Winners reflect on Concerto and Aria Competition

Priyanjana Chaudhary

Augustana Symphony Orchestra hosted its annual student Concerto and Aria Competition on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 2:00 p.m. in Centennial Hall. The winners have an opportunity to perform as a soloist with the Augustana Symphony Orchestra in March. 

This year’s three winners were first-year bass trombonist Alex Sell, sophomore flautist Adele Shirkey and junior singer Abriana Tereza.

A concerto is normally a three-movement musical piece, including two fast movements and one slow movement. A traditional concerto typically features an instrumental solo, while the aria in the competition title means a piece accompanied by a vocal solo. For the Concerto and Aria Competition, judges heard both instrumental and vocal auditions.

“The hall where the competition took place is much bigger than what I’m used to performing in,” Tereza said. “So I was definitely pretty nervous going into it, and I knew I had to keep in mind that I needed to fill that big space.”

The winners went into their auditions nervous but were able to get past the nerves and perform well. They will perform as soloists in the Augustana Symphony Orchestra concert on Friday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m.

“I was definitely nervous going in, as a seven-minute piece is a lot,” Sell said. “You never know if something’s gonna go wrong and they won’t be your best performance, but I was able to push through the nerves, and I felt really good after I was done. I felt like I did a good job.” 

The common thing the winners experienced was nervousness auditioning and excitement after winning the competition. Tereza, a music education major, said she is happy she was encouraged to audition.

“In my junior year, I started to gain a little bit more confidence in performing. My voice teacher also encouraged me to do it,” Tereza said. “I didn’t want to have any regrets about not doing it. So I’m glad that I participated in this competition.” 

These kinds of events are an opportunity for students to socialize, gain confidence and show hidden talent. It is also a great way to help with anxiety.

 “Just going out of your way to audition as much as possible and perform as much as possible [and] entering competitions helps with performance anxiety. I think a lot of that can translate to other things,” Shirkey said.

The Concerto Competition is meant to motivate students who are passionate about performing to continue making music. This is true for music and non-music majors, as is the case for Sell.

“My goal is not to have a career in music, but it’s just a hobby that I really enjoy,” Sell said. “And it is a creative outlet as well.” 

The winners are currently preparing to perform as soloists in the coming March. They have been working on the feedback from the judges and are very excited. 

“What inspires me to continue doing music is the feeling that I get every time I perform,” Tereza said. “Being present is something that’s very important to me. And I think that that’s one of the many beauties of making music: sharing something with the audience and having that special moment with them.” 

Whether a student is confident or nervous before their audition, whether they plan to pursue music professionally or not, feeling encouraged and supported is important to carry on their talents.

“I feel so grateful to have so much support from my peers and my professors,” Tereza said. “I feel like I have a very welcoming environment and a lot of people around me that really support me and encourage me to be my best and I am so, so grateful.”