August 2006 Convention
Pittsburgh, PA

High School Competitions

August 10, 2006

Hearing the entire NFA High School Competition is something I have not done in a while. Doing so this year, I realized once again how difficult it must be to be a judge for one of these competitions.

Abigail Coffer

Abigail Coffer

Players’ ages ranged from 15 and/or grade 9 to just-finished grade 12. The level of playing was quite high, and final round literature, quite demanding: Sonata in G Major, No. 133 “Hamburg,” by C.P.E. Bach; Times Graffiti: Lucky Calligraphy (commissioned work 2006, for flute and tape/recording) by Lydia Ayers; and the Ballade by Martin. Pianist for all was Linda Mark, who did a magnificent job, as always.

Rather than go into a lengthy discussion of what was good and not-so-good, I think a better way to view this is as one of my former students remarked after the competition. He heard the last five of the eight, and asked me: “Would you prefer me telling you why each of the five should win, or should not win?” What an interesting comment, and a different way to think about these players. In other words, all were excellent! That is why the judging for these competitions is so difficult, and so subjective; and when all are outstanding, the choice often reflects the taste of the judges. All of these students were excellent, with each having their own strengths and weaknesses.

One interesting note is that two of the eight are from mainland China, and one from Korea. Winners were Young Ji Ahn, third prize; Laura Resnick, second prize; and Abi Coffer, first prize. Coffer was also the winner of the best performance of the commissioned piece.

—Ruth Ann McClain