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"I am dedicated to the flute and I love it," says Alheli Pimienta.
That passion and dedication has been rewarded.
The senior music performance major received the Gold Medal as the top soloist in the Woodwind and Brass Division at the Crescendo Music Award competition in February. She was awarded $4,500.
The event featured more than 80 high school and college musicians from across the nation.
"Alheli is a true performer," said Music Professor Leonard Garrison. "She's a very accomplished musician, and when she gets in front of an audience she is not afraid. She plays better to an audience than she does in the practice room."
Pimienta is from Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, and has been playing flute since she was nine years old. She came to the University of Idaho as a scholarship student.
The flutist says she normally practices 30 hours a week, but increases rehearsal time to six to eight hours a day in the weeks before a competition.
"The faculty in the Lionel Hampton School of Music don't limit you; they let you do so much," says Alheli. "They open the doors and then support you."