Meet the Winners of Wesleyan’s Concerto Competition (May 2)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to the winners of the Wesleyan University Concerto Competition—Josh Davidoff ’18, Harim Jung ’16, and Paula Tartell ’18—who will be performing a free concert with the Wesleyan University Orchestra on Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall.

This Saturday, the Wesleyan University Orchestra, under the direction of Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Nadya Potemkina, presents Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and the winners of the Wesleyan University Concerto Competition.

The concerto competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate Wesleyan students. The three winners have the opportunity to play a piece of their choosing, either a published arrangement or an original composition, accompanied by the Wesleyan Orchestra or Wind Ensemble. This year’s winners are Josh Davidoff ’18 (clarinet), Harim Jung ’16 (double bass), and Paula Tartell ’18 (piano).

WUOConcertoComp_575pxMr. Davidoff is a freshman from Evanston, Illinois. He picked up the clarinet in fourth grade, but it was not until his sophomore year of high school that he realized his intense passion for classical music. He came to Wesleyan after a summer spent touring the country with the National Youth Orchestra, a 120-person orchestra of which he was Apprentice Orchestra Manager. He has continued to pursue music at Wesleyan and is currently studying with Private Lessons Instructor Charlie Suriyakham.

“Music has been very prevalent in my first year at Wesleyan,” he says. “It is related in some way to most everything I do.”

This Saturday, he will perform the Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and orchestra by Claude Debussy, a piece originally composed for the Paris Conservatory’s clarinet examinations in 1910. Mr. Davidoff describes it as incredibly challenging but deeply satisfying to play.

“This piece is particularly significant in music history because it is one of the first to use blankets of harmony, instead of more traditional progressions of chords,” Mr. Davidoff says. “It explores a pallet of sound, rather than a trajectory.”

A New Jersey native, Mr. Jung is a junior pursuing a double major in Music and Psychology. He played cello until middle school where he discovered his passion for bass. He has rigorously studied classical double bass since the age of thirteen, and also plays electric bass as a hobby. At Wesleyan he studies with Private Lessons Teacher Roy Wiseman.

This Saturday, Mr. Jung will perform the first two movements of Giovanni Bottesini’s Bass Concerto No. 2 in b minor, a concerto he has been practicing all year.

“I am particularly drawn to this bass concerto,” Mr. Jung says. “Not only because of its virtuosity, but also for its romantic and operatic compositional style.”

He describes this particular bass concerto as the Paganini of all bass concertos, heroic and strong.

“I imagine a baritone walking on stage and starting with this strong note,” he says. “That’s the image that comes to mind when I play this piece.”

Ms. Tartell is a freshman from Great Neck, New York. She started playing piano as a six-year-old, taking lessons locally until high school when she began commuting to New York City for her music schooling. After taking a break from music her first semester at Wesleyan, she entered the concerto competition as a way to get back into playing.

“I honestly didn’t feel like myself when I wasn’t practicing seriously,” she says.

This semester, in addition to preparing the concerto, she is studying with Private Lessons Teacher William Braun.

Ms. Tartell will perform Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in a minor in this Saturday’s concert. Premiered in Leipzig in January of 1846, it is the only piano concerto that Mr. Schumann ever completed.

“The Schumann really spoke to me,” she says. “It speaks not in a conventional, flashy way but reminds me of the person who is soft spoken yet says a lot.”