By Alexandra Golder, Intern
Two Hoggard High School students said nervousness was not an issue when they took to the stage with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, despite being some of the youngest musicians ever to join the orchestra on stage.
Violinist Alexei Mejouev and pianist David Oh performed with the orchestra at University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Kenan Auditorium. Mejouev, a junior, and Oh, a senior, are co-winners of the high school division of the orchestra’s 39th Annual Richard R. Deas Student Concerto Competition.
The first featured soloist was Mejouev, who performed Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, Op. 14. Despite being the youngest member to ever join the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, he said he wasn’t too scared.
“It was exciting,” Mejouev said. “I knew all I had to do was go up there and play.”
Mejouev counts his parents as his best supporters, along with his violin teacher and instructor at UNCW. “It was wonderful,” mother Luda Mejouev said of seeing her son perform.
The final soloist of the evening was Oh, who performed Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54. He followed UNCW division winner Paige Zalman, who performed the marimba solo in Paul Creston’s Concertino for Marimba, Op. 21.
“I was nervous while waiting,” Oh said, “but I anticipated doing well.”
Oh’s father Seungmin Oh was proud of his performance. “It was the most honorable moment in his and my life so far,” he said.
Mejouev and Oh are both members of the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra. Mejouev also plays with UNCW-based chamber ensemble The Accidentals and with his own string quartet, and he sings in Hoggard’s advanced choral ensemble, The Voyagers.
Mejouev has experience playing with older musicians as a member of a Dave Matthews tribute band. He performs with the band at their Virginia, North and South Carolina concerts. “It was scary at first, playing with 30- and 40-year-old musicians, but they’ve always been supportive of me,” Mejouev said. “They like that I attract younger crowds.”
In addition to the piano, Oh has played the violin for eight years. He is an active member of the math team and Science Olympiad at Hoggard, as well as a member of National Honor Society and Beta Club, and an officer for Hoggard’s academic tutoring program. Within this busy schedule, Oh practices daily for one hour. “I don’t see it as something that takes up my time,” he said, “because I enjoy it.”
Mejouev is not quite sure how he juggles his schedule. He typically practices every day for two hours, but between rehearsals and lessons, it can be hard to find the time.
“I don’t know how I do it — I just do,” he said. “There’s a lot of late nights.” Oh has recently been accepted to the University of North Carolina. He is considering minoring in music and majoring in either engineering or science.
As a junior, Mejouev has time before he makes any final decisions about college. He plans to study music and is exploring options outside of North Carolina. “I’m trying to meet as many people as I can,” Mejouev said.
Dr. Richard R. Deas, for whom the student concerto competition is named and in whose memory it continues, helped create the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra in 1971. As the then-chair of the UNCW Department of Music, he assisted in developing the competition in 1976 as a way to give talented young musicians an opportunity to perform with a symphony orchestra.