Helping ensure the future of classical music are four young Central Texas musicians who won the 2004 Pearl Amster Concerto Competition and two UT School of Music doctoral candidates chosen to learn conducting from Maestro Kurt Masur

Classical's Future

Concerned that classical music won't last another generation? Allow Nina Han, Benjamin Laude, Billy Short, and Nancy Zhou to set your mind at ease. They're the winners of this year's Pearl Amster Concerto Competition, and they're all between the ages of 11 and 17. The annual contest, named for one of the city's best-known and popular music teachers, spotlights exceptional Central Texas musicians 18 or younger and encourages their future involvement in classical music by providing college scholarship assistance from the Austin Civic Orchestra's Endowment Fund (sponsored by a grant from the Webber Foundation). It also gives them the chance to perform with a full symphony, and you can hear three of the 2004 Amster winners play with the ACO this weekend. Han, who's a junior at Reagan High School, will play Barber's Violin Concerto; Short, a sophomore at Round Rock High School, will play Weber's Hungarian Fantasie for Bassoon; and Zhou, a fifth-grader at Steubing Elementary in San Antonio, will play Wieniawski's Violin Concerto No. 1. (Pianist Laude, a senior at St. Michael's Academy, will perform with the orchestra at a later concert.) ACO music director Lois Ferrari will conduct the program, which will take place Saturday, March 27, at 7:30pm, at Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, 7050 Village Center Rd. For more information, call 990-8ACO or visit

Adam Boyles and Brett Mitchell are a tad older than the Amster winners, but they're still youthful enough to be considered bright young hopes for classical's future. And bright they must be to have secured the honor that they did earlier this month. The two doctoral candidates in the UT School of Music were among seven young American conductors who got to spend the week of March 8-12 at the Manhattan School of Music taking master classes in conducting from Maestro Kurt Masur. The former music director of the New York Philharmonic selected them personally and at the end of the weeklong seminar had them lead the school's orchestra in a program of works by Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Strauss. If you're curious as to what they learned, you might want to check out the next concert by the UT University Orchestra on April 20. The two men co-direct this ensemble of musicians from throughout the university community, primarily nonmusic majors. The concert will take place at Bates Recital Hall at 8pm. For more information, visit

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Nina Han, Benjamin Laude, Billy Short, Nancy Zhou, Pearl Amster Concerto Competition, Austin Civic Orchestra, Webber Foundation, Lois Ferrari, Adam Boyles, Brett Mitchell, UT School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Kurt Masur, New York Philharmonic, UT University Orchestra

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