Students from the School of Music at UNCSA took first, second and third places at the Rosen-Schaffel Competition for Young and Emerging Artists held at Appalachian State University on Saturday, July 1.
Rising third-year student Carter Doolittle, a saxophonist from Inman, South Carolina, won first prize; rising fourth-year student Gabriel Lopez, a saxophonist from Clayton, North Carolina, won second prize; and A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute fellow Kevin Spooner, a baritone from Oneida, New York, won third place. The winners were among six finalists who competed to take top prizes.
“We are thrilled that year after year, UNCSA School of Music students continue to take top awards at the Rosen-Schaffel Competition,” said Dean of Music Saxton Rose. “These accolades are not only a reflection of the immense talent all of our students possess, but the invaluable training they receive under the guidance of our renowned faculty members.”
“I am beyond thrilled for both of my students, Carter and Gabe, on their success placing first and second at this competition,” said Professor Young. “They both have worked incredibly hard and diligently, as I am sure is the case with all of the artists involved. This accolade will be a true highlight for both of these fantastic students for years to come. I am honored to be working with such fine musicians here at UNCSA.”
“This accomplishment is directly attributed to the amazing educators, family members and friends that surround me in my daily life and would not be possible with them,” said Carter. “I would like to thank Dr. Young who not only pushes my studio mates and I to be the best musicians we can be but also the best people we can be. I would also like to thank Dr. Khatsko for exceeding my expectations of a collaborative pianist every single time I get to work with her.”
“It was an honor to represent the UNCSA saxophone studio in this year's Rosen-Schaffel competition,” Lopez said. “I'd like to thank my friends and family for their endless support; my professor, Dr. Young, for his invaluable insight and guidance, and Dr. (Polina) Khatsko for being my incredible accompanist. In addition, I give my thanks to Kate Moore for being such a helpful and welcoming administrator.”
Spooner is pursuing his Master of Music in vocal performance under Marilyn Taylor He performed “Questo amor, vergogna mia” from “Edgar” by Giacomo Puccini, “Lonely Town” from “On the Town” by Leonard Bernstein, “Ah! per sempre io ti perdei” from “I Puritani” by Vincenzo Bellini, “None but the Lonely Heart” by Tchaikovsky and “Allerseelen” by Richard Strauss. "I feel a lot of pride being a part of a school that represents the Top 3 in a competition representing 10 Southeastern states,” said Spooner. “That's quite the accomplishment for UNCSA and shows just how exceptional and supportive the school is."
School of Music collaborative pianist Polina Khatsko played for all of the UNCSA finalists. This year’s judges included music director and conductor Cornelia Laemmli Orth, Indian American conductor Roger Kalia, director and conductor José-Luis Novo and director and conductor Matthew Troy.
UNCSA School of Music students and alumni have won the competition, held at Appalachian State’s Hayes School of Music as part of An Appalachian Summer Festival, for 10 of its 12 years, with 22 UNCSA students and alumni having placed in the annual competition. The competition is open to students from colleges and universities who are rising sophomores and above, as well as graduate students, or recent alumni under the age of 30 from 10 states including North Carolina. First-place winners receive a cash prize of $2,500 as well as an invitation to perform a complete concerto with an orchestra during the festival season following the competition. Second-place winners receive a cash prize of $2,000; third-place winners receive a cash prize of $1,500; and the Audience Choice Award winner receives a cash prize of $1,000. All other finalists receive a cash prize of $500.
Carter Doolittle is a rising third-year student at the School of Music at UNCSA studying saxophone performance. He began playing saxophone in middle school and has studied with saxophonists and educators including Clifford Leaman of the University of South Carolina, Professor Joe Lulloff of Michigan State University, Professor Matt Olsen of Furman University, Karen Hill of Converse College and Timothy McAllister at the University of Michigan. Doolittle received first and third prizes in the 2019-21 South Carolina Band Directors Association Competition Masters Recital; first place in the 2020-21 South Carolina Music Teachers Association student competitions and North Carolina Music Teachers Association State Solo Competitions; first place in the 2020-21 Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Regional Solo Competitions for South Carolina and North Carolina; fifth and third prizes in the 2021-22 National MTNA Solo Competitions; second in the UNCSA Concerto Competition; first prize in the Euterpe Solo Competition; and finalist in the Cleveland International Music Competition and the 2021-22 North American Saxophone Alliance Saxophone Quartet Competition.
Gabriel Lopez is a native of Puerto Rico and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music at UNCSA with a concentration on saxophone performance, under the instruction of Robert Young. He earned his high school diploma from Clayton High School, where he received the Semper Fidelis Award for Musical Excellence and was named First Chair Alto Saxophonist of the 2020 North Carolina Senior High All-State Honors Band. A multifaceted musician, he is a member of the UNCSA Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble, and the Ascend Quartet. He has performed in various master classes led by esteemed musicians such as Joseph Lulloff, Owen Broder and Jon Metzger. Other master class attendances include Timothy McAllister, Anthony McGill, Connie Frigo and Paul Hanson. After completing his undergraduate studies, Lopez aspires to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in music and one day teach saxophone at the collegiate level.
Baritone Kevin Spooner is pursuing his Master of Music in vocal performance at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at UNCSA studying under the tutelage of Glenn Siebert and Marilyn Taylor. He is a recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he studied under Anthony Dean Griffey. During the 2022-23 season, Spooner performed the role of Marchese D’Obigny in Verdi’s “La traviata” with Piedmont Opera and Rodomonte in Haydn’s “Orlando Paladino” with the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute. He also performed the role of Sir Anthony Absolute in Kirke Mechem’s “The Rivals.” In 2022, Spooner played Schaunard in Puccini’s “La bohème” with Opera Steamboat and Paul’s Father in Gregory Spears’ “Paul’s Case” with the Ad Astra Music Festival. He performed the role of Johannes “Pa” Zegner in Missy Mazzoli’s “Proving Up” with the Eastman Opera Theater and reprised the role with Notre Dame Opera in 2022.
Get the best news, performance and alumni stories from UNCSA.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)
July 07, 2023