The Kiwanis Club of the Sandhills enjoyed listening to musical performances from 11 Moore County students during the 30th annual Picquet Music Festival April 13.
The event featured nine students from the county’s three public high schools — North Moore High School, Pinecrest High School and Union Pines High School — as well as two students from The O’Neal School.
The top three contestants received trophies and scholarships for their performances.
Jacob Daniel, a senior at Union Pines High School, received the first place prize for his rendition of Bruce Broughton’s first movement from “Sonata for Tuba and Piano.”
Jentry Womack, a junior at Pinecrest High School, placed second for her vocal performance of Aaron Copland’s “Laurie’s Song.”
Sarah Maccio, a senior at Pinecrest, placed third for her French horn performance of Paul Dukas’ “Villanelle.”
Daniel received a $2,000 scholarship for placing first, while Womack received $1,500 and Maccio received $1,000.
The eight runners-up in the competition also received a $100 scholarship.
Those participants were: Danielle Cormier, Caleb Garner, Cain Hall, Cynthia Hohman, Eli Ring, Kaitlyn Wagner, Meagan Watkins and Ethan Garner.
Local music teachers nominate students to compete against their peers, while independent professional musicians judge each performance.
This year’s judges were Homer Ferguson, the organist and choirmaster at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines; Deanne Renshaw, principal oboist for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra; and Valerie Stancik, a local teacher of dance, theater and vocal music.
After the winners were announced, judge Valerie Stancik said she and her colleagues based their decision solely on musicianship and the difficulty of the pieces performed within a pool of talented students.
“We had a lot of talented, young musicians,” judge Homer Ferguson added. “Everyone was certainly a winner, but when it came down to it, we had to make a hard decision.”
Jacob Daniel was beaming as he held his trophy and welcomed congratulations from Kiwanis members.
For Daniel, winning the competition was a culmination of dedication and months of practice in preparation college auditions.
“I’ve been playing this since September,” he said. “I’m sick of it!”
However, the build-up to the performance gave Daniel the confidence he needed to play under pressure.
“I get excited,” he said. “If anything, my nerves just go to adrenaline when I get onstage — it’s the joy of performing for me.”
Daniel expects to be playing the tuba a lot more next fall as a freshman at East Carolina University, where he will be studying music.
“I’m sure I’ll be seeing the same piece later on,” he said with a smile.
The Kiwanis Club has presented the competition since 1946, when charter member Charles Picquet organized a choral festival to showcase local choral groups.
In 1982, the event became a competition among the county’s four high schools, offering trophies and scholarship prizes to individual winners.
Picquet Festival committee chairman Paul Gibson said the Kiwanis’ dedication to promoting and celebrating the arts in education is imperative within a climate of significant budget cuts.
“Music and the arts tend to get pushed a little to the sidelines,” he said.
Gibson has seen the festival grow over the years, and he would like to see it morph into a larger event that celebrates Picquet’s vision by continuing to support music in education.
He has hopes to eventually align the event with the Palustris Festival, an annual celebration of the arts in Moore County, to give students more exposure.
“We’re definitely thinking of expanding this thing,” Gibson said. “Whether or not we will depends on how those thoughts progress.”
Contact Hannah Sharpe by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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