Keiser Student Music Competition

Tenley Rooney
Students showcase their mastery of music in annual Keiser contest

Graduation is not the only goal Sixth Former Amane Machida has been focused on in recent months. The vocal student from Tokyo, Japan, put great energy into not only learning the German-language lyrics to Johannes Brahms’ Vergebliches Standchen, but adhering to a regimen of vocal exercises to produce the powerful sound required by English composer Frank Bridge’s Love went a-riding.
“It’s a very dramatic piece that demands a long breath,” explained Machida. “I am still working on this technique, but thanks to the exercises, I began to produce the released sound, and that let me sing more comfortably and relaxed.”
Machida prepared both pieces for the School’s annual Keiser Student Music Competition on May 7. Her efforts paid off, and she won the Vocal Division.
“My dream is to be an opera singer," said Machida, who will major in vocal performance at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. "Hopefully, I will have a long career as a singer and will participate in more competitions in the future, but I will never forget last Sunday, my first victory at a competition. I am very fortunate to study music supported by these amazing musicians and teachers.”
In total, 16 students were invited to compete in the two-day test of musical proficiency and performance. Machida was one of several Sixth Formers who capped off their tutelage in Millville with a victory in the contest. Formmate Carl Kim won the Wind Division, and Fifth Former Rohan Mundiya placed first in the Strings Division. Sixth Former Sam Vaughn won the Piano Division.
“The Keiser Competition has long been a culmination of each year’s student music activities, and it has been considered a high honor over the years to be invited to participate,” said Nicholas White, the Henry Crock Kittredge Chair in the Arts and director of Chapel music for the School. “The standard of performance this year was very high, and the judges had some tough decisions to make. While it is clearly an honor to emerge as a winner, the real value of this process lies in the opportunity each student has to receive comments from the judges.”
The Keiser competition draws experts from the ranks of New England’s classical music scene for these evaluations. This year's judges included Elliot Markow, concertmaster for Symphony NH (strings); Peter Schultz, chair of the Department of Music at Phillips Exeter Academy (winds); Angela Gooch, principal teacher of voice at Walnut Hill School for the Arts (voice); and Justin McCarthy, a collaborative pianist for the Department of Music and Theatre & Dance at Plymouth State University and a conductor (piano).
“Competing is always a really fun and great experience,” said Vaughn, who also placed third at the recent Granite State Piano Competition in Portsmouth, N.H. His brother Eric ’17 came in second.

Despite the tricky key work required in Vaughn’s Keiser selection, Frederic Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 31, the Alabama-raised teen had added confidence walking into the Music Building to perform.

"The students at this School are so supportive of each other," he said. "I never feel that nervous when competing in the Keiser competition."