January 30, 2008

SIUC plans piano scholarship competition

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A full scholarship to Southern Illinois University Carbondale is up for grabs at the inaugural Steven Barwick Piano Scholarship Competition, set for March 8 at the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall on campus.

The postmark deadline is Feb. 11 for applications from high school juniors and seniors who wish to compete for four scholarships and cash prizes.

The grand prize is a full-tuition-paid scholarship to SIUC and a $300 cash award. The remaining prizes include smaller SIUC scholarships and cash awards – $300 for first prize, $150 for second, and $50 for third prize. The competition jury determines the scholarship amount for the first, second and third place winners. All winners also receive a certificate commemorating their achievements.

"This sort of scholarship, because of its immensity and prestige, puts piano at SIUC on the map," Jeanine Wagner, interim director for the School of Music, said. "There aren't many schools to give such an award, and it's very nice for SIUC to have one."

She said competition is a standard method for schools of music to award scholarships. After all, she said, producing consistently good performances under pressure is the way many musicians earn their living, sometimes from cash prize competitions or landing recording contracts. It is more than just getting the notes right, though.

"Successful competitors have that extra spark that sets them apart from everyone else," she said.

Junghwa Lee, assistant professor of piano and competition chairperson, said disciplined students who work consistently can turn out a good performance even on a "bad day."

"This is all about discipline and preparedness for the real world, since competitions in general teach us to prepare for our best potential and execute as best as we can at the moment, combining training, practice, preparation and inspiration of the moment on the stage."

Lee said she has already met several students from overseas who are interested in SIUC's music program specifically because they heard about the Barwick scholarship.

The repertoire requirements, which competitors must perform from memory, include selection of three contrasting pieces in style and period from the standard classical piano literature. The performance should be 15 to 25 minutes total.

More information and eligibility requirements about the scholarship are available at www.siu.edu/~music/BarwickCompetition.

The late Steven Barwick was a professor of piano and music history at SIUC from 1955 until he retired in 1988. He was a frequent performer at the University and elsewhere, and was known for his continued devotion to the University and his students long after he retired. He donated the bulk of his estate – more than $1 million – to the SIU Foundation for the benefit of the School of Music.