Congratulations to Becky Mack, winner of this season’s Young Peoples Orchestra Concerto Competition! Becky will perform the Strauss Oboe Concerto at the spring concert on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at Heinz Hall. We also want to congratulate all of our musicians who competed! Keep reading to learn more about Becky and the competition experience!
Q: How long have you studied the oboe?
I switched from flute to oboe in 8th grade, so approximately five years!
Q: Why did you choose the oboe?
I chose the oboe because it had a fuller sound than the flute, and it was much more unique.
Q: Who is your oboe teacher?
I study with Max Blair, associate principal oboe of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra!
Q: Where do you go to school?
I’m a senior at Bethel Park High School.
Q: How long have you been a TRYPO member?
I’ve been playing in TRYPO since my freshman year, so approximately four years!
Q: What is the highlight of your time as a TRYPO member?
There are a few memories that I will cherish from TRYPO. There is nothing quite like playing your first symphony or studying a piece that would eventually become one of my anchor pieces, such as Mahler 1 (third movement). Obviously, playing the oboe and English horn solos from Dvorak 9 will stick with me for a long time. I can’t think of TRYPO without thinking about Jim Rodgers, the woodwind coach, who provided encouragement and inspiration for not only the woodwind section but any member of the orchestra, and of course, the mini sectionals where my teacher, Max Blair, would play along with me!
Q: How did you prepare for the Concerto Competition?
I played the Strauss Oboe Concerto for my college auditions, so I’ve been listening and playing along to it since the summer before my senior year!
Q: What did you learn from the experience?
Studying a piece and having to continuously be vulnerable for auditions is a major challenge. Going through the audition process taught me to remember why I pick the pieces I do. Whenever I got discouraged, I simply turned on my favorite recording (Eugene Izotov and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and relied on my support system!
Q: Do you have a favorite moment in the Strauss Oboe Concerto?
I love the last two pages of the piece. We go back to the melody I started the piece with, except without the stress of getting through a page and a half without resting. I am so close to the end and am able to let go and have fun with the piece. The runs from rehearsal 9 are over with, and the flute plays along with me for a few measures before I reach the last stretch of music. There’s almost a hint of sadness, as I don’t want the movement to end, but it’s overpowered by the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment as the movement finishes.
Q: What are your plans for the immediate future?
I plan on majoring in oboe performance!
Becky Mack is a senior at Bethel Park High School. She originally started on the flute but picked up the oboe five years ago and immediately fell in love with its fuller sound and uniqueness.
For her entire high school career, Becky has had the great fortune of studying with Max Blair, Associate Principal Oboe of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
An active participant in musical programs throughout the area, Becky enjoys playing for the community. She has been a member of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra and Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras. Becky enjoys playing chamber music through the Youth Chamber Connection (YC²) program. Prior to the pandemic, she also volunteered with the Ringold Community Band.
Becky has been playing in her school’s symphonic band for three years. She has also participated in multiple Pennsylvania Music Educators Association events, playing principal in Honors Band all the way through All-State Orchestra.
Becky has taken part in many summer camps, although most were virtual during the COVID pandemic. A few highlights include the Juilliard SummerWinds, Domaine Forget, Hidden Valley Music Seminar, and Cleveland Institute of Music Oboe Intensives.
When not practicing or making reeds, you can find Becky at Heinz Hall ushering for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She also enjoys reading and a new hobby – cooking!