Hold on here. Somehow this classical music-writing thing has gotten out of hand.
One day you write a short review of the Eugene Symphony. You manage to spell most of the names right and convince a few readers (not all) that you are slightly knowledgeable about the music you heard. Emboldened by accidental success, you go on to write something about the Bach Festival.
The next thing you know, you’re considered somehow an expert, and you’re invited to judge the Young Soloist Competition put on by the Oregon Mozart Players.
So that’s what happened. I’m going to help judge the competition at 6 p.m. this Sunday, Feb. 5, in Room 190 at the University of Oregon’s School of Music and Dance. The OMP, about which I’ve written off and on for some time, is a sizzling chamber orchestra that plays, yes, a lot of Mozart, and is smart enough not to allow me to be the sole arbiter of this competition.
In fact, on Sunday evening I’ll be safely in the company of three other judges who actually do know something about music: Kelly Kuo, the OMP’s music director; Alice Blankenship, OMP’s concertmaster; and Jane Allen, OMP’s principal harp. I trust they will keep me out of trouble.
We’ll be listening to nine finalists, four who are under 14 years old, and five who are 14 to 18. They’ve been selected by video audition, and if they’re anything like the young soloists I saw perform with OMP two years ago, they are all someday going to be rich and famous and performing in Carnegie Hall.
On their way to New York, the winners from this year’s competition will be featured in OMP’s May 6 concert in Beall Concert Hall. Each winner will perform the same piece they played in the final round of judging, except that they’ll be accompanied by the OMP orchestra and the piece will be played in its entirety.
The May 6 concert will also feature Elgar’s Enfants d’un rêve (Dream Children), Op. 43, and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, Op. 25, “Classical.”