Back in March, Marketing and Operations Assistant Shantanique Moore interviewed Juliana Matteo about her experience with Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition. Read the interview and check out a video of Juliana playing an excerpt from Minstrel’s Adieu to His Native Land by John Thomas below.
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SM: Hi, Juliana! Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. We are so happy and proud of you for your recent success in the Westmoreland Symphony’s Young Artist Competition! Could you provide a little info about the competition?
JM: It is a local competition in Greensburg, where I live. I won in the category of competitors up to grade 9. There are two categories: level 1 up to grade 9 and level 2 up to grade 12. The competition was open to all instrumentalists. I was competing against other musicians playing different instruments.
SM: How did you find out about the competition?
JM: This was not my first time competing in this Young Artist Competition; I competed in 2017 and was awarded second place. My dad is a member of the symphony, and I wanted to give the competition another try.
SM: That’s fantastic! That shows incredible resiliency. How did you prepare for the competition?
JM: Thank you! I’d been working on the two pieces I played for a good time with my teacher, studying privately. The requirements for the competition were to perform two contrasting pieces, and the works I’d been studying fit perfectly. I worked on each piece for three months.
SM: Wow, sounds like you practiced a lot on each piece during the preparation process. How did you stay motivated to practice?
JM: I just thought of the end goal, being proud of myself for even trying to complete the recordings and being part of the competition.
SM: Yes! It’s so important to be proud of yourself for the work you put into the process. You competed years ago in the same competition; how are things different due to the pandemic?
JM: In pre-covid times, the first round was virtual recordings, and the second round in-person. This time around, both rounds were virtual.
SM: Did you feel you were missing something in that second round due to it being virtual?
JM: Yes. There were not so many nerves because I knew things could be rerecorded. I think nerves help you become a better performer because you build the experience for performing and become more confident with yourself.
SM: Yes, I know exactly what you mean! What advice would you give another student considering competition?
JM: When you’re recording or playing in front of the judges, be very enthusiastic, show emotion, make the music your own.
SM: Wow, that is really great advice! How long have you been playing the harp?
JM: Five years now.
SM: Cool! So, why harp?
JM: When I was very young, my dad worked in Chautauqua, his office was next to the harpist’s, and I just listened to her. I loved the sound of the harp, and it was a dream of mine to be able to play. The dream finally came true five years ago!
SM: I love that! Our stories for choosing the instrument(s) we play are so unique and interesting. It’s amazing that you were able to make your dream come true. What is your favorite piece for your instrument?
JM: I love the harp cadenza in Benjamin Britten’s “Young Peoples Guide to the Orchestra.”
SM: What do you do for fun when not playing the harp?
JM: Dance. I dance twice a week. I also like painting for fun.
SM: Very cool! It’s nice to have creative outlets outside of music. I’d like to thank you so much, Juliana, for your time and for the beautiful performance at the competition! We are rooting for you.
JM: Thank you!