Winning soloists shine in special Rowan Orchestra concert

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Mellifluous sounds filled Pfleeger Concert Hall during the Rowan Orchestra: Soloist Competition Winners Concert. Held on Tuesday, Feb. 21, the concert consisted of six songs, which included Mozart’s “Violin Concerto no.5” and Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite,” and had the Rowan orchestra in accompaniment to the featured soloists.

Family, friends and loved ones filled the auditorium cheering for the soloists and other orchestra members. Soloists included Diego Villamil Gomez, Kelly Freno, Patrick Higgins and Keith Bianchini.

Gomez, who hails from Bogota, Columbia, received his B.A in violin performance from the National University of Colombia and is currently a grad student of Dr. Timothy Schwartz; he is also a recipient of the Pfleeger and Socolofsky scholarships. Gomez’s first solo performance came in the concert’s opening piece in Joaquin Turino’s “La Procesion del Rocio,”

Soprano soloist Kelly Freno sang “Il dolce suono mi colpi” from Guiseppe Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammeroor,” earning a standing ovation for her performance.

Last semester, Freno sang the part of Susanna in Rowan Opera Company’s production of “Le Nozze di Figarro.” She graduates in May but will be returning as a graduate student.

Higgins, a senior in jazz performance and music education, took the stage for his saxophone solo in a piece titled “Concertino da Camera” by Jaques Ibert. He studies classical jazz with Dr. Tim Powell and Professor Denis DiBlasio. Higgins plans on teaching music at the collegiate level.

The final soloist of the night was trombonist Keith Bianchini, a senior music education and jazz performance dual major. Bianchini, whose solo featured in the last piece of the night, has performed in several ensembles including jazz band, lab band and wind ensemble.

Senior music education major Nathan MacAdams was one of the many students that came out to support his fellow students in concert.

“I came because my friends Patrick [Higgins] and Keith [Bianchini] are performing. I thought Kelly [Freno] was phenomenal,” MacAdams said.

Freshman Jake Mackenzie attended in support of his friend Danielle Fisher, who played the flute in the orchestra.

“Everyone was excellent, very talented,” Mackenzie said.

First violin chair and assistant concertmaster Gerard Ramos, a senior music education major, said that numerous hours of practice went into preparing for the concert. Ramos himself would practice almost 12 hours a day.

Horn player Karenann Libby discussed how proud she was of the concert, as well as noting the difficulties that went into playing one of the harder pieces, “Firebird.”

“The endurance,” Libby said. “Having to play that long music can be taxing.”

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