Lenora Galeziowski, a junior at Braden River High School, will have to calm her nerves Feb. 29 before going on stage at the Riverview Performing Arts Center to perform a clarinet solo with the Sarasota Orchestra.
“I’m a really nervous person,” Galeziowski said. “It’s not easy for me to perform in front of people, which is weird because that’s what music is about — performing in front of people.”
The Sarasota Orchestra’s “Thrill of a Lifetime” concert will feature Galeziowski and pianist Marco Jimenez, a high school junior who is homeschooled and a Sarasota resident, as the winners of the 2019 Edward and Ida Wilkof Young Artists Concerto Competition.
The competition awards solo performances with the Sarasota Orchestra.
With many of the other competition participants having several years of experience playing their respective instruments, Galeziowski was shocked when she was announced a winner because of her relative inexperience.
“[Jimenez has] already won this competition before so it was kind of crazy to me that I won,” she said. “I was so happy. I just remember being really surprised. It’s probably one of the happiest moments of my life.”
Galeziowski started playing clarinet in sixth grade. She’s not quite sure why she chose the instrument though.
“I think it’s because I played recorder in elementary school, and it looked similar,” she said. “I had a natural connection or something. I had a natural talent for it that I was able to build upon."
Little did she know choosing the clarinet and pursuing her passion of music would put her on a path to winning the concerto contest.
Laura Stephenson Petty, a clarinet player with the Sarasota Orchestra who has been Galeziowski’s clarinet teacher since she was in seventh grade, has seen her student grow tremendously in the years they’ve been together.
“I wish I could have a recording of her [from when she started],” Stephenson Petty said. “It’s profound, the difference. It’s like someone reading a Dr. Seuss book to someone reading ‘Harry Potter.’”
Stephenson Petty said Galeziowski is one of the best students she’s ever taught because of Galeziowski’s dedication to learning her instrument and listening and implementing feedback she receives into her playing.
Galeziowski, who is also a member of Braden River High’s wind ensemble and River Symphony, will perform the first movement of Carl Maria von Weber’s “Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor” for her solo.
She didn’t let anxiety get in her way of completing two rounds of the competition before being selected as one of the winners.
“It was really incredible," she said of the competition. "I remember after doing the first round I couldn’t stop smiling, even though it could have been better. There were things wrong with it, but I was like, ‘Wow, that was exhilarating.’”
The competition rounds alone have made her a better musician, Galeziowski said.
“I’ve never played a piece to that level before where every single note and every dynamic is planned out and perfected,” she said. “It was really a good experience for me because now I can do that with more music.”
The concert will be a performance Galeziowski has been dreaming of since she first heard of the competition in seventh grade.
“It’s kind of unbelievable,” she said. “I am so lucky to have this opportunity to be like the star of the show, especially having such incredible professional musicians behind me.”
Galeziowski will also perform in the same section as her mentor when the orchestra plays with members of the Sarasota Orchestra’s Youth Orchestra Program.
“It’s going to be amazing because I’ve taught her everything she knows about the clarinet,” Stephenson Petty said. “It’s a proud moment. You can’t believe that you helped this young person become the player that they’re becoming.”