Orchestras are not exactly easy to come by, which makes the Young Artists Competition a unique chance for up-and-coming concert musicians to attain experience playing with a large ensemble. The Oklahoma Community Orchestra began the program a few years ago specifically for university-aged students.
"We wanted to find a way to feature musicians around Oklahoma," conductor John Fletcher said. "Over the years, our orchestra has brought in many out-of-state artists. We enjoy featuring world-class talent, but we've found that there is a shortage of opportunities for young and local musicians to perform in an orchestra."
Violinist Marat Gabdullin won in the orchestral division. Gabdullin migrated from Russia to work toward his graduate degree at Oklahoma City University. The piano division winner was Emily Rowland, a Tennessee native who is a sophomore at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee.
According to Fletcher, most students at this level are more accustomed to playing with just one accompanist, which allows for more flexibility during the performance. A full orchestra isn't quite as nimble.
"You really have to pay attention to the conductor," Rowland said. "He knows what you are doing and he knows what the orchestra is doing. The orchestra may not want to do what you are doing, so he is in between us directing how the piece should develop."
The contest winners will serve as soloists and perform concertos with the orchestra at a 7:30 p.m. Tuesday concert in Oklahoma Christian University's Garvey Center, 2501 E. Memorial.
Rowland said that she and the other winners will each receive $750 at Tuesday's performance. She said she will save her award in anticipation of opening a instruction studio later in her career.
Tickets are $10 for adults, and $8 for students and seniors. For more information, call 425-1990. "Charles Martin