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Sophomore wins prestigious young artist award

May 23, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University music student has been selected as one of nine nationwide finalists in the esteemed Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition.

Judges chose trombonist Hana Beloglavec of Kalamazoo as this year's low brass winner. Beloglavec is a sophomore majoring in music performance and a member of WMU's Lee Honors College. In addition to winning the Yamaha Young Performing Artists award, her recent accomplishments include placing second in the U.S. Army Band's National Trombone Solo Competition and winning the International Trombone Association's Gilberto Gagliardi Solo Competition for students 18 and under.

Beloglavec graduated first in her class from Kalamazoo's Loy Norrix High School last year, and her trombone instructor, Dr. Stephen Wolfinbarger, says her academic distinction has carried over to her studies at WMU.

"She's very bright and several of her professors have commented to me about her work ethic, ability, and what she brings to the classroom," says Wolfinbarger, WMU associate professor of music and Beloglavec's private instructor for the last two years. "Along with several other very talented students in the trombone program, Hana has helped raise the performance bar in my studio."

Originally from Slovenia, Beloglavec's family moved to the United States when she was 9 months old. They settled in Ohio, relocating to Michigan when Beloglavec was in fifth grade. It was around this same time that Beloglavec fell in love with the trombone.

"I first became interested during one of my older sister's band concerts," she says. "There was a girl there that played first trombone, and she was missing an arm, so she had to play the instrument backward from what I was used to seeing. She was awesome."

Already hooked, Beloglavec started gathering trombone recordings from all of the biggest names in the business. It was the music of Christian Lindberg and Michigan-born Joe Alessi that inspired her to stick with it.

More than eight years later, fresh off the heels of her first year as a student at WMU, Beloglavec's next stop is an all-expenses-paid trip to the Yamaha Music for All Summer Symposium at Illinois State University June 23-28. There she will perform in front of thousands of students, participate in professional workshops and clinics designed to help her launch a professional music career, and compete against the eight other Yamaha Young Performing Artists winners for a $5,000 grand prize. Beloglavec is the only contender from Michigan. Others are from California, Illinois, New York, Texas, Wisconsin and British Columbia.

If Beloglavec wins the grand prize, there's a good chance she'll spend time touring the country over the next few years. Even if she doesn't take the grand prize home this year, it is likely Beloglavec will have a future as a professional performer.

"The list of Yamaha Young Performing Artists low brass winners from the past three years includes several well-known and up-and-coming young artists," Wolfinbarger says. "Hana is not only enormously talented, but she's also motivated. Her ability, dedication and attitude will make her a success."

Media contact: Tonya Hernandez, (269) 387-8400, tonya.hernandez@wmich.edu

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