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Westfield native wins prestigious grand prize

Date: 12/22/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- Westfield native Peter Scuderi is an unassuming undergraduate at the University of Hartford's Hartt School and an energetic clarinet performer with unrivaled talent.

His poise, perfection and stellar performance last month at the 10th annual van Rooy Competition for Musical Excellence rewarded him with the contest's $10,000 grand prize. Not bad for a student who told Reminder Publications he didn't expect to win.

"For the first round [of the three-round] competition, I was not nervous because I didn't expect to advance," Scuderi explained. "[It wasn't until later], I was really intimidated."

Scuderi is a junior majoring in clarinet performance as well as music education, studying under professor Curt Blood, who urged him to enter the competition.

"Peter is a big talent, with an impressive presence as a performer," Blood said. "Since Peter began his studies at the Hartt School, he has consistently placed near or at the top of the Hartt clarinet studios in seating auditions for wind ensemble and orchestra. Beginning in his junior year, he was admitted into the 20/20 program, which is a full-scholarship honors chamber music program at Hartt. I've certainly been very pleased with his progress."

Blood said he encouraged Scuderi to enter the competition as a means of challenging his self-imposed limitations.

When asked if he believed his student would win this year's grand prize, Blood responded, "One can never be too confident of such a thing. The process is far too subjective and there are too many variables involved. However, I knew that if Peter performed up to his potential, that he would be in contention for a prize. I was not surprised by his eventual success."

Scuderi said he plans to use his winnings to pay for school expenses and to purchase other instruments he plays, such as the flute and saxophone. He added the majority of the grand prize money will be put into savings.

Scuderi said he plans to complete his undergraduate degrees in 2011. He added he would like to continue onto graduate studies and eventually play professionally and teach.

When asked if Scuderi has what it takes to become a professional musician, Blood said, "I have had several very talented students over my 25 years of teaching, some of whom have gone on to play professionally. Peter is one of only a handful of students of this caliber."