Six years ago, Wingate University began offering a piano competition that professor David Brooks says is “nothing like the intentionally-stressful music/performance competitions one sometimes sees on television.”
The annual event, which gives high school students a shot at a $21,000-a-year scholarship and also features a middle-school category with cash prizes, is set for Saturday, Nov. 5, at the George A. Batte Fine Arts Center Recital Hall. It is made possible by a contribution from Agnes Goldston, a 1970 Wingate alum, and her husband, Jim.
“We’ve been supported in the past by local arts foundations and piano retailers, but moving forward, we’re fortunate to have support from our generous donors, the Goldstons,” says Brooks.
He and his wife, fellow music professor Annie Stankovic, started the Wingate Piano Competition as a way to showcase the talents of veteran piano competitors as well as those who have never taken part in a contest.
“Our competition is about celebrating the hard work of the students, hearing great music, and providing expert feedback that can help take young musicians to the next level,” Brooks says.
Case in point, this past spring Luis Matute from Fort Mill, South Carolina, graduated from Wingate with his bachelor of arts in music performance. Matute was a high school division winner from Wingate’s inaugural competition in 2017.
“As a 16-year old competitor, Luis was already an impressive pianist,” Brooks says. “But during his time at Wingate, he has grown so much as a musician and been afforded many opportunities that don’t exist elsewhere, especially in the area of collaborative piano.”
High school students who register for the competition will be asked to perform three contrasting pieces of their choice from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary periods; middle schoolers will perform two. Memorization is preferred, but not required, and registration for the competition closes Tuesday, Nov. 1.
As it did pre-pandemic, the contest will once again welcome an audience. Parents, teachers, etc., are welcome to attend but not record or photograph performances.
All participants will get feedback from judges and a certificate. First- and second-place high school winners will earn scholarships to Wingate and cash prizes ($300 for first and $200 for second).
At the middle school level, the first-place winner will earn $300 and a certificate. The second-place winner will receive $200.
In addition to these prizes, the first- and second-place high school winners will be awarded two free lessons with Brooks, while the first- and second-place middle school winners receive one free lesson each. The lessons will be offered either virtually or in-person at the Wingate campus.
Performances for the piano competition will begin at 10 a.m. on Nov. 5 in the Plyler-Griffin Recital Hall of the George A. Batte Jr., Fine Arts Center at 403 North Camden Road, Wingate. Winners will be announced shortly after the end of the performances.
Pianists can apply for the competition at https://bit.ly/3SK1ptJ.
Visit wingate.edu to learn more about studying piano at Wingate.