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Music student wins prestigious national competition

March 24, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University trombone student Hana Beloglavec has taken top honors in the U.S. Army Band's National Trombone Solo Competition, regarded as one of the two foremost competitions for young trombonists and held last weekend in Washington, D.C.

Beloglavec, of Kalamazoo, Mich., was one of three finalists selected, turning in what has been described as a stunning performance Friday, March 20, before a panel of six judges and an audience of several hundred. After performing, Beloglavec, who was born in Slovenia and lived there less than a year before moving to the United States, was greeted with a huge response from the audience.

At just 19 years old, Beloglavec, a sophomore member of WMU's Lee Honors College, won the Tenor Trombone Division II category of the competition, which is for players ages 18-22. She was chosen over a student from California, who had just been accepted for graduate work at the San Francisco Conservatory, and an undergraduate from the University of Michigan.

"There are very few 19-year-old students who could have been selected to compete," says her instructor, Dr. Stephen Wolfinbarger, professor of music and chair of the brass/percussion area in the WMU School of Music. "But in addition to her young age, the level of playing was extremely high. The other two finalists in her category played so well that the judges decided to give an honorable mention award, something I don't recall ever happening."

Beloglavec earned the honor to compete following a taped audition round, from which she and four other semifinalists were selected from across the country. The semifinalists competed in Fort Myer, Va., home of the U.S. Army Band. Beloglavec had been invited to compete in the contest once before, coming in second in the Division I category.

This past Thursday, Beloglavec and the other four semifinalists performed behind closed doors in front of a distinguished panel of judges. She preformed brilliantly and was chosen to move on to the finals with two others, setting up Friday's finals before a different set of judges.

Before the winner was announced, a trombone professor from another prestigious, major music school leaned over to Wolfinbarger and said, "Someday, she's going to be legendary."

Shortly after that, Beloglavec was declared the winner.

"I really had a wonderful time and a great experience at the competition performing for those in attendance and for an outstanding panel of judges," Beloglavec says.

The victory is the latest in a string of awards for Beloglavec. In addition to finishing second in the Division I level of the National Solo Competition two years ago, she was named the low brass winner in the 2008 Yamaha Young Artists Competition and, as an incoming freshman, the overall winner in the International Trombone Association's 2007 Gilberto Gagliardi/Weril Solo Competition for students 18 and under.

"She obviously has a brilliant career ahead of her," Wolfinbarger says.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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