On Monday, October 8, the Converse Symphony Orchestra will present a concert spotlighting three young soloists who were selected as winners of the 2012 Converse College Young Artist Competition. The performance will be held at 7:30 pm in Twichell Auditorium on the Converse College campus; admission is free.
Pianist Alexandra Lee and sopranos Marjorie Polchow and Meagan Hefte are three exceedingly talented and diligent musicians who have come to know each other through their years of study at Converse College. In addition, they have some interesting connections beyond their gift for performance.
Lee, Polchow and Hefte all hail from nearby towns in southeast Louisiana. Polchow and Hefte even knew each other growing up, singing together in the children’s choir at church and attending the same school for kindergarten through middle school. Years later, they all found their way to Spartanburg to study music at Converse, where they are all nearing the end of their time — but not without leaving a mark.
Lee, a senior, will be performing the first movement, “Allegro affettuoso,” of Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. Her interpretation of this piece brought her success outside Converse this past summer when she placed as a finalist in Brevard Music Center’s concerto competition. While she speaks easily about the piece, joking that the coda is “piano candy” — not really that hard, though it sounds difficult — it is an impressive 16 minutes long, and this is the first piece on which she has collaborated with the Converse Symphony Orchestra. Of her performance in the upcoming concert she says, “I hope the beauty and excitement of this work refreshes the audience and glorifies God. I’m grateful to be able to perform it.”
Polchow and Hefte will be equally as impressive in their interpretations of “Pace, pace mio dio” from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La forza del destino and “Ach, ich fühls” from W.A. Mozart’s The Magic Flute, respectively. Polchow is a second year graduate student who received her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Converse in May 2011. Hefte is a senior vocal performance major. Since arriving at Converse they have shared many experiences in the Petrie School of Music and both are veterans of the stage. Both sang roles in last fall’s Converse Opera Theatre production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and Hefte will appear as Gretel in this fall’s production of Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck.
The Converse Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Siegwart Reichwald, will open the concert with Georges Bizet’s Symphony in C. While Bizet is best known for his opera Carmen, his Symphony in C was not performed at all during his lifetime. It was not until 80 years after its completion that it was finally premiered in Switzerland. Interestingly, Bizet composed this piece in a month when he was a 17-year-old studying at the Paris Conservatory — younger than almost all the musicians who will be performing the piece on October 8.
The Petrie School of Music features these rising young artists in what is sure to be an enjoyable and memorable evening.