Music scholarship winners amaze audience with talent

Written by: 
Tomson Cheang
From left to right: Rachel Hurtado Dunbar, Parker Stockford, Lawrence Laureano, Emily Shek, and Makana Arce.


Percussionists, vocalists, and a Chinese music performer, all the winners of music scholarship from Empower Your Dreams, performed their own specialties in the Scholarship Winners Recital held on Oct. 19 in the Mckay Auditorium. Audience members said they were in awe of the skills and emotions the performers presented.

In the Empower Your Dreams auditions which happened in spring, about 20 students competed with voice and musical instruments for the scholarship. The five winners were given the chance to perform in this recital, according to Jennifer Duerden, a music professor at BYU–Hawaii.

The five winners were Makana Arce, a vocalist who performed baritone, Emily Shek, who presented Chinese music with Guzheng, Rachel Hurtado Dunbar, a vocalist who sang mezzo-soprano, Lawrence Laureano, a vocalist who sang tenor, and Parker Stockford, a percussion performer.

Shek said she was grateful how even though she was performing Chinese music, the judges still chose her to be one of the five winners. Shek said it was also hard for the judges to decide five winners since the competitors had different types of performances.

“There were already voice and different instruments, and there I came even with Chinese music. It was such a difficult job for the judges. Despite that, they gave me the honor. I was so surprised,” recalled Shek, a senior majoring in music from Hong Kong.

All the performers portrayed impressive musicianship, said Camilla Saylor, a sophomore from Texas majoring in music and psychology. She commented on the surprise she received in Shek’s Guzheng performance.

“Emily’s amazing. [Her performance] is different from western music. It really grabs your attention. It’s amazing how fast her fingers moved and the vibration was so beautiful.”

Having grown up in Hong Kong, Himmy Wu, a junior studying TESOL education, said Shek’s Chinese music reminded her of the dramas about ancient Chinese history she had watched.

As a pianist, Wu described Shek as a highly-skillful performer. “Emily moved her fingers as fast and swiftly as pianists do. How she got the beats and the rhythm is professional.”

Lawrence Laureano, one of the vocalists that performed in the recital, presented three songs from Broadway musicals about the future. “I want to send [a] message of hope to other people. I think Broadway songs are relatable. People can understand the meaning and have fun listening to it too,” said Laureano, a senior majoring in music from the Philippines.

Mckaylah Conlin, a sophomore from Utah majoring in intercultural peacebuilding and political science, said, “Lawrence is my choir teacher. He’s talented. He shows with me his dreams, and I feel his passion.”

Dr. Daniel Henderson, a music professor at BYUH, said Stockford practices with passion as well, like a “practicing machine.” He explained, “Natural talent can’t teach you to play a difficult piece. It takes hours and hours of devoted practice. That’s what Parker does. Parker is obsessed with practice.”

Conlin said she hadn’t been to a concert for a while and the performances in the recital reactivated her passion for music. “Seeing how much hard work they put into it, and then seeing the pay-off, the amazing scholarship, and how happy they [performed to] the audience, I think I’m gonna be either a music major or minor.”

Duerden commented on the efforts the winners had put into their practice. “They’ve done a lot more than what we saw tonight. It’s nice to feature them in this way. They deserve this recital.”

Winning a scholarship with music skills, Arce, a senior majoring in music from Moloka’i, said he felt blessed and humble. “Music is important to me and it’s nice to know that I can use it to benefit myself financially.”

Arce said he hadn’t cared about that before he came to BYUH, but as musicians get older, they realize if they participate in competitions, they may be able to benefit themselves financially.


Date Published: 
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Last Edited: 
Tuesday, November 6, 2018