After winning in their age groups at the Juneau Symphony's youth competition Sunday, music students Megan Bush, 14, and Niko Hoskins, 17, will perform as soloists with the symphony this winter.
Violinist Bush, an eighth-grader at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, won the junior division, for students 14 and younger, at the University of Alaska Southeast. She performed a movement from a Vivaldi concerto.
"It's really moving. This piece is really lively. While I'm playing it, I just get lost in the music," she said.
Clarinetist Hoskins, a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School, won in the senior division, for students 15 to 18, with a Handel concerto.
"I really liked listening to Handel's music. It seemed like a lot of fun, too," he said of his choice. The piece was written while Handel also was writing operas. Hoskins said he could imagine a singer hanging onto every note in the concerto's slow movement.
Student competitors were accompanied by pianist Sue Kazama, but the winners will perform with the symphony orchestra at its Dec. 16 concert and at a concert for students in February. They will play from memory.
"To be able to play with adults in a live concerto is a huge deal. It's excellent training for music students," said Juneau Symphony administrator Jetta Whittaker.
Violin teacher Guo Hua Xia, who had several students in the competition, said it's good for students to learn how to prepare and to do an excellent job. "As long as you are ready, you do your best, you are a winner," he said.
Bush has been playing violin since the first grade. She competed in last year's competition and described it as scary. "This year I kind of know what to expect, so it's not too bad," she said after a rehearsal.
Hoskins has played clarinet for seven years. He has played with the high school's concert band and jazz band and with the state and Southeast honor bands. He also plays the bass clarinet with the Juneau Symphony.
This was his second time at the concerto competition.
"I personally am really competition-driven. I've always pushed myself to compete with the next person," Hoskins said. "It gives me a kind of barometer, a measuring stick of what I need to do."
Among other performers in the junior division was violinist Stefan Hovik, a 14-year-old junior at Ketchikan High School who travels to Juneau for lessons and to play with the Juneau Symphony. He's been playing violin for about 10 years.
The audience of about 100 people heartily applauded Hovik's performance of the lengthy first movement from Edouard Lalo's "Symphonie Espangnole."
"I try to think what kind of feeling are they are trying to convey an angry feeling, a sweet melodic feeling, and I try to copy that," he said.
Also performing were violinists Austin Moline, 12, a seventh-grader at Thunder Mountain Academy, and Franz Felkl, 9, a fourth-grader at Auke Bay Elementary School. Both performed movements from concertos by Friedrich Seitz.
Moline said playing the violin is fun and it's not that hard to memorize the music. His mother, Cami Moline, said she wanted him to compete for "the discipline of preparing for something, focusing, perfecting."
Felkl, who has been playing violin for nearly five years, has performed in student groups in Juneau and at a summer camp in Fairbanks.
"I enjoy that you can do a lot of things on it," he said of the violin. "You can get pretty high notes. For some people, it's the hardest instrument in the world."
His father, Fred, said Franz practices every day except his birthday. "Wherever we go, the violin goes. We go camping, the violin goes in the campground."
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