The orchestra@uwaterloo held its 2020 Concerto and Aria Competition on February 1 at Conrad Grebel University College. Any student or recent graduate of the University of Waterloo is eligible to compete in this biennial competition hosted by the orchestra. The Department of Music at Conrad Grebel University College is grateful to Professor Emeritus David Taylor, whose generous and ongoing support of the orchestra has made these competitions possible.
Each contestant of this year’s competition executed their piece with superb talent and accomplished skill. In the final round, Robert Choi, a cellist and Nanotechnology student, performed Dvořák Cello Concerto Op. 104; Ashley Yip, a Computer Science & Business Administration major, performed Wieniawski Violin Concerto no. 2 in D minor; and Garnet Zhao, pianist and Civil Engineering student, performed Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no. 2 in C minor. “All three of the finalists play at an incredibly high level. Each one would have been an excellent choice,” commented Daniel Warren, conductor of the orchestra@uwaterloo and one of the judges on the panel.
After these high-level performances drew to a close, one finalist stood out. “Ashley seemed, particularly in the final round, to rise to another level even compared to her first round,” remarked Warren. Ashley Yip was announced winner, with Garnet Zhao pronounced runner-up. As the winner, Ashley will perform as a soloist with orchestra@uwaterloo in their term-end concert on March 26.
Ashley has vast musical experience. She won the Royal Conservatory of Music’s National Gold Medal in 2017 and performed with the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra in Switzerland. She said she is “extremely excited to have the opportunity to perform with the orchestra@uwaterloo.” As a current member of this ensemble, Ashley remembered performing with past competition winners, and the experience encouraged her to audition herself. “I am very grateful for all those that have supported me through this time and my music education in general, such as my parents, my music teachers, and my friends,” she shared.