All-Star Winners to Perform June 5

3 min read

**Venue change: June 5 concert All-Star Concert moved to Schoenberg Hall**

Every year, students at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music gear up for the All-Star Competition. The prize is a chance to solo with the UCLA Philharmonia, the school’s flagship orchestra and one of Southern California’s premier training orchestras. This year’s winners will perform at Schoenberg Hall on Sunday, June 5 at 4 p.m.

“I knew about this the second I came to UCLA,” said Alexander Lee, senior saxophonist and one of the winners this year’s competition. “I competed my sophomore year and won honorable mention. Last year there was no concert, so I was excited for this year.”

Eight students were chosen the winners of the 2021-2022 All Star Competition representing a diverse selection of instruments and styles. Their performance selections range from the legendarily virtuosic first movement of the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D. Minor, Op. 47 to the sonorous Barber piece for voice and orchestra, Knoxville: Summer of 1915 to the Spanish-inflected Baroque Flamenco Harp Concerto by Deborah Henson-Conant.

“I fell in love with that concerto when I first heard it,” said harpist Christina Perez, a second-year master’s student. “I loved the Spanish influence and the contemporary techniques that the composer used. She wrote percussive rhythms that I play on the harp, almost hitting the harp when I do. She has the harpist use their nails to strum the harp like a guitar.”

First-year cellist Kaya Ralls also chose a Spanish-influenced concerto by Édouard Lalo. Lalo, a French composer, may be best known for his Symphonie Espagnole for solo violin, but his cello concerto has Spanish inflections as well. “The third movement pays homage to Spanish dance styles,” explained Kaya Ralls, “and the contrasting romantic sections showcase the incredible beauty that Lalo and the cello are known for.”

For some of the winners, music selection was about the instrument. First-year master’s student Nathan Culcasi chose Ferdinand David’s Concertino in E Flat, Op. 4, standard in the repertoire. The piece showcases the instrument’s range and ability – something Culcasi is familiar doing. He plays trombone classically and in jazz groups and played with his father in a German polka band while in high school. “My father was an amateur rock musician. I heard a lot of loud electric guitar at night,” said Culcasi, who started off on clarinet. “One day my dad saw a used trombone on Craigslist, bought it, and brought it home for me to try.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Other musical selections ponder modern themes. Second-year master’s student Hannah Miller chose Francis Poulenc’s Le Dame de Monte Carlo, a soprano monologue with orchestra that explores the thoughts of an older, abandoned woman in Monte Carlo contemplating suicide. The monologue was written by poet Jean Cocteau, describing the decadent and decaying Monte Carlo of 1924, and set for orchestra by Poulenc in 1961.

“It’s a fascinating train of thought,” said Miller. “For me, those first three bars just sound like the ocean swelling. You can see her looking out over the Mediterranean and contemplating her life, her choices, the people around her.”

Alexander Lee chose a contemporary saxophone piece, Guillaume Connesson’s A Kind of Trane. Composed in 2015, it pays homage to the titanic influence of John Coltrane across jazz, classical, and other popular forms of music, including techno rave music. “I’ve always loved jazz, loved the saxophone in multiple settings,” said Lee.  

In addition to the eight winners, five students were awarded honorable mentions. The adjudicators for this year’s competition were Sharon Lavery, resident conductor of the Southern California Thornton Symphony and Tomasz Golka, a conductor, composer, and violinist with chamber orchestra and wind ensemble.

The complete list of 2022 All-Star Winners is as follows:

  • Nathan Culcasi, trombone (first-year master’s student)
  • Hanna Hrybkova, violin (first-year master’s student)
  • Sabrina Langlois, voice (first-year master’s student)
  • Alexander Lee, saxophone (fourth-year undergraduate)
  • Hannah Miller, voice (second-year master’s student)
  • Christina Perez, harp (second-year master’s student)
  • Arutyun Piloyan, violin (first-year master’s student)
  • Kaya Ralls, cello (first-year undergraduate)

Honorable mentions:

  • Christian Gonzales, violin (fourth-year undergraduate)
  • Joseph Kim, cello (fourth-year undergraduate)
  • Nicholas Kim, clarinet (first-year undergraduate)
  • Sean Takada, violin (second-year undergraduate)
  • Aiden Tang, piano (first-year undergraduate)

17th Annual All-Star Concert
Sunday, June 5, 4PM PT
Schoenberg Hall + Livestream

**Venue change: June 5 concert All-Star Concert moved to Schoenberg Hall**