Aria, concerto competition winners host von der Mehden Recital Hall concert

UConn Symphony Orchestra Director Harvey Felder is seen during a concert at von der Mehden Recital Hall on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. (Allen Lang/The Daily Campus)

The winners of the University of Connecticut Music Department’s aria/concerto competition treated the audience at von der Mehden Recital Hall to an enrapturing concert Thursday night. 

Miles Mocarski, a junior in the UConn music program and current concertmaster of UConn’s Symphony Orchestra, opened the concert with “Carmen Fantasy, op. 25, for Violin and Orchestra” by Pablo Sarasate.

The “Carmen Fantasy” is a virtuosic violin showpiece. Sarasate enjoyed composing such pieces in order to showcase his own talent on the violin. 

Mocarski’s performance boasted his technical flair as he tackled its speedy finger work and high-pitched tones effortlessly, eliciting a standing ovation from the audience. 

In the concert’s program, Mocarski noted how the “Carmen Fantasy” has a special place in his heart. 

“After hearing it I developed a deep fascination for the [violin],” he wrote. “I am so excited to be able to perform the piece that inspired me to become a violinist. 

Following Mocarski, Hyejin Bae, a graduate student currently studying at UConn with Professor Dionne Jackson, performed “Concerto in D, K. 314, for Flute and Orchestra” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

Bae’s rendition of the concerto was joyous and light-hearted. The bright runs and skips of her flute fluttered through the recital hall and received another standing ovation from the audience. 

Bae’s remarkable performance was not surprising, as she’s taken home numerous awards from competitions in her own country of South Korea, including the Korea Flute Association Competition, CBS Youth Competition and Music Education News Competition. 

Bae also played principal flute in the Philharmonic Orchestra and Wind Ensemble while studying on a full scholarship at Northern Illinois University. 

The final performer at the concerto concert was tubist Samantha Lake, a seventh-semester music performance major, studying the tuba with Gary Sienkiewicz. 

Lake treated the audience to a spirited interpretation of “Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra” by Bruce Broughton, most commonly known for his popular film scores. 

Lake’s tuba rumbled and roared during certain parts of the concerto and was shockingly expressive and flowing at others. The trembling strings accompanying her provided the perfect contrast to the deep and rich tones of the tuba. 

The UConn Symphony Orchestra also performed selections from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” in honor of the approaching holiday season, including favorites like the “Russian Dance (Trepak)” and “Waltz of the Flowers.”

The concert closed with a group performance of Edouard Lalo’s “Overture” from his obscure opera “Le roi d’Ys.” The piece began delicately before turning passionate and dramatic, surrounding the audience in a sea of bold strings and soaring brass.

The winners of the UConn Music Department’s aria/concerto competition did not disappoint Thursday night. Their flawless performances were backed up masterfully by the UConn Symphony Orchestra, and the musicians’ love for their craft was obvious to everyone in von der Mehden Recital Hall.

“This is one of our favorite concerts we do all year,” said conductor Harvey Felder.


Helen Stec is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at helen.stec@uconn.edu.