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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Musical Poise Young Artist Award Winners Exude Confidence Performing Solos

William Berry Correspondent


Greater Spokane Music and Allied Arts Festival Young Artist Awards Concert Wednesday, May 17, the Opera House

The Young Artist Awards Concert of the 50th Annual Greater Spokane Music and Allied Arts Festival Wednesday night featured six of the region’s best and brightest music students and one visual artist.

Winners of the top division of each musical discipline, the Young Artist category, gain the experience of performing their required solo number in front of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra.

If public speaking is our No. 1 national fear, imagine how steeled these young adults must be to get on the stage of the Opera House in front of peers and professionals and execute inherently difficult tasks nearly flawlessly.

Public performance experience of this kind is rare and invaluable, and is not only a highlight of the Music and Allied Arts Festival but a milestone for the participants.

All of the musical winners exuded poise, confidence and a graceful stage presence during their moments in the spotlight.

Clarinetist Nichelle Crocker is a senior at Eastern Washington University, where she studies with symphony member Virginia Jones.

She exhibited a light and assured technique with good sound projection in all registers during the last two movements of Weber’s barn-burning Concerto No. 2.

The Poem for Flute and Orchestra by Griffes was performed by Kris Petsch, a student of Richard Hahn and junior at the University of Idaho. Her dark, almost wooden-flute sound and dead-on intonation were just right for the sad and chromatically colored post-Impressionism of the Griffes.

Julia Kostenko, a cellist from Kiev, Ukraine, is a sophomore at Central Washington University studying with John Mickel. Her stage presence seemed self-deprecating but her musicality was commanding.

She gave the heart-wrenching first movement of the Dvorak Concerto good pacing and sensitive phrasing with an ease of technique that belied its difficulty.

The top pianist, Krista-Dawn Jenner, is a student of Robin McCabe and a junior at the University of Washington. The native of Calgary, Alberta, performed the opening movement of Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5, the “Emperor.”

Jenner approached the keyboard with a confident range of power and dynamics and was not afraid to take time in her phrasing.

Grant Goins is a trumpet student of the symphony’s Chris Cook at Whitworth College, where he is a sophomore.

The first movement of the killer Concerto by Lovelock was the required solo for the Californian. He plowed through the rapid scales and arpeggios with smooth articulations and a powerful, big sound.

The Young Artist winner in the voice division was soprano Heather Steckler, who studies with Marjory Halvorson.

A junior at Whitworth College, Steckler sang with clarity, impeccable intonation, artful phrasing and finesse to some spine-tingling stratospheric notes.

Her heartfelt genuineness in the “Silver Song” from Moore’s “Ballad of Baby Doe” gave way to a coquettishness with a comic flair in Donizetti’s “Quel guardo il cavaliere” from “Don Pasquale.”

The Spokane Youth Symphony was combined with the Spokane Symphony to begin and end the program. This gave many local instrumentalists a chance to sit in with the pros.

Gliere’s exciting crescendo and accelerando, the “Russian Sailors’ Dance” from “The Red Poppy” and the boisterous “Hungarian March” from Berioz’ “Damnation of Faust” were selected for the massive orchestra.

Both choices worked well: The doubling up of instrumentation was appropriate for these heavy-footed numbers and added to the sonic sensation.

Before, between and after the musical festivities, the visual arts were represented in the Opera House lobby.

Brad Baysinger, winner of the High School Portfolio Art Division, had a dozen of his works on display. His play with color tended toward the introspective, with grays and greens predominating.

Exemplary of this was his flat still life with flowers, which takes nature’s most vivid statements and recasts them in a quieter color set, drawing the viewer into a calmer world.

A brighter light was also put to good use, as in his sports study (titles were not provided), a collage including a bowling pin, racket and jersey translated with reds.

Baysinger’s homage to Expressionism was evident in his self-portrait after van Gogh.

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