Young Peninsula musicians earn recognition, cash in Port Angeles competition
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Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News
Pianist Cole Urnes, 17, won the Port Angeles Symphony's Young Artist Competition on Saturday.
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Cellist Adlai Erickson, 8, of Port Townsend received an honorable mention — despite a bad cold — at the Junior Young Artist Competition hosted by the Port Angeles Symphony. Photo by Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Sure, he was nervous playing a Beethoven masterpiece in front of four adjudicators at the 28th annual Young Artist Competition.

“But once you get playing, it all melts away,” said Cole Urnes, the 17-year-old winner of the contest, hosted Saturday by the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles.

Cole, who took the top prize of $500 in cash, said he appreciated the judges' comments after his performance of Beethoven's C-sharp Sonata No. 2.

“I liked what John and Adam talked about: feeling the piece more,” Cole said of judges John Manno and Adam Stern, two Port Angeles Symphony musicians who made up half the judges' panel.

Musical spirit

Adding spirit to the music — going beyond the technical execution — is “hard, but there's a payoff,” added Cole.

The Young Artist Competition, open to musicians up to 22 years old, drew 12 competitors this year.

Second prize, a cash award of $250, went to 13-year-old flutist Joshua Gershon of Port Angeles, while honorable mentions went to Natalie Tagg, 17, and clarinet player Jeffrey Mordecai-Smith, 16, both of Port Angeles.

Stern and Manno, along with Phil Morgan-Ellis of the Sequim Community Orchestra and Doug Gailey, band director at Port Angeles High School, served as judges for the Junior Young Artist Competition, open to musicians in ninth grade or earlier.

They were wowed by 10-year-old violinist Marley Erickson of Port Townsend, who won the contest's $250 first prize for her performance of Vivaldi's Sonata in E.

The $125 second-place prize was awarded to Port Angeles pianist Lum Fu, 13, for her Schubert Impromptu No. 4.

“The adjudicators seemed really supportive,” said Marley, who travels to Seattle each Monday for violin lessons.

Youngest musician

Her brother Adlai, 8, a cellist, was the youngest musician in the junior competition and received one of the contest's two honorable mentions.

The other went to Port Angeles violist Calista Mordecai-Smith, 14.

“I've only performed a few times, but it felt really good to be on stage,” said Adlai, who made it to the competition despite a bad cold.

Marley's and Adlai's mother, Erica Lewis, home-schools her kids. She also drives them to lessons and to Seattle Youth Symphony rehearsals every week. Marley's prize money will pay for a music lesson and a half, she said.

For this family, music is “a foundational aspect of life,” Lewis added. The lessons and instruments — Marley just moved up to a full-size violin — are “totally worth it.”


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

Last modified: January 29. 2014 7:26PM
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