January 16, 2015 at 3:00pm

In the Spotlight

The Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra (MDSO) will present its annual Young Artists Concert, featuring three Millikin University student soloists, on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 7:30 p.m. in Kirkland Fine Arts Center.
The performance will showcase winners from the Millikin School of Music Concerto/Aria Competition. This year's honorees are Brock Gwaltney (piano), a junior piano performance and commercial music major from Jacksonville, Ill.; Phillip Lopez (bass-baritone), a junior vocal performance major from Avon, Ill.; and Christopher Raymond (bassoon), a senior instrumental music performance major from Bourbonnais, Ill.
The Young Artists Concert will open with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major, a symphony in four movements composed between 1811 and 1812. Following an intermission, the MDSO will perform the first movement of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring Brock Gwaltney on piano, followed by performances of Handel's "O ruddier than the cherry," Strauss' "Morgen!" and Mozart's "Non piu andrai," featuring Phillip Lopez.
The concert will finish with performances of excerpts from John Williams' "The Five Sacred Trees," featuring Christopher Raymond on bassoon, and George Enescu's "Romanian Rhapsody."
Dr. Michael Luxner, MDSO music director and conductor, will host the concert preview on Jan. 31 at 6:45 p.m. in Kirkland Lecture Room 128 prior to the Young Artists Concert. The event is free to concert attendees.
Brock Gwaltney began playing piano at the age of nine in his hometown of Jacksonville, Ill. He is a recent recipient of the Alice Herren Ayars Award, offered by Millikin to outstanding piano students. Gwaltney is a winner of the MDSO Concerto/Aria competition, and a Second Prize winner of the ISMTA Collegiate Piano Competition. In 2012, he was a member of the Jazz Honors Band at the IMEA All-State Convention.
Gwaltney's primary focus is classical music, but he also enjoys jazz and improvisation. The MDSO concert on Jan. 31 marks his debut as a concerto soloist.
Since entering Millikin University, Phillip Lopez has been involved with the Millikin Opera Department, performing roles in "Sacred & Secular Cantatas" by J.S. Bach in 2013, and "Gianni Schicchi" by Giacomo Puccini in 2014, as well as other solo recitals and ensemble performances. In February 2015, he will perform the bass role of Polypheme in George Frideric Handel's "Acis and Galatea."
Phillip has also been a member of the Millikin University Choir, enjoying the choir's tour to Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia during the summer of 2014. In the spring of 2014, Phillip was awarded an outstanding sophomore award from Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honors Society. Phillip is also president of Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity.
Christopher Raymond regularly performs with the MDSO, the Eidolan Woodwind Quintet, and Millikin's Symphonic Wind Ensemble, where he has held the Principal Bassoon chair for the past four years. A two-time winner of the Concerto/Aria competition, Chris performed Weber's "Concerto in F Major" with the MDSO in 2013. He was also a finalist for Millikin's Hollis Prize. Other featured appearances include performances with the Millikin Wind Ensemble and the Kankakee Valley Symphony.
An active orchestral musician around central Illinois, Chris holds the Principal Bassoon position with the Urbana Pops Orchestra, and performs regularly with Sinfonia da Camera in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. Last year, he traveled with the South Shore Orchestra of Indiana on a tour of China.
Tickets are $13-$16.50 and are available through the Kirkland Fine Arts Center Ticket Office, by phone at 217.424.6318 or online at kirklandfinearts.com. Ticket Office hours are Monday '€“ Friday from 10 a.m. '€“ 5 p.m. A $2.50 fee will be charged for credit card purchases. This is a per transaction fee, not per ticket, and applies to online and Ticket Office orders.
Concerts of the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and the Symphony Guild of Decatur.