Every year the Coeur d’Alene Symphony puts on a Young Artist concert with soloists who’ve won a competition. I attended last year and especially enjoyed Mona Sangesland on the flute and Thomas Cooper playing the violin. This year’s concert proves that there are a lot of hard workers among America’s youth. Sarah Hall kicked off the concert with the Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, coaxing a beautiful rich warm Old World tone out of her 1697 Testore violin. Sarah Cooper then sang Handel and Mozart arias with great assurance. From the Department of Making Others Feel Better About Their Accomplishments, 17-year-old Edison Tsai played part of a Schumann piano concerto. When he’s not playing the piano, he’s finishing his PhD in Electrical Engineering at Portland State University (target date: next year). Brenda Miller achieved tremendous dynamics in a Saint-Saens piano concerto. Laura Pillman challenged the audience with an Ibert flute concerto. Tasha Koontz won the professional category and dared to bring one of the most familiar arias from La Traviata to the stage. She carried it off wonderfully. Fortunately for the audience there was no “You must be taller than this line to play with the orchestra” sign to keep out 12-year-old Yesong-Sophie Lee of the Heatherwood Middle School in Mill Creek, Washington. She first soloed with the Seattle Symphony at age 8. Lee played Franz Waxman‘s adaptation of Carmen originally intended for Jascha Heifetz. The audience went nuts for Lee. (People in Idaho don’t read David Brooks in the New York Times and therefore mistakenly believe that playing the violin at a professional level is some sort of accomplishment.)
One great part of the concert was the intimate size of the hall, within the Kroc Center. Classical music has been done a disservice, in my opinion, by today’s enormous halls.