Brandon music students earn third-place finishes at National Festival


Courtesy;  Brandon University News Release

BRANDON, Man. – While many eyes were on the Olympic athletes at Rio through mid-August, two Brandon students were among 55 of Canada’s best young musicians performing and competing at the National Music Festival in Edmonton.

Jammie Lee, on piano, and Kayla Solomon, on trumpet, are Brandon students who were among those chosen to represent Manitoba at the national competition. Solomon, who performed with her piano partner, Danielle Guina, and Lee also both played at a try-out recital at Brandon University (BU) on July 31, before heading to nationals.

When they returned, Solomon and Lee were carrying the National Festival equivalent of bronze medals: each placed third in their category.

Lee has been nationally recognized before. In 2011, then aged 10, Lee placed second in his age category in the Canadian Music Competitions at the finals in Montreal, playing a Mozart piano concerto. Not limited to piano, Lee also plays trombone in the Vincent Massey Band and in jazz band, and will soon begin Grade 10. He also plays drums in a church band at Grand Valley’s Korean congregation, and studies theory with Gretta Sayers.

At the Nationals, Lee played a complete Beethoven Sonata, Op. 10 No. 3, which is known especially for its tragic slow movement, marked “slow and sad.” Adjudicator Moshe Hammer described Lee’s performance of this as “wonderful.”

Lee brought the four movements of the sonata a great variety of style and expression, and they were judged by piano adjudicator Janet Scott Hoyt as “beautifully characterized” and that he “captured the humour” in the finale. The other work on Lee’s program, Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2, was presented with “excellent control throughout.”

Overall, said Hoyt, “it was a pleasure to hear your performance today. You are doing great work.”

Lee, the son of Mija Lim and King Lee, was invited earlier this summer to play with the Winnipeg Symphony at its “Open House: Made in Manitoba” concert. Until 2015 he studied piano with Dr. Kyung Kim, and he now studies with Dr. Lawrence Jones, professor emeritus at the BU School of Music.

A native of Winnipeg, Solomon has completed her second year in Brandon University’s Bachelor of Music program. The winner of many scholarships and awards, she studies trumpet with Dr. Ed Bach, himself an award-winner at the National Festival in earlier years. Before she started trumpet, she had extensive training in piano and theory with Heidi Peters, and in violin.

At the Nationals, Kayla played a trumpet concerto written in the 1950s by the Armenian composer, Alexander Arutunian. The adjudicator, renowned clarinettist James Campbell, commented on her “confident musical ideas, wide dynamic range, and terrific cadenza.”

Trumpet virtuoso Guy Few noted that her second number, Andante and Allegretto by Balay, was played with “such a lovely sound,” and added, “Thanks for your beautiful playing.”

The School of Music and Eckhardt-Gramatté Conservatory are delighted with the continuing success of these wonderful young musicians, and congratulate them for doing so well, literally on the national stage,” said Greg Gatien, Dean of the BU School of Music. “It is a testament to their commitment, intelligence, and musical sophistication. It’s also another example of the high level of instruction that our students receive in Brandon, and how lucky we are to have teachers like Ed Bach and Lawrence Jones working in our community.”

Since 1967, the National Festival, organized by the Canadian Federation of Music Festivals, has sponsored competitions in piano, strings, woodwinds, brass, voice, music theatre, percussion, classical guitar, and chamber groups. Competitions at local, and then provincial levels, lead to national competition, where each performer selected represents a province or territory.

Brandon University, founded in 1899, promotes excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship, and educates students so that they can make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders.

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