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Big crowd turns out for Bland Contest

Before an almost standing-room-only crowd, 17-year-old harpist Katherine Elizabeth Campbell of Danville’s George Washington High School and Caleb Anthony Flowers, a 15-year-old home-schooled countertenor from Clover, each took home $300 after winning the South  Boston Lions Club’s Annual James Bland Memorial Music Contest Friday night at The Prizery.

Runners-up were pianist Asher Brandon Caplan, 15, also of George Washington High School, and baritone Thomas Paul Freeman. Freeman, home-schooled, is 18 and from Alton.

This was Flowers’ third win in as many years, previously singing as a soprano. Flowers sang “Caro Mio Ben” by Giuseppe Giordani, and Campbell played Handel’s “Concerto in B flat major.” 

Freeman sang Mozart’s “Vogelfänger bin ich ja.”

Caplan played “Prelude in C sharp minor” by Rachmaninoff.

Flowers is a student of Dr. Christopher Swanson. Campbell is taught by Laura Byrne, Freeman by Samuel Howell and Caplan by Dianne Collie.

Somewhere around 250 music lovers witnessed the contest. Each paid an admission fee of one pair of used eyeglasses.

Other contestants included violists Lauren Elizabeth Arnold and Marisha Imani YaNell Williams, violinists Sarah Anne Aderholt Coe, Hao Da, Elizabeth Somers Durham, Emily Ebalo, Addison Brooke Ford, Luke Florence Garcia, Grant Williams Gibson, Lillian L. Mei, John Cooper Scott, Dominique Stratton Shaffer, Emma Catherine Smiley, Ayla Grace Smith, Kelsey Brooke Thomas, Gabriel Tan Tucker, cellist Grayson Eastwood Chattin and pianists Elizabeth Grace Coe, Joshua Baldwin Coe, Courtney Joy O’Shea, Hannah Dawn Westbrooks and Samuel Scot Westbrooks.

Judges were former Harlem Boys Choir Co-director Richard Banks of North Carolina Central University, Elvira Green, formerly of the Metropolitan Opera and now at North Carolina Central University, Dr. Charles Kinzer, chair of the music department at Longwood University and Sally Sizemore Muller of Greensboro, N.C.

Friday’s competition was the ninth annual Bland Contest of the current series, all at The Prizery.  

In gratitude and to salute the relationship, Lion President John Todd presented a $1,000 check for The Prizery to immediate past Board Chair Allison Streeter.