Competition winners perform solo pieces

Bo Gemmell


Undergraduate Topher Ruggiero and graduate student Savannah Denes are the winners of a student competition and will play concertos with the Kent State Student Orchestra on Sunday.


Credit: DKS Editors

The undergraduate and graduate winners of the Kent State Orchestra’s Student Soloists Competition will perform solo pieces with the orchestra in Cartwright Hall this Sunday.

Frank Wiley, director of the orchestra, will conduct the concert. He said the event will open with Maurice Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin.”

“We needed (a beginning piece) that would go well with the two solo pieces,” Wiley said.

The winners, Topher Ruggiero and Savannah Denes, competed Dec. 1 for the opportunity to perform in the concert.

Wiley said Kent State faculty members judged the preliminary competition. Three outside judges, a member of the Cleveland Orchestra and two faculty members at Youngstown State University, determined the final winners.

Ruggiero, a graduate student in piano performance, will perform Franz Liszt’s “Totentanz” with the orchestra.

“We’re having a lot of fun with the piece,” he said.

Ruggiero said he and the orchestra have been rehearsing for three weeks and “everybody sounds great.”

“It’s harder to find a concerto to do because you have to find an entire orchestra,” the pianist of 15 years said.

Ruggiero and Denes both said they’ll be performing their first concertos in the performance.

Denes, junior music major, will perform the flute portion of Franz Doppler’s “Hungarian Pastoral Fantasy.”

“I’m kind of nervous but mostly excited,” she said.

The musicians will rehearse again this week as well as a run-through tomorrow, she said.

“It’s all going very well,” Wiley said. “It should be a great concert.”

Wiley said tomorrow’s open dress rehearsal will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Music and Speech Building’s Ludwig Recital Hall.

Ruggiero said he plans to take a year off after he graduates in May and then plans to study for a doctorate degree.

He teaches private piano lessons to musicians in the Kent community as well as to a few Kent State students.

Denes said she’ll “definitely continue with music” after earning her bachelor’s degree and plans to continue her education at the graduate level.

“I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity to play with the orchestra,” Denes said.

The program will close with Franz Schubert’s “Symphony No. 4 in D Minor,” Wiley said, to create “a good balance in music.”

Tickets cost $10 at the door and are free for Kent State students.

Contact performing arts reporter Bo Gemmell at [email protected]