Dedicated teenage musicians from all over the county auditioned privately in front of four judges in Gaithersburg in February, all striving for the top awards in one of the five categories: piano, vocal, string, wind, and brass.
For Jenna Wang, the second place winner in the strings category and a sophomore from Churchill High School, the audition was not as nerve-wracking as she expected. She says, “I felt really prepared and I was confident that I could play my best that day. The more I got into it, the more I enjoyed the music, and I could feel the judges listening intently and enjoying the music as well.”
The winners were each contacted personally by the foundation, and were elated when they heard the news. The fifteen top awardees were honored at a sold-out public concert on March 28. First place piano winner Karina Aliyeva, a sophomore from Walter Johnson, describes the concert as fun, but continued, “I went last, so waiting around backstage was nerve-wracking for me.” However, Aliyeva enjoyed the friendly environment, and added, “When it wasn’t your turn to perform, you would sit backstage and watch the concert. I got to listen closely to instruments that I usually don’t get to hear that often.”
At the end of the concert, the city council and mayor presented the musicians with their awards and certificates, further acknowledging the teenagers’ artistry. The student musicians agree this appreciation is an important effect of such competitions. Aliyeva says, “It gives feedback to the kids that their work is appreciated.” The positive response from an audience and judges is a valuable way to foster the love of music in teenagers as well as helping the musicians improve.
Wang agrees, “For me, I think of competitions as both a motivation to reach a goal, as well as an opportunity to perform my music pieces. I find myself improving a lot from competing in music competitions and also learning from the judges’ comments.”
“Whether you receive a place or not, it is equally rewarding for musicians to learn from the experience and serves as an inspiration for all,” Wang adds, epitomizing the spirit of the competition. The goal of the Young Artist Awards is to provide middle and high school aged kids with a way to display their talents and encourage their love of music, and this year’s winners agree that they achieved it.
The Young Artist Award is a competition sponsored by the City of Gaithersburg and the Kentlands Community Foundation.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Daisy Grant of Richard Montgomery High School.