VMT violin player is awarded “Outstanding Soloist” at summer state competition

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VMT violin player is awarded “Outstanding Soloist” at summer state competition

Zoe Alvarez, Staff writer

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Ten thousand and 25,000 musicians perform at the state University Interscholastic League and TSSEC music contest, respectively, every summer in Austin where only 2-3% of those performers receive the “Outstanding Performer” award. Vidal M. Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts violinist Anthony Flores was part of those few. 

“Outstanding Performer” is a recognition awarded to musicians who perform their class one solos to the best of their abilities and are selected by judges who come from all over the globe.

“This achievement is truly a mark of musical excellence,” Flores said. 

On June 1, Flores embarked on a challenging journey to be able to obtain such an award. He, along with 25,000 highly skilled violinists from all over the state of Texas, competed in Austin.

“Being able to achieve this award is very difficult,” he said. 

Due to the number of soloists competing, Flores never thought he would be able to earn the distinguished “Outstanding Soloist” his junior year of high school. 

Flores said he believed the task would be difficult. 

However, he brought back the award. In 2014, one other person at Cigarroa High School earned the “Outstanding Performer” recognition. 

“I’m glad to be the second person to ever get it,” Flores said.

Ironically, receiving the recognition of outstanding performer was never Flores’ goal. In fact, he found out about its existence the day of his performance. His director, Tomas Aguilar, explained to him that every judge selects one soloist that they found to be the best of the performers that day. From those selections, the judges make the choice for the musician that had the best solo. 

After Flores’ performance, the judge told him it was the best solo he had ever heard. 

“I just thought to myself, ‘what a nice compliment,’” he said. 

Of course, much more came into play when before receiving the “Outstanding Performer” recognition. The journey began with Flores’ choice of a class one solo and then the responsibility to learn the entire piece.

“Once I finally picked a class one solo, it was up to me to practice it,” he said. 

According to the UIL procedures, Solo & Ensemble is an annual competition in February where musicians play their pieces. The catch is they must be able to perform their class one solo memorized and receive a rating of one in order to advance to state. The judging becomes harsher with every advancement. 

The easiest part of this process was the fact that he was already familiar with his piece.

“All I had to do was take my own time and practice it until it was perfect,” he said. 

The most challenging endeavor of this journey at state competition is playing without nerves that could affect the overall performance. 

 “The hardest part was performing it while having to deal with all the bad thoughts going to your head and trying to make you nervous,” Flores said.

Flores’ advice to all those musicians who wish to be awarded with “Outstanding Performer” is to practice, practice, practice. He said that practice makes perfect, but only if the musician works to the best of their ability.

“That’s practically what it takes to perfect something; practicing it for the longest time,” he said.

He encourages all those who qualify to advance to state to work for it. State competition in Austin gives musicians a day at the University of Texas to put their musical skills to the test, meet new people and broaden their horizons in life.

“No matter what solo it is, if you can take it to state, do it,” Flores said.

Flores practiced almost every single day. He finds humor in the thought of his parents being tired of the same piece over and over.

“I would practice almost every day, to the point where my parents probably thought ‘Oh god, this song again?’,” he said. 

His journey to “Outstanding Performer” also came with its setbacks. There were plenty of times where Flores became frustrated with his solo. Sometimes he would miss a note, other times he did not enjoy the tuning, or it just did not sound right. 

“I just wanted it perfect on the spot,” he said. 

His advice to all those musicians who also feel frustration is to take a moment. Flores said he finds that patience is key to learning and polishing solos. Learning a solo takes time and dedication, the results will show in due time.

“It’ll come along,” he said. 

About a month after his state competition, Flores’ orchestra director invited him and his peers to a Laredo Independent School District board meeting to be recognized for his performance at state. 

“Once they called my name, I stood up and walked towards the front, but as the lady was saying my name she said ‘let me explain more about this violinist…’” he said.

He then watched in confusion as his director handed him a UIL state medal. 

“I was pretty confused at first. I was thinking, ‘Why am I getting this medal? What did I do?’,” he said.

He then remembered what his director told him the day of the competition.

“I was really happy to achieve that medal,” he said.

Aguilar was excited for Flores’ award. He explained to him that “Outstanding Performer” would be the equivalent of their high school football team winning every single game in the season. His parents shared great pride for his hard work and dedication to the violin that gave him his award. 

“They were really proud of me and I’m just as happy to be able to make them proud,” he said. 

Flores said he feels proud to be able to represent VMT and Cigarroa in a Texas statewide competition for earning the “Outstanding Performer.”

“I feel proud to be able to represent VMT because I have my strings teacher here, Bobby Compton. He’s helped me out on many things with violin. But most importantly, I feel proud to represent Dr. Leo G. Cigarroa High School. That’s where I’m originally from and that’s where I first started learning violin,” he said. 

Flores plans on earning “Outstanding Performer” once more. 

“I plan to hopefully achieve this award again so I can have two,” he said. “Imagine having two outstanding soloist awards?”