’Topper to play with New Mexico Symphony Orchestra

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By Kirsten Laskey

Seeing Kathy Lin, a Los Alamos High School junior, by a piano is not an uncommon sight in Los Alamos. Residents have frequently been able to enjoy her performances, whether that performance was a student recital, a Brown Bag show or a Professional Music Teachers New Mexico Honors competition. Lin’s skill as a pianist is one of many musical gifts presented to the community.

Now that gift will be given to a much bigger audience. As the result of winning first place in the piano competition at the Jackie McGehee Young Artists’ Concerto Competition for Piano and String, Lin will perform with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra during its Mother’s Day Concert May 10 at the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque.

She will play “Concert No. 2 in D Minor” by Edward McDowell.

“I was really excited because I really wanted the chance to play with the symphonic orchestra,” Lin said. “It’s a really unique experience to play with an orchestra because most people don’t get to do that.”

Also, she received a $500 cash prize.

Lin was not the only Los Alamos student to be awarded for her talents on the piano. Los Alamos High School senior Catherine Chen earned second place in the piano competition as well as a $300 cash prize.

Lin and Chen are students of Lynn Lamb.

Lin has competed in the Jackie McGehee competition for five years. The first year, she said, she earned third alternate and the past two years she received first alternate places.

Lin credits “Lots of practicing” for helping her achieve a first place finish this year.

Plus, Lamb received recognition. “I just really appreciate her being my teacher and I’ve learned a lot from her over the years,” Lin said.

She said she enjoys the competition because there is a lot of excitement in competing and being on stage produces a lot of adrenaline.

Besides Chen and Lin, other Los Alamos student musicians at the competition were David Li and Peter Song.

Lin said, “It’s always hard to compete against people you know … it’s also fun being there with them.”

The first place winner for the strings competition was Julia Connor, a senior at Albuquerque Academy.

According to a press release, each contestant played a selection from a concerto. The competitions ran simultaneously, and two judges per division determined the winners.

Jackie McGehee, former New Mexico Symphony Guild president, former chair of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra Board of Trustees and now trustee emeritus, founded the piano competition. This year the Guild included string instruments for the first time.

The Guild and the NMSO sponsor the yearly competition to identify and recognize promising young musicians from throughout New Mexico. Guild members Karla Bressan and Carol Horner chaired the event.