SUNY Orange Ensemble’s Feb. 25 Concert to Feature Winners of Orchestra’s Concerto/Aria Contest

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- Cellist Eric Bjorkman, of Monroe-Woodbury High School, and tenor Michael Kolb, from Newburgh Free Academy, will be the featured soloists for the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra’s upcoming concert at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Paramount Theatre in Middletown.

PHOTO: Michael KolbAs winners of the College’s 10th Annual Concerto/Aria Contest, Bjorkman and Kolb earned the opportunity to perform solos. Bjorkman’s will perform the first movement of Joseph Haydn’s “Concerto in C Major, Hob. VIIb” while Kolb will sing “Comfort Ye My People” and “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted” from the first scene of George F. Handel’s “Messiah.”

The evening’s program will also include the orchestra’s performances of Hector Berlioz’ “Le Carnaval Romain,” Suite No. 1 from Georges Bizet’s “Carmen”; and Alexander Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances.” The orchestra is under the direction of Dr. Hilarie Clark Moore. Admission is $5, with active duty military personnel and SUNY Orange students with valid identification admitted for free.

Kolb (right) is a senior at Newburgh Free Academy and has studied voice with Ron DeFesi for the past three years. He performs frequently with the Hudson Opera Theater, having sung the role of Mercury in Jacques Offenbach’s “Orpheus” and as Guccio in Giacomo Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi.” In addition, he has participated in performances of Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana,” Camille Saint-Saën’s “Samson et Dalila,” Haydn’s “Paukenmesse,” Händel’s “Israel in Egypt” and Wolfgang Mozart’s “Requiem.”

This spring Kolb will perform in a fully staged production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aïda.” He also plays piano and guitar, and composes. He plans to continue studying voice and will attend college in the fall.

PHOTO: Erik BjorkmanBjorkman (left), a senior at Monroe-Woodbury H.S., has studied cello for more than eight years. This past year, he has studied privately with Eileen Moon of the New York Philharmonic. Bjorkman performs in a variety of MWHS music ensembles including chamber orchestra, voice ensemble, combined symphony orchestra and a string quartet.

He is also a member of the high school drama club, having acted in “You Can’t Take it with You,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Hairspray,” and the “Wizard of Oz.” Bjorkman participated in the 2009 and 2010 Souza Scholarship Productions of “Brigadoon” and “The Secret Garden.”

Musically, he has been an active participant in numerous all-county festivals and area all-state performances, and has been named an alternate for two consecutive years at the All-State New York State School Music Association Festival. He has attended the Ithaca College Summer Music Camp and the New York Summer Music Festival at SUNY Oneonta.

Bjorkman, a member of the SUNY Orange Community Orchestra since 2006, is also a member of the Jubilate Youth Choir of Warwick and has sung Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” at Carnegie Hall (2010) and John Rutter’s “Mass of the Children” (2012). He was a member of the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra, participating in concert tours in Beijing, China and most recently Prague, Czech Republic. In college, he plans to pursue a music education degree with a minor in history.

For additional information on the concert or the orchestra, contact the SUNY Orange Arts and Communication Department at (845) 341-4787. In case of inclement weather, the College has established 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 26 as the snow date for the concert. The Paramount Theatre is universally accessible.

SUNY Orange students, as well as Orange County high school students, are eligible for the annual concerto/aria contest, designed to provide a featured musical performance opportunity for outstanding young instrumentalists and vocalists from within Orange County. Details regarding the College’s 11th annual contest will be released this coming fall. Contact the SUNY Orange Arts and Communication Department or any of the Orange County high school chorus, band or orchestra directors for more information.

For information on all cultural and artistic events at SUNY Orange, visit “The Arts at SUNY Orange” Facebook page.

Previous winners of the contest include:

2011: Ashley Heilweil (SUNY Orange), vocalist; Audrey Zybura (Washingtonville H.S.), flutist
2010: Kaitlyn Mesic (Goshen H.S.), violin; Erica Moore (Warwick Valley H.S.), french horn
2009: Stephen Gorgone (Monroe-Woodbury H.S.), viola; Justin Randolph (SUNY Orange), vocalist
2008: James Rose (Warwick Valley H.S.), trumpet
2007: Rachel Conklin (home schooled, Washingtonville), violin
2006: Clare Herceg (Warwick Valley H.S.), flute; Emily Moore (Warwick Valley H.S.), viola
2005: Lucie Jaronowski (Monroe-Woodbury H.S.), violin; Tim Takagi (Middletown H.S.), French horn
2004: George Courtsunis (Newburgh Free Academy), piano; Radhika Shah (Warwick Valley H.S.), violin
2003: Sarah Tusch (Monroe-Woodbury H.S.), violin; Valentina Ponochovnaya (SUNY Orange), piano

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940