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Violinist Rena Far wins 2015 RBC Concerto Competition

First-year student will receive the opportunity to perform as a soloist with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

First-year student Rena Far performs with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

Photo by Mark Skogen

Violinist Rena Far, a first-year University of Calgary student, was selected March 17 as the winner of the prestigious 2015 RBC Concerto Competition, presented by the School of Creative and Performing Arts in partnership with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the RBC Emerging Artists Project. 

Far was up against four other very talented finalists in the annual competition: pianist Kevin Ngo, double bass player Jonathan Yeoh, bassoonist Jonathan Gresl and violinist Daniel Dastoor.

The competition was tough, as mentioned by Richard Sigurdson, dean of arts, during the intermission.

“I felt good about my performance and really appreciated the encouragement I received from my fellow finalists and the orchestra players,” says Far, who is pursuing a degree in biomedical sciences with a minor in music. “I knew I had a chance to win, but it felt so surreal to find out that I actually won.”

Competition offers performers unique opportunity 

The annual competition, unique in Canada, offers music students the opportunity to perform as soloists with one of the major professional Canadian orchestras.

A juried audition process selects five music students from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts to work towards performing and competing in the competition finals. During their preparation time, the five finalists are given the opportunity to work with Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) musicians, management and media partners to develop their professional and artistic skills.

The program culminates in a concert at the University of Calgary’s Rozsa Centre featuring all five finalists performing concerto movements with the CPO and conductor Edmond Agopian.

"It is a rare opportunity for even a top echelon, established professional musician to perform as soloist with a major Canadian orchestra,” explains Agopian, a professor in the School of Performing Arts. 

“The musicians of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra were incredibly supportive of the young soloists and really made it possible for the students to shine, even with very little rehearsal time together," he says. 

“This was my first time performing as a soloist with orchestra,” Far says. “I am so grateful that I was able to play with one as high-caliber as the Calgary Philharmonic.”

By winning this competition, Far will receive the opportunity to perform again with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in the near future. She will also be able to take advantage of mentorship opportunities through the CPO.

Far hopes to continue studying and playing music for as long as she can, while tentatively considering a career in scientific research or in medicine. “As a first-year student my options are still very much open.”