Meijun Chen is in her second year as a Masters of Music student, with a double major in Wind Band Conducting and Clarinet Performance. She is the clarinet Section Leader of the University of Alberta Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Principal Clarinet with the University Symphony Orchestra and Conductor of the University of Alberta Brass Choir.
Jordan Smale is a trumpet player pursuing his Masters degree in performance. He is the trumpet Section Leader in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and also plays in the University Symphony Orchestra.
On Sunday, February 9, at the High School Honour Band Weekend concert, Meijun and Jordan will perform Gordon Jacob’s Double Concerto for Clarinet and Trumpet as the featured soloists with the Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
We caught up with Meijun and Jordan to learn more about the Department of Music's annual concerto competition, and how it landed them the opportunity to perform at the Winspear Centre.
ARTS NEWS: What is the concerto competition?
JORDAN SMALE (JS): A concerto is a piece of music usually written for a solo instrument with orchestral or band accompaniment, and typically runs about 15 to 20 minutes in length. Students can learn a lot from studying a concerto in preparation for the competition.
MEIJUN CHEN (MC): The concerto competition itself is an annual competition held by the U of A Music Department. Students from first year undergrads to final year doctorals are all encouraged to participate. The competition provides students an opportunity to learn a concerto and, if they win, perform it with one of the University’s large music ensembles.
AN: How did you get involved in the competition, and how did you win it?
JS: We practiced our own parts very seriously before we got together for rehearsal. We worked hard on the musical interpretation and made sure we kept it consistent in the rehearsals, which was important for our Double Concerto preparation. We tried our best to bring out the musicality of the piece and worked very hard on making as beautiful sounds as possible to showcase our instruments’ natural tone.
MC: The Concerto Competition is a must-have experience and it’s been on our own ‘To-do List’ we started our studies at the Department of Music. It’s a great experience to push yourself further and compete with other talented students who are also working very hard at their craft.
AN: What makes the High School Honour Band Weekend concert a unique experience?
MC: Audiences will get to experience two honour bands made up of 200 outstanding high school students from across the province, joining the U of A Symphonic Wind Ensemble under the baton of Dr. Angela Schroder and guest conductor Rüdiger Müller. It’s a chance for young musicians to gather together for an inspiring musical experience, to learn from each other, network with some of the best musicians from across Canada, and maybe even make some lifelong friends!
JS: The Honour Band weekend concert also reminds us university music students how far we have come since we graduated from high school, and how amazing it is to be able to play in one of the best university wind ensembles in Canada with other outstanding fellow musicians. It also lets more students know about the concerto competition, and hopefully inspires them to participate and learn from the experience.
For tickets and more information about the High School Honour Band Weekend concert, visit the official concert page.
University of Alberta High School Honour Band Weekend
February 9, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.