Saddleback Symphony Concerto winner announced, including a orchestra concert

McKinney Theatre, Saddleback College. (Jacob Castro/Lariat)

Professor Georgios Kouritas presents the first place award, the Saddleback College Concerto 2019-2020 Competition to Shaun Koumons at the Saddleback Symphony Orchestra concert Mar. 7 at the Mckinney Theatre. The Fine Arts Department at Saddleback holds a Concerto Competition every year. The mission statement of the Orange Coast Cities Branch states, “The mission and purpose of the Orange Coast Cities Branch is to pursue excellence in music education and advance the music teaching profession through innovative programs that foster artistic growth and achievement.”

The competition is open to all pre-college and college students in Orange County with certain requirements. For pre-college students the participant must have an music instructor who is a current member of the branch for over 6 months. The pre-college student and teacher must live within the South Orange County Community College District.

For Saddleback college students the participant must attend the college with a minimum of 6 credits, have a musical instructor for the chosen instrument, two music faculty signatures as well as verification of college registration.

The competition expects the instrumental student participants to perform a musical piece from memory. Vocalist participants must perform two operatic arias or concert arias with orchestra accompaniment. Audition pieces must be emailed to and approved by Professor Kouritas, Saddleback’s Instrumental Studies and Coordinator of the Applied Music program.

The competition, usually held at the end of the year and each winner will have the honor to play alongside the Saddleback orchestra at the Gala concert year following the competition. For those students working on any Fine Arts degree and interested in this competition visit, here.

According to the event program, Shaun Koumans, 13, the winner of the Saddleback Concerto Competition is from Irvine. He has been playing the violin since the age of 6. He now has Saddleback Concerto competition win and a Judges Distinction Award for the American Protege International Piano and Strings Competition for 2019.

Koumans actively plays with the Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings (PSSS) since 2017, where he was the co-concert master for the year of 2019-2020 season. He currently is studying violin under Eunhee Kim.
For Saturday’s first performance Koumons played with the Saddleback Symphony Orchestra “Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20” written by spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate. The gypsy piece performed with much gusto.

Suzy Salameh, mother of an orchestra member, says, “The gypsy piece was beautiful. It is a gift to play like that and make me cry.”

Salameh shared how her daughter Maddy who is a full-time student of Saddleback College’s Fine Arts Program has been playing music since she was in 5th grade. She had wished to play the cello from the beginning but started her out with the violin. Salameh’s daughter played the cello in Saturday’s performance which she has been playing now for the last five years.

With opening comment from Kouritas followed, the competition winner revealing the Orchestra opened the performance with Salasarte. But the nights special feature was Beethoven’s “Third Symphony Op. 55” which is historically known to be dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte.

Professor Kouritas has been teaching at Saddleback for 8 years. He has received his Master’s conducting at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and also received his Doctorate in conducting from Eastman School of Music. Kouritas plays the piano, viola and violin.

Kouritas teaches at Saddleback College as well as UC Irvine, Chapman University and CSU Long Beach where he teaches viola, chamber music, music history courses, and music appreciation. At Saddleback College he stands as the music coordinator in the Fine Arts Department. When it comes to teaching he grasps the idea with pleasure.

“I love to communicate with others about art and music. I find it so pleasurable to see students learn,” said Kouritas.

He is passionate about the world of Arts and how it is such a vital element in the process of education. , “I want to offer to the community by sharing the world of art with people,”  It is not a job, it is a mission.”

Born in Valos, Greece his parents started him in violin at the age of 7. He believes music can be used as a source of relaxation and discipline and can be vital to young children especially. He is currently the conductor of the Saddleback College Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble.

Carl Vanderbosch, an orchestra member who plays the clarinet, shared some insight on some background of the preparations it took for the night’s event. The Saddleback Symphony Orchestra had been practicing the two pieces of the night for over 5 weeks now. For the evening they had been practicing since 6 p.m., whereas the event began at 7:30 p.m..

Vanderbosch received his Bachelor’s degree from Cal State Fullerton and a Master’s from Alliant International University. At Saddleback College he returns for some music courses as well as help with volunteering in his spare time. Besides the clarinet he plays the saxophone as well.