As many of you know, Jo Anne and I traveled to Baltimore last weekend to attend the National Finals of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) National Young Artist Competition. The competition is a long grueling one beginning at the State Level in the fall, moving to the Regional in January, and culminating in the Finals at the annual National Convention of MTNA, the largest organization of musicians in the world. There were roughly 2,500 musicians in attendance from all over the country. Collin Jinks, having won First Place in both the State and Regional Competitions was one of just seven National Finalists. The standards were exceedingly high. All seven high school pianists played at the very highest levels of artistry. However, Collin was named the National First Place Winner!! Not only that, he also received the Chopin prize from The Chopin Foundation of the United States for the best performance of a work of Chopin!! In total, he took home three thousand dollars in award monies.
Collin's program was masterful. Jo Anne devised a gorgeous and captivating program of varied works in size, scope, form, and historical periods. This program enabled Collin to demonstrate his mastery of repertoire of great variety. Collin gave a phenomenal performance of the twenty-five minute program. He opened with three Shostakovich Preludes. From the first note, I knew he had the judges. Collin's deep communicative powers were so evident that even after hours of playing (Collin was the last of the seven finalists to play) suddenly everyone sat up in their seats - including the judges. No one had heard playing like this in the high school finals. The Preludes were totally captivating, filled with freedom, color, boisterous revolt, and the aching suffering always persistent in the works of Shostakovich. The last movement from Beethoven's Opus 22 Sonata was on a deep and majestic scale. This was big-minded playing. This was no little finale of an early Beethoven sonata - not in Collin's hands. His performance of this movement contained the foretelling of the imposing and monumental landscape of the late piano works to come. Collin's playing of Debussy's Reflets dan l'eau of Debussy was filled with pearls of shimmering, watery sunlight . The performance exuded great beauty, subtlety, and brilliance. The climax of the work left one limp. I have heard no greater Reflets. Now, after all this, we came to the climatic work of his program, Chopin's 3rd Scherzo in C-sharp minor. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the greatest performance of the C-sharp minor Scherzo known to me. Collin took it at breakneck speed, yet it was not too fast. Absolutely every artistic detail was in place and at no time did he leave the audience behind. The chorales from the middle section - spanning a multitude of colors, moods, and landscapes - left one with a sense of awe. The buildup to the coda was volcanic. The coda itself was a wild ride in which every detail was etched with a smoldering scalpel.
This performance certainly represents the apex of Collin's work with Jo Anne. When I think of where he was just three years ago, it seems that the only word that fits is "magic". However, I know that this level of artistry could only happen because of Collin's gifts, his talent (the hard work and will to develop those gifts), a brilliant, devoted, and loving teacher, and parents that understood and acted on their understanding. Collin had his share of ups and downs. But nothing as great as his playing in Baltimore will come with anything less.
I also have to say, that I was beside myself with joy when Jo Anne was called up with Collin to witness the announcement of the awards. All I could think of was how overjoyed and moved Mr. Marks (our beloved mentor and teacher) would have been to see this. I was so gratified for her to receive such national recognition as his teacher. She has worked so hard her entire life with such love and devotion to her art. She has never asked for anything except to serve her art, and serve it she has.