Photo above: Winners of the 2016 William and Mary Ann Knight Performers Scholarship Competition are Meredith Howard, left, who won the vocal competition, and Ruthie Phillips, who won the keyboard competition.
News release by Student Writer Destiny Jenkins
Two Shorter University music majors have been selected to receive $1,000 scholarships based on their performances at the 15th annual William and Mary Ann Knight Performers Scholarship Competition.
Meredith Howard, a junior vocal performance major from Acworth, Ga., won the vocal scholarship. Ruthie Phillips, a junior music education major from Hiram, Ga., won the piano scholarship.
The Knight Performers Scholarship Competition was established by friends, family and colleagues of Shorter music faculty members William and Mary Ann Knight to highlight and reward Shorter students who have worked hard and excelled with musical performances. Two scholarships are awarded annually, one in the area of vocal performance and one in the area of keyboard performance.
The competition has two rounds. The first was held in February, and the top four vocalists and top three pianists were selected to compete in the final round.
“This year’s Knight Competition featured extraordinarily talented students, who delivered excellent performances,” said Dr. Alan Wingard, dean of Shorter’s School of Fine and Performing Arts. “The Knight Competition honors the legacy of two very talented faculty members who served Shorter with distinction for many years. All of the students who took part in this year’s competition distinguished themselves and made their families—and Shorter University—proud.
In the final round, Howard performed “Fewer Words” by Ricky Ian Gordon, “Chanson D’amour” and “Ici-bas” by Gabriel Faure, and “Hello! Oh, Margaret, It’s You!” from the opera “The Telephone” by Gian Carlo Menotti.
“I feel exceptionally blessed,” Howard said. “I am so thankful I got to be in a competition with some of my closest friends from Shorter. It wasn’t like a competition at all because we all love each other and have the utmost respect for each other’s abilities.”
Howard has studied voice with Shorter music faculty member Indra Thomas and currently studies with Dr. Deborah Popham.
“Meredith is a very talented young woman with a bright future ahead of her,” said Popham, who serves as associate professor of music, coordinator of vocal studies, and director of the Shorter Opera Theatre. “She is a beautiful singer, actress, and all-around performer, and I think it was the combination of these three things that earned her the scholarship. She has had a busy semester having been crowned Miss Shorter and just finished singing a lead in ‘Show Boat.’ She has pushed herself to go outside of her comfort zone this semester, and that, with her hard work, has been paying off. Meredith is a delight to work with, and I’m very proud of her achievement.”
Phillips performed the “Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27, No. 2” by Chopin and “Twelve Variations on ‘Ah, vous dirai-je Mamans” by Mozart.
“I definitely feel blessed to have received this honor,” Phillips said. “That feeling of joy upon winning the competition made every hour – and there were many hours – of practice worth it.”
Phillips studies piano performance with Dr. Jerico Vasquez, artist-in-residence, associate professor of music, and coordinator of keyboard studies at Shorter.
“It has been a pleasure working with Ruthie for the last three years,” Vasquez said. “Her performance at the Knight Competition was a breakthrough, as she was able to muster much depth and expressiveness in her playing. The Chopin Nocturne, in particular, was very special.”
The William and Mary Ann Knight Performers Scholarship Competition is named in honor of two longtime members of Shorter’s music faculty. Mr. Knight, retired distinguished professor of piano, taught at Shorter from 1963 until 2004. Mrs. Knight became a faculty member at Shorter in 1965 and retired in 2009. In addition to numerous individual honors, the Knights were selected as the 2010 National Teachers of the Year by the Music Teachers National Association.
Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christ-centered, four-year liberal arts university committed to excellence in education. The Princeton Review annually includes Shorter on its list of best Southeastern Colleges. Shorter is a member of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). The university offers traditional bachelor’s degrees in 40 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, and four master’s programs. Learn more about Shorter at www.shorter.edu.