett. Nathan performed a work none of us had ever heard before — an Invention by Johann Philipp Kirnberger — and Annabel played a Prelude & Fugue from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.
Pianist/teacher Barbara Ruzicka was well represented on this program, for in addition to the first performer on the program, Sam Fenstermaker, she had an additional five pupils performing: Ashten Nguyen, 16, Cailyn Schmidt, 16, Max Afifi, 13, Hannah Levi, 11, and Josef Elyoussoufi, 9, who ended the program.
Toward the end of the program we heard young violinist Bailey McEachen, 16, a talented pupil of violinist Rochelle Walton, performing the Allemanda from Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor for Unaccompanied Violin.
After the concert a reception was held on the upper terrace at Sunset Center featuring healthy goodies and certificates handed out to all the participants by David Gordon. In addition to the certificates, each performer received from the Carmel Music Society a voucher enabling them to attend four performances of their own choice during the Carmel Music Society’s 2014-2015 season.