Finlay Coupland / Contributing Writer
As part of the Patty McDonald Orchestra Series, Samford Orchestra hosted a concert on Tuesday, March 3 to highlight their concerto competition winners Zac Wang and Trenton Smith. The event combined some of Samford’s finest orchestra members with award-winning soloists.
“Wang and Smith both have this insane amount of musicality that is so blatant,” Donny Snyder, a sophomore Cello Performance major, said. “It was just energizing to watch. I could watch them all day, especially Zac Wang. I love that he opens his mouth like he’s talking to the piano, and it’s speaking for him. It’s so fun to watch him become the piece itself. Trenton does the same thing. He was running all over the marimba with such vigor and passion.”
Wang, a Chinese-born Australian pianist, performed a solo in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 3 in C minor on Tuesday. Wang is currently earning his master’s degree in music on piano performance and pedagogy at Samford University. He previously completed a bachelor’s degree with honors in music in piano performance at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Some of Wang’s achievements include winning first prize at the Australian Concerto and Vocal competition, earning second prize at the Fletcher and Nell Morris Piano Competition, and being named the Licentiate in Music Diploma with the Australian Music Examination Board.
Smith, a junior percussionist from Columbus, Georgia, performed a marimba solo in Séjourné’s Concerto for Marimba and Strings. Smith is currently earning his bachelor’s degree in music education while also studying performance. Not only is Smith involved in Samford’s orchestra, he also takes part in Samford’s jazz band, wind ensemble, percussion ensemble, and steel drum group. Smith has also worked alongside Shelby County High School and Gardendale High School as their percussion instructor.
“This concert was more of a collaborative effort than normal concerts,” Emily Sandgren, a cellist in Samford’s Orchestra, said. “We would work on our collective part as an orchestra, but then we would have to combine it with the solo performers. Their performances were technically proficient, musically expressive, emotional, and really vulnerable. I thought it was unique to see a range of dynamics from the piano to the marimba.”