On Saturday, May 31, 2014, the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra hosted auditions for local high-school musicians to win the $500 Norman Miller Music Scholarship.
Connor Rowe was the winner of the competition, playing “Piece for Trombone and Piano” by Guy Ropartz. 16- year old Rowe will be a junior at Cabrillo High School in Lompoc. He has also recently won the concerto competition with the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony as well as the solo competition, against 30 competitors, at the Cal Poly High School All-State Music Festival.
Also competing for the Norman Miller scholarship were Alexa Arndt, a sophomore at Mission Prep on alto saxophone and Andrew Magie, also 16, a sophomore at Templeton High School.
Connor’s “Piece”, written in tenor clef and the difficult key of Eb-minor, gave the trombonist the vehicle to demonstrate his excellent range, tone quality, and technique, not to mention his mastery of dizzying accidentals. Connor used the $500 scholarship award to defray costs of the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, which he attended in June of this year.
Rowe, Arndt, and Magie are all serious musicians, likely with music careers ahead of them. They all study privately; play with the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra; and all three won the principal position in their respective instrument sections in the 2014 Cal Poly High School All-State Music Festival.
The scholarship is named for Norman Miller, a prominent educator and member of the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra, who died in 2001. In his memory, SLO Winds plus family and friends, founded the Norman Miller Memorial Music Scholarship to aid young musicians in their study of music. The first scholarship was awarded in 2003 and rotates between high school and college students each year.
SLO Winds, conducted by Jennifer Martin, Interim Music Director, is a 60-member group of wind and percussion players that performs an annual series of five to six concerts each year reaching several thousand people. With some of the most accomplished musicians in the area, the 15-year-old orchestra is committed to performing the finest works at the highest artistic level, fostering appreciation of the wind ensemble repertoire and contributing to the cultural vitality of the Central Coast. Its last concert was the Queen Concert, collaboration between the SLO Winds and the Cuesta Master Chorale, during which the group raised $15,000 to fight polio around the world.