PORT TOWNSEND — Freddie Mercury’s “Somebody to Love,” Beethoven’s Romanza and Jaco Pastorius’ “Teen Town” were all part of the Port Townsend Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition, which awarded cash prizes to four local teenagers.
Maria Powell of Chimacum, a tenor saxophone player, took home first prize with a performance that was “silken,” said coordinator Kristin Smith.
“It was such a joy to preform for a live audience. I didn’t realize how much I had missed an experience like that,” Powell, 16, said in an email to the Peninsula Daily News.
“My favorite part of the competition was getting to hear my friends perform and meeting more musicians along the way.”
Powell took up the tenor sax three years ago and plays it in addition to the alto saxophone; she loves how the instruments bring her into a classical competition one day and a jazz combo the next.
In the Young Artist Competition, she played Georges Guilhaud’s “First Concertino” to win a $500 award.
The daughter of Carla and Dan Powell was among 11 performers who, on contest day April 10, filled Grace Lutheran Church with music, both live and via video.
PTSO conductor Tigran Arakelyan and a panel of judges — Marie Meyers, Katie Penhallegon and Nan Toby Tyrell — also awarded second place and $300 to violinist Tusker Behrenfeld. The Port Townsend 17-year-old sent in a video performance of Beethoven’s Romanza, Opus 40.
Third place and $200 were presented to violist Magdaline Ferland, 15, also of Port Townsend, who played the Passacaglia on an Old English Tune by composer Rebecca Clarke.
Mateu Yearian, 15, offered two pieces by Pastorius on the electric bass to win the Conductor’s Prize of $100. The Port Townsend teen, also a guitarist, studies with coach Chuck Easton of Chimacum.
“The purpose of the competition is to honor and support the aspiring young musicians of our area,” Smith noted, adding that the students have missed out on many festivals and music camps they look forward to.
“It seemed more important than ever” to stage this second annual event, Smith said.
“The students came through with very high-quality musicianship,” she added.
“They worked hard and achieved new heights.”
Grace Lutheran pianist Lisa Lanza stepped up to accompany six of the young participants, while a crew of volunteers guided them through COVID-19 safety protocols at the church. That included masking and audiences limited to family members and the performers’ music teachers.
The competitors also included violinist Cora Brinton and pianist Joshua Yearian, both 12; pianist Anabel Moore, 15; violinist Aliyah Cassidy Yearian, 15, and violist Yarrow Dean, 17.
They offered music of Vivaldi, Telemann, Clementi and de Beriot, while pianist Rachel Doan, 19, played the aforementioned “Somebody to Love,” a song the band Queen released in 1976.
Trumpeter Maya Dow, 17, chose “Conversation for Cornet” by Clare Grundman for her video submission.
Together, the youngsters “made it an exceptionally rich musical event,” Smith said.
For more about the competition and other Port Townsend Symphony Orchestra activities, visit ptsymphony.org.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] news.com.