Winners announced for Hays Symphony Orchestra soloist competition


The winners of the Hays Symphony Orchestra’s Concerto/Aria Competition are as follows:

Ashley Vilaysing, clarinet

  • Weber’s “Concertino for Clarinet, Op. 26”

Brandon Smith, piano

  • Mozart’s “Concerto in F Major, K. 459”

Kathryn Walters, voice

  • “Ah! Mon fils!” from Le prophète by Giacomo Meyerbeer
  • “Di Tanti Palpiti” from Tancredi by Gioachino Rossini

Luis Valencia Zamora, voice

  • “Guerrier, che d’un accairo” from Mozart’s Lucio Silla

The four students will perform their solos with the symphony for the Masterworks II Concert on Feb. 18 at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

When Vilaysing first saw her name on the list, she felt relieved that the months of preparation had paid off.

“[It] made it all worth it,” she said. “I’m excited to hear and perform alongside the other finalists. Everyone’s worked so hard. It’s going to be a great concert.”

Smith said that other people told him before he had the chance to read the announcement email.

“I thought they were joking with me,” Smith said. “Once I finally saw it, I was filled with joy at being able to play with a symphony.“

Walters said she felt thrilled and honored to be chosen for the concert – a sentiment shared by the other finalists.

“Honestly, I couldn’t believe it just because the competition was so fierce,” she said. “All of my peers that auditioned are extremely talented, so the fact that I was chosen was just extraordinary.”

Valencia Zamora agreed, saying that he knew the decision would be hard to make. He believes that emoting is what connects an audience to a soloist. Knowing the context of a piece within the opera or song cycle is crucial to communicating those feelings.

“Sometimes we have to, in a sense, ‘forget’ the fundamentals,” he said. “You can play the notes perfectly, but without emotion, the performance loses that connection. Make it mean something to you. Then, you are telling your story, the composer’s story, and creating an experience that’s worth remembering.”

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