Courtney Smith, 14, an eighth-grade student at Stevens Middle School in Port Angeles, performs for the judges during Saturday’s Nico Snel Young Artist Competition at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. Courtney won first place in the junior division. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Courtney Smith, 14, an eighth-grade student at Stevens Middle School in Port Angeles, performs for the judges during Saturday’s Nico Snel Young Artist Competition at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. Courtney won first place in the junior division. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Young musicians win cash in Port Angeles Symphony competitions

Top competitors hail from Port Angeles, Port Townsend

PORT ANGELES — Upon hearing she’d won first prize, Charlotte Hertel’s reaction was:

“No way!”

Yet there was a way for her to top the 33rd annual Nico Snel Young Artist Competition on Saturday. She summed it up herself: “I worked really, really hard on my piece,” said Charlotte, 17.

Winning “was really cool,” she added. “It felt good to be recognized for it.”

The joy of making music helped. Charlotte’s violin teacher, Heather Ray, advised her to listen to many classical pieces before choosing one for the competition. Russian composer Dmitry Kabalevsky’s Concerto in C Major “made me smile,” she said, “and it has a pizzicato section, so it was the obvious choice.”

The Port Angeles High School senior won $500 cash, which will come in handy as she continues to study music. Charlotte has been accepted to a couple of universities and awaits word from three more. She has yet to select a major but is certain, though, that she wants to keep playing.

Saturday’s competition, hosted by the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, has two divisions: the senior, for musicians up to age 22, and the junior, for competitors age 14 and younger.

In the senior section, the $250 second prize was awarded to cellist Karson Nicpon, a Port Angeles High School junior, for his performance of Édouard Lalo’s concerto, while the $200 third prize went to Aliyah Yearian, a violinist who attends Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend, for her J.S. Bach Concerto in A Minor.

In the Junior Young Artist Competition, all three winners are violinists from Port Angeles’ Stevens Middle School. Courtney Smith took the top prize of $250 for her performance of “Summer” from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” Yau Fu won the $125 second prize with Severn’s “Polish Dance” and Flora Sullivan took the $75 third place award for her performance of Gabriel-Marie’s “La Cinquantaine.”

The competitions are named for their founder, the late Port Angeles Symphony conductor Nico Snel, and are open to young players of classical music in both Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Professional musicians from across the North Olympic Peninsula volunteer as the judges; this year they were Port Angeles Symphony music director and conductor Jonathan Pasternack, Port Townsend pianist Carol Rich and Port Angeles Symphony violist Tyrone Beatty.

“The competition is part contest, part master class, a format I like very much,” said Pasternack.

“The educational component of the event is an important aspect. Also, many if not all of the participants are going on to compete locally next weekend for a chance to attend the Washington State Solo and Ensemble Festival.”

Donors from the community and proceeds from the sale of the Port Angeles Symphony Guild’s cookbook, “A Little Kitchen Music,” provide for the cash awards every year.

For more information about the cookbook, the contests and the Port Angeles Symphony’s forthcoming concerts in Port Angeles and Sequim, see www.PortAngeles Symphony.org, email PASymphony @olypen.com or call 360-457-5579.

Charlotte Hertel, 17, won the senior division of the Nico Snel Young Artist Competition on Saturday. (Jonathan Pasternack)

Charlotte Hertel, 17, won the senior division of the Nico Snel Young Artist Competition on Saturday. (Jonathan Pasternack)

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