Evan was due to compete in the Junior Division on Thursday evening. Ominously, he started complaining of a headache and backache in the morning, then soon a high fever with muscle aches and chills followed. Via Facebook & phone calls, we asked many people to pray for him. After dosing him with Tylenol, he played through his pieces and didn't appear to be slowed down by the medication, though he still felt sick. We decided that if he could handle walking around (unlike last year when he won first place but got the flu in time for the final recital), he would go and do his best. My normal mode of operation would be to keep my kids at home when contagious, but since they had spent nine months preparing for this festival, we decided to have them participate.
I sat next to the kids' piano teacher during the competition to hear her whispered feedback between numbers. Since Evan played second to last out of nine contestants, James stayed with him outside the room until nearly his turn. I was on pins-and-needles until Evan was done playing. To my great relief and joy, he played beautifully! Knowing his music well, I was aware of one brief "wrong turn" he took after a repeated theme, but he fixed it so seamlessly that I doubt anyone but his teacher, Evan, and myself would have known. (The judges had so many details to juggle that unless one was staring intently at the music at that moment, they might not have caught on to his cover-up. I will be very curious to read their comments...) After hearing everyone play, I thought (in my limited piano knowledge) that only two of the contestants could possibly place above him. However, his teacher knew more about the nuances of the pieces than I did and had a different opinion.
[If you haven't listened to his pieces and would like to, the video I took of him at home turned out better than the video at the actual contest.]
James took Evan home right after his division, but I stayed and listened to the Intermediate Division. The kids' piano teacher had one student (also homeschooled) playing in the division. I video-taped him as well, because I had heard his exquisite playing the day before:
The next morning, we received a phone call that Evan was a finalist. I had forgotten that only the first place winner would be told the actual place received before the final concert (in order to prepare to perform). Hours later his piano teacher called and informed me that Evan had won first place! I don't think I've ever experienced such an exciting shock in my life. His teacher was incredulous that I was surprised and informed me that his score was ten points higher than the second place score! The news that her intermediate student also won first place added to the euphoria...my euphoria, that is. Evan lay sick on the couch and only managed a wan smile in response to the good news.
After getting off of the phone, Matthew told me that his back hurt, which progressed into the climbing fever, chills and aches for him...and that night he and Sophie were to compete.
That evening Matthew and Sophie made it to the competition though the camera was left behind. Both of the kids played beautifully as well! Sophie performed with children up through age nine, along with Lucy, a six-year old friend from our church, who was the youngest child to ever compete in that festival. Matthew played in the 10 & 11 year old division.
Since I left my camera at home, I'm posting video I took at home earlier. If you listen, please turn the volume down a bit. I do have to say that they both played better at the contest, with steadier tempos and more contrast in dynamics...
Matthew and Sophie also won first place in their divisions, and Lucy won 2nd place!
But wait! There's more! Sophie got sick the day of the final concert, meaning that all three of our kids performed with fevers. What a roller-coaster experience!
We are so thankful for the prayers of many for our kids through this experience and for the Lord's blessing upon them in challenging circumstances.