Concerto competition winners to perform with Kent State Orchestra on Sunday

Dara Sander

Two Kent State soloists will perform concertos with the Kent State Hugh A. Glauser School of Music Orchestra on Sunday, Feb. 15 in the University Auditorium at Cartwright Hall at 3 p.m.

Matthew Watkins, a graduate flute performance major, and Liyue Yin, a senior piano performance major, were chosen as the two soloists after winning a Kent State Orchestra concerto competition in November 2014.

“They won the concerto competition because they are terrific musicians,” said Charles Latshaw, director of Kent State’s orchestra and an assistant professor at the School of Music. “When I listened in their competition auditions, I knew they were going to do really well with the orchestra.”

The two soloists’ hard work and excellent performance qualities have taken years to master.

Watkins has played the flute since he was in the fourth grade, and Yin has played since she was 8 years old.

“Before the competition, I spent two months learning it (the piece) because I had never worked on it before,” Watkins said. He will play Carl Nielsen’s “Concerto for Flute.”

Yin spent a full semester practicing because she was auditioning for other concerts while preparing for the competition. She will play Maurice Ravel’s “Piano Concerto in G Major.”

“Both of those pieces are not only difficult for the soloists, they’re also both hard for the orchestra,” Latshaw said.

Watkins describes his piece as “crazy sounding,” as there are many parts to the piece “that sound random,” he said.

Watkins said he believes he was chosen as the graduate winner due to the way he performed.

“They said I played it really musically,” Watkins said. “That’s kind of difficult for this piece.”

Yin described her piece as being “very showy with instrumentation and color.”

“There’s a lot of jazz influence, so it has a lot of rhythm,” due to the composer’s impressionist time period and jazz influence, she said.

The concert will begin with the premiere of local Cleveland composer Kevin Krumenauer’s “Aeonian Pulse.”

Latshaw described “Aeonian Pulse” as something similar to orchestral rave music because it sometimes sounds “like pop music with a little bit of jazz,” he said.

Watkins and Yin will then play their pieces followed by the classic orchestral work, Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.”

The “New World Symphony” “is kind of piece if you’ve never been to an orchestra concert, you should come listen to,” Latshaw said. “It has lots and lots of things that even if you don’t think you like orchestra music or like classical music, that you’ll recognize.”

Watkins said he hopes the audience will enjoy his performance as much as enjoys playing it.

“That’s something I like to do,” he said. “I like to make the audience love the music.”

Yin said she hopes that the audience can tell that she’s gained a better understanding of music since freshman year and that she is enjoying each moment she plays.

“I really mean if you’ve never been to an orchestra concert, this is a really good one to come to,” Latshaw said.

Students can attend for free, through the university’s Fee-For-Free program. Tickets are $13 for Kent State faculty and staff and $15 for adults.

Contact Dara Sander at [email protected].