FD Symphony features really young artists

The Young Artists Concert celebrates young performers every year, but this time the performers are a bit younger than average. While those who were selected in the past were predominantly college age, this year two of the performers are not even in high school yet.

Daniel Burgess, 13, and his brother, Andrew Burgess, 11, are among the youngest people selected to perform a portion of a solo with the Fort Dodge Area Symphony April 21.

“They are very good,” said Bruce Perry, one of the three judges at the Jan. 19 audition. “After the second one played, … one of the judges turned to the other and me and said, ‘They must really practice in that house.’ We speculated whether they have one or two pianos for the kids to work on.”

“We have an upright and a baby grand, but they only play the baby grand, so they have to make sure they don’t step on each other’s toes,” said the boys’ father, David Burgess, in an phone interview.

Both boys have been playing since they were 4, and take piano lessons from Rene Lecuona, a professor at the University of Iowa.

“They practice between an hour and two hours of piano a day, but they also play violin and they sing, so they end up doing a lot of work,” David Burgess said.

Both boys have been winners in the Bill Riley Talent Search at the Iowa State Fair in different years.

Andrew Burgess couldn’t quite put his finger on what makes all the work worth it.

“I guess I play music just to play music,” he said. “I just like it.”

Daniel Burgess said he tried out for the concert after his piano teacher suggested it.

“I thought it would be a good idea to be a good idea to start performing this concerto. And it turned out I won, which was quite unexpected,” he said.

“I’m really exited. I’m not that nervous because I know the piece really well,” he said.

Another young winner was Anna Wolle, an 11th-grader from Cedar Rapids, who will play violin.

“The high school violinist is also very good,” Perry said. “The day she was auditioning on violin in Fort Dodge in the afternoon, she was auditioning with the Ames Community Orchestra, doing a vocal solo, so she’s a multi-talented individual.

“She’s very involved in the musical world. For a junior in high school, that’s pretty outstanding.”

Eric Ferring, a college junior from Des Moines, and Thaddeus Ennen, a college senior from Indianola, will round out the concert with vocal selections.

Perry had praise for all five performers.

“It’s a wonderful array of young talent,” Perry said. “This isn’t the first experience of this type for any of them. They’ve all been involved in various musical endeavors, more times than their years would indicate.”

The concert will open with more young talent, said symphony treasurer Ardella Hein. Students from second through eighth grand were selected at the annual Youth Honors Recital in March and will play for about 20 minutes beginning at 2:30 p.m.

This will be the symphony’s last concert in Phillips Middle School. The school will be closed down next year, and the Symphony will perform in the new Fort Dodge Middle School.

“We’ve been playing there 63 years,” Hein said. “Since this is our last concert in Phillips, we’re going to allow all students complimentary tickets. If they are 12 or younger, they must be accompanied by adult. We’ll be handing tickets out to piano teachers, vocal teachers, to the schools, and they are available at Reiman Music.

“They will be admitted day of concert, but we encourage them to get a ticket.”

The Symphony will also play Copland’s “Rodeo,” she said, a fun cowboy piece with movements such as “Buckaroo Holiday” and “Corral Nocturne.”

“It is a fun piece,” she said. “We’ve played this a number of times in the past. It’s a nice one for the kids. It’s not hard to listen too, it’s really peppy and lively.”