Elizabeth Song, a 13-year-old violinist from Haworth, NJ, won the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra’s Elizabeth Loker Concerto Competition Thursday evening in performances by five finalists in front of a live audience and panel of judges at the Avalon Theatre in Easton.
Ethan Nylander, a flutist from Townsend, DE, was awarded the runner-up prize and pianist Emma Taggart of Brooklyn, NY, was recognized with an honorable mention. First prize includes a $2,000 cash award plus performances as a violin soloist with the MSO in three concert programs March 9-11 in Easton, Ocean Pines and Rehoboth Beach. Second prize is a $500 award and a concert performance in the orchestra’s ensemble series next season.
Song played 19th-century Belgian composer Henri Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Minor, widely known in competition circles as a complex and challenging concerto that gives performers a chance to display their virtuosity. Young Song played with beyond-her-years confidence and expressive nuance.
Nylander performed with a piano accompanist 20th-century French composer Jacques Ibert’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra. Playing solo, Taggart chose the Piano Concerto in One Movement by Florence Price, the first African-American woman to have her composition performed by a major American symphony orchestra.
The other finalists included three pianists: HaozhouWang of Philadelphia playing a Prokofiev concerto and Valerie Wellington of Kansas City, MO and Philina Zhang of New York City, both performing pieces by Rachmaninoff. James Kang of Newark, DE, played Paul Hindemith’s “Der Schwanendreher” viola concerto.
The three judges seated before a live audience of about 40 were MSO music director Michael Repper, concertmaster Kimberly McCollum and principal bassoonist Terry Ewell. The competition is named for the late board member of the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and a supporter also of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.