Westminster students to perform concerto movements with the Westminster Community Orchestra

Westminster Conservatory and the Westminster Choir College Piano Department present a Piano Concerto Concert, featuring the Westminster Community Orchestra, conducted by Ruth Ochs, and select undergraduate and graduate students majoring in Piano.  The performance will take place on Wednesday, April 2 at 8 p.m. in Bristol Chapel on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, and is free and open to the public.

The Westminster Community Orchestra selects piano majors, by audition, to perform movements from the standard concerto repertoire every other year. This year, three undergraduate and two graduate students were chosen including Yongyan Cai, Nikita Mamedov, Julianne Michalik, Raymond Nugent and Sergey Tkachenko. These talented, young musicians will perform movements from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Minor.

In its 27th season, the Westminster Community Orchestra’s performances showcase the artistry, commitment, and passion of a true community ensemble. The group presents popular programs noted for their diverse reper­toire and widespread appeal.  In addition to its regular concert series and events featuring Westminster Conservatory ensembles, the orchestra pursues two regular collaborations with Westminster Choir College students: the Piano Concerto Concert and a student composition concert. Members of the orchestra are professional and gifted amateur musicians from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They come from all walks of life but share a common goal: the desire to make wonderful music for themselves and their community.

In her ninth season as conductor and music direc­tor of the Westminster Community Orchestra, Ruth Ochs has led the orchestra in performances of major or­chestral and choral-orchestral works, including sympho­nies by Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. Under her leadership, the orchestra continues to feature choral ensembles and soloists from the Westminster Conservatory and collabo­rate with Westminster Choir College students in piano concerto concerts and readings of new music. She is also the founding conductor of the Princeton Charter School/Westminster Conservatory Youth Orchestra and is in her 12th season as the conductor of the Princeton University Sinfonia. Ms. Ochs holds degrees in Music and Orchestral Con­ducting from Harvard University and the University of Texas at Austin, and she is completing her Ph.D. in Musicology at Princeton University with a dissertation on the ballet Harnasie by the Polish composer Karol Szy­manowski. She is currently a lecturer in the Princeton University Department of Music.

Yongyan Cai started piano lessons in primary school at age 6 and spent 12 years in the Xiamen Music School, located in Gulangyu, which is known as the “Island of Piano” in China. As an active musician, she participated in the opening ceremony of the Tchaikovsky International Youth Musical; performed in the World Choir Competition with the Xiamen TV chorus in Thailand; and won the gold prize in the Chinese National Youth Piano Competition.  She studied at the Shanghai Music Conservatory, East China Normal University and Shanghai Normal University. She is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Piano Performance at Westminster Choir College, where she studies with Phyllis Lehrer.

Nikita Mamedov is a graduate student at Westminster Choir College, majoring in Piano Pedagogy and Performance. Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, he started playing piano in the Rubinstein School of Music. After moving to the United States, Mr. Mamedov studied at the School for Creative and Performing Arts and the Westerhoff School of Music. He won the Westminster Choir College Piano Competition in 2009, 2011 and 2012, and placed second in 2010. He has also performed in Carnegie Recital Hall as part of the Associated Music Teachers League Young Musician Competition in 2011. In 2012, he received bachelor’s degree in Piano, Music Theory and Composition. He is a student of Ingrid Clarfield.

Julianne Michalik is a junior at Westminster Choir College with a double major in Piano and Music Education.  She is also a five-year Master of Arts in Teaching candidate.  She has been on the Dean’s List since her freshman year, and she has received the Rider Leadership scholarship.  Ms. Michalik’s piano accomplishments include participation in master classes with Stephen Spooner and Ingrid Clarfield.  She was the recipient of the Alfred E. B. Merron Scholarship for placing first in the Westminster Piano Competition in 2012; the Arthur Jedson Scholarship for second place in the same competition in 2013; and the L. Hood Fenn Piano Scholarship in 2013. Currently, Ms. Michalik studies with Adjunct Professor Betty Stoloff at Westminster.

During the summer before his senior year of high school, Raymond Nugent attended one of Westminster Choir College’s Piano Camps. Receiving a merit based scholarship; he is now a Bachelor of Music in Piano candidate in his senior year at Westminster Choir College, studying with Ingrid Clarfield. At Westminster Choir College, he placed second in the freshman level Piano Competition and third at the junior level, and he received the Damien Dixon award his sophomore year. Mr. Nugent accompanies for several undergraduate students on campus, and he was the accompanist for the Westminster Conservatory Collegiate Chorale and Westminster Players for previous spring productions.  In addition to playing the piano, he has been a member of the Westminster Concert Bell Choir for three years.

Sergey Tkachenko started playing the piano as a freshman in high school. He studied with Lisa Szilagyi Grad and Lillian Livingston, and he is currently studying with James Goldsworthy. During the past several years, he has performed as a soloist, occasionally appearing as collaborative pianist in chamber recitals with instrumentalists and vocalists. Mr. Tkachenko is a candidate for a Bachelor of Music in Music Education at Westminster Choir College.