CAM celebrates outstanding young musicians
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Oct 11, 2011 - 5:58 AM

Dr. Leon Tec, of Westport, is pictured with last year's Leon Tec Showcase participants, from left, Jedrik Chao, Sam Weiser, Connie Zhou and Jefferson Zhang. This year is the 25th anniversary of the annual concert, which honors Tec's parents. The free performance takes place at 8 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the Unitarian Church of Westport.
Connecticut Alliance for Music will celebrate the 25th year of the Leon Tec Showcase for Outstanding Young Musicians on Friday, Oct. 21, with a free concert at the Unitarian Church in Westport, beginning at 8:00 p.m.

This annual event offers high-school musicians the opportunity to perform professionally, coached by a distinguished musician and by the artistic director for the event.

This year's players are violinist Gwendolyn Howard of Westport, pianist Christine Xu of Weston and cellist David Toto of Ridgefield. Xu, 15, is a junior at Weston High School; Toto, 17, is a senior at Ridgefield High School and Howard, 14, is a freshman at the Hopkins School in New Haven.

Dr. Leon Tec's love of music was ignited during his childhood in Poland. His interest in nurturing children was piqued later in life, when he dedicated his profession to the practice of child psychology. In 1987, the Westporter combined his two interests with the creation of The Leon Tec Showcase, which is focused on developing the orchestral talents of young musicians.

"This annual concert is dedicated to my parents, Sarah and Boris," Tec explains. "My mother was very musical. She used to sing to us and play recordings of classical music and great operas. I would listen to the records and pretend that I was conducting the most famous orchestras in the world. But, the truth is that even though I loved the sound of the music, I did not have the discipline to practice and become a renowned musician."

Since the Showcase began, Artistic Director Sandra Shaw Murphy, founder of the Silvermine School of Music in Norwalk, has been charged with selecting the musicians and the compositions that will be performed. "These young performers have been recognized with awards in several competitions," reports Murphy. "Christine and David are members of the Norwalk Youth Symphony and Gwen is involved with the Manhattan School of Music, where she is concert mistress of the Repertoire Orchestra."

"As a trio, these musicians have a great rapport," says Murphy. "They rehearsed during the summer and are meeting weekly to prepare for the concert." Their musical program will consist of "Piano Trio in D Minor" by Arensky and a medley of themes from classic movies, including "Por una cabeza", which was featured in the tango scene in Scent of a Woman and Astor Pizazzoli's composition from the film Oblivion.

Master Coach is Earl Carlyss, of Westport, who spent 1966-1986 as a member of the Juilliard String Quartet during which time he performed over 2,100 concerts and recorded more than 100 works. Three of their recordings received Grammy Awards for the "Best Chamber Music Recording of the Year." Since 1984, Carlyss has been the director of the Aspen Center for Advanced Quartet Studies, a summer program that is one of the premier chamber music programs in America designed for intensive study by young professional string quartets.

Between 1986 and 2001 he was the first holder of the Sidney M. Friedberg Chair in Chamber Music at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. He currently teaches violin and chamber music at the Juilliard School in New York.

Summing up, Murphy observed, "Each year, Dr. Tec presents talented young musicians with a wonderful opportunity to play in a professional concert."

She adds, "He is a huge music enthusiast and we appreciate the support he provides to these talented kids."

Responds Tec, "Year after year, I've never been disappointed with the caliber of the performances during these concerts. They are always delightful. I am enchanted every time."

For information on the performance, visit the Connecticut Alliance for Music website at or call (203) 319-8271.

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