Aug 09, 2020
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Micah Davison plays the marimba at the Music Concert Hall during the Fresno State Concerto Competition rehearsal on Jan. 20, 2017. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Marimba, cello players steal the show

Melodies echoed through the halls of the Music Building Jan. 20 and 21 as the Fresno State music department held its 10th annual Concerto Competition.

Fresno State music students were featured both days as they performed a variety of pieces to judges. The performances ranged from works by classical composers to a 21st century concerto.

Kelvin Diaz Inoa, who performed a cello concerto, and Micah Davison, who performed a marimba concerto won the competition

Davison, a second-year graduate student, started practicing his marimba concert in March  2016. He initially chose the concerto by Ney Rosauro for his graduate recital, but decided to perform it for the competition as well.

“It always feels good to win, but I think I feel better about the fact that I just was really proud of my performance,” Davison said. “This [was] definitely one of my stronger ones.”

The competition allowed for all types of instrumentation, featuring many strings performers, vocalists and a trumpet player.  

Valerie Loera and Ed Olivarez sung “Yiddishe Volkslieder,” a work by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. This 20th century work featured unique harmonies and rhythms that contrasted some of the more conventional-sounding concertos.

“This is a work that is not really performed very often so to be able to do it for an audience and to have them appreciate it is really awesome,” Loera said.

The students performed for the audience made up of friends, family and the two judges, Dale Engstrom and Dmitry Rachmanov. Engstrom was the band director at Fresno City College and Rachmanov is the chair of keyboard studies at California State University, Northridge.

“There’s so many things to listen for. Of course the technical part of it is very important but I also look for the musicality, the confidence, the stage presence,” Engstrom said. “All of that equates to a good or bad performance. So there’s a lot of things and sometimes it’s like comparing apples and oranges; it can be somewhat subjective but we do have criteria.”

After the competition, friends and family gathered around to congratulate the winners and talk to one another.
“It was so wonderful to hear everyone because I know at the beginning of the week everyone felt nervous and didn’t feel confident at all,” Patricia Fronda, a second-year graduate student, said. “So now to see everyone come out and play their best was really inspiring.”

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