Friday, December 26, 2014

Young performers vie for Mondavi Center honors

Violinist Stephen Waarts, the 2008 grand prize winners of the Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition, is studying at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Courtesy photo

From page A11 | February 21, 2013 |

Check it out

What: Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition

When: Competition rounds Saturday, March 2, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; winners concert Sunday, March 3, at 2 p.m.

Where: Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis

Tickets: $15-$35 general, $7.50-$17.50 students;, 530-754-2787

The seventh annual Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition will be judged next weekend — and those who buy tickets will have an opportunity to hear the young performers in final auditions covering three different categories as they vie for a prize on Saturday, March 2, as well as hear the winners in a recital at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 3.

The Young Artists competition has been growing in terms of its reach and reputation over the past few years, and there are several changes and expansions in this year’s competition, which is once again being curated by pianist and recording artist Lara Downes. This year, for the first time, auditions were held in Portland, Ore., and New York City, in addition to the regular auditions held in Davis. As a result, the competition features a higher percentage of young performers from around the country.

This year, it is also possible that one of the young performers may receive as much as $11,000 in prize money — in the form of a $6,000 prize from the Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition, and a $5,000 award from Napa Valley Festival del Sole. (It is conceivable — but it is not guaranteed — that both of these awards could go to the same young performer.) Two $2,000 prizes also will be awarded.

Another change this year: The final round of auditions and the winner’s concert will take place in the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall, rather than the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, where those events have been held in the past.

Judges include pianist Lara Downes; conductor Christian Baldini, of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra and Sacramento’s Camellia Orchestra; Sheri Greenawald, of the San Francisco Opera Center; Cindy Hwang, of the Concert Artists Guild; and Charles Letourneau, of IMG Artists.

Several of this year’s young performers are from states along the Atlantic coast, including four of the seven competitors in the Founders Voice Division. Most of the competitors in the piano and instrumental categories are from California.

“We had a little over 160 young performers enter the competition this year, and we’ve heard some amazing talent,” Downes said. “This is the first year we’ve done regional auditions in other parts of the country, which has given the competition much more of a national profile.”

Saturday’s schedule in Jackson Hall, which is open to those who buy advance tickets to Sunday’s winners concert, is organized by category: instrumentalists (ages 10-16), 9:30 a.m. to noon; pianists (ages 10-16), 12:30 to 2:45 p.m.; and vocalists (ages 17-21), 3:15 to 5 p.m. Winners will be announced at 5:15 p.m.

Pianists and instrumentalists are asked to present a short work from either the Baroque or Classical period; a short work from the Romantic period; and a short work composed after 1920. Vocalists are asked to sing three groups of two songs (with each of the three groups featuring a different language); an operatic aria; and one classic song from American musical theater.

The winners concert will feature a lineup of the competition’s top honorees. Tickets are $15-$35 general, $7.50-$17.50 for students, available at or 530-754-2787.

The grand prize winner will be invited back for a future recital. Last November, violinist Stephen Waarts, the 2008 grand prize winner, gave a sold-out recital in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre. And in January 2012, 12-year-old cellist Jeremy Tai, the 2011 grand prize winner, appeared with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra, giving a surprisingly mature performance of the weighty Elgar Cello Concerto.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at or 530-747-8055.





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