COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Mississippi University for Women music students Robert Totten and Lorena Surducan each received Honorable Mention (equivalent to third prize) at the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition which took place at Millsaps College as part of the annual Mississippi Music Teachers Association state conference.

Totten is a senior from Memphis, Tenn., who studies piano with Dr. Valentin M. Bogdan, assistant professor of music. Originally from Brasov, Romania, Surducan came to The W to pursue a music therapy degree.

The junior is a piano student of Dr. Julia Mortyakova, associate professor and chair of the Department of Music. 

The MTNA competition, recently held this month, is one of the most prestigious student competitions in the country. Each year, thousands of students in the United States compete for top prizes and national recognition, beginning at the state level with the winners advancing at the regional and national level respectively. For the competition, each student had to prepare, memorize and perform 30 minutes of solo piano works by a variety of composers including Beethoven, Debussy and Liszt. 


The level of this year’s competition was extremely high: some of the entrants included piano students from Delta State, William Carey University and a graduate piano student from the University of Southern Mississippi.

“This is an excellent result for our two students, showcasing their individual growth and perseverance as musicians, but also the high musical level of the students in our department,” said Dr. Bogdan. “We are extremely proud of their work ethic, ability to perform under a great deal of pressure and the way they represented the department of music and our university.”

Additionally, music majors Hasina Haynes (junior from Hernando), Maria Vanegas (senior from Biloxi) and Surducan each gave a paper on women music composers at the conference. Under the tutelage of their faculty adviser, Dr. Mortyakova, each student presented her research on various women composers: German-born Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, Venezuelan virtuosa Teresa Carreño and the Japanese video-game composer Yoko Shimomura.

Students“I thought this was a great opportunity to introduce these composers to the public attending our session, many of whom were music teachers” said Vanegas. Haynes added, “I thought it was a very enriching experience to my musicianship and my overall growth as a future music professional.”

The W Department of Music faculty were involved in this year’s conference. Dr. Susan Hurley, assistant professor of music, presented a paper “Tomatis Listening; Implications for Music and Singing,” while Dr. Joe L. Alexander, assistant professor of music, was named the 2017 MMTA Commissioned Composer of the Year. As a result, his commissioned piece, “Sipsey Suite,” had its world-premiere at this year’s conference where it was performed by guitarist Alan Goldspiel.

Nov. 16, 2017

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