Young performers receive Port Angeles music honors

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Seventeen-year-old saxophonist Hillary Smith went silent, just for a moment, last weekend.

The Stardust Big Band and Sequim High School Jazz Ensemble member had entered the Port Angeles Symphony’s 27th annual Young Artists Competition.

A jazz lover, she had played for judges from the classical world: Port Angeles Symphony conductor Adam Stern, symphony concertmistress Kate Dean, symphony oboist-English horn player Susan Scott and Seattle orchestra bassist and professor Stephen Schermer.

In the Jan. 19 competition at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, they gave high praise to her rendition of David Bennett’s “Saxophone Royal.”

“Still, Hill didn’t expect to win,” said her father, Henry Smith.

“When she opened the email from [competition chairwoman] Bonnie Christianson, she was so excited and stunned that she couldn’t even speak,” he reported.

“She just carried her laptop out of her room and pointed at the screen.”

Hillary’s first-place win brought her $500 in cash the Sequim High School senior can use as she prepares to attend Whitman College, majoring in English and music, this fall.

For now, though, she is “ecstatic,” said her dad, who served as spokesman while Hillary studied for finals this past week.

Christianson, meanwhile, marveled at the field of young players — 12 entrants in the senior competition and seven in the junior contest.

They ranged in age from 9 to 19 and came from across Clallam and Jefferson counties.

As always, the public was invited to attend the competition, and “the audience enjoyed your music thoroughly,” Christianson told the players.

In the Junior Young Artists Competition, open to musicians below ninth grade, 13-year-old violinist Kate Powers, who is home-schooled in Sequim, took the top prize of $250.

For the first time since 2008, cash prizes were awarded to second-place winners in both contests, thanks to a gift from an anonymous donor.

A $250 prize went to the senior Young Artists Competition’s second-place winner, 16-year-old pianist Katie Rivers of Port Angeles.

In the juniors, a $125 award went to second-place winner Joshua Gershon, a 13-year-old flutist home-schooled in Port Angeles,

Anson Sin Ka Lik, a 19-year-old pianist and student at Peninsula College — who also plays the violin in the Port Angeles Symphony — received an honorable mention in the senior competition.

The day’s youngest entrant, 9-year-old violinist Marley Erickson of Port Townsend, received the honorable mention in the junior contest.

For more information on the Young Artists Competition and other Port Angeles Symphony activities, phone the symphony office at 360-457-5579 or visit


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: January 26. 2013 6:42PM
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