Soloists Shine in Concerto/Aria Concert

by   |   kallweil@bju.edu   |  
Cello concerto with the BJU Symphony Orchestra

BJU is well-known for its fine arts programs. Not only do students study the arts, but they also have opportunity to be a part of concerts, Shakespearean plays and award-winning musicals. On Friday, Jan. 31, the top soloist musicians in the University’s music programs will showcase their talent in the Concerto/Aria Concert.

Concertos and arias are pieces of music designed to showcase a soloist. Concertos are primarily written in three movements for solo instrumentalists with orchestral accompaniment. One example is Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3. An aria, according to Merriam-Webster, is “an accompanied, elaborate melody sung (as in opera) by a single voice.” One of the most well-known arias is “La Donna è Mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto.

BJU’s Concerto and Aria Competition gives music students the opportunity to perfect a piece of literature from one of these genres. The winners from each category—string, brass, percussion and voice—showcase their talent in the Concerto/Aria Concert the year following their success.

Depending on the selected literature, the winning musicians perform with either the University’s Symphony Orchestra or the Symphonic Wind Band. The 2020 concert will feature the following winners of the 2019 competition alongside the orchestra: Nathan Gardner, trombone; Katie Taylor, violin; Erin Hansen, harp; and Rachel Christenson, soprano. Daniel Leedy, tuba—also a 2019 winner—will perform with the Symphonic Wind Band in April.

Paul Jantz, who organizes the competition, said that the students who compete are held to “a bigger commitment of preparation due to the memory and literature demands” than the students competing in the annual music contest. However, the bigger commitment, he said, “offers the potential of a bigger reward and bigger value to the student.”

Unlike the annual music contest which is open to all students, the Concerto and Aria Competition is open only to students enrolled in private music lessons. Also different from the annual music contest, contestants in the Concerto and Aria Competition must memorize their pieces. Plus, the selected literature must be accompanied by either orchestra or band.

Dr. Michael Moore, chair of the Division of Music, mentioned that the orchestra members also benefit from performing the concertos and arias in the concert. He said, “It allows us to hone a specific skill set. It’s different from playing a symphony. It’s different from playing an oratorio or a choral accompaniment. There’s a lot of give and take that has to go on. It’s a different kind of playing than we’re doing for the April concert, which is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6.”

The Concerto/Aria Concert begins at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31 in Rodeheaver Auditorium. The performance is free and open to the public.

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Krystal Allweil

Krystal Allweil is the content marketing specialist for BJU’s marketing department and is the managing editor for BJUtoday.