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Concerto Competition Winners to Perform in April, May

March 17, 2014
Cathy Partlow Strauss
Winners of Oberlin Conservatory’s 2013-14 Concerto Competition (from left): Charles Colwell, YiQiao Li, Joseph Hauer, and Carl Gardner. Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Four instrumentalists were named winners in the Oberlin Conservatory's annual Concerto Competition. These members of the class of 2014 have been awarded performances of their winning repertoire with Oberlin’s orchestras under the direction of Raphael Jiménez, to be presented on four separate concert dates during April and May 2014.

All performances will be held in historic Finney Chapel and begin at 8 p.m. The concerts are free and open to the public.

The first of the four winners is cellist Charles Colwell, a double-degree student who has also earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Oberlin College. He will play Ernest Bloch’s Shelomo: Rhapsodie Hébraïque with the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, April 5. A student of Darrett Adkins, Colwell is from Storrs, Connecticut. While at Oberlin, Colwell has served as principal cellist in the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra and performed on tour with the Oberlin Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, as well as given a solo performance on the Oberlin at Oakton Concert Series in Virginia. Also a composer, Colwell was awarded a grant in 2011 for the purpose of collecting Costa Rican bird calls for a piece he composed. Colwell has performed as soloist with the Willimantic Orchestra of Connecticut and the Seven Hills Symphony of Worcester, Massachusetts. He has also participated in summer festivals at the Banff Centre and the Aspen Music Festival.

Two pianists landed prizes in the competition, both of them performing works of Rachmaninoff. Joseph Hauer, a student of Peter Takács, will be performing the Fourth Piano Concerto with the Oberlin Orchestra on Saturday, April 12. A native of Appleton, Wisconsin, Hauer has performed as soloist with the Fox Valley Symphony, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. His performances have been broadcast statewide on Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio. Hauer has attended the Golandsky Institute Summer Symposium at Princeton University, PianoSummer at New Paltz, New York, and Pianofest in the Hamptons.

Senior bassoonist Carl Gardner was awarded a solo opportunity for his performance of Launy Grøndahl’s Concerto for Bassoon. He will present his public performance of the work on Tuesday, May 6, with the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra. A student of George Sakakeeny, Gardner is from Fresno, California. He has performed with professional orchestras including the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Reno Chamber Orchestra. He also appeared as soloist with the Bear Valley Music Festival. Last January, Gardner made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Oberlin Orchestra during its 2013 New York tour. In addition to being a bassoonist, Gardner is proud to be an Eagle Scout, the top rank of the Boy Scouts of America.

Pianist YiQiao Li, a student of Robert Shannon, will perform on the last Oberlin Orchestra concert of the academic year. On Friday, May 9, she will play Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto. Li was born in Harbin, China, and received her early music training at the Affiliated Middle School of China Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She has received top prizes in many national competitions in China, including the Xing Hai National Piano Competition and the China New Talent Competition, as well as the honor of being selected for the Beijing International Piano Festival.

All four performances will be live-streamed online via the Oberlin Conservatory website.

ABOUT THE COMPETITION: An annual tradition, the Oberlin Conservatory Concerto Competition takes place every October and is open to conservatory seniors and artist diploma students. A guest jury adjudicates the public finals round. The five esteemed guests who served on the 2013 concerto competition jury included pianist Barry Snyder, violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi, bassoonist Stephen Paulson, soprano Lisa Saffer (OC ’82), and conductor James Feddeck (OC ’05).

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