Showcase concert recognizes top student musicians


Katelyn McKenney

Ling Zhou practiced his piece every day to prepare for the contest.

Bob Jones University presented the Music Contest Showcase, where finalists of the competitions earlier in the semester demonstrated their mastery of challenging classical pieces Monday, April 17.

Before the music began, several awards were given. Audrey Marinelli, a sophomore piano pedagogy major, received the Piano Central Pedagogy Award. Michael Moore, chair of the BJU Division of Music, said the award is presented every year to a junior or senior pedagogy major as a gift to cover some tuition costs.

Moore also recognized the first recipients of two new certificates. The first certificate was for Keyboard Pedagogy and was awarded to Hannah Pierre, while Andrew Weiss received a certificate for Digital Audio Production. A new certificate will be inaugurated in the fall of 2023.

Taryn Johnson, last year’s piano contest winner, accompanied trumpet player Natalie Thorson. (Katelyn McKenney)

During the showcase, Natalie Thorson played the horn, Sarah Grace Johnson sang, Ben Hyink played the cello and Ling Zhou played the piano. The showcase was relatively short, lasting about 25 minutes, but it was a powerful demonstration of the time and effort each student committed to mastering these pieces. There was a good crowd in attendance, and many stayed afterwards to congratulate the performers.

After his breathtaking performance that concluded the showcase, Zhou shared what it was like to rehearse and win the contest. While his performance was a consummate example of calmness and composure, Zhou said his biggest struggle was not technique, but nervousness on stage.

Recognizing this, he prepared by having some of his friends listen to his practice sessions, and he never went a day without pushing his technique to new levels. He started playing at age 8 and continues to enjoy piano because of the emotional power of its music, creating new melodies in his spare time.

“Keep asking yourself why you like playing piano, because you need to put a lot of time,” Ling advised. “It isn’t a thing that can benefit you immediately.” He pointed out that the learning process is very gradual and coming to the stage is not easy. “You need to discover why you love playing piano, and just keep playing.” The road is long, but the reward is great, and his performance along with those of the other finalists was a great testimony to that truth.