Sauder Concert Hall was full on Saturday night as students, families and community members gathered to hear the sounds of the 63rd Concerto-Aria Concert.

The yearly competition was held last fall to determine the lineup for the concert. After extensive preparation, competitors auditioned with their chosen repertoire. There were seven winners that got the chance to showcase their talents with the Goshen College Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Victoria Petrak. 

The concert opened with GCSO performing Ethel Smyth’s “Overture to ‘The Wreckers.’” The piece, from one of Smyth’s operas, was chosen because of her determination to have her work seen in a male-dominated field.

Next came an original composition from sophomore music major Victor Vegas titled “Triumph at Last.” Vegas began writing the piece in May 2022 as he encountered uncertainty about what was to come next in his life, but took a step away after losing motivation. Eventually returning to the piece, Vegas finished it. 

“I was scared to hear how it would turn out,” said Vegas. “I got really excited when I was able to start to hear it come together. It put a lot of things into perspective when I got to hear real instruments instead of just [on] my computer. Once the orchestra learned it, it was rewarding to think about all of the hard work put in.”

Following Vegas was Sofia Sanchez, a junior majoring in music performance and music for social change. Sanchez played the striking second movement of Henryk Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto no. 2 in D minor. Sanchez said, “It was stressful to get ready for the concert – a lot of hours were invested, but it was really rewarding to see how the whole process came together. It was all pretty new to me, but change is nice.”

After that senior Environmental Science major Alexa Kennel performed “Song to the Moon” from the Czech opera Rusalka, a charming and haunting aria. “It was really exciting to perform,” said Kennel. “It was such a wonderful opportunity and I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard on one piece like that before…seeing the fruits of my efforts was really fun.”

Taking the concert into a break was senior music major April Pollock performing Mozart’s “In Uomini, in Soldati’’ from Cosi Fan Tutti.

“It was very nerve-racking,” Pollock said. “As soon as you get out there and start doing what you’ve practiced for so long it just comes to you and you lose yourself in the performance.”

Following the break was a duet by junior music education major Hannah Lehman on piano and senior Spanish education major Alena Miller on violin. 

They performed the third movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Piano and Violin in D minor. 

Both performers had won previous Concerto-Aria competitions. This time, they had the chance to perform as a duet. Lehman commented: “Alena and I started working on our piece in August and ended up starting to put it together.”

Miller added that “practicing together was like putting pieces of a puzzle together. It took lots of practice, but we wanted to make sure that we didn’t practice it too much. It was really fun to get the chance to perform, and especially fun to get to do a duet since there aren’t many for violin and piano.”

The final performance went to Ana Neufeld Weaver, a junior music education major. She performed the first movement of Camille Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto no. 2  in G minor. 

“It was crazy to get to the actual performance,” she said. “I had been working on the piece off and on for almost two years, so it was a climactic moment to get to perform it and I feel that it went really well.”