UH Masters Of Viola Performance Wins Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition
One of classical music's rising stars, Friendswood-based violist Brian Bires, was named first place winner of the 30th Annual Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition at the Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival (TMF.)
As recipient of the top prize, Bires, a May 2019 Masters of Viola Performance graduate of the University of Houston (UH) Moores School of Music, will perform as soloist with the TMF Orchestra at the Moores Opera House Saturday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m., under the baton of Maestro Carl St. Clair. The concerto competition also carries an international invitation to appear as a soloist with the Akademisches Orchester in Leipzig, Germany at the esteemed Gewandhaus.
"We're thrilled for Brian's win with his formidable interpretation of Cecil Forsyth: Viola Concert in G minor. All five musicians in the final round - viola, two violins, bassoon and clarinet -- were of exceptional talent, so much so that the judges' tallies resulted in a tie for second place," noted Alan Austin, TMF General and Artistic Director. This marks the first University of Houston graduate to win this competition since trombonist Brian Logan took the top prize in 2002.
Bires will play the Forsyth piece backed by the 93-member Texas Music Festival Orchestra.
Evan Schnurr, clarinet, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and Yue Yang, violin, Lynn University Conservatory of Music shared second place, with Yang receiving the most votes for the Audience Favorite Award. Mark Lauer, a bassoonist from Florida State University College of Music, and Ayrton Pisco, a violinist from University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, rounded out the finals field.
TMF draws classical music's rising stars from around the globe to study and perform for the month of June for an intensive four-week program that emulates the life of a professional musician. Based at the University of Houston Moores School of Music, the 30th annual festival features performances by 93 gifted student musicians, distinguished conductors and faculty artists in more than 30 performances at a nominal cost.
Bires, who is attending his first TMF, earned his undergraduate Bachelors of Music Education degree from Baylor University School of Music and completed his Masters in Viola Performance at UH Moores School in May 2019. A former student of Dr. Kathryn Steely, he currently studies with Wayne Brooks, Principal Violist of the Houston Symphony and Texas Music Festival faculty member. The virtuoso, who performs on a Thomas Perry viola made in 1783, has won several other concerto competitions, including at the Moores School of Music, Baylor School of Music, Houston Civic Symphony and Clear Lake Symphony. He has performed in master classes for Helen Callus, Caroline Coade, Josef Spacek, James Dunham, Ivo van der Werf and Kathryn Plummer. Bires has been invited to perform with the Prague Summer Nights Music Festival and the Methow Valley Music Festival in Winthrop, Washington. Winner of Baylor University's Donald I. Moore Outstanding Senior Performer Instrumental Division award, Bires has performed extensively throughout the Houston and Waco areas as a soloist, orchestral and chamber musician.
More than 390 applicants from across the U.S. and 22 countries applied for the 93 positions in the rigorous TMF Orchestral Institute. Orchestra Fellows represent 37 institutions, including Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Yale University, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin College and Conservatory, The Peabody Institute, Northwestern University, University of Michigan, Rice University Shepherd School of Music and UH Moores School of Music. Fellows, chosen by highly competitive live and recorded auditions, receive a full fellowship to underwrite their time in Houston.
Saturday TMF Orchestra Series performances are reserved seating and parking is $5. Series Packages and individual tickets may be purchased online at www.tmf.uh.edu and through the UH College of the Arts Box Office 713-743-3388. Orchestra Series single tickets are $25; $15 for students/seniors/alumni/faculty; PERSPECTIVES concerts are $20 general admission and $10 for students/seniors/alumni/faculty. The TMF Season Pass is $135 for general admission and $75 for students/seniors/alumni/faculty (includes four Orchestra Series Concerts at MOH and four PERSPECTIVES (with a fifth bonus concert) at Dudley Recital Hall. The UH Moores Opera House is on the UH Main Campus, I-45 at Cullen Boulevard, Entrance #16.