Weekly Feature

2013-12-04 / Local News

Young pianist gets awards at Ontario music festival


Michael McClure Michael McClure Receiving accolades for his musicianship and technical ability on the piano has become a recurrent happening for 12-year-old Michael McClure.

About three weeks ago, the sixth-grader at Elmwood Franklin School received five medals and a $200 scholarship for his performances in each of the five classes, or small adjudicated recitals, in which he participated at the Rotary Burlington Music Festival held in Burlington, Ontario.

“It’s certainly a great feeling,” said Michael.

“That’s usually the most nerve-wracking part of the festival ... I’m not the nervous type when I’m playing, but that’s when I get nervous, when they announce the results.”

A serious pianist for about six years, Michael said he’s received awards and scholarships from similar festivals, including the Stamford Kiwanis Music Festival in Niagara Falls, Ontario, since he began studying privately with teacher Mary Handley.

“Usually her more advanced students go to

Burlington,” Michael said.

“In Burlington, the competition’s a lot tougher. I didn’t have that much success in the first few years, but I’ve gotten gradually, I think, more successful there.”

One of the youngest competing musicians in the Senior division — a usual occurrence in his case — Michael received a gold medal and first place in each of the Etudes, Impressionistic Composers and Canadian Composers classes he entered, as well as second place in sight reading and third place in the Mozart Sonatas class.

Shortly after the end of the two-week festival in Burlington, Michael learned he was also awarded a $200 Senior Scholarship, which he plans on either saving for college or using to invest in stocks.

Additionally, Michael recently completed grade nine of 11 in the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program, a Canadian based music curriculum. Just beginning his grade 10 studies, Michael said his goal is to complete the program by the time he reaches high school, thereby receiving his associate degree of the Royal Conservatory in performance.

Michael is also a participating pianist at the intensive BRAVO Chamber Music festivals, which comprise talented young string musicians in Western New York.

“I think the piano is a really nice-sounding instrument, so there’s sort of this sense of beauty to it, but I also like performing — that’s my favorite part of piano playing,” he said.

Similar to his being bilingual in Hungarian and English, Michael’s musical ability is dually versatile, as he plays an additional instrument, the euphonium, which he started last year at Elmwood Franklin. He noted that having first played the piano gave him a technical advantage with the brass instrument, making it easier to learn.

A composer in his spare time and a gifted student of mathematics, Michael said he believes he’ll continue playing the piano later on in his life, at the very least continuing lessons as a hobby.

(Story ideas for this feature can be sent to Naomi Spencer, Ken-Ton Bee Editor, Bee Publications, 5564 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14221 or call 204-4924.)

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