Small ensembles compete for cash & bragging rights at BGSU

BG Independent News
With the list of winners in hand Connor Nelson didn’t waste any time making the announcement everyone was waiting for. He’d been in this situation many times before, the flutist said.
So he announced the 10th class of winners in The Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts Chamber Music Competition. Nelson with fellow faculty member Susan Nelson coordinated this year’s event.

Gravity Quartet,from left, Chi Him Chik, Kendra Heslip, Julia Kuhlman, and Chris Murphy.

Gravity Quartet, from left, Chi Him Chik, Kendra Heslip, Julia Kuhlman, and Chris Murphy.

The event was founded by Douglas Wayland in 2007 to give instrumentalists a chance to hone their skills in a way only having to perform before a panel of judges and having their performances ranked among their peers will do. The event now bears the name of the founder, who died in November, 2013. The Wayland competition is sponsored in his honor by Pro Musica.
The competition took its place with the Competitions in Music for concerto soloists and the Conrad Art Song Competition for vocalists and pianists.
So this weekend, musicians in ensembles of three to six members competed. Each is coached by a faculty member or graduate student. This year eight undergraduate ensembles with 26 musicians and seven graduate ensembles with 28 musicians competed. The semifinals were held Saturday. For both rounds panels of outside musicians were brought in to judge.
Four undergraduates and three graduate finalists were selected to move on to Sunday’s final round where they performed up to 18 minutes of music. The finals got underway with a torrent of saxophone sound from Enohpoxas, that is “saxophone” spelled backwards – the names of the ensembles are often as fanciful as the music played.
As in the past contemporary music dominated the repertoire. There was even a heavy sample of rock ‘n’ roll when the undergraduate trio Pitnix performed “Techno-Parade” by Guillaume Connesson. During the piece pianist Varis Vatcharanukul drummed on the strings of the piano with a toothbrush. The trio put on a lively show with flutist Samantha Tartamella swaying like a wood nymph as she played.
“Yes we pride ourselves on moving together,” she said after the performance.
Pitnix, which also includes clarinetist Stephen Dubetz, won the top undergraduate prize for their efforts. They were the only ensemble other than a saxophone quartet to win.
Top graduate prize went to the Gravity Quartet with Kendra Heslip, soprano saxophone, Julie Kuhlman, alto saxophone, Chi Him Chik, tenor saxophone, and Chris Murphy, baritone saxophone.
Enohpoxas – Brianna Buck, soprano saxophone, Seth Bowser, alto saxophone, Logan Hostetler, tenor saxophone, and Ian Semanovich, baritone saxophone – received the second place award.
Girisa Quartet – Chris Delouis, soprano saxophone, Yufei Zhang, alto saxophone, Helen West, tenor saxophone, and Garrett Tanner, baritone saxophone – won second prize in the graduate division.
“You made our job very difficult,” said George Pope, University of Akron, who along with Christina Dahl, Stony Brook University, and Anthony Elliott, University of Michigan, judged the finals. “Everyone played wonderfully.”
Members of the first place ensembles each receive $200 and those in the second place ensembles receive $100.
The winning ensembles will perform Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Manor House in Wildwood Metropark, 5100 W. Central Ave., in Toledo, and April 3 at 3 p.m. in the Great Gallery at the Toledo Museum of Art. Also on April 1 at 10 a.m. they will perform on WGTE-FM for a live broadcast with host Brad Cresswell.