By Tristan Weisenbach
Arts & Entertainment Editor
The winners of last semester’s Concerto Competition, flutists Mikayla Delano and Gianna Marrano and pianist Sungryung Kim, are slated to play alongside the College’s Wind Ensemble and Orchestra at upcoming performances later this semester.
The competition, which was held on Dec. 6, 2022, featured a number of contestants on various instruments.
“[It’s] always a highlight of the year,” said Dr. Eric Laprade, director of the Wind Ensemble. “It is another example of TCNJ Department of Music’s highly student-centered approach and commitment to experiential learning.”
Delano, a junior flute performance major, and Marrano, a junior music education major, performed a flute duet in the competition. After receiving an email announcement in June 2022, they decided to join forces in an effort to make up for lost time together during the pandemic.
“We both entered as freshmen during the Covid era, so we had a whole year of not playing with each other in the same group,” Marrano said. “It was a great way to just make up for the year we missed due to Covid and just play together.”
Learning a new musical composition, however, comes with its challenges. They highlighted the difficulties in practicing Franz Doppler's Andante and Rondo, the piece that they performed.
“The big issues with doing a duet is intonation and playing with an accompanist,” Delano said. “On your own, the duet itself wasn't too much of an issue, but then when you get together and you finally do that, the biggest thing is intonation.”
Despite this, they still accomplished an amazing performance — one that they agreed was both fulfilling and reassuring.
“I just remember hearing Mikayla play that opening solo in Mayo with the piano, and I was just like, yeah, this is going to be good,” said Marrano. “I just smiled this type of smile that you don't control.”
The flutists spent the following day patiently waiting for the results of the competition to be announced, as it was difficult for them to focus on their classes when they knew they’d be receiving what they’d hoped to be exciting news. Soon enough, their hopes came true — they were deemed the winners.
“I just opened the e-mail and my friends were with me about to go walk out to the car,” said Marrano. “And I was just like, what? And I screamed. I was quite loud, and I was just really, really excited.”
Delano shared similar feelings of cheerfulness, saying that she shared the news with her mom when she received the email. Their win, however, was not only a first for them, though.
“We're actually the first flute players with our private professor who's been here for over, what, 20 years to win this competition,” Delano said.
As winners of the Concerto Competition, Delano and Marrano will get to perform alongside the College’s Wind Ensemble. They are currently preparing to perform their duet at the group’s upcoming concert, scheduled for Thursday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Kendall Hall.
Kim, a senior piano performance major who was also declared a winner of the competition, also described her anticipation for her upcoming performance with the College’s Orchestra later this semester. She’s excited to play Grieg’s Concerto in A Minor, the same piece that she performed at the competition.
“There is a big introduction of piano in the beginning, but it will be more like singing a folk song with orchestra and piano,” Kim said.
In practicing, Kim said that she found it difficult to learn the techniques associated with playing a concerto, as this was the first time she’s performed a concerto piece. She also explained the challenges that come with performing with an accompaniment.
“It was hard to play really loud,” Kim said. “I can play loud, but then it has to be louder to stand out with the orchestra.”
After her performance at the competition, Kim said that thought she would not win because she had made some mistakes. However, she was relieved when she finally heard the news announcing her victory.
“I felt really blessed,” she said. “I really messed up a lot, so I didn’t really expect that I was going to win.”
Despite Kim’s worries, Uli Speth, the director of the College’s Orchestra, shared his appreciation for Kim’s impressive capabilities.
“Sungryung is a very talented and skilled musician with serious virtuosic abilities. She is a very sensitive player and excels in various styles,” Speth said. “I'm very much looking forward [to] playing this music with her.”
Kim will be performing alongside the Orchestra at their upcoming concert on April 21 in Mayo Concert Hall.
Correction: This story previously stated that Dr. Eric Laprade was a judge in the Concerto Competition. This was changed to reflect that he did not judge the competition.