By Justin Ritter
With his fingers rippling down the ivory keys of a piano, a BYU freshman won BYUSA”s first-ever “Beyond Waterfall” competition Thursday.
Yeremy Turcios, a freshman from El Salvador studying information systems, received two free tickets to the concert, backstage VIP passes and will dine with Schmidt and the concert crew before the performance.
“I”ve been wanting to meet Jon Schmidt since I was 14, so this is my dream come true,” Turcios said. “When my piano teacher showed me the Jon Schmidt piano book, she was like, ”This is really hard. Don”t play it. You”re not on this level.” I started playing it and I fell in love with his music.”
Turcios was one of three pianists who competed in the event, part of BYUSA”s Winter Concert Series, held in the Wilkinson Student Center Terrace. He and his fellow competitors were allowed to play any Schmidt song, with the exception of his well-known piece, “Waterfall.”
“Jon Schmidt is not just ”Waterfall,”” said Mindy Ward, a BYUSA committee member who helped plan the event. The contest aimed to bring together people who knew and appreciated Schmidt”s other songs, she said.
By chance all three contestants played Schmidt”s piece “All of Me,” a song which requires the performer to use his or her forearm.
Contestants were given a few minutes to play the song and were judged on their performance and personality. In addition to playing a song, they were asked to do something original and answer a random question about themselves.
Turcios strapped on a bicycle helmet and played a portion of another Schmidt song using his head, a technique used by Schmidt while performing.
Donning the helmet, Turcios said he had hurt his head the first time he attempted the feat.
“I almost got a concussion,” he told the audience.
Jeshua Mortensen, a sophomore from Ashland, Ore., studying mathematics and physics, said he enjoyed “Beyond Waterfall.”
While each person did certain things better than each other, they seemed to be on the same level, he said.
In addition to the piano competition, six students from the audience came up to compete for two additional Schmidt concert tickets in a “name that tune” contest featuring Schmidt”s music. Joshua Guest, a junior from Klamath Falls, Ore., won that contest.
Jason Black, the event lead for the concert series, said the concert was a success.
“It turned out pretty well for the first year,” he said.
Black said in future years, students should not be worried about participating in the competition.
“The people who played are all really good,” he said. “We hope next year that we not only have people who are as good as them, but we also have people that are just beginning piano players, but just want to do it for fun.”
Schmidt will perform in the WSC Ballroom at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.