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Music students receive statewide recognition

Four students from the University of South Dakota recently received awards at the South Dakota Music Teachers Association State Conference.

SDMTA attracts college students from all over the state including South Dakota State University, Augustana College, Black Hills State University, University of Sioux Falls and USD.

Junior Adrian Ries won first place in the MTNA Steinway and Sons Young Artist Piano Competition. In January, he will show his talents again in hopes for winning the divisional level in Boulder, Colo.

“Not only did USD students win a few divisions, but I personally think we had a great turnout of students who simply enter the competition,” Ries said. “I think by winning, it means that I’m learning and implementing the right things into music.”

Ries had to prepare about 40 minutes worth of music from memory.

“The adjudicators gave feedback about each performance, performed on their own recital and taught a masterclass,” Ries said. “These are nationally recognized professionals in their fields that have already had significant careers, so being able to get inside their heads a little was a fantastic opportunity.”

Senior Ashley Evelyn Mazur won first place in the upper division of the SDMTA Collegiate Voice competition, which means she competed in a category of 18 junior and senior level students of both genders.

“It’s really nice for a resume and also gratifying that active performers can see my talents, and it really gives me a boost,” Mazur said.

Mazur said she worked on it all semester and built on previous skills.

“It’s great to do competitions, to compete against other schools in the state, especially SDSU,” Mazur said. “These awards prove that our programs at USD are strong.”

Tracelyn Gesteland, assistant professor of voice and opera, said there is a sense of pride and personal satisfaction in the musician when they win an award.

“I am proud of all of our students’ accomplishments,” Gesteland said. “It is nice to see our hard-working, talented USD students grow as musicians and get the recognition they deserve.  For me, though, the most important part of the process is the improvement made in the journey to the competition.  The awards won are icing on the cake.”

Susanne Skyrm, professor of piano, said she believes the hard work the students put in paid off.

“It is a validation for them that their hours of practice and study have helped them to grow as musicians,” Skyrm said. “It also emphasizes the fact that we have an excellent music department at USD with talented students and dedicated


Reach reporter Dylan Geuther

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