Interviews with the 2013 IU Youth Competition Winners -Senior Division

Thanks in part to Executive Director Petar Jankovic, the Indiana University Guitar Competition had a successful fourth year. We asked the youth competition winners for some insight into their personal experiences from the event.

 

Gus Woodrow Publicity Black and WhiteFirst place winner Augustus Woodrow-Tomizuka, having an early obsession with the Beatles, began playing the guitar at age 7. Now age 18, his accolades include top prizes in several guitar competitions, an appearance on NPR’s From the Top, and several major academic awards. He now studies with Tom Patterson at the University of Arizona

How much do you practice?

As bad as it sounds, I have no regularity with my practice hours beyond ensuring that I do at least SOME work every day…. I find that this works well with my personality, and I’m generally inspired (or under the gun!) enough every day to get somewhere between 3-6 hours in.

What music did you play at the competition?

I played Primavera Porteña by Astor Piazzolla (arranged for guitar by Sergio Assad) and Etude 12 by Heitor Villa-Lobos. These are two of my all-time favorite pieces and I think they work well together to showcase different elements of technique and interpretation.

How did you prepare mentally?

I always sing through some of my music before I play a competition. With all the pressure, it can be easy to forget that your primary focus is to make beautiful music! I also run a bit and dance around, because I find that physical activity helps to psyche me up.

What are your goals for the near future?

Currently, I’m working on expanding my repertoire for some concerts in Europe that are in the works for 2014. I’d really love to dedicate more time to my composing.

What are your goals for the long term?

I’d like to tour and share my music with many people. I want to help re-establish classical music as a core element of societies. I think one of the best ways to do this is to compose new pieces that incorporate elements of both classical and pop music.

What is something unrelated to the guitar that is interesting or unique about you?

I’m really passionate about the environment. Now more than ever we need to make a huge effort to reverse the effects of climate change on the natural world. The best way to accomplish this is definitely through education. I also find that music and environmental activism share a sort of universality that is really special. They are both parts of the human experience that just about everyone can relate to in some way. Topics like this are essential in bringing people of different backgrounds together.

 

EricaSecond place winner Erica Cha is a top prize winner in numerous guitar competitions. Born in 1997 in Knoxville, Tennessee, she started playing classical guitar at age 10. She is now 16. Her teachers include Shawn Satler, Ed Stephenson, Christopher Ladd, and Rafael Scarfullery (current). Erica lives in Charlottesville, Virginia where she attends Albemarle High School as a junior.

How much do you practice?

When people ask me how much I practice every day, I get a little embarrassed. My practice time varies from 0-2 hours a day depending on how much homework I have, or based on other extracurricular activities during the week. If I have a competition coming up, that’s when I start getting more serious about practice -at least 3-4 hours each day. Rafael always tells me that I have to sacrifice one thing in order to gain something else, so I sacrificed my time and sleep to practice more guitar.

What music did you play at the competition?

I played Prelude in E Major BWV 1006a by Bach and Etude 11 by Villa-Lobos. I was nervous for the Bach piece because it is so demanding. I think I did well in the Villa-Lobos piece. Compared to other competitions though, I felt a little less prepared.

How did you prepare mentally?

It was a hectic and exciting experience. After a ten hour drive from Virginia, I was just in time to go see Matt Palmer perform, which was amazing as usual; he remembered me from a masterclass four years ago! I also met Zebulon Turrentine after the concert, the luthier who crafted my guitar this March.

I always used to feel really nervous before going on stage at competitions, but now I’m getting used to it. In order to mentally prepare, I take a few deep breaths and say a little prayer. I try to think positively because the second I doubt myself, I tend to make mistakes. Right before I play, I make sure to tune well and take my time to settle down and get comfortable.

I think I felt most nervous when they were announcing the winners. Since this competition was only one round, it was a one shot deal- I only had one chance. I hadn’t seen the others perform so I didn’t know what level I was on comparatively. When they announced my name as 2nd I was wondering if they had really called my name. I was very surprised at the results because I thought I didn’t do as well as I could have. Also the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places were in the exact same order as when we competed together at Appalachian this year!

What are your goals for the future?

This competition was actually the first competition I wanted to go to. The other times, I was pushed by my teacher or my parents to go. I plan to compete more next year and maybe the years to follow. I never really liked them before, but now I realized how much these competitions are improving me as a musician. I love meeting new guitarists, letting people listen to my music, and also traveling! I am still not sure whether or not to go to college for music, since I also have many other interests.

I would like to say a special thanks to Petar Jankovic who hosted this festival, Rafael Scarfullery, Zeb Turrentine, and my parents for supporting me.

 

 

VeronicaThird place winner Veronica Eres, after only 3 years of study has already racked up a number prizes in guitar competitions. She studied with Matt Palmer before enrolling as a freshman at Florida State University under the instruction of Bruce Holzman.

How much do you practice?

I practice about 4-5 hours a day. It varies depending on how much time I have. In college we have a lot more free time than in high school, but there is also a lot more we have to do in terms of daily obligations, so I really have to plan all of my time in order to get everything done.

What music did you play at the competition?

Elogio de la Danza by Leo Brouwer and Variations on la Folia d’Espana by Mauro Giuliani.

How did you prepare mentally?

I took as many performance opportunities as I could at my school, playing in various rep classes every week or just playing for a few friends. Another thing I like to do to prepare for a performance is to go on long runs and practice my music in my head- that way I can discover things musically about my pieces that I wouldn’t be able to while playing them- for example, hearing areas that needed more crescendo, rubato, etc. In addition to running, yoga is another one of my interests besides music- it’s something that is very helpful in concentrating and preparing for competitions. Things that are taught in yoga classes, like breathing and concentration are very helpful in avoiding memory slips and mistakes in performances.

What are your goals for the near future?

I set really short term goals for myself, like preparing a certain piece or a certain aspect of a piece for my lesson in that week. I make a real effort to come to every lesson prepared and show my professor that I’ve worked on what he told me to correct last week. I usually take notes after my lesson and make a list of things I need to work on so I can show improvement every week. That way, after a month, I can look back and see what I’ve accomplished.

What are your goals for the long term?

Someday I hope to give a concert tour across Europe

What is something unrelated to the guitar that is interesting or unique about you?

I spent my junior year abroad as an exchange student in Switzerland, where I attended public high school. I’m now fluent in French and I also speak German and Italian (not fluently). While in Switzerland, I also studied guitar at the Zurich University of the Arts. I hope to someday move back to Europe and center my career there.

 

cropped claraFourth place winner Clara McLain studies with Robert Guthrie at Southern Methodist University and Rodger Bennett at Brookhaven College. She has played guitar for 11 years. Clara is finishing high school from home while also earning an associates degree at Brookhaven.

How much do you practice?

The amount of time that I practice varies from day to day.  Some days, I practice for six or seven hours; and on other days, I don’t practice at all.

What music did you play at the competition?

I played the Fugue from the Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor by J. S. Bach; Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tárrega; and Los Caujaritos by Ignacio Figueredo.

How did you prepare mentally?

I remind myself before I perform that I’ve prepared, and that I’m ready.  I also remind myself that, even if things don’t go well, it’s not the end the world, and I’m not going to be executed on the spot if I mess up.  I just try to enjoy the moment; and I hope that the audience enjoys my performance as well.

What are your goals for the near future?

I plan to attend a university and pursue a degree in classical guitar performance after obtaining an associates degree in music and finishing high school.

What are your goals for the long term?

I plan to continue my guitar studies around the world, to tour and perform, and to teach.

What is something unrelated to the guitar that is interesting or unique about you?

For several years I was active in 4-H showing steers and heifers at county and state livestock shows. I’m unable to do that anymore now that my primary residence is in downtown Dallas; but I still enjoy visiting my family’s ranch, playing with the ranch dogs, shooting my rifle, and riding my dirt bike.

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