Perez Selected as Finalist in Concerto Competition
Israel “Izzy” Perez ‘19 was selected as one of five national finalists for the United States Marine Band Concerto competition. On Feb. 16, Perez performed the Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op.8 by Otar Gordeli at the John Philip Sousa Band Hall in Washington, D.C. for the final round of the competition. Perez competed for a $2,500 scholarship and the opportunity to perform as a soloist alongside “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in March, and placed second.
Perez discovered the competition two years ago, but waited until the following year to apply. Last year, Perez applied with a recording of the contemporary Gordeli concerto, his selection from the competition repertoire list, but did not make the finals. This year, Perez submitted the same recording, but received a congratulatory package in early December with news of the finals.
“I am preparing by revisiting the concerto that I hadn’t looked at since last year,” Perez said. “I’d like to think I have improved as a musician from last year, but they require that I perform the complete concerto, so there is about 5 minutes of new music that I have to learn on top of the 6 minutes that I need to get back under my fingers.”
Perez began playing flute in fifth grade, after his future band director at Leslie Middle School, Sara Whitener, came to his elementary school and discussed joining.
“I didn’t know much about instruments other than the recorder-which I started playing in 3rd grade-but there was something about the sound and virtuosity of the flute that drew me to it,” Perez said.
Since then, Perez has continued to build up his resume. He placed second in the OSAA State Solo Music competition and won the Salem Youth Symphony Concerto competition last year. Perez was also made first flute in the All-Northwest Symphony Orchestra, an honor group for musicians in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming.
“Izzy is amongst the most dedicated students I have had. He works hard, and his attitude is outstanding.He plays with a musical maturity that goes well beyond his years,” South band teacher Benjamin Stokes said. “Playing with the Marine band is an amazing opportunity. Most college musicians don’t get to be a soloist with a group of that level. I expect that participating in this competition will open doors that and make connection in a way that is rare for high school musicians.”
In the months leading up to his initial recording, Perez dedicated his time to practicing, refining small details and working through tricky spots within the piece.
“I was strictly self-taught for the first six years of my musical career, but the discipline came naturally because I was drawn to music,” Perez said. “I am my biggest critic and am never satisfied with my musical ability which motivates me to continue practicing.”
Before the finals, Perez will have the opportunity to be coached by a member of the Marine Band during his rehearsal in D.C. The Marine Band Director, the Marine Band Assistant Directors, and a surprise special guest will serve as judges for the competition.