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Small town, big talent
[January 18, 2013]

Small town, big talent

Jan 18, 2013 (The Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- When Mike Bartram and Sabrina Willis began their search for Lodi entertainers, it wasn't hard for them to open a spot for 15-year-old Samuel Primack in the first edition of Lodi's Got Talent, which takes place Saturday at Hutchins Street Square.

The flute player impressed the two as he has impressed others.

Primack is a member of the Sacramento Youth Symphony, has twice played at Carnegie Hall and earned another trip to the famed New York venue in March as the result of an international competition. He also last summer spent two weeks performing in Russia, one of nine players selected to play with the Kostrama Symphony.

While a preponderance of those who auditioned for Lodi's first talent show for people 7 to 54 were in the 7 to 17 range, they mostly performed contemporary music. The musical instrument of choice was mostly the guitar.

Then Primack stepped on stage and played Cecile Chaminade's Flute Concertino, wowing the show's directors.

"He was amazing," Bartram said.

The piece is difficult, Primack said, but is "a standard piece of music for the flute." By appearing on the stage of the Charlene Powers Lange Theatre, Primack hopes to do more than wow the audience as he did Bartram.

"Hopefully what it would do is spark an interest in classical music in (young people)," Primack said. "Maybe they'll look into it and hopefully get into it. It's an art that needs to be passed on to my generation." Primack discovered classical music early on. He played piano for seven years and while he still plays, he began playing the flute as a fifth-grader at Vinewood Elementary School.

"I got it mixed up with the English horn," Primack said. "Basically, I thought the English horn was the flute. It turns out it wasn't." If the little boy was confused about the name, there was no such problem with the instrument itself. He has quickly established himself in the world of young performers, winning competitions that have sent him across the country and around the globe.

The 15-year-old studies at home through George Washington University's high school program to give him more flexible hours to practice his music.

He works privately with teacher Carol Romans, who plays in the Stockton Symphony, and while in Russia, had an opportunity to train with the flute teacher of the Moscow Conservatory.

"I learned a whole lot," Primack said. "It was a fun experience. He was a very good teacher, very nice." The teenager particularly enjoyed visiting the country because it was home to his forefathers.

Future travel plans, beyond his March visit to Carnegie Hall, include 10 days this summer with the Sacramento Youth Symphony in England, Scotland and Wales.

First, though, is his moment as part of Lodi's Got Talent, the brainchild of Deanie Bridewell, Lodi arts and events manager.

"I thought we needed something besides the Senior Follies, something to showcase younger talent," Bridewell said, referring to the popular showcase for those 55 and older.

Bartram, who has directed the Senior Follies, which last year had walk-up ticket sales of 200, was eager to direct the new show.

"We knew there was talent out there," Bartram said. "It was a matter of having a venue for them to perform." Twenty-six acts auditioned and 17 were selected, with performers ranging in age from 8 to 25.

"We didn't get too outrageous acts," Bartram said. "It would be nice down the road to see something edgy, but we have guitar players, singers, dancers. There's some great talent." Contact reporter Lori Gilbert at (209) 546-8284 or

___ (c)2013 The Record (Stockton, Calif.) Visit The Record (Stockton, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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