Robbie Short

A Yale freshman has been selected as the winner of the William Waite Concerto Competition for the first time in several years.

Pianist James Carrabino ’20 was declared the winner of the 2017 competition, and violinist Cameron Daly ’18, the co-concertmaster of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, received honorable mention. As their prize, each will perform a concerto at Woolsey Hall with the YSO during the next academic year. The competition is named for musicologist and author William Waite MUS ’51 and is open to all Yale undergraduate classical instrumentalists enrolled in their freshman, sophomore or junior year.

“Performing with the YSO was a great opportunity to collaborate with my friends and colleagues on a scale beyond that of chamber music,” said violinist Emily Switzer ’17, last year’s winner and current co-concertmaster of the YSO. “The chance to perform in Woolsey was an added bonus, due to the interesting acoustics and sheer size of the venue.”

YSO President Cindy Xue ’17 said that the William Waite Concerto Competition was created as an opportunity for undergraduate participants to perform solo works in the Morse Recital Hall, a space typically reserved for graduate student musicians. It is the only competition of its kind and caliber for undergraduates on Yale’s campus, she added.

Each of the winners will perform their final-round competition pieces for their individual features accompanied by the YSO. Carrabino  will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, and Daly will perform Glazunov’s Violin Concerto in A minor.

“It’s going to be really special,” said Daly of his upcoming performance. “It’ll be particularly meaningful because it takes place during my senior year.”

Daly also competed in the William Waite Concerto Competition last year and was named runner-up.

Carrabino, who has been studying piano since the age of 5, said that he entered the contest at the urging of one of his professors. In the past, Carrabino studied at the Royal College of Music in London.

“It was very humbling to win,” said Carrabino. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m very excited to now play with some of [Yale’s] top undergraduate musicians.”

A self-described late starter, Daly said that he took up the violin at age 8 and began to practice the instrument seriously at age 14. The high quality of the YSO strongly influenced his decision to matriculate at Yale, he said.

Attesting to the high caliber of both musicians, Jacob Sweet ’18, co–publicity officer for the YSO, said that the quality of both their performances was exceptional.

Besides having a freshman winner, this year’s competition was also unique for other reasons. In another rare turn of events, this year marked the first in which the competition featured two rounds. Participants were asked to submit a 10-minute video of them playing, unaccompanied, a concerto of their choice. Instrumentalists from various categories were then chosen based on their tapes to perform live in the Morse Recital Hall before a panel of judges. Twelve students were chosen for the final round.

Competitors were evaluated for technique, artistic expression and overall execution. This year’s judges were professional musicians who were anonymous to the competitors and unaffiliated with Yale in order to maintain impartiality. In past years, winners of the William Waite Competition included three pianists and two violinists.

The YSO’s final concert of the year will feature Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 10 in E-flat major.