Kid symphony

Jammies competitors vie for money, opportunity—and a chance to show adults their love for classical music

Michael Morgan and the Sacramento Philharmonic hard at practice.

Michael Morgan and the Sacramento Philharmonic hard at practice.

photo courtesy of the sacramento philharmonic orchestra

Stephanie Rodriguez is a student at Sacramento City College and an events intern with the Sacramento News & Review.

This year’s eighth annual Jammies Evening of Classical Music youth competition flourished with gifted competitors from all over our Sacramento community, as the sweet sounds of violins, pianos, flutes and cellos were greeted with open ears at the semifinals.

Finalists Eunghee Cho (cello), Ray Anthony Trujillo (violin) and Fantee Jones (piano) will compete for a generous grand prize of $3,000, as well as a future performance with the prestigious Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra. The second-place winner will receive $1,500, and the third-place winner will receive $500.

This year’s prize donation, a total of $5,000, was provided by Daniel and Christine Santo of Talent Launch and the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra. This has now turned into a five-year grant to show continued support of future classical youth competitions with SN&R.

“When I first arrived here, I noticed how important the Jammies were,” said Marc Feldman, executive director for the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra. “Talent Launch wants to give talented students a chance to showcase and perform like professionals. Part of our mission [at the Sacramento Philharmonic] is to be connected to the place in which we live. The Sacramento News & Review has done a great job reaching out to the kids, who are the future of music.”

Along with the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra and Talent Launch, an additional key sponsor of this year’s competition is Capital Public Radio, providing Sacramentans with “a trusted source of information, music and entertainment for curious and thoughtful people.”

Carl Watanabe, station manager at Capital Public Radio, feels classical music and the arts in general are an important part of our community.

“We always love to support the arts,” said Watanabe, regarding Capital Public Radio’s interest in the classical competition. “This is an opportunity to support and encourage young people in particular with classical music, which is really rare, and we like that. I think music is important. One way you can encourage people to play music is by having competitions, because it gives young people a chance to play in front of audiences.”

All classical competitors for the 2010 Jammies will take the stage on March 6 at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the UC Davis campus, accompanied by the Sacramento State Symphony Orchestra. Throughout the evening, all classical semifinalists will perform during a 10-minute intermission.

For many finalists, the chance to play with the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra is seen as an important career opportunity, but according to Feldman, one of the judges of the semifinalist competition, the job of narrowing down the competitors from 11 to three was not easy.

“It was very difficult,” said Feldman of the judging process. “When we judge, we looked at all possibilities: Can they perform the music that they have chosen? Who had something to say with the music beyond technique? I hope that it’s going to be their first real professional experience, and they are going to remember it and say, ‘That was my first professional orchestra,’ that it would give them lessons for their career for the rest of their life, working with an orchestra, taking care of one’s nerves, playing in front of a hall of 2,000 people.”

For 14-year-old violinist Ray Anthony Trujillo, a returning participant from last year’s competition, winning the grand prize would help further his dreams of attending music school on the East Coast.

“I would be filled with joy,” said Trujillo. “I would use that money to take advantage to go to either the Curtis Institute of Music or the Cleveland Institute of Music. My plans for the future are to go to one of the top music schools on the East Coast, eventually become a dean at Juilliard and then a concert master of the New York Philharmonic.”