Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 4:43 pm | Fair 59º


Margo Kline: Soloists Put Youthful Spin on Classical Music

Musicians demonstrate talent beyond their years in a showcase at The Granada

Sunday was bright and breezy — the very essence of spring — and nowhere was the season more in evidence than at The Granada, which hosted the annual Young Soloists Showcase.

It was the 27th such showcase, featuring endearingly young performers from the Music & Arts Conservatory playing ageless music from the concert repertory. Composer Gary Sheldon was the guest conductor, Nina Bodnar directed the Virtuoso Strings and Junior Virtuosi, and Natalya Klimov led the Junior Choir.

Much is made of the so-called graying of the audience for classical music, but these performers — teenagers and even younger — were sterling evidence to the contrary. Their playing was skilled, and the selections were demanding of their blossoming professional skills.

Highlights included the following:

» The allegro and largo e spicatto from Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso in D-Minor, Opus 3, No. 11, crisply and brilliantly played by the Junior Virtuosi and Virtuoso Strings, respectively. This 16th century master’s music conveys the very essence of spring.

» The Slavic “Felt Boots,” a traditional Russian song arranged by Klimov and stirringly played by the Virtuoso Strings.

» The allegro from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Concerto No. 17, K453, played by teenage pianist Daria Etezadi, According to program notes by the soloist, “The last movement of the concerto is a ‘beautiful’ melody whistled by his pet songbird.” Etezadi also studies voice with Sharlae Jenkins and has won numerous competitions.

» The allegro con brio movement from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Concerto No. 2, Opus 19 performed by Grace Stanton, 17, who is home-schooled. The pianist writes that she likes how Beethoven “begins the cadenza in a fugue-like manner, but then transitions into sweeping lyrical melodies.”

» That selection was followed by the adagio and rondo from the same piece, played by John Etsell, 18, a senior at San Marcos High School. He dedicated his performance to teacher Lana Bodnar, “without whom I would not know how to sit at a piano, let alone play one.”

After intermission, the violinists took center stage. Joshelle Conley, who is all of 15 years old, gave a spirited reading of the allegro con fuoco from Henryk Wieniawski’s Concerto No. 2 in D-Minor. Sofia Prykhitko, also 15, chose “Scene de Ballet” by Charles Auguste de Beriot for its “jubilant and ecstatic feel.” Dos Pueblos High School junior Camille Miller, 16, played the allegro con troppo movement from “Symphony Espagnole” by Edouard Lalo, demonstrating the skill and emotion she has brought to a number of scholarship-winning performances in the past.

The closing selection was the “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” by Sergei Rachmaninoff, in an emotional tour de force by Michael Sikich, another home-schooled student, who is 17. Among many achievements, Sikich was awarded the Sergei Rachmaninoff Award for Outstanding Piano Virtuosity by the Santa Barbara Music Club. He also performs at various Santa Barbara venues with a jazz combo called Cut Time.

Let it be noted that not only were the performers very young and very dedicated, but the enthusiastic audience was composed largely of young people, cheering their gifted peers. Classical music is alive and well.

— Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >