On Sunday I had the privilege of helping judge the Fresno Philharmonic’s first ever young artists concerto competition at the Shaghoian Hall. I listened to 14 musicians (ages 22 and younger) compete. I have profound admiration for every one of the contestants. It takes a lot of aplomb to walk onto a big stage in a nearly empty hall, with the officious looking judges sitting behind plastic tables halfway back, and play under pressure. My fellow judge Ted Kuchar, music director of the orchestra, was warm in his welcomes but also brisk. Players were expected to be able to stop and skip to different movements in the pieces they were playing.
- First prize ($2,500): Carl Gardner, bassoon
- Second prize ($1,000): Samuel Primack, flute
- Third prize (tie $250 each): Jennifer Broussard, trumpet, and Joshua Locher, saxophone
Gardner has been invited to play his competition concerto (Launy Grondahl’s Bassoon Concerto) with the Fresno Philharmonic, conducted by Kuchar, at the May 4 “Side by Side” concert in the Saroyan Theatre.
Gardner, a graduate of University High School, is the son of the orchestra’s principal bassoon, Larry Gardner — like father, like son — and is studying the instrument at Oberlin Conservatory, one of the nation’s preeminent music schools. He plays beautifully.
On the jump: a photo of Ted Kuchar and me at the Shaghoian, judges for a day.