As a relatively new father (my son is 19-months-old), I find myself wondering from time-to-time what he will be like in 5, 10, 15, even 20 years (and yes, the title of this post intentionally nods to one of the great songs from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel). Will he grow out of his full head of bright blonde hair like I did? When he goes to kindergarten, will he be excited or fearful? Will he gravitate towards athletic endeavors, artistic pursuits, or maybe both? What will be his passions, his strengths and weaknesses, the things which hold the most meaning for him?
You may be asking yourself, “Why is Jeff’s fatherhood soliloquy on the HSO blog? Is this some mistake?” I begin my post this way because I have to imagine that the parents of this weekend’s Young Artists Competition finalists may have had similar thoughts when their children were young. These parents now watch their teenaged children engage in the very personal, technical, and emotional act of performing great classical masterworks at an incredibly high level. These parents have sacrificed greatly to provide their children with rich experiences, rigorous challenges, and robust training. These parents now have the great privilege (and admitted anxiety) of watching their children demonstrate their passions, display their great musical strengths, and divulge the personal meaning of music in each of their lives.
For 40 years now, the HSO has provided Connecticut’s excellent young musicians the opportunity to compete at a very high level through the annual Young Artists Competition. This opportunity not only gives students the chance to receive constructive feedback through the adjudication process, but it also provides a platform for public performance. On Sunday, six Connecticut high school students will perform a single movement from a work for solo instrument and orchestra (using piano accompaniment). From this performance, three winners will be chosen and each will receive a cash prize honoring their excellent work. The first place winner may be given the opportunity to perform with the HSO on a future concert.
Just like I can go on for hours and hours talking about my son, I can also go on at length about reasons why supporting young orchestral musicians is a vital component of an orchestra’s work. In many, many ways, these talented young people represent the future of the classical music art form. So, how can you do your part? To begin, we hope you will consider attending the finals performance of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artists Competition this Sunday, March 16 at 2 p.m. The performance will be held in Millard Auditorium at The Hartt School, University of Hartford (200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford). The performance is free and open to the public. If your Sunday afternoon will be enriched by truly excellent young musicians playing movements from some of the literature’s greatest concerti (think Rachmaninoff No. 2 and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto), we hope you will join us. Oh, and be kind to our competitors’ parents…they are just as nervous, if not more so, than the students themselves.
Director of Community Engagement & Education
Hartford Symphony Orchestra