Hope College senior violinist Alexandru Hamzea of Brasov, Romania, has won First Prize in the Senior Division of the Michigan Solo Competition sponsored by the Michigan American String Teachers Association and held on Saturday, Oct. 18, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The 15th biennial competition awarded Grand Prize and First Prize honors in Junior and Senior divisions.  The competition for each of the four awards included musicians from throughout the state performing either violin, viola, cello, double bass, classical guitar or harp.

Dr. Mihai Craioveanu, who is a professor of violin and has instructed Hamzea throughout his time at Hope, noted that the breadth and level of the competition, which includes graduate-level students, makes the recognition especially significant.

"It's prestigious for both Alexandru and Hope College," Craioveanu said.  "The competition includes performers from many programs, with strong representation from large programs, so it's nice to have a student from Hope go in and excel at that level.  I believe that it's the first time that Hope College has ever had a string player, let alone a violinist, place so high."

Having competed at the state level makes Hamzea eligible to submit audition materials to the National Solo Competition sponsored by the American String Teachers Association, which is being held on Wednesday-Saturday, March 18-21, in Atlanta, Ga.

The state and national events are held every two years.  After competing at the state level two years ago, as a sophomore, Hamzea went on to place fourth nationally among competitors that included violinists from all major university music schools and conservatories, and their graduate programs, in the United States and Canada.

For both the state and national events, the violinists competing in the Senior Division are required to perform a movement from among the Bach Solo Sonatas or Partitas; Sarasate's "Jota Navarra, op. 22, no. 2 for Violin and Piano"; and an additional work of their choosing.  In addition to the Sarasate piece, Hamzea performed the "Adagio" from the "Solo Sonata in G minor" by Bach and "Solo Sonata No. 6 in E Major" by Eugene Ysaye during the Michigan competition.

Hamzea is the son of Radu and Liliana Hamzea of Brasov.  A violin performance major at Hope, he intends to attend graduate school in violin performance after graduation.

The American String Teachers Association (ASTA), founded more than 60 years ago, is a membership organization for string and orchestra teachers and players, helping them to develop and refine their careers.

ASTA's members range from budding student-teachers to artist-status performers.  The organization provides a vast array of services, including an award-winning scholarly journal, annual professional development opportunities, discounts on publications and resources, instrument insurance, and access to a network of colleagues throughout the string profession.