Violinist Manjie Ally Yang and clarinetist Shen Liu. Photo courtesy of Darren Schilling
Courtesy of Idyllwild Arts

Each year, Idyllwild Arts holds the prestigious Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra Concerto Competition. This extremely competitive event has all of the finest young Idyllwild Arts Academy musicians vying for the coveted top prize — a solo performance with the orchestra.

In the competition, each student contestant plays a major solo work from memory. The concerts featuring the winners of the competition are highly anticipated by members of both the Idyllwild Arts community and the Idyllwild community in general.

This past year, there were three winners chosen from the field — Manjie Yang (violin), Shen Liu (clarinet) and Howard Cheng (viola). The orchestra’s Season Opening Concert features two of the winners, Yang and Liu, performing with the group.

The concert will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16 in the Idyllwild Arts Foundation Theatre on the campus of Idyllwild Arts.

Yang will perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Music Director Peter Askim commented, “It is rare that a violinist this young tackles this work, as it is a work of deep psychological insight and complexity and requires a maturity which eludes players even many years older. The judges of the competition were all captivated by her interpretation and impressed by her grasp of this monumental work.”

Yang, 16, born in the city of Dalian, China, is currently in the 10th grade. She won first prize in the Dalian Violin Competition in 2008 and first prize in a competition at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Summer Camp.

Regarding Liu, Dr. Askim stated “Shen’s playing in the competition was thrilling in its virtuosity, athleticism and energy. The fluidity of his technique seems to know no bounds. On the upcoming concerts, he will perform the rarely heard Clarinet Concerto No. 2 by Bernhard Crusell, a work that is full of both tempestuousness and beautiful lyricism.”

Liu is currently a senior at Idyllwild Arts Academy. Before moving to the United States, he was awarded first prize in numerous solo competitions all across China.

Howard Cheng will perform his winning selection, the Walton Viola Concerto, during the orchestra’s February concerts.