Concerto Competition Winners Take Finney Stage This Spring

Clarinetist Juan Pedro Espinosa Monteros kicks off the festivities on April 5

April 4, 2024

Cathy Partlow Strauss ’84

clarinetist Juan Pedro Espinosa Monteros
Fourth-year clarinetist Juan Pedro Espinosa Monteros.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones

Oberlin Conservatory’s annual Concerto Competition identifies four winners that earn featured solo spots with the Oberlin orchestras each spring. The first rounds were adjudicated by Conservatory faculty, while the public final round was adjudicated by a guest jury.

This year, concerto so opportunities were won by clarinetist Juan Pedro Espinosa Monteros, cellist Drew Dansby, pianist Jiongli Wang, and violinist Maya Irizarry Lambright—all fourth-year students. They will each present full performances of their winning pieces in concerts on four Friday evenings in Finney Chapel. Each performance will also be streamed live at concert time.

Three of the young artists will collaborate with the Oberlin Orchestra and Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Raphael Jiménez. And, this year there is an Oberlin “first.” Later this month, Dansby will perform David Baker’s 1987 Concerto for Cello and Jazz Band, which will be accompanied by an ensemble of students from Oberlin's Jazz Division. 

Performances get underway on Friday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m., with Juan Pedro Espinosa Monteros and the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra leading the way in Carl Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto. The program also includes Gioachino Rossini's Overture to William Tell and Alberto Ginastera Variaciones concertantes, Op. 23.  

Meet the soloist

Born and raised in Ecuador, clarinetist Juan Pedro Espinosa Monteros studies with Professor Richard Hawkins. His quite notable professional achievements include an appointment as principal clarinetist of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Guayaquil, under the direction of conductor Dante Anzolini. He joined the orchestra in 2019 and played in the ensemble for three seasons as the youngest member in the organization. He made his solo debut with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Loja at the age of 15 and has since served consistently as a substitute clarinetist with that ensemble. And in 2017, he won the gold medal at the Solo Competition of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ecuador—the first woodwind player to earn this prize—securing his appearance as soloist with the orchestra. He has also performed as a soloist with the symphony orchestras of Guayaquil and Cuenca. 


How did you come to choose the Nielsen Concerto?

I picked the Nielsen clarinet concerto because my heart beats fast whenever I play it. I get excited, and it is a feeling that I try to give to the people that listen to me. I want the audience to be as enthusiastic about the music as I am. This concerto is like a roller coaster of emotions.

What has the piece taught you about your playing and how to reach an audience?

This concerto is an extremely difficult piece for the soloist and orchestra. And working on it has taught me a lot about patience. Nielsen’s writing allows for tons of freedom and variety. It lets me express myself a lot. It is one of the pieces where I can do more and give the work a little bit of my personality.

When you think back on your time at Oberlin, what stands out about the experience of going to school here?

Friends and music. Oberlin is a special place. As an international student, the conservatory has been like a second home, people are welcoming and warm, and the sense of community is always there. I have felt seen and cared for by all the friends I’ve made through music here.  


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