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COLUMBUS, Miss.-- Mississippi University for Women junior music major Hannah Heaton has been named the 2020 Southern Division Winner in the Music Teachers National Association Student Composition Competitions and will advance to the national level of the competitions.

“I am so grateful to experience winning the MTNA Young Artist for the state of Mississippi my second year in a row! It is truly an honor to represent The W music department in this way. The winning composition, ‘For Serena,’ is a violin and tenor saxophone duet I originally wrote for my music colleague and friend, Serena Scibelli,” said Heaton.

The three-tiered MTNA competitions begin at the state level in early November. Winners of each state competition advance to the division competition. Division winners then proceed to the National Finals. Heaton has also received an honorable mention in the piano performance category at same competition (state level). Heaton competed against undergraduate and graduate state winners from South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.

A piano student of Dr. Julia Mortyakova, and a music composition student of Dr. Valentin Bogdan and Dr. Joe L. Alexander, Heaton wrote the original composition, “For Serena,” for violin and baritone saxophone. It was specifically written for University of North Georgia violin professor Serena Scibelli and her chamber music partner, saxophonist Shawna Pennock. Heaton met Scibelli at the 2020 International Music by Women Festival on The W’s campus, when the violinist performed another one of Heaton’s compositions. A musical collaboration ensued, which led to the duo asking Heaton to write them a piece for an upcoming recording project.

“Being a music major at The W has brought me countless prospects for my professional life as a musician. I have received more commissions to compose professionally, more piano performance opportunities, and am especially excited to be featured on Serena Scibelli's new CD, ‘Reflections’ with my violin solo, ‘Around Me’ this year,” said Heaton.

“These accomplishments would not have been possible without the help of all of my professors in The W’s music department. I would like to especially thank Dr. Alexander, Dr. Bogdan and Dr. Mortyakova for continuing to push me to become better every day as their student. The one-on-one guidance and instruction that I receive as a music major at The W is what I believe has gotten me this far, and I value every second of it."

“This is a fantastic accomplishment, not only on a personal level for Hannah, but also for the department of music at The W as a whole,” said Dr. Valentin Bogdan, associate professor of music. “The last few years, our students have had tremendous success at the state level at the MTNA competition for both piano and music composition, but it is the first time in a while a Mississippi winner makes it all the way to the National finals.”

The national winner’s composition will be performed during a winners concert as part of the 2021 MTNA Virtual National Conference.

Music Teachers National Association is a nonprofit organization comprised of 20,000 independent and collegiate music teachers committed to advancing the value of music study and music making to society and to supporting the professionalism of music teachers. Founded in 1876, Music Teachers National Association is the oldest professional music teachers’ association in the United States.

For Immediate Release
Dec. 14, 2020