In my early childhood, when I was taking piano lessons, the word “recital” was spoken with dread. At regular intervals, the students of a particular teacher would each choose a piece that would show them to their best advantage — or which, at least, they could play all the way through without significant mishap — and the program was set, the event looming ever larger in the students’ minds.

The late Emil Torick continues to shower blessing on our music community.

The late Emil Torick continues to shower blessing on our music community.

Such recitals were agony, both for the performers and their audience (generally restricted to family members, since you wouldn’t want your friends to witness your shame). The lessons themselves were not, as now, undertaken mainly or exclusively by those who were already committed to a career in music. One took piano lessons, or ballet lessons, or riding lessons as a way of smoothing one’s rough edges, as part of becoming a “well-rounded” and civilized member of society.

The overall project was largely doomed (I learned to play several instruments badly, but later became a virtuoso player of phonograph records), but I daresay no child was ever permanently damaged by these lessons.

All of this is by way of prelude to a recital that is in most respects the exact opposite of the ones I described above. Oh, the student performers are no doubt even now dealing with moist palms and fluttering stomachs, but the audience has cause only for joyful anticipation.

These students are the cream of the cream: the winners of this year’s Santa Barbara Music Club scholarships competition (March 26). Thirty students (ages 8 to 25) from Santa Barbara County won $17,150 in scholarships. (The sum is so large thanks, in part, to the bequest of the club’s former program chair, Emil Torick, who died last year, to the sorrow of all who knew him.)

The winners will be showcased in two free concerts, at 3 p.m. this Saturday and at 3 p.m. June 11, both at First Congregational Church, 2101 State St. in Santa Barbara.

The program and performers of the first recital are as follows: the Moderato from Franz Joseph Haydn’s Concerto No. 1 in C-Major, for Cello and Orchestra, Hob. VIIb/I (Nicolas Sterner on cello); the Andante tranquillo from Charles Auguste de Bériot’s Concerto No. 7 in G-Major for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 76 (Andrew Horak on violin); August Nolck’s Hungarian Dance, Opus 196, No. 5 (Francis Pan on violin); Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky’s A Little Joke, Opus 39, No. 6 (Vincent Lertchareonyong on piano); Johannes Brahms’ Von ewiger Liebe and Wolfgang Mozart’s Non so più from The Marriage of Figaro (Katelyn Neumann, mezzo-soprano); Frederic Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu in C#-Minor, Posth. Opus 66 (Sophia Zheng on piano); the Romance from Henryk Wieniawski’s Concerto No. 2 in D-Minor for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 22 (Joshelle Conley on violin); de Bériot’s Scene de Ballet, Opus 100 (Sofiya Prykhitko on violin); and the Allegro from Chopin’s Cello-Piano Sonata in G-Minor, Opus 65 (Rebecca Shasberger on cello).

Piano accompaniment will be provided by Mandee Sikich, John Etsell, Farley Neumann and Margaret Halbig.

Student performers: You will face an audience that wants only to love you and everything you play. As for those nerves, you had better get used to them.

The Scholarship Committee consisted of SBMC members Dr. Betty Oberacker, piano; Ervin Klinkon, cellist; Ann Dwelley, soprano; Suzanne Duffy, flute; and Dr. Allen Bishop, de-facto member, president, Santa Barbara Music Club.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at