Violinist Anne McKee, a recent Bowdoin College graduate, is the winner of the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra’s Judith Elser Concerto Competition, according to a news release from the Brunswick-based orchestra. McKee performed the first movement of the Concerto in D Major by Johannes Brahms during the competition’s finals, held Oct. 21 at the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston.

Anne McKee, a graduate of Bowdoin College, is the winner of the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra’s Judith Elser Concerto Competition. Photo courtesy of Midcoast Symphony Orchestra

This was the MSO’s second biennial Judith Elser Concerto Competition, which was made possible by a bequest from Elser, an MSO cellist and board member. Students attending a Maine college or university are eligible to compete. The competition was originally scheduled for May of 2020, but was postponed because of the pandemic. As the winner, McKee will receive $1,000 and will perform with MSO once it is safe to hold in-person concerts again.

The competition’s runner up was pianist Mesa Schubeck, a student at the University of Southern Maine, who performed Concerto No. 20 by W. A. Mozart. The other finalists were pianist Josie DiPhilippo of USM, who performed Concerto No. 1 by Frederick Chopin, and violinist Sofia Edgar of Bates College, who played “Fuga Con Pajarillo” by Aldemaro Romero.

“It was such an honor to be able to play in person and hear such fantastic performances by my peers,” McKee said, according to the release. “I didn’t realize just how much I missed being in a live classical music setting again. It was very refreshing and so needed. I am full of gratitude to be performing with MSO someday, hopefully sooner rather than later.”

McKee is from Hallowell and graduated from Bowdoin in May with a bachelor’s degree in history and environmental studies. She has been studying violin with Lydia Forbes of the DaPonte String Quartet since 2014. Last fall she performed the same Brahms Violin Concerto as soloist with the Bowdoin Orchestra, where she serves as concertmaster.

According to the release, this year’s competition is supported by the Saxifrage Fund for Opportunity Grants of the Maine Community Foundation. The judges were MSO Conductor and Music Director Rohan Smith MSO; MSO musicians Rebecca Dreher, Mary Hunter and Karen Jung; and George Lopez, Bowdoin College’s orchestra director and Beckwith artist-in-residence.

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