MU musicians shine in Emerging Artist Showcase

Five finalists preformed in the annual Emerging Artist Showcase Monday night.

Jesse Auditorium showcased some of MU's most talented musicians in the School of Music's Emerging Artist Showcase on Sunday evening. The annual showcase auditioned students in early February through a committee of seven judges. Four to five finalists are selected to play at the showcase each year; five were selected this year because of a tie in scores.

Freshman Grace Lyden, a solo pianist who has played for more than 13 years, was the first to perform.

"I tell people: They play competitive sports, I play competitive piano," Lyden said. "Not that it's nearly as intense, but the practice schedule is very demanding."

Lyden's schedule involves practicing for four hours each day. She was the only freshman soloist to audition for the showcase and wasn't expecting to make the cut considering other graduate level pianists had auditioned. But then she got an "oh-my-gosh congratulations text" from one of her friends saying that she had been one of the few selected musicians to play.

"I was just shocked," Lyden said. "I never thought they would pick me because I'm younger than everyone else who's in it and not as experienced, so I was surprised - and really, really excited."

The second performer was female singer Melissa Baughman, who is pursuing a master's degree in vocal performance. Baughman took a six-year break from singing to teach choir, but missed performing so much that she decided to come back for a performance degree. She said she still hasn't completely gotten over her nerves.

"I'll always say that I'm not (nervous), but you get the butterflies," Baughman said. "I try to turn it into positive energy."

Next up was violinist Matheus Souza, from Londrina, Brazil. He has played violin for more than 16 years and was inspired to play the violin because of his older brother, who started playing when he was seven.

"I saw (my brother playing) and thought it was cool," Souza said. "You know those little brother things, where you're like, 'I wanna do what you're doing too.'"

Souza has been playing since he was four and said he couldn't imagine his life without music.

After Souza, another Brazilian musician took the stage, this time in the form of voice performer Luciana Tavares Martins. Martins has won multiple prizes in the past for her singing and is working on a master's in vocal performance. Martins said while singing may not bring her riches, it was what she loves.

"I know that I will die poor, but (singing) is something I do because I love it," Martins said. "It's the most important thing in my life. I just love it."

The Anemoi Saxophone Quartet was the last to be featured in the showcase. Featuring Dan Cox, Dillon Dains, Caleb Shannon and Chad Tucker, the quartet formed during the fall and has been performing since.

Eva Szekely, head orchestrator of the showcase and professor of music, said a performance in Jesse Auditorium is preparation for life as a professional musician.

"The experience of being able to perform in different-sized spaces with different acoustical properties is one that basically mimics real life," Szekely said.

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