Audiences will experience classical music performances by extremely gifted young musicians on Saturday, March 12, when the Texas Young Artists Music Competition culminates with the 2022 Finalists Concert and Awards.
The program, which is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., will take place at the Crighton Theater, 234 N. Main St. in downtown Conroe.
“After almost every concert and awards program, someone approaches me, awed by the inspiring talent they’ve just seen and heard,” said Susie Moore Pokorski, President and CEO of Young Texas. Artists (YTA), which presents the competition. “And I understand: if you are new to our audience, it is difficult to anticipate the level of excellence that our competition attracts. It is this talent and passion of our young competing artists that drives our continued commitment to be a source of encouragement, support and opportunities for growth.”
The Young Texas Artists Music Competition, an official music competition of the State of Texas, is open to classical artists ages 18-30 (voice ages 20-32) residing in Texas or affiliated with a music school from Texas.
It is the only classical music competition in Texas offering four performance divisions: Voice; Piano; strings; and winds, brass, percussion, harp and guitar. This year’s contestants are vying for a share of $40,000 in prize money – double the amount offered in the last contest – as well as mentorship and performance opportunities.
The master of ceremonies for the finalists’ Concert & Awards program will be St. John Flynn, former director of arts and culture for Houston Public Media. Flynn is a writer, speaker, and arts and culture consultant, and he recently served as producer and host of YTA’s four-part video series, YTA Insights-A Journey Into the World of Classical Music, which is still available on the Facebook page. of YTA (https://www.facebook.com/YoungTexasArtists/videos) and YouTube channel (https://bit.ly/3KzFdhF).
Baritone Michael Mayes, 2002 YTA Gold Medalist in Voice and an internationally acclaimed opera singer, will be the guest of honor at the Finalists Concert and Awards and the Bach, Beethoven and BBQ Gala taking place earlier in the evening.
Mayes, who grew up in Cut and Shoot in eastern Montgomery County, played leading roles in major corporations, wowing audiences across the United States and Europe. During the YTA awards program, Mayes will sing and share ideas about her career.
“Hearing Michael, whether he’s describing the power of opera or performing an aria, is an electric experience,” Pokorski said. “We know audiences will be mesmerized by her story and magnetic stage presence.”
After the concert, around 9:45 p.m., the festivities continue with the YTA Afterparty, sponsored by the Conroe Service League. The evening will feature another performance by Mayes, as well as live Texas music, desserts and champagne toasts for the contest winners.
The Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue Gala and Afterparty will take place in the YTA Grand Pavilion in front of the Crighton Theatre.
The gala, which begins at 5 p.m., includes a Texas barbecue dinner, dancing to Texas swing music and a live auction.
YTA is also welcoming the public to the preliminary rounds of its contest, which runs from March 10-12. Participation is free. The lineup includes the Strings division prelims at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 10; winds, brass, percussion, harp and guitar at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 11; Voice at 2:30 p.m. on March 11; and Piano at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 12. These rounds will all take place at the Crighton Theatre.
At the finalists’ concert, the top two finalists in each category will perform and gold and silver medals will be awarded for each division. YTA will also present the Grand Prize and the Audience Prize.
“Our main goal is to help promising classical musicians start their careers,” said YTA artistic director Emelyne Bingham. “Our young artists benefit not only from the performance opportunities and awards we provide, but also from the valuable reviews they receive from our judges, all respected leaders in their musical genres.”
All of this year’s judges have judged YTA competitions in the past and are familiar with YTA’s mission. They include the following:
Miyoko Lotto, pianist, is on the faculty of New York University, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Perlman Music Program. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at the Juilliard School. Lotto has performed across the United States and has given numerous Master Classes in Japan, the United States, Germany, Israel, China and Spain. She has served as a juror for several international competition juries and has also worked with Daniel Barenboim as music editor and consultant on the documentary “Barenboim on Beethoven” which aired on PBS’ Great Performances in 2007. More recently she was the moderator of the documentary, “Mahler: The New York Years”, about the famous opera conductor Gustav Mahler.
Brian Luce, flautist, is a professor of flute at the University of Arizona and a Yamaha artist. He has been principal flute of the Champaign-Urbana, Midland-Odessa and Johnstown symphony orchestras and has performed with numerous ensembles and chamber orchestras. His solo performances have been broadcast across the United States and his recordings are recommended references by music education associations, including the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Luce made the first recording of Anthony Plog’s Concerto for Flute and Wind Ensemble with the University of Arizona Wind Ensemble. He has also given recitals and master classes in the United States, Europe and Korea.
Bradley Mansell, cellist, member of the Nashville Symphony and award-winning educator. As a member of the Nashville Symphony, he recorded for the Naxos, Sony Classics and Decca labels. In 1995, he performed the premiere of “Aurora” for solo cello by Nashville composer Lee Gannon, as well as Gannon’s “Sonata for Cello and Piano” by Gannon, commissioned by the Tennessee Music Teachers Association and dedicated to him. As a faculty member at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, Mansell was named to Who’s Who of American Colleges and Universities and received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.
Roger Pines, a familiar voice on Metropolitan Opera’s “Opera Quiz” broadcasts since the 2005-06 season, recently completed his 26-year tenure at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Among the many roles he filled at Lyric were playwright, commentator for the company’s opening night live broadcasts (2010-18), editor, pre-performance speaker and special speaker/consultant for the company’s young artists program. Pines previously held positions at San Diego Opera, Dallas Opera and Glimmerglass Opera. He regularly writes articles and reviews for prestigious opera publications. He has also written programs for every major North American opera company and program notes for CDs on seven major record labels.
Maria Schleuning, violinist, has been a member of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra since 1994 and has been a featured soloist with it and many other American orchestras. She has been a member of the Voices of Change Modern Music Ensemble since 1996 and artistic director since 2009. Schleuning has premiered many new works, including “Dream Catcher”, a work for solo violin written for her as a gift by composer Augusta Read Thomas. Schleuning is an active chamber musician and has performed at festivals across the United States and Europe. She has also recorded with the Continuum contemporary music ensemble in New York and with Voices of Change and the Walden Piano Quartet.
This year, YTA is also hosting the Young Artists of Texas Fine Arts Weekend. From March 10-13, the weekend will showcase emerging Texas talent in dance, visual arts and poetry.
Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue bookings include all weekend programming. Events can also be attended separately, including the concert and runner-up prizes: concert admission is $30 for adults and $16 for students.
Tickets are available at https://www.ytamc.com/bach-beethoven-barbecue.