On Sept. 13, six groups of young chamber musicians will perform under the lights of Davidson's Tyler-Tallman Hall for $4,500 in cash prizes. 89.9 FM WDAV Classical Public Radio created the adjudicated Young Chamber Musicians Competition with the generous support of OrthoCarolina.
Will Keible, director of marketing and sales for WDAV, said that the station and its partner, OrthoCarolina, identified a need in the region for a way to encourage and support young chamber musicians. He added that the recent resurgence of chamber music in Charlotte prompted the Bechtler Modern Museum of Art and Providence United Methodist Church to host chamber music series'.
The WDAV event is unique in that it is a competition for young chamber musicians.
"WDAV and OrthoCarolina are interested in building community by encouraging young musicians to collaborate and play together," Keible said.
The competition is limited to ensembles from North and South Carolina, and entries are being accepted through June 21 for three age categories: 14 to 17, 18 to 20, and 21 to 23. WDAV has asked competitors to submit video performances of two pieces from contrasting periods by the June deadline. Two finalists will be chosen in each age category.
The six finalists' videos will be posted on the WDAV site from July 22 to Sept. 1 for the public vote, which will account for 25 percent of the final score, with the remaining 75 percent resulting from the judges' scores at the Sept.13 performance on the Davidson campus.
Keible said, "It feels like a joint venture between the station and the college because we have Davidson professors judging and we're using Tyler-Tallman Hall. Cynthia Lawing also has been instrumental in providing advice and counsel."
Artist Associate Cynthia Lawing, Associate Professor of Music Tara Villa Keith, and Director of the Bechtler Ensemble Music Series Tanja Bechtler will judge the performances.
Chamber music is a form of classical music intended for small ensembles, typically including between three and 10 instruments, with no conductor, in which each instrument plays an equal role. "The result is a much more intimate style of performance, with a smaller audience sitting closer to the music," said Keible.
"For symphony players, chamber music is a great creative outlet," Lawing explained. A concert pianist, she has performed as a soloist, chamber musician and concert soloist, including performances with the Charlotte Symphony.
"Each player is a vital piece of the puzzle in a symphony, and the conductor is the one who interprets the music and the players conform. With chamber music, they're still parts of the puzzle, but they are set free because they make the musical choices."
According to Lawing, repertoire selection is the most important choice for the ensemble. "They must consider their musical level, the combination of instruments, and the requirements of the competition," she said. "Good repertoire selection will highlight the technical and musical strengths of the players and will demonstrate their collaborative abilities and creativity."
Lawing said she hopes to see ensembles with interesting combinations of instruments. Overall, she said the judges will be looking at technical proficiency, intonation, artistry (interpretation), how well the ensemble plays together and the difficulty of the repertoire.
"We're hoping to draw a wide range of responses, and a high level of participation and interest from the public. We hope that the sponsorship will continue and competitions of this nature will continue at Davidson," Lawing said.
This is the first music competition organized by WDAV.
Keible noted that WDAV would like this to become an annual competition. "It's a great opportunity for young musicians who will not only benefit from the cash prize but also exposure, which helps the station as well. As a public radio station we feel we have a mandate to serve the community. This competition facilitates achieving that mission while also raising the profile of the station in order to gain new listeners and support."