Lorelei Murphree / Contributing writer
The Fletcher and Nell Morris Piano Competition was held at Brock Recital Hall from 3-6 p.m. on Feb. 19. The competition encourages high levels of achievement in piano performance and the winners receive scholarship money to study music at Samford University. There were three judges and six competitors at the Morris Competition. The judges were: Artina McCain, Lynn Worcester Jones and Marina Lomazov.
Artina McCain enjoys a national and international career as a soloist and chamber performer. Currently, McCain is an Assistant Professor of Piano and Coordinator of Piano Studies at the University of Memphis.
Lynn Worcester Jones is a dedicated pedagogue and publishes academic writings in leading keyboard journals. Dr. Jones currently serves as Assistant Professor, Keyboard Area Coordinator at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.
Ukrainian-American pianist Marina Lomazov was the third judge. She is an international performer and competitor. She is currently a Professor of Piano at the Eastman School of Music in New York.
Only six contestants are chosen to compete each year. The contestants this year were Cora Elmore, Wei He, Pierce Moffet, Julie Haas, Zac Wang and Molly Mize.
Contestant Pierce Moffet is a sophomore at Samford University, and he has been playing the piano for 14 years.
“I started playing on my grandmother’s toy piano when I was 6 years old. I almost stopped playing in middle school, but my mom bought me some Disney music that encouraged me to keep playing,” Moffet said.
To be eligible to compete, students must have enrolled or applied to enroll in the next academic year as a junior, senior or graduate at Samford University. They also must be a music major specializing in piano performance. Applicants had to submit a video of their performance repertoire and a letter of recommendation from a current or former piano teacher.
Their repertoire must consist of three pieces performed from memory. The top 3 winners are awarded tuition and unique opportunities at Samford University. The winners this year were Wei He, Zac Wang and Julie Haas.
Third place winner, Wei He has been playing the piano for 20 years.
“My favorite thing about playing piano is the sound. I never get tired of it, and it’s something that I have grown in,” said He.
The first place winner, Julie Haas is applying for Samford’s graduate program. She is a piano performance major and wants to get her Ph.D. in piano performance. Haas has been playing the piano for 16 years.
“I love program music,” Haas said, “You can really hear the plot in the notes.”
At the end of the competition, the winners were given scholarship money. He received a $2,000 prize. Wang received a $3,000 prize and coaching from iCadenza in New York. Haas received a $5,000 prize, coaching from iCadenza in New York and a recording session of competition repertoire in Brock Recital Hall.