July 9, 2016

2016 RPL Young Artist Auditions winners take the spotlight

Samuel Nitsch
The eighth annual Young Artists in Concert: A Celebration of Winners will take place tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the Eastman School of Music’s Hatch Hall. Honoring the winners of the Rochester Philharmonic League’s (RPL) 2016 Young Artist Auditions (YAA) contest, the free concert is a spotlight on six talented winners from this year’s competition.

“It’s an honor for the kids who win the Young Artist Auditions each year,” said RPL president Eileen Ramos. “It’s a great experience for these kids to play for highly established musicians in the area.”

The Rochester Philharmonic League is a volunteer support organization of the RPO that primarily focuses on education programs and initiatives. Each year the RPL sponsors the Young Artist Auditions competition in March, where students perform for a panel of judges that includes RPO musicians. The YAA hands out five $500 awards, two $1,000 scholarships (The Aldridge-Tinker Scholarship for Instrumentalists and the Jan DeGaetani Scholarship for Vocalists) and one “special award” that allows the recipient an opportunity to audition for a solo performance with the RPO.

“We just love encouraging young musicians to keep doing what we’re doing and push them as far as we can,” said Ramos. “Their whole lives are music.”

Samuel Nitsch, a senior at Penfield High School and runner-up for the Ruth and Sidney Salzman Award for Strings at this year’s YAA, is a living testament to this idea. Nitsch has been a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for 3 years, where he serves as concertmaster. Additionally, Nitsch was recently awarded concertmaster of the New York Conference All State String Orchestra, where he was also chosen to solo with the Conference Wind Ensemble.

Overall, Nitsch has found this year’s YAA to be a fulfilling and exciting experience.

“No matter what skill level you’re at you should definitely enter,” encourages Nitsch. “It’s so well organized and everyone wants to help you out. This year was my second year entering and my violin teacher Nancy Hunt from the RPO encouraged me to enter again. Even though I didn’t win, it was still a great experience.”

“We, as League members, feel the gratitude expressed by the performers and their families for making it available at such a high level,” said RPL member and long-time Rochester-based organist Margaret-Anne Milne. “Whether they stay in Rochester at Eastman or go on to other universities or conservatories, we often have the opportunity to attend and support them in recitals and concerts. It’s fun to bask in their successes!”

The YAA and the Young Artists in Concert performance highlight some of the immense musical talent coming out of the Rochester area. Those who aren’t selected as winners still walk away with “tons of positive feedback and constructive advice on how to improve for next year,” as Ramos put it. For young musicians devoting their lives to their craft, any push of encouragement can make a world of difference. It can also make the drive to come back next year and try harder than ever even stronger.

“I think playing in front of anyone is helpful, but the judges of the YAA being experienced musicians themselves is a really priceless experience,” said Nitsch. “It’s made me a much better musician and the process has made a lot of my nerves go away. Next year I’ll be taking home first place.”

More about the other performers at tomorrow's recital:
  • Anna Miller, flute (recent graduate of Spencerport High School) 
  • Tessa Spencer, soprano (senior at Greece Odyssey Academy) 
  • McKena Stickney, piccolo (junior at Eastridge High School) 
  • Jarod Yap, piano (senior at Clarence High School)
If you go:
Young Artists in Concert: A Celebration of Winners

Sunday, July 10 at 7:30 PM
Hatch Recital Hall at Eastman School of Music
FREE - Please call 585-455-7723 to reserve your seats. Reception to follow the concert

Please note this performance does not feature the RPO

Written by Alexander Jones, a recent graduate of RIT's journalism program and current marketing and communications intern at the RPO

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