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FSO Spotlights Student Soloists in Feb. 17 Concert

Seated: Emma Gierszal, Melvin Robinson, Hayden Wilson. Standing: Paul Yoon, Thomas Joiner, Emma Saba

The Furman Symphony Orchestra will present a concert Friday, Feb. 17, at 8 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium on campus.

Presented biennially, the Furman Symphony Orchestra Concerto Concert features student soloists selected by competitive audition who will perform concerto movements from the standard repertoire. Furman music professor Thomas Joiner conducts the Sound Quality Concert Series event. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students.

The FSO will open the program with the Overture to Colas Breugnon by Dmitry Kabalevsky. Soloists for the concert are:

Emma Gierszal, marimba, Concerto for Marimba & String Orchestra by Eric Ewazen
Melvin Robinson, alto saxophone, Rhapsody for Alto Saxophone by André Weignein
Emma Marie Saba, piano, Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 by Camille Saint-Saens
Hayden Christine Wilson, violin, Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 by Jean Sibelius
Ju Sun Paul Yoon, cello, Cello Concerto in D Minor by Edouard Lalo

Biographical information for the soloists follows:

Marimbist Emma Gierszal, daughter of Bob and Katherine Gierszal of Mount Pleasant, S.C., is a junior majoring in music education. She performs with the Furman Bands, Furman Symphony Orchestra, and Percussion Ensemble, and she is a member of the National Association for Music Education, Sigma Alpha Iota and Percussion Club. She was selected to perform for this spring’s Honors Recital, has achieved the Dean’s list since 2014, and was invited to join Phi Eta Sigma honor society. She is also a fine pianist and serves as a drum major for the Paladin Regiment.  A student of Furman faculty member Omar Carmenates, Gierszal’s plan is to become a band director.

Alto saxophonist Melvin Robinson, son of Melvin Robinson, Jr. and Shimika Kanoy of Duncan, S.C., is a sophomore majoring in music education. He performs with the Furman Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, the Bergman Saxophone Quartet, and Furman’s Reed Quintet. He is a member of the Ukirk Campus and Collegiate Ministries Network. He received the Bell Tower Scholarship, Bergman Music Scholarship, and the Citizen Scholars Program scholarship. Future goals for Robinson include teaching music at the public school or collegiate level. Robinson is a student of Furman faculty member Matt Olson.

Pianist Emma Marie Saba, daughter of Mark and Rania Saba of Charlotte, N.C., is a freshman majoring in piano performance and pre-law. At Furman she sings with the Women’s Chorale and works in the Admissions Office as a host for prospective students. She performed in March of 2016 with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and was a prize winner in the 2016 North Carolina Music Teachers National Association Piano Competition. A student of Furman faculty member David Gross, Saba’s plan is to attend law school and pursue a master’s in piano performance.

Violinist Hayden Christine Wilson, daughter of Steve and Christine Wilson of Greenville, S.C., is a junior earning a bachelor’s in music with a pre-med track. At Furman she performs with the Furman Symphony Orchestra serving frequently as concertmaster, and performing with the Hartness String Quartet and Pauper Players. She is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma women’s fraternity. In the summer of 2016 she attended the National Orchestral Institute & Festival. Her favorite piece of music is Ravel’s La Valse. Her future plans include attending medical school and working in emergency medicine. Wilson is a student of Furman faculty member Deirdre Hutton.

Cellist Ju Sun Paul Yoon, son of Suk Sam and Soo Young Lee Yoon of Atlanta, Ga., is a sophomore majoring in economics. At Furman he performs with the Furman Symphony Orchestra. He received a Bell Tower Scholarship, Kimbo Foundation Scholarship, and was a 2014 Kollaboration Atlanta Winner. He is a fingerstyle guitarist seen at  A student of Furman faculty member Christopher Hutton, Yoon plans to become a songwriter and musician while starting his own business.

For more information about the concert, contact the Furman Music Office at (864) 294-2086, or email the department at

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