On Saturday evening, Crystal Buck, soprano; Angelika Machnik-Jones, cello; and Emma Bobbs Hoeft, cello; made their Hays debuts as finalists in the Hays Symphony Orchestra's 10th annual young artist concerto competition.

In collaboration with the Hays Symphony, led by Benjamin Cline, all three demonstrated they have what it takes to succeed as professional musicians.

Soprano Buck, who has sung with the Rome Opera and done extensive concertizing in Minnesota, began the concert with the "Bell Song" from "Lakme," one of the most challenging arias in the literature. It begins with a long, high, unaccompanied cadenza and continues in similar vein with constant trills, turns and other embellishments. Buck, radiating assurance, didn't miss a note and stayed on pitch throughout. This thrilled the audience, but perhaps the judges thought she was too assured. In the opera, Lakme, forced to sing to lure her lover into mortal danger, is neither happy nor assured. She received second prize, $600.

Cellist Angelika Machnik-Jones, a doctoral student at the University of Oklahoma, has performed widely in her native Poland, as well as in Germany and the U.S. She gave a technically fine performance of Edward Elgar's "Cello Concerto in E minor" (opus 85), her facial expressions and body language registering its every mood, from melancholy to playful. Perhaps the judges thought she showed too much emotion physically and not enough musically. She received third and $400.

Emma Bobbs Hoeft has been playing cello since she was 4. She has won numerous prizes and scholarships, and is now a substitute cellist for the Houston and Kansas City symphonies. From beginning to end of Tchaikovsky's "Variations on a Rococo Theme" (opus 33), she demonstrated total mastery of the cello and complete understanding of the music. Everyone enjoyed the warm, singing tones she brought forth from her instrument as well as her evident joy in performing. She received first prize, $1,000.

Many thanks to the orchestra, members of the Hays Orchestra Guild and to all whose generous support made the concert possible.

The next event in the FHSU concert and recital series is the recital of Kristin Pisano, clarinet, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

Ruth Firestone is a supporter of the arts and frequent contributor to The Hays Daily News.