Three West Virginia University student musicians will debut at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall in March.
Angela Reynolds, Tatiana Cassetta and Mirim Lee earned their performances at the storied venue through international music competitions.
“These talented students applied themselves diligently toward refining the advanced technique, memorization and artistry required in the musical works they performed for competition,” said Nina Assimakopoulos, assistant professor of flute. “The accomplishment of winning top prizes in these international competitions is highly commendable and the reward of a debut performance at Carnegie hall is something that all three students are looking forward to.”
Reynolds, a doctoral candidate in flute performance, found the London Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition through an internet search years ago and kept it in the back of her mind. When other WVU musicians began entering the competition, Reynolds decided to apply through the video audition process.
“Putting yourself under the competition microscope can be so overwhelming, I almost decided against entering,” said Reynolds, a Clarksville, Tennessee native. “But I knew receiving feedback would motivate me to grow as a musician.”
After her recorded audition won second prize, she was invited to debut at Royal Albert Hall in London in December 2016.
“The concert served as a debut performance as well as a live audition for special prizes,” Reynolds said. “I felt great about my performance, but we were told the results wouldn’t be announced until January, so it was a month of anxious waiting.”
When the announcement finally came, Reynolds was named an Excellence Special Prize Winner, the top honor through the competition.
“My first reaction was complete shock – I kept rechecking the announcement to make sure my name was still there,” Reynolds said. “Knowing that the prize for winning is performing at Carnegie Hall, I am ecstatic and so grateful for the opportunity.”
Reynolds was the only American performer selected as a special prize winner in the competition. She will perform “Zoom Tube” by Ian Clarke on March 13 in Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall.
For Cassetta, a closed door meant an open window. In September, the flute performance master’s student won first place in the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition, but was unable to claim her prize – a performance in Vienna, Austria – due to time constraints.
“Vienna is a long way from Morgantown and the performance was mid-semester,” said Cassetta, from Royal Oaks, Michigan. “I was really bummed, but I kept telling myself ‘this opportunity will present itself again.’”
That opportunity presented itself in an email regarding the 2017 Golden Classical Music Award Competition, a sister competition of the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition. Knowing the prize was a performance at Carnegie Hall, Cassetta submitted her application, a video from her first master’s recital at WVU.
Now the first prize winner of two major music competitions, Cassetta credits the flute studio at WVU for pushing her to apply.
“I had never entered any competitions before I came to WVU,” Cassetta said. “There’s an exhaustive list of competitions to apply for, but I’ve learned to narrow down the list and apply to the best ones for my particular skills. Furthermore, Professor Assimakopoulos is an amazing coach and has helped me prepare for each performance.”
Cassetta will join Reynolds at Carnegie Hall on March 13. She will perform Jules Mouquet’s Flute Sonata.
A veteran music competition performer, Lee won first prize in the woodwinds category of the 2016 Golden Classical Music Award Competition.
“I’m so proud to have won this award and it makes me want to practice even more,” Lee said. “Becoming a good performer is imperative and these competitions have helped me do so.”
Lee started playing flute when she was 17 years old and the craft has taken her around the world.
“Learning flute has completely changed my life,” said Lee, originally from Seoul, South Korea. “I’ve spent more than 10 years studying abroad in Europe and America and have been able to meet many great flutists and expand my skills and repertoire.”
Lee will perform Hisatada Otaka’s Flute Concerto in her Carnegie Hall debut on March 5.
Tickets for the performances can be purchased at www.carnegiehall.org