Student soloists join UGA Symphony Orchestra for January concert

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Five of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music’s most talented students, winners of the UGA Symphony Orchestra’s (UGASO) annual Concerto Competition, will perform as soloists alongside the orchestra in Hodgson Concert Hall on Wednesday, January 25, at 8 p.m.

A longstanding tradition at the Hodgson School, the Concerto Competition lets students from all of the school’s areas choose a concerto, then learn and perform it for a panel of faculty judges each fall semester. A small group is chosen, and those students get to perform with the orchestra the following spring semester.

This year’s winners are Rachel Eve Holmes, soprano; Geneva Stonecipher, piano; Diogo Baggio, double bass; Charlie Young, saxophone; and Ksenia Kurenysheva, piano. The group spans a variety of backgrounds and experience levels, and their chosen works stretch across centuries and a multitude of styles.

“The thing about this one is it’s so eclectic,” said Mark Cedel, director of the UGASO. “Each year, I tell the orchestra it’s 88 minutes of music, and those 88 minutes could be anything.”

In this way, the concert is as much a showcase of the orchestra as the soloist. The soloist must learn to play an intricate, difficult part for a single work, and the orchestra has to learn anywhere from four to six works that could be dramatically different from one another.

“This concert is different from our others because of how we have to adapt to whatever the competition winners choose,” said Cedel. “It could be something we’ve done before, it could be something that’s only been done once before, it could be anything.”

Cedel, too, is faced with unique challenges in preparing for this concert. The players might have to learn a particularly difficult or unusual piece of music, but Cedel has to program a concert for which he didn’t choose the works and then procure the music for the orchestra.

“It can be like a treasure hunt sometimes,” said Cedel. “Some of these pieces are very hard to find. We’ve had years where we had to get the music shipped from China or the music came in at the 11th hour. This year, in fact, one of the pieces was only available from one place in the world.”

Tickets to the concert are $12 each or $6 with a UGA student ID and can be purchased at pac.uga.edu or the PAC box office. Those unable to attend can watch the concert live on the Hodgson School’s website: music.uga.edu/streaming.

The UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music sponsors more than 350 performances each year. To view the performance calendar, subscribe to the weekly email concert listing or learn more about the School of Music, go to music.uga.edu.