Savoring the music of talented teens

Feb 22, 2023 | Music and Entertainment

rotary music competition

The students who competed in the Rotary music competition were (l-r) T.J. Roger, Neva Hidajat, accompanist Chris Whitty, David Anderson, Parker Lawrence and Ezra Murray. (Photo by Mary-Justine Lanyon)

Savoring the music of talented teens

By Mary-Justine Lanyon

The sanctuary at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church was filled with beautiful music on the evening of Feb. 15 as five mountain high school students competed in the local level of the Rotary music competition.

They competed in three categories: vocal, piano and instrumental.

The event was sponsored by the three Rim Rotary clubs: Crestline-Lake Gregory, Lake Arrowhead and Mountain Sunrise.

As Paul Fournier, chair of the event and a member of the Mountain Sunrise Rotary Club, welcomed the guests, he commented that “the judges will try to be objective in an artistic realm.”

There was one vocalist, one pianist and three instrumentalists who competed.

Rim High junior Parker Lawrence sang two songs from the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen: “Waving Through a Window” and “You Will Be Found.” He showed great emotion while singing and the lyrics were clear and understandable. One audience member commented that hearing the songs made her want to see the show. Parker sang the songs from memory with no mic but projected well.

Pianist T.J. Roger is a senior at Lake Arrowhead Christian School. He played two contrasting pieces: “Piano Sonata in B flat major” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and “Danza de la Moza Donosa” by Alberto E. Ginastera. In the longer Mozart piece, T.J.’s fingers flew over the keys. The music was light and jaunty. In contrast, the Ginastera piece was more somber and heavier. It ended with a startling dissonant chord. He also had his music memorized, something that is required at the next level of competition.

The first instrumentalist was Ezra Murray, a freshman at Sage Oak Charter School. He first played the second movement of George Philipp Telemann’s “Viola Concerto,” accompanied by his father, Matt Murray, on piano. Ezra’s second piece was “Cygne” by Camille Saint-Saens – one of those pieces you immediately recognize when you hear it although you may not know its name or composer. Ezra was very composed as he played his viola beautifully, drawing nice deep tones out of the instrument.

David Anderson, a senior at Rim High, played “The Last of Us” by Gustavo Santaolalla on classical guitar, accompanied by fellow Rim High student Chris Whitty on piano. David exhibited a number of techniques as he first picked, then strummed the strings with ever-increasing enthusiasm. Chris kept a close eye on him as he accompanied him. The piece ended with some surprising loud strumming.

The final contestant was Rim High senior Neva Hidajat, who played Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Violin Sonata No. 5,” accompanied by a piano track. She demonstrated a number of different bow techniques, often mimicking the sounds of the piano on the violin. Overall, her playing was very fluid.

While the judges adjourned to finish scoring and compare notes, the five students introduced themselves to the audience. T.J. summed up the students’ feelings about music when he said that “my life revolves around music.” They have all been studying for a number of years and at least two of them play multiple instruments.

When the judges – Kirk MacArthur, Lori Butler and Paul Fournier – returned, Fournier commented that all the students had done a “fantastic” job. He further acknowledged value of the time the students had put into studying and preparing for the competition.

Parker and T.J. were each awarded first place and $100 in their categories. The judges voted to send them both through to the district-level competitions.

In the instrumental category, Ezra was awarded third place and $50, David second and $75 and Neva first and $100. Both David and Neva will advance to the district level.

The district vocal competition will take place on March 11, the piano on April 1 and the instrumental on May 13, all at the University of Redlands. There will be a semifinal competition each morning, followed by the finals in the afternoon. The winners of the district competition will perform at the Rotary District 5330 conference on June 17.


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