Sheldon shines spotlight on young musical talent
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 14, 2009 - It’s a showcase of young musical talent from St. Louis that has a decidedly international feel. Mei Mey Segura Wang of Costa Rica and Mariana Lanes Fernandes of Brazil are half of a classical quartet from the University of Missouri St. Louis that leads off a concert tonight at the Sheldon Concert Hall.
The foreign-born students are among the UMSL musicians who will have the stage to themselves starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for general admission and free for students. The concert, presented by the Artist Presentation Society, is part of the Prelude Performances, a series that promotes music students 25 and younger who live in Missouri or Southern Illinois. It is also part of the Sheldon’s Notes From Home series, which honors local artists.
The Artist Presentation Society has long given advanced musicians under the age of 35 a chance to audition, perform and earn money. About a decade ago, the group began showcasing musicians who are under 25.
“We realized that there were lots of young musicians who haven’t had that experience of performing at a professional venue,” says Minoo Mehta, community outreach chair with the Artist Presentation Society.
Fernandes says she’s grateful for the opportunity to perform at a well-known concert hall. “Being able to play for a big audience, it's a step on the professional side, and it’s a big deal for us as college students.”
At first, individual students from area colleges and other institutions were featured in the Prelude concerts. More recently, colleges of music have chosen top talents to represent the campus. Dale Benz, director of operations at the Sheldon, said he looks for promising college students to perform jazz and classical music at the concert hall.
Tonight’s concert features just UMSL students; Webster University students take the stage on May 19.
The UMSL quartet, which formed only a few months ago, will play String Quartet No. 1 “From My Life," first movement, from the composer Bedrick Smetana. The concert also features piano, viola and soprano soloists, as well as classical duet performances.
Segura Wang, a violinist, has performed with several orchestras in Costa Rica. She moved to the United States about two years ago and recently transferred to UMSL for its music program. Segura Wang said she's enjoyed taking the quartet to nursing homes and other informal venues to perform for St. Louis residents.
Fernandes, originally from Sao Paulo, also moved here two years ago and began right away at UMSL. She started out playing piano and only began with violin at age 16. Facing financial problems back home, Fernandes applied for and received a full-ride scholarship to UMSL.
Both students say they have an interest in teaching. And while the two have known each other for less than a year, they are already talking about performing together after graduation.
"I'd love to stay involved in the quartet," Fernandes said. "[Segura Wang and I] share some of the same ideas, and you need to find people who share your mindset when you're a performer."