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Freeman, Jones Win Bland Contest

Alice Jeanne Freeman, an 18-year-old home-schooled soprano from Alton, and David Carlton Jones, a 16-year-old violinist from George Washington High School in Danville, 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 soprano Mikeala Joy Skelton and violinist Thomas Samuel Morris.  Sixteen-year-old Skelton is a sophomore at Halifax County High School, while Morris is a Rustburg High School senior.

Freeman sang “Bind’ auf dein Haar” by Joseph Haydn and Jones played Vittorio Monti’s “Czardas.” 

Skelton sang Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro.”  Morris played “Concerto in A Minor, 1st Movement” by J.S. Bach. 

Freeman and Skelton are both students of Toni Howell.  Jones is taught by Leigh Latchum and Morris by Joe Nigro.

Over 230 music lovers witnessed the contest.  Each paid an admission fee of one pair of used eyeglasses.

This may have been the last local contest open to Danville and Pittsylvania County students as the Danville Lions Clubs plan to stage their own event next year. 

Teacher Leigh Latchum, who fielded eight violinists, expressed reservations regarding the change because she loves the Chastain Theater in The Prizery.  However, local Lions may welcome Lynchburg and Farmville contestants next year.

Other contestants comprised harpist Katherine Elizabeth Campbell, pianist Samuel Kyle Epps, and violinists Hao Da, Kathryn Anne Evans, Monica Gomez, Morgan Oakes, John Robinson, Alistair Catelyn Stephens-Pickeral, and Kelsey Brooke Thomas.

Judges were Carlos Bardales, of Warren County, North Carolina, High School and the Duke Strings; Elvira Green, formerly of the Metropolitan Opera and now at North Carolina Central University; Dr. Lisa Kinzer of Longwood University; and Dr. James Kidd, recently retired Barger Professor of Music at Hampden-Sydney College.

Dennis Dawson and 1977 vocal Bland winner Tim Knowlson provided incidental music.