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Offal? There was plenty of heart and brains on display

ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards 2012

Katerina Nazarova

Anna Da Silva Chen

Shane Chen

At first glance you could be forgiven for failing to see the common link between the three 2012 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards string finalists. Katerina Nazarova (27), an Australian expat living and working in London, Anna Da Silva Chen (15) a Sydney high-school student, and Shane Chen (26) a father of three from Melbourne made up the unlikely trio. The link is of course a shared passion for music and the violin, and it was lovely to see that despite their differences, not long after meeting one another for the first time, the three competitors were making arrangements for a lunch date the following day. In June this year they each had the opportunity to perform a concerto with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in the first stage 3 final for the 2012 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards. With brilliant performances from all finalists (of fittingly contrasting violin concertos including the Tchaikovsky, the Elgar and the first of Shostakovich) the panel certainly had a difficult task in choosing a winner and deciding who would progress to the Grand Final. Katerina claimed victory and was the first to take the next step towards the coveted prize.

Jessica Foot

Shanie Klas

The next finalist to proceed in the competition would be decided only a few weeks later across town in the ABC’s studio 520. Once again the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra played host but this time for the Other Instruments category. Arguably it’s the most difficult final to judge as it encompasses all instruments not played on a string or keyboard including wind, brass, percussion and everything in between. Affectionately coined the ‘offal’ category by Marc Taddei (conductor of the strings and keyboards category), it was actually Benjamin Northey who had the task of guiding the orchestra and four young soloists through the concerti.

Jonathon Ramsay

Som Howie

The concert included Vaughan Williams’ Oboe Concerto performed by Jessica Foot, Rosauro’s Marimba Concerto performed by Shanie Klas, Linkola’s Euphonium Concerto performed by Jonathon Ramsay, and Copland’s Clarinet Concerto performed by Som Howie. How does one compare a clarinet to a marimba you might ask? Let alone an oboe to a euphonium… Well, it had to be done and it was Som Howie with his performance of the Copland who was named the winner, the second contestant to claim a spot in the Grand Final.

John Fisher

Young Kwon Choi

Only one place remained and it would go to the winner of the keyboard final which was to take place in Hobart with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Finalists included John Fisher from Queensland and old friends from Sydney – Young Kwon Choi, Jeremy So and Tony Lee – who were reunited having learned from the same teacher in their youth. It was sure to be a big week with a program including not one but two concertos by Prokofiev, the much loved Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 and Totentanz by Liszt. ‘It’s a rare thing to be able to say that Totentanz could be considered one of the lighter works in the program’, I overheard one of the orchestra members saying to a colleague during a well deserved tea break.

Jeremy So

Tony Lee

The orchestra certainly earned their keep that week and the four young pianists gave the Hobart audience a feast for the ears in what was an epic concert and awesome display of virtuosity. Young Kwon Choi took out the prize on the night with his performance of Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto.

The Grand Final will take place in Perth on Thursday October 4, and if you missed any of the excitement of the stage 3 finals you can catch them again with repeat broadcasts happening on ABC Classic FM at 8pm on October 1 (Keyboards), 2 (Strings) and 3 (Other Instruments).

Anna Howell
Artist Development Co-ordinator