Gregory McDaniel emerged with top honors in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Undergraduate Conducting Competition in Oklahoma City. Daryl Robinson won first place and Jose Reyes Ortiz earned second place in the William Hall Pipe Organ Competition in San Antonio. At the Young Texas Artist Music Competition in Conroe, Texas, Desiree Alejandro finished first in the overall competition and violinist Natalie Lin was the top musician in the string division.
The ACDA conducting competition attracted 160 applicants. Of those applicants only eight graduate and eight undergraduate semi-finalists were selected to journey to Oklahoma City. Once there, participants rehearsed with and conducted the Norman North High School Chorale. Judges evaluated the student conductors on their conducting gestures and rehearsal techniques. Thanks to coaching from his MSM professors - including Betsy Cook Weber, director of undergraduate choral studies - and many hours of practicing, McDaniel earned the first place prize in the undergraduate category, $500 and a Mollard conducting baton.
"It was an overwhelming feeling when I was announced as a winner," said McDaniel, a senior music education major. "I felt that those who supported me in my journey to the competition also won. I had so many people supporting me in this competition. Friends, colleagues, professors and family were all rooting for me."
Back in Texas, Robinson and Ortiz - both junior performance majors - displayed their talents in an equally prestigious music competition. Robinson received $900 for his first-place prize, and Ortiz received $500 for placing second.
For nearly 40 years, the William Hall Pipe Organ Contest has attracted the best student organists in the state. Although it is open only to Texas college students, the competition remains a nationally renowned event.
"Competitions such as this help students build on their talents," said Ortiz, who came to UH from Mexico after learning of the Moores School of Music's reputation. "They also are effective in measuring our skills and progress. This experience was an invitation to take on and overcome new challenges. I was proud to represent the University of Houston and my home country."
In Conroe, Alejandro and Lin continued the MSM winning streak with victories at the 25th Annual Texas Young Artist Music Competition
Alejandro, graduate vocal performance student, received the contest's grand prize.
She performed a selection from "Florencia en el Amazonas." Earlier this semester, she played the title role in the UH production of this opera. Following graduation, she will participate in the James Collier Apprentice Artist Program with the Des Moines Metro Opera.
"I was pleasantly surprised when I was announced as the winner of this prestigious contest," said Alejandro, who will complete her master's degree this spring. "This was a competition with a lot of talented competitors, so it's an honor that the judges selected me as its champion."
This is the second year in a row that an MSM student has won this competition. Last year, UH opera vocalist Ashlyn Rust also was named the Texas Young Artist Music Competition's champion.
"It is incredibly exciting when a school of music can announce that from among its outstanding student body, four have very recently won three important competitions --- all with national significance," said David White, director of MSM.
MSM is one of the premier music schools in America. Offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, it serves approximately 600 students annually. Areas of study include composition, conducting, performance, theory and musicology. Its faculty consists of internationally recognized performers, composers and scholars. Among its ensembles are the Moores School Symphony Orchestra, Moores Jazz Ensemble, Moores Opera Center, Concert Chorale, Concert Women's Chorus, Spirit of Houston Cougar Marching Band, Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble. A majority of the school's concerts are performed in the 800-seat Moores Opera House. For more details on the Moores School of Music, visit http://www.music.uh.edu/.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 36,000 students.
For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at www.uh.edu/newsroom.