Ouachita Baptist University seniors Crista Riggs and Megan Massey placed in the recent state Music Teacher National Association (MTNA) Young Artist Performance Competition at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock earlier this month. Riggs was awarded second place and Massey received honorable mention in the woodwind division.
“This is one of the most significant competitions available to collegiate musicians,” said Dr. Caroline Taylor, professor of music. “I am incredibly proud of the way Crista and Megan chose and prepared very difficult programs; they represented Ouachita extremely well.”
Riggs, a senior chemistry and biology major from Edmond, Okla., has played clarinet since age 11. For the competition she performed “Clarinet Concert No. 1, Op. 26 in C minor” by Louis Spohr as well as “Clarinet Concerto” by Frank Ticheli.
“I just love being able to express myself through music and challenge myself to do difficult things,” Riggs said. “I had the opportunity to play two movements from the Ticheli concerto with the wind ensemble in the spring, so I had prepared it long in advance for this competition.”
Each student was required to play for 30 minutes at the competition. While preparing for the performance, Riggs said she focused on building up endurance.
“It takes a lot of energy out of you to play so focused for 30 minutes,” she explained. “So I really tried to mentally and physically prepare myself. Playing clarinet really is a physical workout.
“I was nervous, but I am glad that I was able to overcome my nerves and play the best I ever have as a musician, “ Riggs added.
Massey, a senior music education major from Weatherford, Texas, has played the bass clarinet for 11 years. She explained that her honorable mention was especially unexpected.
“Normally, there are only two awards, a winner and an alternate,” Massey explained. “The fact that she awarded me with honorable mention is a rare decision, and the judge told me she couldn’t not give it out.”
For both musicians, preparation for the competition began months before the performance.
“On good weeks I would spend two hours a day in the practice room, and on weekends I would practice sometimes three or four hours throughout the day,” Massey said.
“I spent a lot of time in a practice room playing the same difficult parts over and over for months until I got the entire program down,” Riggs added. “I am very excited that hard work paid off.”
According to its website, www.mtna.org, MTNA was founded in 1876 “with the purpose of advancing the value of music study and music-making to society while supporting the careers and professionalism of teachers of music.” MTNA has nearly 22,000 members in all 50 states and more than 500 local affiliates.
For more information, contact Dr. Caroline Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 245-5139.
By Jessica Stewart