Willmar Senior High School musicians to be showcased during Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra concert
— One of the missions of the
Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra
is to nurture a love of music in the region's youth.
Every May, the orchestra holds its Young Artist concert to showcase the talents of young musicians. This year, two Willmar Senior High School students were chosen for the special honor — senior vocalist Cecilia Buzzeo and junior cellist Jacob Loerzel.
Both Buzzeo and Loerzel have been performing since they were young children.
"I've been doing choir since I was super young," Buzzeo said. "My mom has these pictures of me with the vacuum handle, belting out."
Buzzeo has been taking vocal lessons with Cheryl Schmidt since the seventh grade. She was a member of the 2022 and 2023 Minnesota All-State choirs, and won awards during the solo and ensemble contests the last two years. She also played roles in musical productions at the Barn Theatre and Willmar Senior High School.
"I think I always knew I wanted to get better at singing," Buzzeo said, which is why she has invested so much time and energy into the art form.
For all her success as a singer, Buzzeo gives Schmidt a lot of credit. She has provided Buzzeo with many opportunities such as performances and finding scholarships.
"I would not be here if it wasn't for her," Buzzeo said. "I am just so grateful."
Loerzel decided to learn the cello when he was in fourth grade, wanting to continue learning about music while playing with the school orchestra starting in middle school.
While he first thought about picking the violin or viola to play, his mother advised he play the cello, with its lower register.
"I can play all sorts of music on the cello. I can play the low bass notes; I can play the high melodies," Loerzel said. "I like that it sounds like it is singing."
Loerzel has had two teachers — Lisa Zeller and Michelle Suter — who have helped him become the cellist he is today.
"They've been amazing. They've helped further my skills, but also helped me like classical music and keep me interested in playing the cello," Loerzel said.
Each of the musicians have their reasons for loving music and, interestingly enough, they're a bit similar.
"I love that it is its own language. You can dissect it and find new meanings," Buzzeo said. "It sounds beautiful, I love how complex it can be."
For Loerzel, who isn't a fan of public speaking, music has given him even more of a voice.
"I thought it was a way I could say things without saying things," a way to tell stories, Loerzel said. "And now I really enjoy doing that on the cello."
Buzzeo plans to continue singing in college and beyond. She will be attending Concordia College in the fall, and plans to major in business management with a minor in psychology. When deciding on a school, she had one very important requirement.
"The first thing on my list was finding a college with a good choir," Buzzeo said.
While Loerzel is still a junior, he has his eyes on Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is interested in the music school and its multimedia entrepreneurship degree, which would teach Loerzel about the production side of the music business. However, he does have a dream to perform.
"My dream career is to make being a soloist work. If I can make that into a career, I think that would be amazing," Loerzel said. "I love playing in orchestras under awesome directors."
Buzzeo and Loerzel have been preparing for the Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra Young Artist concert since last August.
Buzzeo had auditioned for the 2022 concert and, while she was not selected, she decided to give it another chance this year. And when Loerzel saw a poster about the concert last year, he thought it would be a great chance for him.
"This is quite different, at least in my case," Loerzel said. "This concert is all about us; it's a little bit scary but in a good way."
The two auditioned in front of orchestra director Stephen Ramsey, performing the pieces they wished to play in the concert if chosen. They found out the same evening that both would be playing in the May 21 concert.
"It was as straightforward as an audition gets," Buzzeo said.
Buzzeo will be performing "My Garden," a piece comprising three poems by Christina Rossetti set to music by Elizabeth Haskins. She previously performed the second movement for a jury performance, and she and Schmidt thought it would be fun to perform all three for the concert.
Loerzel chose his piece, the first movement of Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor, a tad more randomly. He heard it while browsing YouTube on a road trip.
"I like to go for the technical challenge with my piece," Loerzel said. "I was like, oh my gosh, I have to play this."
The Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra Young Artist Concert is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 21 at the Willmar Education and Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at the door or on the
. They are $15 for adults, while children under 18 are free.
In addition to playing along with the Young Artists, the orchestra will be performing Franz Schubert's "Rosamunde Overture." To celebrate the orchestra's 65th anniversary, former members have been invited to play the overture with the current orchestra. The concert will conclude with "Tchiakovsky's Symphony No. 4."
With the concert fast approaching, Buzzeo and Loerzel are looking forward to it, while also starting to feel a bit nervous. But that is OK.
"If you're nervous, that means you care about it," Buzzeo said.