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What Have BYU Music Students Been Up To This Semester?

The BYU School of Music is full of talented, accomplished students. Here are just a few of their accomplishments from the Winter 2024 semester.

Josh Bird (commercial music) just returned from Taiwan where he was on tour with one the biggest rock bands in the world, The Foo Fighters. Because of Josh’s success as a music artist in Taiwan, Josh was asked by The Foo Fighters to be their opening act on the Taiwan leg of their worldwide tour. Josh served his mission in Taiwan and has subsequently returned to build his reputation as a music artist there.

UMTA Piano Competition:

Several students competed and placed in the piano competition hosted by the Utah Music Teachers Association in February 2024.

Tim McKay performed the third movement of Mendelssohn's 2nd Piano Concerto in D minor. During the competition, Tim focused on enjoying the performance, despite his nerves, and showcasing the detail and charm he’d spent hours incorporating into his music. He says, “Though I didn't perform perfectly by all means, I left the room feeling elated and content at a successful, and most importantly, enjoyable performance.” Tim won first place in the young artist division at the UMTA competition; Tim is a student of Dr. Scott Holden.

Amberlee Woodhouse performed the first movement of MacDowell Piano Concerto No. 2. Amberlee worked hard to prepare mentally for the performance, and says, “The more mental practice I do, the more comfortable I feel playing in competitions.” For Amberlee, each performance is an opportunity to share. She says, “When I can view performances or competitions as an opportunity to share, rather than a chance to prove my worth to myself or others, it takes a lot of the pressure off and makes it an enjoyable and even sacred experience.” Amberlee won second place in the young artist division; she is a student of Dr. Jihea Hong-Park.

Ian Patterson won third place in the Young Artist division. Ian is a student of Dr. Jihea Hong-Park.

Kelsey Berges performed the first movement of the Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto Op. 22 No. 2 in G minor. To prepare mentally for the performance, Kelsey practiced visualizing a successful performance and doing several practice performances for peers. She says, “I always enjoy the thrill of being on stage. It's why I've always known I've wanted to be a performer—you get to experience the culminating moment of all your preparation where you're truly free to express yourself.” Kelsey won third place in the senior division. She is a student of Dr. Scott Holden.

National Association of Teachers of Singing:

On January 12–14, several BYU students competed at the CAL-WEST Region Conference for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The competition united voice students from Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Hawaii. After a first round of video auditions, several BYU Students sang live in the semi-finals and finals.

Maisy Merchant (BM, music education) won second place in the lower college commercial music division. She performed “Manhattan” by Sara Bareilles, “Bright” by Echosmith, and “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5. Maisy says, “I feel the best way to mentally prepare for performances is to draw my attention to the people I am singing to and remember that this experience is to bring them joy.” Maisy is a student of Dr. Ruth Ellis.

Arielle Pedersen (MDT) won third place in the lower college classical division. Arielle is a student of Kerilyn Johnson.

Dakota Sioux (MDT) won first place in the upper college commercial music and upper college musical theater division. Dakota is a student of Kerilyn Johnson.

Savannah Parsons (MM) won first place in the advanced college classical division. She performed several selections by Strauss, Puccini, Mozart, American composer Dominick Argento, and Georges Bizet. “To keep my nerves at bay,” Savannah says, “I do my best to see the competition as a celebration of every performer’s hard work.” Savannah also loves having the chance to perform, and says, “Art has a way of allowing us to step outside of our worries and responsibilities for a moment.” Savannah is a student of Dr. Diane Reich.

Ariana Abadia (MM) won second place in the advanced college classical division. Ariana is a student of Dr. Diane Reich.

Rachel Miltimore (vocal performance) won second place in the upper college classical, treble division. Rachel is a student of Dr. Diane Reich.

Anna Low (vocal performance) won third place in the upper college classical, treble division. Anna is a student of Dr. Diane Reich.

Lucas Zuehl (vocal performance) won second place in the upper college classical, TBB division. Lucas is a student of Jennifer Youngs.

BYU Concerto Competition:

Each year, students in the School of Music compete in a highly anticipated concerto competition. The freshman and sophomore winners of the competition perform with the Symphony Orchestra and the junior and senior winners perform with the Philharmonic. To learn more about the senior division winners, read “The Philharmonic’s Annual Evening of Concertos.”

BL2_EveningOfConcertos_SimonCheek.jpg
Simon (clarinet) and Michaela (viola) Cheek won their divisions and performed in the same concert with the Philharmonic.
Photo by Photo used with permission of Simon Cheek.

MNTA Nationals:

BYU School of Music had an exceptional showing at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) National Competition on March 16–20, 2024, in Atlanta, Georgia. This is one of the most competitive and prestigious auditions at the national level.

Nathan Cox (cello performance) won first prize at the MTNA National Young Artist Solo String competition. Out of the thousands of applicants, other finalists included Steven Doane’s (Eastman School of Music) and David Halen’s (University of Michigan) students. Nathan is immensely grateful to Dr. Michelle Kesler for her instruction and guidance and is proud to represent BYU as first prize winner of both the solo competition and as a member of the Aspen Grove Trio in the chamber music competition.

The Aspen Grove Trio, consisting of Nathan Cox, Caroline Jorden, and Tanner Jorden, was awarded first prize at the MTNA National Chamber Music Competition. From a pool of many across the country, only seven chamber groups were selected to compete at the final round in Atlanta. Among those selected to compete in the final round were multiple groups from Indiana's Jacobs School of Music, Texas Christian University, Columbus State University, as well as other prestigious conservatories. The Aspen Grove Trio is coached by Dr. Scott Holden.

Jacob Warnick, piano, competed in the MTNA National Young Artist Piano Competition as one of seven finalists. To get to the finals, he won first prize in the competition for the state of Utah and claimed first prize in the Southwest Division (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and New Mexico). Other national piano finalists included students from Eastman School of Music, University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Cornell University, etc. Jacob is a student of Dr. Jihea Hong-Park.

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