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Talent shines in Bland Contest

Caleb Anthony Flowers, a 13-year-old home-schooled soprano from Clover, and Dominique Stratton Shaffer, 12-year-old home-schooled violinist from Vernon Hill, each took home $300 after winning the South Boston Lions Club’s Annual James Bland Memorial Music Contest on Friday night at The Prizery.

Runners-up were soprano Mikeala Joy Skelton and violinist Dalton Eric Shaffer. 

Skelton is a 17-year-old junior at Halifax County High School, while Shaffer is home-schooled, the 14-year-old brother of Dominique.

Flowers sang “El Vito” by Fernando Obradors, and Shaffer played Vivaldi’s “Winter, Second Movement.”  Skelton sang Pergolesi’s “Se tu m’ami, se sospiri.” 

Dalton Shaffer played “Country Dance” by C.M. von Weber.  Flowers is a student of Toni Howell. Both Shaffers are students of Colleen Chenail.  Skelton is taught by Elizabeth Linnartz.

More than 100 music lovers witnessed the contest.  Each paid an admission fee of one pair of used eyeglasses.

Other contestants included pianists Rebecca Suzanne Caldwell and Samuel Kyle Epps and baritone Ridge Lee Walker.

Judges were Richard Banks of North Carolina Central University, 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, 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.