Reah Clymer (left), of Collinsville, Mississippi, and Luke Haynes, of Staunton, Virginia, pose on Thursday at Lehman Auditorium. The two musicians won the 2024 Concerto/Aria Competition, earning them each performance spots with the EMU Orchestra during its spring Concerto/Aria Orchestra Concert on Saturday, April 20, at 7 p.m. in Lehman Auditorium. (Photos by Macson McGuigan/EMU)

Junior vocalist Reah Clymer, senior clarinetist Luke Haynes win Concerto/Aria Competition

Musicians will perform with orchestra at its spring concert

Mezzo-soprano Reah Clymer and clarinetist Luke Haynes saw their years of hard work and countless hours of practice pay off on Monday when they were named winners of the 2024 Concerto/Aria Competition.

As part of the distinction, the two students earned coveted spots to perform with the EMU Orchestra during its spring Concert/Aria Orchestra Concert on Saturday, April 20, at 7 p.m. in Lehman Auditorium.

Which pieces of music did you choose?

Clymer, a junior from Collinsville, Mississippi, studying music and peacebuilding, sang “Batti, Batti o bel Masetto” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  

“This aria is an incredibly entertaining song, and I really enjoyed the process of learning it,” said Clymer, who studies under voice teacher Shannon Kiser. “A lot is packed into this aria, and it stretches me through its demanding range, repetitive arpeggios, high vocal runs, and long, lyrical phrases. I love how this song is both technically and narratively rich.”

Haynes, a senior from Staunton, Virginia, studying music performance, played Carl Maria Von Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73. He said the selection showcases his legato phrasing, while the technical passages highlight his finger agility.

What was running through your mind when you found out you had won?

Clymer said she felt “immense gratitude” for the music department faculty and music students who supported her and pushed her to perform at her best.

“Our department is terrifically talented, and I am a better musician and person because of my friends and professors there,” she said.

When Haynes heard he had won, a flurry of emotions ran through his head.

“I was shocked, happy and mystified, all at the same time, when I heard my name and realized I had won,” he said. “I was speechless. As a musician, winning this competition means that I am putting in the right work and getting amazing and special opportunities like performing with the orchestra that help me grow as a more well-rounded musician.”

How will you be preparing for April’s concert?

Clymer said she will be rehearsing with the EMU Orchestra as they learn the music for her aria.

“I am looking forward to spending time with the entire ensemble and being just one part of a tremendous night of music,” she said.

Haynes said he’ll practice with his teacher Dr. Šarūnas Jankauskas, associate professor of clarinet at JMU, as he works on memorizing his piece.

Winners of the 2024 Concerto/Aria Competition Luke Haynes and Reah Clymer.

Clymer and Haynes were selected from six musicians who performed on Monday. Diane Phoenix-Neal, associate professor of viola at JMU, and Jeanette Zyko, associate professor of oboe at JMU, served as guest adjudicators for the program. Harold Bailey, an adjunct faculty member in the Preparatory Music Program, was collaborative pianist.

Mezzo-soprano Maggie McClary, who performed “V’adoro Pupille” from Handel’s Guilio Caesare, was named runner-up.

Watch a video recording of the competition on the EMU Department of Music Facebook page.

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