Piano contest brings talented youth to campus

By Ian Currie

On Saturday some of the best high school piano talent will perform on campus.

The Baylor/Waco Piano Competition will be held from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. in the Glennis McCrary Music Building and Waco Hall. This year’s event will be the 34th annual competition, and it is sponsored by the School of Music.

The competition creates a rare gathering of some of the best high school piano talent from around Texas and the surrounding five-state area.

It will feature more than 60 performances in two categories; solo and concerto.

The solo section requires individual performances while the concerto section features a piano soloist and an accompanist. There are two judges per division, most of whom are Baylor faculty from the music department.

Director of piano pedagogy Lesley McAllister, coordinator of the Baylor/Waco Piano Competition, has been involved with the competition since 2006. McAllister said she believes the competition is a positive advertisement for Baylor.

“There is a very high level of playing,” McAllister said. “The competition is a recruiting tool for the piano department, and many past winners of the competition have come to Baylor University.”

The high school competitors are entered in the tournament by their teachers.

McAllister said the tournament draws a large and diverse pool of competitors, many of whom are from outside Texas.
There are prizes for first and second place in each category, as well as unranked honorable mentions.

Kenneth Thompson, executive director of the Musical Arts Center of San Antonio, has sent pupils to the tournament for more than 15 years and has taught many winners of past competitions.

“It draws students from such a wide area and is very competitive,” Thompson said. “The students are treated well.”

Thomspson said he believes it is a difficult competition to win, but it is worth the experience alone.

“They judge thoroughly,” Thompson said. “The competition is valuable because of the feedback the students receive.”
All performances are free and open to the public.