Eunseo Oh wins LHS, MVHS Concerto Competition


Photo by Jasmine Rihal; graphic illustration by Nicole Ge

Junior Eunseo Oh wins the Concerto Competition and the opportunity to play with the Symphony Orchestra in the Spring Concert.

Jasmine Rihal, Social Media Manager

Students from Lynbrook and Monta Vista’s bands and orchestras performed melodious and thoughtful solos at the combined Concerto Competition, held at Lynbrook on Nov. 17. Lynbrook junior and violin player Eunseo Oh took first place and won the opportunity to play with the Symphony Orchestra in the Spring Concert.

Although some students have performed a solo in a piece played by a larger ensemble, concertos like this one, in which students get the opportunity to perform alone, are rare. 

Combined, Lynbrook and Monta Vista had 20 students participating. Each student was given a time slot to perform their piece privately before a panel of four judges, including Lynbrook band teacher Michael Pakaluk. Students were allotted time to practice in practice rooms before their time slot, and runners escorted them to the judges when their performance time came.

Judges critiqued factors such as tune, tone and tempo; the blending and balance of sound throughout the piece; collaboration between the soloist and accompanist together; mastery over rhythm; articulation and expression; variety in volume shadings in addition to appropriate selection and appearance. Judges also provided feedback on the performers’ strengths and areas of improvement to help polish their careers as musicians. 

Oh, the winner of the competition, first discovered her passion for violin when she was 8 years old. She has served as the co-concertmaster of San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and is currently serving as the concertmaster of Lynbrook’s Chamber Orchestra. Oh has participated in other music competitions like the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, in which she won a gold medal.

On the day of the Concerto Competition, Oh was nervous but tried to enjoy the moment during her performance.

“If I concentrate on the music rather than the nerves I get when I’m performing, I am more satisfied with my performance, and I think it turns out better too,” Oh said. 

Students like sophomore and saxophone player Maya Iyer auditioned because they felt that the competition — and the chance to play with an orchestra in Scotland if they won — were opportunities they couldn’t miss. While Iyer found the experience to be nerve-wracking, she also saw it as a valuable learning experience, especially since she placed fourth among the band students.

“I learned to come more prepared because I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been,” Iyer said. “But now I have the experience and know what to expect in the future.” 

Monta Vista junior and violin player Jordan Teoh also performed. Like other competitors, Teoh felt nervous but ultimately found it to be a fun experience. He also saw this as a learning experience and focused on the ways he could refine his musical skills.

“Even if I made a mistake, I was focusing on being able to recover quickly,” Teoh said. 

The competition was largely an educational experience for the performers. Though the majority of the competitors had no prior experience with solo competitions, they learned how to handle their nerves and prepare for similar competitions. Students also learned to continue taking advantage of competition opportunities because they are incredible learning experiences. 

“For them to prepare and work on a solo piece, and then present it for others to listen to — that’s a monumental accomplishment,” Pakaluk said. “Then, to present yourself, put yourself out there for adjudicators to critique it — it takes a lot of courage.”