Keith Johnson, Deseret News
Alexander Willey, left, Deborah Ferry, Shenae Anderson, Michael Stewart, Catherine Winters and Jim Lu are soloists.

Utah's young musicians have a variety of venues where they can display their talents.

Most community orchestras along the Wasatch Front have concerts featuring youthful soloists, giving them valuable performing experience.

But the real prize on the circuit is winning a spot on the Utah Symphony's annual Salute to Youth concert.

Sponsored by the Deseret News, the concert is now in its 49th year and has hosted a legion of young soloists, many of whom have gone on to professional music careers. Several Salute to Youth alumni are or have been members of the Utah Symphony.

The concert, conducted by Keith Lockhart this year, takes place this Tuesday in Abravanel Hall.

Six soloists, ranging in age from 10 to 19, will perform.

They are: flutist Catherine Winters, 12, Lindon; double bassist Alexander Willey, 18, Pleasant Grove; violinists Shenae Anderson, 10, Draper, and Deborah Ferry, 17, Corinne; and pianists Jim Lu, 13, Orem, and Michael Stewart, 19, West Valley City.

On the program will be movements ranging from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" to the little-known 20th century Georgian composer Otar Gordeli's Flute Concerto. In between there will be movements from Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major; Rachmaninoff's seldom played Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor; von Dittersdorf's Concerto in E major for Double Bass; and the "Totentanz" ("Dance of Death") by Liszt.

For most kids, playing in the Salute to Youth concert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, But for some, it can be a recurring event.

Take Deborah Ferry, for instance. For the teenager from Box Elder County, this will be her third appearance in Salute to Youth. Her first time was when she was 8 years old, and then again when she was 12.

Ferry admitted she doesn't remember what it was like her first time onstage with the Utah Symphony. "It was so long ago," she told the Deseret News. "But I remember it when I was 12. It was an awesome experience."

And she's excited to be returning yet again. "I'm very looking forward to it," she said, "especially since my teacher, concertmaster Ralph Matson, will be playing right next to me."

Matson has had several students chosen to participate in the Salute to Youth concerts over the years. Ferry has been studying with him for four years and said he is a wonderful teacher.

"I love working with him. It just blows my mind how he can play anything. He is one of my biggest role models," she said.

Ferry was one of 39 youthful musicians who auditioned in August for a chance to be on the Salute to Youth concert. A four-member panel judged the audition: Jeff Bram, vice president of artistic operations for the Utah Symphony; Paul Dorgan, professor of vocal studies at the University of Utah; and symphony members Joseph Evans, violin, and Kevin Shumway, cello.

To qualify to audition, a performer has to either take first, second or third place at the Utah State Fair Music Competition or be chosen to perform in the Utah Symphony Youth Guild Recital. Ferry won her spot in the concert through the Youth Guild Recital.

It might seem like a lengthy process, but Ferry — like most of the kids who have played at the concert — has a history of competing.

One of her most recent competitions was last year, when she won third prize in the junior division at the inaugural Stradivarius International Violin Competition held in Libby Gardner Concert Hall at the University of Utah.

"I knew my piece so well," she said. "That was probably my best competition ever."

Even so, Ferry was taken by surprise when she found out the results.

"I was quite shocked when I heard that I won third place," she said. "The level of playing was amazing."

Ferry doesn't know yet if she'll turn her love of music into a career. Currently, she teaches violin privately and has plans on entering a conservatory next year. "I'm going to be applying to five or six schools in the spring," she said. "I would like to get my undergraduate degree in violin performance at the Manhattan School of Music and then see what happens. I know I don't just want a music education, I want an academic education, too."

If you go

What: Salute to Youth

Where: Abravanel Hall

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

How much: $12-$21 adults, $8 students (all reserved seating)

Phone: 355-2787 or 888-451-2787


E-mail: [email protected]