The Maurer Young Musicians Contest Finals Concert will take place at 2 p.m. on March 9 in the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. The annual contest, endowed by Illene Maurer, is organized by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Association. Former winners include Minju Choi, pianist and associate adjunct professor.
Choi remembers competing in the concert at UIndy in 1997, on the stage where she now performs regularly.
“I still won’t forget being here and rehearsing with my pianist and being backstage waiting for the competition,” Choi said. “I even remember what I wore and what I played.”
The contest was started in 1938, by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. According to the contest flyer, the contest “encourages accomplished young Indiana musicians to set and achieve goals of technical and artistic excellence.”
Maurer Young Musicians Contest Co-Chair Joanna Weiler said the contest aims “to challenge really serious student musicians in their craft and to bring awareness to instrumental music in general.”
Students from primary and secondary Indiana schools send in applications and musical resumes, which are then reviewed by the ISOA. According to Contest Co-Chair Rita Martin, the association tries to take as many contestants as possible. This year 16 contestants will audition on March 8, in front of a panel of judges. Between the finalists’ pieces, Director of Underwriting for WICR and UIndy TV Doug Housemeyer will interview two contest donors, an individual from the ISO and an individual from the ISOA.
According to Weiler, finalists are judged in a variety of categories such as musicianship, proficiency, stage presence, musical interpretation and technical skill.
Choi feels that the judging process for this particular contest is trying because the contest is not for one specific type of musician.
“It’s really difficult because you’re not really judging who’s the best pianist or who’s the best violinist,” Choi said. “You’re voting basically on who’s the best musician or who’s the best performer that day.”
Participants in the contest this year range from ages 9 to 18. First prize consists of $2,500 and a chance to play as a soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Martin views the prize money as “an incentive to continue study [of music].”
The contest is not just beneficial for the students. Weiler enjoys meeting the participants and intermingling with them.
“They’re humble, gracious young people,” Weiler said. “It’s just very fun to interact with them.”
Martin feels this event provides them with a rewarding experience as well.
“It’s a good way for us to give back in a way that we enjoy,” Martin said.
Martin added that she finds the students’ performances inspirational.
“When you see students who obviously have had to give up other things in order to be as good as they are at their instrument, it makes you feel like, ‘I could do that in my own way,’” Martin said.
Weiler also sees an additional opportunity for young students who may attend the concert.
“When they [students] see that kind of a performance from a young person,” she said. “They can relate and think, ‘Maybe I would like to do that.’”