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04/29/2014 | Created by Darla Martin Tucker

It was a full house at Hole Memorial Auditorium on April 26 for an energized concert many attendees deemed among the best they’ve heard at La Sierra University.

Maestro Dean Anderson conducts the La Sierra University Orchestra for the 56th Annual Concerto Concert. (All photos by Natan Vigna)
Flutist Jason Anthony performs “Flute Concerto No. 7” by Francois Devienne for the annual Concerto Concert.
Pianist Jonathan Mamora performs Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 3" for the Concerto Concert.
Members of the La Sierra University Orchestra performing for the Alumni Weekend 56th Annual Concerto Concert.

The 56th Annual Concerto Concert commenced at 8:15 p.m. as an event of Alumni Weekend, to showcase the winners of the annual concerto competition for La Sierra student musicians of various career paths and majors.

Pianist Jonathan Mamora, a freshman pre-med and piano performance major, and flutist Jason Anthony, a senior business management and music major won this year’s first and second placements, respectively, from among four contestants.

Mamora’s performance of the notoriously difficult “Piano Concerto No. 3” by Sergei Rachmaninoff landed him the $3,000 Marcia Specht Guy Memorial Prize and a lengthy standing ovation during the Saturday evening Concerto Concert. The 18-year-old pianist spends approximately three hours a day practicing in general and devoted much of that time to prepare for the concerto this year. He began learning the Rachmaninoff piece in late 2011. Due to its length, concerto adjudicators selected sections for Mamora to play during competition.

“One reason why I chose Rachmaninoff's “Piano Concerto No. 3” was its reputation as one of the hardest concertos in the standard piano repertoire,” Mamora said. “And it sure lives up to its hype, for it is one of the most technically challenging pieces I have ever tackled. Also, it is an absolutely beautiful work of art, and one of my favorite concertos to perform and to listen to.”

Anthony performed “Flute Concerto No. 7” by Francois Devienne, a piece he chose for its beauty after coming across it while searching for music to perform for the competition. “I fell in love with this piece the moment I heard it,” said the flutist. He invested upwards of 14 hours per week of concerto practice for about 20 weeks, he said.

The La Sierra University Orchestra under direction of Dean Anderson accompanied the soloists for their performances which received rave reviews from audience members.

“That was the most fantastic concert I’ve ever heard at this university,” said Vernon Jones, a nearby resident who attended La Sierra between 1963-64. “When I heard it was going to be Rachmaninoff’s 3rd concerto, that’s one you can’t miss. And that orchestra. They were alive with that director.”

La Sierra’s adjudicated concerto contest was held Feb. 26 this year. Aided by the speed of technology, Mamora and Anthony learned quickly of their placements from friends once the standings were posted in Hole Memorial.

Mamora was in class when he received a text message that he had won the competition. “Since I was in class, I had to contain my excitement, but I felt relieved that the results were posted,” said the Loma Linda native and Beaumont resident. A winner of multiple performance competition awards, Mamora has studied piano for 14 years and has performed around the country. He is currently a student of music department Chair Elvin Rodriguez.

A friend of Anthony’s also texted him about his placement about two hours after the competition. “I was satisfied,” said the flutist. Originally from Bangkok, Thailand, Anthony currently resides in Riverside and gives private and group lessons in classical guitar, flute and music theory. He also teaches as a member of the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts at La Sierra and has studied under adjunct professor of flute and AVPA Director Martin Glicklich.

The annual concerto concerts take place during La Sierra’s alumni weekend and are enthusiastically received by audience members, many of who attended concertos of years past and who are familiar with the early organizers of the university’s music department.

Jones credited the current music department’s leaders with building a successful program upon a foundation laid by violinist Alfred Walters who joined the department during the 1950s, and John T. Hamilton, its acclaimed music director of several decades following his arrival in 1947.

“I heard a lot of great concerts,” Jones said. “Those were fun days.”

To view photos from the concerto concert as well as other Alumni Weekend activities, visit La Sierra's Facebook page at