Five finalists compete to win the Sigma Alpha Iota Competition

The five finalists of the Sigma Alpha Iota Competition are ready to face off.

At 2 p.m. Wednesday in Fletcher Music Hall, the young musicians will take to the stage to perform for judges, the public and one another. But there’s no hostility among the competitors.

“Everyone’s friendly and we’re all supportive of one another,” said Vincent Meklis, a violinist. “It wouldn’t make for a great reality show.”

Meklis will be competing against two other violinists, Allison Lovera and Julimar Gonzales Leon. The three violinists will be joined by Katie Gallagher, a violist, and Daniel Kaler, a cellist. The five musicians have already faced 18 competitors in the first round, and eight in the second to make it to this stage.

Gallagher said preparing for a competition is much like preparing for any other performance, but she spends more time focusing on details in pieces that judges might look for. The judges for this round are Timothy Muffitt, Music School Festival Orchestra music director, Richard Sherman, winds and percussion chair, and Alexander Gavrylyuk, artistic adviser to the Piano Program.

What sets the final round apart from the previous two is that Wednesday the students will be performing the entirety of a piece, rather than just a portion of it. Attendees will see Kaler perform Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, op. 85; Meklis and Leon each perform Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor, op. 47; Gallagher perform Béla Bartók’s Viola Concerto; and Lovera perform Alexander Glazunov’s Violin Concerto in A minor, op. 82.

Gallagher said she’s looking forward to playing the whole piece in Wednesday’s competition, a chance students don’t always get in other recitals throughout the summer.

Gallagher didn’t expect to make it this far in the competition, but said she’s happy to be competing alongside some of her good friends for the final round. She said the competition adds an extra level of nerves, pressure and excitement.

At the end of the day, though, the students are here to perform — not compete.

“I’ll be happy no matter who wins,” Gallagher said.


The author Rebecca Klar

Rebecca Klar is a recent graduate of Binghamton University with a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in rhetoric. She is excited to be spending her first summer at Chautauqua as a School of Music reporter for The Chautauquan Daily. You can contact her at