Dedication to practice and a love of the piano paid off for Wood River High School senior Sarah Brown earlier this month, when she won third place at the Musicians West Piano Festival and Competition in Pocatello.
Brown played composer Robert Muczynski's "Toccata Opus 15," a virtuoso piece of music that displays the dexterity of the pianist.
The May 14 competition was judged by Nelita True, a piano professor at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. The competition, now in its 13th year, gathers talented musicians from across the state.
Brown, who began playing piano at the age of 6, recently spent three weeks studying at the Eastman School of Music. For five years, she was a student at the Sun Valley Summer Symphony School of Music, where she took lessons and learned about musical theory.
"I am so proud of her. There are some super-talented kids at these competitions," said Sarah's mother, Mary Brown.
Since last August, Brown has been spending her Saturdays in Pocatello, studying with piano teacher Mark Neiwirth. Brown had sought out Neiwirth for lessons.
"He's a great teacher with a great reputation," Brown said.
In addition to her private lessons, Brown practices three to four hours per day, six to seven days per week at home in Hailey.
"Playing piano is a way for me to express my emotions," she said. "It's something that not a lot of people can do. It's difficult to master."
Brown said she was "pretty shocked" when she won the prize.
"Any mistake I make is amplified many times in my own mind," she said. "I made tiny mistakes that only the judge would notice."
Brown will play a senior recital at the Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum on July 26. She plans to attend the University of Idaho next fall, pursuing a major in musical performance. Her long-range plans include opening a piano studio of her own, where she can teach.
"I hope to take any opportunity to perform, including in a symphony," she said.
Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress