Pictured: Noel Washington, winner of NVSO’s 2016 Summerford Violin Concerto Competition.

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NVSO awards handmade violin, monetary prize to winner of Summerford Violin Concerto Competition

4/20/16

PHOENIX – Noel Washington was recently announced as the winner of a new handmade violin, valued at $5,000, after competing in North Valley Symphony Orchestra’s annual Summerford Violin Concerto Competition. Noel will perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Movement 1, at the May 21 North Valley Symphony Orchestra concert, playing his new violin.

Noel is the current viola section leader of the NVSO Youth Orchestra and also plays in the viola section of the NVSO Adult Orchestra. At 20 years old, Noel has been playing violin and viola 15 years, and plans to use his musical abilities as a music therapist.

The application process for the competition consisted of composing answers to five essay questions, obtaining a letter of recommendation from outside the NVSO organization, and auditioning in front of a panel of judges. Applicants also must be members in good standing in the North Valley Symphony Orchestra’s Symphonettes or Youth Orchestra. The violin is donated every year by local luthier Jody Summerford, who recognizes the work that the NVSO volunteer artistic staff is doing to nurture and develop young musicians in the Phoenix community.

Noel’s private teacher Claire Gordon, says, “Noel is a dedicated young man who loves to play the violin and viola. He is quite talented and plays very musically. When Noel moved to Arizona at age ten, I became his private teacher and he studied with me until he graduated from high school. Noel made tremendous progress during those seven years.” 

Before winning one of Summerford’s gorgeous, hand-crafted violins, Noel owned only a student violin, and had to borrow his teacher’s violin just to participate in this competition. Winning the violin has special meaning to Noel, because Summerford has allowed him to stop by his studio anytime during this past year and play one of his many violins. 

“Being a kid, the quality of the violin didn’t really matter to me because I was only a novice,” said Noel.  “I realize now that once you reach a certain point in your playing career, you’re only as good as the violin that you play. It’s time that I own my first real violin – one that emotion was put into not just some instrument that was put together in five minutes by some machine. I truly appreciate the opportunity to be able to partake in this great experience for my last year in the NVSO Youth Orchestra.”

Hear Noel play his brand new violin at NVSO’s “American Freedoms” concert, Saturday, May 21, 7:00 p.m. at North Canyon H.S. Performing Arts Auditorium, 1700 E. Union Hills Rd.

NVSO wishes to invite young string players to join the Symphonettes or Youth Orchestra for the 2016-17 concert season. Auditions will be scheduled in August. For more information about membership in one of the youth performance groups, or the North Valley Symphony Adult Orchestra, email Music Director Kevin Kozacek at conductor@northvalleysymphony.org or call (623) 980-4628.