Historic Pacific Musical Society showcases young musicians 

Calling a concert “The Next Generation of Genius” is not exactly humble, but the Pacific Musical Society has no reason to be self-effacing.

When the 100-year-old organization holds its annual competition winners’ concert and reception June 4 in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Concert Hall, it will present possible successors to violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Ruggiero Ricci, tenor Jess Thomas, pianists Leon Fleisher and Roy Bogas, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici, and scores of other musical celebrities.

They, as well former presidential press secretary Pierre Salinger, a pianist, all have benefited from support from the organization.

This year, 26 young artists were awarded prize money and given performance opportunities. They were selected by an international panel of judges including Philharmonia Baroque Music Director Nicholas McGegan.

First-place winners from each age group of the main competition categories will perform at the free June 4 concert. They include violinists Alex Zhou, Alyssa Wang and Maggie Zeng; guitarist Ashwin Krishna; pianists Erika Shen, Christopher Richardson, Fantee Jones and Stephanie Ng; and vocalists Melissa Angulo and Deborah Rosengaus.

“Throughout the years, we have been pretty good at spotting really talented kids, many of whom have gone on to take their place in the musical world,” says James Meredith of the Young Musicians Program at UC Berkeley, who’s also vice president of the society. “It’s very rewarding to think of the hundreds of thousands of people these young artists have touched with music throughout their lives.”

Angulo started by singing rhythm and blues, joined the Young Musicians Program at age 12, and later turned to classical music.

At a seven-week summer intensive a couple of years ago, she learned from two visiting artists, tenor Roderick Dixon and soprano Alfreda Burke.

“The first day they talked to us, Mr. Dixon pulled out a whole case full of books and said these were his reference materials for the operatic roles he was preparing,” she says. “It was impressive, dictionaries, language books, scores, art books, history books, translations — so much stuff to really know the character he was learning.

“They worked intensely with us on our songs and arias, pulling things out of us that we didn’t know we had inside. It was at that point that I knew I was going to be a serious singer. Now I plan to become a professional operatic soprano and let music take me around the world.”

Angulo has auditioned for several conservatories and schools of music, and will be going to the University of Michigan School of Music at Ann Arbor on scholarship in the fall.

Marcelle Dronkers, director of the annual competition, calls hearing and supporting the group’s amazing youngsters a “thrill” and adds that generous donors enabled the group to award some $20,000 in prizes for the 2011 competition.


Pacific Musical Society Competition Winners’ Concert

Where: Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak St., San Francisco
When: 2 p.m. June 4
Admission: Free
Contact: (415) 545-8863, www.pacificmusical.com

About The Author

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben is a writer and columnist for SF Classical Voice; he has worked as writer and editor with the NY Herald-Tribune, TIME Inc., UPI, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, San Jose Mercury News, Post Newspaper Group, and wrote documentation for various technology companies.
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