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Greater Miami Youth Symphony’s Concerto Competition winners perform

Young winners of The Greater Miami Youth Symphony’s 2011 Concerto Competition perform at two concerts held at Florida International University’s Wertheim Performing Arts Center.

By Rodolfo Roman
Special to the Herald
Playing music is as common as watching television at Southwood Middle School’s student Erica Ogihara’s Pinecrest home.

Father Mitsu Ogihara plays the bass and piano as a hobby.

On Saturday, Erica took to the stage in a solo cello performance at the Greater Miami Youth Symphony Season Gala Concerts at the Florida International University’s Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center, 10910 S.W. 17th St.

“I feel very accomplished now that I got this far,” said Erica, 14.

Erica, who performed Saint-Saens’ Cello Concerto No. 1, won the youth symphony’s 2011 Concerto Competition in the Symphony Orchestra division.

Fifth-grader Sarah Ann Busse of Kendall won the Concert Orchestra division and performed Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in A Minor. The competition took place in February at the Deering Estate at Cutler.

Erica credits her father for her early success.

“I remember him practicing a lot,” she said. “I grew up with music.”

Ogihara was overwhelmed by his daughter’s performance. Erica was also joined by her sister, Ellen, who played violin with the ensemble.

“I am very proud of her,” he said before Erica took the stage.

Both Erica and Sarah performed solos and served part of the ensemble.

In the contest, more than 20 GMYS students competed. Two professors from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music served as judges. The winners practiced with the GMYS orchestras for more than two months.

The youth symphony, founded 50 years ago, is comprised of boys and girls from ages 5 to 18 years old.

Currently, more 600 students are enrolled during the school year in seven beginning instrument classes, four orchestras, and a concert/jazz band. Also, more than 300 students attend the program’s summer camp. The organization produces over 10 concerts a year throughout South Florida.

Melissa Lesniak, GMYS executive director, said winners should applaud their success.

“For most of them it is an opportunity to perform a solo,” she said. “It is a goal they have throughout the year. It’s a chance to advance your skills. You don’t have too many chances to perform with an orchestra.”

The winners performed their solos at separate concerts scheduled for Saturday.

In the first show, the symphony musicians performed works like Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Go West by Ralph Ford and Clocks by Coldplay. The second show highlighted the Florida premiere of Cauldron by David Heuser, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

Carrying roses, which were given by a spectator after the concert, Sarah, 10, said she was nervous before hitting the stage for her first ever solo performance.

“I had a jittery feeling after I finished,” said Sarah, who attends Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in Coconut Grove.

Mom Mayra Busse said it was a great early mother’s day gift. She also added that music has helped Sarah in her studies, noting her daughter also excels in mathematics.

“Music is the key to a lot of academic success,” Busse said.

For upcoming concerts visit www.gmys.org.

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