Mason High School sophomore Olivia Gittens won her first ever live music competition in February, and took home $500 plus the chance to perform twice as a soloist with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra on November 4.
Gittens participated in the Paducah Symphony Orchestra Concerto competition. During the first semi-final round of the competition, prospective instrumentalists from across the United States submitted CDs showcasing them playing the solo part of one movement of a concerto with a piano accompanist. In December 2015, Gittens submitted a CD with a recording of her playing the solo part of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with an accompanist who played the orchestra reduction. Gittens was one of three finalists chosen to move onto the finalist round. The other two finalists were a harpist and a cellist.
On February 21, 2016, Gittens traveled to Paducah, Kentucky to play the solo version of the concerto live with an accompanist, who was also her brother and 2014 MHS graduate Benjamin Gittens, in front of a large audience. Gittens was chosen as the winner and was awarded $500, and given the opportunity to perform with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra for two educational concerts for approximately 1,500 elementary school children in Kentucky and surrounding states on November 4.
Gittens is a talented musician not only on the piano, but she also plays violin in the MHS Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Stephanie Jones. Gitten has been playing the piano since she was four years old, and is taught by piano teacher Dr. Jackson Leung.