After placing second in the David D. Dubois Piano Competition Evelyn Mo decided she wanted to return to Bowling Green.
|Dubois Piano Competition finalist Evelyn Mo (right) receives her award from BGSU piano faculty member Laura Melton (left) as fellow pianist Sabrina Kozak (middle) looks on. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
This morning, Mo, a high school sophomore from northern Virginia, won the fourth Dubois competition held at Bowling Green State University, with sparkling performances of W.A. Mozart, Frederic Chopin and Lowell Liebermann.
Renowned pianist and guest judge Jeremy Denk was especially impressed with her performance of Chopin’s Sonata in B-flat minor. She “played with incredible polish and sound,” he said.
Mo, 15, has studied piano since she was 3. She doesn’t remember not playing piano, and it’s always something she’s loved. “Even when I was young I always practiced.”
Though she has diverse interests -- she loves writing, math and science and also plays the violin, she knows she wants music to remain a part of her life even if that means the academic rigors of seeking two degrees in college.
Right now, she said, she’s leaning toward studying piano performance and finance and economics.
“It’s part of me,” Mo said of music. “I like playing, I like performing. It’s like telling a story when you play. It’s an exhilarating experience.” And that’s how she felt after finishing her Dubois winning performance.
Other award winners were: Matthew Fingel, Midland, Texas, second place; David Geng, Princeton, N.J., third place; and Sasha Bult-Ito, Fairbanks, Alaska, honorable mention. Fingel and Bult-Ito, are students at the Interlochen Arts Academy in western Michigan.
The winners received cash awards of $3,000 for first, $2,000 for second, and $1,000 for third.
Other finalists were Joseph Vaz, Cincinnati, Sabrina Kozak, from Torrance, Calif.; Jarrett Takaki, from Wilmette, Ill; and Interlochen student Kevin Takeda, from Indian Wells, Calif.
In all 21 pianists competed first in the semifinals on Saturday and then this morning in the final round.
Thomas Rosenkranz, the BGSU faculty member who judged the finals with Denk, said seeing the competitors on stage he forgets how young they are. “You hear them as artists and judge them as artists,” he said. Still “they’re young kids,” albeit young people able “to access” a high level of music.
Rosenkranz said he and Denk came away with the same set of award winners, though not necessarily in the same order.
In the end what distinguished the winners was “a deeper connection to the music.”
Each performer, Denk said, has “a different quality,” and “all are in the process of growing.”
This was the second year Bowling Green residents Rob and Mary Lou Riday have attended the event. They were about the only people in Kobacker Hall other than those involved in the competition.
That surprises Rob Riday. He thinks the university could charge $50 for tickets. That’s how good these young musicians are. “These are some of the most talented in the country and the world.”
Mary Lou Riday said this was just one of the many musical programs, including BGSU faculty recitals, that are available free to the community.
“You’d expect the local piano teachers would bring their students,” her husband said.
Robert Swinehart, a trustee of the David D. Dubois Trust, said the event this year again validates the trust’s decision to invest in the proposal developed by Laura Melton, of the BGSU piano faculty.
“There’s no question,” Swinehart said, “that Dave Dubois who embraced the arts would be a very happy man today to see how the funds are being used to the benefit of students.”