Derrell Acon

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Five Lawrence University Musicians Earn Top Honors in State Music Competition

APPLETON, WIS. — Lawrence University student musicians accounted for three of the six winners at the 14th annual Neale-Silva Young Artists competition conducted March 22 in Madison.

The percussion trio of Felicia Behm, David Ranscht and Stacey Stoltz, along with bass-baritone Derrell Acon and pianist Leonard Hayes shared top honors with clarinetist Ching-Chieh Hsu and violinist Elias Goldstein, both from the UW-Madison and saxophonist Phillip Dobernig of Mukwonago High School in the state competition sponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio. Each received $400 for their winning performances.

Lawrence students have won or shared top honors in the Neale-Silva event four years in a row and nine of the past 11.

The competition is open to instrumentalists and vocal performers 17-26 years of age who are either from Wisconsin or attend a Wisconsin college. This year’s competition attracted a total of 23 soloists and ensembles, 14 of which advanced to the finals. In addition to the three winners, Lawrence had two other finalists: pianist Dario LaPoma and the piano trio of Laura Hauer, Anna Henke and Megan Karls.

Acon, Hayes, and the members of the percussion trio will reprise their winning performances Sunday, April 26 at 12:30 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater in Madison. The concert will be broadcast live statewide on the NPR News and Classical Music Network of WPR.

For the April 30 concert, Behm, a senior from Monument, Colo., Ranscht, a junior from La Crosse, and Stoltz, a sophomore from Aurora, Ill., will share a single marimba in a highly visual performance of Mark Ford’s “Stubernic” and an arrangement of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” written by Behm. All three study in the percussion studio of Dane Richeson.

Acon, a junior from St. Louis, Mo., will sing “Il lacerato spirito” by Giuseppe Verdi, Howard Swanson’s “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” “All the Little Horses” by Aaron Copland and “Amiamo” by Gaetano Donizetti. He studies in the voice studio of Patrice Michaels.

Hayes, a sophomore from Dallas, Texas, will play “Piano Sonata Op. 7 in E- flat Major,” by Beethoven and Olivier Messiaen’s Noel from “Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jesus.” Hayes, who studies in the piano studio of Catherine Kautsky, also will perform as accompanist for Acon.

The Neale-Silva Young Artists’ Competition was established to recognize young Wisconsin performers of classical music who demonstrate an exceptionally high level of artistry. It is supported by a grant from the estate of the late University of Wisconsin Madison professor Eduardo Neale-Silva, a classical music enthusiast who was born in Talca, Chile and came to the United States in 1925.