Introducing the Winners of the GSO 2024 Concerto & Aria Competition Posted on April 22nd, 2024 by

From left to right, Jack Saetveit '25, Elle Bergquist '24, Will Schimdt '27, and Josh Newman '25

The Music Department at Gustavus Adolphus College has announced the winners of the 2024 Concerto/Aria competition. Bassoonist Will Schmidt ’27, violinist Jack Saetveit ’25, and cellist Elle Bergquist ’24 were named the winners of this year’s competition and will perform their concertos with the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra on May 3. Vocalist Josh Newman ’25 also received recognition as an honorable mention for his outstanding performance.

Despite now sharing this musical recognition, Will, Jack, Elle, and Josh each have their own unique experiences at Gustavus that have brought them to this moment.

As a first-year student, Will is still relatively new to life at Gustavus. Still, he has no doubt that this is the place for him. Reflecting on his college selection process, Will states that when he toured Gustavus “Something about the place just felt right. The most important aspect I considered during all the college tours I did was thinking ‘Can I see myself going here?’ and Gustavus was it. There were a lot of different things that made me able to picture myself here.” Will is excited to see what other experiences and connections he makes over the next three years on The Hill.

Music Performance Major Jack says that he took a much more “pragmatic” approach to his college selection process. Describing his thought process, Jack says “I looked at all the stats. A big part of why I came here was the class size, and the fact that I didn’t think I would be as happy at other colleges and in other music programs.” Jack also cites the strong sense of community at Gustavus as a driving force behind his decision to pursue his degree here. One of Jack’s favorite aspects of life at Gustavus is his ability to be widely involved. “There’s so much to do at Gustavus, and there’s always something I want to be doing. It’s really a joy here. I think that’s part of what makes the community so strong here.”

From the perspective of senior Music and Biology double major Elle, Gustavus was an unexpected but overwhelmingly positive surprise. Elle says “My mom went to Gustavus, but I had no plans to go here as a junior or senior in high school. But then she dragged me to a tour and I liked it a lot more than expected.” Further reflecting on her four years at Gustavus, Elle says “I am really enjoying my experience here and I feel like the further I get into it, the more I enjoy it. Once I became a music major and became more involved in the music department, a lot of opportunities really opened up for me.” Some of the best experiences for Elle have been performing in concerts with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. James Patrick Miller (JPM). “Some of my best memories are of GWO because JPM does such a good job preparing us and then at the concerts it’s just magical,” reflects Elle. Thinking about graduation just around the corner, Elle says that she feels fulfilled in her time at Gustavus. She says “I was more sad about it last year because I felt that there was still so much I wanted to do. But I feel like I’ve put a lot of effort into making sure I do most of it, so at this point I’m less sad and more ready.”

Similar to Will, Jack, and Elle, Josh’s tour at Gustavus helped him solidify his choice to attend college on The Hill. “I knew from the beginning that I wanted to go to a college with a really strong music program and a strong education program because I knew I was going to be a Music Education major,” says Josh, but he was still torn between multiple schools. When he toured Gustavus, however, he knew he had made his decision. Reflecting on that experience Josh says, “The students at Gustavus were so welcoming and once I did my tour here, I knew.” When asked how the music department at Gustavus has provided him with musically fulfilling experiences, Josh mentioned both his time touring with the Gustavus Choir and his time working privately with his voice teacher as main highlights. “The most memorable thing for me has been tours. They build a really strong sense of community. I’m around people 24/7 on tour so I feel that I’ve gotten a lot closer with choir members from those experiences. Beyond that, my voice teacher has given me a lot of chances to sing even outside of Gustavus which is helping me get more confident in my voice,” says Josh.

Despite having their own unique stories and experiences, it’s clear that Gustavus has had an undoubtedly positive and life-changing impact on each of these students. The memory that these students will have of performing their solos with the support of a full orchestra of their peers will stay with them long after they have left Gustavus.

The concerto winners and the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra will perform in Björling Recital Hall on Friday, May 3 at 7 p.m..


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