By Kayla Furlano, Current Staff
Receiving a standing ovation is an exclusive honor, an honor earned by Emmalee Ciriacks.
Ciriacks, an East sophomore, performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, movement three, with the Kettle Moraine Symphony Orchestra on March 1 at Our Savior’s Church in West Bend.
“They’re all professionals and I’m a high schooler,” said Ciriacks, who won this year’s Washington County Concerto Competition to earn a spot on the stage.
Although she looked calm and collected while performing, Ciriacks was anxious. “I was really nervous but it was really cool because I got to have two or three practice rehearsals with them. Everybody was really nice,” she said.
“This concerto is very technically and musically challenging. It was a very expressive piece that showcased her artistry,” said Lori Schneider, Ciriacks’ piano instructor.
Ciriacks, who has been playing the piano since kindergarten, competed for the spot to play with the orchestra. “They have sixth, seventh, eighth, and high school categories. I did it in sixth, eighth, and 10th. Only the high school category you get to play with an orchestra, so that’s really cool,” Ciriacks said.
Ciriacks practiced the nearly eight-minute piece for nine months before the recital. She practiced “well over an hour every day to prepare,” Schneider said.
Schneider also added, “the conductor of the Kettle Moraine Symphony, Paul Thorgaard, said that she was among the top of the students he has had the pleasure to work with. He was very impressed with her preparedness, confidence, musicality, and professionalism.”
Ciriacks doesn’t play the piano at the high school, but does take private lessons weekly.