Wolfe takes the win in youth symphony concerto competition


AJ Wolfe

Zoe Wolfe won the Memphis Youth Symphony concerto competition with her performance of the Lalo violin concerto. Wolfe has been a member of the program for nine years, and this was her first time participating in the annual competition.

Every musician knows all too well the grueling hours of practice, perfecting and performance prep required to put on a good show. For junior violinist Zoe Wolfe, dedication is what allowed her to come out on top in the Memphis Youth Symphony concerto competition. 

On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 26, nine students from the Memphis Youth Symphony competed in the program’s annual concerto competition at Hassell Hall at Rhodes College. Each year, the winners earn the opportunity to perform their concertos during the youth symphony’s winter concert. With so much talent in the pool of participants, the judges followed a strict criteria to ensure they singled out the best candidate.

“The main thing that we looked for is preparation, confidence level, how well you know the music, but then also if the candidate is actually performing the piece as opposed to just displaying technical facility. We were looking for the total package,” youth symphony conductor Kalena Bovell said. 

In Wolfe’s case, she not only met the criteria, but her performance also had a level of showmanship that completely wowed the judges.

“When Zoe performed, she really performed. I think for all the judges, we closed our eyes and we could just hear everything she wanted to project with that piece, and it was just a stellar performance, even as an audition,” Bovell said.

To yield such results, preparation and consistency were key. Wolfe made sure to practice for at least an hour and a half every other day, approaching her music with much dedication.

“I practiced 40 hours every day,” Wolfe said jokingly.

Wolfe’s hard work paid off in a smooth performance. Where many young musicians would be nervous during such a big performance, Wolfe breezed through her piece, enjoying every moment. 

“The piece I’m playing is a really fun piece. It’s very exciting, so I just went on stage and had a good time. I just reminded myself that it’s a performance, not a competition.”