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Andre's Student Career Takes Flight!!

Over the past 4 months of this 2023-2024 concert season, Andre Peck's student career has simply exploded. Just as I was about to write about his latest artistic endeavor he encompassed another and yet another until I decided to wait and just write an overview of his artistic feats during this season so far. I last wrote about Andre last December, so I will try to catch up to his artistic pursuits!

When I last wrote, Andre had just won the St. Paul Piano Teachers Association (SPPTA) Concerto Competition. As a result, he will be performing the 1st Movement of Saint-Saens Concerto No. II in G minor at Bethel University's Benson Great Hall on May 19th.

In January, Andre was announced a semi-finalist of Chicago's International Young Artist Concerto Competition. Jo Anne and I accompanied Andre and his management (Chau Nguyen Concert Artist Enterprises) to Chicago. Andre was one of 16 semi-finalists and was honored to perform his Saint-Saens with a top notch professional orchestra comprised of Chicago-area professionals. They were brought together specifically for this occasion. The 16 semi-finalists were chosen from an international cadre of top notch pre-college musicians from all over the world. It was designed for all instruments - not just piano. Andre was one of just 7 pianists chosen from an overall pool of 140 or so applicants. This trip was charged with emotion for Jo Anne and me as the event was held at the Ganz Recital Hall of Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago. It is an historic and beautifully restored national landmark with radiant acoustics. This is where our beloved teacher, Martin Marks, studied (along with his wife and sister) with the great Rudolph Ganz memorialized by this landmark concert hall. Andre played magnificently but was not chosen for the finals. It certainly did not matter. What really mattered was that Andre played his very best with a great orchestra, in a great hall, in a great city. He will be able to try again next year. This will be a very important building block of his pre-college career.

In February, Andre was selected by National Public Radio's (NPR) iconic program "From the Top". He played a brilliant Scherzo of Chopin, and gave a scintillating interview with the program's host and pianist, Peter Dugan. It was broadcast nationally on NPR, podcast, and various other social media platforms. He received rave reviews from listeners and staff alike.

Also in February, Andre was a Finalist and Winner of the Katherine Simo Award in the Minnesota Orchestra's Young Peoples Symphony Concert Association (YPSCA) Concerto Competition. He performed in Orchestra Hall downtown Minneapolis.

March proved to be a watershed month. Andre was the winner, First Prize, of the La Crosse Symphony's Rising Stars Concerto Competition. This resulted in a dazzling performance of the Saint-Saens at Viterbo University's Concert Hall. Andre's hometown audience was jubilant. The conductor was so taken with Andre's playing that he invited him to a return performance on a subscription concert in December 2025! He will be playing Prokofiev's Concerto No. 1.

This was followed by Andre achieving First honorable Mention in the Madison Symphony Orchestra Bolz Young Artist Competition. This award carried much more significance than it sounds. The Bolz Competition is a hugely important event in Wisconsin and one of the most beautiful presentations this writer has ever witnessed in a pre-college competition. It again, was for all instruments. It was a very rigorous undertaking in that all levels of the competition were live-audition events. This is very unusual in this post-Covid 19 world. Andre was required to make 3 separate trips to Madison spanning several weeks. This competition was backed not only by a superb Madison Symphony Orchestra, but also by Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin which broadcast the finals online "Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte". A crew from Wisconsin Public Radio traveled all the way to Chicago to interview and video tape Andre and me working together in preparation for the finals. The finals were held at the gorgeous Overture Hall in Madison. The competition presented four beautifully formed videos of each of the four finalists before their individual performances. Andre played magnificently. Numerous officials of the competition told me that it was the greatest final of this impressive event ever. Andre won First Honorable Mention (3rd Place). But - as with the Chicago Competition - the really important thing is that Andre played so great with a great conductor, a wonderful orchestra, in a beautiful hall, and with a fully engaged audience. And, he will be able to return to give it another shot next season. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) has invited Andre for an hour long interview and performance on one of it's mid-day shows.

Finally in March, Andre was the winner of the coveted Junior High Division of The Schubert Club's Bruce P. Carlson Student Scholarship Competition! As a result, he performed today in the Winners' Concert at the prestigious Ordway Concert Hall in downtown St. Paul. His playing of Debussy's Feux d'artifice (Fireworks) was breathtaking, scintillating, imaginative, colorful, and delivered with complete mastery. It was the greatest performance of this masterpiece this writer has ever experienced. It was simply hair-raising!

Just announced, Andre has been invited for the 4th consecutive year to the Piano Texas International Festival & Academy in Fort Worth where he performed his concerto debut at the tender age of 11 with the world-renowned Fort Worth Symphony.

Needless to say, Andre has won a truckload of money (I won't say how much!) which will be poured back into his musical studies and artistic enterprises.

This is the result of giftedness, talent, and the sheer love of it.

The icing on the cake is that Andre is a totally beautiful young man.

Perhaps that is the most important thing of all.

Yours in Music -

Joe & Jo Anne


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