Another high note struck in budding career

Moments after winning the Young Artist Competition at Mesa State College, Antonio Villanueva laughed about his start with the instrument that has allowed him to travel the world.

Villanueva, 22, a junior music major at Arizona State University, said he was 9 years old when he first picked up a trumpet, though he was so short that his arms weren’t long enough to reach the bell at the end of the horn.

He was inspired to learn the trumpet after hearing a Mariachi band in his native Mexico. It took three years before anyone commented on how talented Villanueva was at playing the trumpet.

He has since played with the World Youth Symphonic Band at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Youth Orchestra of Mexico and a Cuban symphony.

On Sunday, it took 90 minutes for judges to decide that Villanueva’s rendition of the “Trumpet Concerto” by Aleksandr Arutiunian was exquisite enough to win the 17th annual Young Artist Competition, which was sponsored by the Grand Junction Symphony Guild.

The three other finalists were Kellan Toohey, Longmont, clarinet; James Barger, Carrollton, Texas, saxophone; and Cobus Du Toit, Boulder, flute, who was named runner-up.

For winning the competition, Villanueva will perform with the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra during its 2010-2011 season. He said the opportunity to be a guest performer with a symphony was the primary reason he entered the competition. He flew to Grand Junction with his accompanist, Wei Xing, instead of competing in a national trumpet event in Virginia.

Villanueva and Xing are on spring break from ASU. They plan to fly home Tuesday after hiking in the area.

Villanueva’s former college roommate, Samuel Price, won the Young Artist Competition two years ago.

Before Villanueva was named the winner, Kirk Gustafson, a contest judge and music director for the Grand Junction symphony, told audience members the competition would be close and difficult to judge.

The four finalists backed up Gustafson’s claims, and he thanked each performer for traveling to Grand Junction for the competition.


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