Senior soloists featured at Heights High Midwinter Concert
The breadth of the instrumental music program at Cleveland Heights High School will ring loud and clear at the Midwinter Concert when two senior soloists take the stage. The performance takes place on Friday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m., at the school's Dina Rees Evans Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults, and are available the day of the show.
Eli Kauffman will perform his own composition, Piano Concerto #1, with Symphonic Winds, and violist Mason Spencer will perform Bartok’s Viola Concerto with Heights High Symphony.
Kauffman characterizes his piece as modern classical with jazz influences. He began work on it last year, and continued to make minor changes as he rehearsed it with the 45 members of Symphonic Winds. He started composing during his sophomore year. Heights Jazz Combo performed two of his original works last year at Heights High’s annual Jazz Night. He studies jazz piano and theory with Greg Slawson, and has received Outstanding Musicianship awards from the Lakeland Jazz Fest and the Tri-C Jazz Fest. At Heights High, he has played piano with Jazz Band and Jazz Combo, trumpet in the marching band, and percussion in the symphony and pit orchestra. He also plays guitar, bass and ukulele. Kauffman is currently enrolled in the composition program at CSU and hopes to study composition in college next year.
Spencer, who studies under Mark Jackobs of the Cleveland Orchestra, began working on the Bartok selection several months ago as well. He was interested in the piece because of the challenges it presents. “It’s a piece that stretches the soloist and the orchestra,” explained Spencer. “It’s very challenging and requires an emotional component from the musician. It was the last piece Bartok wrote before dying.”
Spencer is principal violist with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (COYO) and participates in COYO’s chamber music program. He has played with other groups, including the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, the Cleveland Philharmonic, and the Suburban Symphony, with which he appeared as a soloist after winning its annual concerto competition earlier this year. He has been a member of Heights High Symphony for the past four years, and has taken part in the school’s chamber music program, participating in several groups whose repertoires range from traditional, classical music to originally composed pieces.
Kauffman and Spencer both plan to study music in college.
Florence D'Emilia is a Cleveland Heights resident and parent of a Heights High student.