BRATTLEBORO -- The Windham Orchestra’s 28th annual Concerto Competition, for young musicians, was held at the Brattleboro Music Center on Feb. 2.
From the competition emerged co-winners cellist Nate Steele, 14, who attends high-school in Deerfield, Mass.; and violinist Alexander "Sasha" Yakub, 15, who attends high-school in Amherst, Mass.
"We had nine contestants, the quality of the field was breathtakingly high. It was hard to choose even two winners from the field," states Windham Orchestra Director Hugh Keelan. "The winners are so strong the musicians of the Orchestra and our audiences just have to hear them. The size and quality of field is a heart-warming validation of the interest in this competition and the desirability of playing with the Windham Orchestra."
The winners will perform with the Orchestra during daytime concerts on Thursday, March 20, at the Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro; and on Saturday, March 22, at 7:30 p.m., at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester.
Nate Steele will perform Saint-Saens’ Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 33, Allegro Molto; and Sasha Yakub will perform Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28.
Steele is 14 years old and is a freshman at Deerfield Academy, where he is Principal Cellist in their orchestra and plays in both a quartet and octet. Every Saturday, he goes to the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he plays in the String Chamber Orchestra, plays in a trio in the chamber program and studies with Emmanuel Feldman. In his spare time, Nate plays guitar, squash and tennis.
Yakub, a sophomore at Amherst Regional High School, has been studying violin since age 4 with Minna Diner and Giovina Sessions. He is a member of the ARHS Symphonic Orchestra and of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. He has been concertmaster in Springfield Youth Orchestra (2012-2013), the Western Massachusetts Junior Districts Orchestra (2011), the Senior Districts Orchestra (2012, 2013), and the All-State Orchestra (2013). For the past three summers, Sasha has also been attending Greenwood Music Camp (in Cummington, Mass.); this past summer there, he conducted the Senior Greenwood Music Camp Orchestra in the premiere of his piece "In Silva Virenti." Sasha’s chamber and solo music has also been performed at other concerts in Amherst, Cummington and New York City. Sasha plays on Andranik Gaybaryan’s violin. His interests also include math, foreign languages and linguistics. In his free time, Sasha likes to read, frequent coffee shops, practice karate and forage for wild mushrooms.
Since its inception 28 years ago, the Windham Orchestra’s Annual Youth Concert Competition has been funded by Brattleboro violinmaker Douglas Cox (www.coxviolins.com).
For more information about the Windham Orchestra, visit www.windhamorchestra.org. For tickets and information regarding the Orchestra’s March concerts featuring the concerto competition winners, visit www.bmcvt.org or call the Brattleboro Music Center at 802-257-4523.