Cellist and Vocalist Capture Concerto Aria Competition Honors

Cellist Rachel Cheston and vocalist George Hegedus won the concerto aria music competition at Lebanon Valley College

Cellist Rachel Cheston ’20 and vocalist George Hegedus ’21 are the winners of the annual Concerto Aria competition hosted by the LVC Music Department each spring. As part of their recognition, the pair receive the honor of performing with the College’s Symphony Orchestra this fall.

Cheston, a self-designed major who is studying music and art, performed a selection of the first and second movements of Victor Herbert’s Cello Concerto No. 2 on her cello for the competition. She began rehearsals during Christmas break and worked closely with Frances Borowsky, adjunct instructor in music.

“Because I only had two weeks after my half recital for focused work on the concerto, I was nervous when it came time to perform it, especially since most of that work was on technique and I had not yet developed a close connection to the piece,” she said. “When it came time to perform the concerto, I focused on trying to share the raw emotion that I felt the first time I listened to the concerto, which was the main reason that I chose this concerto for the competition.”

Cheston has a long history of musical experience, as she grew up with two elementary music teachers as her parents. She recalled early Kindermusik classes and playing “Hot Cross Buns” on the oboe for her preschool show and tell. She also played piano and trumpet before switching to cello in fifth grade. Her mother is a cellist who spent eight years working with her daughter to hone her craft. 

“One reason I stuck with cello was because of the natural talent that I seemed to have on the instrument,” she said. “In addition, I may be biased when I say that cello is one of the best instruments, because the tone that can be drawn out can be absolutely entrancing, not to mention the wide range of opportunities for the instrument.”

Cheston performs with LVC’s Cello Ensemble, String Quintet, Handbell Choir, Concert Choir, Chamber Orchestra, and Symphony Orchestra. 

Hegedus, a music education major, always enjoyed music. However, it wasn’t until he joined his high school drama club that he discovered a passion for singing. 

“It was the liberating feeling to be able to tell a story through music and become a character when I sing a song that made me become a musician,” he said.

Hegedus performed “Dalla Sua Pace” from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni. Like Cheston, Hegedus also had limited time to prepare for the competition.

“One of the best ways to pull music out of a musician is to light a fire under them and I truly believe that made my performance better,” he said. “It’s about making yourself emotionally vulnerable on stage. I knew my performance wasn’t perfect, but I put my whole heart into the performance and that is what I am proud of.”

Hegedus, who sings as a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, appreciates the environment of LVC’s Music Department.

“I chose LVC because I wanted to be in place that fostered growth rather than constant competition,” he said. “My peers and I always push each other to become stronger musicians and performers, and it is those friendships that inspire me as an educator and musician.”